The last time EPL Index analysed Spurs’ ‘The Season So Far’, the North London side went into the international break following a humiliating 3-0 defeat at home to Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United side. The last defeat before the West Ham United game, was again, before the international break, losing to their biggest rivals Arsenal, 1-0. Another note on their three losses are that they had a Europa League game on the Thursday night, and a game in the Premier League three days later. It seems the International break and Europa League games are not too fond of Spurs.
In this article I will analyse the corresponding losses in regards to Europa League fixtures and results before the international break, while looking at each crucial statistic to the Spurs side, in regard to their defensive, passing, creativity and attacking statistics.
Europa League and the International break
It seems that the international break, and the Europa League games before Premier League fixtures have equalled to losses before the international break. A home win versus Dinamo Tbilisi on the 29th August, followed by a 1-0 defeat away to Arsenal; a 2-0 away win at Anzhi on the 3rd; followed by a 3-0 loss at home to West Ham United on 6th October and last week’s 2-1 win at home to FC Sheriff on 7th November, followed by a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle United on the 10th.
Andre Villas-Boas needs to get the perfect balance of Europa League games and Premier League games, before Spurs can think of challenging for the top four, while also improving their current home form.
Whoscored.com’s Ben McAleer raised an interesting statistic concerning Spurs’ home form – Spurs conversion rate after the Newcastle United defeat currently stands at 4.4%, the worst in the Premier League.
In relation to this, the first department of Spurs I will look at is their attacking impotency:
So far this season in the Premier League, Spurs have been woeful in front of goal (sounds a lot like my last ‘season so far’ stats analysis.)
In 11 Premier League games, Spurs have scored just (9) Premier League goals – only (6) teams in the bottom half have the same amount/or worse tally of goals than Spurs; 20th placed Crystal Palace (6), 19th placed Sunderland (8), 16th placed West Ham (9), 15th placed Norwich City (9), 14th placed Cardiff City (9) and 12th placed Hull City (9).
A staggering statistic when comparing the amount of shots on goal from Spurs.
Spurs have had a total of 157 shots on the opposition goal, of which only 73 have been on target, with 84 off target. This current Spurs side are averaging a shot every 7 minutes, and a shot on target every 14 minutes. The most startling statistic is their minutes per goal, Spurs are averaging 117 minutes per goal.
Since my last stats analysis on Spurs’ season so far, Spurs have scored just (3) goals. After the Hammers game, Spurs averaged a goal every 111 minutes.
When looking at the team and players attacking impotency, three players come to mind.
Andros Townsend, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado
The former has sprung to life this season with Andre Villas-Boas giving the young English winger a chance on the right hand side in 10 of Spurs 11 Premier League games, of which he has scored just the once, with no assist, whilst taking 29 shots on goal in the process (15 on target, 14 off target) – resulting in a shooting accuracy of 52% and a chance conversion of just 3%.
While it’s good to see an England international with confidence on the Spurs wing, Townsend must learn when to/and when not to shoot, as it was clear his partner on the right, Kyle Walker, was increasingly frustrated with Townsend’s decision making as the game got into the latter stages.
Spurs’ new Samba star, Paulinho, like Andros Townsend has registered many shots on goal. Paulinho defines the ‘box-to-box player’ and while he has been one of Spurs better players so far this season, he too, like Townsend needs to learn when to get forward and not to get forward. Paulinho has registered a total of 28 shots, averaging a shot every 35 mins, a shot on target every 83 minutes with a chance conversion of just 4%.
One thing Spurs need to do to increase their conversion rate is to get the ball to their biggest summer signing before Erik Lamela arrived, Roberto Soldado, as suggested in my last season so far stats analysis.
Andre Villas-Boas needs to decide whether to carry on with his inverted wingers tactic, or to put record signing Erik Lamela on the right, linking up with Christian Eriksen, with Andros Townsend being given an opportunity to wreak havoc on the left hand side of Spurs’ attack.
Roberto Soldado needs link up play with the three that play behind him, whether he runs onto passes or crosses are being hit in the right places for him to bag the goals Spurs sorely need.
Defending is an art, and so far this season Spurs have got it right, conceding just (6) goals, keeping (7) clean sheets in the process.
It seems Andre Villas-Boas is trying to get his back four as strong as he possibly can, making Spurs hard to beat and then nicking a goal to secure wins – Spurs have won all their games so far this season to nil.
Three players have made over 20 tackles so far this season for Spurs; Kyle Walker, Mousa Dembele and Paulinho.
