Spurs this season have picked up the majority of their points away from home. Nine of our seventeen accrued in the Premier League have come on the road, which is where we came unstuck at times last season.
In games where we were expected to win, or had plenty of chances to win down the home stretch, we often ended up drawing or leaving with nothing. There was the 1-1 at Villa Park, the 0-0 at The Stadium of Light, a 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road, the 1-0 reverse at Goodison and the 5-2 at the Emirates to name just a few.
This season has seen us already take three points at Old Trafford, the Madejski and St. Mary’s, whilst we were unlucky at St. James’s Park on opening day.
From just four trips away from the Lane, we’ve already garnered three victories, compared to just seven last season.
Although this is a small sample so far this Premier League campaign, we are not only scoring more away from home this season, but also conceding a greater number too.
Allowing goals usually has negative knock-on effects, but in the case of Spurs this season, it is actually having a positive one.
Last season, we had a differential of just +0.2 between average goals scored and conceded away from home. This term, there is a far greater +0.8 gap between average goals scored and allowed on the road per match.
This has resulted in Spurs achieving +0.9 points per match more from our away travels so far. The reason for this has been AVB’s penchant for attacking football in the first half of matches, then a defensive approach, soaking up pressure and playing on the counter attack in the second.
Five of our nine goals scored away from home have come in the first half, whilst two of the four we have scored in the second period have come on the counter attack.
All six goals that have been conceded on the road have come after the interval when we’ve been playing on the defensive.
There have been a number of key factors at work in this, which we will have a look at now.
Possession and passing
Spurs have been very content to concede possession away from home this season, especially in the second half when leading.
When we look at the difference between how we were enjoying 55% of the ball on the road last season to just 45% this, it becomes a bit more apparent why we’re conceding goals. Especially when we’ve been completing passes at a remarkably similar rate, 83.4% last term and 83.8% this time out.
The possession stat this season is a touch misleading though, given that we only had 27% of the ball at Old Trafford. In the other three away matches this term, we have had the ball on average 51% of the time, still down, but not as bad. The Old Trafford trip did highlight Andre Villas-Boas’ strategy to compromise control of the ball when in front in the second period though.
This conceding of possession and playing on the counter is further accentuated when we look at action areas of where the ball has been.
The play in our third of the pitch has increased by 3%, whilst decreasing by an even greater 5% in the opposition’s final third of the field.
Interestingly though, despite the fact that we have spent more time at our end of the pitch and less at the opposition’s, we are allowing less shots away from home.
|Shots allowed in box per match||Shots allowed from outside box per match|
Although we only have a small sample size from our away games this season, shots conceded overall are down from 14.8 per match last season to 11.1 this term.
Playing on the counter attack on the road, especially in the second half, means that we are squeezing up the space between the lines of defence and midfield. This is restricting teams to fewer shots against us, despite them having possession in our final third.
The reason we are conceding more goals on average so far this season (1.2 to 1.5 per match), is that when teams break through they usually have a good chance of scoring.
OPTA determines these as ‘big chances’ and defines them as:
“A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.”
Spurs have allowed 1.75 big chances per match away from home this campaign, compared to 1.4 per game last season.
Spurs attacking on the road
On the flip side, playing on the counter has allowed us to create more ‘big chances‘ this season away from the Lane.
We have manufactured 2 big chances per match on the road this campaign, compared to 1.7 per game last season. A factor in why we have increased our goal output from 1.4 per match on the road last term to 2.3 this.
We’ve also increased our shots in the box and therefore are scoring with a higher percentage of our efforts at goal.
|Shots in box per match||Shots outside box per match||Goals from shots|
Although our overall number of shots is down per game from last season away from home from 16.3 to 15.1 per match, our shots from closer in are actually higher.
This season, by playing on the counter away from home, we are taking more efforts closer to the goal and this is being rewarded with almost twice as many being converted.
Last term we had an overall goal conversion of 8.7% away from the Lane, this campaign it stands at a healthy 15% so far. This has seen us go from being ranked 12th in the Premier League for converting goals on the road last term to 3rd behind just Man Utd and Chelsea this time out.
Are Spurs better on the road this season?
So far, if you just drill it down to points per match gained, then our style of going at teams early and then trying to defend if we have a lead seems to be working. Even if this can be quite frustrating and nerve-wracking for the fans.
This style has seen us conceded more goals per match this season, but it has also seen us score much more as well. The differential between goals scored and allowed going up from +0.2 per away match to +0.8 is testament to that.
Defensively, playing on the counter away from home has seen us concede less shots, but more big chances. Going forward, it has allowed us to create better opportunities to score through the pace of our frontline.
There are still a lot of away days for Spurs to come this season, but Andre Villas-Boas tactics seem to be paying dividends so far.