Tottenham Focus - Three crucial selection posers for Villas-Boas?
Saturday lunchtime at White Hart Lane should see the match of the weekend. Arguably the two most in-form teams in the league meet when Tottenham take on Chelsea. There is the obvious sub-plot of André Villas-Boas leading his team against the one that sacked him. The media appear to have been pushing the revenge angle for the Portuguese coach, but it would be a surprise if the astute Villas-Boas allowed this to feature in his thinking.
Perhaps more importantly for this Spurs team is the opportunity to continue their good run and claim another top scalp following their recent victory at Old Trafford. To do so may confirm that Spurs are real challengers at the top. There are other sub plots – Spurs will line-up against Eden Hazard who had appeared to want to join Spurs before joining the Blues. It will also be the first time the team met since the controversial FA Cup semi-final. Spurs players may have their own reasons for revenge.
Chelsea’s team selection may seem more straight-forward, and arguably the suspension of John Terry for racist remarks will give them more pace at the back. In contrast, Villas-Boas has several selection posers - Brad Friedel or Hugo Lloris, Clint Dempsey or Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jermain Defoe or Emmauel Adebayor. The two team look fairly evenly matched and so could these decisions be crucial in making the difference?
In goal, Lloris is coming off the back of an excellent mid-week performance against Spain and crucially his strengths, compared to the consistent Friedel may be more important here. His command in the box and in coming for corners may be the needed against the height Chelsea offer, especially at set pieces [through Torres, Ivanovic and Cahill]. Secondly, Chelsea have players with the skill and pace to break Spurs high defensive line. Lloris’ speed off his line and ability to act almost as a sweeper may be telling for Spurs.
In the attacking midfield role, Sigurdsson seems to be still settling into his role whilst the more experienced Dempsey appears in better form and should offer more of an aerial threat for Spurs at set pieces. Lifted by his two goals for the USA against Guatemala and recent run in the team, The Deuce should be given the starting role ahead of the young Icelander.
Perhaps the hardest decision for Villas-Boas will be the lone forward. The coach has placed his trust in Jermain Defoe and that has been rewarded by the Englishman. Adebayor has been injured but also kept out by Defoe’s form. Whilst Defoe has perhaps performed above expectations as a lone striker, Adebayor is a more natural player in the role, should be able to link play better and if Spurs endure a spell of pressure like in the second half against Manchester United, a better outlet up field. Spurs fans should also hope he is raring to get on the pitch after a stop start beginning to his season.
An intriguing match, potentially a great one with both teams motivated to continue their league form. Villas-Boas has got many of his decisions right so far, fans will hope he will do so again on Saturday.
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