Since joining Tottenham a little more than a year ago, Sergio Reguilon has demonstrated his desire to join the attack from the backline.
As the team has slowed its pace, however, he’s frequently been left hitting crosses into crowds or making fruitless trips up the field. In Antonio Conte‘s 3-4-3 system, he’s getting a better chance to run and use space on the left flank, creating more opportunities for the Spurs.
The most obvious example of this freedom in the 2-0 win against Brentford came with the team’s second goal, where exploited open field before delivering the ball to Son Heung-min for an easy finish. The sequence looked textbook in some ways, but it also reveals the Spurs’ higher new work rate and willingness to attack. Able to start his runs from further up the field, Reguilon is more immediately dangerous. He also forces the opposing team to stretch itself out sooner, allowing teammates to run into the cleared-out areas. When the Spurs acquired Reguilon, fans hoped for just this sort of offense.
Another benefit that arises from his play isn’t exactly minor. As Kane has dropped deeper and deeper over the past two seasons, it’s been an indicator of the team’s slow play and cautious pace. With a changed threat coming out of the midfield, Kane’s depth on the field now serves to open up lanes for teammates who are already beginning their attacks (as on Reguilon’s assist). The change in play allows Kane to position himself as he feels comfortable, a necessary adaptation in a season in which he hasn’t quite found his groove yet. (As an aside, despite not scoring, Kane looked more comfortable and more active than he frequently has this season.)
To shore up this approach, Tottenham will need to find a player to play the right-wing as effectively. Emerson Royal was fine against Brentford, but he did more to provide balance than to force the issue. Japhet Tanganga can provide that level of energy, but it’s unclear whether it can be focused enough for the team. The upcoming transfer window might provide some options, too.
For the moment, though, the improved speed of play and increased available space should be encouraging to Spurs fans. With the team running more, Tottenham is developing a new personality under Conte and, even if the results might be hit-or-miss for a while, we’re seeing good signs right now.