Tottenham Focus - Attacking intent but are Sandro and Lloris the key?
Saturday evening will provide André Villas-Boas with his first big test as Tottenham coach - an away trip to Manchester United. Spurs look for their first win at Old Trafford since 1989 on the back of a six match unbeaten run. Some of their football has appeared excellent – in parts; Saturday will arguably need to see them improve the consistency of their performance.
Coach Villas-Boas has indicated he will stay with his attacking principles, stating: "That is the way I like my teams to play.” he told reporters. “We obviously know that it is extremely difficult there, but that doesn't mean that you might not be given a chance when you play that way. In the end it's about taking your opportunities.” In Jermain Defoe, the Portuguese certainly has a striker in form, and it would be a surprise if the England international did not appear in the starting line-up, especially as there may still be doubts over the fitness of Emmanuel Adebayor.
With injury doubts at left back as well, Villas-Boas may be tempted to start with the formation and players that did so well in the second half against Queens Park Rangers. Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale looked a good combination on the left, whilst Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker have a growing understanding on the right. Clint Dempsey may start ahead of Gylfi Sigurdsson; despite the Icelander perhaps being more natural at linking the attacking play and opening his Spurs account against Carlisle, does the American offer more of a goal threat? Similarly does Dempsey offer more power, strength than Sigurdsson?
If, as perhaps expected, Villas-Boas sends Spurs out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Sandro and Moussa Demeblé as the deeper central midfielders, then this should offer an intriguing match-up against the United attacking midfielders. The lively Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney if dropping deeper [as against Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup tie], will offer fluidity, movement and trickery in linking with the attack. Whilst Demeblé has shown his strength in the tackle, it may well be Sandro that is the key. His athleticism, strength and defensive ability will be essential in closing down United’s midfielders.
Perhaps one change from the team that played against QPR in the second half is needed – in goal. Brad Friedel has performed to his usual, effectively consistent standards and made some excellent saves this season but at times has appeared to show a preference for staying on his line. In the Lazio match Hugo Lloris appeared confident in commanding his area and in coming for crosses. United like to play balls through the opposition defense and as well as getting crosses in from the flanks. The Red Devils also pose an aerial threat from corners. Arguably, with his comfort on crosses and speed off his line, Lloris would be a better option. Villas-Boas has stated his attacking intent but Sandro and Lloris may be Spurs most important players on the pitch.
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