Spurs arrested their alarming slump at the Emirates before the international break, switching to a back three system that helped them to a 1-1 draw against Arsenal. It was just the second time in Pochettino’s tenure that he has played with a back three, the first being a one-off at Watford last Christmas. But Pochettino was so impressed with how comfortable his players were in the system that he is weighing up using it again.
“Maybe we use that system on Saturday, or maybe we go back to four at the back,” Pochettino said. “We’ll see what happens, because we need to assess some players.”
But Pochettino took heart from how quickly his players adjusted to the new system, how it gave them more width and more threat.
“The most important thing is that the change did not affect the players, they changed very naturally,” Pochettino said. “That knowledge for the players, that they can play in different positions, different tactical systems, is always good. It is more rich, we can change during the game if something doesn’t happen or we cannot find a way to win the game.”
Eric Dier played as a centre-back at the Emirates, but Pochettino pointed out that his normal role, dropping in between the centre-backs in possession, made Spurs more comfortable in this system anyway. That meant it was easier to adapt when 3-4-1-2 became the starting formation.
“If you compare the first season [2014-15] to the second season [2015-16], we started to play more with Eric Dier as a midfielder, but more of a centre-back than a midfielder,” he said. “You see how we play in possession, we play 3-4-3, or 3-3-1-3. You know that we play a lot in possession, with Dier dropped. If you take one video, and analyse a little bit, you realise that we play like with three centre-backs.”Reuse content