Talking Tactics

How Lo Celso is stepping up in Maddison's absence

By Adrian Clarke 6 Dec 2023
Giovani Lo Celso

Adrian Clarke says Spurs will look for midfielder to dictate the play against West Ham on Thursday

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 15.

Player analysis: Giovani Lo Celso

Since being recalled to the side, Lo Celso has started and scored in each of Tottenham Hotspur’s last two matches.

The Argentinian playmaker has added some of the guile that had been missing from midfield in James Maddison’s absence and is likely to be a key man for Ange Postecoglou during this busy December schedule.

West Ham United are likely to adopt a defensive, counter-attacking approach at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday, which means there will be a reliance on Lo Celso to show imagination.

The 27-year-old is a busy presence in midfield, always looking to get on the ball, so he suits his managers’ style of play.

Averaging 91.33 touches per 90 minutes this season, he will probe throughout this London derby, looking to find holes he can exploit.

Lo Celso’s classy left foot could be an issue for the Hammers if they retreat too deep.

He scored with a rasping left-footed deflected drive against Aston Villa 11 days ago, before curling a precise finish into the bottom corner from outside the box in Sunday's exciting 3-3 draw at Manchester City.

If David Moyes’ men do not get tight to Lo Celso, he is good enough to punish them from distance.

Scoring twice from three shots in 2023/24, he is in clinical form.

Lo Celso's goal v Man City
Dictating play

If West Ham are compact and hard to break down, it may require patience from Spurs to create good chances.

As a possession-heavy side under Postecoglou they are capable of wearing West Ham down with spells of persistent pressure - and in those periods Lo Celso will be an asset.

He played 79 minutes of the draw at Man City and successfully found a team-mate with 40 out of 40 passes in a top-class display.

Moving all over the pitch in a central midfield berth, Lo Celso did not give the ball away once. He will be trusted to keep Spurs' moves ticking over against West Ham.

Lo Celso v Man City
Burgeoning partnerships

In the home match against Villa, Lo Celso was more advanced in his positioning and teamed up especially well with left-back Destiny Udogie and left-winger Bryan Gil.

Rotating positions cleverly, Udogie and Lo Celso were always aiming to combine in a bid to make something happen inside the final third.

Lo Celso also played a number of forward passes down the left, allowing Gil to run at his markers.

With Brennan Johnson another option to start down that flank, West Ham’s right-hand side will need to concentrate hard to keep a lid on these new combinations.

Lo Celso passes to Gil v Aston Villa
Lo Celso to Gil
Lo Celso to Udiogie v Aston Villa
Lo Celso to Udogie
Different to Maddison

Lo Celso and the injured Maddison perform similar roles, roving around the pitch in order to create overloads and set up attacks, but they are not identical in style.

Creatively, Maddison is ahead, and he is someone who bursts into the opposition box far more regularly.

Yet Lo Celso offers a little bit more out of possession, working really hard to regain the ball.

He is a creative midfielder who regularly springs turnovers himself, currently averaging 7.54 recoveries per 90 minutes and making 2.2 tackles a match. 

Lo Celso v Maddison stats per 90 23/24
  Lo Celso Maddison
Recoveries 7.54 2.33
Tackles 2.22 1.52
Succ. passes 70.94 42.16
Chances created 1.77 3.14
Touches in opp. box 2.22 5.68

Spurs fans cannot wait to see Maddison return but, while he recovers from injury, Lo Celso has shown that he will provide highlights of his own.

It will be fascinating to see if he can impress again if Postecoglou hands him a third successive start.

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