Spurs 4 QPR 0: slow, slow, quick, quick, goal!

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.

Tempo control

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).


Etienne Capoue passes played, Spurs 4 QPR 0.

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.


Spurs passes played.

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.


QPR have players out of the game.

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.


Adebayor is in through the inisde left channel.

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.


Splitting the CBs gives 2v1 at the back post.

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.


Nacer Chadli passes received, Spurs 4 QPR 0.

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.


Erik Lamela take-ons, Spurs 4 QPR 0.

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.


Erik Lamela loose 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.


Ferdinand gets drawn out again.

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.


Rose beats the trap.

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 picks out Adebayor in the inside left channel.

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.


Spurs corner, near post absence.

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.

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16 Responses to Spurs 4 QPR 0: slow, slow, quick, quick, goal!

  1. NorthernSpur 25th August 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Why couldn’t you post this on Sunday? I’ve been waiting for your analysis :)

    Have to say, the most encouraging thing about yesterday’s game was how we played it. The players all seemed to have bought into Pochs system and looked up for it…Liverpool will be a good barometer of where we’re up to…but things look encouraging, I wasn’t expecting so much so quickly.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th August 2014 at 11:28 am #

      The best things come to those who wait NorthernSpur ;)

  2. Billy 25th August 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    “Lamela played a beautifully dinked pass around the corner for Rose to run on to and the full back was away.”

    It wasn’t Lamela. It was Chadli who dinked it to Rose, and Rose swept it to Adebayor to finish – with Lamela behind Adebayor.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th August 2014 at 11:29 am #

      Cheers Billy

  3. Chris 25th August 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    It was good to be on the other side for a change – watching a Redknapp/Sherwood type team with no tactical plan get spanked by a well trained team.

    I feel you’re being a bit harsh on Caulker, though (I have a soft spot for him). When that move starts out, he’s stuck quite far up field and has to immediately make a choice:

    1) Immediately peg it backwards towards his own goal to cover Adebayor
    2) Retreat slowly so he slows Bentaleb’s forward progress (a little)

    Neither were ideal things to do – you’ll notice Bentaleb was basically running into empty space if he had done (1). So I think what he did was reasonable.

    Then Bentaleb plays to ball forward to Adebayor – here he has another choice:

    1) Track Adebayor
    2) Swap with Ferdinand (who was deeper anyway)

    If I were a Premier League level defender, I think I’d note that it’s been a _long_ time since Adebayor has spanked the ball across the keeper with his left foot and I might have bet on myself to make up that ground (and show him the line). But it’s reasonable to think a player of Ferdinand’s quality would be able to handle Adebayor and so swap over.

    Ok, so now they’ve swapped, and he’s tracked back into the box. At this point, Adebayor has stopped and is face to face with Ferdinand. Now he has another problem:

    1) Adebayor is 1-on-1 with Ferdinand. If he tricks him he has a free shot at goal / 1-on-1 with the keeper.
    2) He had 1 or more Spurs players around him

    I think he _has_ to stay close to Ferdinand, both to cover him and to be in the position to be the first man to stop a low or short cross, plus to track any Spurs player that tries to go across to the near post. Sure, that meant we (Spurs) were 2v1 at the back post, but as a defender you can’t be expected to cover for _every_ eventuality You have to do your job and hope others do theirs.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th August 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Great post Chris, a lot of thoughts going on! For me, the speed of Pochettino’s attack is designed to cause maximum confusion (why the attacking players switch positions), in order to force the defence to have to make quick decisions, which invariably means they’ll slip up. The quick ball recovery, the pressing, short crosses and speed of transitions are all in his system to give opponents minimal time to make choices, so they will eventually make the wrong one. Often in sports, indecision is as bad as making the wrong decision and that is what i believe happened to not just Caulker but Dunne and Ferdinand also.

      • Chris 26th August 2014 at 1:41 pm #

        Great thought about tempting the opposition out – it’s almost like in some cases a slightly loose pass or miss-control can _help_ as it tempts a defender out to try to nick the ball.

        My point with Caulker is mostly that in some cases a defender doesn’t really have a good option, and has to pick the less of a couple of bad ones. When your midfield lose the ball and you have players running directly at you is one of them.

