Dele Alli runs in-behind the defence during Spurs 5-0 Swansea in the Premier League clash at White Hart Lane.

Spurs 5-0 Swansea: Dele Alli’s runs in-behind

Dele Alli was magnificent with his runs in-behind helping to run up the score, as it finished Spurs 5-0 Swansea at White Hart Lane.

Subdued at the start, we then won at a canter with Dele Alli returning to his menacing best. His runs off and beyond Harry Kane stretched the Swansea back line, which was proving particularly stifling at the outset. Dele’s penetrating bursts forward made the first four goals, as we cruised to a final score of Spurs 5-0 Swansea in our Premier League clash.

Swansea’s subduing shape

Swansea came to frustrate from the outset. Bob Bradley his flirted with a number of shapes and systems during his time in charge. His defensive 4-3-3 here was intended to drop off and restrict both the space in-behind and in the centre of the pitch.

It proved particularly successful until the first goal. Swansea were compact and narrow, giving up little space in central areas. This naturally stifled our plethora of players that like to drift in to the middle of the pitch to overload the opposition. Bradley was determined to not be beaten in here.

Narrow Swans surrendered space out wide during Spurs 5-0 Swansea in the Premier League.

Narrow Swans surrendered space out wide.

What this left was space in wide areas. For the first 30 minutes, our two most influential players were Kyle Walker and Son Heung-Min. Both retained their width and looked dangerous on the ball.

Son was effective dribbling, albeit often back inside in to the traffic. Walker whipped in several dangerous crosses. One found Harry Kane’s head, another ended up being an effective shot that forced a good reaction save from Lukas Fabianski.

Dele Alli runs in-behind

For 30 minutes Swansea were stifling and Spurs were subdued despite having 70% of the ball.  What changed was Dele Alli started to run increasingly off Harry Kane and in-behind the Swansea defence.

This allowed two things to happen. Firstly, it fashioned space between the lines by stretching the defence. Secondly, Alli’s penetration of the back line created pockets left and right of him for others to run in to. His bursts directly created our first four goals.

Dele’s dubious penalty

Another game, another spot kick, but you don’t get these decisions without attacking space in the penalty area to force recovery challenges.

Dele Alli’s run did just that and Swansea had been warned. Alli had already been fouled twice on the edge of the area by Jordi Amat, leading to Christian Eriksen attempts from free kicks. The third time saw him run off Amat, who was caught appealing for offside, and in to the box.

Harry Kane had drifted in to the space between the lines caused by Alli’s movement. With Dele signalling where he wanted the pass, he raced in-behind the Swansea back line.

Harry Kane finds Dele Alli running in-behind during Spurs 5-0 Swansea in the Premier League.

Harry Kane finds Dele Alli running in-behind.

Kyle Naughton was then forced in to a recovery challenge that he actually pulled out of. Alli flopped, creating some contact himself by kicking out his left leg and John Moss eventually obliged by awarding the penalty. It was soft and rather reminiscent of a classic Ashley Young attempt to earn a penalty. I hope this doesn’t continue and Alli is not tarnished with the same brush.

Harry Kane dispatched the spot kick with confidence and it took the pressure off the team. From then on, we were cruising.

Dele Alli gets in-behind again and again

One quickly became two. Dele could’ve had it himself, had he converted his own run in-behind. Christian Eriksen got in to the space between the lines this time to release him 1v1. However, Lukas Fabianski made a great thwarting save.

Eriksen releases Dele Alli's run in-behind during Spurs 5-0 Swansea at White Hart Lane.

Eriksen releases Dele Alli’s run in-behind.

The net would be bulging moments later, but from a spectacular Son Heung-Min scissor kick. Alli’s run off and beyond Harry Kane created it as he attempted to charge in-behind once more.

Ali's run in-behind stretches the defence before Son scores in Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

Ali’s run in-behind stretches the defence before Son scores.

Kane had got between the lines as his movement short and Alli long stretched the Swansea back line all over the place. Son might have had an easier chance had Eriksen passed straight to him, but rifled home a spectacular goal of the month contender.

Swansea shape change

With his side two down and starting to be dismantled, Bob Bradley changed his shape. He removed one of his three screening midfielders in Jay Fulton, who was in danger of picking up a second yellow, and brought on a striker.

Content to sit back in the first half, he also had his side try to press us, which played into our hands. In the opening frame we had to create and work the space, now it was just being presented to us.

Our third arrived with Swansea pushing forward. They were looking to feed Fernando Llorente with his favoured crosses. A ball in was cleared and we were off with space to exploit. Alli was already running in-behind as the play reached him. Dele’s movement had once more pulled Amat out of position, creating space for Son to run in to.

Dele Alli's run draws Amat over to create space for Son during Spurs 5-0 Swansea in the Premier League.

Dele Alli’s run draws Amat over to create space for Son.

As Son checked back inside in the box, Harry Kane arrived to slam home a third. Kane had started from deeper between the lines and executed a perfect trailing run, so difficult for a defence to pick up.

