2 - 2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening..."/> 2 - 2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening..."/> 2 - 2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening..."/>

Tottenham’s Midfield Trio Lacked Chelsea’s Pace, Creativity and Skill


Tottenham worked hard to take a deserved point from Chelsea in the 2 – 2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. The difference in midfield was clear for all to see and if Chelsea had been able to take advantage of their creativity and threat they would have won taken the three points comfortably.

Mousa Dembele was missed at Chelsea [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]With the prospect of playing Chelsea in their next game, Tottenham were immediately under pressure in midfield when Mousa Dembele went off injured in the first half against Southampton  last weekend. It was the second successive match where he had gone off and with Scott Parker having failed a fitness ahead of the game against the Saints, Spurs midfield resources were looking stretched. Sandro had been a major influence in midfield in the first half of the season and has been a big loss to the team for his commitment and all-round game.

Andre Villas-Boas’ selection options in midfield for the game against Chelsea were severely limited and he opted for Parker who had recovered from injury, Tom Huddlestone who has started the last three matches having not started in the Premier League since November and Lewis Holtby who has been rotated with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey depending on the opposition and team formation.

Scott Parker tireless worker [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Parker brought experience and endeavour to the team – he will run all day and always does. Huddlestone brought the ability to pick a forward pass but lacks the pace which many modern midfield players have and Holtby provided energy and enthusiasm. The trio were expected to do the majority of the work to provide the ball for the width and pace which comes from Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale.

Lewis Holtby brings energy and enthusiasm to midfield [photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Go back twelve months and Parker was grafting away for Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart to create and pull the strings in a midfield which enabled Emmanuel Adebayor  to score 18 goals and provide 12 assists. This year Adebayor has struggled to find goals perhaps the reason is a lack of service.

On Wednesday, Parker, Huddlestone and Holtby were up against the impressive Chelsea trio of Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard supported by David Luis and Ramires. While the Tottenham midfield grafted the Chelsea players with their pace and ability to run at defenders were a constant threat to the Spurs back four. Every time they had the ball they looked to get forward and put Spurs defenders under pressure. They are not just three creative players as they worked hard covering back and pressurising Spurs as they tried to pass the ball out of defence. It was very effective and for long periods Tottenham had little response to the problems they faced.

Tom Carroll to bring creativity to Spurs midfield. [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]With ten minutes to play and Spurs a goal down, Villas-Boas was giving Tom Carroll instructions with the view to introducing him to provide some creativity in the team. While this was happening, Sigurdsson scored and the substitution never took place. The manager has had to turn to the Under-21 player on a few occasions in similar situations when Spurs have lacked a player with the creative touch and in all his appearances Carroll has impressed.

Spending Power

Of course, Chelsea have invested heavily to put together that midfield. Juan Mata, now 25 years of age, cost a reported £23.45 million in August, 2011. Oscar (21) cost £19.8 m and Hazard (22) arrived for a rumoured fee of £27 m arrived last summer. Chelsea have formed a young midfield trio with pace, skill and creative ability. Tottenham faced with the task of replacing Modric and Van der Vaart were less extravagant in their spending. Media reports had reported Tottenham interest in all three players who arrived at Stamford Bridge but they were never serious contenders faced with the financial might of Chelsea and Roman Abramovich.  Tottenham signed Dembele from Fulham for £15 m, Gylfi Sigurdsson cost £7 m from Hoffenheim while Lewis Holtby cost a nominal fee in January.

All summer the rumours had circulated that Villas-Boas wanted to link up with his former player Joao Moutinho from Porto and it was widely anticipated that a deal would be struck. A player of Moutinho’s ability could have provided the creativity lost with the departure of Modric to Real Madrid. The deal was never completed and Tottenham were left without an out-and-out creative central midfield player. Tottenham have been fortunate that Bale has struck such a rich vein of form this season which has kept them in with a chance of a Champions League finish.

Summer Priority

Regardless of how the season finishes, Tottenham’s first priority this summer must be the acquisition of  a quality, creative midfield player. Chelsea’s midfield showed Tottenham the way and despite Spurs battling spirit getting them a point, that point should not be overlooked. Of course, Tottenham can’t afford the fees or salaries that Chelsea pay but the Chairman needs to remember that you get what you play for and if you want star quality you have to pay for it. In Chelsea’s case it’s been money well spent.