Tottenham Hotspur vs Newcastle United
Reasons to be cheerful: Capoue is back! Kaboul is making his way back into match fitness and Lamela not only started expressing himself but he was looking for work and hungry for the ball. So what did shooting the Sherrif tell us on Thursday? We are still not sure. We have a squad jam packed with talent. Yet when we get on the pitch no matter what combination of players we use we still come away from the game not quite knowing what it is that is missing.
Question: What would we rather be? Tight at the back or more productive up front? Answer? Both!
At Everton last week once again we had 58.3% of the possession. However, even though we were seeing more of the ball and we were pushing players up and forcing Everton to play the game in their half we still did not make enough clear cut chances. 7 out of 10 attempts on goal were from outside the box. At Valencia, Soldado played up front as a lone striker and he scored 24 goals in 35 La Liga games. Apart from a missed header, Soldado only touched the ball once in the Everton 6 yard box. Soldado had fewer touches than any of the other outfield players for the entire game. Contrast that with the touch map for Lamela on Thursday. Part of the problem last Sunday was that Townsend and Lennon kept cutting inside to shoot rather than trying to cross. At times Soldado looked isolated, waiting in the middle for a ball that never came. If AVB can ask for the ball to be given to Lamela against Sheriff he should be looking to do the same with Soldado on Sunday. At present our goal threat is not coming from within the box it`s currently coming from outside the box yet, according to the Beeb, Spurs have managed more dribbles than any other team in the league this season (150).
Here are some more stats I found on the BBC Sport Web Site:
AVB picked Holtby ahead of Siggy for his defensive qualities. Holtby was given a job to do on Leighton Baines because he wanted to stop Baines building anything from the back. Tactically did AVB get it right last Sunday? You have to say yes, we got a result; more than Chelsea got when they went there. Spurs have now conceded only one goal in five away league games but we have only scored four times in those five matches, so you have to say it`s because of the way we are set up.
If Lamela can move from being a bit part player to first on the team sheet then we have a piece of the jig saw puzzle back. But, come January, we have to sort out Left Back. Verts has already told the press he doesn`t like being a "fill in" for the LB position
So what is AVB`s intention for Newcastle? We need service in the box. How do we get it? Who is the service going to come from and how do we get Soldao on the end of the ball in the 6 yard box?
Alan Pardew will no doubt do to us what everyone else has done. They will get men behind the ball when they don`t have it, they will close down the spaces in front of our man on the ball and they will hit us on the counter. Against Chelsea Newcastle were well drilled and organised at the back. Mata, Oscar and Hazard were not given room to dictate play, which meant Torres had no service up front. Sound familiar? We can expect the same tactics again from Pardew`s men on Sunday. Coloccini could be back which means Alan Pardew is facing a big decision whether he replaces one of his two in-form centre-backs Mike Williams or Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. The Toons threat up front looks fairly potent; Remy, Ben Arfa and Gouffran have scored 11 goals out of the 14 that Toons have scored this season. However, they have let in 16!
AVB has to approach this game differently to the way we have been playing. For me Dembele should not be picked, he gives the ball away too many times because he takes one touch too much. What we need is some invention and creativity in the middle and we need to release some speed out wide. Lamela for me would be a risk worth taking. Not just because he has some speed but because he is an unknown quantity for Pardew. Does he double up on Townsend? does he double up on Lamela? Lamela has two good feet and when he comes in off the wings he causes problems in the box which will give Soldado the chance to pick up some half chances. To me Eriksen is still looking flakey. Holtby has shown that he can be both attack minded and defensive. Given that Sandro is probably not fit and Capoue is making his way back I would like to see Holtby because he covers every blade of grass and is good at retrieving lost possession. Paulinho made an instant impact when he came on against Sheriff and for me he is starting to understand the pace of the Premiership. With Townsend and Lamela swapping sides we should put Siggy in behind Soldado. Lennon could add some real spice and take on a tiring defence after 60 minutes.
We will not have Danny Rose back so no doubt Verts will play LB again and Walker on the right which means we will probably have Dawson in the middle with Chiriches; unless Kaboul is deemed as able to last at least 60 minutes.
Will it be a tight game? When is it not! Will it be a 1-0 win? Probably!
Written by OyVeh Maria