Football Features

Eight worrying stats behind Spurs’ poor form threatening to undo progress of Pochettino era

By Harry Edwards

Published: 9:16, 8 October 2019

It was only a few weeks ago that Mauricio Pochettino was in the top three for FIFA’s The Best Men’s Coach award.

The Argentinian received widespread recognition for guiding Tottenham Hotspur to their first ever Champions League final, overcoming obstacles in dramatic circumstances along the way.

It was the culmination of five years’ work for Pochettino, who arrived at Spurs with the club in limbo after Tim Sherwood’s brief run in charge but turned the north London side from Europa League contenders to top-four regulars.

But in reality this has been a poor year for Spurs, with the 2019/20 campaign highlighting the sorry state of things in north London. Poor recent results have even seen Pochettino linked with leaving Tottenham, whether of his own accord or by being sacked, despite the progress he has made over the years.

So just how bad has it been for Spurs? We’ve taken a look at the worrying stats being their poor form.

1. Premier League’s worst away record

Starting with one almost everyone in football will have heard of, Tottenham have grown to hate playing away under Pochettino.

The north London side are yet to win in six games away from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this season, drawing three and losing three – counting the Carabao Cup penalty-shootout defeat to Colchester United, though more on that later.

But the poor away form in the Premier League actually stretches into last season. Spurs have not won away in the Premier League since a 2-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage on January 20, with the Cottagers eventually getting relegated.

10 games have passed since, with Spurs conceding 18 goals in eight defeats and two draws, failing to score four occasions. No team to have featured in both the 2018/19 and 2019/20 Premier League seasons has won fewer away matches than Tottenham’s two in 2019.

And things don’t look like getting better anytime soon, with their next away trip taking them to Anfield, where Liverpool are unbeaten in the league in 44 matches.

2. Barely breaking even

Despite reaching the 2019 Champions League, Tottenham have been poor this year and it has shown in their results.

In 2019 so far Spurs have lost 18 games across all competitions, including their penalty shootout defeat to Colchester United, with five coming already this season. This is more than any other ever-present Premier League side has recorded this calendar year.

But not only that, with 18 defeats, Spurs have actually lost more games than they have won this year – recording 17 victories.

And even if you don’t consider the Colchester penalty shootout defeat to be a loss, given the draw after normal time, it’s still the same amount of wins and defeats in 2019. This just isn’t acceptable for a club trying to assert themselves as one of the best in England.

3. Biggest home defeat by an English side in Europe

Spurs have somewhat been brought back down to earth in the Champions League this season after their trip to Madrid in June.

Opening the campaign with a draw to Olympiacos, Spurs were ready to test themselves against a European giant in Bayern Munich. After some promise at the start, the north London side were absolutely pulled apart, eventually losing 7-2.

This represents the biggest-ever margin of defeat by an English team at home in any European competition, beating rivals Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat at the hands of Bayern in 2017.

4. An overly generous defence

Not only was the 7-2 defeat to Bayern the worst defeat of an English team at home in any European competition, but it was also the first time Spurs have let in seven goals at home in any major competition.

Spurs would have been hoping to put the defeat behind them quickly when they traveled to Brighton, but the 3-0 defeat only made things look worse. It was the first time Spurs have conceded 10 goals in two matches since December 1997.

Then, Chelsea left White Hart Lane with a 6-1 win before Coventry put four unanswered goals past Spurs the following game. Tottenham did win their next game 3-0 though, so things could be looking up when winless Watford travel to north London after the international break.

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5. Inability to hold a lead

The best teams know how to keep hold of a lead when they get them, either adding to their advantage or squeezing the energy out of oppositions to grind to a tight win. But that hasn’t been Spurs this season.

Across both the Premier League and Champions League this season, Tottenham have dropped 10 points from winning positions so far. In the Premier League, Spurs squandered a 2-0 lead over north London rivals Arsenal to draw 2-2 before allowing Leicester City to come back from a goal down to win 2-1.

Then in the Champions League there was another lost 2-0 lead ending in a 2-2 draw, this time against Olympiacos, before Bayern Munich fought back from 1-0 down to win 7-2.

6. Hugo Lloris’ uncertainty in goal

Another big factor for club’s wishing to be the best is having a solid defence and goalkeeper. Liverpool’s successes in the Champions League last season came following the arrival of Alisson combined with the performances of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and co.

Tottenham just don’t seem to have that right now, with Hugo Lloris proving to be less than reliable at key moments.

Since the start of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign, the French goalkeeper has made 10 errors leading to goals. No player in the division has made more, with former Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic level on 10.

Two of Lloris’ 10 errors have come this season and in back-to-back games. The first came against Southampton as he was tackled pretty much on the goal-line by Danny Ings after a terrible attempt at a Cruyff Turn. The following weekend he dropped a cross from Brighton’s Adam Webster, allowing Neil Maupay to score and dislocating his elbow in the aftermath.

Although all wish him a speedy recovery, the enforced absence through injury could help Lloris to return in a better state in the long-term.

7. Cup exit to a lower league side

We’ve mentioned it a few times already, but Tottenham’s penalty shootout defeat to League Two side Colchester United was a massive shock – even with the way Spurs have been playing.

It was the first time Spurs have been knocked out of a cup competition by a lower league side under Pochettino, and the first time the Argentinian has suffered that fate even when including his spell in charge of Southampton.

Leeds United were the last lower league side to knock Spurs out of a competition, with Luke Varney and Ross McCormack scoring a 2-1 win in the FA Cup fourth round in 2013 – Clint Dempsey scored the consolation for Tottenham.

8. Worst Premier League start since Pochettino’s first season

A lot has been said in recent weeks about Tottenham not looking much different from the team Pochettino first inherited in 2014, with similar problems affecting Spurs right now. And it’s translating to the numbers.

Tottenham are currently ninth in the Premier League table after eight games having won three, drawn two and lost three, accumulating 11 points in total. That’s the worst it has been for Pochettino at this stage of a season since he took charge.

Spurs must hope the only way is up, or their form will soon become a full-blown crisis.

In his Pochettino’s season in charge, Spurs were ninth after eight games, having won three, drawn two and lost three, accumulating 11 points. The only difference is that Pochettino have a slightly better goal difference of +2 now compared to -1 in 2014/15.

Spurs ended that campaign in fifth which was considered a good start for Pochettino, but given the club’s evolution over the past few years, that same finish would now be thought of as a step back.