For the first time in Andre Villas-Boas’ managerial career, the Portuguese entered a second season with a football club – Tottenham Hotspur.
A manager known for his intense tactical detail, compared to his predecessor Harry Redknapp, who told his team to ‘f***ing run around a bit.”
Interestingly, Villas-Boas’ start to Spurs life wasn’t appreciated by some of the the White Hart Lane faithful, with boos and chants of ‘AVB out’ across N17 after drawing 1-1 to Norwich and West Bromwich Albion in his two first home games.
A year later, Andre Villas-Boas is looked upon in a more positive light after working wonders in the 2012/2013 season with a team that lost Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and club legend Ledley King in AVB’s first summer in charge, and recorded their best ever Premier League points total.
This is very much now Villas-Boas’ team, with signings such as Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Mousa Dembele, Paulinho, Christian Eriksen and Roberto Soldado featuring in the starting XI so far this season.
In this article I will analyse the defensive, passing, creativity and attacking statistics.
Tottenham Hotpsur Defence
Kyle Walker and Mousa Dembele have attempted the most tackles so far this season, with Dembele attempting a total of 16 tackles, winning 15 – a 94% tackles won rate. A lot has been said of Mousa Dembele’s performances for Spurs, last season he was seen as the rock of the Spurs side, this season he has been seen as someone who doesn’t contribute an awful. But in fact, he’s averaging a challenge won every 7.24 minute, averaging 36.2 mins per tackle won and 11.31 mins per ground duel.
Kyle Walker has attempted 16 tackles, winning 12 of those – a 75% tackle win rate. Full backs are seen as an integral part of the attacking phase of play in modern football, but some underestimate full backs’ defensive abilities. The full back has attempted more tackles than his defensive colleagues Michael Dawson (7/10 won), Jan Vertonghen (4/5 won), Danny Rose (6/10 won) and Kyle Naughton (3/3 won).
Only Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Naughton have a better tackles won %, but until they reach the amount of tackles that Walker has attempted, it is hard to compare them.
Etienne Capoue boasts a 89% tackles won rate, winning 8 of his 9 attempted tackles. The Frenchman was a key component of the Spurs defensive midfield set up in the first three games, his 8 tackles won shows that Spurs will miss someone of his ability.
The Spurs back four boasted one of Europe’s best defences until their collapse at home versus West Ham United last weekend, and will need Dawson and Vertonghen back to their best for the game versus Aston Villa on the 20th, with both centre backs putting in poor performances against WHU.
Spurs have been playing a high defensive line for the last year now, and while Vertonghen, Walker and Rose/Assou Ekotto seem comfortable playing this way, Michael Dawson still massively struggles with Villas-Boas’ defensive structure. This was evident against Arsenal in the 1-0 defeat, and could also take defensive blame for Morrison’s goal on Sunday, although Vertonghen was also at fault. The pair need a better understanding, and while Spurs fans may not appreciate Dawson playing in a high defensive line, he does the jobs that Vertonghen doesn’t like to do. Michael Dawson has successfully attempted 51 total clearances, also attempting 36 headed clearances. He’s the man who puts his body on the line for the team, while Vertonghen has the intelligence to read the game, his (13) interceptions are an example of this. They have had a solid start to the Premier League so far season as a pairing, but I imagine there will be another catastrophe in defence, it wouldn’t be the Spurs way if it didn’t happen.
Tottenham Hotspur Passing
As a team, Spurs have attempted 3,551 passes, with 2,979 passes finding their target – an 84% pass rate. Kyle Walker tops the total passes played, with (392/458 accurate passes played), and because 42% of his passes were played to the left, he is establishing a relationship with Paulinho or Dembele dropping deep to start the play, or passing to his captain, Michael Dawson.
While Kyle Walker has attempted the most passes, it is Mousa Dembele who has the best passing rate in the Spurs side, with 320/350 accurate passes – a 91% pass rate. One criticism of Mousa Dembele is that his passing isn’t incisive enough, which is shown with the high percentage of passes left and right (both 29%) with his passes forward only 23% and passes backwards 19%. People forget that Spurs were so used to Luka Modric’s incisive passing, and because Dembele was seen as a replacement to Modric – which evidently is incorrect. What Mousa Dembele needs to do is pinpoint a specific characteristic for himself as a midfielder because so far, it’s hard to pinpoint what he does best, although he does retain possession well.
What has troubled Spurs so far is their lack of creativity in the final third, which will be covered in the next section.
This is shown in their poor accuracy in the final 3rd, with 832 passes accurate out of a total of 1,144 – a 73% final 3rd pass completion, which could affect their impotency in front of goal this season, with just 6 goals. But if they introduce a better game plan to help Roberto Soldado in front of goal, with Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Soldado forming a relationship, it could help their creativity and turn chances into goals.
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