Tottenham tactics: Hull vs Spurs preview (a)

After the midweek mauling against Man City, we’re quickly back in Premier League action with a trip to the KC Stadium for Hull vs Spurs.

The Tigers are enjoying their return to the Premier League under Steve Bruce and have been extremely difficult to beat at home.

So, what can we expect and what should be the Tottenham tactics for Hull vs Spurs this time?

Hull set up and style

Steve Bruce has altered his Hull side between a 3-5-2 and a 4-2-3-1 this season, but recently he has settled on the three centre back system and it’s been solid.

The team are content to concede possession, but is set up to move the ball out to the wingbacks in order to cross. Only three teams in the Premier League see less of the ball than the Tigers, but only six attempt more crosses.

Tom Huddlestone floats around in front of his back three and uses his long range of passing to hit both wingbacks. His primary target is usually Ahmed Elmohamady out on the right, who sits second in the Premier League for crosses attempted this season.


Tom Huddlestone passes and Ahmed Elmohamady crosses against Chelsea.

Hull were attempting the fewest shots on goal in the Premier League this season, but this was due to the nature of their strikers. Danny Graham and Yannick Sagbo are not the most fearsome combination.

However, January moves to bring in Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic look to have added the perfect combination, on paper at least. Jelavic is excellent in the air, but also enjoys striking shots first time from cutbacks or pullbacks.

Long is a bundle of energy who buzzes around creating havoc. He can run with the ball at his feet, but also has an excellent spring and scores his fair share of headers.

Long and Jelavic

Nikica Jelavic had fallen on hard times at Everton, as he was more of a David Moyes player. The Croatian forward is not as adept at playing with the ball at his feet, which is required in Roberto Martinez’s system. He also doesn’t have the energy to make lung-bursting runs in-behind the opposition defence.

What Jelavic does do well is be a target man who can hold the ball up, get in the box to win headers and strike an excellent first time shot. He hit the ground running at Goodison by doing just this. David Moyes used the crossing of Leighton Baines and pullbacks from players like Pienaar and Osman, as Jelavic scored nine goals in eleven Premier League matches.

In his first two starts for Hull, Jelavic has been just this type of player. He was the focus for long balls forward that he can win the knockdowns and flick-ons against Norwich. Then he was able to get in the area to get on the end of a cross and also a pull back that saw him go close.


Nikica Jelavic passes received, Norwich 1 Hull 0.

Midweek against Palace saw much of the same in the build-up. He then got on the end of two crosses and also a pull back, all from the left side of the penalty area.


Nikica Jelavic passes received, Crystal Palace 1 Hull 0.

That match saw his first outing with Shane Long, who also caused trouble with his movement. This is something Jelavic doesn’t possess, but doesn’t need to with the Irishman buzzing around.


Shane Long passes received, Crystal Palace 1 Hull 0.

Long caused problems for Palace as he ran in-behind early, which saw Danny Gabbidon make a clumsy challenge and he was unlucky not to win a penalty.

The Irish international was taking short passes in the opposition half. This is a feature of his game so that he can turn and run at defenders, but he was also winning high balls played forward. His excellent leaping ability means he can often out jump taller players – as he showed on his headed goal for West Brom against Chelsea.


Shane Long rises to head home.

Long and Jelavic will be a handful and the Tottenham tactics for Hull vs Spurs should be wary of the Premier League’s newest strike partnership.

Michael Dawson is a better match up on Jelavic with his size, strength and aerial presence. The smaller Vlad Chiriches would be better off on Shane Long.

Restricting Ahmed Elmohamady’s delivery from the wide areas will also be a main job for Danny Rose.

Hull creating chances

As already alluded to above, Hull fashion their chances from crosses and the excellent set piece delivery of Tom Huddlestone.

In their last two Premier League matches against Norwich and Crystal Palace, we can see how much Hull look to ping the ball in to the box from the flanks in open play.


Hull chacnes created from open play against Norwich and Crystal Palace.

With the addition of Jelavic, Hull being able to get to the by line and pull the ball back for a first time shot is now also a real option. This is especially poignant with someone who can run in-behind like Shane Long.

