Tottenham Hotspur 20/21: WE SIGNED A STRIKER! (I mean, besides Alex Morgan)

Zososoxfan

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So a full season of Jose Mourinho, who, from the point he took over in November, led Tottenham to 44 points in 25 games, behind only Liverpool and Man City, and even with ManU (who played 1 less game). That pace would put them at 67 for a full season, good enough for 3rd this year.

Things to talk about in the LONG offseason:

--Ndombele back?
--Hojbjerg to Spurs?
--Kim Min-Jae joining countryman in London?
The Extra Inch speculated that KWP is likely a condition to getting the Hoj swap done, which is a bummer because I really like his potential. If they can bring in Hoj, they absolutely need to bring in FBs on both sides to either replace or at a minimum compete with Davies and Serge. Rose is still under contract for another season...? Although Son can play as the point man, another bona fide striker option would also be nice.

Very happy to see Tang signing a new deal. I really like his versatility (somewhat similar to Bert, although with lots to prove of course) and he could be a very nice option for Jose at FB, especially for matches when he wants those players sitting back.

Although everyone is watching what happens to Tanguy, I have to think that Dele deserves some attention as well. With Jose falling out of favor with the 4-2-3-1, I'm not sure what Dele's position is in a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3. While Dele is almost certainly good enough to be a winger in most 4-3-3 setups, he doesn't have the speed of Son, Lucas, Bergy, or even Lamela to unleash quick counters. Then again, with his skill he could play a role as the one to start the breaks. I don't think he's an option up top in the 4-4-2 due to a lack of speed and I'm not sure he has the endurance or interest in being a LMF.

The other medium profile players worth thinking about IMO are Dav and Sess. Dav seems to be the third CB behind Toby and Dier, and while that's not terrible in a vacuum, I'm sure a 24 YO CB who was once sold for $40M may think this station is beneath him. FWIW, I love me some Dav and hope he sticks around. Sess has oodles of potential and it was a real bummer to see how few minutes he got this season. I really hope he figures into the plans for next year, perhaps as a LMF in the 4-4-2. Will be interesting to see if Gedson figures into all of this as well.

I have to assume that Foyth will be sold for whatever they can get. I haz a sad but it's not really working out for the player or the club at the moment.
 

Tangled Up In Red

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I have to suspect they will look to sell Lamela, as there are too many options ahead of him and he still has some value. Likewise for Dele, but due to fit, as you mention above.
Still wondering about the link to the youngish Korean CB, in the context of Davison you mention above. If Toby and Dier are 1-2, Davinson (should be #2, imo) and Tanganga as 3-4, are we really going to pay 10+ for a 5th option?
 

Gunfighter 09

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Seeing how Dele might be the best player I have seen at the particular skill of pulling down a long ball and quickly playing it into either an effective shot or pass, I would think that he would be a guy that Jose will want to fit into his absorb and counter style.
 

Kliq

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I haven't been following much of Serie A, is Perisic and Lamela really a fair swap? If the 2018 World Cup was any indication I'd gladly take Perisic, but has he declined since then? He is 31 now.
 

coremiller

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I don't see the attraction of Perisic. Spurs don't need more attacking wide players, especially old ones on high wages. They've already got Son, Bergwijn, and Lucas. I could see moving Lamela on, but I'd rather use any funds raised from selling him to strengthen weaker areas of the squad.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Mourinho really wanted Perisic when he was at United as well. Mourinho always seems to prefer an unbalanced wing pairing in which a wide forward on one side is given huge license to attack and drift into the center while the winger on the side is more disciplined and tasked with working his ass off when out of possession : Eto'o was balanced by Pandev, Cristiano by Di Maria, Hazard by Willian, and he wanted Perisic to be the guy to balance Rashford but Woodward couldn't or wouldn't negotiate the fee with Inter. My guess is that he wants Perisic to balance Son rather than having Lucas in that role. This would allow him to push a midfielder like Dele or Lo Celso into a more traditional 10 role.
 
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Kliq

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If Spurs are going to be spending money this year (big if) any option that isn't improving our FBs and adding a true CAM doesn't interest me that much. Those are clear weaknesses on the time and any improvement next year is likely going to come from upgrades at those positions. What is it about FB that makes it such a rare commodity? Outside of Liverpool, are there any clubs who are truly happy with their FB play last year? I don't really know who would be the options at FB. I've heard the name Max Aarons, who is young and has played a good amount at Norwich, but it wasn't like he was a standout for a truly terrible defensive team last year. Kyle Walker-Peters is an option to come back home, but I've heard letting him stay at Southampton might be a condition for Spurs to bring in Hojbjerg. I don't really know if KWP or Aarons are any better than Tanganga or our current starters.
 

