A statistical analysis on why Erik Lamela is faltering for Spurs

Erik Lamela

Tottenham's record signing has found himself struggling with the attacking elements of his game this season.

Erik Lamela's 2014-15 season started so well, with an encouraging preseason where he scored several goals backed up by some strong performances in the first month or two of the campaign.

But Rabona goals aside, the Argentine has failed to impress consistently for his countryman Mauricio Pochettino, despite getting plenty of opportunities, and in recent weeks has found himself out of the side with Andros Townsend, a player not without his own critics, coming in.

Below we look at statistics that indicate how Lamela has performed this year, while also comparing his data to his teammates to see what his role has been, and where he may be going wrong.

  PositionTeamDuel WonEffective Blocked CrossFoulsAerial WonEffective ClearanceWon TackleInterceptionAppearancesMins Played
Erik Lamela MF Tottenham 141 0 39 5 9 46 29 24 1710
Danny Rose DF Tottenham 131 19 37 22 51 48 46 21 1750
Jan Vertonghen DF Tottenham 123 11 17 61 159 32 49 24 2090
Harry Kane FW Tottenham 121 2 26 32 17 21 13 24 1687
Ryan Mason MF Tottenham 116 1 19 12 32 54 26 21 1579
Nacer Chadli MF Tottenham 76 1 17 17 13 16 11 25 1635
Andros Townsend MF Tottenham 37 1 5 1 1 13 7 12 571

We begin by looking at some defensive contributions by Lamela, something he has been applauded for at times this year. No player has won more ground duels for possession than the 23-year-old, an encouraging sign of the tenacity he has shown this season. Lamela has also won an impressive 46 tackles, one of the highest at the club, and has made more interceptions than the other wingers at Spurs.

But there are plenty of areas where Lamela, from a defensive perspective, has faltered. He has underwhelming figures when it comes to blocking crosses, winning headers, and clearing the ball. His 39 fouls, the highest in the side, show that he is a willing, yet risky challenger, and comparing him to Ryan Mason, who has won more tackles but conceded half as many fouls, sheds light on why happily utilising Lamela from a defensive perspective may not be a good idea. That a great many of these fouls have been clumsy attempts to win the ball that have gifted the opposition a dangerous free kick should not go unnoticed either.

  PositionOn target Scoring AttemptsGoalsTotal Scoring AttGoal AssistTotal Att AssistWon ContestPassing AccuracyTouchesAppearancesMins Played
Christian Eriksen MF 22 9 81 2 68 35 82.63% 1994 28 2302
Harry Kane FW 33 16 77 3 20 34 75.59% 1009 24 1687
Nacer Chadli MF 17 8 38 5 33 24 84.29% 1021 25 1635
Ryan Mason MF 12 1 34 3 19 13 82.23% 1355 21 1579
Erik Lamela MF 7 1 29 5 39 46 82.34% 1316 24 1710
Andros Townsend MF 7 2 15 2 9 9 79.15% 420 12 571

Offensively, the winger hasn't imposed himself as he would have liked. Despite Lamela having more minutes on the pitch than any of the above except Christian Eriksen, he has only contributed one goal to Tottenham's cause, and is also behind everyone else when it comes to attempts on goal. Even Andros Townsend has had more efforts when you break attempts down into minutes played per effort. When you look at how many of Lamela's attempts are on target, things get even worse - Townsend has already matched the former's dismal seven on target shots.

Lamela has assisted five goals, the joint-highest for the side, but this is still some way short of the total contribution to goals that wing rival Nacer Chadli has put forward (involved in 13 Premier League goals). That two of these assists have come from dead ball situations also show that the former Roma man isn't as involved during open play as he should be.

Given the amount of touches the Argentine has registered, as well as the fact he has dribbled past more players (46) than any other Spurs man, it is disappointing to see how little he has threatened the goal himself, and though his work rate should be commended, Spurs didn't pay upwards of £26 million for a defensive winger.

Mauricio Pochettino has to find a way to make Lamela more influential in and around the goal, as he is a long way off the 21 goals in two seasons at Roma that made him one of the top prospects in world football. But what is frustrating are that those figures in Serie A prove Lamela can be a goal threat. This is without a doubt the area the player can best affect the game - whether this fits in with Pochettino's demand for committed, pressing midfield players is really what will decide whether Lamela can be a success at White Hart Lane.

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