Tottenham vs Manchester United

Tottenham vs Manchester United Preview: Competition and Congestion

Almost as quickly as the ‘Pochettino to Manchester United’ rumours appeared they have vanished again from the discourse.

Coverage of Tottenham games return to the games themselves and the Argentine’s initial vague dancing around the subject is replaced by expressing a will to remain in North London for as many as ‘twenty years’ – a similar statement of confidence to ones he has made in the past.

Perhaps the performances of the club under caretaker Ole Gunnar Solskjær, albeit against lesser opposition, has lead the United board to readdress and cool their interest?

Of particular note has been the improvement of Paul Pogba since Mourinho got the sack. Many wanted to see the Frenchman operating a role in a three man-midfield with less defensive responsibility. Jose dismissed those he sarcastically labelled ‘experts’ as a over-simplifying yet here we are witnessing the positive effects of such a move. Read More

Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur

Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Winning Badly

The last couple of weeks have been quite emotional for Spurs fans. Squeezing through the Champions League group stage via an impressive 1-1 draw at Camp Nou. A last minute 1-0 victory against a time-wasting Burnley (Twelve measured the ball to be in play for only 61 minutes). Mauricio Pochettino being very strongly linked with the newly vacated Man United job. And finally, north London derby-redemption in the League Cup.

That last twist in the rollercoaster was fairly indicative of the season gone. Pochettino’s model of play is based primarily upon a control of the midfield that has, for personnel reasons, been largely missing this season – something that we’ve talked about at length at Twelve. Yet Tottenham have, for the most part, found their way to results despite this lack of control. With Spurs enjoying only 45.6% share of possession at the Emirates, Wednesday’s game was no exception.

Sunday’s kick-off against Everton will present similar obstacles. The Toffees, under Marco Silva, are – forgive us Everton fans – not entirely different to their Merseyside neighbours in that they look to create their attacks via the way they behave out of possession. Read More

Arsenal vs Tottenham

Arsenal vs Tottenham Preview: Going The Distance

One London derby blurs into the other for Tottenham, as Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs themselves all now operate somewhat similar styles. Comparisons between Spurs and Arsenal have always aggravated fans but the two teams may appear more similar on the pitch than they ever have when they go to battle on Sunday afternoon.

Squeeze the opposition. Win the second ball. Work the ball to work the space. Take a risk. Repeat.

Practice overcame individual talent last weekend when Tottenham utilised an ultra-narrow diamond to cut-off Chelsea’s preferred passing patterns to take advantage of Sarri’s reluctance for his teams to build through his full-backs. Pochettino sat Dele right on top of Jorginho for 90 minutes, suffocating the visitors possession game and creating turnovers in the process.

The underlying issue for Chelsea, just as is the case for Arsenal, is that although the ideas and talent is there those two elements will take more than a few weeks to become at one. Results are largely coming their way but Emery is not seeing his team control the game through counter-pressing as he’d like them to. Read More

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Midfield Missing

Central midfield has not stopped being the overarching theme all season and the most recent games are no exception. Last time we checked in things were looking up with Mousa Dembele and also Harry Winks finding fitness at the same time. This was shortly followed by both defensive midfielders, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama, becoming injured and then Mousa Dembele going down in some pain during the opening two minutes against Wolves.

All this combined to lead Pochettino starting a midfield duo of Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen against PSV midweek, a midfield thinness not seen since Tim Sherwood infamously played Nacer Chadli in the role.

Often, when mentality is discussed, and it is discussed often, it’s perceived as a singular aspect. “He was mentally strong”, “He was mentally weak”, “They had a winning mentality”, “They had a losing mentality”. Tuesday night’s victory over PSV seemed to showcase some of the complexity and nuance around the psychological side of the game. Read More

Wolves vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

Wolves vs Tottenham Preview: Portuguese Pressure

The story of Tottenham’s season so far has been finding good results despite poor performances. Recent games against PSV and Man City have been a full reversal of that trend with the club’s two most promising displays of football so far this year returning a single point.

