Tottenham’s Premier League season has trundled along without getting anyone excited. The result against Manchester City has been a reality check and has left Andre Villas-Boas with a number of problems needing his immediate attention.
Tottenham’s lofty position in the League has flattered to deceive this season. Their performances have not merited such a high place and their defensive record before today hid a number of problems.
Hugo Lloris had a nightmare, gifting City the opening two goals with poor kicking. His blip, we hope, is only temporary but there are problems in front of him which need sorted quickly.
He is not a full back, even though he plays there for Belgium. He doesn’t want to play in that position and against a team like City it’s clear to see why he shouldn’t be used there. He is a central defender and we need him permanently in that position with the team built around him.
It was a mistake to allow Benoit Assou-Ekotto leave in the summer without back up for Danny Rose. Kyle Naughton wasn’t an adequate replacement last season and hasn’t improved this year. Spurs need to buy a left back in the January window and hope that Rose’s long awaited return comes next week. If not, then AVB must find someone else to play at left back so that Vertonghen can return to central defence where he can have greatest influence on the team.
Many love Michael Dawson for his whole-hearted commitment to Spurs. It’s unfortunate that his 300th appearance for the club was marked by conceding six goals. As I feared, he struggled to cope with Aguero and City’s tricky, pacy striker made it a very uncomfortable afternoon for him. Younes Kaboul is another who is totally committed but he is not at his best and was caught out against City. Whether he’s not fully recovered from his injury, I don’t know but he didn’t perform as he had done in the 2011-12 season prior to the injury.
With Vertonghen restored to central defence, Vlad Chiriches who has some pace should be given the opportunity to play with him and develop a partnership and understanding.
Sandro battles away in every game but AVB must find a balance so that it not just about winning the ball but about using it in possession. Compare Spurs central midfield players with City’s. The Spurs player received the ball and passed it to some one behind them. As soon as City got the ball, they ran straight at the Spurs defence with players getting into space for a pass. There was always an option going forward and Spurs had no chance to re-organise. With Spurs their forward movement is so laboured that teams can cover back with ease to regroup and take up their defensive positions.
The ball never gets to the wingers quickly enough and when they cut inside, they are making it almost impossible to play a ball forward to the striker. Roberto Soldado is struggling to score goals just as other Spurs strikers have done in seasons past, due to a lack of service. It wouldn’t matter whether he was replaced by Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor, they would all suffer from the same problem. Nine goals this season in 12 Premier League games, makes a very clear statement of Spurs problems, and three of those goals were from penalties.
Soldado scored goals with a great regularity in Spain over the past seasons. Spurs must find a way to provide him with goalscoring opportunities. If they do, he’ll surely accept them.
Send Steffen Freund To Norway
Andre Villas-Boas needs to decide on a balanced team and a formation for next weekend. Keep those players at home and work with them on the training ground throughout the week. Steffen Freund can take the Europa League team to Norway as at this moment in time, Spurs season is in danger of falling apart if there isn’t a vast improvement in performances and results in the Premier League.
The way some supporters are talking, they wouldn’t shed any tears if that defeat marked AVB’s last match in charge of Spurs. A repeat of that display and the next one could well be the last. I’m probably overstating the seriousness of the situation and a win would lift the spirits but there is a busy period of matches between now and the new year and if the problems aren’t resolved quickly, Spurs will be facing a very difficult five weeks.