It’s been almost three months since the start of English Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur had some of the most questions to answer so far, and now have almost as many remaining.
Gareth Bale is gone, many new players are in, and the team isn’t where it wants to be. Tied for fifth, but in seventh by goal differential, it is clear that the team has trouble finding the back of the net. So what’s the issue?
Manager Andre Villas Boas has consistently gone with a 4-2-3-1. In theory, this formation is primed for scoring, but he isn’t using players in their proper roles.
Roberto Soldado was acquired from Valencia as a proven striker, but has struggled to this point for several reasons. The formation AVB uses calls for wingers to service Soldado inside the 18, where he is most deadly from. Playing Andros Townsend out right does not fit this formula. He is left footed and looks to cut in and shoot from distance far too much. Leading the league in shots does not get Soldado service. He is a talented youngster getting forward, but is better of as a sub in the second half when the squad could use energy. Playing Aaron Lennon out right would allow a natural winger to send more balls in towards Soldado.
Instead AVB likes to play Lennon on the left, which makes no sense. He is a dribbler and a crosser. So, playing him on a side where he has to use his weaker foot to send balls into the box isn’t nearly as effective.
Erik Lamela is the most expensive signing in club history. He is a natural winger who can play on either side. He needs much more experience adapting to the BPL, but with Spurs struggling to score goals, it’s time he’s given a chance to prove himself. Lamela’s pace and agility is something worth trying to create more chances for Soldado.
Who plays off the striker as the attacking mid is also an issue. Is it Lewis Holtby, Christian Erkisen, or Gylfi Siggurdson? Holtby has great energy and a fantastic work rate, but features better as a substitute when the game lacks pace. Eriksen is a clever passer but needs to adapt better to the English game. Siggy has a powerful right foot but isn’t as creative as Eriksen.
This is something for Villas Boas to decide as the season progresses. It’s still just mid-November, but we have seen what dropping a single point means in this league. There is still time for improvement and a run at the ever so coveted top 4. However, the clock’s ticking.