teddykgb

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Mourinho really wanted Perisic when he was at United as well. Mourinho always seems to prefer an unbalanced wing pairing in which a wide forward on one side is given huge license to attack and drift into the center while the winger on the side is more disciplined and tasked with working his ass off when out of possession : Eto'o was balanced by Pandev, Cristiano by Di Maria, Hazard by Willian, and he wanted Perisic to be the guy to balance Rashford but Woodward couldn't or wouldn't negotiate the fee with Inter.
Agreed and I think this is the danger Spurs have signed up for with Jose. This is not new territory but Jose’s system, like many others, requires investment in specific player types. In Jose’s case he really needs a strong finisher striker to win fouls and get the team up the pitch with hold up play but also the speed to combine with his free winger who is the preferred out ball from his defensive shell. That winger needs to have tremendous talent to be able to be a threat often while outnumbered so they need pace, trickery, and finishing.

I would assume he sees Perisic as the hard working other winger and maybe he sees Son as the free winger but I honestly would have expected him to slot Son into the worker role and pursue some high end attacking talent to be more free. Maybe Spurs justcan’t afford that kind of player but if that’s true Jose will be whining about investment soon enough
 

DJnVa

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Maybe Spurs just can’t afford that kind of player but if that’s true Jose will be whining about investment soon enough
Well, the can definitely AFFORD him. But they likely wouldn't spend for him.
 

wonderland

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I think getting a true defensive midfielder would be the biggest need. That would give Winks a lot more freedom and allow him a chance to been a little more offensive minded.
 

wonderland

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Well there are a lot of matches so they can play a number of players in the midfield. But for the ideal situation, I know Alli was talked about up thread but before getting hurt was he not playing better once Jose took over? They could go to a 4-2-3-1 and have Winks paired up with a DM and have Alli in front of them.
 

Kliq

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I actually thought, by the standards of this current team, the DMF pairing of Winks and Sissoko was fairly good. I'm not sure what offensive skills Winks' possesses that we are being cheated out of. Assuming Ndombele isn't part of the team, Winks and Sissoko being the starters, with some combination of Dier/Dele/GLC/Skipp filling in would be suitable. If the Ndombele situation improves (fingers crossed) DMF becomes a position of strength. This is why I'm not over the moon over signing Hojbjerg, who is a good player but doesn't fill a position of immediate need.

The team needs some replacement of Christian Eriksen and the playmaking he brought from central midfield, particularly hooking up with well-timed balls into Kane. GLC showed flashes this season, included good work on the goal against Crystal Palace, but I'm still not sure what his optimal position is. Dele has had two straight down years and his role in the club still feels questionable and he doesn't appear to be as essential under Mourinho as he was under Poch. If Villa went down, I'd like to have seen Grealish come in, but that might be too hard with Villa still in the EPL. Maybe we can bring in David Silva on a free transfer?
 

DJnVa

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I actually thought, by the standards of this current team, the DMF pairing of Winks and Sissoko was fairly good. I'm not sure what offensive skills Winks' possesses that we are being cheated out of. Assuming Ndombele isn't part of the team, Winks and Sissoko being the starters, with some combination of Dier/Dele/GLC/Skipp filling in would be suitable
I think GLC needs to be on the field every minute he can. I definitely can't see lumping him in a group with Dier and Skipp in the MF.
 

Kliq

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I think GLC needs to be on the field every minute he can. I definitely can't see lumping him in a group with Dier and Skipp in the MF.
I'm thinking that due to his versatility GLC could be used as a holding midfield player if you needed to swap out Winks/Sissoko, not that GLC is a backup nailed to the bench.
 

scott bankheadcase

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Skipp is going to be loaned out.

I personally don't think NDombele is going anywhere. I think the Hojbjerg is the DM signing allowing Jose to play with GLC and NDombele (who I think levy wants to make good of after the record signing). so you're looking at them in a midfield 3 with Lucas/Berjewin Kane Son up top.
 

67YAZ

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Callum Wilson?

Gonna be fascinating to see how Levy and Mourinho work together in the transfer market.

£10m for a proven EPL goal scorer to back up Kane would be a good deal. But I'll guess that Wilson would rather land a starting role and try to make the England 2022 squad.
 

Kliq

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I've learned over the years that Tottenham don't need a real backup striker like Wilson, as long as they have ample depth on the wings (which they current do). If/when Kane gets hurt they can slide Sonny or Lucas to the CF position and survive. I'd much rather see any of that money go to other positions of need, like MF and FB.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I think the big picture with Spurs is that the club is pretty far off United and Chelsea (never mind Liverpool and City). You've gone from having 6-7 legitimately top top level players in the squad in the 2015-18 years to really only two in Son and Kane, and with the latter not what he once was. By xg Spurs was like 20 points off both United and Chelsea and both of those clubs are going to do more (or already have, in the case of Chelsea) in the transfer market than Spurs. You risk falling into the trap that Arsenal have been in for the last couple years, trying to balance the competing imperatives of rebuilding and an uphill competition for top four and letting the latter pressures undermining the former to some degree.

