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The secret to the success of Erik Lamela

Erik Lamela is having a breakout season with his goal scoring on the rise after making some simple changes to his game.

Three is most definitely the magic number for Erik Lamela. His third season at Spurs is very quickly becoming a breakout one for the mercurial youngster who arrived as our most expensive signing ever.

He had five goals in all competitions last term, but with four in rapid time this, a tweak to his game is making all the difference.

Adapting Erik Lamela’s game

Last season saw a very static and predictable player. Without the ball, Lamela provided decent cover for his full back. His tracking and energy to regain play, despite often being mistimed, was never in doubt. However, when we had possession, Lamela often cut a confused figure. Someone who was slow to recognise situations and was comfortable just drifting out wide, looking to pick the ball up, float inside and shoot from range. His goal against Burnley was a typical of what he wanted to do and although a screamer, failed to light the touch paper.

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Lamela beats Mee inside to score.

Lamela frequently did this and it failed to see him kick on. His only other Premier League goal last term came from a bundled in effort off his arm at Southampton, just five games from the end of the campaign. The goal was fortunate, but was scored by Erik Lamela getting himself forward in to the box, something that has transformed his game this season.

Getting in the box

Nothing exemplified just how much Erik Lamela has changed game this season than his goal in Monaco.

Lamela picked the ball up on the edge of our box, fed it out to Nacer Chadli and set off.

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Erik Lamela passes out to Nacer Chadli and sets off.

He had the full distance of the pitch to cover, but that didn’t stop the Argentinean surging forward to get to the Monaco box at the same time as the ball got to the feet of Dele Alli. A lung-bursting run like this saw him arrive unmarked and able to sweep home Alli’s shot as it rebounded loose off the goalkeeper.

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Erik Lamela cleans up the rebound.

Content to drift around outside it last term, getting and arriving on time in the box has been the standout feature of Erik Lamela this. His goal in the 5-1 drubbing of Bournemouth at the weekend just wouldn’t have happened last season. As Harry Kane chipped the ball back from an acute angle, Lamela was already there inside the six-yard box to hoover up Boruc’s spill of the ball.

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Erik Lamela sweeps home from inside the six-yard box.

It’s not just getting in to the box and supporting the striker that Erik Lamela is doing. He is also looking to play on the shoulder of the last defender when the ball is on the other side.

Playing off the last defender

Against Manchester City in our 4-1 win, he rounded the game off with a coolly taken goal as he kept his nerve to round the keeper. When the ball went out to Clinton N’Jie in the build-up, Lamela was off, looking to race off the last man to receive the cross.

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Erik Lamela is ahead of the pack to receive the ball from N’Jie.

It was the same in the Europa League against Qarabag. Lamela raced through to ping a shot off the post before latching on to Harry Kane’s through pass to add our third. On both occasions he was looking to take his position and play high off the last defender.

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Erik Lamela pushing on makes it 3-1.

He is now constantly looking to get up much higher in his starting position and run off the opposition’s defence, which is making him much more of a threat. Another great example was on our fourth against Bournemouth. Kane got the goal as he latched on to Christian Eriksen’s exquisitely curled in pass. However, Erik Lamela was there alongside Kane, already on the move and looking for something to be played in-behind as well.

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Eriksen chips the ball in for Kane and Lamela.

Erik Lamela playing with this much aggression in his positioning was unheard of and unseen last season, but this term it is proving to be a revelation for the team.

We’ve seen it on the pitch, but proof is also in the numbers. Last season, Erik Lamela was getting a touch of the ball in the opposition penalty box every 40 minutes in the Premier League. This campaign he is getting one every 25 minutes, a huge increase and evidence of just how much more he is looking to get in the penalty area.

The secret to the success of Erik Lamela

What we are seeing this season is the result of good coaching from Mauricio Pochettino and the willingness of Erik Lamela to make it happen. This is definitely by design and something that Pochettino coached Jay Rodriguez in to doing when he was at Southampton. Rodriguez went on to become Saints’ top scorer that season and whilst Lamela might not equal those kinds of numbers of goals, he is definitely becoming a more solid and reliable contributor.

Returning late from Copa America didn’t help Lamela, but after a shaky start, he is growing with every match. What’s more, his defensive energy and intensity has and continues to remain an underrated part of his game. Now we are finally starting to see some offensive production alongside that tigerish tracking back as he becomes a two-way player.

Despite two underwhelming seasons in a Spurs shirt, Erik Lamela is still just 23. This term, he appears to be making up for lost time and long may it continue.



