The repositioning of Eric Dier in defensive midfield allows him to dominate the game as it finished Burnley 0-2 Spurs at Turf Moor.
Mauricio Pochettino has received a lot of flak for his in-game switches and use of his bench. At Turf Moor, our manager was forced in to changes through injury, but he responded. A move to a back four along with Eric Dier restored to defensive midfield made the difference. Dier dominated the game through his clever positioning and passing. He then scored the vital go-ahead goal as the match ended up Burnley 0-2 Spurs at full time.
Burnley cause problems
Burnley’s formation caused us problems right out of the gate. The Clarets closed down from the front and squeezed the playing area. Their twin strikers both marked one of our centre backs, aided by a wide midfielder. Each of our back three was occupied and it made it difficult for us to play out.
Our centre backs received little help from Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks ahead of them. Burnley’s twin central midfielders, Joey Barton and Jeff Hendrick, closely marked the pair.
Playing the ball out was an issue. Due to this marking scheme our wingbacks were forced backwards. If the ball went to either Kieran Trippier or Ben Davies, then the Burnley wide midfielder or full back would close them down quickly.
Burnley were expending a lot of effort, but our slow ball movement aided them. The usual zip and ping to our passing and movement wasn’t there. Pondering on the ball, wanting extra touches or simply turning backwards saw us struggle to play out.
Spurs in the inside left channel
Burnley were excellent in the speed of their closing down. However, the big moment in the first half arrived when we managed to break their press. It saw us quickly move the ball through one touch passing to create a counter attack situation that Dele Alli blazed over.
Watch the following video to see it unfold. Our centre backs were being pressed by Burnley’s two forwards as their wide midfielder, George Boyd closes Jan Vertonghen by sprinting across. Vertonghen passes first time though to Ben Davies. Boyd then races towards Davies as Burnley right back, Matt Lowton, also closes. Davies is able to beat the trap to find Dele Alli. Suddenly we have navigated their press and now can expose the space between the lines that their four-man midfield gives up. Christian Eriksen races in to it and down the inside left channel to get his shot away. Dele then fires the rebound agonisingly over.
The speed of our passing and movement had punished Burnley’s over commitment to closing down. The chance came through the inside left channel, which turned out to be a fruitful avenue, especially in the second half with opportunities originating from or in to this lane.
Eriksen released Vincent Janssen through the inside left channel for a drive that stung Tom Heaton’s palms early in the second half. Unfortunately, Moussa Sissoko couldn’t control or bundle home the rebound.
Sissoko then had a huge chance as Mousa Dembele created a turnover in midfield. Janssen rumbled through the inside left channel on the resulting counter attack, but was crowded out. The ball ran loose to Sissoko who impetuously slashed his shot high and wide.
Janssen was once more the provider as he positioned himself in the inside left channel to receive a low cross from Ben Davies. Janssen laid the ball back in to Davies path as the left back looked for the far corner. Heaton was once more quickly across to deny him.
After Son’s introduction, Eriksen released him through the inside left channel to ping his shot in to the side netting at Heaton’s near post. Son would then race through the inside left channel to score the game clinching goal to make it Burnley 0-2 Spurs.
Switch to back four sees Eric Dier dominate
Baring Dele Alli’s blaze over the bar, the chances through the inside left channel came after the interval. The difference in our play in the second half was based on the switch of Eric Dier.
Mauricio Pochettino had been pressed in to two first half changes. Injuries to Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks had forced the manager’s hand. Mousa Dembele was an excellent introduction as it brought on a man that can shield the ball and spin away from pressing players. It was the restoration of his partnership with Eric Dier that allowed us to dominate.
Switching to a back four and reinstating the Dier, Dembele partnership gave us the foothold to take over the game. Rather than starting in the back three, Dier dropping in to it from defensive midfield spread our centre backs much wider. This stretched Burnley’s press that was beginning to tire from its first half exertions.
Sean Dyche replaced Andre Gray with Sam Vokes, but this saw Burnley lose closing speed and their threat to run in-behind. Our back line, and thus Eric Dier, could push higher up the pitch as a result.
Victor Wanyama is immense in regaining the ball. The one area Dier excels over the Kenyan is in his range and accuracy of passing. Dier used this to spread the ball quickly wide or to penetrate the Burnley lines.
Dier’s speed of thought and ball movement allowed us to get up and through the pitch quicker. He was an integral part of the move that saw us take the lead shown in the next video below. Dier drops in to split our centre backs to receive the ball. He then pings a pass straight through Burnley’s midfield to turn them to Vincent Janssen. Burnley’s wide midfielders immediately get drawn in, creating space for Kieran Trippier to get forward and cross to win the vital corner.
