The Beast is Back, but in Place of Who?


This is going to be a problem. Upon the completion of Tottenham’s emphatic victory at Aston Villa the words on my fellow supporters’ lips were clear: The Beast is Back. In perhaps a concession of fault after the West Ham defeat, AVB reinstalled Sandro aka “The Beast”, as the gritty and gutsy base of our midfield. And boy did it come off. Against West Ham we looked a side with no spine, and no ability to defend the counter. Quick changes of possession left the duo of Paulinho and Dembele straggling, neither properly aware of the other’s role. Rather than a defined emphasis in defense or attack, both men at times took on an offensive role, leaving a shield against the counter nowhere to be found. The similarity of their play (box to box w/ attacking emphasis) often left massive gaps that exposed not only the space in between the midfield and our too flat defensive line, but also our need for a bone crunching, physical presence in the middle of the pitch.

Enter Sandro. For those that can’t remember anything from last year aside from Gareth Bale hitting screamers from outside the box, consider this: Sandro and Dembele were at one point heralded as the best midfield pairing in the league. And I believed and still believe every bit of it. Sandro was, against Villa, the crucial and all-action anchor this team needed so desperately against West Ham. His dominant display in the centre of the pitch was even commended by Andros Townsend on Twitter. On his Man of the Match award he had this to say: “Also nice to get another one of these! Although I think sandro deserved it a lot more…” While I could talk all day about how Andros put on a masterful display and looked likely to score or assist a goal every time he broke down the wing, his recognition of Sandro proves a particular point. Its easy to overlook just how crucial he is to the balance of this team, but, as evidenced by our match against West Ham, we desperately need a defensive minded midfielder at all times. It’s great to see Sandro and his immense presence back, but at the same time his seemingly necessary inclusion brings about a rather unfortunate question. Who’s to be left out?

Although criticism might ensue, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Paulinho, Dembele, Sandro, and Eriksen are our best midfielders. I adore Lewis Holtby (and his nothing short of spectacular work rate) and I think he has a massive role to play for this club, but he needs to commit to a particular role in order to flourish in our midfield. Instead of attempting to replicate Dembele or Paulinho in a Yaya Toure-esque attack capable box to box style, I think he will find success in the No. 10 role. His vision and link up with Defoe in the Europa League has been sumptuous, and I think competition between himself and Eriksen for the furthest forward in a midfield trio will yield great results. But for me, at this moment, he has a nasty tendency to easily get lost from time to time, pushing Eriksen into the Starting XI.

Consistency, at the end of the day, is the reason Lewis is left out. Now with Sandro making a rock solid case for inclusion, and the lack of a No. 10 proving to be detrimental to creativity, as evidenced by Arsenal away, that seemingly leaves either Dembele or Paulinho to grab the last spot. In a season hardly underway its difficult to make resolute conclusions. That being said Dembele at the current moment is my pick for the third spot. His performance against Chelsea was nothing short of incredible and he has the most strength on the ball of any midfielder in the Premier League. Some tinkering with a 4-3-3 still needs to happen before we actualize our potential, but the combination of Sandro-Dembele-Eriksen seems wholly balanced and nuanced with versatility. I think AVB will proceed with this combination barring any stutter of form or injury, although he has shown a penchant for Paulinho up to this point. With so many options its impossible to say for sure what midfield trio can lead us to victory.

But in reality the relatively unfamiliar midfield trio we used against Villa played very far from their potential and we still cruised to victory. So, yeah, we are getting that good. With so much talent in our midfield and AVB seeming awfully ruthless this year, I’m getting a little bit giddy. We are comfortably dominating teams with the likes of Lamela, Dembele, and Lennon on the bench. Although I don’t have room for Paulinho in my Starting XI just yet, his versatility and insurance against any injury-rooted collapse in the midfield is plain old exciting. With The Beast at our base and talent waiting in the wings, we are looking more and more the team everyone knows we can become.


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  1. He can replace efficiently Dembele who is less effective in his defending duties while he slows down our game by holding the ball in his feet longer than it should and mostly trying to dribble a rival player before passing the ball.
    As we have witnessed in yesterday's game, with Sandro in the role of DM, Paulinho can function also better in midfield.

  2. Does it matter, Spurs have three players that play a similar game, Sandro, Paulinho and Dembele, they can rotate at will and still keep quality on the pitch…

  3. We have four defensive midfielders to pick from and based on our performances this season Sandro and Paulinho are my first pick. Dembele and Capoue my second. As for that No:10 I think Holtby deserves to play there at least for now instead of Erriksen. Maybe even Lamela can have a go there, just behind Soldado simply because I can’t see him making the right wing position his own anytime soon after Townsend’s performances. By all means having such competition for places in our starting 11 can only be beneficial for the club as the season will be long and full with important games.

