Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

The large space between Tottenham’s lines for Newcastle to exploit

April 23, 2023 — Newcastle undid Tottenham due to their lack of compactness and static positioning. It was a deserved 6-1 loss at St. James’ Park, more of the same because the space between the lines has been an issue.

Figure 1.1 - Schar plays the ball over Tottenham’s back-line to Joelinton for the second goal

Tottenham played in a 4-4-2 out-of-possession with a flat-back four. Newcastle had the freedom to play balls like this over the top of Tottenham’s back-line for the second goal.

  • Little to no pressure on the ball
  • Back-line is flat-footed, ball watching

Pedro Porro was unaware of Joelinton’s run-in behind him.

Figure 2.1 - Dier passes to Son flat-footed, facing goal with two Newcastle defenders ready to challenge the ball
Figure 2.2 - Son is tackled

Add Hueng-Min Son to the list of players who were dispossessed facing goal this week with two Newcastle defenders breathing down his neck as the ball was thrust forward into his path by Eric Dier.

This tackle led to Newcastle’s fourth goal. The ball was played forward by Joe Willock, who then shot a screamer outside the box into the bottom-left corner below Hugo Lloris’ outstretched hand.

Figure 3.1 - Burn wins the duel passing to Guimaraes

This play showcases how open Tottenham was. They were left exposed once Dan Burn won the ball.

Figure 3.2 - Guimaraes passes to Willock
Figure 3.3 - Willock trevla to Isak past the 1v1

Look at the amount of space Joe Willock finds himself in to then trevla, outside the foot pass, to Isak beyond Tottenham’s stretched back-line for Newcastle’s fourth goal.

Figure 4.1 - The ball is played past Tottenham’s first line, Son and Kane

Newcastle’s fifth goal best illustrates the lack of compactness by Tottenham. Remember that they are in a 4-4-2. The ball is played past Son and Kane easily. No pressure applied; each Newcastle player has time and space to pick their pass.

Figure 4.2 - The ball is passed through Tottenham’s second line

Again, no pressure and tons of space between the lines. Newcastle makes runs to exasperate that issue of space further.

Figure 4.3 - Ball is played to the corner of the box to Isak past Tottenham’s back-line

Four simple passes with no pressure in tons of space to get past all three of Tottenham’s defensive lines. The gaps within those lines could fit four or five Newcastle players, and Tottenham is static, ball-watching.

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