Three Things Going Right for Tottenham at the Midpoint

Tottenham Hotspur's Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Photo by JASON CAIRNDUFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur's Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Photo by JASON CAIRNDUFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

While not a perfect season, a few things have gone right for Tottenham this term. Tottenham are in a Cup final and are still competing in three other competitions, so some things must be working at Hotspur Way. Here we take a look at what has been working, for Tottenham Hotspur so far in 2020-21.

What Has Gone Right for Tottenham

Tottenham are in a domestic cup final and are still competing in all four competitions they started the season in, so some things are clearly going right for Tottenham Hotspur. This has been especially true on the offensive end of the pitch where Tottenham have had stretches where it seemed like they were scoring goals for fun. Clearly all teams go through rough stretches, even juggernauts as we have seen from Liverpool, so the rough patches have overall been outweighed by the positive ones, like the expanded role for Harry Kane.

Harry Kane has become a major facilitator for Tottenham

Harry Kane has always liked to drop deep to try to help out in possession. Not known for his blistering pace over the top, Kane has been at his best when he has grafted about the pitch, working to be creative at the start of the attack.

Historically creative for Kane would be picking up the ball and then looking to push it out wide so he could turn and run to get in the box for the ball he hoped would follow. This season, Kane pushing the ball wide once he gets it in space is just one of the options Spurs talisman has been employing.

Kane has looked as much to play the ball directly forward or turn and attack on the dribble once he gets that ball as he does look to play the ball wide or back to recycle possession. These added facets of Harry Kane’s game have paid major dividends for Tottenham without a negative impact on Kane’s goalscoring. Kane still leads the team in goals with 19 across all competitions in 27 appearances according to

Now, Kane also leads the team in assists with 14 in those same 27 appearances. That is 33 goal involvements in 27 matches, an incredible return. Not to be outdone Son Heung-Min is not far behind Kane with 16 goals and a further nine assists in an equal 27 appearances. Son’s 25 goal contributions plus Kane’s 33 for 58 in 27 games is truly remarkable.

While some may say this shows just how over-reliant Tottenham are on the duo, another perspective may be that José Mourinho has found a way to get so much out of them, there is not a lot for others. That said, we have seen some players coming on, particularly of late, which give hope to the belief Spurs are not just a two man band.

Pierre Højbjerg was just what was missing

Tottenham have had a major hole in the midfield since Victor Wanyama‘s body started failing and Mousa Dembele was moved on. While Dembele did some of the more intricate work with the ball than did Wanyama, they both provided a real measure of steel in the heart of Spurs midfield that made everyone else better.

Pierre Højbjerg has filled that role remarkably well for Tottenham Hotspur this season. To say that Højbjerg does it all may be an understatement. The Dane is a master tackler of the ball, leading the team in tackles attempted and won. More impressively, he has the most tackles in the defensive third and the midfield third, while having the third most tackles in the attacking third of the pitch.

The number of tackles is not surprising given Højbjerg is often the focal point defensively leading the team in pressures attempted and succeeded. Add in the most interceptions and Højbjerg has far more ball recoveries than anyone else on the team according to with 255 on the season.

The defensive steel Højbjerg provides is not a surprise, however, his ability on the ball has been better than what likely anyone expected prior to the season. Højbjerg leads the team in passes attempted, passes completed and more impressively passing percentage. Pierre has completed a higher percentage of his passes this season at 87.7% than anyone on the squad that has attempted more than 10 passes – sorry Harvey White.

Pierre Højbjerg has been incredible in his ability to read the game on both sides of the ball and as a results really provide an outlet for the defense to move the ball forward. Højbjerg is good with the short stuff, but has been great with the longer balls, completely 77% of his passes over 30 yards attempted, the highest percentage on the team.

Pierre Højbjerg is not the guru on the ball Mousa Dembele was for Tottenham, but he covers as much ground and helps facilitate the possession equally well. Pierre Højbjerg is not quite as intimidating as prime Victor Wanyama was, but he is a better passer and a much more available player leading Spurs in minutes. Combining some of the traits from both, Pierre Højbjerg was exactly what Tottenham were missing in the middle of the park.

Winning the ball has made Spurs deadly on the counter

A big part of the success of both Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son has been the blistering counter attack of Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs can get up and down the pitch as fast any team in world football and when on tune can do so with the grace and precision of a principal ballerina.

According to the Premier League Tottenham are third overall with 3 ‘fast break’ goals, but a few posts and the stringent definition of fast break belittle the fact Spurs are deadly on the counter. There are few teams in the world able to win the ball and then pounce quite as quickly and ruthlessly as Tottenham Hotspur can.

At times the players have fallen a bit too in love with the effectiveness of the counter and have defended more than fans may want as they look to create offense from defense. Given the deadliness and quick strike nature of Spurs on the counter, it is not a surprise the players want to create more opportunities for it to happen. The one thing that is certain is Tottenham have been very effective on the counter this season and everyone knows it.

To not be just playing, but competing in four competitions some things have to go right for a team. For Tottenham this term, a little tweak to the role of Harry Kane and the addition of Pierre Højbjerg have made Spurs a monster on the counter. That success on the break and has led to a lot of goals and some remarkable wins. While the consistency is still not there yet, the foundation for greatness is alive and well.

Next. What a Successful Spurs Season Looks Like. dark