Of those three, only Mousa Dembele can boast a tackle win percentage above 80%. Mousa Dembele has won 23 of his total 25 tackles, suggesting that while he doesn’t affect the final third, he is capable of winning possession. The Belgian midfielder is averaging a tackle every 27 minutes, winning one every 29 minutes, while winning a ground duel every 10 minutes.
Kyle Walker has successfully tackled his opponents 74% of the time, with 17 tackles successful out of 23. The English right back is recapturing the form he had in Redknapp’s last season as Spurs boss. Walker is not just capable at supporting Andros Townsend on the right side and overlapping, but his defensive works goes unnoticed at times.
Walker is averaging 22 minutes per ground duel won, winning a tackle every 58 minutes – the young right back is averaging a challenge every 11 minutes.
Paulinho has been mentioned in the attacking analysis and the defensive analysis, suggesting that he is the typical box-to-box player that he was touted as before signing for the North London side.
The former Corinthians man is averaging 21 mins per ground duel won, 52 mins per tackle won and 10 mins per challenge, suggesting the Brazilian midfielder is the ‘all-action’ player as mentioned above regarding his attacking statistics.
Spurs still have the problem of finding a suitable centre-back partnership, with Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen partnering up so far this season, but the last few games new signing Vlad Chiriches has come in, and done a stellar job.
As a leader, Michael Dawson is spectacular, but playing in a high defensive line is still not comfortable for the former Forest man, while he may not be the ball playing defender that Vertonghen is, he does the jobs that Vertonghen isn’t capable of. Dawson has put his body on the line for Spurs over the years, and so far this season he has successfully cleared 58 headed clearances, 87 total clearances, but one vital statistic Vertonghen doesn’t have, is that Dawson has had one error lead to a goal, and so has Paulinho.
Using a high defensive line against Newcastle United last weekend was borderline idiotic with both Michael Dawson and Brad Friedel, one player who seldom leaves his line, and one player that needs to drop back due to his lack of pace.
Villas-Boas must figure out who his ideal centre-back partnership is, in my opinion, once Danny Rose and Younes Kaboul are fit, a Spurs back four must consist of Danny Rose, Younes Kaboul, Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker. And Hugo Lloris in goal, obviously.
Hugo Lloris is the player Spurs sorely missed on Sunday, he is the component in the Spurs defence that links everyone together. If the Spurs defence make a mistake, they know the French keeper will sweep up any problems for them. Their brilliant clean sheet record so far this season must go down to the heroics of the former Olympique Lyonnais man. There aren’t many better keepers in world football than the 26-year old Spurs keeper.
Next Page: Passing, Creativity and comparison to last season
Spurs have dominated possession in 9 of their 11 games so far this season, according to flashscore.com. Losing out on the possession stats versus Everton a few weeks ago, and Swansea in late August, but dominating possession against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Norwich, West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City.
Spurs are averaging over 60% in (6) of their Premier League games so far this season, Barcelona-esque you could say. If only they were scoring more than one goal a game.
But if you Google ‘spurs possession’ you’ll find articles such as ‘Is Tottenham’s Possession Play Affecting Their Scoring Form’, ‘Spurs dominate possession but limp attack can’t hurt Arsenal’, ‘Sterile in Possession: Late Pen saves Spurs against Hull.’
All very, very fair comments on this current Spurs side. Dominating possession in games is what sides in the Premier League are letting this Spurs attack do, while Spurs are registering much of the possession, the passing stats and the shots, it’s rare that they find that cutting edge in front of goal.
So far this season, Spurs have accurately played a total of 4,564 out of 5,474 open play passes, an average of 83% passing rate – completing a pass every 5 minutes, whilst passing the ball forwards 33% of the time, with 14% backwards, 24% to the left and 27% to the right, all fine and dandy until their attacking third passing stats crop up.
Spurs have accurately played a total of 2,602 accurate attacking zone passes (out of 3,561) – clocking up a 73% attacking zone completion pass rate.
In terms of accurate final 3rd passes, they have a completion pass rate of 73% (1,233 out of 1,716.)
Statistics suggest while Spurs are happy to play the ball in the defensive third (92% completion pass rate) and around the middle of the park, they struggle to penetrate the opposition defence, it can be argued that teams sit so deep against Spurs that there isn’t much space to penetrate, or it’s because Spurs’ tempo is very slow, when not on the counter attack.
But, when comparing their attacking and final third stats to the other teams in the top 7, Spurs are not too far away from their rivals. Southampton have a final 3rd pass completion of 65%, Manchester United – 73%, Manchester City – 79%, Liverpool 74%, Everton – 73%, Chelsea – 70% and Arsenal 76%.
