The season is just 3 games old and the drama has already begun. Tottenham Hotspur have conceded late goals in 3 consecutive games to drop points and find themselves with merely 2 points from 3 outings. Unfortunately, some sections of fans have already started booing the team and are calling for Villas-Boas’ head. Fans might be wondering whether Tottenham is going in the right direction. Is Villas Boas and his tactics suited for Tottenham? Is the Tottenham defence fast enough to cope with the high line that the manager likes playing? These questions are lingering in the minds of every Tottenham faithful and we will be analysing the options at the disposal of Villas-Boas for his famous defensive setup.

The tactical template of Villas-Boas includes holding a high defencive line and pressing high up on the pitch. His defenders need to be good with and without the ball. To implement a high line defence, the defenders need to be really quick and should be comfortable on-the-ball. At Chelsea, captain John Terry wasnai??i??t a quick player and the much hyped high line ended up as a big failure. William Gallas and Michael Dawson – two of Tottenhamai??i??s central defenders – are of a similar mould. Is Villas-Boas repeating the same mistakes at Tottenham Hotspur?

Veteran Gallas has started in all 3 matches for Spurs. The manager trusted him with the captaincy in all outings after the retirement of Ledley King and the unavailability of Scott Parker; Villas-Boas thought Michael Dawson is not suited for his style of play. Was it the right move? William Gallas has good leadership qualities and has vital top flight experience under his belt. It might be the reason why he started all the matches ahead of upcoming prospect Steven Caulker and fan favorite Michael Dawson.

William Gallas ai??i?? at 34 – is a player past his prime and he will become a liability soon. Gallas is comfortable on the ball and occasionally he carries the ball to opposition half to initiate attacks. Also he steps out of defence to make crucial interceptions. But his lack of pace and indecisiveness at times is not suited for a top club. Romelu Lukaku exploited his weakness; the Spurs defence was in disarray towards the end of West Brom game and hence Tottenham dropped crucial points in that game as well. Also, Gallas is a slow starter off-the-ball and when Tottenham need to close down quickly, he may not be ideally suited for the job. Villas-Boas has stuck with him in all matches and we have witnessed some shambolic defending in last 15 minutes or so in every Tottenham game. Villas-Boas usually tries to prove his decisions are correct by sticking on to the same players. If that is the case, Tottenham’s future doesn’t look bright with Gallas in the thick of things.

Tottenhamai??i??s mainstay in central defence, Younus Kaboul, is injured and ruled out for a minimum of 3 to 4 months. A big blow considering how Gallas has performed thus far. Jan Vertonghen has adjusted to life in the Premier League without any difficulty and his performances so far have been very encouraging. Ai??Vertonghen has completed more than 90% of his passes and has made crucial interceptions to initiate attacks. He has won 10 out of 11 aerial duals in the last game and his tackling success ratio is also good. Vertonghen has made some darting runs into the opposition half and has provided defensive solidarity at the back. His displays are assuring and he is looking like a real steal from Spurs’ perspective, as he brings calm and composure to their game.

Steven Caulker - The man for High lineSo who is the right man to partner Vertonghen in the absence of the ever-reliable Kaboul? Swansea City was the team to watch out for last season with beautiful display with the ball and their game was aided by solid presence at the back in the form of a 20-year old Steven Caulker. Great Britainai??i??s defence was solid at the Olympics and the British fans were surprised to see the youngster Steven Caulker marshalling the defence with ease. The same Steven Caulker got a call up to the senior national squad as well. Still he finds himself on the bench at White Hart Lane. Villas-Boas has been known for entrusting responsibilities to youngsters ahead of the veterans, but his past decisions lead to heavy criticism and that might be the reason why Tottenham faithful are still awaiting to see Steven Caulker in a Lillywhite Jersey in the Premier League. An intelligent and clever defender, Steven Caulker is confident on the ball and can pass it around with ease. Caulker is blessed with good pace, physical attributes and game sense to be a successful top flight defender. It remains to be seen whether Villas-Boas trusts the promising central defender in the near future.

