How Sheffield United can exploit Tottenham’s weak defence and shock another top Premier League side

How Sheffield United can exploit Tottenham’s weak defence and shock another top Premier League side

Previous to the beginning of the 2019/20 Premier League season, you’d have anticipated newly promoted Sheffield United to return into this match with Spurs because the clear underdogs.

Below their Argentinian coach, Mauricio Pochettino Spurs have constantly completed within the prime 4 and final season, in fact, noticed the north London aspect attain the ultimate of the Champions League.

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Mauricio Pochettino was annoyed towards Everton as his aspect struggled once more

Distinction this to the expectations on Sheffield United as they gained promotion from the Championship final season. The summer time switch enterprise from the newly promoted aspect centred round evolution relatively than evolution as their coach Chris Wilder saved religion within the aspect that had been so profitable final time period.

As a brand new coach to the Premier League, there was a considerable amount of disinformation surrounding Wilder with some within the media labelling him as a ‘typical English coach’ who would favour a robust defence with goal forwards who would obtain direct passes in transition earlier than seeking to work the ball into the penalty space.

Wilder will be hoping his side continues their good form

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Wilder might be hoping his aspect continues their good type

These assumptions are, actually, virtually utterly fallacious. Sure, Wilder is a coach who locations a big emphasis on man-management and he’s a grasp of getting his gamers prepared for every sport with motivational fashion. We should always not, nonetheless, low cost the extent of tactical means that Wilder has proven to this point this season.

So much has been product of Wilder’s use of overlapping centre-backs as the 2 extensive centre-backs within the back-three would look to maneuver excessive when they’re in possession to create overloads towards the opposition.

Whilst we have seen this in isolated moments this season this is not a constant factor in the attacking game model for United. Instead, their success so far this season has been build on strong defensive performances with the midfield block, in particular, impressing out of possession.

This has been coupled with impressive attacking play with the likes of the left wing-back Enda Stevens looking especially impressive.

At the time of writing it is clear the pre-season narrative has been flipped on its head. Sheffield United are currently in 6th place on 16 points whilst Spurs are down in 11th albeit only 3 points behind on 13 points. What is perhaps more concerning for Spurs fans is that their underlying statistics suggest that this is exactly where both sides deserve to be.

Here we’re going to break this upcoming match down tactically with a view to showing how Sheffield United can overcome Spurs.

Statistical snapshot

It can be important when previewing a game in this manner to provide some statistical background that informs our thinking for the rest of the article.


The above graphic is taken from Wyscout and exhibits the tactical techniques that Pochettino has used to this point with Spurs this season. It’s protected to imagine that we are going to see a again 4 with variations of that defensive system getting used for almost all of the season to this point.

We’ve got already established that Spurs are 11th with 13 factors, we have to look deeper although.

They’ve scored 16 targets within the league from an anticipated targets worth of 13.48. They’re subsequently outperforming their anticipated targets by 2.12 which isn’t an enormous variance.

They’ve to this point conceded 15 targets with an anticipated purpose towards worth of 17.55. They’re outperforming this metric as effectively by 2.55 goals. They’re averaging 11.05 photographs at purpose per 90 minutes however conceding 14 photographs at purpose per 90.

Harry Kane has scored six Premier League goals this season

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Harry Kane has scored six Premier League targets this season

These statistics paint an image that ought to be tremendously regarding for Spurs followers. Usually when a so-called ‘huge’ crew is underperforming there are nonetheless positives within the statistics and infrequently they’re underperforming their anticipated targets metrics. If something Spurs ought to be in a worse place than they’re in the mean time.

With that stated we also needs to anticipate to see a slight drop off from Sheffield United particularly given the way in which that their defence is performing above expectations. They’ve scored 12 targets from an anticipated purpose worth of 13.64 and are underperforming on this space by 1.64, not an enormous drop-off. They’ve conceded eight targets from an anticipated purpose towards worth of 13.37. A 5.37 purpose over efficiency. While this might usually trigger concern they’re additionally solely conceding 9.61 targets per sport, once more exhibiting their defensive energy.


Sheffield United have been much more constant that Spurs with their tactical techniques used this season. 71 per cent of the time we’ve seen a again three or perhaps a again 5 and there may be little signal that we are able to anticipate to see one thing totally different coming into this match.

Spurs attacking menace

Regardless that Spurs are vastly underperforming expectations this season there can nonetheless be little question that they’ve gifted and harmful gamers at their disposal.