But I'm not sure what Spurs can really do at this point, given that Jose Mourinho is the manager and, more importantly, the Covid-19 situation makes it nearly impossible to make the kind of bold sales and purchases that an aggressive rebuilding strategy would require. I think their best strategy given limited resources would be to just target talented young players in the 17-21 age bracket, almost regardless of position, and focus on trying to find some elite young talent to build the next team around, rather making a marginal improvement to the first XI that will still leave them well adrift of Liverpool/City/United/Chelsea. But I doubt Jose goes for that.
 

teddykgb

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If Kane isn’t permanently broken I think Spurs have to try to see if they can give him a few running mates and give it a go. If they were chasing Sancho or could pay Ousmane Dembele on loan wouldn’t they stand a chance of putting together a fairly classic 4-2-x-x Mourinho team who could devastate you on the counter? There are so few top tier strikers now that it feels like they could certainly challenge top 4 with some smart investment. It remains to be seen how everyone will gel at Chelsea or whether they’ll buy any defenders. United were better but they did have a lot of penalties and there isn’t great depth there. They were pretty crap(except in derby fu zomp) until Bruno showed arrived and who knows if he can remain that impactful through the rigors of the PL and now CL schedule. Basically while I doubt City and Liverpool are going anywhere next season I don’t think it’s impossible for Spurs to join that fray at all.

If they did feel that way, though, they’d probably have to consider selling Kane. That could give them funds to try to do something like Liverpool’s 4 transfer window Coutinho money rebuild but it also could just start a spiral away from the top. A strategy I guess worth considering but I see no point in giving a transfer kitty like that to Mourinho
 

coremiller

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I think the big picture with Spurs is that the club is pretty far off United and Chelsea (never mind Liverpool and City). You've gone from having 6-7 legitimately top top level players in the squad in the 2015-18 years to really only two in Son and Kane, and with the latter not what he once was. By xg Spurs was like 20 points off both United and Chelsea and both of those clubs are going to do more (or already have, in the case of Chelsea) in the transfer market than Spurs. You risk falling into the trap that Arsenal have been in for the last couple years, trying to balance the competing imperatives of rebuilding and an uphill competition for top four and letting the latter pressures undermining the former to some degree.

But I'm not sure what Spurs can really do at this point, given that Jose Mourinho is the manager and, more importantly, the Covid-19 situation makes it nearly impossible to make the kind of bold sales and purchases that an aggressive rebuilding strategy would require. I think their best strategy given limited resources would be to just target talented young players in the 17-21 age bracket, almost regardless of position, and focus on trying to find some elite young talent to build the next team around, rather making a marginal improvement to the first XI that will still leave them well adrift of Liverpool/City/United/Chelsea. But I doubt Jose goes for that.
Spurs are hard to judge because it seems like they have way too much talent to be as bad as they were this season. I think they should be better next season. But how good could they be? I have no idea.

I think they've still got several top-level players: Kane, Son, Lloris, Alderweireld, Dele, potentially Lo Celso and Ndombele. The problem has been a) Dele and Ndombele have struggled for fitness and form, and b) the fullbacks and CMs are so mediocre that there's no way to make an effective tactical system out of the squad. They had 8 outfield players over 2000 minutes this season, and four of them were Aurier, Sissoko, Lucas, and Winks, all limited players with major holes in their games. In particular, all four are pretty poor in possession. If they can buy a new quality right back and then give a lot of the Sissoko/Winks/Lucas minutes to fit/in form Lo Celso, Ndombele, and Dele, that is suddenly a much more talented side they are running out. Now that depends on major improvements from those three, which is a wild card, but any Spurs don't have the money to buy replace them, so they that has to be the plan.
 

Kliq

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Kane averaged 0.63 goals per 90 minutes, tied for fourth in the EPL with PEA. That is down from his goal-a-game average from a few years ago, but considering he battled injuries and he didn't play a full season with his two main contributing partners in Dele and Eriksen, not to mention the downgrade in service going from Trippier to Aurier on the wing. I do worry that he can stay healthy for a full season, but he held up well over a really murderous July and actually gained steam by the end of it. If he is healthy, I have no reason to think that he isn't going to score 20+ goals easily.
 

veritas

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I agree with a lot of what coremiller said, although I think GLC is a legit CM. The fullbacks are such a huge weakness I'm not sure why we're talking about upgrading other positions.

