Brentford has exposed to Man United the secret to tear Spurs apart- Analysis - Flashfootballnews
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Man U vs Tottenham_

Brentford has exposed to Man United the secret to tear Spurs apart- Analysis

Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, with Erik ten Hag looking to make it two victories in a row.

The Red Devils‘ away form in the Premier League last season was a big source of concern, and the team will be eager to improve at the first opportunity. The Peoples Person evaluates where the game could be won or lost.

How will Ange Postecoglou’s team attack?

In possession, one of Ange Postecoglou‘s most constant tactical characteristics is his deployment of both wide defenders as fully inverted fullbacks to create a 2-3-5 formation. This was evident against Brentford last Saturday, when they were able to effectively pin The Bees’ outside midfielders, allowing up passing lanes between each centre back and their respective near-side winger. The Spurs‘ wide men were easily found in space by remaining high and hugging the touchline.

Man U vs Tottenham_
Man U vs Tottenham_

As efficient as this tactic was against Brentford in assisting Tottenham to maintain possession (they finished with 70% possession away from home), it is unlikely to be as effective against Manchester United on Saturday. Ten Hag likes his wingers and gets a lot of defensive tenacity from them when he needs it. Furthermore, while Emerson Royale and new addition Destiny Udogie were both very comfortable on the ball on Sunday, they may not be able to rack up 110 passes and a >90% accuracy with United being adept at forcing high turnovers with their midfielders.

The combination of Antony and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right side, in particular, should be able to keep this version of Son Heung-Min quiet with relative ease.

Perhaps it was just a poor day at work for the Spurs’ new captain, but he appears to have lost a step. Sixteen Premier League goal involvements last season may appear excellent on the surface, but they were just over half of what he managed the previous season, and without Harry Kane to set him up, the South Korean star will need to adjust his style to regain his previous levels of output. At the weekend, it appeared that he still had a lot of work to do, but with Son still Postecoglou‘s most dangerous wide attacker, Erik ten Hag will be relieved to have a defensively sound right flank to stop him if he shows up.

Son vs Man U
Son vs Man U

However, James Maddison will most likely be the primary threat. The former Leicester City man stepped into the number 10 shirt with ease and was by far Tottenham’s most creative player in their season opener. He was, in reality, their sole creative contributor. Despite Brentford’s compact low block, Son’s placement proved vital in creating space for Maddison in the left half-space.

If United leave the kind of space in the centre of the park that they did against Wolves on Monday, the £40 million summer signing will be a major issue. The key to defeating Maddison will be collaboration. To begin, United must recognise that if they stop Maddison, they prevent Spurs from creating and can thus afford to centre their defensive approach around him. Second, they must avoid giving away free kicks in dangerous positions, as he poses a threat from set pieces.

Erik ten Hag will be aware of where to pinch.
If Tottenham’s left flank must be covered, their right flank must be exploited. Rico Lewis was Brentford’s primary danger on Sunday in terms of both ball advancement and opportunity generation. His deep cross resulted in The Bees’ equaliser penalty, and a direct run to the byline allowed him to chop the ball back for Yoane Wissa to convert. With his direct running, he made two more vital passes and started numerous rapid transitions. Given that Lewis was playing as a left wing back with no support, that is quite something, and as excellent as Lewis can be, it reveals a flaw in Spurs’ formation.

tOTTENHAM MAN U
tOTTENHAM MAN U

The rotational triangle Spurs utilised by Emerson, Oliver Skipp, and Dejan Kulusevski, in addition to the high line, provided this space for Lewis to attack. As previously said, both fullbacks invert into highly central positions, but the Brazilian’s runs would frequently take him near the Brentford penalty spot. While Skipp provided some protection in midfield, as Tottenham attempted to progress up the pitch, he, too, followed the action in and out of the pitch. To make matters worse, Davinson Sanchez was the only player who could receive a direct pass into the vacant area. With Cristian Romero doubtful owing to concussion procedures, Postecoglou may be forced to rely on the unpredictable Colombian once more.

Consider what Marcus Rashford could accomplish from his preferred left-wing position if Rico Lewis can instigate counter-attacks at will from a left back position and consistently confound Emerson. With Postecoglou’s defensive line placed so high, last season’s 30-goal scorer should be salivating at the idea of facing this Spurs team. Tottenham have signed a good coach, but although his stint at Celtic demonstrated that he can easily overpower minnows, his troubles in Europe may reveal some tactical ignorance.

It’s unclear whether Ten Hag will allow Rashford to play in his favoured position. Many anticipate him to play as a striker through the middle, but his inability to get on the ball against Wolves may necessitate a change. Although Anthony Martial is unlikely to play, Jadon Sancho showed much of potential as a false nine in preseason and might be an option to further drive the Spurs defensive away from zones where Rashford can then attack.

tottenham team
tottenham team

Last Thoughts
This should be an interesting match, with both managers eager to attack in numbers and counter-press with vigour.

Erik ten Hag has had a season to work with his team and is the more likely of the two managers to make that critical change. We posited a few different systems the Dutchman could try throughout the season in our explainer on Box Midfields, but with Tottenham on their own turf and essentially playing with five in the middle, we are hoping that the tweak he chooses is one that exploits the wide areas, where the space will be.

Ange Postecoglou is no slouch either, and his club has shown early indications of attacking synergy in London. Tottenham’s aforementioned home advantage will also play a significant role, especially given Manchester United‘s recent record.

If United can keep Spurs’ left side quiet and exploit the space offered by their patterns of play on their right in transition, they will have a good chance of making it two out of two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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