Tottenham Focus - Is it time for Tom Carroll to start?
This has been a poor week for Tottenham. Their third loss in succession, the latest at the hands of Spurs old boys Martin Jol and Dimitar Berbatov, saw Fulham take three points at The Lane. The loss saw Spurs slip behind Chelsea to fourth in the Premier League and for fans there lingers the spectre of last season’s tail-off.
Considering Spurs and Fulham both needed three points, for different reasons, the match lacked intensity and cohesion from either team; defences were reasonably marshalled against little threat. Arguably the best passage of play settled the match. Spurs looked lethargic; the fresher players seemingly unable to overcome the tiredness of those who endured in the San Siro on Thursday.
Spurs started in a 4-2-3-1, with Emmanuel Adebayor the lone forward, perhaps understandable after Jermain Defoe’s poor recent showings. With Gareth Bale returning in the hole behind the Togolese, the surprise was the left flank. Gylfi Sigurdsson was switched to the right, with Benoit Assou-Ekoto on the wing and Jan Vertonghen at full-back. The combination worked reasonably, but Assou-Ekoto is not a natural attacking midfielder and perhaps bringing starting Holtby as one of the three supporting the striker would have been more beneficial.
Having only two main strikers all season has been a problem for Spurs, especially when both Adebayor and Defoe have suffered injuries and more importantly loss of form, made up for to a greater extent by Bale. Arguably if your strikers are out of form and they are all you have, then there needs to be creativity in the side to produce more chances for them. This is not happening for Spurs at the moment, especially through centre midfield.
Scott Parker’s return appears to have had a negative impact on Mousa Dembelé; the Belgian has sat deeper and become less of an influence going forward. Parker meanwhile has taken the role of driving forward with the ball. This may have worked in his final season at West Ham, in a blood and guts attempt to avoid relegation, but is this attitude really needed in a team at the other end of the table?
Last season his protection sitting in front of the back four, breaking up the play and passing to Luka Modric worked. This current role does not, posession is turned to frequently and there is little end result to his runs forward.
Luckily for Spurs, Dembelé plays the defensive role well and in tackles won this season ranks only behind Sandro in the squad and well ahead of Parker. Considering the Belgian’s defensive ability, André Villas-Boas could consider changing the central midfield combination to that of Dembelé and Tom Carroll as the craetive midfielder. Each time Carroll comes on, he is always open for the ball, the passing is incisive and quick and he gives Spurs have been given a dynamic that has been missing.
With the international break, the coach has nearly two weeks to work on tactics and formation including Carroll. Spurs fans may hope he does.
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