TFC's Tactical Analysis Thread

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Five

Supporter
"The ball was out of play for 40 minutes in total, well above normal, and that doesn’t count the time the ball was either in the air or being inexpertly shovelled among the Tottenham back five: like late-2000s Barcelona, as interpreted by your local pub team."

 

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Whilst there is plenty of truth in that, I do think he got his starting selections/tactics slightly wrong also. We could all guess how Liverpool start games, they've done it to us often enough, and we have a record of being easy to rattle early.

Sissoko is just a terrible selection - anytime - for a team that wants to play football through midfield. That's just basic. So we start off most games this season with a basic selection error. I know my view on Sissoko is well known, but it is particularly relevant in a game like this against one of the best pressing teams (when they want to be - for phases etc) in the PL/Europe. Now, if we'd played him as the lateral R8, in an orthodox 433 or even 41212 diamond, at least then the CB's have three options when trying to play through the press, and options are better dispersed across the pitch.

And even if he wanted to revert to the 4231 (or "staggered" 4222) he could have done if the 433 wasn't working. Or vice versa - throughout that first half when he could see we were getting hemmed in, why not have a 3CM change already drilled - because high (overloaded) pressure was always a possibility?

I said at half time that all the front group bumbling about and coughing up every single rare advance situation we had wasn't helping, and this is another part of our DNA under Poch, he's filled this side with players with physical attributes, pace, power, physique but hasn't signed a single player whose greatest attribute is intelligence or composure (the only slight exception might be TA, but even he's there at least evenly because of his defensive robustness - and you might say Trippier, but I don't think his signing was anything to do with Poch)

This is why I disagree strongly with people saying it's a mentality thing with us. It's not, Poch is a great coach in terms of coaching an collective ethos first and foremost, and he does think about tactics and change them up, but his selection (and don't just mean game by game but his recruitment and longer development selections - such as making player like Dier and Sissoko long term CM's, Moura into a striker) and then some of his match day tactical applications are definitely counter intuitive to his coached ethos.
 

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Five

Supporter
Sissoko is just a terrible selection - anytime - for a team that wants to play football through midfield. That's just basic. So we start off most games this season with a basic selection error. I know my view on Sissoko is well known, but it is particularly relevant in a game like this against one of the best pressing teams (when they want to be - for phases etc) in the PL/Europe. Now, if we'd played him as the lateral R8, in an orthodox 433 or even 41212 diamond, at least then the CB's have three options when trying to play through the press, and options are better dispersed across the pitch.
The thing about the diamond is that I fucking hate our version of it. Who's in your 3? Who's at the tip? Insufficient attacking quality from our full backs, very poor screening of our last line. Bypassing midfield, because of our lack of technical quality in there.
And even if he wanted to revert to the 4231 (or "staggered" 4222) he could have done if the 433 wasn't working. Or vice versa - throughout that first half when he could see we were getting hemmed in, why not have a 3CM change already drilled - because high (overloaded) pressure was always a possibility?
He has no apparent interest in going 4-3-3.
and this is another part of our DNA under Poch, he's filled this side with players with physical attributes, pace, power, physique but hasn't signed a single player whose greatest attribute is intelligence or composure (the only slight exception might be TA, but even he's there at least evenly because of his defensive robustness - and you might say Trippier, but I don't think his signing was anything to do with Poch)
I agree with this. It's depressing.
and he does think about tactics and change them up,
Yes, he does. But I would say we are in the middle of an identity crisis. He said very early in the season that we were likely to see a lot of different systems, rotation, etc, because of the problems of last summer, and that is exactly what we saw. It is not clear how we want to play these days because of the loss of key players, inertia in the transfer-market, Poch's shitty player identification, and the selection of players unsuited to a possession-based approach.

Not only was Sissoko afraid to show for the ball against Liverpool (and he began to show even less in the second half), but Winks was also cowed by their press. Eriksen could have come short to help out but as Pirlo said, he was hiding. Terrified of receiving the ball under pressure. And that's our most cerebral player we're talking about. Even when he was switched to the double pivot, he wasn't demanding the ball. He looked overawed.
 
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Five

Supporter
Of course there is another thing. We were still very much in the game until the 87th minute. That is the third time we have conceded from a fucking set-piece against Pool this season. Poch was a CB, and I don't understand why defending them is such an issue for us.

 
The thing about the diamond is that I fucking hate our version of it. Who's in your 3? Who's at the tip? Insufficient attacking quality from our full backs, very poor screening of our last line. Bypassing midfield, because of our lack of technical quality in there.
Agreed (about our version of the diamond) and your observations therein, but then we come back to how effective is any formation that has Sissoko in midfield and Alli bumbling about somewhere between midfield and attack and Son bumbling about in attack.

