Spurs season defining tactics: exploiting the inside left channel

Overloading and exploiting the inside left channel has been key to many Tottenham goals and wins this season.

Mauricio Pochettino likes to overload teams in the centre of the pitch. This is the area where you have the highest chance of creating good opportunities and converting these in to goals. With the way that the Spurs team has been set up this season, it has seen us attempt to exploit the inside left channel.

Overloading the inside left channel

On paper, Danny Rose should really look the only threat down the left. Christian Eriksen starts in front of him, but you’d expect him to drift inside because he is a central player.

But for Spurs this season, that has been a bit of a mirage. Eriksen does drift off the line, but more often than not in to pockets of space in the inside channels. Dele Alli and Harry Kane, however, frequently migrate to the left in order to exploit and overload teams along with Eriksen in the inside left channel.

Take our 3-0 win over Bournemouth towards the end of the season. Christian Eriksen, despite being billed as a central player, spends a lot of his time out on the left to receive the ball. He does drift across the entire pitch, but more often than not when he does move inside it is in to the inside left channel.


Christian Eriksen passes received vs Bournemouth.

Harry Kane is our central striker, but he too will come short in the build-up play by drifting out to this side. They are also joined by Dele Alli, who despite starting from the number ten position, frequently gets involved on the left as well.


Harry Kane and Dele Alli passes received vs Bournemouth.

Throw in the power and strength of Mousa Dembele in slightly deeper positions and you have the recipe for how Mauricio Pochettino overwhelms teams on this side of the pitch.


Mousa Dembele passes received vs Bournemouth.

Our second goal in that match showed our power through the inside left channel as Dele Alli sent Harry Kane in.


Alli plays Kane in through the inside left channel.

Kane goal gain

Overloading opponents in this channel with Dembele, Eriksen and Alli has really benefited Harry Kane.

On Kane’s Premier League goals that were assisted this season, using data provided by the excellent Paul Riley, we can see just how many have come through the inside left channel.


Harry Kane assisted goals this season (Premier League).

Springing Kane through here naturally opens up the goal and gets him on his favoured right foot to finish across the keeper in to the far corner of the net.

Team channel

But it’s not just Harry Kane that has benefited from Pochettino’s penchant for overloading this channel.

If we look at the positions of where the ball was passed from on all of our assisted goals this season, we can see just how many came from the inside left channel compared to other areas of the pitch.


Start location of the pass for assisted goals (Premier League).

It’s a phenomenal number, as 17 assisted goals came from the inside left channel, which is almost half of the overall total that were assisted on this season (38).

Having four players, and sometimes even five when Lamela joins in, sees us with numerical advantages that the opposition just cannot handle.

What’s more, with so much going on in this channel, it can often free up the full backs in space down the flanks to work crossing positions, so the tactic helps other parts of our attack function as well.

Whilst the inside left channel hasn’t been an exclusive zone for our goal scoring this season, it has certainly been a consistently profitable one.

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