Tottenham Hotspur are enjoying a sort of resurgence of late. The north Londoners have managed to string a run of seven consecutive matches in the Premier League without defeat. Their first, last and only loss in the league this season came against Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening day, helped by a goal from one of their own players.
Ever since the opening day of the season, and perhaps throughout the summer even, things have looked strangely different for Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino has built his side around a core of young players, led by the energetic Harry Kane. Captain Hugo Lloris and centre-back Jan Vertonghen are the most experienced regulars.
Tottenham have even bought young this summer; the likes of Clinton N’Jie, Son Heung-min and Kieran Trippier are signings that don’t inspire much, but their average age of 23 says a lot about where Pochettino wants his team to be at, and how he wants his players to play, and the related mechanisms and dynamics associated.
Spurs host Liverpool this weekend. The game will welcome former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp to English football as the Liverpool boss. Klopp is known to embrace a style of football that demands a lot of running from his players, but on Saturday he could face a Spurs side equally adept at outrunning their opponents.
Data courtesy of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the Official Player Rating Index of the Barclays Premier League
This season, the Lilywhites have outrun every opponent they have faced. On average, Spurs have run 5.4km more than their opponents per match. Their energetic approach reached its zenith when they ran 121.3km against Manchester City last month, running more than 10km more than their opponents. City were suffocated, and left north London with tails between their legs after a 4-1 loss.
Their recent upturn in form, four wins in their last five league outings, can be clearly attributed to their players running that extra yard, resulting in covering more distance per game cumulatively than their opponents. There are clear signs that Spurs’ tactics are basically centred around getting the their opponents beaten by their highly energetic and tireless approach.
While Klopp will be looking to impose his own identity on the Liverpool side left bereft of any identity by ex-manager Brendan Rodgers, a leaf out of the books of Pochettino and Spurs will definitely come handy for the German. Saturday’s game is a showcase of high-intensity, heavy running football and Spurs under Pochettino are presently the standard bearers of a style which Klopp identifies himself with.