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

UEFA’s newly-published technical record is full of insights to the Champions League of last season, however there’s 1 statistic that stands out strongly. In accordance with its findings, over fifty percent of the goals – 185 to be exact – came from possession regained in the final third of the opposition. It is an eye catching detail which reflects the growing incidence of pressing at the highest level of this match. The report specifically highlights the”extraordinary intensity” of all Liverpool’s media in their semi-final second-leg triumph over Barcelona. However, Jurgen Klopp’s guys were not the only ones to profit from compelling errors high up the pitch. When Liverpool faced Tottenham the final, was billed as a meeting between two of the best exponents of pressing. Curiously Spurs went on to list all year to their number of pressures in almost any Champions League game . On his own, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah accounted by means of comparison. What felt in the time to be an anomaly – over double as many pressures had been listed by Spurs within their semi-final second leg against Ajax a couple weeks before – now feels like the start of a fashion. In a time when pressing is becoming increasingly prominent everywhere, recent evidence indicates Spurs are moving in the opposite direction. This season, the press only hasn’t been around. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville explained Spurs because”lethargic” in their 2-2 draw with Manchester City a month. A week they had been flat from the 1-0 loss to Newcastle. And last Sunday, if they did counter-attack in rate against Arsenal, their game that is pressing was strangely absent. Unai Emery’s side were able to construct in the Emirates Stadium, which had been especially surprising given the obvious problems they had been induced by the high press of Liverpool in their match from the trunk more-or-less unchallenged. The side of klopp earned possession in the third 13 times. In the Emirates, Spurs just handled it twice. In fact, Spurs have won possession in the third twice in four games all season, setting them 16th . Their typical of 2.3 per game represents a substantial drop-off in their standard numbers. Last season, they averaged 4.2 per match, putting them fifth. At 2017/18, their typical of 4.4 per game put them third. Opta’s data for sequences is even more revealing. Sequences are described passing sequences of 3 or fewer passes which end within 40 meters of the goal. This season, Spurs have driven fewer pressed strings (31) than any other Premier League side, averaging 7.8 per game when compared to 13.2 final season. It is a little sample size, naturally, but it’s dangerously out of character to get one facet whose aggressive pressing was a hallmark. It is not so long past that returning Watford director Quique Sanchez Flores was comparing Mauricio Pochettino’s players to”animals” for the pace and determination with which they hunted possession. So what’s happened? If it’s a strategy, then it is not working. Spurs have lived away trips to Manchester City and Arsenal this season, shooting five points but the lack of off-the-ball urgency has witnessed them give a worrying number of opportunities. Only more shots have been faced by Aston Villa. Norwich have faced more shots on target. It is apparent that the issues have been a source of shame to Pochettino. He has cut a disgruntled figure because the Champions League final, complaining that his team is the very”unsettled” it has been since his arrival in the club and confer with its effect on the group’s performances – specifically their pressing – after the Arsenal game. “We need togetherness,” he explained. “The team wasn’t settled and that I told you from day among pre-season that I was not happy. The most important thing is to be on precisely exactly the identical page and that the players have a crystal clear idea of how we have to move.” An effective press requires total commitment it needs focus and team spirit. However, with Christian Eriksen’s head elsewhere, together with Jan Vertonghen mysteriously dropping his place at the side and also with brand new signings still bedding , those variables have not been there. Tottenham’s cohesion has obtained a evidence suggests their pressing has too. Pochettino expects the close of the transfer window – coupled with a pause for your worldwide break – will allow Spurs to receive their rhythm backagain. However a approach requires a striker to put the tone. Is Harry Kane that striker? Is he suited to playing a high-pressing system? It’s a conundrum for both Pochettino. There can be no questioning Kane participation. He has scored seven times in the opening month of the season for golf and country . But in the last few years he has suffered a string of injuries that were ankle as well as his game is currently growing as a outcome. Kane is in his box, but these days he is just as likely to be viewed as he is playing on the shoulder of the final defender, falling deep. Rather than running in behind himselfhe now prefers to vacate the space to get his team-mates to make the most. Kane’s evolution has influenced his function. This year, he is averaging fewer ball recoveries and tackles than any of the previous six campaigns together with Spurs. So far this season, he has only won ownership in the final third two in 360 moments. A participant who once led the media Pochettino is no more playing with the same intensity, and it’s not a coincidence that, the last time Spurs produced the kind of breathless pressing they’ve become known for underneath Pochettino – because Champions League semi-final second leg against Ajax in May – Kane did not feature whatsoever. His return to the beginning line-up for its final was a welcome increase for Spurs, however, their intensity suffered since UEFA analysis tells us. Pochettino is still trusting that Kane will get back to his old intensity levels. There was disagreement in the way he won ownership of the opposition half in the build-up to England’s third goal against Bulgaria on Saturday. Then he made another opening for Raheem Sterling in comparable circumstances against Kosovo. However, the Premier League is an atmosphere. The development of kane suggests he knows his features are changing and the adjusted approach of Tottenham this year indicates Pochettino understands it. A negative whose progress was pushed by approaches must discover a new way. For the time being, it’s a work in progress. This season it is possible to see without being a Sky Sports subscriber after the whistle at no cost and Premier League highlights. 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