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19 Responses to The secret to the success of Erik Lamela

  1. spursince82 30th October 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    Wishful thinking. And much welcomed positive spin. However, for me this guy is still pony. The Korean player is a genuine talent and has demonstrated the difference between hype and fiction, in less than 10 games. The first touch and dribbling from lamela is still pretty light weight, you only need to compare him to the real deal’s in the game. Irrespective of skewed stat findings.

    now lets go tear the ass out of the Villa!
    COYFS

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th October 2015 at 7:21 pm #

      Four goals already this season, no wishful thinking about it, he is getting further forward and putting a shift in, something he’s been criticised for throughout his time at Spurs. The Korean player is called Son Heung-Min by the way, you can learn more about him here ;)

      • YouShubes 30th October 2015 at 7:39 pm #

        Given his injury plagued first season, and all the managerial upheaval it came amongst for me THIS is his second season with us.

        I do like in the interchange of our front 4 when one of us goes out to the wing, there is a least one or two bodies in the box to aim at. Once Harry Kane improve his decision making in wide areas and is able to whip in better crosses ala https://youtu.be/xuV3ET8alYs?t=415 then I can see Lamela getting more goals.

        We are moving the ball quicker and our off the ball movement is improving. Still think we need to get better crosses from our fullbacks. Surprised we have not seen this yet from Trippier.

        Lamela is showing glimpes of the potential we all hoped, and has put that performance against Stoke long behind him

        His tackling is still from the Paul Scholes playbook though!

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th October 2015 at 8:00 pm #

          Scholes was an awful tackler. Lamela does still make clumsy challenges and these need to be ironed out of his game, but he still recovers the ball a lot in spite of this. It’s a downside you have to take with his game for me.

          We do need more out of our full backs and that should be the next area Pochettino works on in training. Walker is getting forward much more in recent matches and Rose’s return to playing Premier League matches rather than Europa League ones should also benefit this.

    • capsharp 31st October 2015 at 1:20 am #

      Narrow minded comments in deed mate, Lamela was a total loss the past two seasons and as this article points out very well, he is making up for lost time and at 23 still isn’t the finished article. He has time on his side, he has come from a league where the pace is slow to one where it’s mostly frenetic.
      Going by your judgement and opinion, when Gareth Bale was in a losing spurs side all those games and not really doing well, he was a waste of space and would never have made it yeah?
      Narrow mindedness is the killer of talent and patience is the natural nurturer of it, we need to stick by this kid and the manager, if Poch didn’t see anything in him he would have gone before the start of the season, plenty of clubs were in for him. But no, Poch sees plenty in him and has decided to keep him, thankfully that decision isn’t down to the short sighted legion such as yourself.

      • capsharp 31st October 2015 at 1:24 am #

        My comment was aimed at Spursince82 by the way

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2015 at 7:11 pm #

          Always read them that way ;)

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2015 at 7:11 pm #

        Great words, spot on Capsharp.

  2. SP 30th October 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    It’s not just on the few times he has scored, either. He is gambling all the time now, where he used to hang back before. Definitely a combination of good coaching by Poch and a willingness to listen and implement what he has heard by Lamela. As @YouShubes says, he would probably have more if Kane and the rest changed their decision making (for the better, IMHO) – so lets hope that happens.

    @spursince82 – Are you saying Son (seemingly) adjusting quickly and Lamela improving are somehow dependent or mutually incompatible in some way? Son has joined a team on the up from a league that is more easily translatable to the BPL, is older than Lamela was at point of signing and is playing under a totally different head coach with totally different attributes. I can’t believe it is really your contention that only poor players fail to adjust immediately, no matter what the circumstances – if you have been following football since 1982 you should remember that Cristiano Ronaldo was laughed out of the room in his first season and more at OT. Alan Hansen and the MOTD crew used to laugh themselves silly because all he did was a few pointless step-overs and then fall over.

    Lamela had a dreadful first season – joining in the post-Bale gloom, with a head-coach rapidly losing interest (for whatever reason) and then had to adjust to Mr Sherwood’s unique brand of football management half way through his season. He was 21 (I believe), didn’t speak a word of English, came from a league that is in many ways the exact opposite of the BPL, and, so far as I am aware, didn’t even particularly want the move. He had a bad back injury with a huge chunk of his first season still to play (or not). Last season he was nowhere near as bad as some make out: he worked hard, tracked back well, aided our midfield passing game greatly and provided a fair amount of assists. On top of which he takes a damned good corner – why was/is this ignored? Spurs fans have spent the last 500 years whingeing that we haven’t had someone who takes a good corner and as soon as we find someone they refuse to acknowledge it and treat it as a triviality. And he has improved again this season, not least in the way the OP is highlighting. So come on, credit where it is true. If the only contention was that he still hasn’t quite lived up to his price tag, I would agree – he hasn’t. But at least he looks a genuine Premier league player now. So give him some credit, eh?

    • Reinert 31st October 2015 at 2:03 am #

      Good points! Maybe it is hard to recognize a corner-taker if you’ve never seen one ;)

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      Great comment SP.

