The news that Christian Eriksen will be out for a number of weeks following the ankle injury picked up in Denmark’s friendly international against Norway is bad news for Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas. Who will be next to fill the attacking midfield role for Spurs?
Christian Eriksen had been recalled to the Tottenham team for the match against Newcastle to play in the central midfield attacking role. Although Spurs lost to Newcastle, Eriksen, while not at his best taking time to adjust to the Premier League, had an influential part in the game and if Tim Krul had not played so well in the Newcastle goal to deny Spurs, the result could have been different.
The OptaJoe tweet revealed the part Eriksen played in that match.
9 – Against Newcastle, Christian Eriksen created nine chances for his teammates; more than any player in a single game this season. Spurned.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 10, 2013
With Eriksen out, possibly until the new year, who can Andre Villas-Boas utilise in the important role behind his striker? Fortunately, midfield is an area where Tottenham have a wealth of resources but finding the right combination of players is vitally important. There are a number of obvious possibilities with some other options which might be considered.
- Lewis Holtby impressed in the Europa League games earlier in the season and gained promotion to AVB’s first choice team in the Premier League. He had displayed a creative touch in the midweek games linking well with Jermain Defoe and Erik Lamela and also when introduced to games as a second half substitute. He always brought enthusiasm and commitment to the team but found it more difficult, however, against Premier League opposition. This may be another opportunity for him to stake a claim for regular inclusion in the side for league matches.
- Erik Lamela has yet to start a Premier League match and has played mostly from the right side of midfield cutting into the area. He had a freer role against FC Sheriff when he scored his first goal and was a regular threat to the visitors’ defence with his runs forcing defenders to make a decision as to whether they should tackle him. From one run into the area he won a penalty from which Defoe scored to establish a new Tottenham goalscoring record in European matches. It would be a bold selection for AVB to start with Lamela but he might bring the creativity to the team that has been absent this season.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson has mostly played from wide positions for Tottenham and has had to adapt his style of play to fit into AVB’s preferred formation. In his half-season on loan with Swansea, he played in a more central role scoring a number of goals in an excellent debut season in English football. If required he could be an alternative with his greater experience in the Premier league going in his favour.
- Mousa Dembele was an attacking central midfield player while with Fulham. On signing for Spurs he took up a more defensive position playing alongside Sandro. This season with greater competition for that central midfield place he has not been an automatic selection in league games. He is concerned about losing his place in the Belgian World Cup team so a place in the attacking midfield role might offer him the opportunity of a regular start over the next few weeks.
- Paulinho could also play further forward as there is currently ample cover for the defensive role with Sandro and Dembele and the return of Etienne Capoue following injury. From the midfield players who have played most frequently, it is the Brazilian who is most likely to get into the penalty area to support the striker and have an attempt on goal so a freer, more forward position would not be out of the question.
It will be difficult to assess who AVB will select as he may opt for a particular formation to combat Manchester City next weekend.
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