Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Tottenham Lacked Width on the Left

It will be important for Tottenham to take advantage of space when it’s created when their wingers invert. Without Son Heung-min, they create their best chances when the opponent is stretched wide. They need men in those wide spaces when they invert.

Figure 1.1 - Tottenham's wingers invert.
Figure 1.2 - Brennan Johnson moves wide left as Pedro Porro sneaks up the right-wing.
Figure 1.3 - Ball carrier is dispossessed and the ball is never played wide.

In this scenario, the goal should be to play in the man wide, either Brennan Johnson or Pedro Porro. Force Burnley to contract central and then stretch them with a pass wide, to then attempt a cross across goal.

Figure 2.1 - Brennan Johnson carries the ball but Giovani Lo Celso does not attempt to overlap.

Dejan Kulusevski and Pedro Porro do a good job of rotating and maintaining width on the right, but Giovani Lo Celso isn’t as active as he should be on the left to take advantage of the space.

Figure 3.1 - Tottenham have the numerical advantage on the left 3v1 as Dejan Kulusevski switches to Richarlison.
Figure 3.2 - Richarlison attempts a header but looses the 50/50.

When they take advantage of that space on the left, they can overwhelm and stretch Burnley. Richarlison heads the ball back to Johnson in this scenario and that’s an easy goal.

Figure 4.1 - Dejan Kulusevski carries infield but Giovani Lo Celso is not there on the left to take advantage of the space when Brennan Johnson inverts.
Figure 4.2 - Giovani Lo Celso arrives into the space for Richarlison to play the pass, but he takes too long to release the pass.

The issue is timing with Lo Celso. If the carrier is ready to play the pass, he’s not there, and when Lo Celso arrives, Richarlison delays the pass to long and it gets intercepted. But the space is there to exploit.

Figure 5.1 - Giovani Lo Celso is free on the far side.
Figure 6.1 - No one is holding width when the Tottenham wingers invert.

They need width on the left to open space up for Johnson.

Figure 7.1 - Destiny Udogie crosses to Brennan Johnson free on the far side.
Figure 7.2 - Brennan Johnson volley on goal.

Destiny Udogie always inverts infield, to the middle of the pitch. He’s never tasked with venturing down the wing.

But as you can see from this example, Burnley are stretched. Udogie is holding the width, Johnson is inverted, cross comes in, volley on goal, great chance.

Figure 8.1 - Bryan Gil holds width as Brennan Johnson inverts.

Bryan Gil did a better job of this when he came on than Lo Celso. Look how vulnerable Burnley’s back-line looks if the ball were to be switched to the left side. Easy 4v3.

Figure 9.1 - Dejan Kulusevski holds width drawing the Burnley defender back, creating space for Pedro Porro to take the shot.
Figure 9.2 - Pedro Porro celebrating the goalzo.

If you’re not going to stretch the defense, the goal has to come from outside the box, at the top of the box. Enter Pedro Porro.

They could get away with this lack of width on the left because Son Hueng-min can carry. He draws defenders out because he’s a shooting threat from the top of the box. Without that threat, they’ll need to work more as a team to create space in the channels by constantly stretching the opposition, or else they’ll have trouble passing into the box.

Match: Tottenham 1-0 Burnley, 5 January 2024

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