Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth: overrunning the midfield duo

A comfortable home win sees us overrun the Cherries’ midfield duo as our Premier League clash ends Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth at White Hart Lane.

“The best team we’ve faced this season” was how Eddie Howe described our side. In the face of an eight-point deficit to Leicester, another performance of confidence and conviction saw us despatch a Cherries team that had been on a good recent run. We overran their midfield duo on our way to a final score of Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth and it could’ve been more.

Kyle Walker’s high runs

Kyle Walker’s high energy and positioning has been a feature of recent matches. From the off our right back was looking to push himself extremely far up the field to give Max Gradel a problem. Along with Matt Ritchie, Gradel is the Cherries main attacking outlet. The idea was to give him a decision to make of whether he tracked Walker back or let him go to leave others behind with the job.

The ploy was a nice one by Mauricio Pochettino and even he couldn’t have believed how quickly it worked.

From the opening kick off, we had six men across the halfway line. The ball went back to Eric Dier who immediately looked for Kyle Walker up field on the touchline. The pass went out for a throw, but 30 seconds later possession was at the feet of Hugo Lloris. Our keeper’s swift pass out to Walker saw him in space with Gradel caught forward.


Walker gets the ball beyond Gradel with the CMFs occupied.

Bournemouth’s central midfield duo, which was pre-occupied with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, couldn’t help. Neither could full back Luke Daniels who was covering Erik Lamela. Gradel was left trailing and Walker could gallop in to the space.

Early crosses from farther out have been something that we’ve seen ever since Mauricio Pochettino has taken over. Kyle Walker flung one in before Bournemouth were expecting it or could react.


Walker in space hits an early cross.

This gave Harry Kane the opportunity to slip away from the centre back and get the faintest of touches to guide the ball in to the far corner of the net, 1-0.

The move was excellent. It achieved the aim of what Kyle Walker was trying to do for much of the game. Walker’s positioning was so high and we were trying to get the ball out to him quickly from the centre of the park or from quick switches across the pitch.


Kyle Walker passes received, Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth.

What’s more, as Bournemouth plays with a striker and a support striker, their central midfield duo was unable to help cover. Andrew Surman and Harry Arter were overrun with Alli, Eriksen, Dembele and often Dier all getting in and amongst them.

The early cross was also key. We saw many of these, especially when Eric Dier played at right back, last season. Later in the game and Dier would provide another such early ball in from farther out that Dele Alli steered home. Unfortunately, Harry Kane was offside when he flicked the ball on for Alli.


Dier delivers an early cross from farther out.

Note how Gradel was caught trying to get back and recover again and left back Charlie Daniels is reluctant to get drawn out so soon.

Alli in the inside left channel

Dele Alli’s runs forward and bursts beyond the back line are now starting to get widespread media attention, and so they should. Alli has been outstanding this season and here, just as in the Villa game, he was very active in the inside left channel.

Alli not only has a good relationship with Harry Kane, but he also dovetails nicely with Christian Eriksen. The two have quite a rapport and Eriksen’s two neat back heel flicks up the line for Alli’s runs beyond him highlighted their connection nicely.

Alli ran beyond Eriksen to set up Kane’s second goal last weekend in our 2-0 win against Aston Villa and he assisted once again as we went two goals up.

The move started once more in our half with possession being played around at the back. As the ball went in to Erik Lamela, Bournemouth had overcommitted. Their full back and left sided winger had been caught on Lamela, but also one of their central midfield duo. As Lamela popped the ball off to Dier, this saw Bournemouth down to one central midfielder and right winger Matt Ritchie pinching in.


Bournemouth over commit.

The ball went back to Kevin Wimmer who played it first time forward through two levels of the opposition to Dele Alli. This incisive vertical pass found Alli in space between the lines as he had darted away from Christian Eriksen.


Dele Alli in space between the lines can pick his pass.

As soon as the ball went to Alli, Harry Kane was on the move. He was already leaving their centre backs in his wake as Alli had time and space to lift his head and pick out his run. Kane flicked the ball neatly past Artur Boruc and in to the corner of the goal, 2-0.

The move had exposed Bournemouth’s central midfield duo with one of them being unnecessarily pulled out towards Erik Lamela in the build up. The other was then left in a hopeless position of whether to cover Dembele or drop back. This left Alli free to deliver a devastating through ball that was begging to be finished.

Central duo overrun for a third

The central midfield duo we re unable to react on our first goal and on the second they had been exposed as one of them made a rash decision. Our third goal saw them overrun once more as they both got sucked towards the ball.