Whether Spurs fans choose to view that as positive or negative probably comes down to individual mindsets but at the very least there’s a case for optimism to be found in Dembele once again appearing fit, as Spurs near the middle period of the season. Read More

PSV Eindhoven vs Tottenham Hotspur Champions League Preview

PSV Eindhoven vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Containing Chucky

In Tottenham’s first two games of the season Pochettino fielded a creative but lightweight midfield. In the opening 45 minutes Spurs created enough chances to gain a lead and in the second half the opposition realised they should take advantage of Spurs’ somewhat soft midfield and press back. On both occasions Pochettino brought Mousa Dembele off the bench to calm the game down and see out the win.

Saturday’s victory over West Ham was much the same affair, only with Harry Winks and Mousa Sissoko in place of Eriksen and Dele to form the initial midfield trio with Eric Dier. Read More

Tottenham vs Barcelona Champions League Preview

Tottenham vs Barcelona Preview: Whose Ball Is It Anyway?

David Wagner dominated the tactics board on Saturday with his Huddersfield side pressing Tottenham Hotspur into a mess. They limited Eric Dier to a poor performance with 78% pass success rate and Paulo Gazzaniga just 52%.

But it mattered for nothing as Spurs’ individual supremacy shone in the transitional and improvisational moments, giving Tottenham a misleadingly comfortable 2-0 scoreline.

The chance for Tottenham to test their talents against Barcelona is an exciting challenge. The two teams haven’t met in senior competition for decades, but it’s coming at the wrong time for the north Londoners.

Issues in midfield remain unresolved after an event-less transfer window. Post-World-Cup fatigue is hurting a team with no less than nine players in the semi-finals. Spurs are suffering a slow start to the season. Now, just in time, an injury crisis has set in. Dele, Aurier, Eriksen, Lloris, Vertonghen and Dembele are all doubts. Read More

Brighton vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

Brighton vs Tottenham: Snuffing out or just stuttering?

Tottenham played their best football of the season for a 30-40 minute stretch on Tuesday night before extending their losses to three in a row (which has never been seen before under Mauricio Pochettino) because sometimes that is just how football is.

The underlying mental weakness which Spurs and Pochettino have worked so hard, for so long to banish from the conversation surrounding the club crept back in, as three points as of 85 minutes became none by full time.

The discourse digs in deeper now. Is Pochettino’s head already elsewhere? Are the players still willing to invest? Has the system been found out? Is the project reaching it’s conclusion?

We can’t mind read but we can point to more tactical explanations and solutions. They are three-fold: Read More

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool Premier League Preview

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool Preview: Just Score First

The ‘head-to-head record’ may well be the weakest statistic used in football but the sport is changing. The top teams, at least, are firmly out of the era of the reactive and into that of proactive tactical approach. Alternatively phased, we now have a lot of managers who are accused of not having a plan B.

As a result, the last seven games between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur – in the period since Jürgen Klopp took over – have been largely very similar.

Screenshot from 11v11.com

Spurs open themselves up with possession football. Liverpool turn the ball over in midfield and counter-attack with rapid pace. Spurs do a decent job of pressing in return to suffocate the counters, and are less tired by the end of the game so can rally back (as evidenced by the fact only two of their goals in these fixtures have come before 60 minutes). Read More

Watford vs Tottenham Hotspur

Watford vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Fancifying The Four Four Two

Time and time again, Spurs fans end the season incredibly proud of Mauricio Pochettino’s achievements but questioning what might have been if only the team had started the season as strongly as they were throughout the rest.

It’s highly promising then that Tottenham have begun the 2018/19 season with three straight wins – that third win coming at Old Trafford, no less.

Already there are hushed tones of a title race and if you brace your ear to the wind you will hear the clickity-clackity sound of think pieces on the power of not making any transfers being typed into existence.

Still, a tough test does lie ahead if Spurs want to make it four in four and start separating themselves on the table this early in the season.

Pochettino found eventual success against José Mourinho’s Manchester United after shifting to a 4-2-2-2 shape which has been a consistent for Watford in their opening three games. Read More