Are Spurs better defensively under AVB?

Throughout the season I’ve been keeping an eye on if we are getting better defensively since AVB took charge.

You can read part 1 from September, part 2 from January and part 3 from March if you want to check out the previous pieces of analysis before delving in here.

With AVB having completed his first full season, I thought it a good time to wrap up on how we performed without the ball in the Premier League.

So, how have Spurs done defensively under AVB?

Goals conceded under AVB

The top line and main statistic for any defence, no matter how good they are, is the goals conceded column.

In 2011/12, Harry Redknapp’s side conceded the fewest goals since the 2005/06 Premier League season, when we allowed just 38 under Martin Jol.

During the 2012/13 Premier League campaign, the team, now under the stewardship of AVB, conceded 46 in the goals against column.

Goals Conceded4146
Per Game1.071.2

Although AVB’s side look to be more frequent shippers of goals than the team under Harry Redknapp, the numbers aren’t all they appear.

As we’ve seen over the season, since Hugo Lloris has taken over between the pipes, the goals against column has improved, markedly.

During Brad Friedel’s ten games between the sticks, we conceded 16 times in the Premier League or 1.6 goals per game. With Hugo Lloris in nets, we’ve conceded 29 times in his 27 games or 1.07 goals per game in the Premier League. The same level as when Harry was in charge last season.

But how have the rest of the stats faired?

Shots at goal under AVB

Goals come from shots on target, so this is the next place to see if Spurs are showing any signs of improvement this season.

Shots in box allowed263 (7th)224 (3rd)
Mins per shot allowed in box13 mins15 mins
Shots outside box allowed202 (4th)149 (1st)
Mins per shot allowed outside box17 mins23 mins

Overall, under AVB the number of shots conceded from our defending was down from both inside and outside the area than in the previous campaign.

Last season we were allowing an effort at our goal from inside the area every 13 minutes per game. This saw us ranked as the seventh best team in the Premier League. This season under AVB, we were allowing a shot every 15 minutes inside the area, which saw us as the team conceding the third fewest shots.

If you again throw in the Hugo Lloris factor, we were the team conceding the joint fewest shots from inside the box with Liverpool. With the Frenchman between the pipes, we were even stingier, conceding a shot from inside the area every 17 minutes.

Shots from outside the box have also decreased, showing a much greater improvement.

Last season we allowed a shot from outside the area every 17 minutes, the fourth best in the Premier League. This campaign sees us allowing the fewest shots from outside the box, with an effort conceded every 23 minutes.

Again this improves, but only slightly, to a shot conceded from outside the box every 24 minutes during Lloris’ time in goal in the Premier League.

Chances allowed under AVB

So, whilst goals conceded overall are up (or on a par with Hugo Lloris in goal) and shots conceded are down, it is interesting to look at where we have allowed chances to be created.

Chances conceded left109 (3rd)119 (7th)
Chances conceded centre115 (5th)77 (1st)
Chances conceded right121 (7th)68 (1st)
Mins per chance conceded9.9 mins13 mins

Last season we were conceding slightly more chances from teams attacking our right back, Kyle Walker. Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s left back area was the more secure zone.

This season, without Benoit Assou-Ekotto for much of it, opponents have had much more success at attacking our stand-in full backs in this area.

The differential between chances created through our left back zone (119) is vastly greater than through the middle (77) or the right back zone (68).

Despite the flack Kyle Walker took earlier on the season, chances allowed through his right side are the fewest in the league, something for his critics to mull over.

Overall, we were conceding chances every 13 minutes per match this season, compared to every 9.9 minutes last term.

This decrease means we are allowing 2.13 fewer chances per game and equates to 81 fewer chances conceded across the whole of this Premier League campaign.

‘Big chances’ allowed under AVB

OPTA defines a ‘big chance’ as “A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.

In the last campaign under Harry Redknapp, we allowed 49 ‘big chances’ or one every 70 minutes of game time.

This season we allowed many more, with 58 ‘big chances’ being allowed, which equates to one every 59 minutes.

