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Talking Tactics

Lloris leading by example for resilient Spurs

Adrian Clarke 10 Sep 2021
Spurs' Eric Dier, Hugo Lloris and Davinson Sanchez

Adrian Clarke says fine form of goalkeeper and defence can help them maintain their winning start at Palace

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 4.

Tottenham Hotspur

By securing three 1-0 victories in a row, Nuno Espirito Santo has got off to a dream start as Spurs' new head coach, subsequently earning August's Barclays Manager of the Month award.

Out of possession his team have been compact and well-organised, while his defensive players have all shown outstanding resilience.

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A fourth successive clean sheet will certainly be in Spurs' sights on Saturday when they make the short trip to south London to take on a Crystal Palace who have registered the fewest shots so far this season.

During this impressive run of shutouts Nuno's compact 4-3-3 has had to absorb plenty of pressure.

Spurs have faced 52 shots, the third-highest in the competition, and no top-flight goalkeeper has had to make more saves than the 12 of captain Hugo Lloris.

Nine of those stops came from efforts inside the penalty area by Lloris, who marked his club record 300th Premier League appearance with a clean sheet at Wolverhampton Wanderers in Matchweek 2.

Lloris' top PL moments

The majority of his saves were routine, but a brilliant block with his left leg to deny Adama Traore in a one-against-one undeniably stopped Wolves from claiming a point.

In terms of preventing goals so far this season, Lloris currently leads the xGoT (Expected Goals on Target) goalkeeper standings.

He will again be key for Spurs against a Palace side determined to register their first win under new manager Patrick Vieira.

Goalkeepers compared 2021/22
Player xGoT faced Conceded Prevented
Hugo Lloris 2.4 0 2.4
David De Gea 3.2 1 2.2
Alisson 2.8 1 1.8
Edouard Mendy 2.4 1 1.4
David Raya 1.8 1 0.8

Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez have enjoyed solid starts to the new campaign with their blossoming centre-back partnership a plus point for Nuno.

EA SPORTS Player of the Month nominee Dier has been an especially dominant presence.

The 27-year-old has made 16 clearances so far, the sixth-best in the league. Of these 10 have been headers, a tally bettered by only Shane Duffy and Ben Gibson with 14 and 13 respectively.

Sanchez influence to be missed

Defensive partner Sanchez is also in terrific form.

Across three assured displays he blocked five shots, including a goal-bound close-range effort by Ismaila Sarr in the win over Watford.

Sanchez, who must quarantine after going away with Colombia last week, will be a big miss at Selhurst Park.

When you study the data it is clear that Spurs have protected their own goal with great determination during the opening weeks of 2021/22.

Spurs' defence in numbers
Spurs Total 2020/21 rank 2021/22 rank
Blocks 18 7th 2nd
Clearances 66 7th 4th
Headed clearances 30 4th 5th

Spurs will also be without Cristian Romero this weekend, forcing Nuno into an unwanted defensive reshuffle.

Ben Davies could be the most obvious choice to partner Dier at Selhurst Park.

New signing Emerson Royal will also be pushing for a place at right-back, although Japhet Tanganga has been in good form.

Sat in front of the back four, defensive midfielder Oliver Skipp is also an injury doubt after limping off for the England Under-21s this week.

So it looks like a much-changed unit will be charged with the task of preserving Spurs' perfect defensive record.

Also in this series

Part 1: James' arrival can help restore Leeds' intensity
Part 2: Villa pair can inspire upset at Chelsea

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