What Vincent Janssen adds to Spurs

In signing Vincent Janssen for Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino has added a player with all the attributes to succeed in his system.

Vincent Janssen became our second signing of the summer. Arriving from AZ Alkmaar, the Dutch international is the striker that we’ve been craving. But what will he add to Spurs and how will he fit in?

Assassin in the inside right channel

Vincent Janssen brings is his ability to work the channels, particularly the inside right. This is crucial for strikers in Mauricio Pochettino’s system.

Harry Kane is often been seen buzzing through the inside left channel. This is where the assists came from for his goals last season.


Harry Kane assisted goals last season (Premier League).

Kane is predominantly right-footed, so this is the natural side of the pitch for him to work. It allows him to get through and open up the goal for finishing with his stronger foot.

Vincent Janssen is more two-footed than Harry Kane, but does favour his left. Working the inside right channel allows him to also open up the goal, just from the opposite side.

We can see how he favours the inside right channel from his passes played last season against Heerenveen.


Vincent Janssen passes played, AZ Alkmaar v Heerenveen.

And also how he favours working the inside right channel against Willem II.


Vincent Janssen passes played Willem II v AZ Alkmaar.

This gives Mauricio Pochettino options. Two strikers, both who are adept at working the inside channels on either side of the pitch. Whether this is from normal play or a counter attack situation, where Janssen is also very strong, we now have two lethal finishers.


Vincent Janssen can also finish with either foot. This should make his runs through the inside channels even deadlier.

Last season in the Eredivisie, Janssen scored 10 goals with his right foot and 15 with his left, highlighting that he is comfortable with either. These came from 39 shots with his right and 95 with his left according to WhoScored, so he was actually more efficient with his slightly less favoured foot.

He also isn’t afraid to shoot with 4.5 shots per game, the second highest average in the Eredivisie. With Spurs leading the Premier League with 17.3 shots per game last season and Harry Kane taking 4.2 per match, Janssen should still get a similar shot volume. Kane hit the target with 47% of his strikes last season, Janssen with 42%, so both are highly accurate.

Hitting the runners beyond

One thing a striker has to be able to do in Mauricio Pochettino’s system is to hit the runners going past him. It’s imperative that the number nine can can come short, hold the ball up and pass to those running beyond him.

We’ve seen this develop over the course of last season with Harry Kane and Dele Alli. Kane is able to come short, dragging the centre backs with him, allowing Alli to burst past him in to the space created. We saw this to devastating effect in the 4-0 win over Stoke at the Britannia.

Vincent Janssen is not the tallest, but he does have a big body that he uses well to fend off defenders and hold the ball up. He then has the ability to use both feet and a decent weight of pass. He uses these attributes to play in runners going beyond him, as he does here to set up Mounir El Hamdaoui.


Janssen holds the ball up and plays in the runner past him.

El Hamdaoui made the burst beyond Janssen and was rewarded with the goal. Mauricio Pochettino will require Vincent Janssen to do more of this next season. The quicker he gets on the same wavelength as Dele Alli, the better.


Five assists in the Eredivise last season are testament to Vincent Janssen’s ability to play others in.

His assist for Holland against England at Wembley also showed many of Janssen’s good characteristics. It started off with him running the inside channel to receive the pass. He used his strength to shrug off Phil Jagielka. Then he had the composure to pick out Luciano Narsingh at the back post.

Spotting teammates in better positions to score saw Vincent Janssen make 1.7 key passes per game last season. This was the thirteenth highest average in the Eredivise, not bad for a striker.

Long ball love

Another area of Janssen’s game that appeals to Mauricio Pochettino is how he is adept with the long, quick pass forward. This can be out of defence or on the counter attack.

The arrival of Toby Alderweireld signalled a new dawn in our attack. His penchant for a long pass over the top of a defence to set either Dele Alli or Harry Kane in on goal is well known. Mauricio Pochettino wants us to keep defences on their toes by quickly turning them and this does just that.

Vincent Janssen also likes this kind of pass. He is not fast, but his movement is stealthy and he likes to play on the shoulder. It also allows him to use his dribbling to great effect as defenders find it hard to get the ball off him as he shields it well.

