Spurs need system change, not signings, for defensive balance
The 45 goals Tottenham have conceded in the Premier League is the fifth-most in the division. Three of the four teams to ship more than them sit in the relegation zone while the other, Newcastle, have won just twice in 2015.
Scoring four goals at home to Leicester last time out would have been cause for celebration for Mauricio Pochettino, had they not allowed the Foxes three in reply.
Instead of lauding his attacking trinkets, the Argentine manager used his post-match press duties to take his defensive players to task.
“When the game was 2-0 up for us, I remember when we concede the goal (for) 2-1, our full-backs are up and we try to score again. We need to keep this mentality because we are Tottenham, to give our supporters exciting football. But we need to try to get more balance between attacking and defending,” Pochettino said.
Naturally such comments have led to transfer links with defensive reinforcements in the summer, Austrian Kevin Wimmer among the most prominent of those.
However, it could be that rather than throwing a fistful of cash at the problem, a simple change in approach is all that is required.
Kyle Walker and Danny Rose are among the two most attacking full-backs in the division, but both fall short in a positional sense when tracking back and in defensive situations.
Their over-zealous traipses forward often leave the centre-backs exposed, especially as neither Nabil Bentaleb or Ryan Mason are anchormen in the traditional sense of the role.
A change of formation, which uses either Etienne Capoue or Benjamin Stambouli as a back-four screener, would allow Bentaleb, Mason, Walker and Rose all to take up more natural positions further up the field, without exposing the back line.
That 4-3-3 system mirrors the one Pochettino used at Southampton, but creates a selection problem at the opposite end of the pitch as one of the attacking trio behind Harry Kane would have to make way.
But considering his frustrations with Spurs’ solidity, Pochettino may well choose that path.
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