Harry Kane celebrates scoring the winning goal during Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

Tottenham 2-1 PSV: attacking the right back

Right back Denzel Dumfries was the focus of our attack as our Champions League match finished Tottenham 2-1 PSV at Wembley Stadium.

The errant positioning of Denzel Dumfries came in for constant probing from the Tottenham attack. The right back had been exposed on several occasions during PSV 2-2 Tottenham and was the target here. In spite of a frustrating evening in front of goal, the ploy finally paid off. The match ended Tottenham 2-1 PSV keeping our qualification hopes alive in Champions League Group B.

PSV counter attacks

Tottenham were in control of possession for much of the match, but PSV were highly dangerous on counter attacks.

Mauricio Pochettino gambled by playing a 4-1-4-1, which at times looked like a 4-1-1-4 formation. The extra space afforded in midfield by deploying Harry Winks as a sole defensive midfielder was flooded by PSV on counter attacks. Hirving Lozano and Steven Bergwijn were quick to race in to this open space on any chances PSV had to break out.

PSV flood the space around Harry WInks prior to taking the lead during Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

PSV flood the space around Harry WInks prior to taking the lead.

The tactic was evident after just one minute. Serge Aurier played a difficult pass in to Lucas Moura. He consequently turned the ball over. Within a second PSV were off and had a flooded the space in midfield with three men.

Angelino broke down the line to get his cross in, which Toby Alderweireld put out for a corner.

The resulting set piece saw Dele Alli matched up with Luuk de Jong. The PSV striker ran Dele off a screen by Nick Viergever. Dele was suddenly blocked off, freeing de Jong. Toby Alderweireld initially did exceptionally well.

Instantly recognising what was going on, Alderweireld picked up de Jong’s run. However, he then overran the cross and got caught underneath the ball.

Dele blocked off by Viergever allows de Jong to score a goal during Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

Dele blocked off by Viergever allows de Jong to score.

Alderweireld just missed the clearing header and de Jong steamed in to power home. PSV ahead inside of two minutes.

Tottenham attack the right back

The match in Eindhoven had signalled how vulnerable the PSV full backs were. Denzel Dumfries at right back came in for a lot of attention here as Spurs relentlessly attacked him.

Dumfries’ issues centred on him tracking the wide forward on his side to the point that he was dragged in to some really bad areas and decisions.

Denzel Dumfires tracks Son leaving Dele Alli free during Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

Denzel Dumfires tracks Son leaving Dele Alli free.

The ploy saw him way out of sync with his back line. Some big chances ensued as a result.

Lucas Moura spun him and then tore through the entire PSV defence only to be denied by Jeroen Zoet in goal. Dumfries was way up on the halfway line, far too tight to Moura.

Denzel Dumfries gets spun by Lucas Moura during Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

Denzel Dumfries gets spun by Lucas Moura.

Spurs next big chance arrived five minutes later. Both Dele Ali and Christian Eriksen saw their shots saved. However the passage of play to spring Dele saw Dumfries clatter Lucas Moura in central midfield, leaving the rest of his defence to try and cover.

Dumfries tackles Moura leaving a huge space for Dele Alli during Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

Dumfries tackles Moura leaving a huge space for Dele Alli.

Dele reacted quickest and ran in to the space that Dumfries had left. Poor finishing from both Eriksen and Dele saw the score remain at Tottenham 0-1 PSV.

Dele then had another glorious chance courtesy of one of his classic out-to-in runs.

Dele lined himself up on Dumfries out wide. Dumfries, who was also concerned with Son Heung-Min, was slow to react to the run.

Dele Alli runs off Denzel Dumfries but cannot finish during Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

Dele Alli runs off Denzel Dumfries but cannot finish.

As the ball arrived at the feet of Toby Alderweireld, Dele set off. The timing of the run was perfect to meet the long pass, but Dele once more couldn’t finish.

Tottenham really should’ve been level by this point, but couldn’t convert in spite of the spaces opening up as a result of the play of the PSV right back.

Long ball Tottenham

Spurs huffed and puffed for 74 minutes, but were unable to convert some big chances. That all changed with the introduction of Fernando Llorente and a more long ball game.

Llorente allowed us to play two versus two against the PSV centre backs, which made space for Harry Kane.

Llorente’s impact was immediate. Holding the ball up and neatly laying it off created a glorious chance for Harry Kane. However, Kane found goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet in his way once more with another brilliant save.

No matter. One minute later and this time Llorente’s layoff teed up the equaliser.

Christian Eriksen sent a searching long ball forward. Lining up two versus two against the PSV centre backs saw Kane win the initial header. Llorente was instantly on to the second ball. A deft layoff saw Kane fire in to the back of the net, levelling the score.