Dele Ali almost rewarded

Dele Alli’s runs beyond the defencepulled the Swansea backline around all afternoon. It would only have been fitting if one had seen him get the goal he deserved. He almost had it as we added a fourth.

Again, Harry Kane coming short and Alli going long created space between the lines. Kane received the ball from Mousa Dembele and charged forward. He ended up sliding the ball once more through for Alli who was in again 1v1 against Fabianski.

Kane releases another Dele Alli run in-behind during Spurs 5-0 Swansea in the Premier League.

Kane releases another Dele Alli run in-behind.

As he did in the first half, the Swansea keeper once more came out to reduce the angle. Thwarting Alli then, this time the ball pinged off Fabianski’s foot and up in to the air. It looped agonisingly goal wards and was bundled in by Christian Eriksen, 4-0.

Moussa Sissoko gets in on the act

Four goals to the good and Mauricio Pochettino rang the changes. He introduced the recently criticised Moussa Sissoko on the right.

Sissoko looked much more purposeful and direct in his play, creating the fifth and final goal. His run in-behind, as Dele Alli had been doing all afternoon, was beautifully found by Jan Vertonghen. Sissoko then showed poise to lay the ball back perfectly for the arriving Eriksen to sweep home. Spurs 5-0 Swansea and the rout was complete.

Spurs 5-0 Swansea overall

The Dele Alli, Harry Kane partnership that was responsible for so many goals last season was back to its fluid best. Kane coming short, Alli running beyond and creating havoc, it was beautiful to watch. The movement of Alli created space, chances and goals for others, including a brace for the much-maligned Christian Eriksen.

Moussa Sissoko has been nothing short of woeful since arriving. However, it was good to see him making the out-to-in run from wide, a Mauricio Pochettino trademark, for the fifth goal. Proof that the coaching is starting to get through and that he is getting to grips with what is required. Baby steps, but on that passage of play, he at least resembled something of the player we thought we’d signed.

Dele Alli was the game’s most influential and outstanding player. However, a mention also for Eric Dier whose passing was aggressive and purposeful. His ball movement was often direct, over distance and occasionally Alderweireld-esque. His neat aerial pass to Kyle Walker set us off and racing for the second goal, as he looked to shift the ball with intent all afternoon. Jan Vertonghen was also in the act for the fifth, proving that both can play that long diagonal pass which is needed to stretch defences in Alderweireld’s absence.

Final score: Spurs 5-0 Swansea
MOTM: Dele Alli.

If you enjoyed this post, please share:

, , ,

15 Responses to Spurs 5-0 Swansea: Dele Alli’s runs in-behind

  1. SomeDude 4th December 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Awesome write-up :) 5-0 is a great win even if Swansea are struggling right now. The real test will be if we can beat an improving Man-U next week, that would certainly provide some momentum. BTW, Are you at all concerned about the stadium shift next season? It seems that Wembley is a curse to English teams. Perhaps playing there for a season might give us better luck in the future but it looks to be a tough season. Or is this kind of thing a bit too superstitious for a stats man such as yourself? If not it seems Europa league may be a bitter medicine to take as getting used to a stadium might prove beneficial going forward.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2016 at 3:29 pm #

      I’m very concerned about Wembley next season, as for every team coming there it literally will be their cup final. Most opposing teams will be massively up for it and it’s a real worry given how poor we’ve played there in the champions league. Given that Wembley also use it for other events that trash the surface e.g. NFL, concerts etc and I’m not optimistic for our chances of finishing top 4.

  2. Andy B 4th December 2016 at 4:12 pm #

    An interesting analysis as always.

    The most positive thing for me was the form of Walker, Dembele and Vertonghen who all had great games. Kane is getting better each game and it wont be long until he is back on top form.

    Son scored a fantastic goal, with awesome technique.

    I wasn’t impressed with Eriksen. He may have scored, but offered little in the rest of the game. Rose had a poor game as well.

    I do not share your positive feelings about Alli. I agree that he made some great runs in front of Kane, which stretched their defence. The problem was when he had the ball, he was ineffective. He was unable to dribble around their defenders and didn’t make any incisive passes.

    Dele Alli and Vincent Janssen are both masters of deception, for simulating fouls. Dele Alli tries it on every game and does it more often than Janssen. They cheat in different ways. Alli runs into players trailing a leg. Janssen falls backwards as if he is pulled to the floor.

    I don’t like to see cheating in the game and I hope that the coaches put a stop to it.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2016 at 6:23 pm #

      I thought Eriksen had patches where he looked good eg the through ball for Alli’s 1v1 and the cross that Wanyama should’ve put home. He also drifted out of the game in phases. Overall I’m encouraged that he may go on a good streak now. His footwork on his second goal was very much the old confident Eriksen. He definitely looks better playing in from the left as opposed to being in the 10 slot or on the right. With Son doing well he could find himself continuing out on the right, which doesn’t suit him.

      We’ll have to agree to disagree over Alli ;) his passes were incisive on goals 2 and 3 and he did well to loosen up a defence that was parking the bus. I’m optimistic that he’ll have a good game vs Man Utd’s banged up centre backs. Can see him giving Marcus Rojo fits.

