Tottenham under Antonio Conte have been transforming slowly but surely. From a side that lacked any real identity at the start of the season to a well-drilled and structured unit of players, Spurs have made significant improvements in recent weeks. Players who were struggling at the start of the season have shown considerable improvements, while those who were fairly consistent under previous management have emulated their performances. One of the players who fall under the latter category is Eric Dier.
Amidst Tottenham’s inconsistent start to the season, Dier was one of the few players who were fairly consistent regularly. His reliability is further highlighted by the fact that he currently remains one of Spurs’ two players to have played all games in the Premier League this season. Dier has remained a constant feature in Conte’s line-up following the Italian’s arrival at Tottenham at the start of November, slotting seamlessly into a new role at the centre of a back-three. Along with Davies, Dier has formed an impressive partnership in Tottenham’s backline. While Davies has provided more attacking threats, Dier is the anchor that holds the defense.
In a recent interview, Conte praised Dier for his recent performances and claimed that he can become a top player in his position, given that he continues to improve and understand the movement with the defensive line. Dier himself has hailed Conte’s impact on the team and has commended the Italian’s training sessions, passion and intensity. The speed at which Dier has adapted to Conte’s back-three system has also been impressive.
Let’s dive into his stats from this season in order to understand his role in Conte’s new-look defense.
While his defensive stats have a lot of scope for improvement, Dier nonetheless has been Spurs’ most reliable players, specifically in the recent games. His most notable stats are successful defensive actions and average interceptions per match. In Tottenham’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool, Dier pushed high up the pitch and made multiple long-range passes and diagonal balls towards the Spurs’ forward players. His passes allowed Tottenham to escape Liverpool’s press. Conte’s tactics have allowed his defenders to move higher up the pitch and drive the ball forward towards the opponent’s half.
One of Dier’s most impressive assets is his range of passing. His pass map highlights the different array of passes that he has attempted this season. Since Conte’s arrival, Dier has significantly improved his distribution of the ball and utilized his long-range passing to good effect. In the recent draw against Liverpool, part of Tottenham’s strategy was to win the ball deep in their half and ping the ball forward which would then be chased after by their attacking players.
Dier’s heat map displays the areas where he has been most active this season. Throughout his Tottenham career, Dier has displayed his versatility and has been tasked with playing multiple roles. He has featured as a defensive midfielder, centre-back, and right-back. Under Conte’s 3-4-2-1 or 5-3-2 formation, Dier has prominently featured at the heart of Tottenham’s defense as a centre-back. His work rate has been immense this season.
Dier’s passing ability is further highlighted by his accurate forward passes. So far, he has made joint 14 highest accurate forward passes in the Premier League. Now that he has been given the license to move higher up the pitch, his accurate forward passes should improve a lot.
Eric Dier has adapted seamlessly in Conte’s new-look defense, and his performances in the recent games indicate that he will continue to be an important figure as Spurs try and climb their way back amongst the top-six.