Tottenham’s revival

by Mohamed

Tim SherwoodTottenham, since the sacking of Andres-Villas Boas, have attained a 3-1-0 record in the Premier League, and find themselves two points behind Liverpool for the final Champions League spot at 37 points. They’ve scored nine goals in their last four games, a goals per game pace of 2.25, which is much higher than what they’ve allocated all season at 1.2.

Their Total Shot Ratio, a strong correlation to team success, has always been very solid, now cresting at 0.614, the second best mark in the EPL. What’s changed though is their SH% and their PDO marks as a whole. PDO is simply just the addition of a team’s SH%’s and SV%’s. At this moment it’s the best metric to indicate with some certainty luck and what teams have it and what teams don’t.

1000 is considered average and teams above it usually regress to the mean while teams below it will regress back as well. There are exceptions, and as the piece I linked to explained, teams with extreme positive PDO marks are probably influenced a bit more by the talent at their disposal and solid TSR numbers, such as Manchester City.

What also should be remembered with SH%, SV% and PDO is that they’re not stats that are very repeatable and are very much fuelled by good fortune and variance. Case in point; This is what Tottenham’s PDO/SH%/SV% looked like after Tottenham’s 5-0 shellacking at the hands of Liverpool, and AVB getting the boot from Daniel Levy:

SH% SV% PDO
Tottenham 16.3 69.1 854

 

Here it is under Tim Sherwood:

SH% SV% PDO
Tottenham 52.9 75.0 1279

 

What’s more ridiculous; Tottenham through 16 weeks having by far the worst SH% and PDO in the EPL or Tottenham having a SH% of 52.9% and a PDO of 1279 in the last four matches? Neither were/are going to last, and a team of Tottenham’s calibre over a 38 game sample were going to crest back to league average luck, as their current PDO of 934 would indicate.

Tottenham have finally been the beneficiary of some sort of luck, the likes of which they couldn’t buy through 16 weeks of the season. What’s also helped Spurs has been the form of Christian Eriksen since the hiring to Tim Sherwood:

Key Passes Per Game Passes Per Game Touches Per Game SH% Conv%
Christian Eriksen  2 52.75 78.25 60% 20%

 

His play in the last four Premier League fixtures has nearly equalled the outstanding form he produced in Ajax earlier this season that earned him his move to North London:

Key Passes Per Game Passes Per Game Touches Per Game SH% Conv%
Christian Eriksen  3 59.3 80.75 41.7% 16.7%

 

He’s not the most athletically dynamic player you see, like a Yaya Toure for example, but he’s sharp as nails and in the win vs Manchester United, his run in the Spurs counterattacks set up both goals for Tottenham in their second win at Old Trafford in nearly two and a half decades.

Eriksen 1

Eriksen 1

Eriksen 1

Eriksen 1

Eriksen 1

This is the type of damage that Eriksen is able to do, and in Sherwood’s overhaul of the Spurs attack, less possession has made way for more pace and more width being used. Eriksen fits into this perfectly, and like attacking midfielders such as Coutinho or Mesut Ozil, he’ll drift in between the center midfield and the flanks. Though for this game he was listed as the LM with two center-forwards in Adebayor and Soldado, he also played in the middle quite often and according to Squawka, 31.42% of Eriksen’s action areas were in the CM to CAM part of the pitch while 38.57% was in the left flanks.

Tottenham have turned their season around since the managerial change. The luck that alluded Spurs through the first 16 weeks of the season has finally come and combined with Eriksen’s great stretch of games has revived hope for CL football to return to White Hart Lane. Other factors have contributed to Tottenham’s performances, including Adebayor’s goal output and a change in having more importance in width and the two strikers up front.

Tottenham’s next six fixtures include title contenders in Manchester City, who embarrassed them at the Etihad, and two teams who are vying for European football as well in Everton and Newcastle. So far Tottenham’s responded to a new manager via luck, an in-form Eriksen, formation changes and more, but there’s still much work left to be done.

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