  3. Andy B 4th December 2016 at 7:19 pm #

    Mourinho is the expert at parking buses, so we will need something.

    They are playing in Ukraine on Thursday. I wonder if he will play a full strength team out there.

    Spurs will have a bit more time than Man Utd to prepare for the game. This may counter their home advantage a bit.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2016 at 11:36 pm #

      Yes it will be interesting to see who even travels, let alone plays, as its a tough trip for them even if they are playing a poor opponent.

  4. brian 5th December 2016 at 12:05 am #

    Hi Mark

    Once again a very good portrait of the game.That said Swansea were poor on the day.
    And our high up pressure system worked a full treat,on this occaision..Just hope our injury list
    does not grow.And im nowinterested to see who we get in the FA cup

    Many regards Brian.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th December 2016 at 9:25 am #

      Hi Brian, yes the FA cup now has added importance for me. It’s only a few games to get to Wembley, but does need a bit of the luck of the draw. I don’t think we should take the Europa league that seriously and use it to give squad players a go. Far too many games and far too much travel for a very small shot of a champions league place.

  5. SonShine 5th December 2016 at 6:21 pm #

    Would love to see Sissoko operates in the middle .. driving run towards opposition .. agree with you about baby steps, he’s not yet being fluid in our build up play. Do you prefer Sissoko on the right or the middle ?

    How do you see us facing Man Utd? Dembele vs Pogba? Jan/Dier vs Ibra?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th December 2016 at 10:11 am #

      Sissoko does look like he should be more at home in the middle, but I’ve rarely seen him play there. I’d like to give him a go there if we rest Dembele just to see what he can do. Interchangeable pairs e.g. Dier and Dembele or Wanyama and Sissoko would be something nice to have, especially if you can get good relationships built between them such as what Dier and Dembele had last season.

      Against Man Utd is a tough one as they play a stifling slower paced game. We need plenty of strength vs Ibra as they like to hit him with the ball early to use his hold up play. Pogba is their main creative source, but we have plenty in the centre with Wanyama and Dembele to cope. My main concern is Martial, although Walker is the perfect player to handle him.

      • Peter 6th December 2016 at 10:38 am #

        Harry Winks is a miles better player than Sissoko will ever be.

        He has only set up one chance in all of the games he has played for Spurs. Against Swansea he carelessly passed the ball back to them and made a poor cross.

        Sissoko is a bad buy. He doesn’t fit into the team and is way below the standard of footballer that Spurs need. There is no point in wasting any more time with him. He needs to be sold in January.

        Spurs need to bring in a proper creative footballer like Isco or Ante Coric.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th December 2016 at 1:22 pm #

          I like Winks, but, as with Sissoko, there is a time and place for him. I’m not keen on what i’ve seen from Sissoko so far, but… its too early to say he can’t work in Poch’s system. He arrived after the season had kicked off and is learning on the fly. Many wanted rid of Son when he was in a similar position last season, not so many now. Time to see if it works out is key here. Poch’s system is complex and others Eg Son and Dier have said that it took them months to get it. I would give him until at least the summer to prove himself in either a wide or a central position. Signs that he was understanding the system against Swansea were good for me, it depends if he keeps on improving from that or not. We’d only lose a ton of money on him by selling in January anyway.

          • Peter 6th December 2016 at 6:12 pm #

            Sissoko has been playing in the premier league for 3 years. So comparing him with Son who had never played here before is not an ideal comparison.

            Son actually started very well at Spurs and then had a dip in form later. Also Dier initially started well as a right back and then his form in that position dropped later. He even scored goals from that position and made some great crosses. Dier then played well as a defensive midfielder from as soon as he started the position. He obviously improved over time but always looked good.

            Sissoko has never looked the part, in 3 years of premier league football.

            Obviously I really hope that there will be a dramatic improvement with Sissoko before January, but I don’t think it will happen. Why should he be given a year to adjust, when he has already had 3 years?

            I keep reading that Spurs are paying 6 million a year over 5 years for Sissoko. I am not sure if it is fact or rumour. I hope it is true, because 30 million up front for an average player is complete madness.

            If Spurs have only paid 6 million so far, then they could sell him for that, so as not to lose any more on him in wages.

            • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th December 2016 at 11:45 pm #

              I think you’ve missed my point. It doesn’t matter how long Son, Dier or Sissoko have played in the Premier League. Learning a manager’s system, especially one as intricate as Pochettino’s, takes time, whoever you are and wherever you’ve come from.

  6. Pete 8th December 2016 at 9:13 am #

    I had considered your point, but I don’t believe that it takes so long to learn a new system. That is why I mentioned that Son and Dier adapted very quickly to it.

    Players have to learn to adapt to new systems, whenever they join a new club, or there is a change of manager. It may have been more tricky for Sissoko when he moved from Toulouse to Newcastle.

    Anyway, last night’s game was more positive. Glad to see Eriksen finally having a good game.

    Our first 11 looks strong. Despite an appalling summer transfer window, Wanyama and Winks have greatly improved the options in midfield.

    I still think we need a goalscorer, as backup to Kane and a creative attacking midfielder.