Tottenham's ability to seamlessly move between a three and a four at the back has gone from strength to Achilles heel

But having seen the goals they have shipped this season, I have changed my mind and their defence is becoming a big problem for Mauricio Pochettino.

It’s not so much the number of goals they let in, more the way they are conceding.

All of the eight goals against them have come from crosses — four from set-pieces and four from open play.

But it’s not as though they deal with a lot — Spurs rank second bottom in the league for crosses and corners faced!

And when you dig deeper, it’s obvious that what I thought was a big plus — their tactical flexibility — has quickly become a hindrance.



Pochettino has gone with a back four on four occasions this season and a back three twice — but they are yet to play the same personnel in back-to-back games.

In comparison, joint-leaders Liverpool and Chelsea picked the same back four for every league game.

Spurs looked very comfortable at switching between the two systems last season but it’s become apparent how tough they are now finding it.

I know how difficult it is as a defender to constantly switch, as your role becomes very different depending whether you’re in a three or four.

When you go to a four, the areas you are covering become a lot more specific.

Looking at the goals Spurs have let in, it’s clear that the positioning of the defenders has been wrong

When playing a four, as seen in the graphics against Newcastle, I was always taught that if the ball is coming down your left, the left-back confronts the crosser.

Your left-sided centre-back moves on to the near post, the right-sided one covers the middle of the goal, while the right-back tucks in to cover the far post.

When playing a three, if the left-sided centre-back meets the crosser, everyone shifts over.

Your middle centre-back is on the near post, the right-sided one is in the middle and the right wing-back covers the far post.

The chopping and changing from Pochettino has caused confusion dealing with crosses — and it’s obvious there are serious problems defending corners, too.

They have had different players taking up different positions every week.

It becomes almost impossible to get used to each other and to become comfortable knowing who you are going to pick up.

Tottenham have great individuals at the back, all of whom I rate as quality players.

But they are not being helped at all by the constant changes in system and personnel.

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