One of the key factors in a successful season in 2015-16 for Tottenham Hotspur was the level of consistency displayed by Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
The White Hart Lane side had minimal changes in personnel in the spine of their side, few injuries to key players and the same 4-2-3-1 formation.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 28, 2016
However, this term already Pochettino appears to have taken on a valuable lesson from the club’s only defeat of the campaign and has instilled tactical versatility that was not apparent last term.
In the 2-1 loss to Monaco in the Champions League opener at Wembley, the Argentine coach dropped Dele Alli from an attacking role into the boiler room to operate as one of his central midfielders in the 4-2-3-1 system.
As gifted as the young England international is, the starlet’s first instinct is to get forward and as such a deeper role does not suit his style of play.
Monaco took advantage of this.
Since then, with injuries or unavailability to both Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier, instead of using Alli alongside Victor Wanyama again, Pochettino has changed system.
A new 4-3-3 set-up has Alli drop deeper again, but Christian Eriksen has also been asked to play centrally in a three-man central midfield.
This has made Tottenham more compact, combative and nullified the absence of out-and-out central midfielders such as Dembele and Dier.
Rather than just getting through, Spurs have actually looked just as dangerous and as good as usual – and better.
So if we were to sign Herrmann (who is currently winning the vote), we'd likely drop Dier, slot Alli down, and move Eriksen inside. Good? pic.twitter.com/eEG3Z2Cvfo
— Tyler #TR7 (@TRayALLDay) September 19, 2016
Eriksen dropping deeper gives Tottenham their most creative talent more opportunities to get on the ball, Wanyama has more support to win possession back and Alli can make his runs beyond the striker knowing there is strength of numbers behind him.
It will be interesting to see when Dembele and Dier return whether Pochettino opts to continue playing a three-man central midfield or resorts to his usual 4-2-3-1 – either way the most positive thing is the fact Spurs have tactical versatility that is breeding positive results.