Andre Villas-Boas has impressed this season, his debut as Tottenham manager, finishing on a record 72 points and taking Spurs to a Europa League quarter final.
Spurs just missed out on Champions League qualification, finishing 1 point behind North London rivals Arsenal and 3 points behind Chelsea in a season which saw them lose key players such as Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Ledley King in the summer and play most of the season without team regulars Sandro and Younes Kaboul.
Many fans were pleased with the way Andre Villas-Boas conducted himself as Tottenham manager since taking over, but have Spurs actually improved under his guidance?
We aim to answer this question by taking a look at Tottenham’s statistics for this season and comparing them with their previous two campaigns comparing the way Andre Villas-Boas has set up his Tottenham this season and the tactics he has employed.
Tottenham Set Up
Tottenham usually line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with the three attacking players (Bale, Lennon and Dempsey in this example) swapping positions during the game. AVB tries to play Gareth Bale in different positions during the game, depending on how Tottenham are playing, with his preference to play the Welshman in the centre allowing him to receive more of the ball.
They tend to play the ball using a slow to medium tempo, having Dembele and Parker dropping deep to receive the ball and build play, with Vertonghen more than happy to bring the ball out of defence. The two fullbacks will look to overlap when possible, with Kyle Walker tending to stay as wide as possible when Tottenham are building attacks and Benoit Assou-Ekotto pushing on when Clint Dempsey cuts inside.
Tottenham press further up the pitch, trying to win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible and have adopted a high defensive line, which has been helped with the signing of Hugo Lloris. The centre backs will look for the long diagonal ball out wide when available, with Dembele and Parker looking for Dempsey or Bales feet when attacking and then moving to either side of the player to give them an option.
They have the option to use their direct pacey players such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon to run at the oppositions defence and cause problems or play through the middle with Parker, Dembele and Dempsey constantly passing and moving into space making it difficult for the opposition to defend against.
So, after looking at how Tottenham have set up this season we can look at an overview of their statistics.
Tottenham have scored the same amount of goals per game as they did last season (1.74) but conceded 0.13 more goals per game than they did last season. Spurs have also kept 5 fewer clean sheets than they did last season, but kept one more than they did in the 2010/2011 season.
Spurs have taken 0.07 more points per game this season than they did last season and 0.26 more points per game than they did in the 2010/2011 season. Tottenham have also won a higher percentage of their games under AVB this season (55%), than they did in the two previous seasons (42% and 53%).
So, although Tottenham have scored the same amount of goals per game and conceded more goals per game than last season, they have actually taken more points and won more games.
So, after finding out that Tottenham have scored the same amount of goals as last season we can take a look at their attacking stats in a little more detail.
Tottenham have had a shot every 7 minutes this season, which is the same as last season but 1 minute more often than they 2010/2011 season and a shot on target every 15 minutes, which is 1 minute more often than last season and 4 minutes more often than the 2010/2011 season.
Tottenham have also been more accurate in front of goal this season, with 49% of their shots hitting the target which is an improvement of 4% on last season and 7% on the 2010/2011 season. Tottenham have also created a chance every 7 minutes this season, which is the same as last season but have converted 1% more of these chances.
Spurs have created a clear cut chance 18 minutes less often than last season but 12 minutes more often than the 2010/2011 season, but converted 5% more of their clear cut chances than last season and 16% more of their clear cut chances than the 2010/2011 season.
Although, Tottenham have conceded more goals and kept fewer clean sheets than last season they have impressed in other defensive aspects of their game. Spurs have conceded a shot 2 minutes less often than last season and 4 minutes less often than the 2010/2011 season and conceded a shot on target 5 minutes less often than last season and 9 minutes less often than the 2010/2011 season.
The opposition have created a chance every 14 minutes this season, which is 4 minutes less often than last season and 5 minutes less often than the season before. However, the opposition have converted 16% of their chances against Spurs this season, which is 4% more than last season and 5% more than the season before.
The opposition have also created a clear cut chance against them every 75 minutes this season, which is 3 minutes less often than the 2010/2011 season but 34 minutes more often than last season. The opposition have converted 41% of the clear cut chances they have created against Spurs this season, which is 2% less than last season but 14% more than the season before.
So, although Tottenham have conceded fewer shots, fewer shots on target and let the opposition create fewer chances against them this season they have conceded more goals.
This may be down to defensive errors, as Tottenham have made 7 more errors that have led to shots than the 2010/2011 season and 12 more errors than last season. Eight of Tottenham’s goals have come from player error this season, which is twice as many as last season and they have made a defensive error 171 minutes more often than last season.
