After a poor run of form in which Spurs had failed to win six successive games, Mauricio Pochettino mixed up his tactics in a bold move in the North London derby by playing a five man defence.
Austrian Kevin Wimmer came in as the central defender, Eric Dier and Jan Vergtonghen were either side of him, while Kyle Walker and Danny Rose pushed on as wing backs, a role that is unfamiliar to two players used to operating in a back four.
Spurs’ run without a win may have extended to seven games, but there was a lot to be impressed with in their draw with their near neighbours. They started the game very well, and were able to come back into it after falling behind. There were times when they looked vulnerable, but considering they had never played this system before, the signs were largely positive.
A key component of this success was the role of Walker and Rose, who were both outstanding in their wing back roles. Walker, as always, bombed forward, causing many problems down the right hand side and linking up well with Christian Eriksen, who looked very good in the off centre attacking midfield position. His injury late on certainly contributed to Spurs being pushed back late in the game.
Rose had a similar impact on the game down the left, although against Walcott and Bellerin, did not have the same sort of impact as Walker was able to with his pace. Still, he defended well and got into some very good attacking positions, providing Harry Kane with a great chance that only stayed out thanks to a world class block from Nacho Monreal.
The system seemed to provide Spurs with something a bit different overall that suited the team reasonably well. They looked solid, as you would expect from Spurs, but perhaps slightly too defensive at times. With three centre backs, plus Wanyama and Dembele in midfield, Kane, Son and Eriksen. Dembele ran from deep and the full backs pushed on, but they needed more up front.
Although despite the slight limitations of the system, the use of Rose and Walker for width made the game a lot easier for the likes of Eriksen and Son to influence the game from further in field. Spurs’ front three looked very good, and the use of wing backs facilitated this.
The system does need work if Spurs are to persist with it, as they may not score enough goals with three at the back, but the early signs were promising. Walker and Rose are the ideal full backs to trial this new formation thanks to their pace and crossing ability, which gives this switch the opportunity to revitalise Spurs’ season.
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