In Focus: Defending set pieces

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

With a severe lack of any standout performers in today’s defeat to Watford, we take a closer look at the defensive shortcomings in regards to set pieces.

It was a decent game from Spurs, but they lacked any real creativity or spark in the final third, having to rely on a fortunate bounce for their own-goal breakthrough.

Harry Kane was forced to feed off scraps all game, and the wing backs were never quite able to get in behind to the by-line.

One thing you would expect from today’s line up was a solid defensive display, with a big back three of Alderweireld, Sanchez and Vertonghen.

For the majority of the game, their aerial success was extremely impressive, with Gray and Deeney only winning headers a small number of times.

However, from set pieces, this seemed to go out the window.

For Deeney’s equaliser, Watford’s main man was left completely unmarked and unchallenged for the entirety of the delivery.

Considering that Tottenham had three centre backs to mark the two strikers, as well as the likes of Kane and Alli doing their defensive duties, this was simply unforgiveable, and acted as the catalyst to Watford’s win.

Previous to this, Spurs looked to be ramping up the pressure, enjoying the new open nature of the game as Watford chased a goal.

As soon as the hosts were allowed back in the fixture, they looked the more likely to steal the result, and it eventually came from a familiar route.

Another Holebas delivery, and another set piece goal, this time Cathcart rising highest to nod home the winner.

Once again, questions were asked of the Tottenham rear line, as the big centre half completely lost his man to head the ball into the back of the net.

All too simple. All too easy for Watford.

On the other side of the coin, Watford’s defenders stayed tight to their men, powerful in the air, and clear in their decision making. Despite having far more set pieces, Spurs offered very little in that respect, mainly down to a well marshalled Hornets performance.

A sobering defeat for Tottenham, and a key area for them to work on. You can bet that sides will be watching on, making a note to target the clear defensive frailty.

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  1. Why did Poch go to a back three away from home, when the back four at Old Trafford worked so well, I just can not understand the thinking of that set up.


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