13th March 2010, FA Cup 3rd Round Replay – Liverpool vs Reading:
92nd Minute: Liverpool’s Yossi Benayoun concedes a soft penalty which gives Reading the chance to equalize in virtually the last kick of the game and stretch it to extra time. Hopes are high amongst The Royals faithful as they turn to a 20-year-old Icelandic international to take the kick. In a nerve-wracking situation which would leave even the most experienced footballers with their hearts in their mouths, Gylfi Sigurdsson is an epitome of calm. The lanky lad shows no hint of hesitation while walking up to the spot and then coolly sends goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri the wrong way as he slots the ball into the back of the net.
Rejuvenated by the last-minute goal, Reading went on to win the match 2-1 while Sigurdsson would later be named as their player of the season. Sigurdsson’s class was evident on that fateful day at Anfield as he held his own against the team which had finished second in the Premier League in the previous season. Now, the man who sank Liverpool’s hearts over two years ago will be Tottenham’s first signing of the season as newly appointed coach Andre Villas Boas shows his intent.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – How can he help Tottenham?
Tottenham fans know exactly what to expect from their latest signing. Goals. Since joining Swansea on loan in January, the Iceland international has scored 7 goals from 18 appearances. In games he has started since the 2010 season, the 6ft 1 inch midfielder has averaged over 0.4 goals per game and he will look to continue his goal scoring form in the shirt of Tottenham. Sigurdsson is an attacking midfielder who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and has an eye for a pass.
The 22-year-old likes to play in an advanced midfield role and likes to bring in other attacking players around him into play. He fitted in seamlessly at Swansea’s pass and move system and was responsible for creating a host of goal scoring opportunities for the Swans.
What truly sets him apart from the rest, however, is his terrific shooting ability. Accurate and Deadly, Sigurdsson scores a staggering 40% of his total goals from outside the penalty box. In his loan spell at Swansea, Sigurdsson managed a shooting accuracy of 55% from long-range. Bombing forward from deeper areas, Sigurdsson often unleashes trademark torpedoes at the opponents’ goal to which keepers have no answer.
However, there is more to Sigurdsson than just being a goal scoring midfielder. Andre Villas Boas is well known for his preference of players with intelligence and good technical ability. Sigurdsson has an abundance of both. His neat passing and intelligent movement off the ball will help him slot in perfectly in midfield.
His link-up play with the likes of Bale in attack and Modric in midfield would be crucial to Spurs’s hopes this season. His vision and knack of finding players making runs into the dangerous attacking areas would help boost Tottenham’s goal-scoring threat significantly. Andre Villas Boas favoured a 4-3-3 formation during his time at Porto and Chelsea.
He will look to get Spurs playing the same way. With Van der Vaart reportedly leaving for Hamburg, Sigurdsson would be his direct replacement and will be expected to play the furthest forward in the first choice midfield three including Parker and Modric.n
Gylfi averaged 37.2 passes per the game with a passing accuracy of 84.5% and made 50 key passes during his loan at Swansea. These are good numbers considering his advanced position where passes are more difficult to execute. Expect these numbers to improve further next season with the likes of Bale and Lennon making intelligent runs into the oppositions final third.
Another important attribute that Gylfi Sigurdsson brings to the table is his set piece ability. In the absence of Van der Vaart, Tottenham has lacked a quality set piece taker in the side and Sigurdsson’s scoring ability from free kicks will be a welcome addition. During his loan spell at Swansea, Sigurdsson had a free kick accuracy of 64% and was a constant threat either with his direct shots at goal or with his delivery into the box.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – Other facts
Football managers these days look as much into the mental attributes of a player as his technical attributes. This is another area where Sigurdsson scores over the others. The penalty against Liverpool showed his calmness under pressure and his ability to deal with tough situations. The 22-year old is full of self-belief and is not shy of pulling off the spectacular when necessary. He does not hide and has the capability to boss the game. A mature head and a good work-ethic would be crucial as he tries to develop himself into a truly world-class talent under Villas Boas.
Sigurdsson is not the fastest player on the pitch but with his anticipation and movement means that he often has a head start on his opponents when moving towards the ball. He is not renowned for his heading ability and has averaged just 0.2 headers won per game at Swansea. This is an area where he can surely improve given his height.
Tackling is not his forte either as he has managed just 1.6 tackles per game for the Swans. He is not known to get stuck into opponents and win balls back with crunching tackles. However, Sigurdsson does work hard in tracking back though and his pressing high up on the pitch makes it difficult for opponents to play the ball out from the back comfortably.
Sigurdsson has bags of talent and oozes class but is still far from the finished product. Indeed, there is no way to really predict just how good he might turn out to be at White Hart Lane. However, at $ 8 million, he could prove to be a steal if he continues his development as a footballer. The fact that he would be surrounded by other top quality players in the Spurs side would only help in his progress.
Sigurdsson shone brilliantly during his loan stint at Swansea, with better players around him to play with and learn from, there is no reason why this rising star from Iceland would not shine even brighter.