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Tottenham Focus - Would Spurs benefit with Vertonghen in midfield?

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By Alan Robins

Saturday 09 February 2013

A poor Loftus Road pitch ended Sandro’s season. In doing so not it not only robbed Tottenham of one of their key players but perhaps their most important player.

Arguably, this season has seen Sandro step up to become an almost talismanic presence in the centre of midfield. Last season the Brazilian earned the sobriquet “The Beast” for some impressive defensive midfield performances.

Jan Vertonghen

This term, however Spurs have seen an extra dimension to his game. Coupled with the physical, almost ferocious presence there has been his ability to drive forward. Sandro had a high pass accuracy, made key passes and assists, taken plenty of shots and a reasonable number of successful dribbles.

Alongside, Mousa Dembelé he formed perhaps an even more productive partnership than the Luka Modric-Scott Parker axis of 2011/12. Whereas, with Modric - creative - and Parker - defensive - there seemed a clear definition of responsibilities, the Belgian-Brazilian duo were able to keep the opposition off balance as they both have the ability to combine creative and defensive sides, cover for each other offensively and defensively. However, where Sandro was perhaps so important, and what Spurs may be missing is his drive, urgency and tempo and ability to lift the team.

Arrigo Sacchi expounded the benefits of univerasilty. Why have a specialist player for one role when you could have a player who is good in multiple roles. Certainly at Spurs under coach André Villas-Boas there appears to be a move to players with versatility, and both Dembelé and Sandro would seem to fit this idea. With Sandro’s injury has Villas-Boas had to revert to one half of that being a specialist? Parker is an excellent defensive midfielder, but how good is his creative side?

Spurs midfielders stats

Universailty can only work if a player is good in multiple roles. From the table, it may be possible to argue that Sandro has that versatility, Parker is a specialist and both Huddlestone and Livermore may struggle to be classified in either category. Against West Bromwich Albion, Parker often came deep to collect the ball, to the apparent irritation of Jan Vertonghen. The question may be why when creatively he is not as strong. Is there an alternative? Arguably yes, in Vertonghen.

Jan Vertonghen’s stats

The Belgian of course has played in midfield before, but do his statistics suggest that he could be a better option in midfield for Villas-Boas?

Spurs fans have already seen from when he played at left-back how he can drive forward, how he can link up and get into the area, such as with his goal against Manchester United. Does the emergence of Steven Caulker, the return of Younes Kaboul from injury as well as Michael Dawson and William Gallas as centre back options, give the Portuguese the opportunity to play Vertonghen alongside his compatriot and restore the central midfield to universailty?

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Tottenham v Newcastle

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