I like this Tottenham side. I liked them so much I tipped Andre Villa-Boas to guide his new club to 4th place, finishing above arch rivals Arsenal. I liked this Tottenham side even more when I hear they had secured the signing of the dynamic ex-Fulham midfielder Dembele, a player every PL team should have been interested in.
Dembele, along with a few other key Spurs players, will be absent when for the visit to The Etihad on Sunday. This can only be good news for a Man City side who are struggling for peak form, for that same beautifully devastating play of last year, or so the media tell us.
How good are Tottenham, and more specifically, how good is their Premier League away form in 2012/13?
Tottenham away form
Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham
Reading 1-3 Tottenham
Man Utd 2-3 Tottenham
Southampton 1-2 Tottenham
Newcastle away, on the seasons first day, remain the only blemish on Villa-Boas' away record so far. An impressive 9 points in 4 games, including the excellent Old Trafford win.
Tottenham's average possession number is 45% away from home. This is a fair number. A number which is also lowered by the back's to the wall win at United where Tottenham registered only 26% possession, score effects can account for that specific total.
Man City are running at 55.8%. Expect Man City to win the possession battle. Possession in isolation means next to little, unless we talk of it as a containment tactic. It's really about what a team does with it's possession share; shots, shots on target, final third pressure.
A team who records a positive shot differential over the course of the season, is a team I feel comfortable in calling a good team. Spurs have a +4 shot differential per game.
Shots On Target
Shots on target is far, far more important a statistic, though. And in this important category Tottenham record a +1.5 SoT pg number.
What does it mean in the real world? Well, if we take the average of all the shots on target, from all positions and distances then we can say each shot on target, on average, has a 30% chance of going in.
A + 1.5 shot on target differential is a fantastic number. Can Tottenham sustain that number throughout the season?
Pdo ave is 100, scoring% ave is around 30% and save % ave is around 70%.
Tottenham's pdo number of 105.2 is a normal number, slightly above average for an away side, but not too low as to be alarmed and not too high as to be classed as a regression case. How Tottenham get to that slightly above average pdo score is important.
Tottenham's save % is well below average at 57.2%. Roughly put, 5 shots on target are conceding 2 goals.
The scoring % of this Tottenham side is what is really powering this good away form. Defoe has 4 away goals, Bale has 3 and Dempsey 2. These players are expected to perform, and to score, and so far they have done so. The Tottenham team scoring % of 45% is probably a touch too high to be sustainable throughout the season, especially when talking about away form.
This pdo tells us Tottenham haven't been overly lucky, are slightly shaky in terms of shots on target/goals conceded and are most definitely a potent attacking force, but a force who may see it's power regress by a minimum of 10 % points between now and seasons end.
Actual vs Expected Shots On Target +/-
Right, this one is slightly crazy. The above graph is trying to illustrate the importance of shots on target and more specifically the importance of shots on target differential.
I ran a few numbers which gave me Tottenham's expected shots on target for and against numbers, essentially a +/- differential. That is listed above (Blue) and shows us the expected +/- figure for each away game this season.
Tottenham's second away game was Reading. This can be classed as one of the easier away games a club may face, this is reflected by Tottenham heavily outclassing the opposition and also their own expected SoT +/- figure. Tottenham had a negative differential in the Man United away game but still hung on for a famous win.
In each of the other 3 away games, Tottenham have outperformed their expected numbers. This is a high event shot team, and an out chancing shot on target team.
Tottenham And The First Goal
Here we go again with the eye bleeding first goal chart.
Scoring the first goal is important. Very important. Tottenham have scored the first goal on 6 occasions and have earned 2.33 ppg from those six fixture. That ppg figure would deliver 89 points over the seasons course. Score first and the chance of winning that football game vastly increases.
Tottenham conceded the first goal on 4 occasions, recording 0.75 ppg, a record so bad that it would have seen the club that recorded such a season long ppg figure relegated with less points than Blackburn's had in 2011/12.
Score the first goal and good things happen.Man City have scored the first goal of the game in all five home games in 2012/13.
Tottenham Hotspur are a good team, with some excellent players in attacking positions. They also possess a good manager who despite his maligned reputation isn't as bad a man, or manager, as he apparently was at Chelsea, nor was Villa-Boas quite the messiah he was made out to be at Porto. He seems to be, to me, a very good coach with some excellent ideas about how the game is played. Width, pace, attacking threat, midfield rotation of players. The defense, so-so. His man management, not so good if you ask the reliable folk at Chelsea.
My point is thus; Villa-Boas will eventually get a very good tune of this attacking, dynamic Tottenham squad. If he is given time.
As for Sunday's game, Tottenham are a dangerous opponent, a high shot event team with a decent possession figure. They are a team that is scoring at a slightly inflated rate, but a team who will trouble this Man City back line at times, and may score at The Etihad.
Will Tottenham be able to concede less than they score? If Tottenham give up the 3.5 SoT average to Man City, then City will score. I will also say that Man City will probably record more shots on target than the Tottenham numbers expect them to.
This should be a very good game to watch, Man City are an extremely strong team at home in the PL, and Tottenham, so far this season, are one of the best away teams in the league with an array of attacking talent which should trouble Man City.
Both teams to score is the best bet.