Tottenham can help their formation with more defensive aggression
To fix the problem and to generate a higher percentage of dangerous shots, Tottenham can look for more counterpressing opportunities. The team wouldn’t have to embrace a full gegenpressing style (which wouldn’t suit Conte’s method), but watching for the right moments to employ an aggressive press would lead to turnovers high enough up the pitch that the team wouldn’t need to unlock an opposition block to get off higher percentage shots.
The idea suits the team for a few reasons. First, it more functionally employs Emerson Royal. While his crossing has been a mess, his work rate and his defending have been his strengths. Given that, it makes sense to let him use those skills in a more dangerous position. Second, with three midfielders on the pitch – and at least two of which at any moment seem to be defensive-minded – the team can still hold the center of the field while playing to those strengths. The team lacks a true creative attacker at midfield (though Rodrigo Bentancur becomes more interesting as time goes on) and doesn’t have a deep-lying playmaker to run the show. A fast counter-press best utilizes those skills, and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s tackling skills in particular, would provide support.
Tottenham’s summer transfer window gave the team needed depth, and with five substitutes now allowed per game, it makes sense to use them. In many ways (the loaded midfield, the back three, the natural ability to get compact), the 3-5-2 suits a quick press, but it demands heavy work by the wing backs. Tottenham doubles up well at these positions. Having Emerson go all out for 60 minutes before exiting for Matt Doherty doesn’t lead to a drop in quality.
The need to press is lessened with Kulusevski or Richarlison in as part of a 3-4-3, where the attacking options work a little better and faster regardless of where they start on the pitch. As those two return, we’ll likely see a revitalized squad, but even with them back, Tottenham might need to find more variety in its approach to maintain its top-four standing.