Spurs have made 2917 fewer passes than last season and averaged 3.65% less of the possession than last season. Tottenham’s passing accuracy has reduced by 2% compared to last season but improved by 3% compared to the 2010/2011 season. Tottenham have also made 9% fewer forward passes than last season, 22% fewer forward passes than the season before and the same percentage of backward passes as last season. They have also made 9% more sideways passes than last season and 20% more sideways passes than the 2010/2011 season.
Tottenham have made 3% more of their passes in the oppositions half under Andre Villas-Boas than they did last season and 1% more than the season before. They have also made 7% more of their passes in the final third than the 2010/2011 season but 1% less than last season.
One thing Tottenham have impressed at under Villas-Boas is their ability to comeback from losing positions this season.
Tottenham have conceded the first goal of the game on 13 occasions this season, which is once more than last season but 6 fewer times than the season before. Spurs have taken 1.38 points per game when going 1-0 down this season, which is 0.88 more points per game than last season and 0.12 points per game than the season before.
Tottenham have also been behind at half time on 8 occasions this season, which is 1 more time than last season and one less time than the season before last. However, Tottenham have taken an impressive 1.21 more points per game when they have been losing at half time than last season and 0.39 more points per game than the 2010/2011 season.
In Tottenham’s first season under Andre Villas-Boas they have reached their record points total in the Premier League (72 points) and won a higher percentage of their matches than in the last two seasons (55%).
Tottenham’s main improvement has been in their ability to comeback from losing positions under AVB, with only Manchester United taking more points per game when conceding first and when losing at half time this season. Tottenham have also taken a staggering 1.21 more points per game when losing at half time than they did last season, which is a huge improvement.
However, Tottenham have struggled against bottom half teams at home this season, with eight Premier League teams taking more points per game at home against bottom half teams than Tottenham this season.
Spurs found it hard to break down the bottom half teams at White Hart Lane, only scoring 12 goals in their 10 home games with only Reading and Norwich scoring fewer home goals against the bottom half teams (9). This is compared to Manchester United and Arsenal who both scored 31 goals in their home games with the bottom half teams and Manchester City and Chelsea who both scored 27 goals.
Spur’s lack of a creative player able to unlock the bottom half team’s defences has been clear to see this season after the departure of Luka Modric to Real Madrid in the summer. Joao Moutinho would have been perfect for this role, but Tottenham missing out on his signature on the last day of the transfer window may have proven costly.
Tottenham’s lack of depth up front has also been an important factor in this, as Spurs have relied too heavily on Gareth Bale to score the goals when they have needed them. Emmanuel Adebayor looked uninterested for most of the season, scoring a goal every 319 minutes this season compared to every 167 minutes last season, while Jermain Defoe has been in and out of the team since picking up an injury half way through the season.
Although, Tottenham have scored the same amount of goals as last season they have hit the target with 4% more of their shots and converted 1% more of their chances. This has been mainly down to Gareth Bale, with only Luis Suarez having more shots than the Welshman this season and 55% of his shots hitting the target.
Defensively Tottenham have conceded more goals, but conceded fewer shots and fewer shots on target this season than they did last season, with the opposition creating fewer chances against them. Spurs have played with a high defensive line this season putting aggressive pressure on the ball high up the pitch, trying to win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible.
The signing of Hugo Lloris has allowed AVB to play the high defensive line, as he is quick off his line and will be always looking to sweep up any danger and look to cut off any passes in front of him. This coupled with Spurs impressive pressing tactics has helped them limit the amount of shots and shots on target they have faced this season. However, defensive errors have cost them, with Spurs making twice as many defensive mistakes that have led to goals than last season.
Michael Dawson started the season on the bench, with AVB preferring to play a centre back that has a higher turning speed than Dawson and play the high defensive line more effectively. However, Dawson forced his way back into the team and Villas-Boas tweaked his tactics slightly allowing the Spurs captain to drop back slightly giving him time to read the game.
Tottenham Main Improvements
- Allowed the opposition fewer shots and fewer shots on target than last season
- Have taken 0.88 more points per game than last season when going 1-0 down
- Have taken 1.21 more points per game when losing at HT than last season
- Converted 1% more of their chances than last season and 5% more of their clear cut chances.
- Won a higher percentage of their games than the last 2 seasons (55%)
- Finished on their record points total in the Premier League (72 points)[/box_light]
Areas To Work On
- Work on breaking bottom half teams down at home (only 12 goals this season in 10 games)
- Create more clear cut chances (creating a ccc 18 minutes less often than last season)
- Cut down on defensive errors (twice as many errors that have led to goals as last season)[/box_light]
Overall Tottenham have improved in a lot of areas under AVB, but the lack of a creative midfielder and lack of depth up front has cost them this season. If Tottenham can sign a creative player and a striker this summer then I can see no reason why they cannot finish in the top four next season.
[box_light]All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com –Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]