Tottenham Hotspur’s drew at home to a defensive and determined Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. The point kept Spurs in third, clear of the chasing teams and close to the two Manchester clubs above them.
The last three home games against Wolves, Everton and West Bromwich Albion may highlight this. All three were set up in a 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 with defensive midfielders sitting in front of the back four and looking to hit Spurs on the break. In these games, Spurs have taken seven points, averaging over 66% possession, 87% pass accuracy and over 19 shots, scoring four and conceding only one. This should be considered a good return. Spurs may not have hit the heights of the Norwich or Liverpool matches in these games, but have still played well. The old adage that good teams grind out results when not playing well is perhaps equally true about teams getting results when the opposition is determined to frustrate and defend, and Spurs are doing this. Where perhaps the team needs to improve is taking opportunities.
Averaging 19 shots per game shows chances are being created but the shots on target to shots ratio needs to improve with only just over five shots per game being on target. Against these defensive teams, chances need to be taken. One other area that may need to improve is set pieces. As could be seen against both Stoke and Wolves, Spurs can be susceptible defensively from set pieces, however more important should be to improve the quality of their own set pieces with too many corners and free kicks failing to yield results.
Perhaps perversely, the run of coming fixtures may suit Spurs more. Between now and early March, Spurs play five of the top seven teams and Wigan. Most of these teams play a more open style and with the exception of Wigan are all in the mix for the title or a Champions League place. They should believe that they can beat Spurs [or have to] and coupled with their open play should attack. This should allow Tottenham to play their natural game and pacey break and counter attack. Whilst there will be pressure on Spurs in these matches to continue the title challenge, the opposition have as much at stake in challenging for the title/Europe. The pressure should be just as much on them to obtain a result in playing one of the top three teams in the league.
There may be some disappointing results to come but the quality the team possesses should see Spurs past most of the more defensive teams and be a match for the better ones.
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