Chief amongst these is their ahead Harry Kane. The narrative of poor efficiency surrounding Spurs this season has additionally been utilized to Kane with some pointing to a drop in shot numbers and summarising that he’s a participant in decline following a collection of accidents.

The truth is, Harry Kane remains to be a wonderful finisher of probabilities, the problem this season is that the Spurs midfield is struggling to progress the ball into the ultimate third with Christian Eriksen particularly discovering type exhausting to return by.

Christian Eriksen has struggled to have an impact this season

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Christian Eriksen has struggled to have an effect this season

Together with Kane, the performances of the South Korean worldwide Heung-Min Son have been key within the attacking part. It stays to be seen whether or not Son might be enjoying on this match as he has acquired a purple card for his problem on the Everton midfielder Andre Gomes, I anticipate that Spurs will enchantment this although and he ought to be capable of play.

Whereas Kane acts as the point of interest of the Spurs assault Son is skilled at drifting in area to both aspect of Kane so as to assist the attacking motion. These are the areas that Sheffield United should watch out of defending.

Within the above graphic, we see a typical attacking construction from Spurs. Harry Kane will function as the point of interest of the attacking construction and he’ll usually push excessive onto the final defender for the opposition, a minimum of within the first part of the attacking motion, we then see him look to drop barely deeper when Spurs are having fun with a interval of sustained attacking motion.

The problem for the back-three for Sheffield United will are available in overlaying the hazard of Kane and the motion of Son round him.

We noticed this in full impact lately within the match between Spurs and Liverpool with Son continuously seeking to exploit the area left behind when the Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold moved excessive.

Liverpool struggled as Kane pulled onto the right-sided central defender and Son moved round him.

With a back-three Sheffield United have extra choices to deal with this menace. Anticipate to see John Egan take care of the specter of Kane whereas the extensive central defenders can have twin roles. The participant closest to Son will mark him whereas the alternative aspect central defender will transfer throughout to cowl and stability the defensive position.

Sheffield United should dominate 1vs1’s

A big half the problems confronted this season by Spurs surrounds the truth that with the ball and with out the ball they’re too slim of their construction with little pure width. It is a results of Pochettino selecting to make use of the likes of Christian Eriksen or Moussa Sissoko Within the midfield and Heung-Min Son on the opposite. Neither of these are pure extensive gamers and all generally tend to float inside continuously. The width ought to then be supplied by the full-backs however they’re typically gradual to maneuver ahead to assist the assault.

This implies the wing-backs for Sheffield United can have alternatives to dominate the Spurs full-back 1vs1. The 2 forwards may also be capable of run into area extensive to tug the Spurs centre-backs out of place.

Anticipate to see the 2 ahead gamers place themselves on the surface of the Spurs central defenders with Sheffield United seeking to play shortly into the extensive areas to use the area behind the Spurs full-backs.

Though the likes of Davinson Sanchez possess nice tempo he’s nonetheless not snug when defending in area and dealing with his personal purpose.

Utilizing their centre-backs within the attacking part

We’ve got already touched on the truth that Sheffield United use their centre-backs to hitch the attacking part situationally. That is one thing that I might anticipate to see them use on this match so as to additional overload the extensive areas and create alternatives to play by way of Spurs defensive block.

We’ve got already mentioned the very fact Spurs’ tactical construction is extraordinarily slim whether or not they have the ball or not. This may be exploited by Sheffield United in possession.

Enda Stevens at left wing-back has been a key attacking participant for them this season AND we are going to see him accessed typically by the central defenders as they appear to progress the ball ahead in the direction of the Spurs half.

Anticipate to see the left sided ahead supply a vertical passing possibility whereas the left sided centre-back will push out to assist Stevens on the identical line inside.

Enda Stevens has been excellent for Sheffield United this season

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Enda Stevens has been wonderful for Sheffield United this season


Going into this match Sheffield United are going to be something however underdogs. They look like completely setup not solely to negate the attacking menace of Spurs and Harry Kane however to take full benefit of the defensive issues that Spurs have had to this point this season.

Defeat on this match may improve the strain on Pochettino with the Spurs fan base persevering with to assist their coach however their persistence won’t be limitless.

When you loved this piece and are eager to learn many extra articles like this then head over to and get a digital copy of their newest journal for simply £4.99 – containing over 100 pages of pure tactical evaluation and training content material. Annual subscriptions are additionally out there.

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