Spurs used to counter attack at breakneck pace last season. That has changed under Andre Villas-Boas. Can the introduction of Adebayor, Dembele and Caulker make Tottenham Hotspur more attractive?
Football fans across the world like attacking football unless you are an advocate of Italian defence. Tottenham Hotspur have displayed breathtaking football in the past seasons and this has always been admired by the majority of Premier League managers and followers. The pace with which Tottenham (counter) attacked was always a threat which prompted the opposition to sit back and absorb the pressure rather than taking the game to the White Hart Lane outfit. Tottenham, when on fire, possessed all kinds of attacking weapons in their armoury.
Last season, Emmanuel Adebayor provided the physical aspect in the box and his hold-up play helped Tottenham to unleash the pacy wingers Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon. VDV was often a goal scoring threat, Luka Modric kept the proceedings under control by dictating the tempo of the game while Scott Parker did the dirty work in midfield. Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou Ekotto provided an overlapping option to the attack while Younes Kaboul and Ledley King provided physical threat on set pieces apart from making darting runs from defence. Brad Friedel provided a safe pair of hands between the sticks without being adventurous.
This season has started on a different note for Spurs as the lack of attacking firepower upfront is being discussed in length and breadth across the world. The first 3 games of this season have witnessed many shortcomings in the Spurs setup and some section of the fans have become impatient already with a few calling for the dismissal of Villas Boas. Is it possible for AVB to win the fans back? It’s certainly not an easy job especially taking his Chelsea stint into consideration while purposefully forgetting his success at Porto. What are the changes one would like to see at Spurs which will get them back on track and thereby help the Portuguese to steady the ship?
The goalkeeping situation has become quite tricky for the manager with the arrival of Hogo Lloris. Brad Friedel – Spurs’ current number 1 – is 41 but still he is reliable between sticks and his performance last week gives the problem of plenty for the new manager. The French captain was brought in at Tottenham to displace the ageing American and to make that position his own. Currently, Friedel is putting up performances defying his age which indicates that Lloris will have to bide his time before getting an opportunity to prove himself in the physical Premier League.
In defence, another summer recruit Jan Vertonghen already has two good outings under his belt and has somewhat secured his position along with full backs Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou Ekotto. Gallas is partnering Vertonghen currently in the absence of Kaboul and it remains a problematic area for Spurs. Villas Boas’ high lined defence is a much debated topic and Gallas isn’t the ideal choice for it. The sooner AVB introduces youngster Steven Caulker into the mix in place of the veteran Gallas, the better it will be for Tottenham. This is one change the fans are eagerly waiting for at White Hart Lane.
In the midfield, Tottenham have deployed a double pivot this season after the loss of Croatian Maestro Luka Modric. The absence of Scott Parker due to injury has caused the manager to start Jake Livermore and Sandro as the two deep lying playmakers, implying the lack in creativity from the central midfield area.
However, Moussa Dembele’s good second half performance against Norwich was heartening and his presence in the starting line-up in place of Livermore will add more dimensions in the Tottenham attack. The Belgian will also provide a goal threat to the opposition from midfield and it will be a refreshing change which the Lillywhites will accept with both hands, while his accurate short passing and dribbling skills will be an added incentive to Villas Boas in his pursuit for glory. Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon will become more effective once Dembele pitches in, as the opposition cannot deploy all their resources in wings as seen in the first few matches.
One player which won’t be part of the setup anymore though is Rafael Van Der Vaart . Although his exit was hastened by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s arrival, VDV was struggling to match his first season’s form and also, his game style wasn’t suited to Villas Boas’ system. And although, Sigurdsson isn’t able to replicate his Swansea form in Tottenham colours so far, it’s still early days for him at Spurs and a patient approach is needed to groom the youngster to become a world-class player. Tottenham, now, need to make sure that the Icelander doesn’t take things for granted and they have done that by securing Clint Dempsey from under the noses of Liverpool. The American international has a good pedigree of scoring goals and the Spurs’ faithful will be looking forward to him to bring the goals when needed. All in all, the manager will be needed to find the correct mix by rotating the available resources without sacrificing the teams’ performances. He also has to keep the players happy without wearing out the key resources completely.
Up front, pint sized hit-man Jermaine Defoe has started all the Tottenham matches this season. He is a clinical striker who can make goals from nothing but he isn’t the ideal one to fulfil the role of a target man in a free flowing attacking team. Tottenham’s game play includes inviting crosses, fast breaks and fluid movement upfront and former loanee Emmanuel Adebayor will be much better suited to this role than the Englishman. Adebayor’s physicality, strength and hold up play were missing in the previous matches and his introduction from the starting whistle is something which the fans are eagerly waiting for. Spurs’ fans will be waiting for more action from the Togolese target-man and the Lillywhites are hoping for a goal festival from him which Spurs have lacked so far this season.
Behind the scenes, Tottenham have moved to their new training complex ‘Hotspur Way‘ this week and the availability of world class facilities will be a real morale booster for the players and coaching staff.The team will be trying to build on from the momentum and the fans will be hoping for positive changes from the Tottenham manager which will bring back the glory days back to White Hart Lane. It’s still early days for Villas Boas Tottenham in the long journey and one might think that with these changes he might put them back on fire which will spread across Europe.