Tottenham Hotspur will have to get used to playing on a larger pitch at home next season. As reported in the Times of London, Spurs have had their request to reduce the size of the pitch at Wembley Stadium rejected by the 20 Premier League club chairmen, and they will play their matches with the standard pitch size in the national stadium.
At White Hart Lane, Spurs had one of the smaller pitch sizes in the Premier League, with dimensions of 100 meters long and 67 meters wide. That’s short of FA regulations, which standardized pitches at 105x68, but Spurs were one of several clubs that had an exemption from the guidelines due to the fact that their old stadium didn’t allow for a pitch of that size. Wembley’s pitch is slightly wider than standard, with dimensions of 105x69.
There has been a lot of talk recently about Spurs playing on a bigger pitch, and it’s thought that the extra real estate might have contributed to Spurs’ struggles at Wembley in recent seasons. Spurs were undefeated at White Hart Lane in 2016-17, but were just 1-5 at Wembley, and some have speculated that a larger pitch is a detriment to Mauricio Pochettino’s high pressing style as it allows more room for opposition to evade the press.
This feels a bit like a cop-out excuse to me, though. It wasn’t too long ago that Mousa Dembele, then managed by Andre Villas-Boas, was complaining that the pitch at White Hart Lane was too small.
"It's not easy for us. We know that some teams are going to come here and make a block, and we don't have a big pitch so it's even more difficult.
"A small pitch makes it harder. If we have more space, it's easier for us, but we have to find a way. The manager will speak to us as well, because we always have a bit of difficulty with these kinds of teams [that park the bus].
There are lots of reasons why Spurs might have struggled at Wembley last season: their Champions League group was harder than expected and featured an eventual semifinalist; the club was banged up at the time with Toby Alderweireld, Harry Kane, Eric Lamela, and Danny Rose all nursing injuries at some point during Spurs’ European campaign; and Mauricio Pochettino also opted to moderately rotate in the group stages.
Unfamiliarity with Wembley and the pitch size might have been a small factor, but it would be a bit ridiculous to list it as a major factor. Spurs played on larger pitches away from home throughout the Premier League campaign and did pretty well on balance.
It’s extremely probable that Spurs’ new stadium will feature a larger pitch than White Hart Lane when it opens in 2018-19, and it’s also likely that it will conform closely to the FA’s standardized pitch size regulations. There aren’t really any excuses left -- Tottenham might as well start making adjustments now.