That being said, Callum Wilson as Kane insurance isn't a terrible idea. One of them should probably be healthy at any given time right? Hojbjerg is a very good player too, he'd be a big upgrade over Winks/Sissoko. But if those moves are instead of getting a fullback (or two), this team is still broken.

Right now the best 11 looks something like this probably:

---------------Kane
Son --------Alli--------Lucas
--------GLC------Winssoko
Davies----Sanchez----Toby----Aurier

I'd love to see Ndombele get fit and end up in the mix, but who knows.
 

Tangled Up In Red

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I think DM is most important, whether that be Hojberg or (dream world) Zakaria. And yes, upgrade the fullbacks, though steeling the spine is paramount. Having a real DM allows more of a 4-3-3 or 4-1-2-2-1 (same thing, really) with GLC and TN/Dele ahead of the new guy.
To @Kliq comment above, Harry actually really grew in to July fitness-wise and avoided silly, injury causing challenges. No reason not to think he'll be back to full form.
I'd be fine with Wilson or Deeney in a Kane b/u role, provided they know what they're getting.

I think it is this, as we stand

Son-------Kane------Bergwijn
--------GKC--------Ndombele/Dele
--------------Winkssoko-------------
Davies----Toby----Davinson----Aurier
-----------------Hugo---------------

with the bolded 3 to be upgraded.
 

Zososoxfan

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Mourinho really wanted Perisic when he was at United as well. Mourinho always seems to prefer an unbalanced wing pairing in which a wide forward on one side is given huge license to attack and drift into the center while the winger on the side is more disciplined and tasked with working his ass off when out of possession : Eto'o was balanced by Pandev, Cristiano by Di Maria, Hazard by Willian, and he wanted Perisic to be the guy to balance Rashford but Woodward couldn't or wouldn't negotiate the fee with Inter. My guess is that he wants Perisic to balance Son rather than having Lucas in that role. This would allow him to push a midfielder like Dele or Lo Celso into a more traditional 10 role.
I'm still catching up in the thread, but I had to pause for this little comment. In what world is Willian defensively sound or a balance to a bona fide winger??
 

Zososoxfan

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Agreed and I think this is the danger Spurs have signed up for with Jose. This is not new territory but Jose’s system, like many others, requires investment in specific player types. In Jose’s case he really needs a strong finisher striker to win fouls and get the team up the pitch with hold up play but also the speed to combine with his free winger who is the preferred out ball from his defensive shell. That winger needs to have tremendous talent to be able to be a threat often while outnumbered so they need pace, trickery, and finishing.

I would assume he sees Perisic as the hard working other winger and maybe he sees Son as the free winger but I honestly would have expected him to slot Son into the worker role and pursue some high end attacking talent to be more free. Maybe Spurs justcan’t afford that kind of player but if that’s true Jose will be whining about investment soon enough
Well, the thing is elite attackers to play the free winger role like you mentioned are few and expensive. Son happens to be one of them and he has the versatility to play in 3-4 spots in any Mou setup. In other words, you get the worker for cheap and let Son terrorize opponents. I mean, the guy has been lethal on the break and his combination with Kane is excellent and with time could verge on sublime.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Spurs are hard to judge because it seems like they have way too much talent to be as bad as they were this season. I think they should be better next season. But how good could they be? I have no idea.

I think they've still got several top-level players: Kane, Son, Lloris, Alderweireld, Dele, potentially Lo Celso and Ndombele. The problem has been a) Dele and Ndombele have struggled for fitness and form, and b) the fullbacks and CMs are so mediocre that there's no way to make an effective tactical system out of the squad. They had 8 outfield players over 2000 minutes this season, and four of them were Aurier, Sissoko, Lucas, and Winks, all limited players with major holes in their games. In particular, all four are pretty poor in possession. If they can buy a new quality right back and then give a lot of the Sissoko/Winks/Lucas minutes to fit/in form Lo Celso, Ndombele, and Dele, that is suddenly a much more talented side they are running out. Now that depends on major improvements from those three, which is a wild card, but any Spurs don't have the money to buy replace them, so they that has to be the plan.
I'm not trying to get into a pissing contest in your thread. But I'll just say that an alternative non-Spurs perspective is that none of those players listed after Son are really top class influential players at this point in their careers (or haven't proved it yet in the case of Lo Celso and N'Dombele). Spurs had negative xg differential on the year (a trend that actually goes further back to about Feb 2019). They had a better xg than their opponent in 7 of their last 21 Premier League matches under Jose. They may have played somewhat worse than their talent level but generally speaking performances don't really lie that much over an entire season. How likely are they to catch a Chelsea team that was something like 24 points better by XG and is adding Ziyech, Werner, and probably Havertz? Or a United team that was 21 points better and is likely adding Sancho and probably other players too? Of course, one of those clubs could always have a disaster season and you want to be positioned to take advantage. But I think Levy is making a mistake if his thought process right now is focused on making marginal improvements to the first XI in 2020-21 in the hope of competing for top four instead of how to build the foundations of a new team in the future.
 