Villas Boas was quick to identify that Michael Dawson isnai??i??t the right man suited for the high line defence. He tried to offload him during the summer but it didnai??i??t happen and as a blessing in disguise, Tottenham Hotspur can count on him in the absence of Kaboul. Dawson is not a pacy defender, but he is good in aerial and ground duels and has a good range of long passes up his sleeve, if an alternate route is required. Itai??i??s a big puzzle that Gallas is enjoying the rub of the green ahead of Michael Dawson. Both are slow players, still Dawson is better than Gallas with age on his side.

Even in the absence of Younus Kaboul, Tottenham Hotspur have enough resources available in central defence to implement Villas-Boas’ plans, the manager is making wrong choicesAi??currently. Gallas and Dawson are players who can be deployed in a normal defensive pairing to yield results, but they cannot be trusted while deploying a high-line in defence. Vertonghen and Caulker are best suited for such tactics, in the absence of Kaboul. Itai??i??s time for Villas Boas to drop Gallas and include Caulker in his starting line-up. The Tottenham faithful will be more than happy to be patient and witness an academy product bring success to the club.

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18 Responses to “Tottenham Hotspur ai??i?? Why Vertonghen And Caulker Are Best Suited For The Defensive High-Line Deployed By Villas-Boas”

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  1. Kropotkin says:

    I will say this. The fact that AVB repeatedly picks Gallas ahead of Dawson just proves how incompetent he is as a manager. Levy has a lot to answer for. AVB is the worst manager in the EPL…..heck he is the worst in Europe

  2. abe says:

    There are 2 issues. One is about good players. The other is about leadership and organization. How you can have a situation where a player gets that much space with 5 minutes to go in the penalty area – I am not sure. Clearly there is some communication and organizational issues, along with concentration. Spurs lack leaders right now. Without Parker and King around, and even to some degree vdv they don’t have guys who take “ownership”. I would be tempted to play the likes of Dawson and Parker should be fit – as they do tend to put it all on the line.

  3. IoanX says:

    I would use Caulker/Kaboul/Dawson/Gallas as central defenders and I would move Vert in midfield.
    It would be a pity a player with so many skills, qualities and abilities to has only a limited role as CB inside the team.
    He can tackle, he can move from box to box, he can pass with accuracy long and short balls, he can move forward with the ball, he can produce assists and, above all, he can score goals.
    He is a world class all round midfield player.
    One of those unique players who can do successfully all these.
    You can observe also that he enjoys more the game when playing in midfield.
    Using him in midfield would have a more effective and games winning impact on the team.

    • Andre's Crouching says:

      So you would play Gallas & Dawson who both lack pace and put Vertonghen in midfield. Where’s the sense in that. We have enough midfield players who can move pretty quick about the field without adding another. Vertonghen was purchased to take the place of Ledley so that’s where he should stay. By the way we added two more midfielders in the transfer window.

  4. Ollie says:

    I second that, vertonghen and caulker are of the modern breed of defenders comfortable on the ball.

  5. Will says:

    The mark of a TRULY great manager is one who makes the BEST use of available players and who adopts a system into which they fit. Not the other way around.
    Until AVB realises this we are stuffed. End of story.

    However, he is young. BUT IS HE FLEXIBLE enough to adapt?

    THAT is the QUESTION. (apols to the other Will)

  6. Andy says:

    Ok… I’m going to play devils advocate here and say AVB was RIGHT to pick gallas in the last 3 games, and that I would have no problem with him being selected in more games. While gallas and dawson both lack pace, gallas is hugely experienced and knows every trick in the book. He’s a much better reader of the game than Dawson, who we all know is prone to serious errors of judgement at times (fulham in the fa cup anyone). Furthermore, I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but none of the goals we have conceded have been a result of this infamous high line. I dont think we’ve even been playing it, I’ve never noticed myself thinking ‘ooh I hope gallas gets back over the halfway line). To say that Dawson is better than Gallas is a close call, and one that I think may have been influenced by the fact that one of them is our longest serving player, and the other used to play for arsenal. Regarding playing caulker, vert is only 3 games into his playing career in the prem, so it would be a bit unfair to pair him with a rookie at such a big club and have them both play their first few games together. Much better to go with the experienced option of either Dawson or gallas, and therefore, for my reasons specified above, Gallas.

