Talking Tactics

Spurs' full-backs can pose problems for Newcastle

21 Apr 2023

Adrian Clarke says Eddie Howe's side must work hard to limit Porro and Perisic's threat out wide

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Analysis - Newcastle v Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur’s performance levels have been a mixed bag all season, but from wide areas they are extremely consistent.

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Using the full width of the pitch in their 3-4-2-1 formation, no team have supplied more successful crosses in open-play across 2022/23 than Spurs.

With Harry Kane their primary target - scorer of nine headed goals this campaign - it will be absolutely vital for Newcastle to nullify the visiting wing-backs’ impact.

Most successful open-play crosses
Club Crosses
Spurs 113
Fulham 105
Man City 94
Liverpool 92
Brighton 87
Flying wingers

Across the last three Premier League matches, Spurs have started with January signing Pedro Porro at right wing-back, with Ivan Perisic performing the same role down their left.

They are both adventurous, attack-minded options.

In last weekend’s 3-2 loss at home to AFC Bournemouth for example, 22 of Spurs’ 27 open-play crosses stemmed from Perisic and Porro, who both produced 11 each.

Staying wide, almost exclusively operating in a corridor of space between the 18-yard-box and touchline, they were heavily involved in the majority of their team’s attacks.

Spurs crossing graphic
Ivan Perisic (14) and Pedro Porro (23) crosses v AFC Bournemouth

While most of their deliveries were unsuccessful, this type of supply line always represents a danger to the opposition and Newcastle will be acutely aware of the threat they pose.

In 90 minutes, these two Spurs players produce more successful open-play crosses than anyone else in the league.

Most successful crosses/90
Player Total crosses/90*
Pedro Porro 1.49
Ivan Perisic 1.36
Adama Traore 1.35
Trent Alexander-Arnold 1.22
Kevin De Bruyne 1.11

*Minimum seven starts

Stopping Kane

Newcastle full-backs Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn must try and restrict the number of opportunities Kane has to attack crosses sent into the area.

Kane has netted three more headed goals than Erling Haaland’s six this season and is second only to Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic for headed shots, with 32.

Whenever Perisic or Porro step into crossing range, centre-backs Fabian Schar and Sven Botman must ensure they are touch-tight to Kane, ready to disrupt his attempts to get on the end of crosses.

His movement, coupled with the quality of service from out wide, often represents Spurs’ best chances of finding the back of the net.

They have scored 14 headed goals this season, the highest tally in the division.

Players/club with most headed shots/goals 22/23
Player Headed shots Club Headed goals
Harry Kane 30 Spurs 14
Eric Dier 6 Fulham 12
Clement Lenglet 5 Liverpool 11
Ben Davies 5 Arsenal 10
Cristian Romero 4 Brighton 9

On one flank we should see Porro in advanced areas, up against Burn, who does not push forward as much as Trippier on the other side.

At times, Eddie Howe may ask Joelinton to close down Porro, so that Burn’s height can be of use inside the area.

On Spurs’ left, the battle between Perisic and Trippier has potential to be tremendously exciting.

Trippier has himself produced 106 open-play crosses this season - ranked fourth in the PL - with Perisic just two behind, from 801 fewer minutes of playing time.

Expect this quartet to have a significant contribution on the outcome of this match.

Also in this series

Part 1: Can Saints exploit weakness in Arsenal's midfield shape?
Part 2: Brave approach paying off for AFC Bournemouth

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