You can already see Toby Alderweireld making this kind of pass to Vincent Janssen next season.

Formation flexibility

We saw a lot of 4-2-3-1 from Mauricio Pochettino last season without many options to change it. Vincent Janssen offers not just a backup or rotation option for Harry Kane, but is also equally at home in a 4-3-3 or alongside a strike partner in a 4-4-2 diamond.

AZ Alkmaar used the twin striker approach to good effect at times last season. With Janssen being left footed and Kane right, it offers the versatility that you wouldn’t get up front with two same footers.

What’s more, Kane likes to run the inside left channel, Janssen the inside right. This would give centre backs fits. The pair can both pass and move towards or away from the ball to hold it up or play others in, so it could be devastating when deployed.

This formational flexibility will give Mauricio Pochettino other looks to either start or change matches with, an exciting prospect.

Flat-track bully?

The one concern about goal scorers from the Eredivisie is the standard of the league. Vincent Janssen will also have to shake off this reputation before we know just how good he truly can be. There is the concern though that he is a flat-track bully. Janssen scored 27 goals in the Eredivise last season, but only 1 came in the 4 games against the top two.

Ajax and PSV were the standout teams in Holland last season. They were miles in front of the rest, 19 points ahead of Feyenoord in third to be exact. Just one goal in four games against them is a cause for concern, as were his two goals in six Europa League matches. Vincent Janssen is still yet to do it consistently against top quality opposition.

What Vincent Janssen brings to Spurs?

Identifying and targeting Vincent Janssen is definitely the work of our scouting department.

He has all of the attributes that Mauricio Pochettino requires from his centre forward. Strong, able to hold the ball up, hit runners going beyond him, work the inside channels, look for the long ball in-behind, and, most importantly, score goals.

His ability to do all this, and offer some flexibility to our formations as well, makes the signing of Vincent Janssen an exciting one for the upcoming season.

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12 Responses to What Vincent Janssen adds to Spurs

  1. Paulo 13th July 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    Thanks for this Mark.. I’ve got high expectations for Mr Janssen and i think a lot of the papers have got it wrong saying that he’s going to be warming the bench all season… It would be excellent to see a couple of different systems evolving and will help catch teams out. I’ve been watching a few video clips in the recent days and I think it shows that he is a great finisher… Somehow it shows that it’s not just a case of being against weak opposition in way that I can’t quite explain!

    Besides, he got a goal and an assist against England…. Oh wait.
    Do you think we should sign anyone else this summer?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 14th July 2016 at 7:41 pm #

      Thanks Paulo. He’ll be doing a lot more than warming the bench. Genuine competition for Kane and hopefully having a few systems and different plans will be how Poch evolves the team this season.

      I think we need another player that can fill in on the right of the centre back pairing. We have cover in Dier but i’d like to see us bring in someone else if Cameron Carter-Vickers is not seen to be making the step up this season.

      I’d also like to see us sign another player in the Eriksen mould. He often looks knackered come April and having someone to spell him (or be able to play as a number ten to offer something different in here) would be on my list. Problem is they are tricky to find at decent prices and wages. ALex Pritchard would be one alternative if we wanted to bring someone through, but he seems strangely out of favour.

      Any positions you would bolster?

  2. anotherwisemonkey 14th July 2016 at 7:37 pm #

    I expect Janssen to start the season in the first XI, as Kane and the other lads involved in the Euros will not have had enough pre-season to fully get up to speed fitness-wise. We saw Kane start slowly last season after the U21 England matches, so I think Janssen will start in the team, enabling Kane to come on from the bench and play in the Capital One Cup etc until he is fully fit. This is a good thing.

    I’m also excited about the prospect of seeing them play together at times, particularly if we are chasing the game or playing against opposition content to sit back.

    Obviously, Dembele is banned for the first four matches of the season, so Wanyama will also be starting. Given the injury to Vertonghen and late return from International duty of many players, including Lamela, could the opening-day starting line-up look something like this?


    Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose

    Wanyama, Mason

    Son, Eriksen, N’Jie


    I expect it won’t be quite that extreme, but I’m interested to hear your thoughts, and encouraged that our squad is becoming deeper.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 14th July 2016 at 7:49 pm #

      Great post Anotherwisemonkey. I do think we’ll see a lot of rotation to start the season for exactly those reasons. Many of our lads will be late back from tournaments and won’t be up to the standard of fitness that Poch spends a big chunk of pre-season drilling us on. We will see different lineups earlier in the campaign compared to six or seven games in. It’s also good we’ve brought Wanyama and Janssen in so early so they can settle.

      It’s tough to predict just now as we still have the tour to Australia and injuries may be a factor. But, I think Vorm may get the first couple of matches with Hugo being involved in the Euro 2016 final with France. I also think Bentaleb will get some game time in the early matches, maybe alongside Wanyama.

      We’ll see just what Poch does in the pre-season games and when the Euro and Copa lads return.

  3. Dr JAB 16th July 2016 at 8:38 am #

    Mark, good to see the focus back on Spurs and anticipation of the new season.I am also hopeful that Janssen will provide that extra option that we need. I was interested in your analysis of formations as I felt we were often locked in to the 4231 and struggled when Kane was crowded out. An alternative to those you suggest is the 4312 used by Portugal with Erikson behind twin strikers, who as your article indicates, would challenge opposition by working both insight left and right channels. Your thoughts?

    Agree we need another right sided CB once we unload Fazio. My concern is about the wide left in the 4231 structure. Erikson was put there to accommodate Alli in the centre even though there was rotation among the 3. Not sure that Chadli or Njie are the answer. Erikson who was the number 10 until Alli emerged could be rested with Alli in this position but we need a reliable wide left in this scenario.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 17th July 2016 at 12:38 pm #

      Hi Dr JAB some very good points you raise. We did seem locked in to a formation and a fixed starting XI last season. This was especially true in the run in where the team picked itself and I did wonder whether Poch didn’t change it for fear of upsetting the momentum, especially from the 4-0 Stoke game.

      I’m hoping that having a number of different looks is what this season is all about and Pochettino can have at least 2 or 3 go to formations. Eriksen behind twin strikers might be an excellent choice against teams that sit deep, especially at the Lane, an issue that has plagued many a manager because of our slightly smaller pitch.

      As you have probably often read on here, I am also a fan of adding a second passing number ten to get two of these types of player on the field against sitting teams. This would see them either operate at the number ten and eight positions or it could be varied with one from wide on the left and one in the number ten slot. Two trequartistas and two strikers could be the answer against bus parking teams at home.

      The wide left player you talk about adding is an interesting one. I think we have options here. It really depends on just how much the club want to bring youth through or want to buy and then how much to spend?

      I also think the position needs defining. Are we looking for an inside drifting playmaker? This is the current way it works. Are we looking for a wide forward here or a winger (natural or inverted)?

      I believe once these questions have been answered then we can go about either bringing players through or recruiting. We may even find that if Poch wants to add different looks to the team then we may have different players here with differing skill sets depending on if he wants a playmaker, forward or winger.

      Eriksen is the current incumbent. He provides playmaking and also a healthy number of goals from set pieces and open play. If we want a similar player and to develop our own then Alex Pritchard may also get brought through this season. He has the characteristics to be in a similar mould if the club believes he can cut it at this level. A year ago we were big on him after his Brentford loan, but that seems to have cooled and he is linked with moves away.

      If we’re looking for a wide forward to provide goals then I like Son here (it appears to be his best position). N’Jie may also work. I don’t think he’s had a fair crack yet. He arrived after the season had started and was out a lot with injury. I’d like to see him given some more game time or at least games with the under 21s to see what he can do. Josh Onomah impressed at times with limited appearances last season and I think he could be given more of a shot here too.

      If we want a natural or inverted winger at the position then we may have to buy. The links with N’Koudou seem to suggest that. A player that is two footed, can go either way and has blazing speed. It’ll be interesting to see if we wrap up a deal for him as supposedly a fee has been agreed.

      Once the season kicks off things will be much clearer. I actually like a lot of the options that we have and that we are still investing in youth by bringing players through or buying them young.

  4. freeflow12 17th July 2016 at 9:25 pm #

    Finally a striker! Looking forward to watch Janssen play.

