Tottenham star blames pitch for lack of goals – fair point?

Mousa Dembele has stated that the narrow nature of the White Hart Lane pitch has made it more difficult for Andre Villas-Boas’ men to break down opponents.

Despite an enterprising start to the new season, Tottenham have struggled to hit the net as regularly as they would like, especially given the players that have been bought over the summer.

The north London side have only scored nine goals in their opening nine Premier League games, and struggled to break down a determined Hull side on Sunday.

Midfielder Mousa Dembele, who came off the bench at half-time against Steve Bruce’s men, has another theory to why Spurs have not been as free-scoring as they would like.

The Belgium international has stated that the fact that Spurs’ pitch is smaller than equivalents in the Premier League means the hosts have less space to play in.

“It’s not easy for us,” Dembele told the Evening Standard.

“We know that some teams are going to come here and make a block, and we don’t have a big pitch so it’s even more difficult.

“A small pitch makes it harder. If we have more space, it’s easier for us but we have to find a way.

“It’s maybe a bit easier for us when teams try to attack us. It was a similar situation last year in games like this.

“We hardly ever win them comfortably but we have a lot of quality in the squad, so there must be a way to find it and I think we will.”

White Hart Lane is 100 metres long and 67m wide, less than a significant amount of other Premier League sides.

However, despite the seemingly smaller area in which to play and Dembele’s complaints, the game against Hull counteracts the argument.

Although Spurs started the game with two out-and-out wingers in the form of Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon, a lot of their attacking intent was focussed through the middle of the park.

Both widemen were guilty of coming in-field onto their stronger foot, and on very few occasions did they spend concerted periods close to the touchline.

Despite the reported smaller area to play in, Tottenham did not help themselves by not fully using the full width of the pitch.

This is especially evident as both attacking full-backs, Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen, were seldom involved in the final third, despite their opponents dropping deep.

For future games that Tottenham dominate at home, an emphasis on width and keeping Townsend and other widemen on the touchlines will help. As a result, opponents will have a greater area to cover, become stretched and this should allow more space centrally for creative players such as Paulinho, Christian Eriksen and Lewis Holtby.

Dembele’s comments on the size of the pitch should be taken into account, but cannot be used as a wholehearted excuse for Tottenham failing to break opponents down.

image: © Shiraz Chakera

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