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DJnVa

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I'm not trying to get into a pissing contest in your thread. But I'll just say that an alternative non-Spurs perspective is that none of those players listed after Son are really anything special at this point in their careers (or haven't proved it yet in the case of Lo Celso and N'Dombele). Spurs had negative xg differential on the year. They had a better xg than their opponent in 7 of their last 21 Premier League matches. They may have played somewhat worse than their talent level but generally speaking performances don't really lie that much over an entire season. How likely are they to catch a Chelsea team that was something like 24 points better by XG and is adding Ziyech, Werner, and probably Havertz? Or a United team that was 21 points better and is likely adding Sancho and probably other players too? Of course, one of those clubs could always have a disaster season and you want to be positioned to take advantage. But I think Levy is making a mistake if his thought process right now is focused on making marginal improvements to the first XI in 2020-21 in the hope of competing for top four instead of how to build the foundations of a new team in the future.
Is there data out there that shows that teams that over or underperform based on xG in one season level out the next season? Like in baseball BABIP is important, but there can also be outlier seasons and you expect a bit of regression the next season.

To be clear, I'm not arguing anything you are saying here, but asking. One could look at those numbers and say Chelsea was lucky this year and how likely is it they are that lucky again.
 

Zososoxfan

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If Kane isn’t permanently broken I think Spurs have to try to see if they can give him a few running mates and give it a go. If they were chasing Sancho or could pay Ousmane Dembele on loan wouldn’t they stand a chance of putting together a fairly classic 4-2-x-x Mourinho team who could devastate you on the counter? There are so few top tier strikers now that it feels like they could certainly challenge top 4 with some smart investment. It remains to be seen how everyone will gel at Chelsea or whether they’ll buy any defenders. United were better but they did have a lot of penalties and there isn’t great depth there. They were pretty crap(except in derby fu zomp) until Bruno showed arrived and who knows if he can remain that impactful through the rigors of the PL and now CL schedule. Basically while I doubt City and Liverpool are going anywhere next season I don’t think it’s impossible for Spurs to join that fray at all.

If they did feel that way, though, they’d probably have to consider selling Kane. That could give them funds to try to do something like Liverpool’s 4 transfer window Coutinho money rebuild but it also could just start a spiral away from the top. A strategy I guess worth considering but I see no point in giving a transfer kitty like that to Mourinho
Spurs are hard to judge because it seems like they have way too much talent to be as bad as they were this season. I think they should be better next season. But how good could they be? I have no idea.

I think they've still got several top-level players: Kane, Son, Lloris, Alderweireld, Dele, potentially Lo Celso and Ndombele. The problem has been a) Dele and Ndombele have struggled for fitness and form, and b) the fullbacks and CMs are so mediocre that there's no way to make an effective tactical system out of the squad. They had 8 outfield players over 2000 minutes this season, and four of them were Aurier, Sissoko, Lucas, and Winks, all limited players with major holes in their games. In particular, all four are pretty poor in possession. If they can buy a new quality right back and then give a lot of the Sissoko/Winks/Lucas minutes to fit/in form Lo Celso, Ndombele, and Dele, that is suddenly a much more talented side they are running out. Now that depends on major improvements from those three, which is a wild card, but any Spurs don't have the money to buy replace them, so they that has to be the plan.
These are two excellent back-to-back posts. @teddykgb has it right that Spurs have decided to maximize the competitiveness of the club and squad by bringing in Mou. Mou is not a builder by any means. He manages for the short-term and his own vanity--nothing more. When he inevitably burns the whole thing to the ground in a couple of years, then we can talk about the rebuild with hopefully some hardware to show for it.

And @coremiller also has it mostly right that Spurs have some world class talent (Kane, Son, GLC), and a second tier of guys with history or potential of getting there (Dele, Tanguy), and enough other solid UCL quality players at various ages (Bergy, Lucas, Sissoko, Toby, Hugo, Dav), that they should compete for top 4. But when there's limited options in MF and the FBs are average for EPL then it really limits the club's upside.

I like Sissoko more than most and Winks less than most, but both would look much better with a roaming destroyer to take on the defensive responsibilities of protecting Serge (a MONUMENTAL task that Sissoko does very well with, but limits his ability to utilize his endurance to flood forward and create numerical advantages), protecting Davies (who I also dislike more than most), while still shielding the CBs (something Winks is just not capable of and Sissoko can only do reasonably well). Of course, getting the most out of Sissoko and Winks also lets GLC do his thing and maybe helps get Tanguy on the field.
 