Dier would calmly slot home from the loose attempted clearance of Jeff Hendrick to put us a goal up.
Burnley’s man-to-man marking at the corner was questionable. It was easy to see why they’ve given up the most chances from set pieces in the last six Premier League matches. As the corner comes in they are set up well to defend.
However, as the ball comes in to the near post, all of Burnley’s coverage gets drawn here. Eric Dier just simply stood still and became free.
Dier’s finish was cool and composed to wait for the opening and then guide the ball in to the corner of the net, 1-0.
Spurs counter attacks
In the Burnley vs Spurs match preview, we’d looked at the Clarets’ vulnerability from counter attacks. As the match wore on, our ability to create these from hounding Burnley in to turnovers or errors became increasingly frequent.
Mousa Dembele had slid in on halfway to expertly win the ball and create the counter that saw Sissoko lash wildly wide. Dele Alli had several chances from turnovers. The best saw his feint put Ben Mee on the floor before side footing his shot across goal, but wide of the far post.
Christian Eriksen was the tormentor in chief. He created a number of turnovers that saw him manufacture counter attack situations. He was instrumental on the goal that sealed the game at Burnley 0-2 Spurs.
Eriksen tracked back and dispossessed Joey Barton to immediately get himself in space behind Burnley’s four-man midfield.
Burnley were now out of shape and Eriksen instinctively looked for Dele Alli’s run in-behind. Dele took the ball in his stride and pulled it back across the box. A perfect low pass, straight in to the path of Son, who had raced in through the inside left channel. Son slotted home to make it Burnley 0-2 Spurs and the match was over.
Burnley 0-2 Spurs overall
Credit to Mauricio Pochettino for thinking his way out of trouble. The manager’s switch to a back four and repositioning Eric Dier gave us the platform to take over and dominate the game.
Dier’s positioning and passing bossed the tempo of the second half. It was quick, incisive and delivered to the recipient on-point. The sharpness of Dier’s passing built attacks, started the move for the pivotal opening goal and gave us a position to build from.
Final score: Burnley 0-2 Spurs.
MOTM: Eric Dier.
Mmm, not so sure about how much kudos our manager should get for the 4 at the back change, Matt.
Neither Trippier nor Davies were effective in the first half – as you wrote, neither were allowed forward enough – and, when Winks went off, I reckon Poch’s move to put Dier alongside Dembele was the only one he had.
But what a transformation of Dier!
I know it’s difficult judging players who are not getting enough match time, Matt, but isn’t it becoming pretty obvious Janssen simply lacks the pace needed for PL? Kane’s no greyhound but he can give Janssen a couple of yards.
As for Sissoko, his first touch is park football stuff… abysmal… and you can’t teach that. You either have it or you don’t. He just doesn’t fit.
And what an awesome and important three points it turned out to be! We’re looking VERY solid in second spot now after the Arsenal/ManC/ManU draws.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Poch had a few options with both Carter Vickers and Walker on the bench, so he deserves praise for making a good call with the move to a back four. We, as a fan base, and I know I do personally, give Poch pelters for the use of his bench, so credit where it’s due when he uses it to win us the game.
Janssen deserves time for me. Poch made another lumbering juggernaut in Rickie Lambert in to a decent premier league goal scorer and I think he sees the same sort of player in Janssen. Give him this season and judge him in the next one.
Chas, how could you forget the Chelsea loss. We are hopefully right in it… jus like last season… ooh how I’m praying for a Chelsea slump…
I’ll raise my hand and admit that I didn’t see the change to a back four till about a few mins till Dier scored, guess I was busy fussing about Burnley’s resilience and how we were going to get a goal.. next time and till season end I’ll try not to watch the game alone, stuff was being thrown around by yours truly during the first half while watching the game on a desktop… maybe If I watch games around people I’ll be able to keep my nerves in check..
Will we have to win every game game from now on? Man u and Arsenal the tricky ones but the other ones equally decisive…
Please note Wanyama is African, there is a mythology here in Kenya that Africans don’t get injures until there’s actual blood seen.. so don’t worry people, he’s fine.
I can about stand another season of Janseen, but Sissoko, no way… I was actually laughing when he was the one coming on for Winks…
Formation and tactics for next game might change or will they be the same with the now favoured back three? Injuries leaving us abit short, but we are managing so far..
Big up Mark
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Good comment Daudi. To have any chance of the league then we’ll have to win every game. To make top four then we do have some wiggle room but I’d like to see us win out to show we have the staying power that was lacking last year.
