Adrian Clarke explains why the recuperating Uruguayan will be Fulham’s most crucial player. How Bentancur Balances Spurs Defence And Attack
Adrian Clarke examines crucial tactical considerations and potential game-changers for Matchweek 21.
Rodrigo Bentancur (TOT)
Bentancur’s inclusion makes Tottenham Hotspur a more formidable team both on and off the ball, so Antonio Conte will be pleased to see the Uruguayan make a full recovery. In his first appearance since the FIFA World Cup 2022, the 25-year-old played 75 minutes in Thursday night’s loss at Manchester City.
His presence alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will be appreciated against Fulham at Craven Cottage, where Spurs will likely face a midfield trip of Joao Palhinha, Harrison Reed, and Andreas Pereira.
Protecting the back three
Spurs’ defence is struggling, having given up at least two goals in nine of their last ten Premier League games.
Bentancur, who missed four games before making a comeback, does provide dependable defence in the pitch’s middle.
He is a box-to-box midfielder who breaks up play better than any other Spurs player thanks to his mobility, intelligence, and aggression.
His ability to win the ball should enable Conte’s team to exert better control than in recent games.
Bentancur’s defensive stats
2022/23 Per 90 Spurs rank*
Possession won 7.7 1st
Tackles 2.6 1st
Tackles won 1.6 1st
Blocks 1.0 1st
How Bentancur Balances Spurs Defence And Attack
Bentancur made an immediate impact against Man City by forcing Rodri to make a mistake that led to the opening goal for Spurs.
Rodri’s hurried pass fell to Dejan Kulusevski for the goal after his late sprint to press the Spaniard on the edge of his own box from an Ederson pass was incredibly effective.
In a 6-2 victory over Leicester City earlier this season, Bentancur used a similar strategy to dislodge Wilfred Ndidi and go on to score.
Spurs’ best pressers
Player Mins. played Pressures Pressures/90
Richarlison 469 191 36.7
Kulusevski 882 296 30.2
Bentancur 1259 330 23.6
Son 1485 379 23.0
Sessegnon 800 168 18.9
Bentancur applies 23.6 pressures on average per game.
He exerts the most effort for Spurs in central midfield to limit opponents’ space.
With four goals in 14 starts, Bentancur is also a goal threat.
He scored tying goals against Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Champions League in October. He has also scored late winners against AFC Bournemouth and Leeds United.
Late, late drama ⏱
Comeback, complete ✅ pic.twitter.com/x0Tey1hj0q
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 29, 2022
It’s interesting to note that after the 72nd minute, he has been directly involved in five of his six Premier League goals this season.
Best shot converters 2022/23
Conversion rate (%) Shot accuracy (%)
Summerville 57.1 Bentancur 77.8
Bentancur 44.4 Firmino 76.9
Gross 42.9 Trossard 72.0
Haaland 37.3 Summerville 71.4
Alvarez 36.4 Gross 71.4
Bentancur frequently enters the box late and is incredibly composed when given the chance to score.
He has the highest percentage of shots that find the back of the net among players who have scored at least four goals this season.
He also has the second-best conversion rate among players who meet the same criteria in his division.
On Monday, keep an eye out for Bentancur to be sniffing around for a chance to fall his way when Spurs push Fulham back.
His ability to finish can take some of the pressure off Son Heung-min, Kulusevski, and Harry Kane.
Being able to choose from such a well-rounded and adaptable central midfielder will make Spurs very happy.