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The midfielder at the root of Tottenham’s catastrophic defending – opinion

With Tottenham’s goals conceded tally piling up, Jose Mourinho will be thinking long and hard about how he is to solve his team’s defensive problem.

The all-out defenders at the club have clearly not been in great form, but the midfielders in front of them also need to take a chunk of the blame for the poor defensive record, including Moussa Sissoko, who is often deployed as a central defensive midfielder by Mourinho.

Sissoko was voted Tottenham Legends’ Player of the Season last campaign, but his contributions this season have been far from legendary, despite scoring two goals in the league. Sissoko has never had a particularly defensive mindset, rather he has the ability to keep the ball under pressure and convert a lost cause into a promising situation further up the pitch. However, looking at defensive statistics, you can see that Sissoko is falling behind most other midfielders and defenders.

With an average of 1.1 tackles per game and 0.7 interceptions, Sissoko is statistically worse at defending than every other Spurs player excluding the front four this season. You wouldn’t say that any of the players able to fill the central defensive midfielder position are particularly gifted at defending and the consequence is that the centre-backs are often left for dead when the opposition break, especially when the full-backs have gone galloping forward themselves.

Adding to the issue is the fact that Sissoko loses possession an average 10.5 times per game and when the ball is granted to the opposition, the Frenchman is slow to make up ground.

So perhaps the solution to this problem is to utilise Sissoko as more of an attacking player, with Ndombele or Winks placed in the defensive midfield areas instead. Then Sissoko has more of a creative attacking role in the squad, instead of being susceptible to giving up possession in his own half. Ndombele and Winks, who are more adept at holding onto the ball, can hold their own in midfield.

Perhaps Sissoko is a liability when utilised in a defensive role due to his tendency to give up possession and allow the opposition to break. If this particular problem is sorted out, it could have a domino effect on the rest of the Spurs defence.

Harry Mahon

90maat's team correspondent for Tottenham Hotspur, graduate of Loughborough University and current student at the University of Surrey.

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Premier League Table

# Team MP W D L P
1 Leicester City 2 2 0 0 6
2 Everton 2 2 0 0 6
3 Arsenal 2 2 0 0 6
4 Liverpool 2 2 0 0 6
5 Crystal Palace 2 2 0 0 6
6 Tottenham Hotspur 2 1 0 1 3
7 Manchester City 1 1 0 0 3
8 Brighton & Hov… 2 1 0 1 3
9 Aston Villa 1 1 0 0 3
10 Leeds United 2 1 0 1 3
11 Chelsea 2 1 0 1 3
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 1 0 1 3
13 Newcastle United 2 1 0 1 3
14 Burnley 1 0 0 1 0
15 Manchester United 1 0 0 1 0
16 West Ham United 2 0 0 2 0
17 Sheffield United 2 0 0 2 0
18 Fulham 2 0 0 2 0
19 Southampton 2 0 0 2 0
20 West Bromwich Albion 2 0 0 2 0

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