    Hopefully Pritchard will be given first team games in the upcoming season. Brentford manager rated him highly saying Pritchard will shine in Premier League.

    Regarding the CB, we’ve been linked with Jannik Vestergaard. What do you think about him ?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 19th July 2016 at 12:17 pm #

      I think Vestergaard is a good player, but didn’t he just sign for Monchengladbach?

  5. chu2ks 18th July 2016 at 11:38 am #

    Interesting read as always, Mark.

    I feel Janssen might shock a lot of people this season, and also Poch’s flexibility tatically might do the same. I’m a huge fan of our manager, even when he was at Southampton because of the way they played and pressed, and I seem to remember him playing both Rodrigeuz and Lambert in the same games, with the more technical Rodriguez playing a bit left-side, which is what I think he’ll do for some games with Harry Kane – who LOVES cutting in from the left to have a crack on goal.

    I like the N’Koudou move, as it adds genuine pace, and if other rumours are to be believed, then Yunus Malli will be the last target, so that will handle the Eriksen rotation dilemma.

    With regards to covering Dembele, I see no reason why Bentaleb can’t do it. In my opinion, if he strips off his alleged ego (and abandons attempting in-game tricks on the ball), he’s the perfect understudy to Dembele. Lets not forget he only played alongside Dier when Dier hadn’t quite mastered his position, so they were still learning each other when injury and loss of form struck, plus Dembele emerged. If he simplifies his game to what it was in his breakthrough half-season under Sherwood, we’re set.

    I would promote a young centre-back, because the prices out there are bordering on vulgar, once they know you’re in need.

    I don’t know about everyone on here, but based on how hard we practise, and the nucleus we’ve created, I believe a top-4 place is highly achievable.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 19th July 2016 at 12:29 pm #

      Great comment Chu2ks. I have high hopes for Janssen. He seems to have a really good attitude and Poch making remarks about it highlights how important this is as part of our player recruitment.

      I too can see Bentaleb covering Dembele and from what we see and read online at the minute, he’s got his head down and working hard in training. I think playing alongside Dier or Wanyama will suit him, as long as he cuts out those dangerous sideways passes. He definitely has the strength, size, short range shuttling and passing game required to operate in that number eight position.

      Top four is a possibility again. It’s going to be much harder this season though with Champions League games and Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd all being re-tooled with better players and managers. I also think Leicester will be pesky again, if they can replace the production they got from Kante and don’t lose Mahrez. They play a system that is very tough to break down and until someone figures out a style and method to play against them, they will be a difficult opponent who will go better than the one-season wonder tag most are giving them.

  6. freeflow12 20th July 2016 at 5:41 pm #

    Oooppsss sorry, my bad. I didn’t notice Vestergaard’s transfer.

    Well, if Carter-Vickers can’t get first team spot, who would you see us sign ?

    And also who is the player you prefer if we want to bring a no. 10 like Eriksen ?

    That newly-bald Bentaleb is training real hard, surely he wants to fight for a spot in the team. Obviously Dembele is the first choice in the no. 8 position. But if he plays there, what will he bring to the team compared to Dembele ? Can he adjust to formational flexibility expected from Spurs in the upcoming season ? Last season, injuries unfortunately limits his game time.

    Can’t wait for pre-season games and the Premier League to kick off ! COYS !

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 20th July 2016 at 7:28 pm #

      I think Carter-Vickers should get a shot this season, but we do need a good ball player, one who can execute those Alderweireld-esque diagonal passes. John Stones and Virgil van Dijk are good options with Premier League experience. Jason Denayer looked good when on loan at Celtic, maybe we can tempt him?

      As far as number tens go, i’d really like to see us test the water over at Man Utd with an enquiry over Juan Mata. He always seems to get isolated on one flank, but always to me looks so much better in the centre. The other more budget friendly one I like is Mahmoud Dahoud.

      All the talk and rumours coming out of the club indicate that Bentaleb has his head down and is graftng to prove himself this season. All good signs. I think he’ll cope better in the 8 position as he won’t be at the six like he was with Mason where basically he had to put out the fires that Mason often left. He obviously doesn’t dribble like Dembele but does offer better forward passing. If he can cut out those blind sideways passes then he will have a bounceback season.