This leads on to Spurs’ creativity…
Creativity, the spark that Spurs are currently missing.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side have created 17 clear-cut chances, one worse off than Arsenal, three less than Liverpool, four less than Manchester City; but two better than Chelsea, six better than Manchester United and eight better than Southampton and Everton.
They have also created a total of 154 chances, compared to Everton’s 112, Arsenal’s 121, Chelsea’s 133, Liverpool’s 134, Manchester City’s 149, Manchester United’s 106 and Southampton’s 108.
It’s hard to see what Spurs are getting wrong in terms of creativity so far this season.
Critics can say this current Spurs team don’t penetrate enough, and while they create a shedload of chances, they aren’t doing the most important thing in football: sticking the ball in the net.
Spurs fans can say that this is a work in progress, and these statistics are fairly satisfying, while most of the time Spurs’ attacking play hasn’t been great to watch, they cannot say their Spurs team are not creating enough chances, it’s their front four who are not clinical enough.
In terms of their team’s individual creative statistics:
Andros Townsend has been the most creative outlet for Spurs, creating a total of 19 chances, a total of (3) clear cut chances, attempting 83 dribbles – a 66% dribbling accuracy but has yet to make an assist for his team-mates so far this season. The partnership between Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker has seen many chances created, with Kyle Walker creating a total of 17 chances, but without an assist to his name.
Christian Eriksen has created a total of 18 chances for his team-mates, with (6) of those coming from set plays, with one assist to his name.
Summer signings Roberto Soldado and Paulinho are also creating plenty of chances for their team-mates. The Spanish forward has created 15 chances, with two assists to his name; while the Duracell powered Paulinho has created 14 chances, with two assists to his very long Brazilian name.
Compared to last season
Compared to last season first 11 games, Spurs are three points better off. In 2012/2013 season, Spurs took 17 points from their opening 11 games.
Undeniably, Spurs have a worse goals scored tally this season compared to last season, while Spurs have only scored 9 in 11 games this season, they scored 19 in 11 Premier League games last season. Although, Spurs have conceded just 6 goals this season, compared to last season, they conceded 16 goals in their opening 11 games.
Comparing Comparing this season’s fixtures to last year’s corresponding fixtures, it looks like this:
- 2013/2014 (a) Crystal Palace. 1-0 win for Spurs – vs – 2012/2013 (a) at Queens Park Rangers. 0-0 draw. (Palace were third team promoted, QPR placed bottom in League)
- 2013/2014 (h) Swansea City. 1-0 win for Spurs – vs – 2012/2013 (h) Swansea City. 1-0 for Spurs.
- 2013/2014 (a) Arsenal. 1-0 win for Arsenal – vs – 2012/2013 (a) Arsenal. 5-2 win for Arsenal.
- 2013/2014 (h) Norwich City. 2-0 win for Spurs – vs – 2012/2013 (h) Norwich City. 1-1 draw.
- 2013/2014 (a) Cardiff City. 1-0 win for Spurs – vs – 2012/2013 (a) Wigan. 2-2 draw. (Cardiff won the Championship, Wigan were highest placed Premier League team to be relegated)
- 2013/2014 (h) Chelsea. 1-1 draw – vs – 2012/2013 (h) Chelsea. 4-2 win for Chelsea.
- 2013/2014 (h) West Ham United. 3-0 win for WHU – vs – 2012/2013 (h) West Ham. 3-1 win for Spurs.
- 2013/2014 (a) Aston Villa. 2-0 win for Spurs – vs – 12/13 (a) Aston Villa. 4-0 win for Spurs
- 2013/2014 (h) Hull City. 1-0 win for Spurs – vs – 12/13 (h) Reading. 3-1 win for Spurs. (Hull City runners up in Championship. Reading were 19th in Premier League)
- 2013/2014 (a) Everton. 0-0 draw – vs – 12/13 (a) Everton. 2-1 win for Everton.
- 2013/2014 (h) Newcastle Utd. 1-0 to Newcastle – vs – 12/13 (h) Newcastle United. 2-1 win for Spurs.
20 points for Spurs in these fixtures this season, compared to Spurs corresponding fixtures last season, Spurs are two points better off.
As stated in my last Spurs’ season so far stats analysis, if Andre Villas-Boas is to get Champions League football next season, he has to beat the lesser teams at White Hart Lane. Spurs have a fine away record, and while they are two points better off compared to last seasons corresponding fixtures; but until they can put away teams under pressure at White Hart Lane, it may be another fifth placed finish.