Skip to Main Content
Audience Engagement, Fan Engagement, Industry Analysis Articles, Media & Tech, Media & Technology

Evolution Or Revolution – Tottenham


Evolution or Revolution is a new series from Stats Perform looking at which teams need only a few tweaks ahead of the 2020/21 season and which require a fundamental reboot. Arash Rezai (@rezla) analyses the problems José Mourinho must solve for his Spurs side to challenge for the top-four once more. 

By: Arash Rezai

Must Be Better At Holding Onto Leads

Tottenham had no issue scoring the first goal in Premier League matches last season; only Liverpool (29), Chelsea (26) and Manchester City (26) netted the opener on more occasions. Indeed, only four teams went ahead in more top-flight matches in 2019/20 than Spurs.

Spurs Fast Starts in Premier League

However, the Lilywhites struggled to hold onto these leads, losing 19 points from winning positions, the fifth-highest total in the division.

This frailty started in the 2018/19 campaign when they dropped 14 points when in front, 10 more than their previous season.

Tottenham - Points Lost from Winning Positions

PL SeasonPoints Lost from Winning

If two-time Champions League winning manager Jose Mourinho wants to get his Spurs side back into the top four and Europe’s elite competition, he will have to make sure they stay switched on for the whole 90 minutes.

Comparing the two tables below, it is clear that Tottenham struggled to close out matches in the second half of games.

Tottenham First Half v Second Half PL season 2019/20

Stats Perform Verdict: Evolution Required

Solve Centre-back Issues

Last season, Tottenham played a back four on 32 occasions in the league, with the most used centre-back pairing being Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld, who partnered 17 times. Neither Mauricio Pochettino nor Jose Mourinho could settle on their ideal combination, with the longest streak any pairing had being six games – Sanchez and Alderweireld – who featured in Mourinho’s first six Premier League games in charge.

‘The Special One’ didn’t stay very consistent after those six matches, playing another seven combinations, including a back three. Even since the Premier League restarted in June, Mourinho played four different centre-back pairings.

Premier League 2019/20 - Centre Back Pairings

Centre-Back 1Centre-Back 2Centre-Back 3Games Played
Davinson SánchezToby Alderweireld-17
Jan VertonghenToby Alderweireld-9
Davinson SánchezEric Dier-4
Davinson SánchezJan VertonghenToby Alderweireld3
Eric DierToby Alderweireld-2
Jan VertonghenJuan FoythToby Alderweireld1
Davinson SánchezEric DierJaphet Tanganga1
Davinson SánchezEric DierToby Alderweireld1

This tinkering didn’t seem to have much of a positive impact of Tottenham’s defensive solidity. Spurs allowed their opponents to have a total of 539 shots in the Premier League last season (league rank of joint-6th), with 184 of those on target (league rank of 7th).

Tottenham Shots Against Premier League 2019/20

Thankfully for Tottenham, Hugo Lloris had an outstanding season, preventing 10 goals more than Stats Perform’s expected goals on target data (xGoT) would expect the ‘average’ goalkeeper to; a division high figure. However, Spurs cannot rely on their World Cup winning captain Hugo Lloris to always be there for them.

Hugo LLoris xGOT save map

Stats Perform Verdict: Evolution Required

Harry Kane’s Regression

Harry Kane had the world at his feet at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, scoring 30 Premier League goals (one of nine players to score 30 or more in a single campaign) and winning the World Cup golden boot after scoring six goals. However, after injuries and managerial changes, Kane has struggled to reach those heady heights.

After career-high figures in 2017/18, the England captain saw his shots, shots on target, touches and touches in the opposition box all reach their lowest average in the 2019/20 season. Kane is having nearly half as many shots in the most recent campaign than 2017/18 and having just over two fewer touches per game in the opposition box.

Harry Kane Regression

Harry Kane - Premier League Stats (Per 90)

Harry Kane - Premier League (per 90)Mauricio PochettinoJosé MourinhoDifferential
Total Shots4.22.9-1.3
Shots, on Target1.91.5-0.4
Touches in the Opp Box5.83.8-2.0

Harry Kane is also seeing his per 90 averages drop in the Premier League under José Mourinho compared to Mauricio Pochettino. Under Mourinho last season, 40.3% of the Spurs’ no.10’s touches came in the final third compared to 46.31% under Pochettino in 2019/20.

Harry Kane Touch Map 2019/20

José Mourinho should have a fully fit Harry Kane at his disposal ahead of the 2020/21 campaign and a whole pre-season programme to work out how to get the best out of his star striker.

Stats Perform Verdict: Evolution Required

Review our other pieces in this series:
Manchester United
Manchester City
Leicester City
Leeds United
West Brom

Enjoy this? Subscribe to The Analyst to receive five stories each Friday from Stats Perform. It’s free.