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Tottenham Focus - Lack of creative threat undoes defensive display

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By Alan Robins

Monday 12 November 2012

Tottenham succumbed to another strike by Manchester City’s super sub, Edin Dzeko in the dying minutes which ensured the blue half of Manchester took all three points: the result was perhaps unlucky on a Spurs side that had battled hard and led until the 65th minute.

Despite dominating possession, City were frustrated for much of the game. Was this where André Villas-Boas’ defensive tactics could be seen at the finest line? The high pressing game continually harried and hassled City so were unsettled on the ball, passes were hasty and coupled with the high defensive line caught City offside time and time again. When they did beat the offside trap, they frequently mis-controlled the ball – maybe partly in eagerness to try and make something happening after being frustrated for long periods.

At centre back Steven Caulker again enhanced his reputation – and scored Spurs goal; however Spurs best performers were in centre midfield with both Tom Huddlestone and Sandro defensively excellent. Sandro again showed how crucial he is to Spurs, covering so much of the pitch and tough in the tackle – there may not be many people that will Ya Ya Touré reeling!

The focus for Spurs was defensive with little offered creatively; Emmanuel Adebayor lead the line excellently, dropping deep, working hard but he had very little support from the attacking midfield trio of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Clint Dempsey, all of whom seemed subdued. This seemed partly due to a lack of service, partly due to the pushing on by City fullbacks [and wingbacks], and Spurs own fullbacks having poor games, unable to support wide. Kyle Walker and Lennon at times seemed to lose the ball from indecisiveness with each other, while a tired looking Jan Vertonghen appeared caught between getting forward and trying to defend the space between him and Caulker. Crucially, especially when Spurs were tiring [and seeing that little was happening going forward] both Lennon and Bale arguably did not contribute enough defensively.

Villas-Boas substitutions appeared to make sense considering the situations. Adebayor had been booked after several run ins with Pablo Zabaleta, also this was his second start in only a few days after injury and sickness. With Spurs still needing some kind of attacking threat to keep City defense honest, it was little surprise Jermain Defoe came on. Kyle Naughton came on to replace the ineffectual Lennon offering protection for Gallas now at right back and Michael Dawson for the injured Walker.

Again the goalkeeping issue raised it head. Brad Friedel again made some excellent saves, but the high defensive line requires a keeper fast off his line and at time the American appears hesitant coming out. His distribution still seems to result in the ball given away too often, allowing the opposition to build an attack. Hugo Lloris strength here should favour his starting.

Overall, Spurs battled hard, played well defensively but unable to offer much going forward, City were able to build too many attacks. There seemed an inevitably with Spurs tiring, that City would gain the upper hand.

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