Talking Tactics

Maddison can be the new Eriksen at Spurs

By Adrian Clarke 1 Jul 2023
Maddison, Spurs

Adrian Clarke says summer signing is the kind of player Tottenham Hotspur have been crying out for

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Player analysis: James Maddison (TOT)

Maddison is exactly the type of imaginative midfield talent that Tottenham Hotspur have missed across the last three seasons.

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Since Christian Eriksen left in the summer of 2020, Spurs have lacked a top-class creator to supply consistent ammunition to their forwards.

Last season, they were heavily reliant on Harry Kane, who ranked seventh for expected goals in open play, with 40.7, and eighth for big chances created, 78.

Spurs' all-time leading scorer has also been their most prolific chance creator in open play for the past two seasons, so Ange Postecoglou’s first signing as head coach has addressed a long-standing issue.

Open-play chances created in past two seasons
Total open-play chances created
Harry Kane 102
Son Heung-min 81
Dejan Kulusevski 68
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg 53
Lucas Moura 38

Maddison’s best position is as a central attacking midfielder in the No 10 role, but Postecoglou is likely to set Spurs up in a 4-3-3 formation this season.

In that shape, Maddison could play on the right, floating infield, just as he did at times for Leicester City under Brendan Rodgers.

It is more likely, however, that he slots into one of the two box-to-box central-midfield positions instead.

Roaming role

Postecoglou likes his wide central midfielders to be creative, asking them to move towards the flanks to create triangles and overloads.

He also gives them freedom to push on high and make runs into the box from deep, a role which will suit Maddison, who enjoys being given freedom to roam.

He will seek out pockets of space when Spurs have possession and look to slide passes in behind for the front three, or make bursts into the 18-yard box himself.

Thanks to Opta Analyst, on this chart below you can see where he liked to get on the ball most last season.

Maddison touch map open play

Son Heung-min and Maddison could create a terrific chemistry.

Maddison worked well with Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy at King Power Stadium, regularly playing passes in behind for the duo.

While plenty of his key passes have come from set-pieces - 25 of 69 last season - there is no denying Maddison has proven pedigree when it comes to creating chances at the highest level.

Since he signed for Leicester in 2018/19, only Kevin De Bruyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold have supplied more key passes in the Premier League.

Chances created since start of 2018/19
Total chances created
Kevin De Bruyne 437
Trent Alexander-Arnold 373
James Maddison 347

Postecoglou has also added guaranteed goals to his squad by signing Maddison.

Over the course of the past three seasons, he has scored 30 times, averaging a goal every 239 minutes.

That record is better than one goal every three Premier League matches.

Maddison goals past three seasons
Maddison 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23
Goals 8 12 10
Right foot 6 7 8
Left foot 2 5 2
Outside box 3 3 3
Mins per goal 262.9 205.5 248.0
Conversion rate 16.3% 22.2% 18.9%

Maddison always carries a threat from outside the box, netting several memorable long-range strikes.

Eight of those came from brilliant direct free-kicks, ranking him second behind James Ward-Prowse for free-kick goals since 2018.

He is sure to be a central figure whenever Spurs are standing over a dead-ball situation.

One of the best creative midfielders in the league, Maddison can flourish under Postecoglou.

See: Analysis of 2023/24 summer signings

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