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Monday, 01 October 2012 21:52

Tottenham goals under the microscope

THFC___MU_Goal_1_1.jpgLast Saturday André Villas-Boas' Tottenham defeated Manchester United in their own turf, something Spurs hadn't done in 23 years - which may well be just what the doctor ordered for AVB's team. Every single goal from the Lilywhites came from United's worryingly tendency to be overrun against stronger sides over the past couple of years (namely after Carlos Queiroz left).
With Carrick and Scholes in the centre, and Nani and Giggs on the wings, pockets of space were bound to appear on United's defensive midfield, but the appalling display from his midfield and defence must have Sir Alex Ferguson quite worried. For that matter, Tottenham's goals will be dissected, in order to shed some light over the Red Devils' frailties.

  • Goal #1
There were some repetitive patterns throughout the match as far as defensive positioning is concerned. In this particular case, you can see that both Carrick (green) and Scholes (blue) are away from the ball and not offering good defensive coverage. The yellow dotted lines represent the one-two played by Vertonghen (the eventual goalscorer).

Jermaine Defoe (yellow) read the game very well and immediately drifted toward the flank, dragging Rio Ferdinand out of position. With the one-two, Vertonghen has already overcome Nani's feeble opposition.

Defoe's movement opened up a huge hole in the centre of Manchester United's defence (shaded area). Carrick (green) and Scholes (blue) are already late and out of position.

Even after a few seconds, Carrick (green) and Scholes (blue) are still behind Tottenham's player, who had to control the ball and resist his markers' attempts. Ferdinand also hesitates and the critical area of the field (shaded area) from which Vertonghen will score is left unprotected.

  • Goal #2
Manchester United have lost the ball just a couple of seconds earlier. Scholes (blue) neither pressures the Dembélé (the player with the ball) nor provides coverage. The shaded area represents the huge gap in the middle into which Tottenham were often allowed to break. Gareth Bale (red) started out near his area and would eventually score the goal.

Dembélé easily avoids Scholes and no Manchester United player comes up to either keep the team compact or try to force Tottenham out wide. Gareth Bale has already gone past his "marker" and has a whole lot of field to run into (shaded area).

Once again Defoe (yellow) shows an intuitive understanding of the game and starts running contrary to the run of play, dragging Jonny Evans out of position. Bale (red) gets the ball in space and there is no one remotely close to him. Scholes (blue) is already 5 metres behind him. Tottenham have an all too easy 2v2 situation in a matter of seconds.

Even after all this time, Evra remains way out on the wing, where he is not of any help whatsoever. Defoe (yellow) continues his movement and Bale (red) attacks the space his team-mate has just vacated - a textbook counterattack play. Notice the distance between the Welsh winger and Ferdinand (orange). Bale would score the goal ahead of the English centre-back.

With Evans out of the picture, thanks to Defoe's hard work, Bale (red) has an open road toward the goal. Again, neither Carrick, Scholes, Evra or Rafael are the least bit near to help out. Bale's goal was definitely much easier than it should have been and teams in the Champions League will be looking to pounce on this evident weak link in United's defensive approach.

  • Goal #3 
Once again United had just lost the ball a could of seconds earlier. Dembélé easily goes around Scholes (blue) and finds himself totally unmarked.

With Scholes already behind, Dembélé can pick his pass. The shaded area represents the huge gap that United have once again opened up between their lines and how a simple long ball could bypass all of United's midfield.

In all honesty, this play was just utter nonsense. Ferdinand (orange) is once again dragged out of position following Dembélé's long ball towards Defoe. Carrick (green) and Scholes (blue) are neither pressuring or providing coverage. To make matters worse, Rafael (red) seems to keep lacking a basic understanding of his duties and stays in line with Ferdinand and Evans, instead of taking a couple of steps back. Notice how Bale immediately picks up on it and asks for the ball in space with his arm. Clint Dempsey (yellow) remains absolutely unchecked in the critical area of the field.

Defoe played the ball into Bale's path for him to shoot at goal. Carrick (green) and Scholes (blue) allow their opponents to breeze past them. In the most important area of the pitch, Evans is alone (shaded area) against three Tottenham players. Logically enough, Dempsey found it extremely easy to pick up the rebound after Lindegaard's save and score Tottenham's third goal of the day.
  • Conclusion

If Manchester United are serious about taking the title back from City and/or improve on their shambolic performance in Europe, they will be well advised to drill their defensive positioning extensively. If not, they will certainly be made to suffer at the hands of any team capable of breaking quickly through the middle. As time goes by, it remains harder and harder to understand why exactly Sir Alex Ferguson insists on leaving his midfield area that bare.

