Institutionalised Fallacies

’41 crosses’

While it is true that we attempted 41 crosses as defined by Opta, 12 of those were from corners, another one was a free-kick took by Christian Eriksen following a foul on Nacer Chadli, a further 8 were not crosses at all but low passes across the face of the goal. We attempted 20 crosses from open play. Now consider that we had possession of the ball for 64.3% of the game, equating to 57 minutes and 52 seconds of the game. That means that, roughly, we attempted a cross every 3 minutes. Then remember that we have Adebayor in the middle who dwarfs Diego Lugano and Craig Dawson, only Jonas Olsson comes close to him. We also have Chadli who similarly tall and strong. Soldado also happens to be very good at dispatching anything that falls his way from a knock-down or a deflection.

You may call this tactically ineptitude, I call this utilising our assets

Chalkboard of Tottenham’s crosses versus West Brom

Public Enemy #1

‘Dawson isn’t even average, he’s shocking’

Nononononononononono.

Dawson was probably our third best player yesterday, behind Rose and Eriksen. Dawson completed 2 tackles, 4 interceptions and 10 clearances (out of 21). He even made a goal saving challenge and Chiriches gave the ball away to Matej Vydra. WhoScored gave him a rating of 8.02 only behind Eriksen.

Chiriches, on the other hand, was simply abysmal. Everything he touched turn into a flaming turd. He gave the ball away three of four times only to be rescued by Rose, Dawson and Eriksen among others. Chiriches lost Olsson at the free kick which the Swede equalised from.

You got the wrong man.

‘A Defensive Midfielder is imperative’

No, it’s not. While re-watching the match, I made a point to note how counter attacks West Brom had. Guess how many I times I note a counter-attack.

Once.

Even that counter-attack was stopped after a mazy run by Matej Vydra by Christian Eriksen about 40 yards from goal. Obviously, there were innumerable turnovers that looked like that they could turn into counter-attacks but were swiftly quelled by one of the front six, with Chadli and Sigurdsson featuring prominently. Stopping a counter-attack isn’t all too difficult, you don’t even need to win the ball back, all you need to do is harry the opponent until your defense gets back into a defensive shape.

Do you need a Sandro or Capoue to run near an opponent?

Not against West Brom who are playing with a bunkered 5 man defense. Against better opposition, a Newcastle or a Man City, you will definitely need a Sandro or Capoue, simply because the quality of player is better. You’ll need to respect them. Eriksen or Chadli will be able to stop someone like James Morrison long enough for the defense to get back into a proper defensive shape but they won’t be able to do this versus a Yoann Gouffran or Jesús Navas.

Much was made of the lack of defensive midfielder The decision to play without a defensive midfielder was the right decision in this case. A ballsy decision, but the right one.

‘We played a 4-4-2’

I’ve even seen Jonathan Wilson and other highly astute journalists/writers write that we play with a 4-4-2. Wilson is the zenith of football journalism and analysis and he thinks that we play with a 4-4-2, which is just plainly wrong. Forgive me if I get a bit exasperated.

This is the epitome of an ‘institutionalised fallacy.’ It’s been said so many times that people start to believe it. This works somehow, you need to look no further than the propaganda perpetuated by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. People who were otherwise no anti-semitic, became so. It shouldn’t work but much like advertising, it does.

Anyway, back to why we don’t play a 4-4-2.

Exhibit A

These are the heat-maps from Tim Sherwood’s first two matches in charge of Tottenham. The most distinguishing factors between 4-4-2 and the formation we actually play with, 4-2-2-2, is the involvement of the full-backs and the position of the two widest midfielders.

As can be seen here, the full backs are immensely involved, they are the only players providing width.

Chadli and Sigurdsson or Lamela and Sigurdsson are both very narrow. If you didn’t know, you’d think that they were playing as attacking midfielders. Oh wait, they are.

4-4-2 as a formation is dead but they are some variants of it that are still being used. One of those is 4-2-2-2 and it’s one of the most progressive formations being used nowadays. Tottenham also happen to play with it.

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