Zososoxfan

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Willian is a willing runner/defender without the ball and he doesn't get forward that much when in possession, so that balanced Hazard pretty well.
If that was true in the past it certainly isn't true anymore. And I don't think it was true in the past either. But perhaps my memory is faulty. I don't have many memories of standout defensive tracking by Willian. I consider him a fairly talented winger with some elite skills, but not to be mistaken with a RMF.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Is there data out there that shows that teams that over or underperform based on xG in one season level out the next season? Like in baseball BABIP is important, but there can also be outlier seasons and you expect a bit of regression the next season.

To be clear, I'm not arguing anything you are saying here, but asking. One could look at those numbers and say Chelsea was lucky this year and how likely is it they are that lucky again.
I remember seeing a study of this at some point (maybe by one of the Statsbomb guys) but I can't seem to find the link right now.

Fwiw, I think the way to read that XG table is that Chelsea was actually unlucky this year, in that they would be expected to end up with 73 points by XG but they ended up with 66 instead. But we should take XG with a grain of salt. Chelsea's gap between XG and results is mainly driven by a difference in goals allowed and that differences between XG allowed and actual goals allowed can be substantially due to the talent level of the keeper. So that part of things may be less about bad luck than about Kepa being a shit keeper.
 

tmracht

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If that was true in the past it certainly isn't true anymore. And I don't think it was true in the past either. But perhaps my memory is faulty. I don't have many memories of standout defensive tracking by Willian. I consider him a fairly talented winger with some elite skills, but not to be mistaken with a RMF.
I'll say this he wasn't ever a RMF for Chelsea, but he ran and ran and ran when they were needed to defend a lead. Hazard would sometimes lounge up ahead of the striker, Willian would be the one to run back, he didn't have elite defensive skills, but he ran back.
 

Zososoxfan

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I'm not trying to get into a pissing contest in your thread. But I'll just say that an alternative non-Spurs perspective is that none of those players listed after Son are really top class influential players at this point in their careers (or haven't proved it yet in the case of Lo Celso and N'Dombele). Spurs had negative xg differential on the year. They had a better xg than their opponent in 7 of their last 21 Premier League matches. They may have played somewhat worse than their talent level but generally speaking performances don't really lie that much over an entire season. How likely are they to catch a Chelsea team that was something like 24 points better by XG and is adding Ziyech, Werner, and probably Havertz? Or a United team that was 21 points better and is likely adding Sancho and probably other players too? Of course, one of those clubs could always have a disaster season and you want to be positioned to take advantage. But I think Levy is making a mistake if his thought process right now is focused on making marginal improvements to the first XI in 2020-21 in the hope of competing for top four instead of how to build the foundations of a new team in the future.
I for one appreciate an outsider's perspective since it's always good to ensure one isn't wearing lillywhite, blue, or red-tinted glasses.

So in this spirit, I would counter that while Chelsea had an outstanding season and I'm supremely jealous of their attacking depth, they also have significant issues to deal with and same goes for United. These start in the net with Kepa and Wily. Those are not elite options and I'd much rather have Hugo. I'd also argue that I'd rather have Hugo than De Gea, although that one is close. De Gea obviously has more talent, but those gaffes can be a total backbreaker. Hugo's lack of skill on the ball is certainly a detriment to the overall package, but he is an elite shotstopper who's only slightly behind Oblak in that mold. Hugo also deserves some credit for being a leader, having experience, and presumably having lower wages.

At CB I'd say that Chelsea is only slightly ahead of Spurs with 3 reasonably good options in Rudiger, Zouma, and Christensen, but none of which is as good as Toby, but all slightly ahead of Dav at the moment. It's also fair to argue that when Kante is protecting those guys they're going to look much better again. Maguire is better than any of the other CBs and is the only one at the 3 clubs who's truly world class at the moment. Leaving aside Maguire/Toby, I'd say the rest of the CB depth at United is very similar to Spurs and again, slightly behind Chelsea.

FB is where Chelsea is leaps and bounds ahead of Spurs. Azpi is an outstanding player (albeit creeping towards the part of his career where you start to worry about his ability to cope), Alonso is a terrific piece, and James looks ready for a starting role. United also have a world class talent in Bissaka so just by virtue of having him they are in a much better position than Spurs, although LB remains an issue. Getting Spurs up a level, even if not world class/elite would improve the best XI significantly and should be doable in the transfer market.

DMF/CMF is the other area where Chelsea has Spurs beaten by a mile. Kante is world class, and the amount of other options for these roles is frankly embarrassing. Jorginho, Barkley, RLC, and even Kovacic and Drinkwater is just a really deep and solid group to form the spine. United are in a slightly better position than Spurs too, but the McTominay, Pogba, Matic, Fred group isn't nearly as impressive as Chelsea. If Tanguy meets expectations to the same extent Pogba has (i.e. not even all the way to world class), I'd say United and Spurs are even.