The move started with another quick pass forward, this time by Toby Alderweireld. These searching balls of his are designed to have two outcomes. They either find a runner or the defence knocks the ball down and we hoover up the second ball, thus advancing it up the pitch quickly in either case.

This time Alderweireld’s searching pass was knocked away. Erik Lamela, as he often is, was first to the loose ball. As the ball ran free and was scooped up by the Argentinean, both Bournemouth’s central midfielders were drawn towards him. This left Eriksen free, as well as Harry Kane, as we simply had extra numbers in the central area again. Left winger Max Gradel and right winger Matt Ritchie weren’t helping their central midfielders by pinching in. Neither was the support striker by dropping back to help.


CMFs get pulled together as RW and LW fail to respond.

This gave Harry Kane a huge amount of space just off the Bournemouth central midfield duo. Before anyone could help, Kane had unleashed a venomous drive. Artur Boruc seemed to be surprised by the shot and parried it straight out for Eriksen to hoover up the rebound, Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth.

The third goal put the game and the three points safely away, keeping the pressure up on Leicester.

Eric Dier

This was a performance to purr over. All parts of the team were playing at an extremely high level to ensure they were doing their job.

Eric Dier was a particular standout. He was dropping in between the centre backs much more than usual in order to negate the presence of Bournemouth’s two forwards. He was not only snuffing out their attacks, but his first time passing and quick movement of the ball really ensured that they weren’t a factor. This meant that we could get at Bournemouth’s central midfield duo much more readily.

Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth overall

Overall this turned out to be an easier win than anticipated against a team that was coming in to the game on a decent run of results.

We were very good here, but the surprising thing was that Eddie Howe did nothing to alter his team’s shape at any point of the match. It’s commendable to come to White Hart Lane and play with two forwards and a four-man midfield. However, even after chasing the ball for much of the first half he did nothing to alter his team’s formation, even at half time, just to give his central midfield duo some help. They were overrun, overwhelmed and Bournemouth were easily overhauled by three simple, yet highly efficient, goals.

Final score: Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth.

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16 Responses to Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth: overrunning the midfield duo

  1. Andy B 22nd March 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    Great analysis as always.

    It was enjoyable to watch some of the passing in this game, particularly by Erikson, who was outstanding.

    Wimmer also made some great forward passes, which was good to see. Dier, Kane, Alli and Alderweireld all made great passes during the game.

    Alderweireld has been so consistently impressive in every game, he definitely deserves to be Spurs player of the season. Arguably he should be the premier league’s player of the season. Attackers seem to be picked more often than defenders, so it may go to Mahrez or Payet.

    Where would Spurs be in the table, if we hadn’t bought Alderweireld?

    People used to say that Spurs were a one man team with Gareth Bale. I have never agreed with that statement, as it is a team effort. And once again, why do they never say that about a defender? I would say that Alderweireld has been just as, or even more important to the team than Gareth Bale was.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd March 2016 at 3:07 pm #

      I completely agree with you that Alderweireld has been our player of the season. He should be in the conversation for the Premier League award and if we win the league then he’d be a worthy winner. But, yes it will go to a Mahrez, Vardy, Payet attacking type of player.

      • Reinert 22nd March 2016 at 9:37 pm #

        Spot on. I agree. Defenders are the true stalwart of any team. Last season showes us a stark image as reflection to this season, as Dier and Alderwereild tidy up our play. This was the most crystallized show of roles in Pochettino’s system I have ever seen. We still could have scored more goals, though: The xG-system is probably alreday broken by our performances so far :P


        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd March 2016 at 4:48 pm #

          Good points Reinert. We could’ve scored more, but at least we got to that third goal that we’ve often lacked to kill teams off recently.

          My top four for Spurs player of the season is actually defensively heavy. It currently reads: (1) Alderweireld (2) Dier (3) Kane (4) Alli

          • Reinert 23rd March 2016 at 7:37 pm #

            That is a logical and emotional pick of players – I am in unison. I actually have a Dier-sash that I wear at least once a week. He is such an inspiration! I think I will still get a blue-away-shirt with Kane’s name on it, though..

            What do you expect to see in our last 7 matches, Mark? Team selections, tactics and the like..

            • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th March 2016 at 10:21 am #

              Dier has been immense. Seeing how shakily he started off the season in that position, and how many, including me, criticised Pochettino for playing him there, he has been an absolute revelation.

