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Tottenham Focus - Dawson and Huddlestone step up needed

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By Alan Robins

Friday 05 October 2012

Tottenham drew 1-1 at Panathanikos last night; a point away in Europe is said to be a decent result but in truth this will seem a disappointment for Tottenham. Though controlling the first half with ease and having numerous chances, the only reward at half time was a Michael Dawson goal. However in the second half, Spurs dropped deeper and deeper, conceding the initiative, eventually leading to a Greek equalizer.

Overall though there seemed a lack of urgency, perhaps for several reasons – maybe a touch of complacency caused by the ease of the first half, maybe the lack of atmosphere in what seemed a near empty stadium: perhaps though the main reason was playing both Tom Huddlestone and Dawson.

Huddlestone played instead of Sandro and Dawson in place of William Gallas. Did the match show the positives and negatives of both?

Huddlestone enjoyed 91% pass completion, was accurate with 7 out of 8 long balls, and provided a deft chipped assist for Dawson’s goal. However, Huddlestone doesn’t look a true defensive midfielder so plays deeper and as the match wore on Moussa Dembelé’s seemed to drop deeper too to assist defensively [the Belgian won more tackles than Huddlestone] and ended the match in a deeper average position than Huddlestone. This is not where Spurs need Dembelé as it negates his creative ability and Spurs suffer going forward.

Does Huddlestone have that vital mobility or the injection of pace, or seem the kind of player to be able to lift a team by winning a crucial tackle and setting a counter attack in motion - as Sandro did for Bale’s goal at Old Trafford? Perhaps not, but both can give impetus or urgency to a team.

As anticipated Dawson, captain for the night, wore his heart on his sleeve, made tackles and interceptions and of course scored Spurs goal. However, does Dawson have his limitations in this team? Part of the coach’s philosophy is to keep possession, waiting for the right opportunity. Dawson seems to lose patience and force the issue by pinging 40/50 yard passes which are easier for a defense to cut out. Dawson’s main problem though appears a lack of pace.

At times Dawson was struggling to keep up with some of the Panathanikos attackers [as with their equalizer]; appearing aware of this, to compensate he at times moved forward to try and intercept the ball. As with his lack of pace, when he failed to win the ball, Spurs’ defense was left vulnerable.

Maybe it’s unfair to single out both, and there were other contributing factors. However, arguably for the reasons outlined, the combination of playing Huddlestone and Dawson looked to have left Spurs playing 10/15 yards deeper than ideal.

As the match wore on, and with the whole midfield sitting deeper, especially and perhaps crucially Moussa Dembelé, Tottenham’s attacking threat was blunted and Jermain Defoe isolated. Huddlestone and Dawson are good players in their own right but can both in the same team play to Villas-Boas tactics?

See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG

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By Britinaustin on 05 October 2012 at 23:00

Spurs will not win anything or finish high in the League with either Dawson or Huddlestone. Both are good players, better than average but can not play at the highestlevel. Dawson is not quick enough and Huddlestone lacks the steel needed.

By Big mike on 05 October 2012 at 21:56

Neither played against Man Utd. and Spurs defended a lot deeper in that game, especially in the 2nd half. Huddlestone is a great passer in the mold of Hoddle/le Tiss, etc. -- not every player on the team has to be a speed merchant. That's the trouble with Spurs at the moment -- too many very similar players.

By mike on 05 October 2012 at 17:19

sorry, but huddlestone is too slow to play attacking midfield, and this is showing, dawson, has now become a lower division player again too slow, we need quicker players in defence, also what has happened to soulyiman coulibaye, the kid is electric, give him a chance, don't shut him out, give him a chance

By Jimbo on 05 October 2012 at 14:18

SPUR1950 I think you've let you're love of Dawson alter your perception a little bit. I will admit though that the whole team was to blame for that dreadful showing. Dawson's strengths have always been his commitment and his aerial ability. Passing and speed has never been something he excelled at. Which is why he will never be a first choice in the high pressing game that AVB plays. Dawson will excell with a team that likes to sit deep in a flat back four, unfortunately that is no longer the case as Spurs. 'Typical new age supporter' indeed....how about old age supporter that can't move with the times...with comments like yours, it doesn't seem like you know too much about playing/coaching football.

By Park Lane Gav on 05 October 2012 at 13:40

I think you've both got a point Dave & SPUR1950. I love Dawson and have been devastated how he has been left out. I cheered when I saw the teamsheet last night. However, apart from his goal and a few excellent defensive headers, he looked off the pace. Now, sure he has had a long time out and I know how difficult it can be before you properly get your rhythm back. But I was gutted for him as I doubt he will get the time needed to produce the form we all know he is capable of. 'Dave' is right, he did try to force it from the back with longer probing passes hit with his laces, not his old 70 yard diagonals, but 40yard efforts that never reached their target and gave away possession. I was pleading with the TV screen for him to play it simple, keep possession & not do anything silly. I want Dawson in our team, but he will not be in it if he performs like last night. I also never remember Dawson being so slow, infact im sure he was quicker. i think he needs more games but worry that time to bed back in might not be available in the current climate. Last night was not any particular players fault, I just feel the team need to sustain urgency if we are to be truly successful. Champion clubs rarely settle for 1-0, infact it is usual to see 4-0 & 5-0 scorelines, much of that is down to mentality until the final whistle. COYS

By Dave on 05 October 2012 at 12:50

Watch that first half again....Dawson tried 3 long range, cross field, quarter back diags....and not one reached its intended target. This is not AVB football, when have you seen Gallas, Vertonghen or Caulker play ridiculous Hollywood passes after having good possession.

By SPUR1950 on 05 October 2012 at 12:45

you are digging out two players who lack match practice big time, and when did Dawson ping 40-50 yd balls ,what bloody game was you watching ,AND WOW SURPRISE surprise you come out with the usual statistics ,why dont you just blame these 2 for the whole game typical new age supporter!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Start by learning how to play/coach football first>





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