As for Tottenham, even though he didn't score or even provide an assist, Jermaine Defoe was instrumental for the win, as Michael Cox so eloquently put it. His clever movement was critical to drag his team-mates' opponents out of position and should go to show that a forward's job revolves around much more than just putting the ball in the net.


by Vasco Mota Pereira
Vasco runs http://aboladovasco.blogspot.com/
and http://combinationplay.blogspot.com/, two blogs exclusively about football.
Comments (7)
Thank you
7 Wednesday, 03 October 2012 08:30
You spoil me with such kind words, guys. Thank you.
Excellent Analysis
6 Wednesday, 03 October 2012 04:32
This is the best analysis of game i have ever read anywhere in the web
5 Tuesday, 02 October 2012 18:47
Vasco, awesome work. Your write-up and the images are astounding. I also like the fact that you are actually able to pick up on the real factors of any one given play, unlike even the broadcasters during the game.

I watched live with Macca (Steve McManaman) commenting on how Nani's awful defending was the catalyst for the first Spurs goal. Macca is pretty horrible with his analysis, let's just be clear about that.

It was great to read Vasco's accurate depiction of the fact that Scholes and Carrick in the center of the park drag the rest of the team into problem areas, leading to a weakened defence. Scholes, not Nani, was the catalyst for that first goal by Vertoghnen. Well done Vasco.
Good Job Spurs!!
4 Tuesday, 02 October 2012 14:29
Haha I agree with the posters below, and YES we are spoiled with Vasco’s analysis, they are brilliant.

I saw this game and Bale’s run was fantastic, he pretty much steamrolled right through the midfield with only 1 marker trailing him the entire time, where was the help?? Excellent Postiga style work by Defoe pulling the CB away from the center giving Bale the space to bury his beauty goal.

That second half was pretty intense as Man U ramped it up, hit the bar a few times but Spurs fully deserved their win.

Top Tottys, the media is horrible everywhere, I can only speak for the leagues I follow but believe me, the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish media’s are no angels….makes us all the more thankful for this site where the writers are first and foremost fans of the SPORT itself. As long as you respect the sport, it comes out in your writing, no matter the jersey you wear.
Much Needed
3 Tuesday, 02 October 2012 12:36
I've never been a huge fan of AVB, i guess mostly due to his Porto affiliation. I also thought that he was as much a product of a very good squad as manager. That being said, I don't want to short change him. I think he's a good manager on good teams. It sounds silly, but given the right players he'll get it done. Not all managers have that, ability.
Man United is clearly lacking. Having to depend on Scholes to come up big at this stage of his career is ridiculous. Same goes for Giggs. This could be a wasted season, where hopefully they won't drop out of the top 4. Not advancing past the Group Stage in the CL would also be disastrous financially. Yes two more matches means that much to a club like Man United.
Spurs have a wonderful opportunity to grab CL play for next season. AVB will need to find a way to incorporate Ade, because he'll need him. They also need to tighten the defense. Yes they absorbed the pressure but should have controlled the ball better off that pressure.
Great and important win for Spurs and AVB.

As for the press, they're in the business to sell papers. When the manager wins his hysterics means he's passionate, when he loses he's incompetent and out of touch. Take a look at JJ.
Welcome to futebol. Lol!!!
Spurs 3......ManUre 2!!!
2 Tuesday, 02 October 2012 11:26
Love reading this....looks like we have a great team in the making after Andre got his team selection perfect for this game. Love his passion too, like 1 of our old players, Mickey Hazard said, when Spurs score Andre jumps up and down like hes a fan of the club as well as our manager!! Some dickheads in the British press seem to be on a witch-hunt for Andre, but since Saturday they have had a lot of stick for trying to make problems that dont exist. Lets not forget, the British press has some of thecrappiest writers in sports journalism!! Viva Andre!!
Analysis of Man Utd goals conceded vs Spurs
1 Tuesday, 02 October 2012 10:45
Excellent analysis and well illustrated. Significantly better blog/website than its average English counterpart, which benefits greatly from impartial analysis rather than a partisan one!

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