Tottenham’s formation (4-2-3-1) succeeded in the English Premier League last season. Any good manager will need to be flexible with his tactics to continue improving his team, to ensure progress instead of stagnancy. Also, with the arrival of new signings, formations may be experimented with to incorporate them. Therefore, the formation and overall play style may vary, but changes should be minor, not wholesale, to ensure success.
Should Tottenham’s Formation Change?
Whilst last season’s formation could be considered to have had the best success in years, there is still room for improvement.
A major criticism is the isolation of the striker. Harry Kane, thwarted and fruitless in his attempts to score, can cut a lonely figure, as demonstrated last season. In 55% of his 38 matches, he failed to do so. This reflects that the formation is flawed and needs revamping. By scoring in more of the matches, it would have achieved more points, thus allowing Spurs to rise up the league. A counter argument is that he still is the Golden Boot holder and, therefore, he is the best striker in the league, playing in the best formation in the league. Whilst this may be true for last season, a new season brings change in terms of personnel, formations and tactics. This means that progress must still be made so that the club aren’t left behind in the pursuit of Premier League glory.
The best way of ensuring consistent goal-scoring is to guarantee Kane has players around him capable of scoring and assisting. This takes the goal burden off his shoulders a little, helping him to play his natural game, rather than to force play to score goals. Another important factor is ensuring he has ample rest, especially after such a long previous season.
Another complaint is the lack of width. This is because of Mauricio Pochettino’s choice to employ inverted wingers, playing Erik Lamela on the right and Christian Eriksen on the left, for example. Therefore, the fullbacks have to make the progress up the flanks. Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have lots of success when going forward and are vital in providing the width. Fullbacks pinned by opposition wingers can abolish the team’s width. This means that it can be hard to find. But, with a more congested central midfield, Tottenham’s formation is likely to prevent as many passes out to the wing. So long as the midfielders dominate the opposition, the fullbacks can provide the width, ensuring their team’s progress.
The transfer of Vincent Janssen to the club could prove to change Tottenham’s formation. By finally having two in-form, prolific goal-scorers, there is a possibility of fielding them both. This could really help Kane with his isolation problems, but it could really aid the entire team in providing another dimension of attack. Though, there would be ramifications as a result.
Dropping Mousa Dembélé or Dele Alli is one consequence. This could be a massive loss in terms of physicality or creative ability. But, in deadlock matches, switching the formation could take them into the ascendancy. Strikers score goals, so by having two of them on the pitch the chance of scoring increases.
Another consequence is the change in wing play. With a 4-4-2 or similar formation, the strikers in the box might be fed by crosses. This involves playing traditional wingers who can make such manoeuvres. Eriksen is far superior centrally and Lamela is almost a supporting striker. Spurs really don’t suit such a formation. So starting with two strikers may be completely out of the question for Pochettino. But, when desperate times call, a change in the formation may be the desperate measure to win the match.