    • spursguv says:

      Caulker has a full season in the EPL, so who’s the rookie??

      • Andy says:

        He’s a rookie for us in that he’s only played 1 game for us previously; the 4-1 defeat against the arse in the cc a few years back. What if the pressure of making his premier league debut for such a larger club than swansea in tottenham gets to him and he’s shaky in his first few games? Normally, his cb partner could cover for him, but he’s also new to the prem

  7. spursguv says:

    Anyone playing dawson needs to find something else to do. Good long range passing? Good dueling on the floor? If he stayed on his feet and passed the mid to short ball he’d be a decent player. But he doesn’t and his panicky defense has cost us dearly. It’s no surprise we did well without him last year. What gets me is if Livermore got dropped we’d win games. We’d certainly of won our last two. Caulker is a must inclusion by mid season or he should sign for someone else before spurs destroy another very very good youngster.

  8. Rune says:

    I’m fed up with Spursfans slagging off AVB after Therese matches. Go support an other team then. AVB deserve a chance and everyones support for a longer periode. I for one are sure we can do really well under AVB if guys like Kropotkin and the media will stay away from our team.

  9. k10 says:

    Spurs actually conceded late goals from set pieces and not from lack of high line game?

    • Joseph George says:

      yes K10. if you remember WBA game Gallas was too slow to react to Walker’s headed clearance and the ball ended up in Net. Also his lack of pace created added pressure to the defence and it paved the way for the goal

  10. Lilywhite London says:

    We shouldn’t really be questioning this tactics already when we were led to believe that tactics were something Harry was rubbish at and that AVB was some sort of tactical genius!! The high defensive line didn’t work at Chelsea and many people put that down to Terry not being suited to it but perhaps it doesn’t really work that well full stop?

    To me the defence should push up when needed and go deeper when needed, i dunno why he’s so keen for them to push up all the time in every game. To me it shows a lack of flexibility and a more experienced manager might not be so keen to stick rigidly to one idea. He also seems to be obsessed with 4231 which isn’t bad in itself but what works in Portugal may not necessarily work here in every game.

    The game here is more aggressive, played at a much higher tempo and what some teams or players may lack in flair and ability, they make up for with graft and determination and direct play. The two teams we haven’t played well against have both been (with the greatest of respect) smaller teams with less quality. They have been organised, hard working and both have battled to the end of both games.

    Is this something AVB really understands about English football? If he did, he would not have tried to close the game out at 1-0 against Norwich by taking a striker off and going defensive, this invited pressure from their direct play and we paid the price. You have to try and put teams away at home, one goal is never enough, even if it is in Portugal!!

    And by the way, the Spurs way is to most of the time try and entertain and attack, not go into our shell at 1-0 at home!!

    I’m not saying he’s rubbish, i’m saying that at the moment he doesn’t seem to understand English football and keeps using his tried and tested method as he has learned no other. This won’t be helped by being only being 34 and having only managed in one footballing culture either.

    It’s early days but the signs are not good, even if it is 3 games in. Hopefully this is an early blip but whatever happens, if we drift too clear of top 4 by Christmas, he’ll be gone, along with his high defensive line!!

    The players looked out of confidence and ideas against Norwich, don’t forget the bloke has had a full and decent pre-season. Remember Ramos/ Won every pre-season game and were in the relegation zone after 10 games!! Who will save us this time? It won’t be Harry, i’d tell Levy to stick it where the sun don’t shine after sacking me for this one trick pony…