Tottenham Focus - Time for changes against Reading
Tottenham will go into their New Year Day fixture against Reading at White Hart Lane looking to do the double over the Royals. Spurs will be without Gareth Bale who picked up a fifth yellow card and suspension after being harshly booked for diving. If Bale was going to have to miss one match, his coach may be pleased it was against the Premier League strugglers. Whilst the Welshman’s absence will mean a personnel change, is it time for André Villas-Boas to consider other changes as well?
Emmanuel Adebayor has had a fitful season at best, hampered by a lack of pre-season and consequential injuries. Since his return from suspension, his form has arguably not merited a starting place. Following the Everton away loss, where the Togolese was poor in the No. 10 role behind Jermain Defoe, Spurs have reverted to a 4-4-2 formation. This may be because Defoe, as the only other striker, has been carrying that role and could not be dropped for Adebayor. This may be partly to play Adebayor back into some form approaching last season’s high benchmark.
Villas-Boas persisted with Kyle Walker and has been rewarded by the young defender, recovering from a poor start to the season. With Adebayor Villas-Boas has also persevered, to some extent at the expense of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey. The form of Bale and Aaron Lennon has left these three vying for the one position. Both Sigurdsson and Dempsey struggled earlier in the season themselves, but have improved with some starts and a series of substitute appearances.
Perhaps understandably, the coach is trying to give Adebayor time to rediscover his form. Last season the Togolese was outstanding as the lone forward and was in double figures for goals and assists. The question may be whether the coach is having his effort and trust repaid?
Walker, Sigurdsson and Dempsey appear to have worked at getting back to form. When they have been on the pitch, even if things have not been going for them individually, the effort has been there, the work ethic impressive. Arguably with Adebayor that has not been the case, or at least not to the level required. The sight of Spurs attacking against Sunderland, whilst the striker casually strolled back in an offside position - after haranguing the referee for a non-existent foul - was an annoying one for fans. Is he letting down not just himself but his coach?
The Reading game may give Villas-Boas the opportunity to play both Dempsey and Sigurdsson. The Icelander has looked sharp in his substitute appearances, and both would arguably be an improvement on the striker at the moment. With Sigurdsson in the role behind Defoe and Dempsey coming in for Bale, Spurs could revert to the 4-2-3-1 with which they enjoyed a 3-1 win at the Madejski Stadium. Importantly it may send a reminder to Adebayor that a place cannot be guaranteed but has to be worked and fought for.
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