Wanyama apparently said he was fine after the game, so should be good for Swansea. No blood so he is good to go lol
Curious to see if Poch goes back three or four for Swansea. They concede goals through the middle so both formations have their merits.
Daudi, I certainly haven’t forgotten the Chelsea loss :-).
I said we were looking solid in second place after the dropped points by Arsenal and the two Manchesters. That wasn’t the case before this weekend.
As for overtaking Chelsea… maybe, just maybe, we can. Certainly, we SHOULD win the next three games whilst Chelsea have ManC at home and then away to Bournemouth and ManU.
It’s possible that we could have the lead by then, even if only on goal difference.
In the meantime, I’ll stand by my statement that we are looking solid at second.
The next few weeks are going to be FUN!
Apologies Chas, was afraid i might rub you the wrong way with that, no biggie i hope, unintended too. The joy must have gotten to my head. You are right about second place, solid in it. With you on that… with other games’ outcomes doing us a favour.
Great analysis Mark. As you say it was Diers intelligent positioning and use of the ball that changed things. He has something of the Carrick about him in that respect, but tougher, and I suspect it’s no coincidence that Mourinho is interested. We mustn’t let him go. I thought Janssen played his part and it’s great to see Dele, Ericsson and Son looking so dangerous together. We know Dele and Ericsson were steals at their prices but Son is looking like 20m+ well spent this year.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Dier really proved his worth and that defensive midfield is his best position. I wouldn’t sell him for anything!
Son has 15 goals now and really is looking the part. If only he didn’t have 2 years military service hanging over him!
I’ve been a big fan of Dier since day one. I told my son after a handful of games in a white shirt that he would be England’s captain one day.
Yes he still has more to learn, but his football brain definitely lends itself to the type of performance that we saw here – and many times last season. How quickly we forget!
He is an extremely valuable member of this squad.
This was a massive result in my book and shows that we are learning to scrap for 45 minutes, learn what the opposition strengths and weaknesses are – and adapt. Especially in times of duress.
We have the ball skills to stretch teams and tire them out in the first 45 – and the pace to exploit tired legs in the second stanza.
This is the blueprint for a lot of bottom half league games, domestic cup ties and away Euro games.
If you had written that report 10 years ago and blanked out all proper names, we would have thought you were talking about Utd – not THFC.
ThIs is the Pochettino legacy.
I firmly believe he idolises Fergie and respects Wenger for their consistently high level of achievement (the keyboard almost bit me there) – and that he wants to build a dynasty of success at Tottenham.
If City beat Chelski and we turn over the Swans midweek, things will have suddenly gotten very interesting with an epic FAC semi also in the wings against the Blues.
Great to be alive.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Dier is a potential England captain and has all the attributes to be an excellent leader. He’s a player that we need to keep at Spurs at all costs, as we wont know the full impact of how good he is until we don’t have him anymore. I feel the same way about Dembele. Those who say he’s lost it or we need to usher him out had a glimpse of what life may be like without him until he came on the pitch. He’s a beast who is better in our team than someone else’s.
A City win against Chelsea will really put the cat amongst the pidgeons. A wobble now could knock them off their stride…
Looking ahead to next year, where should Dier play?
For myself mid field with rotating Wanyama and Dembele and a new or promoted centre back so that we can continue with a back three for most games.
Time will tell, let’s hope we keep our key players and buy intelligently, while letting go Sissoko and one or two others who cannot perform to our new needed level.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Good question Antonyj7. Dier looks more at home in central midfield, but does an important job on the right of our back three. Wanyama looks a fixture as our defensive mid, so I would try and hone him on being a centre back right now witha view to using him in midfield should Wanyama need rest or is out injured.
I think you are right Anthony.
I’d got all in for Van Dijk at around 20m.
Eric rotating with Victor – emergency use at the back only.
Sissoko of course has to go, as does Lamela I’d suggest, but no one will bid.
N’Koudou is clearly not rated.
Wimmer I think is unsettled and Poch will let him go I’d say.
I can’t remember where we are at with Clinton and Bentaleb – but they won’t be back.
With Toby, Jan, Van Dijk, CCV, Dier and Davies we should be able to cover the back three position.
So that’s the engine room sorted.
Chris/Dele/Sonny/Vinnie/Harry up front
So in my book we need
CB – Van Dijk (20m)
Two attacking mids to help rotate Chris and Dele (50m)
So that’s 105m out.
45m to find Daniel – and job done!
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
I’m sure Levy would like your accounting ;)
I would go in for Van Dijk – but we can’t compete with the big spenders.
