Ryan Mason v Sunderland Analysis: Will he be an integral part of Spurs squad this season?
Ryan Mason scored his first goal of the season after rounding off a 15-pass move in the 82nd minute with a subtle chip into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. The attacking play saw him initially receiving the ball wide from Kyle Walker, playing a slick one-two with Erik Lamela in the middle of the pitch; bypassing the Sunderland midfield, then taking advantage of the space left from Harry Kane dropping deeper, with a 3rd man run in the left centre-back position, freeing himself to be played in behind The Black Cats’ defence, and ultimately outwitting Pantilimon at the final step. Unfortunately for Mason, this was the last of his impact on the game as he was injured in the process and had to be substituted.
It was not just his influence on the scoresheet that Ryan Mason should be remembered after that game however, the 24-year-old’s presence could be seen in many departments of his play.
As you can see from the image above, Mason was involved in 5 out of 6 of the most common passing combinations. This highlights Mason’s large influence in the game. He would often drop out to receive the ball off the defence, this is backed by the numbers as the most frequent pass combination was from defender Ben Davies to Ryan Mason. This suggests he could now be the go-to guy to start moves off for Spurs, Pochettino will see this as a crucial skill for what is a key role at any club.
The image above displays all of Ryan Mason’s attempted passes v Sunderland. The dark blue arrows show successful passes, the red shows failed passes, and the light blue indicates created chances.
One thing that can be inferred from this graphic is the way Mason intelligently directed his passes to create space on the pitch. This is shown through the a large proportion of his passes being played out wide, usually to the fullbacks who often pushed forward. This stretched the Sunderland defence, allowing the likes of Son, Alli and Chadli to find pockets of space inside.
Ryan Mason attempted 69 passes on Sunday, more than any other player on the pitch by a reasonable margin; 29 of these being in the opposition’s final third. Also as you can see above, the majority of the Englishman’s passes were forward passes. In a time when so much emphasis is put on keeping possession, a growing number passes are either backwards or square, however Mason broke this mould against Sunderland, I assume in an attempt to be more direct against what has so far proven to be a below-par Sunderland defence.
Despite being away at the Stadium of Light, Tottenham Hotspur looked to control the game. But Sunderland displayed, what is in my opinion, their most promising performance so far this season, and if Mason had failed to dominate the midfield, it could have been a much more even game.
In conclusion, after his latest performance, I believe it is hard for the home-grown player not to be seen as an integral part of the Spurs lineup over this season. If he kept up this form it wouldn’t surprise if Roy Hodgson favoured him for his first England start in the not too distant future.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Kurt
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