Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend, Nacer Chadli – AVB Got It Right!


Aaron Lennon taken off against United [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Two decisions in Sunday’s game against United raised a few eyebrows among supporters but it would appear that Andre Villas-Boas made the right call on both for Tottenham.

Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend and Nacer Chadli – three wingers but only two places in the Tottenham team. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Erik Lamela have also appeared on the left so there is plenty of competition and options for AVB to choose from. It was Lennon and Chadli who started the season as first choice but within three League games both were injured giving Townsend an opportunity to impress. He grabbed it with both hands going on to star for England in the World Cup qualifiers.

Now all three are fit again and many had expected Lennon and Townsend to start at home to United on Sunday. AVB had other ideas with Chadli making his first league start since September. He played on the left with Lennon on the right and Townsend who has found it easier to impress for England than Spurs, was consigned to the role of substitute.

The decision to play Chadli would appear to have been made for a specific reason – to provide support for Jan Vertonghen on the left. Vertonghen who prefers to play in central defence is used at left back by Belgium where he has linked up with Chadli on numerous occasions. A tweet by sports reporter, Gary Jacob of the Times, reports a comment attributed to Vertonghen in praise of his colleague.

Chadli didn’t provide very much going forward but he worked hard and was very disciplined with his height and strength being very useful as defensive cover. When AVB decided to make his first substitution after 65 minutes, it was assumed that Chadli would be replaced by Townsend. To the surprise of most watching the game, it was Lennon who went off, a decision greeted with boos inside White Hart Lane.

Stats Back AVB

The stats show, however, that AVB made the correct decision. Lennon had a good first half and was a constant danger to Evra but had been quiet after the interval. When Townsend came on he had a greater impact than Lennon had had in the first part of the second half.

A summary of the stats from the FourFourTwo Stat Zone provided the following information for the contribution of Lennon and Chadli for the first 19 minutes of the second half and the stats for Townsend for the final 26 minutes of the match. They would appear to support the manager’s decision.

The general  view was that Lennon had a good game and was troubling Patrice Evra. In the 20 minutes he was on the field in the second half, he played zero passes, zero crosses, zero dribbles, zero take-ons and zero shots. His entire contribution in the second half was two successful tackles, and he looked visibly tired. In 65 minutes Lennon had 25 touches (joint-lowest of players who started, along with Soldado), in 25 minutes Townsend had 17 touches.

After coming on, Townsend made seven (out of eight) successful passes, attempted three crosses, won two fouls (one of which saw Evra yellow carded), made a successful tackle and was a whisker away from converting a Walker cross.

While Lennon played zero passes in the first 20 minutes of the second half, Chadli (the player most would have preferred to have come off?) played seven passes, won an aerial duel and made a clearance deep in our own half during the same period.

Lennon’s 2nd half contribution [@PremierLeagueOwl]On The Premier League Owl a heat map of the contribution of all three players in the same periods clearly demonstrates the limited influence Lennon had after half-time. He wasn’t pleased to be taken off but Villas-Boas would seem to have got it right.

Lennon created problems for Evra who should have been booked early on for a foul on him. In the second half, however, he had little impact and looking tired, he was replaced by Townsend. He wasn’t pleased to be taken off but the stats would show that he hadn’t been as effective after half-time and that Townsend brought more to the game while Chadli continued to contribute on the left in support of Vertonghen.

Supporters were surprised at AVB’s decision but he clearly had his reasons for making that call.