An impressive performance in beating Southampton 2-0 away from home on Saturday propelled Mauricio Pochettino’s men into the Premier League top four – somewhere that the club will hope to stay for the season’s remainder.
Although a more plucky rearguard effort has been a key reason for Spurs’ progressive campaign to date, the Argentine trainer has revolutionised the North London outfit in the final third also.
Harry Kane remains the White Hart Lane outfit’s chief attacking protagonist and is backed up by an able supporting cast that has Tottenham as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in English football currently.
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However, one of the facets of the Spurs attack that Pochettino has installed over the last 18 months adds to the team’s menace in the final third.
Given the fluidity of modern-day formations, the versatility of players operating in a number of different positions is now a key element to success – and this is something that Tottenham do arguably better than anyone in the Premier League.
Pochettino has largely stuck with the same personnel in his four attacking positions this season, with Kane, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Mousa Dembele, and Dele Alli sharing the quartet of roles along the forward line.
However, all five of these stars have played in a host of different positions and been instructed to operate in different roles depending on Pochettino’s thoughts and the opposition.
The former Southampton boss has alternated English sensation Alli between a central midfield role and the position behind Kane, while Dembele has also fluttering between these two roles as requested.
However, with the first 20 minutes not going Spurs’ way at St Mary’s on Saturday, Pochettino shuffled his pack. He moved Alli to play from the left, switched Dembele into a deeper role and shifted Eriksen into the number ten role.
The outcome? Alli scored the decisive second goal, Dembele was man of the match and Eriksen was a constant threat to the Saints.
Looking at the other attacking players at Pochettino’s disposal, all have the ability to operate in different roles. Kane is most frequently played as the furthest man forward but can operate as a second striker also if needed.
Summer signing Son Heung-min has already played on the right, in the number ten role and as a striker in his short time at the club.
This also goes for Nacer Chadli and Clinton N’jie, who can and have been asked to switch roles as the situation dictates. Versatility has clearly been a feature in the club’s attacking recruitment policy, but the reason why it works is down to the all-encompassing footballing ideology that Pochettino adopts.
He urges his attacking players to be the first line of defence and close down the opposition high up the pitch, while he stresses the importance of keeping the ball when Spurs have it.
All the offensive players have taken these footballing ideals to heart and play to these instructions, regardless of the role they are selected in.
As a result, trying to shackle a young Tottenham side with enthusiasm, fitness and technical acumen is made all the more difficult, as Pochettino’s impress team march on.