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

The report of UEFA is full of interesting insights to last season’s Champions League, however there’s one statistic that stands out strongly.
In accordance with its findings, over fifty percent of the goals scored at the competition – 185 out of 366, to be precise – came from ownership regained in the opposition third.
It’s an eye-catching detail which reflects the expanding incidence of pressing at the maximum level of this game. The report specifically highlights the”extraordinary intensity” of all Liverpool’s media in their semi-final second-leg win over Barcelona. But the men of Jurgen Klopp were not the only ones up the pitch.
When Liverpool confronted Tottenham the final, was charged as a meeting between two of the best exponents of pressing. Curiously Spurs went on to record all year to their smallest number of anxieties in almost any Champions League game , with 64. On his own, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah accounted for 34 pressures by means of comparison.
What felt to be an anomaly in the time – over double as many pressures had been listed by Spurs in their semi-final second leg from Ajax a few weeks before – feels like the beginning of a fashion. In a time when pressing is becoming increasingly prominent elsewhere evidence suggests Spurs are going in the opposite way.
This season, the press that is high only hasn’t been around. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville explained Spurs because”lethargic” throughout their 2-2 draw with Manchester City last month. A week they had been flat from the 1-0 loss. And while they did counter-attack against Arsenal in speed last Sunday, their game was oddly absent.
Unai Emery’s side could build in the back more-or-less unchallenged in the Emirates Stadium, which was particularly surprising given the difficulties they had been caused by the high press of Liverpool in their match. The side of klopp earned possession at Anfield in the third 13 times. In the Emirates, Spurs handled it.
In fact, Spurs have only won ownership in the third nine times in four games annually, putting them one of Premier League sides. Their typical of 2.3 per match represents a substantial drop-off in their normal numbers. Last seasonthey dropped 4.2 per game, putting them fifth. In 2017/18, their average of 4.4 per game put them .
Opta’s data for sequences is much more revealing. Sequences are described passing sequences of fewer or 3 moves which end within 40 meters of the goal. This season, Spurs have pressured fewer pressed sequences (31) than any other Premier League side, averaging 7.8 per game compared to 13.2 last season.
It is still alarmingly out of character to get one side whose competitive pressing was a hallmark, although it is a little sample size, clearly. It’s not so long past that returning Watford director Quique Sanchez Flores was comparing Mauricio Pochettino’s players to”critters” for the pace and determination with which they searched possession.
So what’s happened? When it’s a strategy that is deliberate, then it is not working. Spurs have survived trips away to Arsenal and Manchester City this year, taking five points but the deficiency of urgency that was off-the-ball has observed them give a number of opportunities . Only Aston Villa have faced more shots. Only Norwich have confronted more shots on target.
It is likewise apparent that the problems are a source of annoyance for Pochettino. He’s cut a disgruntled figure since the Champions League final, complaining that his group would be the very”unsettled” it has been since his arrival in the club and alluding to its impact on the team’s performances – especially their pressing – following the Arsenal game.
“We need togetherness,” he said. “The group wasn’t settled and I told me from day among pre-season that I was not happy. The absolute most essential issue is to be on exactly the identical page and the players have a crystal very good idea of the way we need to move.”
An press demands total commitment from each player, it requires focus and team spirit. But with Christian Eriksen’s head elsewhere, together with Jan Vertonghen mysteriously dropping his place at the side and also signings still bedding , those variables have not been there. The cohesion of tottenham has accepted a hit and current evidence indicates their pressing has too.
Pochettino expects the close of the transfer window coupled with a pause for its break – will allow Spurs to receive their rhythm back. However, a high-pressing approach demands a striker. Is Harry Kane that striker? Is he suited to playing in a high-pressing strategy?
It is a conundrum for Pochettino. There may be no questioning Kane’s assaulting participation. He has scored seven times in the coming month of the season for club and country . However, in the past couple of years he’s endured a series of injuries and his game is growing as a outcome.
Kane remains at his most dangerous in the opposition’s penalty box, but he is just as likely to be viewed as he’s playing on the trunk of the defender, dropping deep. Instead of running in behind himselfhe now prefers to vacate the space to get his.
The development of kane has impacted his job, also. This year, he is averaging fewer ball recoveries and attempted tackles that are fewer than in any of his six campaigns with Spurs. So far this year, he has won possession in the third twice in 360 minutes on the pitch.
A player who once led the press for Pochettino is no longer playing with the identical intensity, and it’s not any coincidence that, the last time Spurs produced the sort of breathless pressing they’ve become known for underneath Pochettino – in that Champions League semi-final second leg from Ajax at May – Kane did not feature at all.
His return to the for its closing was a welcome increase for Spurs, but their intensity suffered , as we are told by UEFA analysis.
Perhaps Pochettino is trusting that Kane will contact his intensity levels. There was in the way he won ownership in the opposition half at the disagreement. He made another introduction on Tuesday for Raheem Sterling in equivalent circumstances from Kosovo.
But the Premier League is an environment that is altogether more taxing. Kane’s evolution suggests he knows his characteristics are shifting and the adjusted strategy of Tottenham this season indicates Pochettino understands it. A negative whose progress was pushed by tactics must get a new way. For now, it remains a work in progress.
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