Roberto Soldado finds form in Europa League
Can Spurs now bring the best out of their £26m signing?
Last night the White Hart Lane faithful finally got a glimpse of what made Andre Villas-Boas spend so much money on Roberto Soldado as he blasted in the first hat-trick of his Tottenham career.
Prior to the midweek game against Anzi Makhachkala, Soldado's season had never really got going. Despite 12 Premier League starts he had only managed four goals. Three of which were from the penalty spot.
In many ways Soldado's troubles mirrored those of his team. Who bedding in a crop of new players after selling Gareth Bale have scored only 15 league goals all season. Hardly the form you would expect for a team chasing the top four.
Tottenham's problem has been build-up play. Too often they would have possession without really threatening allowing the opposition to get men behind the ball until after failing to create a goal scoring opportunity a shot would come in from distance.
Unsurprisingly, Soldado struggled to perform in a team playing this way. Soldado is in many ways a similar striker to Ruud van Nistelrooy. He is a finisher who thrives on balls in and around the penalty spot. Supply Soldado with crosses into the box and he will put them away with his head or a crisp first time volley (something of a speciality of his).
Prior to the game against Anzi Tottenham were simply failing to supply the sort of ball that Soldado feeds on.
All to often Spur's wingers indulged their habit of cutting inside and looking to shoot. Against Makhachkala however, Villas Boas seems to have finally got Tottenham playing in a way to get the best out of his striker. Movement was quick and the ball was played frequently into the box with whoscored.com showing Andros Townsend alone managing 12 crosses.
It is perhaps not surprising then that Soldado had his best game finding the net three times and generally looking more involved in proceedings.
If Spurs can build on this display they could go far this season.
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