Vital Football

Latest Tottenham Hotspur News

Speed and Width

Speed and Width

I was interested to hear Gordon Strachan's comments on our current formation during the Anzhi game.

He suggested that where we had previously bombed down the wings and crossed the ball we were now trying to play through the centre. This had also involved a change of pace, where before Bale or Lennon would break quickly, stretching the game, we were now moving forward and back as a unit. This was giving us an advantage defensively with less space between players for the opposition but hurting us offensively, particularly because Soldado was not getting the crosses he needed to score from, he felt Defoe was actually more comfortable with the passes through the middle.

Thinking about it this makes a lot of sense. There has been a definite slowing of the build up this year and while Townsend, Chadli and Lamela are all wingers they are also all playing on the wrong side, cutting in rather than overlapping, Siggurdson of course prefers to cut in whichever side he plays. This leaves the full backs as the only genuine width, when Naughton has played on the left there has been no width that side at all.

While a strong defence is a definite plus our lack of goals in the league is a concern. It makes me wonder if we have the balance right, both in terms of pace and width. Barcelona have passed their way through teams for years, but part of that was the high tempo they played at, having Messi on the end of the moves hasn't hurt either. With a much slower tempo and a striker who prefers balls in from wide I'm not sure how effective our current system can be against well drilled defences.

I do wonder whether trying to speed up the play a bit and including at least one wide player playing on his natural wing would be an improvement. Alternatively, if Strachan is right about the strikers, maybe we should be starting Defoe in the league. But paying £26m for a p! layer and then failing to set up your team to harness his talents seems crazy management.

Written by jod

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Friday October 4 2013
Time: 7:58PM


jod, I thought Strachan was talking sense. The tactic used is, I believe, to open up space for our wing-backs to utilise but, it's not quite working yet...I would love to see some good old fashioned wing-play myself.
04/10/2013 20:09:00
I can't wait to see Lennon back and how he might fit in to the scheme. We're a work in progress and I'm sure it won't be long before the team starts to click and we start banging in more goals. (From open play).
04/10/2013 20:20:00
Jod..good article, but the last sentence is a bit tabloid. Can i just check what you mean by that last sentence. Do you mean if we had paid £5M for Soldado everything would be OK and mangemant aren't crazy? Or are you saying we aren't playing to Soldados strengths, full stop. What has the £26M tag got to do with how we form the team? Its all down to form and how AVB calls it, isn't it?
04/10/2013 20:24:00
Lennon will make a difference... Townsend coming on if needed later in a game!
04/10/2013 20:28:00
I would say, and our results bear it out, that it has actually been rather successful. My concern is not that we are now playing centrally, but that we seem to be doing it all the time, when we could/should be mixing it up, thereby adding another string to our bow and an element of surprise.
There's a ponderous but unstoppable relentlessness about our build-up play, and it's definitely a template that is easier to integrate a wider range of players into than one that relies on sheer speed, but since we've got the personnel to make it work on the wings, I think we should be giving it a more of a go, on one or both flanks. Doing so will make all the harder for opposing teams to prepare against, and give them some tough decisions to make when setting up against us.
04/10/2013 20:29:00
And it's a thing of beauty when the likes of Lennon, Walker and Townsend put on the afterburners and leave defenders struggling in their wake.
04/10/2013 20:30:00
I don't agree with him as regards Defoe. Bale and Lennon, after 10 games last season, were doing exactly that, bombing down the wings and firing in the crosses. I believe they were both in the top 3 in chances created yet had one assist between them (Lennon - a cutback). After that, Bale became the swashbuckling player who started to dominate games, but, he no longer was throwing in crosses.

