Talking Tactics

How Johnson will add speed to Spurs' attack

10 Sep 2023
Brennan Johnson TOT 2

Adrian Clarke says Premier League's second-fastest player can be a key figure under Ange Postecoglou

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Player analysis: Brennan Johnson (Spurs) 

We are yet to see Johnson play for a possession-based side, so it will be fascinating to keep an eye on how he settles in at Tottenham Hotspur.

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Under Ange Postecoglou, Spurs are currently averaging a 59 per cent share of the ball, which is more than Johnson has been used to at Nottingham Forest.

Even on loan at League One side Lincoln City during 2020/21, he was part of a team that enjoyed only 51 per cent of possession.

The 22-year-old’s lightning pace makes him a major threat on the counter-attack when running into open spaces, but how will he fare when trying to unlock deeper lying blocks?

See: The numbers that show how Postecoglou has transformed Spurs

There is a nice blend to Spurs' football under their new head coach.

While they do like to boss the lion's share of possession, Spurs are also willing to play longer passes in behind an opposition defence when an opportunity arises.

We saw that for the first and third goals scored by Son Heung-min at Burnley in a 5-2 success last time out.

In situations like this, Johnson is certain to come to the fore.

Postecoglou started Son, his quickest forward, up front at Turf Moor, playing on the shoulder of the last defender, but the Spurs captain is nowhere near as quick as Johnson.

Johnson is the second-fastest Premier League player and could easily fill that striker’s role.

Fastest PL players v Spurs players (2022/23~)
Player (Overall) Speed (km/h) Player (TOT) Speed (km/h)
Walker 37.31 Danjuma* 36.34
Johnson 36.70 Sessegnon 34.74
Mudryk 36.63 Romero 34.61
Gordon 36.61 Perisic 34.59
Nunez 36.53 Son 34.51

*Now at Everton

We are more likely to see him compete with team-mates such as Dejan Kulusevski or Manor Solomon for a start on the wing, but Johnson could be used anywhere across the forward line.

James Maddison’s ability to slide clever through-balls in between defenders, might just bring the best out of Johnson.

That is a combination rival teams will fear.

Turn to Johnson

Johnson could initially start on the bench, ready to come on when matches become stretched, or when defenders start to tire.

In matches where Spurs are forced back, he will also be a terrific option for them to quickly turn defence into attack.

Johnson is a low-touch player, averaging only 26.97 per 90 minutes last season, but can be devastating when racing beyond the last man.

In 2022/23 only two Premier League players, Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane, had more shots from fast breaks.

Shots from fast breaks 2022/23
Player Total
Mohamed Salah 16
Harry Kane 13
Brennan Johnson 12
Son Heung-min 9
Marcus Rashford 9

If he gets regular football under Postecoglou, Johnson could top this list at the end of the current season.

Sharpen up

Playing for Spurs, the way Johnson looks after the ball will need to improve.

Last season his pass accuracy was a lowly 62.81 per cent, whereas his like-for-like counterparts at Spurs were averaging between 72 and 83 per cent.

To gain regular starts, Johnson must also prove he’s a more lethal finisher than Spurs' other attacking options and his 17.39 per cent conversion rate will need to rise.

If Johnson settles quickly, Spurs will have another exciting addition to their new-look attack.

Also in this series

Part 1: Gravenberch's versatility can bring balance to Liverpool midfield
Part 2: Why combative Amrabat can resolve Man Utd's midfield issues
Part 4: How Nunes can bring new dimension to Man City's play

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