Even though Tottenham Hotspur currently reside in fourth place in the Premier League, even the most devout Spurs fan will accept that the performances this season have not been out of the top draw enough of the time.
Despite tabling six wins this season, the north London team have been far from convincing, especially going forward.
In spite of losing talisman Gareth Bale in the summer to the big money advances of Real Madrid, most consider Spurs to have a stronger squad this year than before.
With the likes of Christian Eriksen, Vlad Chiricheş and Erik Lamela, they also have plenty of scope for the future. However, so far the squad seems not to be playing to its full potential, considering the £100million spent in July and August.
Something is going well though; the defence. Hugo Lloris and his back four have conceded the second least amount of goals in the league this season with just five and they top the table for clean sheets with seven.
So, most of the Portuguese manager’s issues lie elsewhere, but, what can Villas-Boas do to enhance his team further, and get them nearer to the ultimate goal of the Champions League and maybe even Premier League glory?
1. Tell his players about a bloke called Roberto Soldado.
Spurs have only scored nine goals in the league this season and most would say this is where their problems lie. The responsibility falls mostly, without doubt, on Roberto Soldado’s shoulders.
After his £26million move from Valencia this summer, the Spanish striker has only shown his quality on a few occasions; mostly from the penalty spot! The one Premier League goal he has scored from open play, however, highlighted his prowess in front of goal. After good work to win the ball and after latching onto a perfectly-weighted pass from Paulinho, he finished superbly over the goalkeeper to give Tottenham a 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
Inevitably, if he receives more service, the goals will come more regularly. There is nothing wrong with his running in the channels and off the shoulder of the last defender as you watch the matches he plays in. However, the service to him is almost non-existent! If the midfielders can begin to learn and see his runs and then pick him out, the goal drought will be solved.
2. Give Lamela more game time.
It’s plain to see that Tottenham’s record signing has not started his career in England particularly well. However, the young Argentine definitely has talent; he showed that at Roma and in patches during his European exploits with the Lilywhites.
That penalty miss in the Capital One Cup shoot-out did not help things, but I certainly feel that with more game time in order for him to adjust to the pace and power of the English game, he could flourish, with the raw talent he possesses.
With Lamela exploding down one wing and another revelation Andros Townsend down the other, it will be nigh on impossible to halt Spurs’ attacking threat.
3. Sort out his best central midfield.
The gold mine of central midfielders in the north London club’s ranks is arguably the best in the league but that comes with its own pitfalls: a selection nightmare for the manager.
With Eriksen, Paulinho, Sandro, Lewis Holtby, Mousa Dembélé, Gylfi Sigurdsson and the currently injured Etiene Capoue all vying for places at the heart of the Tottenham midfield, Villas-Boas must find the right mix of defensive stability and creativity going forward.
No easy task. He needs to find his strongest team quickly and stick with it in the Premier League. As personal choice, the versatile Brazilian duo, Sandro and Paulinho would be holding with Eriksen in the classic ‘number 10 role’ behind Soldado.
4. Finalise his defence.
Despite the most clean sheets in the league and having the second best defensive record, there are still some issues back there. Jan Vertonghen has openly admitted his frustration at having to play at left-back but with Danny Rose injured there are few other options.
I agree with Vertonghen, however, his best position is definitely at centre-back; where he is probably the best in the league. Chiricheş’ brilliant performances and consistent clean sheets have complicated matters though.
AVB will have to decide his best partnership and bring in a new left-back if necessary in January and stick with his team for the duration.
So, can Spurs win the league this year? No, but, can they qualify for Europe’s elite club competition? Yes most definitely, if AVB continues to push his team to their full capability.
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