The newly-published technical analysis of UEFA is full of insights but there’s 1 statistic that stands out especially strongly.
According to its findings, more than half of those goals scored at the competition – 185 to be precise – came from possession recovered in the opposition third.
It is an eye-catching detail which reflects the incidence of pressing the highest level of the match. The report specifically highlights that the”extraordinary intensity” of Liverpool’s media in their semi-final second-leg triumph over Barcelona. However, Jurgen Klopp’s men weren’t the only ones to profit from forcing mistakes high up the pitch.
When Liverpool faced Tottenham the closing, was charged as a meeting between two of the greatest exponents of top pressing. Though, Spurs went on to list their number of anxieties in almost any Champions League match all year . Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah accounted by himself.
What felt like an anomaly in the time – Spurs had listed over double as many pressures within their second leg against Ajax a couple weeks earlier – now feels like the beginning of a fashion. In a time when pressing that is high is becoming more and more prominent everywhere, recent evidence suggests Spurs are currently going in the opposite direction.
This year, the press that is large simply hasn’t been there. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville described Spurs because”lethargic” during their 2-2 draw with Manchester City a month. A week 13, they were likewise flat in the 1-0 loss to Newcastle. And last Sunday, if they did counter-attack in rate against Arsenal, their pressing game was oddly absent.
Unai Emery’s side could build at the Emirates Stadium, which had been surprising given the apparent problems they had been induced by the high press of Liverpool in their previous match from the trunk unchallenged. Klopp’s side earned ownership at Anfield in the third 13 occasions. At the Emirates, Spurs managed it twice.
In fact, Spurs have won possession in the third nine times in four games all season, putting them among Premier League sides. Their average of 2.3 per match represents a significant drop-off in their normal numbers. Last year they averaged 4.2 per match, putting them fifth. In 2017/18, their average of 4.4 per match put them third.
Opta’s data for pressed sequences is even more revealing. Sequences are described passing sequences of three or fewer passes which finish within 40 meters of their goal. This year, Spurs have driven fewer pressed strings (31) than any other Premier League side, averaging 7.8 per game compared to 13.2 final season.
It’s dangerously out of character for a facet whose competitive pressing was a hallmark, although it is a little sample size, obviously. It’s not so long past that returning Watford director Quique Sanchez Flores was assessing Mauricio Pochettino’s gamers to”animals” for the speed and determination with which they searched possession.
So what’s happened? When it’s a strategy that is deliberate, then it is not working. Spurs have survived trips away to Manchester City and Arsenal this year, shooting five points from their first four matches, but the absence of urgency has seen them provide a worrying number of opportunities. Just Aston Villa have confronted shots. Norwich have faced more shots.
It is also obvious that the issues are a source of annoyance for Pochettino. He’s cut a disgruntled figure since the Champions League final, complaining that his team is the most”unsettled” it’s ever been since his arrival in the club and siphoned into its effect on the group’s performances – specifically their pressing – following the Arsenal game.
“We need togetherness,” he explained. “The team wasn’t settled and that I told you from day among pre-season I was not happy. The most important thing is to all be on precisely the identical page and the players have a clear idea of how we will have to move.”
An press requires total commitment it needs team focus and spirit. However, together with Christian Eriksen’s mind elsewhere, with Jan Vertonghen dropping his place and with signings still bedding , those factors have yet to be there. Tottenham’s cohesion has obtained a evidence indicates their urgent has also.
Pochettino expects the closure of the transfer window coupled with a pause for your worldwide break – enables Spurs to receive their rhythm backagain. But a approach takes a striker to place the tone. Is Harry Kane that striker? Is he suited to playing a high-pressing strategy?
It is a conundrum for both Pochettino. There can be no questioning the attacking participation of Kane. He’s scored seven days for golf and country from this season’s opening month . But in the last few years he’s suffered a string of injuries that were ankle as well as his game is currently evolving as a outcome.
Kane is at his box, but these days he is equally as likely to be viewed as he is playing the shoulder of the last defender, dropping deep. Rather than running behind himself, he now prefers to vacate the area for his.
The evolution of kane has impacted his off-the-ball job. This time, he is averaging fewer tackles and chunk recoveries than any of the six campaigns together with Spurs. So far this season, he has only won ownership in the third two in 360 moments on the pitch.
A player who once led the press Pochettino is no more playing with the exact identical intensity, and it is not a coincidence thatthe last time Spurs produced the sort of breathless pressing they’ve become known for underneath Pochettino – in that Champions League semi-final second leg from Ajax in May – Kane didn’t feature in any way.
His return to the for the final was a boost for Spurs, however, since UEFA analysis informs ustheir intensity suffered.
Maybe Pochettino is still hoping that Kane will contact his intensity levels. There was in how he won possession in the opposition half in the build-up into England’s third goal against Bulgaria on 24, encouragement. He made another introduction on Tuesday for Raheem Sterling in comparable situation from Kosovo.
However, the Premier League is an entirely more taxing environment. Kane’s evolution suggests he knows the adjusted approach of Tottenham this season indicates Pochettino knows it as well and his characteristics are changing. A side whose progress was pushed by high-pressing tactics must discover a new way. For the time being, it’s still a work in progress.
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