Roberto Soldado Watch: Tottenham Need To Learn How To Play With Him


Roberto Soldado [Photo: edgey642 and @balesleftpeg]Roberto Soldado is a striker and a goalscorer. 114 goals in the past five seasons in Spain with Getafe and Valencia prove that and only one goal so far from open play in the Premier League with Tottenham can’t take that away from him. Spurs need to learn how to play to his strengths and use his ability inside the penalty area.

Soldado has failed to score the goals that had been expected when he arrived from Valencia in the summer for a then Spurs’ record fee of £26m. He has come in for criticism from pundits and supporters but is it all his fault?

For the match in Norway Soldado continued in the lone striker role which Andre Villas-Boas has preferred this season, but it only highlighted the problem for the Spanish international. Playing against Tromso who were relegated from the Norwegian top flight, it had been suggested that it would be an opportunity for the striker to get among the goals and give his confidence a boost. in reality, this was never going to be the case.

Roberto Soldado Watch

Early in the game from a position on the left of the penalty area, Spurs tried to find Soldado but the pass was under-hit. Then Gylfi Sigurdsson had an opportunity to cross from the left with Soldado in the penalty area but instead opted to play the ball to left back, Zeki Fryers with whom he played a 0ne-two. (Frustration Count: 2)

After 11 minutes, Nacer Chadli crossed from the right but it was an easy catch for the Tromso goalkeeper. Two minutes after, Fryers went on a run down the left and crossed from the bye-line but with Soldado on the six yard line, the young full back played the cross behind the striker. (Frustration Count: 4)

From a corner Soldado headed the ball on towards the back post but Etienne Capoue was unable to get a touch. Sigurdsson and Andros Townsend also opted to shoot when in possession and after 20 minutes a cross by Chadli was too high for Soldado. (Frustration Count: 6)

With just under thirty minutes played, in a break by Spurs Townsend released Soldado on the right. The striker’s cross to the back post was headed out for a corner. A minute later, the winger again played the ball forward to Soldado but it was over-hit. Soldado’s control was poor when Capoue played the ball to him on the edge of the area. (Frustration Count: 8)

On 53 minutes a cross from Townsend found Soldado in the area. The ball bounced up and hit the striker’s upper arm before he played it across for Sigurdsson to score but was disallowed for handball. (Frustration Count: 9)

With Spurs under a brief period of pressure Soldado gave the ball away in his own half in a dangerous position and moments later in frustration he made an over zealous challenge and was booked. (Frustration Count: 10)

Kyle Naughto played a long ball forward to Soldado on the edge of the penalty area with his back to goal.

Spurs went ahead on the hour which eased the pressure on the team but it didn’t provide any greater service to Soldado. Townsend started to have more of the ball on the right with crosses into the area but none picked out the striker. One went across the area with Soldado on the 6-yard line and then a defender got to a ball to the near post, ahead of Soldado. (Frustration Count: 12)

The second goal came on 75 minutes through Mousa Demblel. A minute later he should have had a second when played through by Soldado. Having gone past the defender his shot beat the goalkeeper but hit the post and then Dembele put the rebound wide. (Frustration Count: 13)

Two goals up Spurs were able to relax but in the final ten minutes, Soldado’s only touch was to come midway into his own half to collect the ball.

A night of frustration for Soldado who was looking to make runs but the ball didn’t come to him. He had no shots all evening as he was never given the ball in the area where he could demonstrate his goalscoring technique. He is a frustrated and isolated figure as he stands in the penalty area waiting for the ball to arrive.

The constant changes in the attacking midfield trio behind him and especially in the central role have prevented Soldado creating any sort of an understanding with the creative players. When the central midfield players move forward they are looking to shoot rather than play a forward pass towards their striker and the wingers are encouraged to cut in rather than cross the ball from the bye-line.

Whether, Soldado’s presence against Tromso is an indication that Andre Villas-Boas intends to start Jermain Defoe in his team for United, I don’t know. Only when the other Spurs players start to  play the ball to Soldado inside the area will he have an opportunity to display his goal scoring talent. If Defoe starts tomorrow, Soldado’s frustration will only increase.