Tottenham’s pressing problem: Is Mauricio Pochettino changing their approach this season?

UEFA’s record is full of intriguing insights however there is one statistic that stands out particularly strongly.
According to its findings, more than half of those goals – 185 out of 366, to be precise – came from possession recovered in the final third of the opposition.
It’s an eye catching detail which reflects the expanding prevalence of pressing the maximum level of this match. The report particularly highlights the”extraordinary intensity” of Liverpool’s press in their own semi-final second-leg triumph over Barcelona. But Jurgen Klopp’s guys were not the only ones up the pitch.
When Tottenham were faced by Liverpool the closing, was charged as an interview between two of the best exponents of top pressing. Though, Spurs proceeded to list all season to their smallest number of pressures in almost virtually any Champions League match . On his own, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah accounted for 34 worries by means of comparison.
What felt to be an anomaly at the time – Spurs had recorded more than twice as many pressures within their second leg from Ajax – today feels like the beginning of a trend. At a time when high pressing is becoming increasingly prominent elsewhere, recent evidence suggests Spurs are moving in the opposite way.
So far this year, the press that is high hasn’t been around. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville explained Spurs as”lethargic” in their 2-2 draw with Manchester City a month. They had been flat in the 1-0 loss to Newcastle a week later. And last Sunday, while they did counter-attack at rate, their game was strangely absent.
Unai Emery’s side were able to construct in the back more-or-less unchallenged in the Emirates Stadium, which had been surprising given the apparent problems Liverpool’s high press had caused them in their match. The side of klopp earned possession at Anfield in the last third 13 times. In the Emirates, Spurs only managed it.
In reality, Spurs have only won ownership in the third twice in four games all season, setting them 16th one of Premier League sides. Their typical of 2.3 per match represents a significant drop-off on their normal numbers. Last year , they dropped 4.2 per game, placing them fifth. Back in 2017/18, their typical of 4.4 per match put them .
Opta’s information for sequences that are pressed is much more revealing. Sequences are defined passing sequences of three or fewer moves which finish within 40 meters of their own goal. This season, Spurs have forced fewer pressed strings (31) than any other Premier League side, averaging 7.8 per game compared to 13.2 last season.
It’s still dangerously out of character to get one side whose pressing was a hallmark, although it is a small sample size, naturally. It’s not so long ago that returning Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores was assessing Mauricio Pochettino’s gamers to”creatures” for its speed and determination with which they searched down possession.
What’s happened? When it is a strategy, then it isn’t working. Spurs have lived excursions away to Manchester City and Arsenal this year, shooting five points from their first four matches, but the lack of off-the-ball urgency has noticed them provide up a worrying number of opportunities. Only more shots have been faced by Aston Villa. Norwich have confronted more shots.
It is likewise clear that the issues have been a source of shame for Pochettino. He’s cut a disgruntled figure since the Champions League final, complaining that his team is the most”unsettled” it has ever been since his arrival in the club and alluding to its effect on the team’s performances – specifically their pressing – following the Arsenal match.
“We need togetherness,” he explained. “The group was not settled and I told me from day among pre-season that I wasn’t pleased. The most crucial issue is to all be on exactly the identical page and the players have a crystal clear idea of how we need to move.”
An effective media requires total commitment from each player, it demands focus and team spirit. But with the head of Christian Eriksen elsewhere, with Jan Vertonghen strangely losing his place and also with new signings bedding , those variables have yet to be there. The cohesion of tottenham has taken a evidence suggests their pressing has also.
Pochettino hopes the close of the transfer window coupled using a pause for its break – will allow Spurs to receive their rhythm backagain. However, a strategy needs a striker. Is Harry Kane nevertheless that striker? Is he suited to playing a system that was high-pressing?
It is a conundrum for both Pochettino. There may be no questioning the assaulting participation of Kane. He has scored seven days for club and country . However, in the past couple of years he has suffered a series of ankle injuries as well as his game is currently evolving as a outcome.
Kane is at his most dangerous from the opposition’s penalty box, but nowadays he is equally as likely to be seen as he’s playing on the shoulder of the final defender, falling deep. Rather than running in behind himself, he now prefers to vacate the distance for his team-mates to make the most.
Kane’s development has impacted his function. This year, he is currently averaging chunk recoveries and tried tackles that are fewer than in any of the previous six campaigns with Spurs. So far this season, he has won ownership in the third twice in 360 moments.
A participant who once led the press Pochettino is no more playing the same intensity, and it is not any coincidence that, the last time Spurs produced the sort of breathless pressing they have become known for beneath Pochettino – because Champions League semi-final second leg against Ajax in May – Kane did not feature whatsoever.
His return to the for its closing was a welcome boost for Spurs, but their intensity endured since we are told by UEFA’s technical report.
Maybe Pochettino is hoping that Kane will contact his previous intensity levels. There was in the way he won ownership of the opposition half at the build-up to England’s third goal against Bulgaria on 24, psychologist. Then he made another opening for Raheem Sterling in similar circumstances against Kosovo on Tuesday.
But the Premier League is an environment that is entirely more taxing. Kane’s evolution suggests he understands Tottenham strategy this year suggests Pochettino understands it and his attributes are shifting. A negative whose progress was driven by high-pressing tactics must find a new way forward. For now, it’s a work in progress.
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