Opinion: Analysing Ledley King’s influence on the Spurs defence

Image: SpursWeb

It has been seven months since Ledley King was appointed into Jose Mourinho’s coaching staff at Spurs. Therefore, our former captain has had over half a season in which to impart his experience on the players. So is King having the desired impact on our back four?

Let’s first look at the numbers. Despite how shaky our defensive line has been, the team has only conceded 28 goals all season. That’s basically one per game and puts Spurs at the joint-fourth best in the Premier League in this department.

Last year, the team ranked seventh in goals conceded, with 47 over the 38 games, averaging out at 1.2 goals a game conceded. So we can see slight improvements here.

But the statistic which stands out to me is the number of times the team has been dispossessed. Last term, Spurs’ players lost the ball to opposition players a woeful 437 times, beaten only by Crystal Palace in the league (Premier League).

This time around, however, Spurs sit 15th in this table. Ledley King himself, as a player, was a calm customer on the ball, and this was shown through the fact that King, up until 2004, was played frequently as a midfielder.

Therefore, it could be argued that possessing such a ball-playing centre-back on the coaching staff is rubbing off on the current crop. Knowing how comfortable King was at both retaining possession and passing, might this be an explanation as to why the squad are taking more care of the ball this season?

The other point which must be made is how much better the tackling of the team appears to be this season. And this is also shown through the stats.

In terms of number of tackles made in the league, Spurs sit eighth, whereas last season, we ranked sixth.

What’s interesting here though, is analysing the numbers of yellow cards issued to Tottenham players. The squad managed to accrue 82 yellow cards last season, averaging out at 2.15 yellows per game and only beaten by Arsenal.

However, this season, the team has only amassed 36 cards, averaging out at 1.3 cards per game, putting us as the fourth lowest in the league.

Given that most yellow cards occur due to mistimed tackles, one can infer that the accuracy of making tackles has improved within the squad. 

Throughout his Premier League career, King enjoyed an 80% success rate in his tackles, and despite making 268 appearances, the centre-back was only booked eight times, emphasising how effective Ledley was in the challenge.

Both of these statistics may be circumstantial, but as Ledley’s time as a coach within the club moves on, we’ll all be hoping that the King can gradually instil more of his defensive dominance within the team.

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