  4. we will always need to pair 1 of dembele/paulinho with 1 of sandro/capoue to get the right mix of defence and attack in our midfield. dembele and paulinho together are both too attack minded and often find themselves both filling the space only 1 of them should be filling. sandro and capoue are just too defence minded when together so either way we have 2 brilliant pairings we can use at any time to get the best out of our midfield regardless of whether we tinker with the shape. COYS!!

  5. Sandro bossed it yesterday. He can't play every game due to last years injury I reckon. He will need to be rested.
    Capoue will need to play. Vertongan playing at full back was very important yesterday. I hope Kaboul is back soon.

    We need to start scoring for set pieces.
    Villa were very poor yesterday. they will be involved in the relegation battle.
    Villa were very poor against man city also but won 3-1. 3 chances 3 goals.

    I would not get too excited about this resul

  6. AVB has to pick a side a stay with it. Spurs have the advantage of having depth in a host of positions and I am worried that AVB is trying to keep everyone happy instead of allowing a starting IX too gel. Each week, Spur fans fall in love with a particular player and insist that so ans so should start over so and so. Defoe and Soldado being a perfect example of fans thinking they know best. AVB started Defoe and it didn't work. Soldado is head and shoulders above Defoe in quality, but I can't tell you how many fans were screaming that Defoe should start.

    Now some fans think Holtby (who I like) should start ahead of Eriksen. Total nonsense based on being a fan favorite. No one can truly argue that Holtby is better then Eriksen in the #10 role, but they have fallen in love with his atititude and think he should start. AVB makes the mistake of listening to the fans ans roles out another lineup yesterday. At what point can they start to gel if AVB keeps changing the starting IX based on fans wishes?

    Spurs have two quality DM in Capoue and Sandro that are both quality. In CM Paulinho and Dembele are the two options with Paulinho being easily the better of the two. I know people love Dembele and point to his pass % and dribbles, but the difference is nothing ever comes of all that work. Too often he plays the safe ball and doesn't link up with the # 10. I don't care about stats if all the completed passes are in our third. Paulinho is always pushing forward and his goal in stoppage time and his nice pass yesterday shows why he should be ahead of Demele. Give one example of Dembele being involved in a goal this year? The other option that AVB is not looking at is using Holtby as the CM. Holtby is better suited (which he has stated himself) then as a #10. As a deep lying playmaker, I would use Holtby over Dembele and rotate with Paulinho in the CM.

    As for the wings, I can't understand why Siggy is getting the starting nod each week when you have Chadli and Lamela sitting on the bench. I know everybody is high on Siggy right now, but a winger should score on occasion. Siggy plays too narrow and is too often looking for his shot instead of feeding Soldado who is clinical if we just feed him the ball. Chadli did a much better job before he got hurt tring to link up with Soldado. You can see with Siggy and Townsend both starting how little service Soldado gets and he is someone we should be playing the ball to. Now with Lennon back, AVB thinks he has to play him as well because he is a Yiddo and we can't let the fans be upset if Lennon doesn't play. Much like Defoe, Lennon has shown me enough over the years that he doesn't have the quality needed. He has speed but that's about it.

    I think AVB is still spooked from what happened at Chelsea. He is trying to keep the older players and fans happy by keeping them in the lineup. Defoe, Dawson, Lennon, Demebele, were the core of a fifth place team not a top team. If we really want to win the league then we need to play our best IX and quite worrying what the fans think. In the next transfer window, Levy should complete the transformation and let Defoe, Dawson, Dembele, Lennon, Ade, Naughton, and Siggy go. Levy should be looking at young talent that will give the Spurs a top team for years to come. Fans need to let go of the past and put trust in the management instead of clinging on to certain players because they are fan favorities. The likes of Eriksen, Lamela, Soldado, Paulinho are more then capable of helping us forgetting Defoe, Lennon, Siggy, Dawson, and Dembele.

    • Eriksen has done nothing for 2 games holtby has impressed so deserved that start ahead of him imo.Chadli has done nothing in the league whereas siggy has won us points.Siggy is a good squad player who can change a game and has ability.I don't think Dawson or dembele should go as we need a great squad but right now they would not be my 1st choice but in top form both are very good players worthy of a 1st 11 spot and top teams need depth.

  7. sorry, agree on most points but dembele should go nowhere. We need four players for those two CM/AM positions. One tandem of sandro/dembele and another of capoue/paulinho especially when you consider the amount of matches we have in our schedule. AVB cannnot make the mistake of not rotating ala redknapp and risk the players breakking down at the business end of the season as a diirect cnsequence.
    If we get rid of lennon, I take it lamela will have to replace him, so am all for that. I still think there's a place for Ade if AVB decides to play with more than one striker (cannot believe he will play with only one formation this entire season!!).

    Dawson, at some stage will have to move on, but only if Kaboul is fully fit and playiing week in/week out and chiriches settles in. We do need a left back since vertoghen does not like playing in that position and benny is on loan, naughton is not the greatest.

  8. Just read the title not the article I don't care who is dropped simply Sandro has to play as imo he is our best midfielder.Dont need to mention what he does and why he should be 1st choice as we all know what he brings to the side.


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