The reason we are allowing more situations where an opponent would be ‘expected to score’ is in how AVB is using our defence.

With our back four pushing up and pressing, teams have been able to take advantage of the space in behind our backline. However, it is not just limited to squeezing up. When we have dropped off to defend a lead and encouraged teams on to us, we have also allowed efforts from close range.

In fact, 17 of our 58 ‘big chances’ allowed this season (29%), have come from four matches. Those were: the 3-2 victory at Old Trafford, the 4-2 defeat by Chelsea at the Lane, the 2-1 loss at the Etihad and the 5-2 embarrassment at the Emirates.

Brad Friedel was in goal for all of these matches apart from the game against Arsenal where we played 72 minutes with ten men in front of Hugo Lloris.

The American started off the season as our number one and we conceded 22 ‘big chances’ in his ten Premier League matches between the pipes. This equates to 2.2 excellent goal-scoring opportunities for the opposition per game.

With Hugo Lloris in nets we’ve given up 36 ‘big chances’ during his 27 Premier League appearances, or the equivalent of 1.33 per game, a marked improvement. This illustrates his great quality and speed from his line to operate as a sweeper keeper, cleaning up balls played in behind.

Last season we were conceding a ‘big chance’ every 70 minutes. This term with Brad Friedel in goal it was one every 41 minutes, but with Hugo Lloris between the sticks it has dramatically improved to every 67.5 minutes.

The overall average for this season is a ‘big chance’ allowed every 59 minutes and is worse than every 70 minutes last term, but the improvement with Hugo Lloris is a lot more positive.


AVB has a defensive strategy.

Are Spurs better defensively under AVB?

Overall we conceded slightly more goals per game this season (1.2) when compared to the last (1.07). However, in games where Hugo Lloris has been in between the sticks, our goals allowed drops dramatically to 1.07 – right on a par with last term.

Whilst we were conceding fewer shots and chances across the board, the area of irritation was the left back zone and this needs reinforcement this summer.

Allowing ‘big chances’ has been the scourge of any benefits from conceding fewer shots in the early part of the season with Brad Friedel in goal. Since Hugo Lloris has arrived we’re actually seeing less frequent ‘big chances’ in matches. The Frenchman’s speed from his line and control of his area, have dramatically stemmed the flow of situations where an opponent has an excellent opportunity to score.

Hugo Lloris really has been a major key in the improvement of our defence this season, allowing AVB to play his system more effectively. With him in the side we have definitely shown a marked improvement in keeping the ball out of the net with AVB in charge.

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4 Responses to Are Spurs better defensively under AVB?

  1. Mike 4th July 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Interesting analysis.

    Being an ex-goalkeeper, I’m way more critical defensively than I am going forward and my feeling was we leaked an unacceptable amount of goals at set pieces. Do your stats include free-kicks and corners? I’d be really interested to see how we did against last season and, more importantly, against the rest of the league this season at set pieces.

    My assumption is we scored the in the bottom 7 from corners and conceded in the top 5.

    Having Kaboul back will help a lot in this area and from what little I’ve seen of Paulinho, he’ll certainly help offensively from corners and hopefully defensively too. Two beasts in one team, an delicious prospect…

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th July 2013 at 9:33 am #

      Yes the stats include free-kicks and corners.

      We scored 13 goals from set pieces which is 7th best = with several other teams. 5 of these were from corners which is =13th with West Ham and Reading.

      We conceded 101 shots from set pieces, the fewest in the Premier League last season (Chelsea 103, Arsenal 107). But we conceded 11 goals which is = 10th overall.

      Agree Paulinho will help with corners at both ends.

  2. COYS_H 5th July 2013 at 7:57 am #

    The American started off the season as our number one and we conceded 22 ‘big chances’ in his ten Premier League matches

    With Hugo Lloris in nets we’ve given up 47 ‘big chances’ during his 27 Premier League appearances,

    47+22=69,not 58 this season. Is that something wrong?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th July 2013 at 9:35 am #

      Thanks for highlighting. We did concede 58 big chances last season, Friedel 22 Lloris 36. Figures updated in the article.