At the start of this season Tottenham were tipped by many to have an outside chance at the title. But despite having a good start to the season and being initially strong defensively Spurs have slipped up against their top 4 rivals and even suffered an embarrassing 3-0 home defeat to a strikerless West Ham. Having spent over £100 million in the summer, Spurs will be bitterly disappointed with their recent performances and results.
Tottenham prepared for the obvious departure of Gareth Bale in the summer by strengthening their midfield and splashing the cash on Lamela, Eriksen, Paulinho and Chadli amongst others. The resulting embarrassment of riches in midfield has led to the current situation, where Andre Villas-Boas has no idea what his favoured line up is. While Paulinho has added some steel to the midfield alongside the tireless Sandro, it is in the attacking midfield roles that Tottenham haven’t fulfilled their potential.
After spending big on Soldado during the summer Spurs would have been hoping for him to be firing in the goals by this time of the season but that just hasn’t happened. Soldado scored all but one of his 59 goals for Valencia from inside the box – he is an old fashioned goal poacher in the same vain as Ruud Van Nistelrooy. But whereas Van Nistelrooy always had quality supply from a star studded midfield, Soldado has so far had to feed off scraps (and penalties!).
Tottenham’s season is not lost, a top three finish is still not beyond them, but they need to sort out their midfield and settle on a midfield formation. Spurs need to allow Townsend a freer rein and use Sandro or Dembele to anchor the midfield. During the first half of the season Soldado has cut an increasingly isolated figure while leading the line and he would clearly benefit from some company. AVB needs to be less afraid to start Defoe and to also use Sigurdsson as an out and out centre forward. The continuity that a regular strike partner would bring would definitely benefit Soldado. While I understand that AVB wants to rotate his starting line-up, especially with the Europa league to consider as well, it is vital that he decides on a settled midfield to provide some much needed goal-threat for his side.
Tottenham’s real issue this season, aside from Soldado’s struggles, has been on the left wing. A problem that has been present all season despite the quality of available options, has been exasperated by the absence of Danny Rose at left back. AVB’s loyalty to the inverted winger tactic, where basically neither winger actually plays on the flanks, has also contributed to Spurs’ woes. One possible solution could be to compromise; he could play Lamela or Chadli on the left as an inverted winger and allow Lennon to be a more traditional right winger on the other side. This would give Spurs width on the right and allow Lennon to provide for Soldado, while the inverted left winger could continue to make marauding runs down the centre.
Having brought in 6 or 7 new players from abroad during the summer it was obviously going to take time for them to bed in, but Spurs need performances and results over the busy Christmas period to avoid losing touch with the top 4. But as I write this, Tottenham are currently 5-0 and a man down at home to Liverpool… AVB needs to sort things out quickly or it won’t just be Lord Sugar bemoaning his tactics.