Andre Villas-Boas has one of the strongest squads on paper. We won’t forget that, nor will anyone allow us to forget that.
The Tottenham manager, like all good managers, is tasked with the integration of a host of new arrivals while keeping the team on a steady course in the league, ensuring games are won, even if not done in the most emphatic fashion.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, one of the names who could have been forgotten in the midst of the summer spending spree, has become a vital piece of the winning machine thus far. Is that a knock on anyone else? Well not really. Not only does Villas-Boas have the opportunity to finally setup his team in a manner resembling his Porto side, but he’s also faced with using newcomers in two vital areas: Paulinho and Christian Eriksen. Sigurdsson, for now, offers familiarity.
As the season goes on, it may be seen that Sigurdsson takes up more of a secondary role – though that’s if he doesn’t give Villas-Boas something to think about. It’s been thought that Erik Lamela would take over the left-wing spot, but what if the Icelandic international makes that position his own? It becomes one of those ‘good headaches.’
The other flank has also been a point of interest. Andros Townsend, having ironed out his game in the Championship, has now been thrown into the starting XI at White Hart Lane in the absence of Aaron Lennon. It’s further positives to take from a strong squad who can be rotated in multiple positions and retain a winning mentality.
It would be premature to assume Villas-Boas knows his strongest XI at this time. For the sake of argument, this is a completely different Tottenham team to the one we saw last season, at least in terms of dynamics. There’s no Gareth Bale for the team to lean on or function around, and the replacements have been in great number, starting, arguably, with the arrival of Lewis Holtby last January.
On paper, Sigurdsson and Townsend look like a pair of backup wide players in the absence of the first-choice options. Lamela is likely to become the star of the midfield, and the partnership with Eriksen is something to look forward to as the youngsters blossom into two of the best in the league. But that’s in the distance, in the future when the pressure isn’t so amplified for the club to see a return on their investments.
Sigurdsson and Townsend, both of whom have played six times in the Premier League, are delivering results – and that’s the important factor in all this. They may not be the most glamorous of names or the players who will drive Spurs into the top four – or whatever the ambition is – but they’re winning. There’s variety in what they can offer, linking up with Eriksen and even Mousa Dembele, who is far more inclined to push forward from midfield. In Sigurdsson, there is a player who arrives into the penalty area to act as another forward alongside Roberto Soldado. Townsend, on the other hand, will likely be dropped once Lennon is back to full fitness and able to offer greater width and a much more direct approach. Once, however, Townsend starts to get the basics right, he’ll also push for a regular starting spot when everyone is fit.
It might not be what everyone has come to see, but these squad players are playing an important role in these early stages. As well as in the league table, Tottenham’s apparent strength in depth is coming to the fore and showing results.
Is Sigurdsson and Townsend really the ideal complement to Eriksen behind the front man?
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