Why Vincent Janssen isn't scoring goals

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

There's been a lot of talk in the media about Vincent Janssen's underwhelming start to life at Spurs, and although as a fanbase we've seen the great hold up work he does and are mostly preaching patience, a grand total of two goals from the penalty spot in his first couple of months at the club aren't going to make the Soldado comparisons go away (and nor am I).

One common explanation you hear is that he's doing too much work in the wrong part of the pitch. That he should be getting in the box rather than helping out on the wing. A look at yesterday's passing map could back this up. These are the passes to Janssen, i.e. the end of every yellow arrow is where he received the ball:

Notice all the times he's helping out on the left, and the big empty space in the middle where you'd typically want your centre forward to be?

However, these passing maps only show on-ball actions, and watching last night's game it became apparent that the cause and effect of this theory is mixed up. Janssen moves out wide to get involved in the game, because when he's in the middle, making the runs we want him to make, he's not going to end up with a little yellow arrow.

In that clip there were two clear chances to play him through, first it went wide and then much to Janssen's dismay Nkoudou took a speculative shot rather than make the easy pass.

Want some more examples from yesterday? There were plenty. Watch Janssen's positioning and body language in the following instances. I haven't highlighted him but to help you out, he's the one on the shoulder of the last man, pointing where he wants the ball to be played:

Our game plan does not seem to be to look for Janssen early but instead to spread the ball wide and try to hit him with a cross.

To make this point more clearly, here is that passing map again but only showing balls he received from the attacking band - that's Onomah, Carroll, Nkoudou, Lamela and Harrison:

He received more balls from Davies than from all of them put together.

It isn't just our youth-teamers who are guilty of this. Looking at WhoScored stats for the Premier League, only three Spurs players have played a successful through ball this season. One is Janssen himself, and another is Son, who at the moment seems to be playing as an alternative rather than a compliment to Janssen. (The other is Alli, who also sat out yesterday's game).

If we're moving forwards the AMs always look to play the ball wide, and if Janssen wants to get involved then his best bet is to move out there to receive it. Last night only one cross from Trippier found Janssen in the box, similarly Walker and Rose do provide excellent attacking width but neither is noted for their crossing ability, so it's no surprise that our attack seems stodgy at the moment.

The Soldado comparison may be unpopular but when he first arrived he was making futile runs behind the defence too, until he decided it wasn't worth it and altered his game to get more involved. Soldado might not have been successful in England but his time here helped him transition from one of the leading scorers in Spain, to one of the leading creators there three years later.

It is surely far more beneficial to alter our team plan slightly this time than for Janssen to similarly alter his game. Spurs should look to vary their attack with more quick balls through the middle, and hopefully once this happens Janssen will be able to add goals to his otherwise excellent play.

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