In an ideal world no midfielder - the area where games, certainly possession games, are controlled from - should ever be fundamentally uncomfortable on the ball or technically inept.

If we could get our midfield right, and start to exert some control of games again, the bumbling and continual coughing up of the ball gets mitigated somewhat, and you are also increasing the supply to the forward areas, meaning that you increase the chance for their bumbling to actually produce something.

Now, if we could add one or two more reasonably intelligent/composed bodies to the collective equation - on top of a decent midfield - we'd be cooking on gas. They can be quick too, but got to up that composure and quality percentage count.

One of the reasons I continually call for the 433, is I believe it's a very forgiving format that both geographically (simply) allows good coverage of zones, it can provide cover and balance for individual weaknesses, and tactically it can generally be used to press cohesively, prevent defensive overloads and create offensive ones.

But, as you say....

He has no apparent interest in going 4-3-3.
If Eriksen goes, I think switching to a 433 will be a must, change our default modus and play without a de facto 10.

I hate our diamond as much as you do, but one of the answers (you will hate) is that I'd have been playing kids like Skipp, Marsh (and Amos when he was fit) all season in a midfield 3 rather that watch Sissoko bumble about, Dier, a fucked Wanyama or even Alli. They are all energetic, tenacious, dynamic, technically proficient little fuckers who would have given us more fucking vim.

Hopefully we buy 2/3 midfielders of decent quality this window, integrate one of those academy players and never have to watch Dier and Sissoko plod around like drunken elephants again.

Yes, he does. But I would say we are in the middle of an identity crisis. He said very early in the season that we were likely to see a lot of different systems, rotation, etc, because of the problems of last summer, and that is exactly what we saw. It is not clear how we want to play these days because of the loss of key players, inertia in the transfer-market, Poch's shitty player identification, and the selection of players unsuited to a possession-based approach.
Absolutely.

Not only was Sissoko afraid to show for the ball against Liverpool (and he began to show even less in the second half), but Winks was also cowed by their press. Eriksen could have come short to help out but as Pirlo said, he was hiding. Terrified of receiving the ball under pressure. And that's our most cerebral player we're talking about. Even when he was switched to the double pivot, he wasn't demanding the ball. He looked overawed.
I like Winks, he has redeeming qualities, and right now he's the nearest we have to a footballer in our midfield, but I have always retained some doubts about whether he'll ultimately be good enough, certainly if we buy 2/3 decent midfielders. He's technically good, good energy, does various things well, I'm just not sure he's ever going to excel at any of those things. He seems to lack ultimate vision to make incisive passes regularly (he can do it occasionally) and he's not quite robust enough defensively.

Maybe he'd have a further developed game if he hadn't made just 8 starts in the previous two years (see Skipp etc this year).

So if we buy say a quality 6 and a quality 8 or 6/8 hybrid (or two) I think he becomes a squad player rather than the automatic and essential starter he's become this season due to our complete lack of decent midfielders (for one reason or another)

I'm happy when he plays now, and I'd keep him around because of those general good qualities, he can do a decent job as a 4 or a 6/8 type.
 
Not only was Sissoko afraid to show for the ball against Liverpool (and he began to show even less in the second half), but Winks was also cowed by their press. Eriksen could have come short to help out but as Pirlo said, he was hiding. Terrified of receiving the ball under pressure. And that's our most cerebral player we're talking about. Even when he was switched to the double pivot, he wasn't demanding the ball. He looked overawed.
Just on this in particular, Eriksen was poor Saturday and has never been great with someone up his arse, in his defence he generally mitigates that by moving and finding spaces to offer himself, and even Saturday still saw more of the ball than Alli and Sissoko.

But putting people like Sissoko (and previously Dier) into a regular midfield, and often CM2 with more onus to be good at everything, or doing it temporarily with Eriksen is ultimately on Pochettino, not those players.
 

Five

Supporter
in his defence he generally mitigates that by moving and finding spaces to offer himself, and even Saturday still saw more of the ball than Alli and Sissoko.
Eriksen, for all his weaknesses, is a very good footballer. Alli and Sissoko are not.
But putting people like Sissoko (and previously Dier) into a regular midfield, and often CM2 with more onus to be good at everything, or doing it temporarily with Eriksen is ultimately on Pochettino, not those players.
Yes.
 
Regarding Pochettino the past season, it is clear he used systems, such as the diamond, when they were not working, and persisted with them regardless of having the players or not, and blamed the limitations of the project under Levy.

Now, as a pessimist, I entirely blame the manager for second half of the season form and I believe that he made the wrong decisions in complaining about the limitations instead of adapting to them. As an optimist, if by some miracle he does get what he wants from Levy this summer, at least two players, and says this at the start of the season, I still have no ideas what Pochettino is doing tactically but at least it will be in his identity.

