Amidst Tottenham’s poor start to the season and their recent revival under new manager Antonio Conte, only a handful of players can lay claim to performing more consistently than Oliver Skipp. Since the start of the season, Skipp is one of the few Spurs players who has stood out with his performances.
Following a successful loan spell at Norwich City, where he played a key role in their title-winning previous season in the EFL Championship, Skipp has slowly established himself in Tottenham’s starting XI. He featured regularly under Nuno, and now under Conte he is one of Spurs’ most influential players as the Lilywhites have slowly begun their resurgence in the Premier League. His brilliant performances are further highlighted by the fact that he is Conte’s preferred choice in two-man midfield alongside Hojbjerg.
Barring the game against Leeds, which he missed out due to an injury, Skipp has featured in every game under the Italian manager. Conte has praised Skipp for performances, stating that the youngster could one day transform into a top midfielder, a sentiment not too different from the one made by previous Spurs’ manager Jose Mourinho. However, Skipp has admitted that while he is glad to hear his manager’s words, he needs to continue to prove it.
Under Nuno, Skipp was used as an anchor in the midfield, which allowed Hojbjerg to advance higher up the pitch to support the attack, while under Conte he is deployed in a slightly more advanced role in recent games, which has allowed him to display the creative element of his game.
Let’s dive into his stats from the league this season to understand the key reasons why he is an important cog in Tottenham’s midfield pivot.
Skipp possesses brilliant awareness and decision-making, attributes that allow him to position himself accurately on the pitch. He is adept at blocking out the passing lanes for his opponents and is exceptional in winning the ball back. In addition, he can identify the accurate time to make challenges. The majority of his defensive stats are above the league median average this season. His notable stats are loose ball duels won and average defensive duels.
In the recent matches, Skipp has displayed the creative aspect of his game, especially in the win against Brentford. He was given the license to advance forward in the opponent’s half and created multiple chances for his team. While he can still improve a lot in the creative department, Skipp has nonetheless shown that he can be considered in a more advanced role. His pass map shows the wide array of passes and the location of those passes that he has attempted this season.
In Conte’s 3-4-2-1 system, Skipp and Hojbjerg are deployed in the two-man midfield pivot. Skipp, in particular, is showing improvements every game and is becoming more confident in possession. Conte has preferred Skipp over the more technically adept Ndombele as the former is more industrious. His heat map displays his impressive work rate and activity on the pitch.
So far, Skipp has been involved in 103 defensive duels, which is the joint 14th highest in the Premier League. In addition, he has a decent tackle success rate of 58%.
In Oliver Skipp, Spurs possess a brilliant young talent who is continuously maturing at a tremendous rate. He has been one of Tottenham’s most consistent players this season, and his stats indicate that he will continue to be an important part of Conte’s midfield.