              I expect to see more of the same where we look for quick balls forward and for either Alli or Kane to win them or to hoover up the resulting half-cleared defensive knockdowns. I’ve been particularly interested in our full back play in recent matches. Kyle Walker has been obscenely high up the pitch and he is really getting in to some menacing positions and should have a goal or two. I’ll be keeping my eye on this in the next few matches as it’s been fascinating. I think the team picks itself, the XI we saw against Bournemouth is Poch’s first choice if everyone is healthy. We have to keep on winning though and with Leciester playing after us, a win against Liverpool could really put the pressure on to see how they respond.

  2. brian 23rd March 2016 at 3:51 am #

    Have to say,your article is spot on again.And the other comments about Alderweireld,are bang on.
    He has surely been our best buy,for some time.He brings stability to the backline.
    But we now have two very important games coming up,and will define,our progress.
    As a team of substance or just a top four contender.

    • Chazza 23rd March 2016 at 4:11 am #

      Can’t agree with your last comment, Brian. I don’t see how the next two games can define our progress when, after 31 games, we’ve scored more and conceded fewer than any other team. That IS progress.
      We are already a “team of substance” and no longer a contender for top four.
      Rather, we’re contenders for top spot.
      A tough ask, agreed, but it’s tougher for those behind us..

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd March 2016 at 4:56 pm #

        We have made progress whatever happens. The team, and coach, have no experience of being in the thick of a title challenge so this will be an excellent learning period of how to handle and play under pressure for our young side and coach, whichever way it goes.

        • Reinert 23rd March 2016 at 7:42 pm #

          The beautiful thing about the learning of roles and mechanics that our players have undergone, is similar to how athletes of single-competition (tennis, golf, swimming) and classical musicians deal with pressure. It is also how you drive a car. You just do certain things always right, and add the flavour out of your form of the day: The minimum level of the performance is simply raised to much higher levels when you don’t have to think to complete a task.

          I think we will elevate our play to new heights with these last matches, especially since we are only playing once a week.

          That was a mouthful, I am sorry :P

          • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th March 2016 at 10:25 am #

            No Reinert, that was very insightful, the psychological side of sport always fascinates me. Just for example, I’d be interested to know what Pochettino has done behind the scenes to implement the tougher mental attitude we now have.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd March 2016 at 4:50 pm #

      I’ve been impressed with our substance. Previous sides under former managers would’ve wobbled, but that mental resolve and toughness that Pochettino said he was working on last season is really manifesting itself now.

  3. Itoe Ebeku 23rd March 2016 at 9:05 am #

    The decision to rest Dembele and Eriksen in the Europa league, was of good effect as reflected in their performances. It was good to see Dembele involve in some few physical battles as he got enough strength to withstand the most powerful player you could ever think of. Eriksen was fresh blooded. It is a nice feeling to imagine Europa league is no more. Kane was born to strike. The boy with the Nigerian parents-Alli is desperate to kick every round object in the net. However, i think Lamela does not give enough threat like the other attacking players. When Vertonghen returns, Wimmer must be left out so that, the much talk about the Belgian duo in centre back continues. In a nutshell, it was a good team performance.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd March 2016 at 5:02 pm #

      Some good points Itoe. I agree with many of them, but Lamela does a lot of unsung work for the side. His energy and pressing often goes unnoticed, as does his ability to be first to those loose balls, as he was on Eriksen’s goal on Sunday. I think he brings a lot of enthusiasm and actually does quite a bit of the dirty work that can be missed if he is not in the team.

      Wimmer is doing well against the more average sides but his lack of experience is being found out against the better teams. He does look like a good prospect that will get better, especially after a season in the Premier League where he has played so much. Give him a full preseason to work with the team and he’ll come on in leaps and bounds. Vertonghen coming back after the international break could be just at the right time, as we have some big games coming up where experience and a cool head will be needed.

      • YouShubes 23rd March 2016 at 8:50 pm #

        He is STILL tackling like Scholes, instead of passing like him! But I think next season in the CL we will see Erik truly blossom.

        I think Wimmer was excellent against City, and when he, Jan, no-one is longer playing alongside Fazio they improve immeasurably! He should not be dropped simply because Jan is back

        I can Verts playing at DM when Dier starts to look leggy. The quick transition Wimmer to Dele to Kane, route one along the ground was incredible. The progress will be when our players can starting passing quick ball along the ground at much bigger angles.

        We have seen the benchmark for pressing in BVB, and Athletico, and for quick transitions with Barca. I think under Poch we could become that hybrid.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th March 2016 at 10:27 am #

          Wimmer has had good games – he looked great against Bournemouth and Villa – but the way that players like Aubameyang have exposed him, I don’t 100% trust him in the big games against talented players where one slip up could be the difference.