Mauricio Pochettino is the latest coach at Spurs and we will be seeing a different philosophy and playing style this season.
If you’ve missed any posts, you can catch up on the overview of Mauricio Pochettino’s system here. What it will mean for our goalkeepers, what changes our defence will need to make and how will it affect the midfield by clicking the links.
In the final part, we’ll be taking a deeper at look at what will be required from our forward players.
Mauricio Pochettino has three formation sets that involve the forward players. The first is a lone striker in 4-2-3-1; the second is an additional striker operating in the number ten position, but also in the 4-2-3-1 formation. The third is a trio of forwards in a 4-3-3 system.
Lone striker 4-2-3-1
This is Mauricio Pochettino’s most common set-up whereby he utilises a number nine who is capable of playing as a lone striker.
This player has a number of roles in the team:
– Work the channels
– Hold the ball up
– Release valve for any long balls cleared from defenders under pressure
– Come short to take vertical passes out of defence and hit runners going past him
Mauricio Pochettino had both Rickie Lambert and Dani Osvaldo for this role at Southampton, usually opting for the now Liverpool man.
Lambert could be forgiven for being thought of as a typically big, aerially strong English number nine. However, Mauricio Pochettino used him to take advantage of his excellent movement and range of passing.
Lambert was not quick over the ground, but he didn’t need to be, as his intelligent moves dragged defenders out and he was able to find faster players running past in to the space.
A great example is here, where he comes short to get on the ball in midfield trapping Hull defender Paul McShane in two minds as to whether to go or stay. This leaves him in no man’s land and allows Adam Lallana to race in to the space behind. Lambert puts him in on goal with a perfectly weighted through ball.
Lambert in the above image is in the inside left channel, but his ability to work the channels on each side of the pitch can be seen from his passes received in the match. Note how he rarely receives the ball in the middle of the pitch until up in the final third. This is the sign of a good striker, one who moves away from central defenders, giving them a choice to make of whether to track him.
Lambert not only receives the ball from longer passes delivered from the goalkeeper and defenders, but is also heavily involved in the middle third. Up top, he is tasked with getting on the end of crosses, where he likes to pull on to the full backs in order to use his size and out jump them. Whether this is just a Lambert trait of trying to match up on a smaller full back or something Mauricio Pochettino coaches, we’ll have to wait and see.
If we look at another game, Southampton’s Premier League match with Fulham, we can see a lot of similar things going on.
Lambert is a release valve for anything sent forward long from the back (this can be in the air or to feet). He comes deep in to midfield and works both sides of the pitch, only appearing in the centre in the final third to get on the end of crosses.
His passes in the game see him try to hit those who have moved past him, especially through the inside right channel of the penalty area.
This is what Mauricio Pochettino is looking for from Rickie Lambert, so that he can take advantage of his excellent range and touch on passes.
We saw some similarities with this in our pre-season game with Toronto.
Roberto Soldado came short and fed in Erik Lamela as the Argentinean surged past him for our first goal, with the aid of Lennon stepping over the pass.
Note how Eriksen and Lennon ahead of Soldado are occupying the defenders and the spare centre back is caught in two minds and several yards off Soldado.
He then set-up Lamela once more with another perfectly weighted ball as the Argentinean flew past again in to the space to get his second. Eriksen and Lennon were once again looking to move past Soldado from their roles in the advanced midfield three.
4-2-3-1 second striker
I talked about this approach in the post yesterday about how Mauricio Pochettino will change our midfield, so I won’t spend too much time on it again.
Rather than play a more traditional number ten in Adam Lallana, Pochettino will go for another striker, but in the hole. Usually this was Dani Osvaldo, but after his fall out, Jay Rodriguez often popped up here.
This of course means that you lose the traditional passing lock-picker (Lallana) from the number ten slot. However, in this set-up, he is often moved out to the right to drift inside from wide.
What is gained in this formtation is another man to get in the box for Southampton’s crossing. With Jay Rodriguez cutting in to the penalty area from the left and Osvaldo joining Lambert from the number ten position, there are at least three targets. They were often joined by the late arriving box-to-box midfielder (Schneiderlin) to get another body in the penalty area.
Mauricio Pochettino often used this system to overpower supposedly weaker teams that may sit back.
The three forward formation is one that Mauricio Pochettino switched to quite regularly and works like this.
In this set-up he would often move his wide midfielder (Steven Davis) from the 4-2-3-1 set-up in to the centre to become more of a creative passer. Alongside Davis he would sit a box-to-box midfielder (Schneiderlin) with a defensive midfielder (Wanyama).
The three forward positions would see a wide forward in Jay Rodriguez out on the left, moving towards the middle in the final third.
Rickie Lambert as a number nine, working both sides of the formation and coming short so that runners could work off him.
The change would come out on the right, where Adam Lallana would become a drifting playmaker. The key is the positions that Lallana takes up as he moves across the formation.
From Lallana’s passes received map, we can see how he drifted across the pitch from his role on the right of a front three.
He often changed positions with Lambert and Rodriguez to highlight the fluid nature of Pochettino’s formation, which is at its most prevalent in this set-up.
This movement allows Lallana to play through balls or shorter pulled-back crosses when he is in the penalty area.
He can also burst past his centre forward, as he did on scoring Southampton’s second goal, after moving inside from the right.
This is not just limited to having Adam Lallana and getting arguably Southampton’s best player in to this formation. When Mauricio Pochettino went 4-3-3 with the Saints, he installed a drifting playmaker from the right.
At home to Norwich, Gaston Ramirez filled this role with similar results, as Saints ran out 4-2 winners.
Christian Eriksen may well get the nod to fill this role for us this season. Interestingly he started from the right in a 4-2-3-1 in the pre-season friendly against Toronto.
This may draw some comparisons from last season where he drifted from a left midfield position. However, unlike then when his drifting would leave his full back exposed, especially when we were 4-4-2, he will now have the cover of an additional midfielder (the Steven Davis’ role) in the 4-3-3 set-up.
How Mauricio Pochettino will change Spurs
In this series i’ve looked at an overview of Mauricio Pochettino’s system. What it will mean for our goalkeepers, what changes our defence will need to make and how will it affect the midfield and our forward line. Thanks for reading.