Tottenham Focus - The argument for Lloris, Carroll and Falqué to start
Saturday lunchtime sees the North London Derby at The Emirates. The match is not season defining this early into the season but the rivalry will make this game crucial, especially with both teams looking to find consistent form.
André Villas-Boas would appear to have some important decisions to make both in tactics and players. February showed what can happen if a 4-4-2 is adopted against Arsenal and Villas-Boas is likely to remain with the 4-2-3-1. However, already without some key players through injury, and with doubts over Kyle Walker, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon, selection of the players for the formation may be key.
Defensively, Kyle Naughton may come in to the back four in place of Walker but again the main decision is in goal. Arsenal have pace going forward and can break quickly and as seen against Manchester City, Spurs are likely to play a high defensive line. If this is broken it may be essential for the keeper to be fast, willing to come off his line and act as sweeper. Arsenal wide players may also look to get at Naughton and Jan Vertonghen at full back to get crosses into Giroud. Hugo Lloris has shown command in the air and in the box. In all aspects, Lloris is arguably stronger than Brad Friedel and should start.
Against City, both Lennon and Gareth Bale were subdued. Both [if Lennon plays] need big games, not just going forward but defensively too. Spurs wide players perhaps need to play a little deeper to offer protection to the full backs. They have the pace to get forward quickly from deeper when attacking and with Emmanuel Adebayor as the lone forward, a player who can hold the ball up for them to join the attack. The deeper position, closer to the central midfielders may also help keep possession – a return to the short patient passing game in the middle.
Is the next key choice - who partners Sandro? Spurs played well defensively against City but offered little creatively. With Arsenal’s Achilles heel a defense - with no real defensive midfielder to offer protection - Spurs must get their creative game going to take advantage. As such there may be a strong case for Tom Carroll alongside the Brazilian. Carroll’s high passing accuracy, quick short passes and mobility across the pitch will arguably offer the greater creativity needed and bring a better balance to the midfield.
Perhaps the other key choice is the No 10 position. Both Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson still look to be settling in and trying to recapture their form. Is Arsenal the place to find it? Iago Falqué has looked in form however. When played, Falqué has looked to inventive and a threat going forward, and as seen against Norwich, combined and interchanged well with Bale and Lennon. The trio with the movement and work rate of Adebayor may just provide the creative spark needed.
The creativity missing against City is needed to restore balance to the team or Spurs may allow Arsenal to build too much momentum and pressure and, with Arsenal’s suspect defense, also give Spurs the potential to create enough chances to take three points.
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