        I’m reminded of the classic situation in a recreational 5 or 7-a-side type game where you’re the sole defender and you have two players running at you. If you commit to the guy with the ball, he can just pass it and they have a near certain goal. If you commit to the runner, the guy with the ball will score.

        So you have to track back and try to block the easy pass, while also perhaps tempting a long shot, and then at the right time really close down the guy with the ball. If they fail to score, then it’s really bad attacking, and if they do score, it’s not really bad defending.

        I noticed Gary N mentioned something similar on MNF yesterday – in defending fyou have to do your job and expect that others do theirs

  4. Soulchan 26th August 2014 at 3:28 am #

    Thanks for great view of the game. I barely watched this one. Like for 30 mins? I guess.

    I’m worried and excited about next match with Liverpool. Seems like we’re going up and they are kinda going down. Hope we can win but… I don’t know

    I hope we can see Fazio at the match but… I don’t think it’s really possible.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th August 2014 at 11:38 am #

      Liverpool will be a different proposition, but i feel we are better equipped to deal with them. Don’t be surprised to see Rodgers go 4-4-2 diamond as this is how he beat Pochettino last season after Poch beat his 4-3-3 at Anfield.

  5. YouShubes 26th August 2014 at 11:11 am #

    great work as always Mark. Under AVB the striker was too isolated and did not have any runners beyond him when needed most. Sherwood tried to liberate us but offensively we often had poor shape which allowed team to kill us on the break. And defensively we had no shape. To be fair we were up against a relatively toothless tiger but if Caulker or Phillips had taken their chances?

    We need to be better at defending corners and against the lofted pass.

    Nabil showed perfect box to box play by passing it to Ade then splitting the pack, freeing up space for Chadli. if he can add the lofted pass to his passing game then Tim may have polished a real gem for us.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th August 2014 at 11:41 am #

      Thanks Shubes. Support for the striker has been much more prevalent this season. There are a lot of similarities in Pochettino’s and AVB’s systems, but Poch requires his striker comes towards the ball, whereas AVB wanted him to move towards the penalty area and pretty much just be a finisher.

      Defending wasn’t great but hopefully that’ll come with time and as players gain fitness.

    • Chris 26th August 2014 at 1:42 pm #

      You’re dead right – we totally out played them, but they _still_ had a number of decent chances (and the ball in the net once which I can see being given on a different day).

      Teams with better players are going to finish those chances against us.

  6. SomeDude 26th August 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    Nice read man, this is one of the most detailed I think I;ve seen you do. Glad to see Rose get a mention in the action I think people were way to hard on him last season. He looks like a warrior to me and I think you want that in your FB. Also great to see the result and fluidity to accompany it (based on your write up). COYS!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th August 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Thanks SomeDude, i think Rose’s movement was key to a lot of what Chadli did. The fluidity is talked about like its just players switching all over, but it’s actually very structured and one player’s movement affects another’s. You could see in the game where Vertonghen would point to Capoue to cover him if he drove forward or Eriksen raising four fingers to say we needed four in the middle. It’s exceuted at blinding speed so can look crazy, but there is very often method to the madness.

  7. GGreaves 27th August 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    Really interesting analyses

    On Bentaleb – I thought last season he looked too much to pass back or sideways – was it just the system back then that he was playing to, and was he playing differently in this match?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th August 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      Good question GGreaves. He’s being used much differently by Pochettino.

      Sherwood didn’t want to play a holding midfielder, but wanted two players in his midfield that were box-to-box types that could both defend and attack. This was usually Bentaleb with someone more attacking such as Paulinho or Dembele. This meant that Bentaleb often played much deeper of teh pair and even though he was supposed to be a box-to-box player, it was actually played as more of a holding role so as not to leave our central defence unscreened. When Sherwood used Capoue eg away at Newcastle it was noticeably how much more ‘off the leash’ Bentaleb was and how this was one of his better attack games last season.

      Pochettino has Capoue as a pure holder who drops in between the centre backs. This allows Bentaleb more licence to get forward and be more aggressive with his passing and he looks more at home than the safe, sideways passing player of last year.