Up front and for the rest of the squads (i.e. strikers, wingers, AMFs), I'd argue that Spurs' top 3 (and even 4-5) are as good as Chelsea's and United's, although again both have better depth. Kane, Son, Dele, GLC, Bergy, and Lucas match up fairly evenly with Giroud, Abraham, Pulisic, Mount, and Willian. Werner and Ziyech loom large though, as both those guys could propel Chelsea's attack to a new level. Rashford, Martial, Fernandes, Greenwood, and James is certainly a talented group, especially the top 3, but I think Kane and Son are right there with them. GLC, Dele, and Bergy all have the potential to make Spurs' top 3 elite and match Rashford-Martial-Fernandes and Giround/Abraham-Pulisic-Mount. Although again, Werner-Pulisic-Ziyech is likely going to be on another (read: Liverpool/Citeh) level.
 

DJnVa

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Are there any studies that talk about drawing PKs and if it's a function of better teams or more random?

For instance, this season the top 5 in drawing PKs were ManU (good), Man City (good), Watford (shit), LC (good), Chelsea (good). But last year, Man City was near the bottom, as was Watford with Bournemouth and Palace near the top.

ManU was +11 in PKs this year (awarded, not converted) and no one has been better than that going back to at least 02/03.
 

67YAZ

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Are there any studies that talk about drawing PKs and if it's a function of better teams or more random?

For instance, this season the top 5 in drawing PKs were ManU (good), Man City (good), Watford (shit), LC (good), Chelsea (good). But last year, Man City was near the bottom, as was Watford with Bournemouth and Palace near the top.

ManU was +11 in PKs this year (awarded, not converted) and no one has been better than that going back to at least 02/03.
My gut instinct is that if analyzed over several seasons, there'd be a correlation with the number of touches in the box. PKs are rare plays, so the data in any given season will be noisy. But over time, the teams that have the most touches in the opponent's box will create a lot more opportunities to draw a penalty.

I started poking around to find touches in opponent's box data (let's call those 'Trumps"), and it appears Opta collects that. But there's no stats site I can find reporting them out for the EPL every season. Does anyone know where to find it?
 
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Gunfighter 09

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They had a better xg than their opponent in 7 of their last 21 Premier League matches under Jose.
I think us Spurs fans will sleep ok knowing this fact with two things in mind. First, several of those matches came in the February / March period when Kane/Son/Dele/Sissoko were all out with injuries and Eriksen had been sold. They were gutted and would have been lucky to finish in the top half if the COVID break hadn't happened. Tottenham is always going to be somewhat more shallow than the Manchester clubs, Chelski or the team that cost us Mookie Betts.

Second, isn't some of that gap the absorbing pressure and counter attacking style that Mourinho wants to play? I can't help but think of Spurs having negative Xg in the game where their dominance was never in doubt against LC in week 37. If this is fallacious thinking, let me know, but I believe I have seen more than a couple smart people note that Xg doesn't do well with teams that intentionally concede possession and bad chances.

View: https://twitter.com/Caley_graphics/status/1284897714204016641
 

Kliq

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Not sure about the whole team, but Kane historically has consistently outperformed his xG total. The reason would either be Harry Kane consistently gets very lucky when it comes to scoring goals, or Harry Kane finishes chances at an above-average rate which create a disparity in his xG and real world total. I'm going with the latter.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Second, isn't some of that gap the absorbing pressure and counter attacking style that Mourinho wants to play? I can't help but think of Spurs having negative Xg in the game where their dominance was never in doubt against LC in week 37. If this is fallacious thinking, let me know, but I believe I have seen more than a couple smart people note that Xg doesn't do well with teams that intentionally concede possession and bad chances.
XG is definitely prone to score effects, in which teams that get ahead early and sit back afterward tend to suffer XG-wise as their opponents pile on the pressure (which is what happened in the Leicester match). Whether that could be extended to Mourinho's style in general I don't know. His 14-15 Chelsea team and 17-18 United team both outperformed their XG by quite a bit, but his 16-17 United team did not. Some of that outperformance in 17-18 was likely due to De Gea playing on God mode all season.
 

