Tottenham can improve with a formation adjustment

After a disappointing North London Derby, Tottenham appears to be in as much disarray as ever.

As Nuno has experimented with lineups and formations, nothing has quite worked, aside from the strategy used against Manchester City on the opening weekend, which led to both a win and false optimism among the fan base. With new players, a new manager, and a rebuild somewhat in progress, the Spurs shouldn’t expect immediate success, but there’s an idea worth trying out that should address a major weakness while taking advantage of its current strengths.

The team has struggled throughout this season and the previous one to play with high energy throughout an entire match. Against Arsenal, Tottenham looked as if they had a completely different mindset than their opponents, content to wander around the field with too little energetic, efficient movement. Only in the second half when Arsenal retreated into a more cautious approach and the Spurs felt some desperation did that situation change.

To increase the energy, the Spurs need to get some of their younger more enthusiastic players on the pitch. Right now, those key players are winger Bryan Gil and midfielder Oliver Skipp. Both athletes bring an intensity to the field that the team too often lacks.

Tottenham should go back to the 4-2-3-1

Skipp and midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have both proven themselves willing to put in the miles and do some grunt work for the team. As the Spurs flounder, Nuno should put these two players into a double-six as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Hojbjerg stayed too deep against Arsenal, but working in tandem with Skipp in this role should allow each player a chance to push up, knowing the other one can handle the defensive role.

With Skipp and Hojbjerg present, the outside backs would have more freedom to attack, and keeping Sergio Reguilon involved will particularly be a key to the team’s offense.

In any game in which the Spurs struggle, Harry Kane tends to drift further and further back, slowing the attack. Playing three right behind him should encourage him to stay high enough for quick counters. It’s been odd to see a star of Kane’s magnitude completely disappear in recent matches, and this formation could help.

The line of three might pose a conundrum given our suffering play at attacking midfield, but there’s a solution. With Gil on the left and Lucas Moura on the right (or Bergwijn once he’s healthy), Son Heung-Min can move into that center slot. It might not be his natural position, but having him in the center has been productive before, and can open up different sorts of options for him and Kane to work together.

The formation also gives a more clear-cut role for either Dele Alli or Tanguy Ndombele, two players who have mixed inspiration and frustration. With either in the middle, Son moves back out to the wing, and those two gain some freedom for creativity in their attack, particularly with Skipp and Hojbjerg putting in the work behind them.

The move doesn’t solve all of Tottenham’s current problems, but it puts energy onto the field and helps secure some much-needed defending sensibility without hindering the attack. Given Spurs’ current string of ugly league losses, it could at least provide a spark.