Extra space in the Cherries’ four-man midfield was ruthlessly opened up as it finished Spurs 4-0 Bournemouth at White Hart Lane.
A four-man midfield allows extra firepower up top, but is equally as liable to be ripped apart defensively. Bournemouth wanted to cash in on the counter with two strikers, but ended up being relentlessly opened up in the spaces they left between the lines. With Harry Arter and the less defensively minded Jack Wilshere in central midfield, the Cherries were simply overrun as it finished Spurs 4-0 Bournemouth.
Exposing the four-man midfield
Bournemouth’s problems stemmed from their defensive approach to the game. The Cherries neither committed to a pressing game nor did they drop off and seek to defend deep. Stuck somewhere in-between, Bournemouth sought to defend the ball entering the middle third. As a result, Spurs were allowed to play out easily from the back, but also had space to run in to behind their defence.
Bournemouth’s passive approach meant that their four-man midfield gave up too much space between the lines. Harry Arter and Jack Wilshere simply had too much ground to cover. Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen thus had acres of space to drop in to and instigate attacks.
Time and time again, Spurs had an easy ball to play in to the feet of Harry Kane or one of the trio buzzing off him.
Central defenders, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, could simply stroll through the first line of Bournemouth’s defence. The pair then had easy passes in to the feet of Harry Kane to put Bournemouth immediately on the back foot.
Once the ball arrived at Kane’s feet, the trio of advanced midfielders could run off him.
The following two videos highlight just what was going on. Bournemouth’s lapse defensive shape invited Toby Alderweireld forward. He can move up and has an easy pass in to Harry Kane’s feet on the last line of defence. Christian Eriksen is free between the lines and makes a simple run off him. In less than two seconds, Spurs have gone from back to front and have a high percentage shooting opportunity.
Jan Vertonghen was afforded the same luxury. In this clip he can do the same. Vertonghen has acres to stroll in to and pick an easy pass to Harry Kane, who is free between the lines. Kane swiftly moves the ball out to Ben Davies on the left. Davies has Son running in to the box from a space between the Bournemouth lines. Eriksen has an equal amount of room, but he unfortunately fires over the bar.
Spurs used this tactic countless times. Two goals arrived from getting men free between the lines, but equally as impressive were the two scored from corners.
Set piece special
Spurs were opening up Bournemouth from these penetrating passes to players between the lines. However, it was from some lapse marking at a corner that we took the lead.
Surprisingly, Mousa Dembele had already popped up in one of these spaces between the lines to drill a shot that was well saved by Artur Boruc at his near post. Minutes later, Dembele would lose his marker again to open the scoring.
Spurs had already won four corners in the opening fifteen minutes when number five led to the opening goal. We interestingly had played two of the first four short and two long. The corner that opened the scoring was another long delivery in to the box.
Bournemouth were lax in both the build-up and in defending the set piece. Simon Francis had let the ball run out when Harry Arter got the last touch to prod it back towards him. His centre back partner, Steve Cook, was drawn in to trying to play the ball, leaving Mousa Dembele with acres to take a touch and finish, 1-0.
The goal, an important one to break the deadlock, was just reward for Dembele’s hard work this season. Many commentators and pundits lambaste him for not shooting enough, but they don’t realise that it’s not his job within the team. Any goal is a bonus on top of the work that Dembele is assigned to carry out breaking through opposition lines.
Spurs score two from between the lines
Dembele’s strike was a richly deserved moment in-between ruthlessly exploiting the space between the Bournemouth lines that their four-man midfield was giving up. Minutes later and we would add a second as Kane and Son worked that space to perfection.
Christian Eriksen had received the ball in-between Bournemouth’s defence and midfield. Jack Wilshere relieved Eriksen of the ball, but was immediately set upon by Eric Dier. The ball pinged up in the air. Both Kane and Son were free between the lines and were straight on the Bournemouth back line.
Kane’s neat flick put Son in to the clear to race in-behind, hold off Steve Cook and drill the ball home through Artur Boruc’s legs. In the blink of an eye, it was 2-0.
Spurs would continue to work the space that was frequently appearing between the Bournemouth four-man midfield and their back line. Chances followed For Son, Eriksen and Dele, before Kane put the game to bed.
The goal ended up being a simple finish for Harry Kane, but was beautifully built up from the back.
Again, an early ball in to the space between the lines initiated the attack. Kyle Walker was the provider this time as he found Dele Alli free and on the move. As Bournemouth were drawn to Dele, Christian Eriksen skated in to the next pocket of space and played a neat one-two. Dele now had room and could pick his pass in to Kane who had pinned the centre back. Harry had the strength to easily spin him and slot home, 3-0.
Book ending tearing up Bournemouth between the lines were two goals from corners.
Fascinatingly, we’d played several short corners before taking the lead from a regular ball in to the box. However, we returned to the short kick to add a fourth goal, as Vincent Janssen crowned a perfect day.
Janssen richly deserved the jubilant ovation from the crowd as he struck home at the second attempt. The persistent effort on his goal was a microcosm of his dedication to keep ploughing on this season. His strong hold-up play in the build-up to shrug off the attentions of the defender were equally as apt.
In the build-up, Ben Davies’ effort to surge forward and create the chance was just as gratifying. Davies has become a solid contributor during his time in the team. Unfortunate to not be on the score sheet following a stinging drive, his burst forward in to the space down the inside left channel highlighted his attacking progression.
Spurs 4-0 Bournemouth overall
Another awesome performance where our team attacked with great fluidity and purpose.
We ripped up the space that Bournemouth’s four-man midfield concedes between the lines. Chances and goals were created through attacking it from penetrating passes that often started from our defenders. The Cherries had no answer, putting them on the back foot throughout.
After leading the Premier League in set piece goals last season, we’ve really fallen down the charts this term. Two goals from corners were thus a very welcome sight. The fact they were finished by some unlikely scorers was equally as pleasing.
Final score: Spurs 4-0 Bournemouth.
MOTM: Mousa Dembele.