Llorente and Kane pin the centre backs two versus two during Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

Llorente and Kane pin the centre backs two versus two.

The interplay between Llorente and Kane was neat and tidy. Having seen Daniel Schwaab beaten, Denzel Dumfries was slow to recognise the danger and therefore couldn’t stop Kane.

Llorente continued to be a problem as both PSV centre backs were now occupied by having to mark the Spurs strike pairing. His unmarked header from a Harry Winks cross was unfortunately straight at goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.

Attacking the right back wins the match

Spurs had great success attacking Denzel Dumfries to create chances, but had equalised from a long ball approach. A return to going at the right back would see us win the match.

Dumfries had been tracking the wide midfielder on his side. However, the removal of Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura saw him without a defensive focal point and his positioning reflected that. Dele Ali was the player drifting to his side and Dumfries became attracted to him.

As the clock ticked down, the absence of Son and Moura allowed our full backs to get forward. Ben Davies was able to sneak in to the space beyond Dumfries, as he was more concerned with the wide player on his side, Dele Alli.

Ben Davies sneaks in-behind Dumfries who is focused on Dele to make the score Tottenham 2-1 PSV.

Ben Davies sneaks in-behind Dumfries who is focused on Dele.

Dele’s pass found Davies well-timed run. Davies was able to put in a dangerous cross. In the middle, Harry Kane and Fernando Llorente had occupied both centre backs. A neat move by Kane to hesitate and step back saw him gain a yard to meet the cross.

Kane’s downward header took two deflections and ricocheted in to the back of the net. Tottenham 2-1 PSV and a victory snatched at the death. Wembley exploded in celebration as we lived to fight another day.

Tottenham 2-1 PSV overall

Given the state of the Wembley pitch this was a good performance. Following the Anthony Joshua fight and three weekends of NFL the surface was still rutted and thread bare in places. What’s more, the pitch continued to play extremely firmly. The resulting high ball bounce continued to be a problem throughout and bobbling across the worn parts of the surface didn’t help.

Mauricio Pochettino rolled the dice with his initial selection and extremely aggressive formation. Leaving Harry Winks isolated in central midfield was a gamble. As a result, PSV was dangerous on the counter attack. Better finishing from Lozano, de Jong and Donyell Malen in his 1v1 on 81 minutes could’ve seen a very different result.

The ploy to go after Denzel Dumfries was a good one. The PSV right back had been shown up in the first encounter. His constant tracking of the wide midfielder and resulting errant positioning often proved our route to goal. Had we taken our earlier chances the match would’ve been much more comfortable than it was.

Final score: Tottenham 2-1 PSV.
MOTM: Dele Alli.

If you enjoyed this post, please share:

, , ,

14 Responses to Tottenham 2-1 PSV: attacking the right back

  1. Graham 7th November 2018 at 7:01 pm #

    Interesting analysis! Why oh why don’t Spurs put a man on each post when defending corners, especially as Gazzaniga seems to prefer to stay centrally on his line rather than coming to claim?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th November 2018 at 11:20 pm #

      Purely a coaching decision. Poch used to have a player on the near post, which was either one of the full backs. However, he has since moved away from that system, which is potentially a large part of the puzzle as to why we are conceding from so many set pieces this season…

  2. Pedeo 7th November 2018 at 7:18 pm #

    Great analysis as usual. Interested that you put Dele as MOTM, what was your rationale? Personally thought Winks deserves it considering that he was required to hold the whole formation together. 2nd half he was excellent, winning the ball back and recycling possession. I felt that Dele’s performance wasn’t near his best, but I agree he looked constantly dangerous despite the fact nothing he did resulted in a goal.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th November 2018 at 11:31 pm #

      Other than his marking on the initial PSV goal, Dele was superb here. He played in at least three different positions as the personnel around him changed. He made those good late runs in to the box that we are so used to seeing and PSV weren’t picking him up. Should’ve had an assist after setting up Eriksen after brilliantly carving out the opportunity. Played a major part in the winning goal with an exquisite defence splitting pass and really should’ve had a few goals himself – the back flick heel shot that was cleared off the line, the long Alderweireld pass to him down the middle and the rebound off Eriksen’s shot. He’s not back to 100% and continues to look a touch rusty, plus his finishing especially is not as sharp as it usually is, but highly encouraging signs from him here. He was at the heart of pretty much everything good we did.