Where I do agree, wholeheartedly, is that our wingers (all of them thus far) cut in way too frequently and this is largely caused by them being on their off wings. When Lennon comes back, he will likely solve this on the right (assuming he plays and Townsend or Lamela don't knock him to the bench). As for the left, I'd like to see Townsend and Chadli fight it out. Cutting to the middle is great when time is tight and we just need to make something happen. As a strategy, it is poor, unless we are ging 4-3-3 (where players can flit in and out and there is a natural spacing, front to back). Get the crosses coming in, Soldado and Eriksen will have room to do what they do and Paulinho will become better than Lampard. We need to open up the middle, not congest it. We are currently shooting ourselves in the foot. That said, defence is toight. COYS
04/10/2013 20:35:00
darkenvai,I do think that will start to happen when the new players are bedded in. All those players coming from different set-ups, tactics, teams,countries, has to take time to get going. I think AVB is doing a great job, easing us through a major transition, slowly but surely. We have to be solid as an interchangeable unit before we move up a gear. I'm looking forward to our progress.
04/10/2013 20:39:00
I didn't see last night's game but if we go away to an away game in Russia on a Thursday night and sacrifice a bit of offensive flair for defensive strength then good on us. It's a refreshing change from the tactical ineptitude we saw for years under Harry. Saying that, Strachan might have a point as we are work in progress with a bunch of new players. That is offset against playing that way against Cardiff and creating 29 chances. It is also offset against the fact we scored a goal last night with the full-back getting wide and getting a cross in. So personally I'm not sure about Strachan's comments yet but loving the fact we are now defensively strong. That is the foundation for every great side.
04/10/2013 20:43:00
The teams set up is to tight to the middle at the moment,but as it is working in helping the defence it is choking solado.avb is still working on the setup as he prob always is.think he will get it to a winning team,worried lack of goals,style of play,miss the flying winger,wingers.its looking good.coys.
04/10/2013 21:13:00
Soldado is a vast improvement on Drfoe. I still read daily how Defoe deserves his chance. When we are 4-1-1, having played 2 of the top 4 sides, we are okay. The goals will come, keep the faith, AVB will get it right.
04/10/2013 21:28:00
I do think that the way the way AVB wants us to play with the wingers coming inside, the width has to come from the fullbacks. Although I'm still not sure of him Rose is key to the width from the left side. Him being out has left us with no one else capable of filling in for him. This is why I still find it a joke we did not bring in another top attacking left back, Shaw would have been perfect for this. Also I think that Walker has taken such a battering about his defensive shortcomings he is not doing what he is good at and bombing forward. I still do not rate Siggy and would rather see Townsend on the left side and Lamela on the right, at least until Lennon comes back. Also on Sunday I would start Defoe in front of Soldado. He had a blinder at the lane against them last year and seems to enjoy playing against them.
04/10/2013 21:30:00
i dont understand the theory of two wide men (wingers) moving inside to create space for full backs to go wide ahead of them..............think about that for a moment and see if you can spot the fundemental flaw.......I am not saying it's what AVB is 100% doing but it is suggested in this thread and has been mentioned numerous times before on here...i tend to think that's what's who can spot the findemental flaw?
04/10/2013 21:41:00
Agree with Dark and RAF Yid. The system is working. We are 2 points better than last season and on a similar team/location basis we are 8 points better than last year. I am always amazed at how we can find things to change without really knowing why they're done the way they're done in the first place. We have created umpteen chances but scored only 6. However we've let in only 2. A some stage the goals will go in for us and we will maul a few teams.
04/10/2013 21:45:00
JVD what's the bit about similar team/location basis we are 8 points better than last year? Can you explain that bit please?
04/10/2013 21:52:00
Written by Jod, and OMG, beautifully written as usual. Well done mate, well done; exactly what I've been "banging on" about lately! FFS why would AVButthead fritter away £30m on a lame dud, when we have Lennon and Townsend and Siggy for good cover as you rightly stated, and another £26m on just another Adebayor, albeit a white and even slower one with absolutely zero Premiership experience, eh? Couldn't we have rather gone for a younger, cheaper and more experienced Benteke or, heck, combine the sum and bid for either a Falcao, Cavani or Suarez - at least as a strong and bold statement of intent or just for embellishment purposes, if nothing else? Couldn't butthead have better spent the 65% of the Bale windfall he wasted on his lame duds on proven quality like Ozil or Bernard, or even the Bruma kid instead of being fleeced of it by those numb-hearted Italians? £30m for a Lame.lad?!? Blimey, if these ludicrous and silly management decisions ain't glaring signs of cluelessness and ineptitude in management then I really don't know what is. For the umpteenth time AVButthead is still a rookie...still learning on the job - cue his stupid decision to bench Sandro throughout against the chavs and how late it finally occurred to his butt head to introduce Defoe, amongst other lewd decisions - yet his placid zombies(especially the dark one...yes, you know your dark fanboy self) and the other deluded in-house Plain Jane 'experts' we have populating this forum will never admit this farcical idiocy! Talk of birds of a feather.... Beats the imagination!
04/10/2013 23:48:00
