Tottenham Focus - Powerful Spurs need a subtle touch
Tottenham entertained Swansea in their first home fixture of this season’s Premier League campaign. Spurs were impressive in deservedly winning the match 1-0 through a coolly dispatched Roberto Soldado penalty. Fans may think a second in two games is retribution for last season.
Swansea were never really allowed to get there passing game going. Spurs lined up in the usual 4-2-3-1 formation with again all four new signings on show, including Paulinho and Étienne Capoue in the holding midfield positions.
The high line and high pressing game was played and in Capoue Spurs may have an exponent of the art. The Frenchman has been drawing comparisons to Patrick Vieira and it’s easy to see why. Capoue seemed to be everywhere closing down the Swansea players, making six tackles, two interceptions and five effective clearances. Factor in 90% pass accuracy from 63 passes, and well-timed runs forward with two successful dribbles and two shots on goal and the question may be, is Capoue making it difficult for coach André Villas-Boas to drop him?
Paulinho alongside played a more offensive role against the Swans, operating as more the box to box midfielder - though Spurs were compressing the play so much this was more a centre circle to box performance.
The benefit of having players as good as Capoue and Paulinho in the holding roles is the pressure put on the Swansea game allows the full-backs to act as auxiliary wingers, essential for Spurs with Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend often cutting inside. The direct running from midfield, and from the wingers cutting in, created numerous chances - Spurs had 21 shots to Swansea’s seven - drew free kicks and the penalty as well as putting pressure on the Swansea players further up the pitch.
For the amount of new signings, and players coming into the team like Danny Rose and Townsend, there was an impressive amount of fluidity and movement in the play linked to the physicality and athleticism. Arguably, Spurs simply overpowered Swansea and this was without Sandro, who came on as substitute only at the end of the match. For all the 21 shots though, it still took the Soldado penalty to get past the Swans.
Spurs still appear to be missing subtlety, a creative approach. Mousa Dembélé seemed slightly subdued being pushed further forward, however it is Soldado who is isolated. The Spaniard showed intelligent movement and how well he can hold the ball up but Soldado’s record in Spain shows how much he scores from inside the box. Whilst his two goals against Dinamo Tblisi were from crosses, little is being created for him from a central position.
Whether a genuine trequartista is needed is open to question but the fact that Spurs have been linked to the likes of Bernard, Willian and Erik Lamela is perhaps an indication that Villas-Boas believes a player with more creativity is required to help provide a service to Soldado. Sign him and Spurs maybe looking very healthy up front.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG