Ahead of Spurs vs Bournemouth at White Hart Lane, we look at the strengths and weaknesses of Eddie Howe’s team.
Bournemouth have dug themselves out of a hole of late. Only one defeat in six has seen the Cherries ease clear of the relegation zone. Ahead of Spurs vs Bournemouth in the Premier League, we run the rule over their strengths and weaknesses.
Weakness: full backs defensive zones
Bournemouth concedes chances and goals in two ways. The first is through their full back zones. The Cherries rely heavily on their full backs to get forward. In doing so, Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels are liable to be picked off by opponents that attack the spaces they leave.
It pains me to say it, but Chelsea went to the Vitality stadium with the perfect game plan. Antonio Conte’s team used their 3-4-3 system expertly to attack the spaces left by the full backs. Pedro and Eden Hazard held good width to get in-behind. Wingbacks Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses aided the pair.
Nowhere was this better illustrated than on Eden Hazard’s goal. Chelsea won the ball back in midfield with both Daniels and Smith caught forward.
N’Golo Kante immediately looked for Hazard’s run in-behind right back Adam Smith and pinged the ball to him.
Hazard raced through to round the goalkeeper and slot home. Watch the following video to see the move unfold. Keep your eyes on the Bournemouth full backs to see how high they are and how Hazard is immediately looking to exploit their positioning.
Hitting the space behind and outside the Bournemouth full backs was Chelsea’s tactic all afternoon.
David Luiz set up their first goal from one of a number of sweeping passes out wide. The Chelsea centre back was constantly looking for the early ball to exploit the space left by the Bournemouth full backs.
David Luiz’s pass found Victor Moses in acres and he was able to cut inside to pick out Diego Costa. The goal also highlighted Bournemouth’s second defensive weakness, allowing space between the lines, which we’ll look at in the next section.
Watch the following video to see how David Luiz looks for Victor Moses who is purposefully holding his wide position. As soon as Moses has the ball, watch Diego Costa stop in the space between the lines. Costa then signals that he is free and wants the ball.
Chelsea isn’t the only team that has attacked the space in-behind the Bournemouth full backs. In the Cherries previous Premier League match, Liverpool also scored by doing this.
Liverpool were able to exploit this space through running men in-behind from slightly deeper positions. On their second goal of the night it was Georginio Wijnaldum.
The Reds were able to draw Bournemouth’s right-sided full back (Smith) and wide midfielder (Ibe) out to James Milner on the touchline. This movement allowed Wijnaldum to back door them through the inside left channel.
Before Bournemouth could recover, Wijnaldum was already goal side. The Dutchman jinked and picked out an easy cross for Divock Origi to head home.
Manchester United also exposed this area in their recent 1-1 draw with the Cherries at Old Trafford.
Michael Carrick is a highly intelligent player and passer. As soon as Carrick recovers the ball, he is immediately looking to spring Anthony Martial in-behind the full backs. Adam Smith wants to get forward and support the Bournemouth attack. However, the quick change of possession catches him out and Martial is in.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Bournemouth should look to expose the full backs positioning. Whether this is by early balls out wide from our centre backs or from attacks after turnovers, these spaces lead to high percentage scoring chances.
Spurs will thus need speed in the wide areas to attack these spaces. As a result, Kyle Walker should come back in to the team as the right full or wingback. Whether as a substitute or starter, Son Heung-Min should be in consideration on the left of midfield or pulling out wide from a position off the striker.
Weakness: space between the lines
The issue that the four-man midfield has is giving up space between the lines. The midfield unit is often dragged around or cannot mark the space against rapid counter attacks.
Diego Costa showed that on his goal in the video posted above. Chelsea quickly changed the attacking angle from David Luiz’s pass to Victor Moses on that goal. As a result, Bournemouth got dragged over and Costa found space between the four-man midfield and defence.
Liverpool also highlighted this space in their match with the Cherries. As the Bournemouth full back and wide midfielder were pulled out to the touchline, the four-man midfield cannot mark Wijnaldum’s run.
Liverpool’s opening goal in that game also highlighted the space that Bournemouth gives up between the lines. Roberto Firmino drifted in to it and released Philippe Coutinho to score.
Another recent Bournemouth road trip to West Brom saw the Baggies also expose this space. Craig Dawson popped up in it to unleash a fearsome drive in to the far corner of the net.
The central midfielders in the four-man unit were once again stretched and could not cover the ground. This can draw defenders out and creates holes and lanes to run, pass or shoot through.
Opportunities where opponents can reasonably be expected to score has been the result of giving up space between the lines. OPTA defines these as ‘big chances.’ Bournemouth have given up the fourth most ‘big chances’ in the Premier League with 59 allowed. Only Swansea (76), Hull (69) and West Ham (65) have given up more.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Bournemouth should look to expose these spaces between the lines by overloading them. We often see Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele and Son Heung-Min buzz around in here and they should look cause as much trouble as possible.
Strength: counter attacks and penalties
On the road, Bournemouth are an exceptionally strong counter attacking team. The Cherries have been able to score goals from very few shots, as they move the ball quickly to their strikers in two or three passes.
Joshua King is extremely good in counter attack situations. It’s a large reason why he has nine goals in his last nine Premier League games.
Penalties have played a big part in King and Bournemouth’s success. The Cherries have netted seven this season – joint most with Liverpool – and a number of them have come from counter attacks. Fast breaks allow Bournemouth to get their attackers 1v1 against defenders. Consequently, they earn spot kicks trying to dribble past slower footed opponents who trip them.
Spurs vs Bournemouth will be no different. The Cherries will be looking to counter attack and we need to be wise to the situation. Benik Afobe and Joshua King are both dangerous and that is why a back three is preferable to the back four we’ve used in recent matches.
In Bournemouth 0-0 Spurs at the Vitality Stadium, the Cherries used their front two to close our defence down and make it difficult for us to play out. Three at the back gives an additional man to play around them if they opt for the same tactic. The extra centre back also provides protection against counter attack situations. What’s more, the back three should allow Toby Alderweireld time on the ball to pick out long diagonal passes to attack any spaces Bournemouth’s full backs leave.
Strength: central traps
Bournemouth’s counter attacks often spring from setting central traps. The Cherries four-man midfield is liable to give up space between the lines, but they can play narrow to overwhelm a single man on the ball and then spring forward.
A great example is from their match last week with Chelsea. Bournemouth can surround and close down Nemanja Matic, who has no supporting help. The Cherries’ midfield is pinched in with Benik Afobe closing from the top.
Bournemouth wins the ball back and spring a chance for Joshua King.
Spurs need to be aware of these traps, especially from pondering on the ball and getting caught by Bournemouth’s narrow midfield closing in.
Opting for the 3-4-2-1 formation really helps here, as it stretches Bournemouth across the pitch, keeping them honest.
Bournemouth continues to suffer with individual errors that lead to goals.
In the Premier League this season only Liverpool (10), West Ham (10) and Swansea (8) have allowed more goals to be scored from their errors than Bournemouth’s seven.
Artur Boruc is often at the centre of many a miscue. The keeper’s kicking and handling can see him put the team in trouble. A recent missed punch when coming for a corner against West Brom was the latest in a line of blunders.
Mauricio Pochettino will know this well having coached Boruc at Southampton. Therefore, I expect to see us bring extra pressure on passes back to the keeper and to generally test his handling and kicking.
Spurs vs Bournemouth outlook
Bournemouth is not an easy opponent. Away from home, the Cherries have recorded a spate of draws, as they are able to get goals from relatively few chances. Penalties have proved key, but their counter attacks are highly dangerous.
Our back three should be restored to cope with Bournemouth’s front two and to allow Toby Alderweireld to execute his long diagonal passes. Wingbacks are necessary to expose any space left in-behind Bournemouth’s full backs.
Spurs vs Bournemouth prediction: Spurs 2-0 Bournemouth.