AVButt_Spudyid Have you ever thought, (Oh no wait you don't think do you), that AVB may well be working hardest on defence to stop the flow of goals against that we have suffered for seasons on end, whilst THAT is the MAIN project, the midfield and front end are playing an almost generic game which still gets results. Once the defence is sorted to satisfaction, then the midfield will be sorted and as that is sorted the pointy bit up front will be srted along with it. He can't just get it all working at once. The midfield has to learn how to work with the defence as well you know. This means it is more important to mesh the defence and midfield at the moment than the midfield and the front. A teams strength is built from the defence then the spine and the rest is run around that.
Chris Hovey
05/10/2013 02:30:00
Not panicking yet about Soldados lack of goals, but might start when Lennon is fit and playing most game. COYS
05/10/2013 05:59:00
Keep the faith with Soldado, the movement is there, feed him and the goals will come!
05/10/2013 08:16:00
Chris he is a troll so just ignore him. He is not a good one a that either. COYS!
05/10/2013 08:17:00
Of course you know you're the troll here James, otherwise you won't just be spewing one-liners in the name of 'comments' when you should be saying something rational, comprehensible and helpful to the Spurs cause. So, feck you and stay fecked, ok? COYS
05/10/2013 09:05:00
In fairness starch an has only watched two Europa matches and neither had rosé playing - apart from first 20 minutes against Tromso when he was our best attacking threat before going off injured. s someone else has said, we have created lots of chances, so not as concerned as some and players are still bedding in - more will come once eriksen, Paulinho, Dembele play together more. They will create, Soldado will convert.
05/10/2013 09:07:00
Buttface can't even count; pillock puts the "less" in clueless. He is rather good at aping other trolls, though.
05/10/2013 09:10:00
Lmao... just another plain Jane fanboy named James to boot. How metaphorical...your daddy must be clairvoyant to have known all along you'll grow up a plain Jane, James. Pathetic ;-)
05/10/2013 09:17:00
Hey clueless darkenface, what's up buddy with your less than clueless dark faeces for brains, huh? Can't still figure out that Soldado was "Sold" - and stupidly bought by AVButthead - with much "ado" for nothing, as his name implies? Well, I'll be jiggered! *smh*
05/10/2013 09:27:00
^^^though it's hardly surprising seeing as you're naturally clueless anyway. My bad, darkenfaeces ;-)
05/10/2013 09:32:00
I think it was obvious it was going to be a very huge ask for Soldado to be an instant success in the prem, he is 28 and has played all his career in a very different way, all his previous stats clearly stated he is a player who scores goals from inside the box, most typically from chances created for him. Assuming if he was coming to England it had to be to a top 6 side, he signed for the top six side with the worst CLEAR CUT chances created in the past two seasons. So he now faces two huge challenges and the challenge is not all down to him to solve. The first one he can solve, he will either hack the prem and culture change or he wont, in itself a risk at 28 age/26 mill. The second challenge requires either him to change habits of a life time, the way he plays; which is unlikely, or the team to create more CLEAR cut chances than the previous two seasons....this is more likely and IMO a MUST happen. So to me the focus must be on the tactics to help the team create more CLEAR CUT CHANCES and or for the ball to be moved into the box from more angles more often, more quickly. This IMO MUST happen whoever plays up front. Eriksen can help with this if we can get him on the ball more often and quicker. The rest is largely down to AVB. we could have bought another forward and this problem would not have been quite so challenging, one who plays differently to Solddado and proven in the prem to craete his own chances but we didnt, that is still possible in January or August. For now we need to make Soldado work or one of the other two work and that means creating more good clear cut chances....over to you AVB....
05/10/2013 09:32:00
jacobslad - What I meant was that if you pay that amount for a player you assume he's meant to be first choice, therefore you assume you already know how he will fit into the team.
05/10/2013 09:36:00
1, 2, 3...for Chrissakes, Buttface, keep up!
05/10/2013 09:37:00
ps, one thing AVB has clearly done so far is as a team to slow us down. IMO this is not the way to go to solve our problem going forward, which again IMO was the obvious problem we have had in the past 2 seasons....hence why all on here have been screaming the door down for a STRIKER...(not you dark) and or a creative AM.....
05/10/2013 09:42:00
I don't think it's unusual to have higher expectations of expensive players, but it is worth bearing in mind that strikers command a premium by virtue of the position that they play. I very much doubt that Soldado was bought with the intention of setting up to suit his style of play. AVB seems very set on players fitting into his systems rather than vice versa. I think Soldado was bought to add extra dimensions to our play. He's definitely achieved that with his penalties, but he's been unlucky from open play, not incompetent. That will come. Fortunes change, but class is permanent, and Soldado is class.
05/10/2013 09:55:00
Dark, I hope you are right mate and soon would be ideal, lets hope he scores a couple of Sunday. I agree he would not have been bought with us changing to match his skill set, this is a chance we simply must make and that change is to create more clear cut chances, we were 7th in that league table last year from memory...maybe 6th as we finished 5th that suggests other areas were better...
05/10/2013 10:02:00
tophobunty1........ I agree re us being slower on the attack but I think it's just a matter of a little time. Let the players get used to the system and how/where each other plays then they can build up the speed that the team play at.
05/10/2013 14:46:00
Personally I would like to see some wing play and look forward to Lennon coming back to see if he makes a difference. May be he will be the one to take responsibility of being the provider, the outlet on the break now Bale has gone.

I think Lamela can fight it out with eriksen this season as he showed Thursday he prefers to be central and Townsend and Chadli to fight it out on the left and have Lamela or Townsend go to the right if Lennon needs to come of and then Siggy and Holtby to come on if needed but as it is Siggy is scoring playing from the left and it will be difficult to move him for Townsend if Lennon takes the right wing. I guess we have options and players that can mix it up but as it stands now if all players are fit my line up would be as follows: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen and Rose. Paulinho and Sandro, Lennon, Eriksen and Townsend with Soldado/Defoe (like to see how Soldado does first with this line up but if not effective then give Defoe a chance with this line up).

Having said that Capoue looks tasty, Dembele has improved and Siggy has scored and Holtby has improved. So lots to consider but I really want some speed on the pitch and wing play to see if that makes a difference to our ability to score goals.

As players bed in the line up may change for example, how good will Vlad become and will Lamela settle and become the next Bale and will Chadli find confidence now he has scored a couple and will Kaboul regain his fitness. So who knows but for now that is my line up if players are fit.
05/10/2013 15:47:00
WorldPeace, that's a good looking line-up. The beauty of it is, that 10 of us could pick 10 variations and, all looking good. Definitely couldn't say that last season.
05/10/2013 15:54:00
Incidentally I think lots of fans and punters are saying the same regarding our narrow play and about why Soldado is not getting goals so I am sure AVB is seeing the same however, lennon out so Townsend is first choice on left and he is still learning. lamela I am not sure is a winger and even if he was he hasn't settled yet and like Chadli is playing safe. Chadli is a strange one as he seems similar to Siggy but may be I am missing something. I think the only two players that have shown wing play at speed is Townsend and Lennon one of these injured the other covering him which isn't his natural side and is still learning his trade so I think AVB knows of the problems and wouldn't surprise me if we don't see a pacey winger coming in next as well as a LB and a RB both pacey. I would expect to see Fryers go out on loan and Naughton either sold or loaned out as well. AVB will want pacey full backs to compete with Walker and Rose imo and another winger and then we have the balance. If Ade comes good we will be ok up top if he doesn't then he will be sold and another striker will join us. At the moment we have great depth in the centre and versatile players that can play behind the striker to cover eriksen in Lamela, Chadli, Siggy and Holtby but little cover for the wings and full backs.
05/10/2013 15:54:00
Would like to see when Rose is Injured Townsend on the left. Not two right footers (Siggi & Naughton )

Maybe even Lamela on the left ! COYS
05/10/2013 17:00:00
The width in the system comes from the full backs with the holding midfielders covering their breaks forward. This is why Walker is consistently picked over Naughton at RB. He can burst forward at pace and cross from the right. Rose can do this from the left. The trouble is we don't really have suitable cover for this approach on either side. Hopefully Fryers will come good at LB, he looked decent if not spectacular on Thursday and he needs to keep getting cup games to improve. I don't believe Naughton has got what it takes to really challenge Walker for RB. This is an area of the squad that needs strengthening. I think once Rose comes back we will play with more width again.
05/10/2013 18:32:00
WorldPeace I'm not sure I agree about Townsend not being in his natural position on the right. Inverted wingers a quite common nowadays and I think AVB sees him as a RW, cutting in and shooting on his left foot with Walker making the overlapping runs to put in crosses.
05/10/2013 18:38:00
Last week AVB, responding to a question on Lamela’s scarce appearances in the EPL, said he was taking time to adapt to the English game but also that Routledge was playing well and therefore further limiting his options. If that’s where he views Lamela’s natural position, where does that leave Lennon?
05/10/2013 19:10:00
*Of course, I meant Townsend not Routledge.
05/10/2013 19:27:00
just putting this out there, after seeing pool yesterday... wouldnt a 3 -5 -2 with 2 wing backs suit this team pretty well??? gk LLoris 2 ball playing cbs kaboom/vlad and jan, with dawson in the mid Wb - rose/townsend walker/lennon holding sandro/kapow box to box - paulinho or dembele AM - eriksen/holtby fw - soldado/defoe, lamela/ade
06/10/2013 02:23:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Best of Vital Network

Recent Spurs Articles

Was Harry Redknapp Loved Or Loathed?

Sandwiched in between Juande Ramos and Andre Villas-Boas was Harry Redknapp loved or loathed during his managerial time at Tottenham Hotpsur?

Which EPL Club Irritates You The Most?

Our latest Vital Spurs front page poll question asks, 'Which EPL Club irritates you the most?'

Coming To America

Tottenham Hotspur has announced a three match ICC (International Champions Cup) tour of the USA this summer.

Where Will We Finish This Season?

With 10 Premier League games left to play until the end of the season, where do you think Tottenham Hotspur will finish?

Archived Vital Spurs Articles

Vital Spurs articles from

Site Journalists

Editor email
no email

Current Poll (see more polls)

Which EPL club irritates you the most?
Suggested By: Tino
Manchester City1%
Manchester United5%
West Ham United7%
Crystal Palace0%
Leicester City2%
None of the above 1%
No EPL club irritates me2%
ScoopDragon Premier League Network Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Chelsea 28 22 3 3 69 38
2 Spurs 28 17 8 3 59 34
3 Man City 28 17 6 5 57 24
4 Liverpool 29 16 8 5 56 25
5 Man Utd 27 14 10 3 52 19
6 Arsenal 27 15 5 7 50 22
7 Everton 29 14 8 7 50 21
8 WBA 29 12 7 10 43 1
9 Stoke 29 9 9 11 36 -9
10 Southampton 27 9 6 12 33 -3
11 AFC Bournemouth 29 9 6 14 33 -12
12 West Ham 29 9 6 14 33 -12
13 Burnley 29 9 5 15 32 -11
14 Watford 28 8 7 13 31 -15
15 Leicester City 28 8 6 14 30 -14
16 Crystal Palace 28 8 4 16 28 -10
17 Swansea 29 8 3 18 27 -27
18 Hull City 29 6 6 17 24 -32
19 Middlesbrough 28 4 10 14 22 -13
20 Sunderland 28 5 5 18 20 -26
Write for Vital Football
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News
The Vital Football Members League

Recent Spurs Results (view all)

Spurs Fixtures (view all)

Apr 1 2017 3:00PM : Burnley (a)
Barclays Premier League
Apr 5 2017 7:45PM : Swansea City (a)
Barclays Premier League
Apr 8 2017 12:30PM : Watford (H)
Barclays Premier League
Apr 15 2017 12:30PM : AFC Bournemouth (H)
Barclays Premier League
Apr 22 2017 5:15PM : Chelsea (a)
FA Cup
Apr 23 2017 12:00PM : Leicester City (a)
Barclays Premier League

Vital Members League Table

1.Nick Real Deal192
6.Real Deal97
8.Big Chiv52
Vital Football Comment