  3. Matt 7th November 2018 at 7:43 pm #

    Nice analysis. We’d discussed playing it long occasionally, though this time I think it was only in desperation. I’d like to see it as part of our armoury; I’m not suggesting we hire Sam Allardyce as our attack coach, just mix it up a bit. Moura continues to impress me and great to see Dele back. He makes all the difference for us.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th November 2018 at 11:37 pm #

      No harm in a bit of long ball from time-to-time, keeps the opposing defence honest ;)

      Moura can be electric and impossible for defences to stop when he is jinking through them. Would love to see a bit more end product from him with more goals and assists though. If he can develop some consistency, a bit like Anthony Martial is doing, then he’ll be devastating.

      • YouShubes 8th November 2018 at 10:50 am #

        if he could do that then PSG would not have signed Neymar :D…Jokes aside if he can go that extra step he could be our Eden Hazard…the potential is there…Still think he needs to do more when we are out of possession.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th November 2018 at 3:34 pm #

          He has huge potential and could be coached in to being better defensively, so i’m not concerned about that. He still needs to develop a more consistent end product, then he could be in the same class a Hazard. He has no trouble making great mazy dribbles that are often direct and take him in to the box. However, he then fails to find a team mate or a finish far too often. Could pay huge dividends if he can develop in this area.

  4. Zaph Mann 7th November 2018 at 10:11 pm #

    I had the delightful experience of watching the game with just crowd noise – not having commentary transforms the experience. The speed and relentlessness are far more evident and causes of errors and awareness of tension are heightened.

    I thought both teams played excellently and that both were unfortunate against Milan. Oh and if you missed Van Bommel’s post match press conference – look it up on youtube, brutal and honest – excellent bloke hope he manages in England someday.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th November 2018 at 11:44 pm #

      van Bommel is certainly putting himself on the radar of teams with how his PSV side has performed both domestically and in Europe. Like us, he is in need of some better full backs! :)

  5. Toby4eva 8th November 2018 at 6:47 am #

    Thanks boss – insightful as usual.

    Agree re Dele’s contribution but also a big fan of Winks at the moment.

    And I was impressed by Gazza 2.0 between the sticks.

    Looks good in PPOM (Poch Play Out Mode) and he stayed in the right spot and put up two strong wrists to save the game from that direct stinger late.

    His opposite couldn’t really have dreamt of a worse way to end/lose a game though.


    For them.

    Also impressed by van Bommel.

    Fair play to Llorente also – a very effective cameo and well deployed.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th November 2018 at 3:12 pm #

      Gazzaniga has definitely moved past Vorm in the pecking order now. Been impressed every time I’ve seen him. Poch had him at Southampton and brought him here so obviously rates him. Had some decent games and now needs to show he can be consistent week-in, week-out.

  6. Pedro 8th November 2018 at 7:19 am #

    Two more questions:

    1) I note you say it was a 4-1-4-1 formation. I felt it was more of a 4-2-3-1, with both Eriksen and Winks deep and then an attacking trident behind Kane. In the newspaper I also saw it described as a 4-3-3. What is the difference? Or is it simply that the formation was fluid and did of those as one point? I also noticed that Son and Moura swapped sides before swapping back shortly after.

    Infamously remember that Alan Pardew didn’t see any difference between 4-5-1 and 4-2-3-1. Is he right? Are formations false?

    2) Do you think Winks will make it?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th November 2018 at 3:29 pm #

      All formations are different and change between attacking and defensive phases. A team can be one formation in attack, but then different in defence. For example, a team can be 4-2-3-1 in attack, but defend as a 4-4-2 – Tottenham often do this with Dele pushing up alongside Kane to exert more pressure on a defence.

      Are formations false? sometimes. False 9s, false 10s can often mess with the formation and make it look like something it’s not. Overall though, it is just a base to play from.

      As for us here, it wasn’t a 4-3-3 as that uses wide forwards up alongside the striker and a central midfield trio and we definitely were not that. The 4-2-3-1 is plausible, but Eriksen was playing up a level from where Winks was to make a quartet behind Kane, so it was more a 4-1-4-1. At times, however, Moura, Son and Dele were right up with Kane and often pushing beyond him, so that’s why I say it looked occasionally like a 4-1-1-4 due to the ultra aggressive way Spurs were playing.

      Harry Winks is going to be a good player. He is going growing up in the Premier League and he is still 2-3 seasons away from reaching his potential. He still has a lot to learn and progress. He still gives the ball away, sometimes needlessly eg both goals conceded at Wolves started with him losing possession. He can be undersized against bigger opponents that can leverage him off or away from the ball and he needs to bulk up a bit. He needs to improve some of his decision making, but that will come with time.
      Overall, he’s not as good at the minute as a lot of fans will say that he is. However, he is not that bad either and will improve the more experience he is given.