Jasmine Baba digs deep into the statistics behind Tottenham’s recent form. After their winning streak ended at the weekend, a closer look at the numbers reveals that Spurs should brace themselves for an incoming dip in results…
Tottenham were defeated 2-1 by London rivals Chelsea in Saturday’s early kick-off. It wasn’t a surprising result, especially to most Spurs fans. Although they had enjoyed three wins on the bounce prior to Saturday, something hadn’t felt quite right.
The start of this winning run came after a torrid Christmas period: losing at home to Frank Lampard’s side and, although winning at home to Brighton, following up with a draw away to Norwich, defeats against Southampton and Liverpool, and another draw against Watford. Winless in four games, Spurs managed to scrape past Norwich in a match that kicked off this good bit of form. José Mourinho started to grind out wins.
But there’s a problem when statistics don’t back up victories. Quite frankly, Tottenham have been riding on luck. And here’s how.
Tottenham 2-1 Norwich
The first of the winning run came against rock-bottom club Norwich. Relegation-fodder should basically be swept aside by clubs trying to make the Top Four — but the Canaries did beat defending champions Manchester City, so maybe deserve a little more respect.
Although Mourinho’s men created the better of chances here (Expected Goals 2.22 – 1.36), the visitors kept the pressure up and shared equal amounts of possession, having two shots on goal compared to Tottenham’s three. However, the only goal for Norwich was their penalty: not from open play. In the end, although closer in quality than the league table suggests, Spurs were right to win this one.
Tottenham 2-0 Manchester City
Strange as it sounds, Spurs got hammered in their second win.
On a fundamental level, the home side only had 33% possession, and only three shots which were all on target. Compare this to all the possession the visitors had — plus the fact that five shots out of their 18 were on target — and you wouldn’t expect the match to end on a 2-0 scoreline. At an xG level it’s even worse; by half-time Tottenham had created nothing (xG 0-1.67) and at the final whistle it was still an astounding 0.43-3.23 in City’s favour.
Fortunately for Spurs, the defending champions had missed a penalty to keep it all-square, and their luck increased when Oleksandr Zinchenko was sent off. City going down to 10 men was another pivotal moment, with Tottenham taking advantage of having an extra man, scoring just three minutes after Zinchenko’s dismissal. Lady luck had Mourinho on her cards.
Aston Villa 2-3 Tottenham
This match was a tale of two halves. It was rather even in the first 45 minutes in terms of chances: two shots on goal against three, an xG of 0.88-1.30, but Aston Villa had more of the possession. In the second half, the hosts evened things up to make it 2-2, but the away team, for once, was truly dominant. Seven shots on target proceeded for Spurs, and an xG of 1.68-3.72 at the end of the 90 minutes.
But stats don’t tell you everything.
The match remained at 2-2 until deep into injury time and, as luck would have it, Villa’s Bjorn Engels mis-kicked the ball into Heung-Min Son’s path to score the winner. Yes, Spurs deserved to win, but not in the way they did.
There are alarming underlying stats in both Tottenham’s wins and their losses. They have conceded at least two goals in 10 Premier League away games this season, which hasn’t occurred since the 2008/09 season campaign, when it happened 11 times.
On top of this, their on-the-road form is woeful: they are 11th place in the table in terms of away results. If you dig deeper into xG statistics, and project these stats into Spurs’s league position on Expected Goals For v Expected Goals Against, they’d be 12th. Luck is running out for Tottenham. Without Son or Harry Kane, expect their form to worsen.
Follow Jasmine on Twitter @_BabsJ