Tottenham Focus - Pressing game makes Spurs hard to beat, but hard for Spurs to win
Tottenham went fourth in the Premier League, level with Chelsea and Liverpool, after leaving Goodison Park with a point on Sunday.
Arguably the match evened itself out over the 90 minutes with Spurs dominating the first-half and Everton taking more control in the second. However, if Tottenham had made better use of their first half supremacy to take the lead, Everton would have had to risk more to get something from the game, leaving more gaps for Spurs to exploit. Spurs should have taken all three points here to go second.
The first half was a fine example of how well the pressing game can work. From the kick off Spurs were in Everton’s faces, pressing so high up the pitch that the Toffees were unable to build from the back and were frequently turning over possession. Spurs were almost playing a 4-1-4-1 formation with Paulinho pushing forward to join Lewis Holtby in chasing down the ball, leaving the effective Sandro as the sole defensive midfielder.
The second half seemed a mirror of the first. Everton pressed Spurs backwards, but for all the pressure created few chances against an impressive and organized defence that has only conceded one away goal in nine matches this season, and one that with the ball-playing Vlad Chiriches and Jan Vertonghen as well as the pace of Kyle Walker can quickly turn defence into attack.
As well as the pressing game worked in the first half, does it bring problems to be resolved? Everton were pushed so far back in the first half that at times they had all their players behind the ball. As clever as some of Roberto Soldado’s runs are, Spurs found it difficult to find him and he cut a frustrated figure.
Is the pressing game leaving too little space for Spurs to create good chances? Aaron Lennon also appeared a peripheral figure, partly because the tactics leave him little room to run at the opposition but also he looked uncomfortable as an inverted winger, with not enough confidence in his left to make the defender think he will go outside. Considering Andros Townsend is comfortable on both feet, it seems surprising that the two didn’t switch flanks. If this is the tactic then perhaps Gylfi Sigurdsson is better suited to start.
Townsend has had an excellent start to the season but does he need to improve his decision making? Partly due to the number of defenders faced, he has a propensity to shoot from range; however are there times to vary this and slip a through ball or cross in? An example was late in the match when he shot straight at Tim Howard with both Paulinho and Soldado running through.
Spurs are not turning good pressure, possession and combination play outside the box into goals. The pressing game is making Spurs difficult to beat but is it making it difficult for Spurs to win. Do the Lilywhites need to take the chance of being more open to score more?
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