This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Tottenham Hotspur may need to switch to a 4-2-2-2 formation if they are to return to form, per Understat.
Spurs have struggled at the start of the season, winning just three games in the Premier League, and are already eight points behind both Leicester City and Chelsea in third and fourth respectively.
Mauricio Pochettino has primarily utilised a 4-2-3-1 system this term, employing Harry Kane as a lone striker, with the likes of Heung-Min Son, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli tasked with providing him with support.
However, it has not been utilised to the proper effect.
Per Understat, Spurs have scored seven goals from 51 shots in that formation, while conceding six from 69. Their xG rate (expected goals) stands at 4.98, which they are outperforming, but their xGA rate (expected goals against) is 6.69, meaning they are also outperforming themselves defensively.
The 4-2-2-2 system, which would allow a player to help Kane up front has proved much more fruitful.
The stats show that in the 138 minutes they have employed it for, Spurs have scored five goals and have not conceded.
Their xG rate is being massively outperformed – it stands at a mere 2.76 – but their xGA rate does not even top one, and one has to feel that, for the solidity it appears to bring, Pochettino should consider a tweak.
Understat has recorded seven different formations for Spurs this season and they have conceded a goal in all bar one – the 4-2-2-2.
It, of course, remains to be seen how Pochettino would utilise the system but one has to feel that giving both Alli and Eriksen, or Giovani Lo Celso, the freedom to play as attacking midfielders, perhaps with Son up top with Kane, would both increase their potency and reduce the risk of them being sucked into too much defensive work.
Having two midfielders – a combination of Moussa Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele, Eric Dier, Harry Winks and Victor Wanyama, plus Oliver Skipp – who can sit and mop up would then essentially give Tottenham a back six, which would make them much harder to break down.
As it is, Spurs have kept just one Premier League clean sheet all season, in the 4-0 thumping of Crystal Palace.
If they are to plug the leaks in the defence, the stats suggest that a switch has to be on the cards.
With a clash with Everton looming, Spurs fans will be eagerly awaiting Pochettino’s next team selection.