Gunfighter 09

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That makes more sense than a general “Xg hates teams that play for the counter.”
 

coremiller

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I'm not trying to get into a pissing contest in your thread. But I'll just say that an alternative non-Spurs perspective is that none of those players listed after Son are really top class influential players at this point in their careers (or haven't proved it yet in the case of Lo Celso and N'Dombele). Spurs had negative xg differential on the year (a trend that actually goes further back to about Feb 2019). They had a better xg than their opponent in 7 of their last 21 Premier League matches under Jose. They may have played somewhat worse than their talent level but generally speaking performances don't really lie that much over an entire season. How likely are they to catch a Chelsea team that was something like 24 points better by XG and is adding Ziyech, Werner, and probably Havertz? Or a United team that was 21 points better and is likely adding Sancho and probably other players too? Of course, one of those clubs could always have a disaster season and you want to be positioned to take advantage. But I think Levy is making a mistake if his thought process right now is focused on making marginal improvements to the first XI in 2020-21 in the hope of competing for top four instead of how to build the foundations of a new team in the future.
It's hard to tell how much of this year was a fluke for Spurs and how bad they really are. Three years ago, by Understat's numbers they had a NPxGD of ++31, two years ago it was +33; last year, it was +13; this year it was -3. This is with largely the same core of players. Which of those is most predictive? Some of the key players from two years ago are gone now (Eriksen, Vertonghen, Trippier, Dembele) but 7/9 top guys by minutes from the team two years ago are still here (Lloris, Kane, Alli, Dier, Sanchez, Son, Davies), and none of those players have aged out of their primes, indeed many are still quite young. They've also added a number of useful players since then (GLC, Ndombele, Lucas, Bergwijn). How did a team that used to be so good get that bad that quickly?

Watching them makes clear that he team doesn't really work tactically and that the weaknesses in midfield and at fullback and are weighing the team down. But if they can fix the holes and solve the tactical issues it seems like there should be enough talent in the squad to turn Spurs back into a side that's competitive for the top 4 pretty quickly. At least that's the optimistic view. And it depends a lot on the Ndombele signing working out. He hasn't played that well, but even when he's not playing great you can still see how outrageously talented he is. His ability to dribble out of tight spaces and his vision/range of creative passing are just light-years beyond what Winks and Sissoko can do. I'm admittedly a thoroughgoing Ndombele-stan and have been since they signed him, if Spurs can figure out how to keep him healthy and get the best out of him I really think he could transform the team almost by himself. He's that talented.
 

coremiller

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Generally speaking, xG is more predictive than goals, which is why it's useful. But that's not always true. Spurs have now outperformed their xG for six years in a row. It's not limited to one side either, nearly every year they have outperformed xG in both attack and defense. In attack, Son and Kane have both slightly outperformed their xG over their careers, which matches the eye test in that they are both excellent finishers. Lloris has also been well above average, which is a big part of the defensive outperformance.

it's generally not true that counterattacking teams tend to outperform xG more than possession-oriented teams. That's different from score effects -- score effecs say that it is true that IF a team is lucky to get ahead without having good chances, they can play defensively and deny the other team good chances to catch up. But that requires getting ahead in the first place, and counterattacking teams are no more likely to get ahead on poor chances than any other type of team.

Depending on the model inputs, it could be that xG undervalues certain types of chances that counterattacking sides disproportionately have more of -- e.g. a shot from 20 yards on the counter may have fewer defenders in position to block it than shot from 20 yards against a packed defense. Most models try to adjust for this effect in various ways; the ideal of adjusting based on player positioning data is usually impossible due to data limitations, but there are proxies modelers can use instead.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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It's hard to tell how much of this year was a fluke for Spurs and how bad they really are. Three years ago, by Understat's numbers they had a NPxGD of ++31, two years ago it was +33; last year, it was +13; this year it was -3. This is with largely the same core of players. Which of those is most predictive? Some of the key players from two years ago are gone now (Eriksen, Vertonghen, Trippier, Dembele) but 7/9 top guys by minutes from the team two years ago are still here (Lloris, Kane, Alli, Dier, Sanchez, Son, Davies), and none of those players have aged out of their primes, indeed many are still quite young. They've also added a number of useful players since then (GLC, Ndombele, Lucas, Bergwijn). How did a team that used to be so good get that bad that quickly?

Watching them makes clear that he team doesn't really work tactically and that the weaknesses in midfield and at fullback and are weighing the team down. But if they can fix the holes and solve the tactical issues it seems like there should be enough talent in the squad to turn Spurs back into a side that's competitive for the top 4 pretty quickly. At least that's the optimistic view. And it depends a lot on the Ndombele signing working out. He hasn't played that well, but even when he's not playing great you can still see how outrageously talented he is. His ability to dribble out of tight spaces and his vision/range of creative passing are just light-years beyond what Winks and Sissoko can do. I'm admittedly a thoroughgoing Ndombele-stan and have been since they signed him, if Spurs can figure out how to keep him healthy and get the best out of him I really think he could transform the team almost by himself. He's that talented.
There is definitely an optimistic case to be made for things coming back together and clicking once again and I think you're right that N'Dombele would likely be key in that scenario. My football predictions have been awful recently so I'm loathe to double down too much on the contrary.

In other news....

View: https://twitter.com/DaleJohnsonESPN/status/1289641903244353536