A performance full of energy, player and ball movement saw us emerge victorious against a good Saints side, with it finishing Spurs 1 Southampton 0 at the Lane.
There was a lot going on this game, but the biggest moments, and the constant theme of a lot of our good play, came from overloading down our left side, the Saints right.
It started with us pressing high up the pitch, as we attempted to force Southampton’s full backs to retreat.
Pushing back their full backs
The intensity with which we started the game was up there with our trip to Sunderland for pushing high and pressing hard.
Southampton like to work the ball wide to get in to crossing situations. Playing in a 4-3-3 the width comes from their full backs. We tried to get to them early and force Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne back, so we could negate their threat.
In the first 15 minutes with Southampton trying to work the ball down their left, we really got after Ryan Bertrand and Sadio Mane. We were effective at pushing them back, as we intercepted the ball (diamonds) and made tackles (crosses) high up.
This gave us a good start, but Southampton’s full backs did increasingly come in to the game as we started to tire and they created chances. The best of these was Bertrand’s low cross in the second half that Sadio Mane shanked wide when it looked easier to score.
As we looked at in the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Southampton, the Saints like to force teams in to wide areas to recover the ball and spring forward.
Their midfield trio of Wanyama, Schneiderlin and Davis were congesting the middle to make us think twice about passing the ball through here. Then, as it was moved wide, they would shift across and help each other to pin us against the sideline.
The problem for Southampton was that by trapping against the sidelines, if the opposition can move the ball out quickly, then they can get plenty of space to work in.
With Southampton trying to get numbers in to wide areas in order to trap us against the sidelines, we were able to quickly move the ball out and create chances.
Christian Eriksen managed to get out and away in order to spring Erik Lamela for an early shot that went past Frasier Forster’s left-hand post.
Then Lamela returned the favour, as the ball was quickly moved to him and one touch sent Eriksen in to the ocean of space that was in the middle. Eriksen’s shot was clawed and spilled around the post, but Southampton had been caught with five players out on their left trying to outnumber the four Spurs players.
Both of these factors – Southampton’s sideline traps and our quick movement out of the area – combined to create our best chances.
Spurs overloading the left
The key moments in the game came from our play down to get numbers down the left. We were really targeting this side as Emmanuel Adebayor, Ryan Mason and Christian Eriksen often joined Danny Rose and Nacer Chadli.
The first was the goal.
Southampton were again trying to get bodies over on that side with five players in the area, as Danny Rose neatly sent the ball over the top of them.
It was collected by Emmanuel Adebayor who turned and ran in to the space behind. With Southampton’s players tring to recover their positions, they were still unbalanced on this side. Adebayor picked out Nacer Chadli who had burst forward in to space on the edge of the penalty area.
The Belgian’s one-touch layoff in to the path of Christian Eriksen saw the Dane then fire a low shot just inside Fraser Forster’s right-hand post, 1-0.
The speed of ball and player movement to not only beat the Saints sideline trap, but also to work it forward was impressive. Emmanuel Adebayor’s movement was good, as was that of Nacer Chadli, who had got out and run in to space to be the furthest player forward. This was something we’d seen from him last weekend against Arsenal in what was a counter attack runner role.
Chadli’s willingness to be out leading the break then manifested itself in a move that could’ve put us further ahead. Again it came for escaping a trap down our left side. Southampton were caught forward, but as Erik Lamela got the ball, three Saints players were trying to close him out on the left.
The Argentinean fed the ball forward to Chadli who was already out on the run. Toby Alderweireld half tackled him, but the ball went straight to Emmanuel Adebayor who had drifted out to the left once again.
Chadli continued his forward run and Adebayor found him with a deft pass through the inside left channel.
The Belgian exquisitely took the ball in his stride, skipping past Jose Fonte and bared in on goal. Fraser Forster came out and Chadli slid his shot past the advancing keeper, but only to see it ping back off the post.
It was a good passage of play with both speed of ball and player movement, and Nacer Chadli filling this counter attack runner role once more.
In the second half, he would again be out leading the break, as Christian Eriksen found him on the run this time.
However, the Belgian saw his shot deflected wide by a recovering Ryan Bertrand. Chadli’s threat running on the counter was constant.
