Tottenham are a side devoid of the swagger and adventure that had made them such a popular side in seasons past. The Premier League club have been reliant on an almost impenetrable defence to guide them to their lofty fourth placed position, surely Spurs are operating on borrowed time?
Nine goals from 10 games would be a return to worry any manager, and considering the ambitions of the North London club you would imagine it has given AVB one or two sleepless nights. It would be wrong for me to say this wasn’t a concern, continue in this vein and one or two of the narrow victories could easily turn into defeat, Spurs need to react fast or risk being left behind.
Sunday epitomised this exact trend, large periods of meaningless possession without any apparent drive or end product. Spurs looked directionless, Everton had far fewer attacks but when they did they broke with pace and looked all the more incisive for it.
It seems a little odd therefore that Spurs while being branded unadventurous and defensive minded have both the second best possession share and the most shots in the league. Are Spurs just not being clinical enough?
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For me it is a little more complicated than that. Spurs may well have large amounts of possession and shots, but on the whole they are long-range and pretty hopeful. I would struggle to recall more than a couple of moments on Sunday where Spurs actually had a meaningful opportunity in the box, a serious cause for concern when you have a £26m striker in your line-up.
People seem to have mislabelled Soldado as a sort of Jermain Defoe on steroids, yes he is a potent finisher but Spurs in reality are getting so much more than that. During his time at Valencia he showed his very best when operating on the shoulder of the last man or in and around the penalty spot with players breaking free out wide, food for thought in my opinion.
At Spurs due to AVB’s apparent obsession with ‘inverted wingers’ he simply doesn’t get this service. Narrow and congested, the service, while still there, is woefully inadequate. You can bandy about pass completion stats as much as you like, but the reality is that Soldado’s service is second rate. Often receiving the ball deep with his back to goal, or in other cases an extremely hopefully driven long ball, it isn’t surprising that the Spaniard is struggling.
The bedding in argument is valid, two months isn’t long enough for a team to gel and settle, the relationships between players just isn’t there. This is more a question of patience rather than anything else and by that token it will come of its own volition.
My worry is that there is a more systemic problem at Spurs.
Playing at a pedestrian like pace in the middle of the park, in no small part down to Paulinho and Sandro’s tentative and unambitious passing games, Spurs are predictable and readable. Then you have Lennon and Townsend cutting in off either flank, running almost from one side to the other with no obvious means of breaking through opposition back lines. Teams facing Spurs are all too happy to give up possession in the middle third because unless someone scores an absolute screamer there is little or no risk to their goal. Spurs’ chance creation and shooting stats are misleading in this sense; Townsend or Sigurdsson having a largely circumspect shy at goal doesn’t really count for much in the context of the match.
Spurs need to start stretching opposition. It could be a question of actually settling for less possession and allowing the team to counter with pace. Lennon and Townsend are both menacing when running from deep and when exploiting the flanks, the current blueprint just doesn’t seem to necessitate this.
For me the jury is still out on Paulinho, I would much rather see someone with a bit more energy and desire to go forward lining up in a deeper role. Spurs look so much more penetrative with either Dembele or Holtby occupying this deep-lying role. Currently those that dictate the tempo for Spurs are doing so at a snail’s pace, something that even the most disorganised Sunday league outfit could probably snuff out.
The concern at Spurs isn’t an overreaction, clearly an inability to score goals is a problem for a side with the aspirations that Spurs have. Yet, this isn’t a question of unrelenting doom and gloom, a couple of tweaks in the coming weeks and we could well see a firing Spurs side asserting their dominance onto the score sheet.
Are a lack of meaningful chances at Tottenham a cause for concern?
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