An unbelievably poor display this last weekend, saw Spurs smashed for 6 by Manchester City, as their current system of play reveals some very worrying signs for AVB and Spurs fans alike. That being said, the Etihad is the last place you want to go to when you are lacking confidence and Pellegrini’s men were back to their sparkling best in the final third, leaving Tottenham slumped over with a series of great strikes (The first coming just after 14 seconds). Its ‘same old, same old’ for Tottenham as they yet again keep more possession (53.3%) than their opponents; completing 42 more passes, but fail to find the net with what now simply is incompetent finishing. However, Spurs came into the game boasting the league’s best defence (6 goals conceded in 11 games) but even that was torn to shreds by Aguero and co.’s fantastic incisive movement.
Incisive movement at its finest
Looking like their old title winning selves, Manchester City were scintillating in the final third with Tottenham’s indecisive defensive block affording City attackers with far too much room to manoeuvre. Time and time again City used a clever ploy which seemed to catch Spurs’ out on numerous occasions.
Aguero drifted into the inside left channel, another City player (this time Navas) temporarily occupies the number 10 role and holds position (as the decoy), as Aguero dribbles towards him. With Nasri’s clever movement taking the central defensive midfielder (Sandro) away from his position, Augero has a free path into the middle of the pitch which forces Dawson to come and engage the ball as he is reluctant to let Aguero shoot, leaving huge space in behind him. Augero feints the simpler pass to Navas, instead finding the pass furthest away (to Negredo) the most desirable. This allows Aguero to use his momentum to receive the ‘1-2’ pass in behind Dawson. Resulting in a 1vs1 with Hugo Lloris. Little clever offensive wrinkles like these caused Spurs way too many problems. Aguero’s menacing dribbles (he attempted 7, more than any other player) struck fear into the hearts of Spurs’ defenders and Negredo’s sublime touch created chances for his teammates (he created 2 clear-cut chances, more than any other player.)
Spurs attacking transitions
Tottenham’s inefficiency from their historically trademark blistering quick attacking transitions was alarming throughout the game and the first half in particular. Wsteful would be an understatement, embodied by Erik Lamela, who lost possession of the ball a total of 18 times (more than any other player) the majority during his over ambitious dribble attempts in transition. No Spurs’ player looked to take the responsibility of driving the team forward, until the 61st minute introduction of Mousa Dembele who was bright in his attempts to drive transitions forward at pace, attempting 3 dribbles; completing 100% of them. It seems if Tottenham are to become more effective in regards to their attacking transitions the Belgian International is key as he possesses exceptional dribbling ability at speed.
Probe, probe and probe some more…
As harsh is this may sound. Paulinho and Holtby in particular did, well, nothing. Nothing at all. Lewis Holtby playing in the number 10 role touched the ball just 37 times, all in areas which didn’t affect play, created 0 chances from open play and often shied away from any physical contact or duel.
Holtby often vacated his position (shaded area) to play deep and as a result not only fizzled out of the game, but left Roberto Soldado hanging with no link from midfield to attack. As a result, Soldado touched the ball just 28 times (as many touches as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris) and managed 1 shot throughout the game (off target.)
Paulinho also failed to add any quality to the team’s probing play in another inefficient display. 67% of his passes were played sideways with as little risk as could possibly be applied, and with him constantly being found in advanced areas like in the image above, surely he must look to add some creativity into proceedings? The Brazilian International has looked a shell of his former self from the beginning of the season and looks to be suffering from fatigue and a loss of confidence. Consequently, Tottenham were toothless in the middle of the park and lacked any sort of guile in the middle of the pitch as Soldado stood a frustrated, £26 million bystander before he was substituted on the 61st minutes.
As Pellegrini’s men continue their amazing form at home, Tottenham fall to an embarrassing defeat as Navas and Aguero both slotted home braces, Negredo adding a sublime strike, capped off with a Sandro own goal. The pressure is mounting on Andre Villas-Boas and it doesn’t get any easier as the champions visit White Hart Lane next week. Tottenham’s attacking woes just seem to get worse and worse, with 9 goals from 12 matches; Sergio Aguero has as many goals himself… However, undoubtedly the hardest thing for Spurs fans to swallow was their sheer lack of passion and effort given which is unacceptable in any level of football; let alone a side which should be challenging for the top four. AVB later apologised to the fans:
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”Andre Villas Boas” quotestyle=”style02″] The only thing I can say is sorry. It’s a very poor result, not to our level… My emotions are not very important. I don’t need to point out individuals but to lose 6-0 is extremely embarrassing for anyone involved in that… It is the worst defeat for all of us involved in Tottenham because we have high expectations and losing 6-0 to a rival tends to stick more. It is a bad moment for everybody. We can only look into ourselves and make sure we can go forward. My responsibility is to lift the players, there is always another game coming. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]
AVB clearly has some changes to make to this current Spurs set-up in regards to its tactics and mentality, what would you change and why?