With us threatening, but unable to add a second, Southampton almost got a share of the points through their crossing. Their full backs had been forced back by our pressing, but as they came more into the game, they caused more of a threat.
Graziano Pelle is the usual target for their crosses, which can be high, low-driven, or pull backs from the by-line. However, it was Sadio Mane who missed two great chances.
In the first half he saw a cross come all the way through the box, but saw his shot deflected wide. Late in the second, Ryan Bertrand sent a wicked low ball across our six-yard box, but Mane somehow couldn’t connect cleanly with it and squibbed his shot wide.
Spurs 1 Southampton 0 overall
Much like the fast tempo of the game, there was lot going on, but it centred on four key factors.
– Our initial high pressing to force back their full backs.
– Southampton trapping in wide areas.
– Us moving the ball quickly out of these traps and breaking swiftly forward.
– Our overloading of the left.
Southampton have made a good start and are a team that have taken really well to what Ronald Koeman wants from them, so this was a good win.
For us, the nature of our play looked more like that of a Pochettino team than what we’ve seen from recent performances. There was quick ball and player movement, as well as phases of pressing in order to push the opposition back.
Final score: Spurs 1 Southampton 0.
Mark, was Mason with Capoue or we played 4-1-4-1?
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
It was 4-2-3-1, but not a true pivot ie when one player in the two goes, the other drops in and vice versa as both have licence to go forward. This didn’t happen as Mason played in advance of Capoue and also frequently to the left side of the formation.
Mike Sz. says
Thanks, as always, Mark, for these analyses. Since, as per Poch’s wishes, we did really well working as a team — which should thus make MOTM picks more difficult — I might agree with the otherwise annoying commentators for the broadcast I was streaming who said that Hugo Lloris is still probably our best player so far this season. As such, of the 4 choices given, I would choose him (then probably Eriksen, Chadli, and Adebayor, in that order). But perhaps my next choice beyond Hugo was not given: Capoue. I thought he was tremendous for Spurs today — his energy, strength, tackling, and passing, particularly in terms of both long vertical passes on the ground and long field-switching passes in the air. In general, though, I loved how, again, as a team, Spurs hung in there, stayed the course, pressed and pressed, and got the result. I also like this more recent demonstration of pressing + counter-attacking. I guess it’s stating the obvious, but high pressing doesn’t have to mean no counter-attacking. Or, differently put, counter-attacking football doesn’t have to mean “parking the bus” football. You can press high AND counter-attack.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Great comment Mike. I have no problem with counter attacking either, most teams don’t have the energy to press for 90 minutes, even Barcelona have periods when they don’t go full out for the ball. Flying out the traps trying to establish a lead and then counter attacking to extend it is a fairly common tactic. Liverpool were the masters at it last season, but have struggled this term when they’ve failed to score early – which has been often. There’s nothing wrong with counter attacking to change tact and also give the players some rest from pressing.
Have added Capoue to the list of options. I thought he was very good in the game, but felt the others were more critical to our overall game plan and Lloris was just being, well, Lloris.
It’s always interesting for me and other Korean readers to read your analysis. Especially about goal progress. Thx man!
Seems like 2 of 3 hard league matches are gone. 4 points against Arsenal and Southampton, I’m really happy about it. Next stop, Man City away… I’m just hoping that we don’t get results like 6-0 or something
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Thanks for reading Soulchan and glad you enjoy the analysis.
After last season’s games with Man City i’m hoping to see a good reaction from the team. Expecting another setup like we played at Arsenal seeing as it worked for Stoke in their trip to the Etihad recently!
The Zack is back! Just kidding I’m not special, but I just wanted to highlight Adebayor and how he seemed to be working much, much harder than in the Southampton game. He won 5 aerial duels, most of anyone in the game, and played up to his ability and potential the entire game, no BS. I think Poch might have given him an ultimatum to shape up or sit out after the Arsenal game, perhaps it’s more evidence of our manager’s man management skills?
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
He definitely was more motivated and he did a good job in holding the ball up to bring others in to play – as he showed in his involvement in on our goal and Chadli’s shot off the post.
Maybe Poch has had a word or maybe he is being put under pressure by Kane’s good performances…