Mauricio Pochettino is slowly but surely bringing back some sheen to this Tottenham side. The former Argentine national has brought an attacking flair to this Spurs side, that have taken to his style of play so well. For a manager considered as attacking as he is, it comes as a surprise that Pochettino, along with his cross town arch rival Arsene Wenger has conceded the least number of goals in the league this season (7 goals). The spine of any team plays the most crucial role in its fortunes and Pochettino has benefited from a solid spine. The likes of Kane, Chadli, Eriksen and Lloris have helped this side up the ante. However, in this segment, we look at a pairing that seems to be going just fine despite being formed only recently; the one of Vertonghen and Alderweireld.
The Belgian pairing is being cited as probably the strongest centre-back pairing in the league at the moment. The league might boast of better centre-backs than the two, but their pairing brings out the synergies in their skills like no other pairing at the moment.
Pochettino has advocated a high pressing game that starts its moves from the deeper position, and in Jon and Toby, the Argentine has a very good ball playing centre-back pairing. They both have some neat passing ability stitching passes from the back while also showing a good eye to find the man making the right run off the ball. They have completed an incredible 86% of their passes, while averaging close to 10 successful long balls every 90 minutes.
Defensively, the duo brings a lot of solidarity to the Spurs’ backline while going about the dirty work at the back end of the pitch. They have hardly put a foot wrong in possession or in position, a combination of actions only top defenders seem to have mastered. They are neither easy to get past (less than 1 instance per 90 minutes) nor easy to be dispossessed (Just 1 instances in the league so far), a feature that has often meant trouble for the opposition. They have averaged 6 successful duels on the ground and in the air per 90 minutes at a combined success in excess of 55%. Alderweireld has a more attacking role of the two, as he can often been seen pressing the opposing attackers to regain possession while Vertonghen plays his natural sweeper role to perfection.
Their ability to break down the opposition’s moves has not been restricted to just perfectly timed tackles. They have been making intelligent runs off the ball, reading the oppositions moves as is evident from the 4 successful interceptions they have made per 90 minutes so far. Add to that their ability to thwart the opposition with timely clearances and the pairing ticks of all the right boxes.
The products of the famed Ajax academy, the duo had some success together at Ajax before taking different paths to make the step up in their careers. Now united again, the duo have taken no time to impress one and all with their understanding on the pitch. With the season still young, Mouricio Pochettino will be hoping that this partnership will only reap better rewards going forward for the club to turn into serious contenders for the coveted Champions League spot.