Tottenham Focus – Change in formation needed?
Tottenham are away to Reading on Sunday, with André Villas-Boas looking for his first win. There will be some pressure on the coach and team following negative comments in the media and boos from section of the crowd at the Norwich game. It will be interesting to see how Villas-Boas lines his team up.
Whilst the transfer window is now closed, the internationals mean that the Portuguese has not had as much time with all of his players as he may have wished. Have the new players such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembelé had enough time to recover match fitness or become more familiar with their new teammates or tactics?
With Reading likely to line-up in a 4-4-2 formation, is this the opportunity for Spurs to revert to Villas-Boas’ preferred 4-3-3 setup? The defensive line would squeeze the play higher up the pitch which coupled with the pressurising Villas-Boas likes to utilise should mean the ball is won in or near the Reading half. 4-3-3 should see Dembelé in the deep creative role, but with more of the defensive midfield burden on one player, that player has to be the more dynamic option. This should mean Sandro starting ahead of Jake Livermore.
To complete the midfield, Spurs may start with Gylfi Sigurdsson as the attacking midfielder. This centre triangle should allow Spurs to control the midfield, outnumbering the likely Reading central midfield pairing of Mikele Leigertwood and Danny Guthrie. The compressed play, and therefore closer positioning of Dembelé to Sigurdsson [sitting between the Reading midfield and defence] the two, more creative players should mean greater possession, fluidity and ability to pass through the defence and out wide.
Width may be essential against Reading. Spurs fans will expect Gareth Bale to have the beating of international teammate Chris Gunter. However, whilst there may be a temptation to start Clint Dempsey ahead of Aaron Lennon - based on the American’s superior goal scoring record and [unlike the Friedel/Lloris conundrum], Lennon has yet to hit top form - is there an argument for keeping with the Englishman? Lennon has true pace and he should relish the opportunity to run at the experienced but aging Ian Harte.
The link in all this may well be Adebayor. Fans will hope he is now match fit so he can resume his lone striker role. His ability to hold the ball, pull out wide and create space for teammates should suit the runs of Bale, Sigurdsson and Dembelé, who appears more likely to get forward than Luka Modric. When the Belgian does this, then Jan Vertonghen – who can play as a defensive midfielder, could step up from the high defensive line to hold. This may leave space behind the Spurs defence for Reading to break, so would this mean a start for Steven Caulker? Quicker than either William Gallas or Michael Dawson, Caulker was also part of the Swansea defence that contained Pavel Pogrebnyak [then at Fulham] last season and with Walker gives Spurs speed to cover.
Much may depend on whether the coach feels the new players are ready, but if so they should have the versatility and wherewithal to get Spurs first win of the season.
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