How Tottenham took advantage of 2v1’s in wide areas to exploit Arsenal 3-4-2-1

by Michael Stauber


Tottenham 4-2-3-1

Tottenham took advantage of Arsenal’s new 3-4-2-1 shape by reverting back to an old favorite of Pochettino, the 4-2-3-1.  The main advantage of changing to this shape would come through the extra man they would have on the wings in attack.  This was mostly evident on the left hand side, where Oxlaide-Chamberlain struggled with either picking up the extremely stretched Ben Davies, or staying more central to help combat arguably player of the match Wanyama or Dele Alli. More times than not, Oxlaide-Chamberlain stayed central, leaving Gabriel Paulista with both Heung-Min Son and Ben Davies to deal with.

Spurs repeatedly took advantage of this tactical mismatch, as evident in the stat that 47% of their attacks came through the left-hand side.  The movements were simple enough.  As the ball was moved to the Left-Sided CB, Jan Vertonghen, Son would move inside of Paulista to force him to tuck in.  Here is one example of this happening:

Here you can see Son inside of Paulista (who is out of shot), while Davies sits extra wide on the touchline (also out of shot), forcing Paulista into a decision.  Also, you can see that Oxlaide-Chamberlain has been asked to stay tucked in centrally, to block balls into Son’s feet.

Here the ball is played wide into Davies feet, which immediately creates a 2v1:

The ball is played in first time for Son, who’s cross doesn’t find a target.


Only 2 minutes later we see this repeat itself.  Vertonghen receives the ball, and looks to find Davies, as Son moves central:

The ball is knocked down for Son, which immediately makes another 2v1 wide:

Paulista wrongly steps into Son, which leads to a penetrating pass.  Davies cross hits the side net, but it illustrates clearly the idea Tottenham were looking for.

So, how can you get your teams to take advantage of these same tactical ideas?  Here we will break down a practice session, where you can teach your team how to create 2v1 situations on the wings, through tucking in Wingers.