Tottenham Hotspur are...
I would have finished that headline with unusual but to each their own. A bit of a preview for the North London Derby
At first glance things in the table look pretty close to normal (outside of perhaps Manchester City not being in first place, but let’s be realistic that is probably just a matter of time and Liverpool finding themselves down the table) this isn’t like the Bundesliga where Union Berlin are on top of the table but look pretty out of place.
Even Tottenham in third place doesn’t look out of place. This is the team with the second-best goal difference and the fourth-best expected goals difference.
But first glances can be a little deceiving, Tottenham are not undeserving of their spot but they have put themselves into this spot in a very unusual way that questions how long it can be sustained.
One of the best ways to illustrate this is to look at their stats compared to teams that in the past three seasons finished in the top 4, to see how Tottenham compare to them statistically.
In attack, they don’t look like the typical team but overall they are not massive outliers.
They are getting above-average goal production from a bit below-average xG production. We will get more into this in a little bit but the major item that surprises me here is that they are really poor at actually progressing the ball compared to their peer teams. They have one of the lowest overall progressive pass numbers among teams in the top four, this season they are tenth in the Premier League in progressive passes, with almost 10 fewer than teams like Arsenal or Chelsea.
They are also a rare “good” team that depends on crossing to generate passes completed into good locations, with nearly 25% of their deep completions coming from crosses. They are on the low side for overall deep completions (passes within 25 yards of goal) with 19 per match, which is 5 less than the typical 4th place team and well below the average of the teams that finish towards the top of the table.
That gives us a good opportunity to pivot back to their shooting, they have one of the worst overall xG per shot for teams that finished in the top four, which is surprising as they aren’t a team that has generated a ton of shot attempts that usually accompany that type of average quality and considering that they lead the League in direct shots with 1.5 per match.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial