Andros Townsend has been taking the footballing world by storm, a series of swashbuckling displays for both club and country have seen the young starlet begin his rise to prominence. Some may have been apprehensive about the possible comedown from his England heroics, but Townsend continued to dazzle and delight as Tottenham put Aston Villa to the sword on Sunday afternoon.
Not everything is perfect in the world of AVB, and Spurs were more clinical than they were convincing during their last Premier League outing. But with Erik Lamela watching on impatiently, is it high time that Spurs shuffled their attacking pack?
AVB has become seemingly obsessed with this whole ‘inverted winger’ idea, where both Spurs’ predominant wide men play on the opposite side to what is considered orthodox. A left footed Townsend playing on the right and a right footed Sigurdsson on the left.
It has been a ploy that has consistently seen Townsend cut in off the wing, a la Bale, and cause problems for opposition in more central areas. Townsend has been remarkably successful, and this in no small part down to his apparent comfort at playing off either foot. In fact some of his recent finishes with his supposed weaker foot have put a lot of the Tottenham frontline to shame.
The problem for me though with the current Tottenham system is the decision to persist with playing Sigurdsson out left. I like the Icelandic midfielder a lot and he is undoubtedly an outstanding talent, but I along with many Spurs fans would argue that he just isn’t a winger. In fact both Sigurdsson and AVB clearly feel the same way because he so regularly drifts into the middle of the park, congesting areas that the likes of Dembele and Eriksen should be patrolling.
Spurs’ narrowness was brutally exploited by West Ham a couple of weeks ago, with a wall of claret placed up against AVB’s midfielders. Too slow to introduce Lamela in my opinion, the gameplan was brutally exposed by the apparent tactical genius of ‘Allardici’ or whatever ‘Big Sam’ is calling himself now.
Tottenham always look most dangerous when they have pace and craft in wide areas, think Lennon and Bale during the Redknapp Champions League campaign. With Townsend as the only predominant wide man he is now beginning to be marked out of the game, the first half against Aston Villa was a profound example of this with the England star consistently frustrated by the home side doubling up on him.
For me the only solution, and one that I think AVB will inevitably turn to is the gradual inclusion of £30m record signing Erik Lamela into the first team. Fans seem frustrated by the slow introduction of Lamela to proceedings at Spurs, but personally I think it is only prudent to be cautious with such a precocious young foreign talent.
However, the current shortcomings for Spurs may well dictate the necessity of bringing the Argentine winger into the fold much more quickly than first thought. Lamela is another left-footer who was comfortable playing out right during his hugely successful days at Roma.
The dilemma for AVB is as to which way round he plays these two youngsters. Switch Townsend onto the left wing, or play Lamela there?
As a traditionalist I always think it is best to play a winger on his natural side, being able to comfortably cut in is just an added bonus. Clearly with two left-footed wide men AVB doesn’t have this possibility and this is an issue for him to mull over.
In my view though it really doesn’t matter, keen to keep the opposition guessing I would expect both wide men to float in off the wings and interchange regularly during a game. The key difference between this and what Spurs have now is that with two genuine wingers, it is impossible for teams to double up without creating additional space for the other man.
Townsend proved against Villa that he is neither one-dimensional nor predictable, able to beat his man and cross or cut in and shoot; he menaced Antonio Luna for much of the afternoon.
Having watched Lamela briefly for Roma I expect exactly the same kind of variety that might already be expected from Townsend. The most important thing is that Spurs move quickly away from the realms of predictability that they currently find themselves in in, something that has regularly stifled their abilities to score.
With Lamela and Townsend racing down either flank I can see Spurs being a totally different prospect in the coming months
Is it time for AVB to create the Lamela-Townsend partnership?
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