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Can Hugo Lloris adapt his game?

Two factors have emerged for the goalkeeping role since Tim Sherwood has taken over and Hugo Lloris has had to adapt his game as a result.

Our French keeper was the perfect fit for Andre Villas-Boas’ high line and pressing system that wanted to control possession.

With the centre backs pushed up to condense the playing area, he swept up the space behind them if the opposition attacked it. When the ball was in his possession, he started play from deep as he either threw or passed it to his centre or full backs.

With Tim Sherwood at the helm, Hugo Lloris is now being asked to operate behind a deeper sitting centre back pairing and to kick the ball downfield.

Less space for the sweeper keeper

Hugo Lloris is a natural to play behind a high defensive line, with his ability to mop up anything hit over or through his centre backs. He did this with regularity and developed quite a reputation as he flew out to take the ball before an attacker could get there.

In Andre Villas-Boas’ high line system he had space to do this with his centre backs pushed up and given the green light to sweep up everything played in-behind.

If we look at two games from earlier in the season, we can how condensed our formation was from back to front and how high the centre backs were against Hull.

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Spurs average positions at home to Hull.

Now Hull sat deep, but the centre backs were also up at the halfway line against Swansea, a team that actually wanted to attack us. The formation was also condensed from back to front here too.

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Spurs average positions at home to Swansea.

Tim Sherwood has naturally put his own system in place, which has seen the centre backs drop deeper in an attempt to keep everything in front of them.

Although now away from home, compare the average positions of our centre backs in the illustrations above with those from the match report with Hull at the weekend. Also note the distance from back to front.

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Spurs average positions at Hull.

And also the return at Swansea, where the formation is again elongated from back to front as the centre backs were deeper.

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Spurs average posiitions at Swansea.

Hugo Lloris’ natural instinct is to come flying from his line to close the attacker and take the ball away on anything played through or over our defence.

With the alteration Tim Sherwood has made, it impacts his instinctive game in two ways.

Firstly, he has less space to cover. This could be seen as good, but actually this is now condensing the playing area on him, forcing him to make decisions of whether to come for a ball rather than having the green light to go get it. This means that he has to make decisions much quicker as he’s not expected to race from his line every time.

This impacts on the second factor, time. Having less time to react with his defenders much deeper cuts down on any ability to hesitate or change his mind and reduces any margin for error further.

Having less space to work in and less time to make decisions has seen errors start to creep in.

The tackle on Ashley Young that he fortunately got away with and avoided a penalty at Old Trafford was one such instance where space and time were condensed on him.

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Hugo Lloris is late to Ashley Young.

Flying out at Nikica Jelavic when the Croatian received a through ball just outside the area at the weekend was another. Jelavic chipped Lloris, but Michael Dawson was able to clear the ball just before it crossed the goal line.

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Jelavic chips the on-rushing Hugo Lloris.

On both occassions, Hugo Lloris only just got to the edge of his box, whereas usually he’d be outside his area sweeping up.

This isn’t Hugo’s fault, as this is caused by a system that requires him to make assessments of whether to stick or twist, rather than just going.

Hugo Lloris’ kicking game

It’s not just condensing the space on a keeper that likes to rush from his line that Hugo Lloris is dealing with, he’s also being asked to kick long downfield.

Andre Villas-Boas wanted to retain possession and build from the back. This saw Lloris often go short with the ball to his centre backs or full backs, only kicking downfield if the opposition pressed him.

Against Hull and Swansea earlier this season in the Premier League, we can see just how often his distribution was short and found it’s target.

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Hugo Lloris passes played at home to Hull and Swansea.

Tim Sherwood now wants his keeper to put the ball downfield to take advantage of Emmanuel Adebayor’s height.

Lloris’ distribution in the return matches with Hull and Swansea now tells a much different story.

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Hugo Lloris passes played away at Hull and Swansea.

Hugo Lloris is comfortable with the ball at his feet and is a very good short distributor, but even for AVB, accurate kicks downfield were not a strong point. Lloris was in the team for his ability to move it around at the back with his hands or his feet to retain possession, not to go long downfield.

Can Hugo Lloris adapt his game to Tim Sherwood’s system? Only time will tell.



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4 Responses to Can Hugo Lloris adapt his game?

  1. brossy 5th February 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    Lloris is a good goalkeeper, he will be one of the first to leave if we don’t finish fourth. Villas Boas was trying to bring success to spurs in the long term but his tactics were undermined by Dawson’s inability to track back and his hoofed clearances and inability to pass. now that we are playing deeper Dawson is still suspect. we need Chiriches and Vert in there. Vert is the real leader in this team. no chance of 4th with Daw I’m afraid

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th February 2014 at 11:28 am #

      I do hope that LLoris stays whether we make top four or not. I think he definitely needs a settled back four in front of him, something we’ve not had this season.

  2. Dr JAB 7th February 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Have only picked up on this telling article now. The charts showing Lloris distribution with kicking the ball out instead of passing it out confirm my frustration watching possession being given away. You mention that it is intended to reach Ade who can hold the ball up, but he is one among four or more big defenders and the chances of retaining possession are demonstrated in your stats – 10/30 & 5/26!! The majority of our players are small – Lennon, Erikson, Soldado and they can’t head it, so the possesion is given away and the pressure comes back onto us. This is not rocket science. I can see it sitting in my lounge in Johannesburg. Why cant Tim see it from the dugout?

    What we need is to retain possession by Lloris rollinig/throwing the ball out, BUT for the player to move it up quicker than the pedantic AVB style.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th February 2014 at 11:50 am #

      I’m pretty sure this is a defined game plan and maybe they are hoping for that 1 in every 5 clearances that generates possession in the final third and a better scoring chance than trying to build from the back. Personally i think you have to play to your strengths and ours is speed, so i would e looking to get the ball out from the keeper either passing or throwing to the full backs.