Their other main attacking method is through Tom Huddlestone’s set piece delivery that we all know about from his time at the Lane. Huddlestone can strike a sweet ball directly from a free kick or hit a pinpoint cross from a corner.

He picked out Curtis Davies to open his assist account against Cardiff from a free kick. But he also regularly finds the same player and Alex Bruce at set pieces. The manager’s son has missed a couple of good chances recently from corners.

The Tottenham tactics for Hull vs Spurs will sees us needing to be extremely mindful of what Huddlestone can do at dead ball situations. We also need to mark Curtis Davies and Alex Bruce closely.

How Hull concede chances

Naturally for teams playing with three centre backs, the space is in the wide areas as the wingbacks go forward. With Hull it’s no different.

The space behind Ahmed Elmohamady is rife for attacking, but Hull seem to have had a real problem with their left wing back. This position has seen Maynor Figueroa, Robbie Brady and more recently Liam Rosenior get the nod.

Rosenior has been particularly vulnerable to players getting round him and being able to cross or pull the ball back. Southampton were extremely effective in their 4-1 victory over Hull at St. Mary’s by attacking here.


Southampton chances created against Hull.

The midweek loss at Crystal Palace also saw the only goal of the game come after Yannick Bolasie drove past Rosenior to cut the ball back for Jason Puncheon.


Yannick Bolasie beats Liam Rosenior.

The Tottenham tactics for Hull vs Spurs should see us use two wingers in the wide positions. This is rather than the inside drifting player we’ve seen when Christian Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson have played on the left. Over on the right, Aaron Lennon, who went missing against Man City, needs to demand the ball here against Rosenior.

Hull vs Spurs outlook

This will be a tough game against a very well drilled side that has a loud home backing. Hull have been very good at the KC Stadium and regularly keep clean sheets whilst making it tough for the opposition.

We know from our games against them at the Lane how difficult they can be to play through and here they need to be stretched across the field. In light of this, the team news that Danny Rose’s red card appeal was successful will be a boost, as he will be key to attacking in wide areas.

Hull will be looking to score from crosses and set pieces. We need to hit them down their left side through Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon. This could develop in to quite a tactical battle!

Hull vs Spurs prediction: Hull 0 Spurs 1.

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6 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Hull vs Spurs preview (a)

  1. KDHotspur 31st January 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    Lennon doesn’t go missing,his teammates are obsessed by playing down the left wing.
    Match after match, even when it is apparent littlelegs has the fullback on toast, the playmakers don’t play him in. Sometimes I sit in the Upper East in disbelief at our beloved SPURS lack of guile. Lesser teams don’t seem to have the same problem getting wingers who don’t hold a candle to Arrons ability, free on the ball and into space.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st January 2014 at 8:20 pm #

      Our right back, Kyle Walker, is often the player who touches the ball most in matches. For me, Lennon doesn’t demand or go looking for the ball enough against the bigger teams, unless he’s playing Patrice Evra.

  2. SomeDude 31st January 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    I’m hoping for a return of Townsend here. He’s fast and tricky so he could punish a defence on the break, which I think will be the best way to get through them since they often have 9 men defending. For me this could be a good time for a 4-4-1-1 with Erickson behind the Adeybayour and Lennon and Townsend working the flanks. In the mid I’d like to see Sandro/Capoue get more games as Sandro is a beast and Capoue has yet to show himself properly but I think the double 6 might work as well. What about you? any preferable attacking set-up leaping out at you?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st January 2014 at 10:02 pm #

      I’d like to see Andros return on the left, but Sherwood’s team news says that he remains sidelined with Lamela.

      4-4-1-1 is a decent option. With Andros out, i’d like to see us go 4-2-3-1 with Chadli left and Lennon right. After limping out on Wednesday, Mousa Dembele could be a big miss if he’s not able to play.

  3. Tales 2nd February 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Tim prefers Vertonghen, Kaboul and Dawson, you can take Chiriches out from future analysis. He played him because he didn’t have other options, now the lads are back, Chiriches will be off for some time.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd February 2014 at 12:01 pm #

      Yes, vertonghen wasn’t a dead cert to play at the weekend given he had come back from a lengthy lay off and only played in the friendly against West Ham since his injury. I’d also expect to see Vertonghen and Dawson from now on.