Spurs boss Pochettino might stick with 3-4-3 system against West Ham
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Mauricio Pochettino will continue to weigh up the benefits of a 3-4-3 formation after changing his tactics for the last game against Arsenal, and the Tottenham manager says he could use the same system against West Ham tomorrow.
Pochettino has generally favoured a 4-2-3-1 set-up but he switched to three at the back for the Lilywhites’ last outing at the Emirates, using wing-backs for just the second time after setting his team up in the same way at Watford 11 months ago, on December 28.
The move surprised Arsenal, and possibly some of Tottenham’s players too, given they were only informed about the plan the day before the match.
But Pochettino feels the change is less significant than some might think, since his holding midfielder tends to drop back and split the centre-backs anyway when Spurs are in possession.
“I think it’s about sometimes finding a solution, trying to make a change to surprise the opponent,” said Pochettino. “I did it for different reasons. I explained last season when we played 3-4-3 at Watford.
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“If you compare the first season to the second season, we started to play with Eric Dier as a midfielder, but more of a centre-back than a midfielder. “You see how we play in possession, we play 3-4-3, or sometimes 3-3-1-3. You know that we play a lot in possession, with Dier dropped. If you take one video, and analyse it a little bit, you realise that we play like with three centre-backs.
“I think it is to try to find more solutions, to surprise the opponent, to provide a solution for the players that you have that they are more comfortable with, and maybe sometimes find better ways to go forward. There are different things that you can analyse, and then you take a decision.
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“Maybe we use that system on Saturday, or maybe not. Maybe we go back to four at the back. We’ll see, because we need to assess some players, we’ll see what happens.
“The most important thing is that the change did not affect the players, they changed very naturally. It is always knowledge for the players, that they can play in different positions, different tactical systems.
“That is always good, it is more rich, and we can change during the game if something doesn’t happen or we cannot find a way to win the game.”
Creativity has certainly been a problem for Tottenham in the last month – they have failed to score from open play in their last six games and are winless in seven matches.
Meanwhile, Pochettino’s players will need to keep an eye on Hammers star Dimitri Payet, who shone for France at Euro 2016 and has scored four goals for club and country so far this season. However, the Tottenham manager insists he will not be drawing up a plan to specifically nullify Payet’s threat.
“No, it was never my intention when I started as a manager, facing Cristiano Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi, to try to do something special or be focused on trying to stop this type of player,” he said.
“The most important thing is to try to recover the ball quickly, to have the ball more than them, to try to focus on how we need to damage our opponent.
“It’s true that when you are close, when you have a type of player like Payet in this case in front of you, the players who are in his zone need to be aggressive, tight, try to anticipate and not give him space to play. It’s true we’re talking about that, but it’s not a special mark on him. We never play like this.
“We have played against top players during our two and a half years at Tottenham and you can see we never focus on that type of player, like [Eden] Hazard or David Silva who can change a game.
“It is just that when you are in the space that he is, at that moment, you need to be more aggressive. We need to be aware and focused when we play this type of player.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs