Tottenham’s new set up a perfect fit for Bissouma
A lot has changed at Tottenham since final game of the 2022/23 Premier League.
Against Brentford on the opening weekend of this season, Tottenham sported a new captain, a new goalkeeper, and a new manager.
Also consider the last few days, as club record goalscorer Harry Kane departed for Bayern Munich, having spent the whole pre-season playing with Tottenham. With such significant changes occuring around the club, it would be fair to assume Brentford may have gone into this game smelling blood.
A year ago to the day, Brentford left a disorganised Manchester United reeling, having blitzed them 4-0. The season prior, Arsenal suffered an opening day defeat in West London, as Brentford physically imposed themselves on the visiting side.
Make no mistake, something similar could have happened to Spurs on Sunday.
The Gtech Stadium has developed a reputation as a fortress. Brentford only lost there twice in the league last season, and have rarely been outplayed at home. New manager Ange Postecoglu’s side lined up with an average age of 25 years and 65 days, their lowest in the league since March 2020. Furthermore, 4 members of the starting XI were making competitive debuts for the side.
Yet, on their way to a 2-2 draw, Tottenham controlled possession well and limited Brentford’s chances. A number of players put in good performances as they proved they would not be overawed by the occasion.
The best of them was Yves Bissouma. The Malian proved to be an effective metronome, completing the most passes of any player on the pitch with 107 out of 116 successful. His total of 138 touches was also a match high, proving his willingness to get on the ball.
Throughout the game Bissouma was keen to receive passes from his goalkeeper and centre-backs. His ability to either control the ball and turn, or fire first time passes out to Tottenham’s full-backs, meant he was often responsible for the side beating Brentford’s press.
The midfielder did not shirk his defensive duties either, making 3 successful tackles. His 4 interceptions were also the highest of any player on the pitch.
Following his £30 million move from Brighton last year, Bissouma has struggled for consistent gametime. He found himself not suited to Conte’s counter-attacking style. The Italian’s lack of trust in him is shown by the fact he only started 10 league games last season.
Postecoglu, in contrast, has been full of praise for him. Following the game, the Australian said to BBC Sport, “Bissouma has been outstanding through pre-season and was superb today, we had a lot of the ball and it was important we kept things ticking over.”
Postecoglu will want Tottenham to dominate the ball; both seasons he spent in Scotland, Celtic comfortably topped the possession statistics.
To be successful, Spurs will need to develop an attacking cutting edge, but Bissouma will undoubtedly have a large part to play in Postecoglu’s new, posession focused system.