Sunday’s 0-0 stalemate between Tottenham and Everton marked the impressive feat of Hugo Lloris already claiming his 12th clean sheet of the season. Tottenham’s defensive record this season has seen them concede 5 goals in 10 matches with 7 clean sheets achieved by Lloris in the league and 5 coming in Europa League where Spurs are yet to concede.
Andre Villas Boas likes his side to play with a high defensive line and despite players such as Michael Dawson not having the pace to be comfortable in the system, Hugo Lloris is the perfect fit. In his second Premier League season it’s well-known that Lloris likes to come off his line to collect the ball and with the through balls that the high defensive line tempts the opposition into playing, it shows the importance of the sweeper-keeper role utilised at Tottenham.
The no-fear attitude Lloris possesses towards collecting the ball from the opposition’s feet can risky – with the danger of conceding a penalty/goal or injuring himself which was the case against Everton – but when successfully managed, which Lloris has done on more occasions than not, it is incredibly valuable to the team. Only a couple occasions this season have seen Lloris’ eagerness to come out for the ball be problematic with the incidents against Norwich and Cardiff seeming to look like he handled the ball outside of his area.
The French international presence outside of the box creates pressure onto the opposition attacker, which results in him winning the ball or allowing enough time for the defence to recover and deal with the situation.
Against Chelsea a month ago, Lloris demonstrated the type of performance by a goalkeeper needed for Villas Boas’ system with 11 touches made outside of the 18-yard box. Whilst against Arsenal in the North London derby where Spurs were dominant in possession high up the pitch, Lloris made a last man tackle just outside of the ‘D’ – an occurrence Lloris has successfully managed on 2 occasions.
The heat maps show the positioning of Hugo Lloris during the matches against Chelsea and Arsenal and how far up the pitch the keeper traveled. Note in the Chelsea game that Lloris spent more time (highlighted in red) near the edge of the box to the left hand side rather than on the goal line.
The sweeper-keeper role that is important to the way Tottenham play also relies on the quality of reflexes and agility that chosen goalkeepers possesses – something Lloris has in abundance compared to his understudy Friedel whose advancing years are catching up to him.
The American goalkeeper, now at 42 years of age, has slowed down and cannot deal with the threats of a high defensive line adequately enough which effects how Spurs set up when he plays – a probable explanation for his lack of appearances in Europa League where the second choice goalkeeper got game time last season.
Until Tottenham manage to overcome their troublesome goal scoring record, Hugo Lloris’ performances will continue to prove important for the North London club’s fortunes this season and whether they can fulfill the potential the summer’s impressive transfer dealings promised.
Heat Maps via the Mail Online Match Zone