Tottenham Club Focus – Is Bolton clash opportunity for change?

Tottenham Hotspur welcome Bolton Wanderers to White Hart Lane on Saturday, looking to bounce back from the disappointment of losing to PAOK Salonika in the Europa League on Wednesday. Bolton Wanderers may give them the opportunity to do so. Struggling near the foot of the table, Bolton have lost four of their six away games this season and in their five matches so far, home and away against top seven opposition, Bolton have conceded 19 goals. Spurs should be favourites to take three points.

Perhaps a question for manager Harry Redknapp is the team to field and the formation. In last week’s win over West Bromwich Albion and the PAOK match, Redknapp made several changes – some enforced – which disrupted the usual fluency associated with Spurs this season. In the Baggies match, Sandro, especially in the first half appeared almost desperate to make an impression. In doing so the Brazilian was booked early and a possible second yellow seemed not far away. In the PAOK game William Gallas and Vedran Corluka were coming back from injury. Perhaps this showed; both looked rusty, lacking match fitness and confidence.

There may be an argument to return to the first choice eleven for the Bolton game on the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it grounds”; there may well be a stronger argument that rotation is required. Spurs will need their squad players during the season, with injuries and suspensions playing a part. With few games behind them players will struggle in making first team appearances. Games will benefit them. Sandro was possibly Spurs’ best player towards the end of last season. Now behind Scott Parker, was he too eager to show he deserves a starting place? Again games may be beneficial. The Bolton match may be an occasion to do so.

Away from home Bolton have had a tendency to have around 30% possession in the attacking third of the pitch. However, with only a 73% pass accuracy rate, this has left them susceptible to the quick counter attack following breakdown in possession. They also tend to focus possession through the middle both from short passes [average 321 a game] and long balls [65 a game]. Similarly, Bolton take 59% of their shots in the middle with 42% of their shots from outside the 18 yard area, with both Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies dropping deep to collect passes. Bolton also have a reputation for being a danger from set piece plays.

Perhaps there is scope for Spurs to play Corluka at right-back to rest Walker and give extra height to the defence, also for a midfield three of Luka Modric with Scott Parker and Sandro to break up the Bolton play, especially if using the up tempo, pressing game seen in the second half at the Hawthorns. With Bolton vulnerable to quick wing play Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon would appear to be certainties with possibly Emmanuel Adebayor the lone striker ahead of Jermain Defoe.

Using a 4-3-3 formation with the rotation of a couple of players, may give a tactical advantage to Spurs, using their strengths and negating Bolton’s, as well as giving some players much needed match time.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Tottenham v Bolton

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