A laboured game in which we failed to spot or take advantage of the weaknesses sees our Premier League encounter finish Burnley 0-0 Spurs at Turf Moor.
“The worst game of the season” was how Jermaine Jenas described our match with the Clarets and he wasn’t wrong. It finished Burnley 0-0 Spurs, but we failed to spot or take advantage of the weaknesses in their well-drilled system and almost gifted them the game with our sloppy and lazy football.
Before we get to where and how Spurs should’ve taken advantage, we need to understand what the Clarets were doing. It started in the defensive phase whereby they will squeeze and restrict the playing area. This is done out of there 4-4-2 shape and as highlighted by many a comentator, they work extremely hard to recover their positions or offer help to each another.
When there is no pressure on the ball, then they will drop off as a unit in order to try and take away any space in-behind and between the lines.
When they can get pressure on the ball, then they will squeeze up and their back line plays extremely high
This can see their midfield then look to circle and close down the ball carrier, who has no forward pass and is facing his own goal.
This is exactly what happened to Ryan Mason in the early minutes, as George Boyd pounced to strip him of the ball. It went straight in to the path of Danny Ings, who was alert, but not composed enough to provide a finish.
The Burnley set-up causes opposition teams problems, as they have to move the ball extremely quickly from side-to-side or look to progress it forwards rapidly. This can be either from running with it or going early in-behind for a runner.
Spurs fail to spot the spaces
Burnley’s shape is compact, but it is also extremely narrow, which meant that the space for Spurs was in the wide areas if the ball could be moved quickly enough.
The early signs were there for us with just a minute on the clock. Christian Eriksen got the ball in an advanced position and fed in Nacer Chadli in acres of space on the overlap against their narrow shape.
Without runners looking to get forward, Chadli had no first time ball in to the middle. Delaying on it allowed Burnley to then get back with their usual double team in wide areas and the ball ended up being forced all the way back to our defenders.
The indicator was there though and it was no coincidence that our best chances arrived when we could get the ball quickly out to the wide players.
These often involved long switches in play out to the full backs. Kyle Walker seemed to be at the heart of this as he got forward to receive passes and set up a long range efforts for Chadli and Mason which were tamely hit. Walker’s best opportunity saw him get in to a great advanced position, but his touch down didn’t take the ball far enough in front of him and then his pondering on it saw him play an offside pass.
Despite having a very iffy game defensively, Walker was finding space going forward, but was failing to find an end product.
The other way to get at the Clarets, as we looked at in the keys to Burnley vs Spurs is to move the ball quickly forward. Man City had done this against them through players running up the pitch with the ball at pace. Swansea won at Turf Moor by going over the top for Bafetimbi Gomis running in-behind. Without a runner looking to get in beyond their back line, we did it mainly through players running with the ball.
In a rare moment when we moved the ball quickly forward, Harry Kane found himself in a great space between the lines. He turned and ran forward but his shot under pressure was scuffed wide.
The next moment involved Christian Eriksen, as he broke forward, running with the ball at his feet after a Burnley set pice. The Clarets were caught unbalanced with men up the pitch and as Eriksen tore over the ground, he evaded a lunge by Trippier, but couldn’t put the ball past the centre back who stood between him and the goal.
Next up was Paulinho, as again we hit Burnley by running with the ball in transition before they could regain their shape. Harry Kane played an excellent through pass for the Brazilian on the move, but the less said about what happened next with his shot the better.
These was rare injections of pace in to a game where we needed to be quick and lively. The fact that both Burnley full backs were booked as we looked to get out quickly after a turnover pointed to what we should’ve been doing.
You have to be in great physical condition and quick to expose Burnley anytime they are out of shape in order to beat them. For most of this match we were slow, laboured and played it like a pre-season game. The indicators of how to get through them were there for us, but we didn’t spot or capitalise on them.
Direct Burnley play
We looked at The Clarets’ use of the long ball and crossing in the keys to Burnley vs Spurs and that was how the majority of their chances were created.
Danny Ings had the best chance of the game through their use of pressing. Everything else, and Burnley did create the better opportunities here, came from direct balls up field and crossing situations.
By and large we did well to stop the crosses coming in, but we did allow several decent deliveries by Kieran Trippier and fouled too often allowing the Burnley full back to swing in free kicks. Ashley Barnes hooked one dangerously back across goal that saw a brief scramble. At the death, George Boyd saw his header go just past the post, ensuring the final score finished Burnley 0-0 Spurs in what won’t be remembered as a classic.
Burnley 0-0 Spurs overall
Looking for positives in this game were few and far between. We did keep a clean sheet, our first in the Premier League since the West Brom match 8 games ago. We also did well with an extremely patched up back four. Jan Vertonghen was out through illness and then Ben Davies did a good job at centre back after coming on for the injured Kyle Walker. Any extended time out for the right back will be bad news given our lack of options at that position.
Overall, we were too slow and pedestrian in this game. Mauricio Pochettino said he had made some ‘tactical changes’ but they didn’t really work. Paulinho should’ve given us an extra body in the centre of the park, but we never overran Burnley in here despite having numbers. The Brazilian looked ok in patches, but also down right dreadful giving the ball away and being caught out of position, but he wasn’t the only one. His wtf moment kind of summed his time at Tottenham up. Do something good that fills you with anticipation and then something inexplicable that leaves you with your face in your hands.
Mauricio Pochettino was also extremely slow to go to his substitutes bench. An interesting stat on Match of the Day said that he’s made 91 substitutions during games this season, the most in the Premier League, and only 1 has influenced a goal – Harry Kane at Aston Villa. He was far too slow to make any switches here, something we looked at in the tactical issues he must address last week.
Final score: Burnley 0-0 Spurs.