      Lamela is gambling much more often, we saw that also in the Anderlecht match where he could’ve and should’ve put us two up inside 5 minutes. It is good to see him making these runs now as he looks much more of a threat.

      Nice points about Son and the situations with which both he and Lamela joined the club. I think Son will be a star for us, but he is going to have a dip at some point and it’s how he deals with that which will be key to his development. He’s hit the ground running which is good to get the fans on his side and gift him more time when things aren’t going to plan. Lamela didn’t do this when he joined due to a number of the factors that you list with injury being the worst enemy of his during that first season when he was supposed to be the man to fill Bale’s shoes. Having to wait so long for some production from him is why he has struggled to get a number of fans back on his side even now things are going better. It will take a long period of scoring goals and also creating them to do this. For some, unless he is having the impact that Bale was on games, it’ll never be enough.

      • SP 1st November 2015 at 2:44 am #

        Exactly. Some folk see what they want to remember and not remember what they see.
        For instance, your response below: they remember the times Lamela gave free-kicks away (without contextualising that he is playing for a head coach who demands rapid and early tackling, even at the risk of giving away free-kicks). What they don’t remember, even though they have seen it, is the number of times he wins the ball back cleanly. He also gives the ball away (weakly, at times) and each time elicits lots of comments. But I have seen Kane give the ball away three times in our own half – and not one person comment on it. Why should they, the agenda is different, so they don’t remember it.

        As for me, I’m relatively happy with him – still some improvement to come, and needed to justify the price tag. But I’m a patient kinda guy :)

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st November 2015 at 11:25 am #

          Spot on. He’s his own player for me and should be judged accordingly. He has his strengths and weaknesses, its how he improves the weak areas of his game that will determine how good he becomes. He’s not the finished article yet, at 23 how can he be?

  3. Zaph 31st October 2015 at 3:50 am #

    On Lamela’s ‘ball recovery’ – he’s very quick to press once possession is lost (often by him) and he’s persistent, even relentless. Sholes was a terrible tackler alright and wouldn’t have lasted too many games under current ooficialdom, lamela, is more gangly and clumsy, although I’m surprise he hasn’t got two yellows yet.

    The free kicks he gives away are a concern – less so this season, as Spurs seem to defend much better – I wonder how many chances have resulted from free kicks given awway (per player)

    Overall, I love the bloke, different, capable of something extraordinary, working at his game; makes errors but doesn;t hide.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2015 at 7:37 pm #

      His ball recovery is an underrated part of his game. Yes he does give away free kicks, but you can’t ask players to press if you’re not prepared to give a few fouls away, its why we lead the Premier League in the most fouls category.

  4. Chris 31st October 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    Whilst I agree that Lamela has improved (slightly) this season by way of getting into the oppositions box more often, I still think that he is more of a liability than an asset. If Poch and his staff are as good as we are led to believe, why can’t they teach Erik how to tackle? Working back is all very well, but if the outcome is a free kick against us in a dangerous position, it seems to defeat the object! I live in hope that he eventually realises his potential at Spurs but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st October 2015 at 7:50 pm #

      He does make clumsy challenges and at 23-years old he still has time to iron this out of his game. Pochettino does ask us to press though, so we have to be prepared to give up some fouls, its why we have made the most in the Premier League. A team can’t be aggressive in regaining the ball if it is not prepared to give a few up.

      Lamela does give up his fair share and these are often focussed on more than the times when he wins the ball back. When his challenges go wrong, they can go really wrong, often looking awkward and clumsy. However, just for example he gave up 3 fouls against Bournemouth, but won the ball back 14 times for us. I know that i’d be prepared to give up this number of fouls for almost five times as many ball recoveries.

      • Zaph 1st November 2015 at 4:00 am #

        14 ball recoveries! That seems like a lot – 1 every six minutes. How does that compare to other players in our team and the league? Is he top of the ‘recovery’ chart?

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st November 2015 at 11:22 am #

          Its not really if you think of all the ways you can recovery a ball for your side, its not just through tackling.

          OPTA stats for recovering the ball for the team through either tackling, intercepting or being first to a loose ball to regain possession in Premier League only. So far this season our side totals for this are:
          Walker 138
          Alli 111
          Vertonghen 100
          Dier 89
          Dembele 85
          Lamela 78
          Alderweireld 68
          Kane 54
          Eriksen 54
          Chadli 47

          If you break this out for minutes played per ball recovery in the Premier League:
          Dembele 5.5
          Alli 5.6
          Rose 5.7
          Walker 6.8
          Lamela 7.2
          Son 8.1
          Dier 9.3
          Vertonghen 9.5
          Eriksen 10.5
          Chadli 11.9
          Alderweireld 13.9
          Davies 14.1
          Kane 16.5