An outstanding performance at the Lane sees us run out easy winners, as our Premier League clash finishes Spurs 4 QPR 0.
There were so many good things going on in this performance that you could analyse what every player was doing in amazing detail.
What the contribution of the parts added up to was a great team performance that centred round a number of keys.
– Drawing a sitting QPR team out with ball possession and baiting passing.
– Hitting quickly with vertical ball movement through dribbling or passing.
– Targeting the inside left channel for shooting or short crossing situations.
It was done in a fashion of being slow, but calculated, in order to bait the opposition. Then once they were drawn out, lightning quick flashes of player and ball movement to be swift and devastating.
Much of the match centred on our possession of the ball and thus the dictation of tempo.
We looked in the Tottenham tactics at how QPR would drop off and look to hit on the counter through their use of long passing. This they did. Barton’s pinged pass for Matthew Phillips to run on to, which saw the striker chip over when in on goal, was an excellent example.
With QPR sitting back, we needed to firstly draw them out and then look to hit them with speed.
The key to this strategy was our use of Etienne Capoue.
The Frenchman was used as a passing hub. He would take the ball from everyone at the back, then either spray it out to the full backs or recycle it around the defence to keep possession.
His game was a simple one, but highly effective. He made 121 passes according to WhoScored.com, over 40 more than the next highest Spurs player (Kaboul, 78).
Capoue’s use of the ball was to try and draw QPR out. His passing style was one of baiting the opposition to come and get it. When the spaces appeared he would then move it purposefully to players in more attacking positions.
Overall as a team, this had the effect of us having heavy possession in our own half of the field and through the middle third as we tried to draw QPR out. For a team scoring four goals and having 66% possession, the ball actually spent very little time in their final third.
When up around the penalty area, we were heavily attacking the left side as we looked to create shorter crossing situations and that is how our first goal arrived.
Attacking the inside left channel
Baiting QPR to draw them out then hitting them at speed saw us take an early lead.
We were in possession, but a turnover allowed Joey Barton to move the ball forward to Loic Remy.
This saw QPR try to get men forward in support, but he was rapidly closed down by a combination of Nabil Bentaleb and Christian Eriksen.
With five QPR players now caught forward, Bentaleb swept forward in to the space, as the ball was moved vertically by a rapid dribble.
Steven Caulker then got caught in two minds about whether to mark Nacer Chadli or Emmanuel Adebayor. He ended up covering neither and got caught in no man’s land as Adebayor raced on to Bentaleb’s pass.
Ferdinand and Caulker then had to switch positions in QPR’s back three. This then left the much faster Adebayor against Rio, but what we had done was fill the spaces between the three centre backs.
Caulker was unaware of Bentaleb behind him, leaving Richard Dunne with both men to cover. He was initially drawn to Bentaleb, allowing Adebayor’s cross to find Chadli at the back post.
It was a great team goal and beautifully worked to draw out and expose a team’s weak spot.
We also profited from exposing the left side on our third and fourth goals, but the opening exchanges highlighted the movement of Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela.
Chadli and Lamela
Having looked at QPR’s susceptibly to speed with the ageing Ferdinand and Dunne in their back line, it was good to see Mauricio Pochettino go with pace.
It was also interesting to see that he had his three advanced midfielders drifting and switching positions. Chadli starting from the left, Lamela the right, with Christian Eriksen roaming from the centre.
All three seamlessly changed positions, but Chadli predominantly played in from the left. He was involved with moving the ball up this side with Rose and Adebayor, but once in the final third, he was getting in to the box to receive crosses from this side.
He did this on both of his goals, where he had drifted infield to create an overload in the penalty area, as the ball was fed in from his side.
Erik Lamela on the other hand looked much more at home drifting from the right. He would switch positions with Chadli and Eriksen, but he was carrying the ball more than the others to move it quickly forward by dribbling.
Lamela is much better running forwards towards goal than playing with his back to it. He was taking possession then running at the heart of the QPR defence as he skipped past challenges, causing havoc.
His dribbling was direct and one can only imagine that Mauricio Pochettino told him to take it the ageing Dunne and Ferdinand, whilst Steven Caulker is also not the quickest.
Back to the inside left channel
Goal number three arrived from the movement of Chadli and Lamela doing just this.
The move will be hailed for the 48 passes that lead up to it, with most of them being in our half and the middle third in order to draw QPR out.
This slow build up suddenly came to an end as the tempo was increased once Erik Lamela was free between the lines.
Christian Eriksen got him the ball with a neat left-footed vertical pass that allowed the Argentinean to fake and slip past Richard Dunne. The centre back had been drawn out from the back three and now Ferdinand and Caulker were forced to switch again as Rio went with Lamela’s run.
This again left QPR’s three centre backs crossed and out of position, with once more a player running through the inside left channel. Again, we had a 2v1 situation at the back post as Chadli had moved inside in to the middle of the box.
Lamela found him with a short chipped cross, barely looking, which suggested this was a designed piece of play.
With QPR’s back three now dizzy from our players movement and switching positions, causing them to alter and change positions, they moved to a back four after the interval.
This didn’t stop us attacking through the left side, as goal number four duly arrived down this flank to a player running through the inside left channel.
After possession to draw QPR forward, Danny Rose found Erik Lamela up the line. This took at least five QPR players out of the game who were trapping the ball on this side.
Lamela played a beautifully dinked pass around the corner for Rose to run on to and the full back was away.
As Rose swept forward, Emmanuel Adebayor was charging through the inside left channel with QPR’s centre backs split and stranded.
Rose has set up a number of chances for Adebayor with low-driven crosses. His one away at Swansea last season comes to memory, and he did the same here, as Adebayor made it Spurs 4 QPR 0 with a neat finish.
Set piece special
With everything else that was going on, it was also great to see us being a serious threat from set pieces.
Our second goal arrived from a well-designed and executed corner routine, as Eric Dier made it two goals in two Premier League starts.
The move started with a bunch around the penalty spot with no one in the zone marked in the image below.
The corner of the six-yard box is a key zone at set pieces and to not see any players in this area, from either side, was a surprise. Of course Dier would charge towards here as Lamela put the ball in to head home, highlighting why it was left free.
A nicely worked corner routine and evidence that Pochettino is really working on all aspects of our play with the ball.
Spurs 4 QPR 0 conclusions
This was an excellent performance. QPR did have some chances from set pieces, but we ultimately dominated the game through our use of possession.
This was done to draw QPR out through a slower tempo, but very calculated passing was used to bait them in to moving forward. Once in a position to strike, play was moved quickly up the field through vertical passing or dribbling to get in to short crossing situations.
Against three centre backs, longer fed in crosses can be seen and cleared more easily as they have additional defensive numbers. However, their centre backs were being forced to switch positions and make quick decisions about who they were going to mark.
This panic defending, combined with shorter crosses, meant less reaction time and therefore a more devastating effect when we executed this correctly.
Final score: Spurs 4 QPR 0.