Jermain Defoe worked tirelessly for the team at Old Trafford and despite not directly assisting on any of our goals, he played a major part in all three.
For Jan Vertonghen’s opener, he dragged Rio Ferdinand out in to the right back position, affording the Belgian a huge amount of space to run in to.
Gareth Bale made it 2-0, but Defoe’s run across in front of him took Johnny Evans out of the frame, allowing the flying Welshman to torch the aging Ferdinand.
For the third, he was first to the ball out wide on the left and had the strength to hold off Ferdinand once more. He then slipped the ball inside to Gareth Bale, whose shot could only be parried by Anders Lindegaard in to the path of Clint Dempsey.
After playing a major role in all three goals at Old Trafford, plus scoring three of his four strikes on the road this season, is Jermain Defoe better away from home?
Jermain Defoe playing at White Hart Lane
Jermain Defoe has started all six of our Premier League matches this season, so I thought I’d look at his three home performances first.
Jermain Defoe at home against West Brom
After conceding a late penalty to lose 2-1 to Newcastle, Spurs welcomed West Brom to White Hart Lane for our home opener.
Jermain Defoe had a decent game and if we look at where he received the ball on Stats Zone, we can see that he gained most of his possessions in a central location about 10 yards outside the box.
If you were to draw two lines, straight out from the outside of the penalty area to the halfway line, Defoe gains all of his possessions centrally here. He doesn’t come outside the width of the penalty area to receive the ball and drag defenders wide.
With the West Brom defence sitting deep, his shots are all from distance and from central locations, which is directly related to where he receives the ball.
In terms of the passes he played in the match, Defoe either lays the ball off or knocks it square; nothing is really forward or attacking.
Jermain Defoe at home against Norwich
Next up, we faced Norwich, another team that defended deep and played on the counter.
Jermain Defoe once again receives a number of passes in to a central area about 10 yards outside the box. He does come slightly wider this time, but only receives three passes outside the edge of the penalty area.
He does get the ball three times around the penalty spot, but is unable to get any good quality shots away. Two are blocked and two others are off-target, having been taken from outside the box.
In terms of the passes he plays, Jermain Defoe again distributes the ball short with a high number of square balls. This time though, he creates Moussa Dembele’s goal from one of the three passes he received outside the edges of the penalty area.
Jermain Defoe at home against QPR
At home to QPR, Jermain Defoe received the ball very few times, but managed to get his first goal at home.
He once again receives the ball in central areas 10 yards outside the box, but also is the recipient of some more aggressive vertical passing in to the box. He does only move out wide on one occasion to receive the ball out on the right.
He does get a shot on target from one of the vertical passes to him, which is saved after Spurs broke quickly towards the end of the match. He also scores from a rebound after Julio Cesar can only deflect Gareth Bale’s shot on to the crossbar.
In terms of the passes he plays, Defoe only gives the ball up five times in the match. Only one pass is forward and attacking in nature through the middle.
Jermain Defoe common traits at home
After looking at Jermain Defoe playing at White Hart Lane, he has a number of common traits.
Firstly, he plays very centrally and doesn’t come deep or wide to receive the ball that often.
Secondly, he takes a high number of shots from outside the area and also a number of his shots inside the box are blocked.
Thirdly, his passing is very square and not attacking in nature. He lays the ball off and looks for a return, rather than looking to play more attacking passes forwards to others.
Jermain Defoe away from home
Let’s now look at Jermain Defoe in our three away Premier League fixtures and see if his play is any different.
Jermain Defoe away at Newcastle
In our first match of the season up at St. James’s Park, Jermain Defoe opened his account, but we lost to Newcastle 2-1.
Defoe received the ball 19 times in the match, but the first thing we notice is that he receives the ball right across the pitch. He only receives one pass in that zone 10 yards outside the box where he likes to get possession at home. He also comes deeper to pick up the ball just across the halfway line.
He gets seven shots away in the match, with four inside the area and two on target including his goal.
As for the passes he played in the match, as at home, we see Defoe lay the ball off and play it short and square more often than not. He tries one vertical pass through the box to Aaron Lennon, but it is unsuccessful.
Jermain Defoe away at Reading
Away at Reading, Jermain Defoe was on target twice in a 3-1 Spurs win. If we look at where he received the ball in the match, we can see him playing with increased horizontal and vertical movement once more.
He receives very few passes in that zone 10 yards outside the penalty area in the centre of the pitch that he likes at home. Instead, he moves out to wider positions on both the left and right sides, as well as getting the ball just over the halfway line.
His first goal comes from a pull back from Gylfi Sigurdsson getting the ball to Aaron Lennon behind the Reading defence. His second from a fast break when the Reading defence was turned and heading back towards their goal once again.
He gets nine shots a way at goal, six of which are in the penalty area, but only his two goals are on target.
As for the passes he played in the match, we can again see the usual lay offs and square balls, but there are an increased number of vertical passes. Two down the middle in to the penalty area from a central location, one in to the box from the right flank and also a cutback from the by-line, which Gylfi Sigurdsson should have converted.
Jermain Defoe away at Man Utd
As I opened with, our historic win at Old Trafford saw Jermain Defoe play a part in all three goals without getting a direct assist.
If we look at where he received the ball in the match, we can see once again that everything is pretty much wide or he comes short to gain possession. Even in the first half when Spurs were dominating, Defoe doesn’t look for the ball to be played to him in that central position just outside the box.
He only gets one shot away in the match and that is blocked outside the area by Rio Ferdinand, as Defoe looked to break late in the game.
With Spurs only having 26% possession of the ball in the match according to WhoScored.com, Jermain Defoe played very few passes. His one forward, attacking pass got Gareth Bale in, whose shot was knocked down by goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard and Clint Dempsey was on hand to tap home.
Jermain Defoe common away traits
Away from home, Jermain Defoe covers more ground to receive the ball, coming out wide whilst also short to get involved in the build-up play.
He is also able to get more shots away in the box with less of them blocked. At the Lane, 6 of his 15 shots have been blocked, compared to only 4 of 17 on the road.
Defoe plays more vertical, aggressive passes that are able to create chances for others, rather than just laying it off or passing it square.
Is Jermain Defoe better away from home?
With three of his four goals away from home so far, whilst also being a major contributor to all three strikes at Old Trafford, I would have to say that he is.
At White Hart Lane, Defoe seems to play very narrow, whereas on the road he moves out in to wider positions. This has the effect of stretching a defence and forcing centre backs to have to make a decision if they are going to track him.
We saw this in evidence at Old Trafford, where he dragged both Rio Ferdinand and Johnny Evans out of position. One of the few times he received the ball wide at White Hart Lane, he created a goal for Moussa Dembele. Lateral movement is part of the role of the lone striker and Defoe makes himself, whilst also the team, more dangerous when he moves both horizontally and vertically.
He is also able to get more shots at goal away from home, have less of them blocked, whilst also getting more efforts in the box. This is due to a couple of factors. Firstly, opposition defences can drop deep and play on the counter at White Hart Lane, forcing shots from further out. Secondly, Defoe’s increased movement away from home means he is more difficult to mark and so able to get free in the box.
The final factor is his passing and even though Defoe is not known for being much of a creator of goals, he is playing more vertical and aggressive passes away from home.
At the Lane, he very much lays the ball off or plays it square to recycle the play. Away from home, he still lays the ball off, but plays an increased number of vertical passes, to get teammates in to attacking positions.
This has paid dividends, as we have scored seven times on the road, compared to just four times at home.
Jermain Defoe has been one of our best players on the road so far this season, but can he bring that form back to White Hart Lane?