Wolves Tottenham Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis

Football kicking off at 19:45 on a Saturday evening. Who on earth dreamt that one up? Regardless of whose idea it was, that’s where we are today as we host Spurs in what promises to be an encounter to remember. Our games don’t tend to have many goals, however, something tells me that this game could quite easily end up 3-2 to either side. Of course, there is method to my madness and that’s something that we’ll be taking a look at throughout this article. From a rather alarming perspective, Eriksen and Dele Alli seem to be fit for this which means that they’ll both probably start after coming through the midweek win over West Ham unscathed.

Nuno is in somewhat of an unknown position as Wolves manager coming into this game. Since his first competitive game, in August 2017, we have never lost two league games on the bounce. We have now and after the game against Spurs, we face their North London rivals, Arsenal. Without trying to sound all doom and gloom, we could be in a bad way going into the international break that follows the Arsenal game. In hindsight, we can’t be any lower than 12th going into that break which is great, albeit, losing four games on the bounce and then having a week off isn’t ideal. It won’t come to that. I hope.

Under No Illusions

Similar to the games against the two Manchester clubs, we go into tonight’s game in a ‘no-strings-attached’ manner whereby as long as we don’t get slaughtered, it’s a free hit. Nuno, much like myself, won’t see it like that, though. He will want to win and will set us up to do just that. Saying that, let’s not pretend we are better than Spurs on paper. However, games aren’t won on paper and a break here and there could prove to be the difference. After all, when Spurs travelled to Vicarage Road earlier in the season, Watford would’ve had the same mindset as Wolves and the Hornets came out on top.

Interestingly, both of Watford’s goals came from set pieces and providing we can get the delivery right, we can be just as dangerous. Spurs took a one-goal lead at Vicarage Road before their defensive set up let them down. Let’s take a look…

Is The System Flawed Or Is Dembele The Weak Link?

Wolves Tottenham Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Tottenham have more than enough bodies in the box to cope with Watford, yet their system lets them down.

Zonal marking is one of pet hates. I never enjoyed it when I was playing and I despise it, even more, when I’m watching football. There are nine outfield Spurs players in the box and six Watford players if we include Will Hughes who is situated on the edge. We normally have Boly, Bennett, Jimenez, Doherty and Jota. With Jota not playing against Spurs, it would probably mean Costa will take Jota’s place and Cavaleiro will take the set-piece with Moutinho. I’d put Cavaleiro on the set pieces on his own, chuck another body in the box and try and overload Spurs. This is what happens when you do just that.

Wolves Tottenham Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Replace Cathcart with Boly, deliver a good ball into the box and we have our goal!

Cathcart gets to the ball before Dembele which is a bit worrying from a Spurs angle as Dembele is over 10kg heavier than Cathcart so he shouldn’t be getting beaten like that. In hindsight, Cathcart is slightly taller than the Belgian, but that shouldn’t have prevented Dembele from using his body to halt him. If we somehow end up with Boly up against Dembele, a similar situation could arise. Nonetheless, it all hinges on the delivery; if Moutinho persists with not getting it passed the first man, then we aren’t going to get anywhere. As I’ve already said, get Cavaleiro on the corners and whip them in. Cause a bit of carnage.

Just As Weak From The Opposite Side

Wolves Tottenham Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Another set piece, another Spurs goal conceded.

Every Tottenham player, bar one, is back in the penalty area defending. Even still, you could argue that there are still two Watford players free on the far side of the penalty box. Perhaps the most surprising thing of all, neither of those two Watford players get the goal. That honour falls to Troy Deeney who basically reverses his run and goes against the wave of Spurs defenders moving towards the goal. See below.

Wolves Tottenham Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
This goal is all about Troy Deeney. Memo to Nuno: read this!

It’s a simple and effective move from Deeney, although once again it really highlights Spurs’ lack of adaptability when it comes to defending set pieces. One would presume that Nuno is only too aware of this which will hopefully mean a change to our strategy in attacking situations. Literally, fizz the ball in. All it can take is a flick and bang, we’ve got our goal. Saying that, Spurs only concede an average of 4.83 corners per game away from home, so we are going to need to make every single opportunity count. Now, we shall have a look at their attacking patterns.

Quick Interchanges With The Full Backs

Irrespective of whether or not you look at Ben Davies on the left or Kieran Trippier on the right, they both have similar styles of interlinking with the midfielders and creating quick openings. The best example of this is Lamela’s goal at West Ham in the league not too long ago. It begins with Sissoko coming short to Trippier.

Wolves Tottenham Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
A quick one-two-three move from Trippier and Sissoko sets the wheels in motion. Our defence can not afford to be caught as high.

He then plays a quick-fire return to Trippier before powering beyond Felipe Anderson. In turn, Trippier plays the ball over the top back to Sissoko which gives you the situation of Sissoko bearing down on goal.

Wolves Tottenham Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Will us having an extra body in defence prevent situations like this?

Sissoko then cuts back before delivering the ball to Lamela who beats Zabaleta and puts Spurs one-up. This shouldn’t be a scenario we find ourselves in as we play with one more defender than West Ham. It’s worth considering that Lamela & Co will be making late runs and something that we can be only too aware of. You can imagine the game panning out in such a way that Tottenham dominate the ball and we are left to play on the counter. Normally, that suits us down to the ground.

Winks Is Key

Wolves Tottenham Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
The gaps in the Spurs backline are there for all to see, can we penetrate them, though?

From the same game, let’s take a view of Spurs’ pass map. Dier, the one who is covered by #19, is missing today so it’ll be interesting to see how Pochettino decides to line up. One thing that is for certain is that Winks (#8) will start in the middle of the park as he’s really made that spot his own this season. You’d imagine that Dembele will be next to Winks, with Eriksen, Moura and Lamela in front of them. From their average positions, Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld (#6 & #4) play quite far apart from one another which means that if our front three are on point, we will find gaps.

Same Team Or Will Cav Make His Full Premier League Debut?

With the news coming out of Nuno’s pre-match press conference that Diogo Jota is missing tonight, it means that it will be one of Adama Traore or Ivan Cavaleiro that completes our front three. Traore wasn’t at his best like week against Brighton and with Cavaleiro producing another half-decent cameo off the bench, surely the time is right for Cavaleiro to start? Plus, having Traore come off the bench is such a good option, especially if the game is finely poised. Aside from that decision, nothing else will probably change.

Matt Doherty against Lucas Moura worries me dearly. Yes, we didn’t have much bother against City or United, but 66% of the goals we have conceded over the last two weeks have come down Doherty’s side. I hope he has a strong game as I really don’t want to be writing about how he should be left out of the Arsenal game. Fingers crossed.

One More Thing

In conclusion, Spurs will pin us back for large portions of the game, nevertheless, they are not without their weaknesses and the fact they’ve played already on Monday and Wednesday this week means their players will be slightly jaded. In addition to that, they’ve also got a must-win game against PSV in the Champions League on Tuesday. Those factors accompanied by a raucous Molineux means one thing and one thing only. Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur.

Until the next time.  

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I've got an unhealthy obsession with Wolves, Wolverhampton Wanderers, WWFC, whatever you fancy calling us today. When we win I'm on top of the world, when we lose I'm a nightmare to be around. It's been that way for as long as I can remember and people tell me that you're meant to grow out of it, however, I don't envisage that happening anytime soon. Anyway, I'm the lead analyst on here and while I try and keep my opinion out of my writing, sometimes it's too difficult to do that. I also use the terms 'we' and 'us' when talking about Wolves and I do try and remain impartial although it's debatable whether or not I do. In hindsight, I'm probably over critical of Wolves in the same manner that I'm over complimentary, so I guess it all balances itself out in the end. Grab yourself a cuppa and have a look around.