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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Spurs have balance and belief now

Tottenham have won more points from losing positions than any other side in the Premier League. We came from behind against Sunderland and did it again against Crystal Palace yesterday. That now means we have amassed 14 points after going behind.

While we have the best defence in the Premier League having only conceded 18 goals in 23 games. Arsenal and Manchester United have conceded 21, Manchester City 23, Southampton 24, Stoke City 25, Watford and Leicester City 26. We have also conceded the joint-fewest shots in the Premier League, 72, with Southampton.

Alan Pardew's assessment of us was that we are as good as any team in the league when in possession of the ball, but could tighten up defensively as we gave them a few opportunities. We would make life easier if we didn't keep going behind, the goal against Crystal Palace, for instance, was easily avoidable. Jan Vertonghen, surrounded bu three players on the edge of our own penalty area, pushed the ball to Eriksen. He didn't seem to be expecting it and let it run surrendering possession to Palace who went wide, crossed and Vertonghen's outstretched toe beat Hugo Lloris.

When people were complaining, as Spurs fan love to do, when we were only drawing at the beginning of the season, I wrote about the balance between attack, defence and mentality. Defending is a system just like most of the play on a football field. You can see it in or play all the time, especially when we play triangles to move the ball. If you watch a player who has just played a ball or players around the ball, you can see their movement to put themselves into a position where they can receive the ball.

Parking the bus is one extreme, a system where you defend at the cost of attacking, it's a survival system against a better side generally. We will score more than you football is taking it to the other extreme, Newcastle United famously almost won a league title with that approach. What every club, what we have had to do is find the happy medium.

We have achieved that by having three defenders sit, the two central defenders and the more defensive of the two defensive midfield players. We then have the full-backs playing as wing-backs and giving licence for the attacking four to attack. Those same players then become the first part of a high line defence where the opposition have almost to beat us in their half before they can even get to our half which allows us time to have men in place.

Finding the balance is the key as you have to score goals to win, obviously, so you can't overdo the defending, but neither can you overdo the attacking to the detriment of the defence. There are times when we are a little too casual, times when we get ourselves into trouble. The important point is that this is the way Pochettino asks us to play so when someone does make a mistake heads don't go don, blame isn't apportioned.

That is key because it would affect our play otherwise. We have belief in ourselves. As a team, you put a mistake immediately behind you and work hard to put it right. The individual has to use that mistake to motivate themselves as opposed to worrying about it as that has a detrimental affect on their game.

If you look at us now when we concede and think back to how we used to look like rabbits caught in headlights when we conceded you can see the huge difference a frame of mind can make, because that is all it is. Before we looked as if we were in a state of panic when we conceded, now it is as if nothing has happened. That is down to total belief, mentally we do not panic now, we do not fall to pieces, we pick ourselves up, use it to motivate us and set about putting it right.

The biggest improvement we have nade to our game is the mental side, the rest comes from there. We do seem to have found our balance. There is always room for improvement and we can not rest on our laurels, we have to look at each aspect and ask how it can be improved again. That is a constant process, it is never finished, the moment we think it is is the moment we start going backwards.

We now have a week to rest, actually be able to work on things on the training ground, there has been no time to do so with games coming thick and fast. It's Football League One side Colchester United next Saturday before a midweek game against Norwich City. 

A few players will be able to recharge their batteries, Eric Dier may get a rest with Bentaleb replacing him, Jan Vertonghem will have some recovery time while Kevin Wimmer slots into defence. The full-backs will be rotated, Vorm may get another start in goal, Carroll may well play. The beauty of this season over other seasons is that the squad seems more like a squad as opposed to a first team and a second team which helps team spirit, it helps the mentality of the players, it is creating the right environment.

We seem to have the balance right on the field, we seem to have the balance right off the field, happy days.



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