The problems in Tottenham Hotspur’s four-match winless run

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Tottenham Hotspur can largely trace its four-match Premier League winless run to failing to do two things: scoring away goals and dead balls.

Are there other trends that should concern Mourinho’s men following dropped points in four-straight to end a seven-match stretch of fixtures versus Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Palace, Liverpool, Leicester City, and Wolves?

The lack of further attack is being linked to Jose Mourinho’s reputation and mentality, but the Portuguese says that’s not about instruction following Wolves’ late goal in a 1-1 draw with Spurs at the Molineux on Sunday.

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“We had 89 minutes to score more goals and we didn’t,” Mourinho said, via Football.London. “It was not just about not scoring goals, it was also about not being dangerous and not being ambitious. For me that’s the problem. Of course we can go back to a corner, we can say that in Liverpool we should win and we lost with a corner. We can say here we should win and we drew with a corner. You can say that against Crystal Palace we should win and drew with a lateral free-kick.”

A 23rd-minute Harry Kane goal at Selhurst Park became a 1-1 draw when Crystal Palace equalized off a third corner kick that led to a shot in four minutes, then Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino thumped a header home off a 90th-minute corner four days later at Anfield.

Throw in a weird 2-0 home loss to Leicester City where it seemed neither team wanted the ball — Spurs had 57 percent of it but only eight of the game’s 17 shots — and you’ve got 26 points instead of at least a share of the Premier League table lead.

Spurs have the second-stingiest defense in the Premier League this season, behind Man City and tied with Aston Villa. Only five of its 15 goals conceded have come in open play, with two off corners, four starting from free kicks, and another four from penalties.

And there are worrying signs within open play when it comes to the expected goals department. Spurs have scored 21 times from open play but its xG number is 14.38, while its five goals conceded in that situation is in stark contrast to its 11.52 in xGA.

Tottenham’s four-match Premier League winless run

Dec. 13: Crystal Palace 1-1 Spurs
Dec. 16: Liverpool 2-1 Spurs
Dec. 20: Spurs 0-2 Leicester City
Sunday: Wolves 1-1 Spurs

Eight goals have been conceded with Spurs ahead by at least a goal, 12 have come after half and eight of those arrived in the final 15 minutes or stoppage time.

Tottenham Hotspur
Source: understat.com/team/Tottenham/2020

Mourinho insists the late concessions are less of a worry than the lack of added finish.

“It’s more a concern the fact we score early goals and we don’t kill matches,” he said. “Of course in Liverpool it was about the post not wanting us to win the match and it’s not expected to go to Liverpool to have five, six or seven chances and score one, two, three or four goals. In this match, against Palace for example, are matches were by scoring an early goal you must have a go and it’s simple as that.

“Even defending very well, which we do as a team, that is not enough. It could be enough as if we defend that last quarter we win 1-0 and maybe now you are asking me different questions. But my feeling would be exactly the same, scoring in the first minute we had 89 minutes to score more goals and we didn’t.”

Spurs have now lost the xG battle in six of their last seven matches: the loss to Leicester City, wins over Man City and Arsenal, and draws with Chelsea, Wolves, and Palace (They out-performed Liverpool 1.52-1.22 in their 2-1 loss).

You’ll also note that those are very difficult matches. Improving and feisty Fulham is next followed by leaky Leeds and stout Aston Villa. Sheffield United is after that before Liverpool in North London.