1) Kyle Walker Could be the Most Important Player at Tottenham
When Tottenham’s starting 11 showed up on Twitter, there was a huge problem. Kyle Walker was out injured. That meant we weren’t going to see the Number 2 going up and down the pitch using his pace to defend and attack. Instead, we saw Number 16 Kyle Naughton on the pitch who provided nothing on the attack all game long. One of the reasons Tottenham had success over the years was the pace on the flanks with Lennon, Bale, Rose and Walker. Assou-Ekotto and Naughton are exceptions to that but Tottenham are always known for their pace and counter attacking style. Against Norwich, Tottenham had Dembele and Naughton on the right flank which sounded like Tim Sherwood gave up on that side of the pitch all together. Lennon switched right after Capoue’s injury but that came with a cost. Bentaleb took Capoue place in front of the back four but his mistake created the goal. Full backs are really important in the modern football as they are almost parts of the attack as the midfielders and the fact that Kyle Walker provides constant attacking threat and defensive ability makes him one of the most important players on this Spurs squad.
2) Bentaleb Got Grounded
Every good thing eventually comes to an end and for Bentaleb; his fairy tale of a run is over for now. He showed himself to everyone against a solid performance against Southampton and did not look back as he started in 10 games under Tim Sherwood but against Norwich he was the worst players on the pitch, and Tottenham had Paulinho and Dawson on the pitch with him. His direct style of play wasn’t there as the only contributions he had to the attack were his lateral passes. Norwich’s constant pressure forced him to make mistakes and the most critical of them came in the 47th minute as he almost gifted the ball to van Wolfswinkel that led to the goal. He couldn’t pick himself up after the goal either and finished the game in disappointment. I don’t know what Tim Sherwood’s next move is going to be on Bentaleb but this is a crucial time for the Algerian as right when he gained his confidence and respect from other players, he put on a terrible display. I think he is still a great talent to this squad and Tim Sherwood has to handle him just right to make him a star in this league.
3) 4 Midfield System Could be Over
Tim Sherwood showed what he is in the last couple of games: opposite of AVB. He likes to attack, play risky football and he is not stubborn; he likes to switch things up in search for a better performance. He got the best performance out of his team with the win against Newcastle 2 weeks ago but against Norwich the same system showed its problems. Playing Dembele on the right was a bad decision on its own as the Belgian looked uncomfortable in the first 10 minutes and far happier when he switched to the middle. Lennon’s switch to the right made the squad a little bit more balanced but the absence of Capoue proved costly as Bentaleb left acres of space behind him for Norwich to attack. The problem with the system is that every time a team puts pressure on Spurs defence and midfield, doesn’t matter what team it is, players start to panic and get out of their comfort zone. It doesn’t matter what the manager is either. We saw the same thing under AVB as well. Against West Ham at home, Tottenham couldn’t get players forward, couldn’t move the ball around and couldn’t find one meaningful attacking spell that would lead to a goal. Same thing happened yesterday against Norwich as every time the Canaries pressed high, the result was either a back pass or a long ball that ended up in Norwich’s hands. Tottenham tried to find a solution for that by bringing men closer to the ball but that only made the midfield more congested and left no man in the attacking area to aim to. At times, we saw Adebayor in the midfield trying to get a touch on the ball. My solution to the problem is to put at least 4 players in the attacking third. Tim Sherwood could play 4-2-3-1 with Eriksen or 4-4-2 with Soldado so even if a long ball gets hit, there is more than one target in the attacking area. Either formation will need a holding midfielder to protect the defence so the importance of Capoue and Sandro almost doubles and Paulinho’s poor form of run could be fixed by giving him the role of Lampard at Chelsea which he certainly showed he can do in the Confederations Cup with Brazil.
4) Set Pieces are Just Awful
Remember when set pieces meant something to Tottenham? I remember those years. Crouch, Pavlyuchenko, Dawson and Kaboul actually provided goals from the set pieces time and time again just a few years ago. Now, every time Tottenham get a corner, I don’t get excited anymore. I just say “so what?” because I know it’s just going to be another ball delivered poorly that will end up being a counter attack on our side. Tottenham found only 7 goals from set pieces this season. Chelsea scored 12; Manchester City scored 14, and Liverpool scored a whopping 17 set piece goals this season. Against Norwich, Kyle Naughton took the corners for Tottenham. Has anybody seen Naughton take a corner before, ever? He was so bad that Chadli took over for him and he wasn’t better. The players inside the box are to blame too. There is no real movement, no real desire to get to the ball. Dawson and Vertonghen start running and in the box and then crash to the first defender that picks them up. Tim Sherwood needs to fix this situation fast because Tottenham hasn’t showed any creativity in the open play, and if they can’t find couple of easy ones from set pieces, then in March and April, when the season is going to be decided, Tottenham will have a really hard time scoring and winning.
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