Opinion: The problem in midfield and why Tanguy Ndombele needs to play deeper

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

This season, Spurs have kept a similar defensive six 6 in most games, with a back four and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Moussa Sissoko in holding roles.

In games such as Man City (2-0) and Chelsea (0-0), this was a good and sustainable backline due to the defending we had to do in order to limit chances for the opposition.

In this system, we would play a low block with Hojbjerg dropping between the two centre backs and Moussa Sissoko supporting Serge Aurier against quick players such as Timo Werner and Ferran Torres, and it worked.

However, in other games such as Wolves, Crystal Palace and Fulham, where we had to play out a defence a bit more, we saw many issues.

While Ndombele is more advanced in the ‘number 10’ position, we lacked a quick forward-thinking player who would ordinarily play beside Hojbjerg, create high-quality chances from deep, beat a man and break the lines.

We’ve seen numerous times this season when Dier slowly plays the ball into Sissoko in midfield, he’d play it back to Dier, the opposition would begin a press and Dier would lump it long to no one, resulting in us losing possession.

A simple short term solution would be to drop Ndombele from the 10 into the 8/6 to play alongside Pierre, putting either Lamela, Lo Celso or Dele in the 10 role.

Ndombele’s special ability to break lines with ease is something we should use to our advantage more often. This is a quality that Sissoko lacks and, although we have seen Harry Winks do it before, he has struggled in recent times.

Tanguy can set the tempo of our whole play, making it quick and snappy, which we saw at times in the first half versus Fulham when he dropped deep to try and create chances.

Having Ndombele play deeper could help us a lot more against teams sitting back from the start, thus allowing us to play out from the back quicker with his lovely disguised passing and dribbling ability, breaking the opposition lines and press.

Once the ball gets moved to midfield from Dier or Toby, Tanguy has the ability to quickly turn and spot a pass up to Kane or Son.

If he is too high, he’s not involved enough in the game, but with him deeper, we could see him dictating play more and setting a better and quicker tempo for our transition play.

We don’t necessarily have good enough ball-playing centre backs to play through a high and quick press that a team like Liverpool would force against us, causing us to use another approach.

However, against teams such as Sheffield United whose press would be deeper, we should, in my opinion, drop Tanguy back and watch him and Spurs prosper.

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