Any thoughts on a CB for 20m?
We will need another three attacking players of some serious quality – preferably with PL experience. No more untried cheap Frenchmen.
Zaha fits that bill but will cost 30m.
We should be just about able to cover that 50m outlay by shedding Sissoko, Wimmer, N’Koudo, Clinton, Bentaleb and Fabio.
But we will need one more.
Lamela is a conundrum – would you bid for him?
Poch will probably want to keep him.
Loris/Vorm – tick
XXXXXX/Dier – tick
Toby/CCV – tick
Jan/Davies – tick
Walker/Trips – tick
Rose/Davies – tick
Wanyamaa/Dier – tick
Dembele/Winks – tick
Sorry about duplicate posts – internet issues.
Getting Van Dijk for 20m might be too good even for our Chairman! LoL
Firstly, great analysis as always mark.
Secondly, on transfers, it has to be said that in recent windows I have absolute confidence in Poch’s choices of when to buy/sell and when not to, OK they haven’t all come off (Sissoko) but I agree with the list to sell aside from Lamela who I hope stays simply because I felt he was beginning to realise his attacking potential before injury.
With regards to buying..
– LB/LWB: I think Davies should be considered a CB in the 3, and we buy Shaw as LWB who clearly has lost his way under Mourinho – notorious for destroying young talent (coutinho and KDB for example).
-CB: if Wimmer goes I personally like Maguire from Hull, especially if they are relegated, we often like to pick up a relegation bargain and this sounds a great fit.
-CM: I think the base of our midfield should be OK for next season with Dembele/Wanyama/Dier/Winks – I would worry that buying a player would ruin Winks progression.
-AM: Getting rid of Sissoko and Nkodou is key. I agree with Zaha, I think this one could happen given our previous links. Also, depending on Poch’s opinion of Mahrez, he wouldn’t be a bad buy. Otherwise Mbappe from Monaco would be an awesome addition (unlikely it will happen)
-Forward: I would say its worth keeping Vincent, hes had his year to adjust and buying elsewhere will probably end up with the same issues anyway. If we did buy then maybe we should go back for Timo Werner who I don’t know much about but we had been linked to him before and hes having a good season
Maguire/Dier Toby/CCV Jan/Davies
Walker/Trips Wanyamaa/Dier Dembele/Winks Rose/Shaw
Walker/Trips Toby/Dier/CCV Jan/Maguire Rose/Shaw/Davies
Lamela/Mahrez Alli/Eriksen Son/Zaha
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Some good points Mos. With regards to transfers I think a left back is key for us this summer. We need a player that Poch can train up and will be content playing backup to Rose (if Rose stays). Ryan Sessegnon would be the number one choice for me in this regard or failure to land him then Ben Chilwell. As for Davies i’d see him as a centre back replacement with the option to spell at left back should we need him. This would see us let Wimmer go. Luke Shaw would be good if Rose departs but too expensive an option to play second fiddle to Rose.
Agree with you about not harming Winks’ progression. Zaha would be my big addition this summer with N’Jie going out the door along with Sissoko to part fund it. Max Meyer would also be a nice addition to play behind the striker. With the Bentaleb deal already in place with Schalke, i’m hoping Levy has a first dibs clause on Meyer having already provided Bentaleb as a sweetner.
Up top I agree that Janssen should get another season. He’s improving and unless there are significant resources available then we will just be gambling on another player that has scored goals in a lesser league to make the step up. It could end up in a viscious cycle for a player that is essentially a backup. That being said, Timo Werner is a nice player, but i’m not sure how much he’d be available for with 3.5 years still on his current contract.
On reflection I think you are on the money regarding LB/LWB.
But there ain’t a lot out there.
I just had a crazy thought that I’m warming to – just throwing it out to garner some thoughts.
Could the Gaffer reshape one Erik Lamela into a LWB?
Of course he would need to actually find Coco first.
But could that work?
He has a crucial head start on most being blessed with pace and a natural left foot (I had to check some old YouTube clips as I’d forgotten – but I recognised his haircut) – and we know he can put in a shift in press and defend mode.
If anyone can make it work, MoPo can.
Whilst typing I remembered this article which is an interesting read as to why left footed players generate higher transfer fees – hence the intense interest in Danny Rose I’d suggest.
Worth a quick look.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Interesting thought. I wasn’t initially keen on this idea as Lamela, although being left footed, always looks like a fish out of water down the left, being much more at home on the right. However, the more i think about it, the more I would give him a try during training sessions to see if he could be converted in to a wing back. He’s definitely not going to become a full back, but an attack minded left wing back? potentially could work.