Now, whilst I don't share that vision, and I actually have no idea what he is doing half of the time, and have no idea if it will work next season, I still see it as the right thing to back him for a season. Realistically it is the only option.
 

Five

Supporter
“It was a lesson in efficiency,” said Lloris. “It showed you can play the best football that you can but it doesn’t mean you will win.

"Maybe we had too much focus on the way to play rather than to win the game. We said beforehand that it doesn’t matter how you play, whether it is good or bad, a final is a final and it is all about small details.

"But those small details were not that important in the end. Liverpool managed the game much better than us. That’s football. They have a great manager and players, and probably used the experience of last season."

 

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Having finally got round to watching the game, first thing to do is issue TomHotspur TomHotspur a partial apology, siting there behind the goal on the night, it felt to me that Liverpool pressed higher and more relentlessly in that first half than they actually did, they did start the game pressing high, and did it intermittently throughout the half, but Five Five was probably more accurate when he called it a medium block, which was what there was more of that first half.

That video piece Five Five posted was pretty good, and definitely picks up on some valid tropes. I was adamant that the 4231 - and going with a double pivot against their 433 - with Sissoko (who's extremely uncomfortable under any kind of pressure) and Winks (who hadn't played any football for a few weeks - against being chucked into potential pressing opponents) - would be folly.

I think having watched the game again, and taking on board the theory posted in that vid, I stand by my view that matching up in a CM3 (or 1 + 2) format would still have made more sense to me, especially if one of that midfield is going to be Sissoko, but accept that the theory might have worked in concept - ie having the 2 CM's divide Firminho - if a) Sissoko wasn't one of them (as he just spent all game hiding and pointing) - even that vid analysis gives this as a reason why Poch's plan failed and b) if the AM's, especially Alli and Eriksen had provided better movement and dropped in to provide transitional links. And what I said in the match thread on the night, seemed to be born out watching it back, that there seemed to be a chasm between our 6 rear players and 4 forward players.

All of that said, the rare times we managed to get into good attacking situations were all pissed away carelessly, worst culprit was Son, closely followed by Alli.

A lot of the post match has focused on the selection of Kane, having watched it again now, I really don't think this was a major factor. I'd have preferred us to play a 433, get some extra football in the midfield and have Moura and Son either side of Kane.

At no point in that game was there any direction coming from the midfield. Sissoko has completed 28 passes in 84 minutes, none of them incisive. He's played one pass to his RB in 85 minutes. And spent the whole game hiding from the ball and pointing:

That vid piece highlighted Sissoko's poor movement, he's a couple more examples. In this first one a move has broken down and the ball ends up back with Lloris, TA want the ball but instead of reading what's happening and running back to take up a position in the great big void to give TA the next option in playing out, Sissoko just stands still and points for TA to whack it, the second frame you can see Eriksen (who was further away) starts to come toward TA and Trippier is offering himself (just out of shot) but Sissoko just continues to stand there doing nothing, even if TA plays to Trippier, Sissoko should be dropping back to make himself a next option:





And this just typifies why we struggled first half, despite Liverpool being passive aggressive, and us having so much ball (65%) why we struggled to construct much.


Here's another example first half, Winks on the ball, Sissoko in a great position to receive in a central, forward area, in space - but inexplicably points Winks backwards:




None of the forward players played well, Eriksen, Son, Alli and Kane failed to convert the rare situations we did manufacture into anything of tangible quality, poor decisions and poor executions. But a bigger problem, was how few of these situations arose in the first 80 minutes of this game, and that was largely down to our inability to play through Liverpool's lines. Yes, part of that is they are a defensively well drilled side this season, one of the best in Europe, but part of it was the complete and utter lack of wit, vision or drive that came from our midfield. Winks was better than Sissoko, but even he was less than stellar. I think Poch has once again got a big game wrong in terms of selections and tactical application fo those selections. The 4231 and splitting their forward central press might have worked if he'd played two dynamic and technically accomplished footballers as the pivot and made sure the AM's all dropped in and linked play. Neither of things happened and we spent the first half as two very divided groups, struggling to flow.

The second half Liverpool just sat deep, shelled and hit the odd long ball for Salah to chase, it was Burnley-esque stuff. It turned into one of those attack v defence grinds we see at WHL most weeks when playing the dross. With us having lots of ball but failing to break down a well drilled and obdurate oppo.

What Poch does get very right is his coached desire for us to be proactive. We didn't create anything of real tangible quality, but Liverpool created even less, and were so reactive, they certainly didn't deserve to win this game. They've done it all season, it's been very effective, but does it merit reward...meh...
 
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