After watching our draw with Everton it’s become clear to me that Lewis Holtby is by no means a proper No.10. Opting to overload the midfield with hardworking box-to-box midfielders paid off for the increasingly cautious AVB, but strictly in a defensive sense. T
he 0-0 draw was a justly rewarded point for a side that paid the price for overestimating both their opponents and the creativity of a sloppy Lewis Holtby. I’ve been saying it since he came to the club: he is not a No.10. Boasting less vision than Tom Huddlestone, and perhaps even a worse first touch, Lewis Holtby is certainly not the man to carry the burden of linking our midfield to Roberto Soldado. Holtby works tirelessly for us every game, I get it. But looking around at the top teams in the world, and their respective No. 10’s, is that really the most important trait? Especially at the sacrifice of a player with better touch, vision, ability on the ball, and overall trickery in Christian Eriksen or (spoiler alert) Gylfi Sigurdsson? I’m not so sure.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Lewis and I love his work ethic, but a No. 10 needs to be one of the most, if not the most suave, technically brilliant players on the pitch. And when I think of Lewis Holtby I think more of shaky first touches away from goal and horizontal passing than I do of clever link-ups and one-twos with strikers.
I understand that he has been a hotshot in the Europa League, setting up neat little passes for JD to finish, but lets be honest with ourselves, is the Norwegian Premier League really comparable to the actual Premier League? Not so much. In a similar vein, I’m still not convinced Gylfi is a left winger. But rather than Lewis, who I believe should be spending more time on the bench than on the pitch, Gylfi may just have a role to play after all. Specifically in the No. 10 hole. I’m fairly convinced it would work. He’s basically a hybrid of Holtby and Eriksen after all, with his clever touch and vastly improved work rate. Plus he’s got a better shot on him than the pair of Holtby and Eriksen combined. Now to clarify he is by no means a starting No.10, for that role I still have high hopes that Eriksen will grow into it, but in games where Eriksen’s lax approach on defense could be exploited I see no reason why Gylfi can’t step in. We’ve basically been riding his goal scoring form all year up until this point, so he might as well get a fair crack at it. It’s what he was begging for the entirety of last year, anyway. Plus, as an added bonus it would free up our left wing for Lamela who continually gets ignored. Or Townsend, with Lamela on the right. Even an injured Chadli, really. Just anyone but Lennon. But that’s a whole different story.
Anyway, everyone is freaking out about us not “gelling,” but once our No.10 gets sorted out, I think we’ll settle into stride quite nicely. In the meantime, just in case AVB is looking for new Starting XI’s to try out, here’s mine. At least until next week.
Walker Dawson Vlad Vertonghen
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