Was it just me or was there than familiar sense of Déjà-vu after the embarrassing home defeat against West Ham last weekend? Time after time Spurs have built up a good run of form only to let themselves down with a defeat to seemingly inferior opposition and most worryingly of all this happens invariably at home. Take last season for instance, the likes of Wigan and Fulham came to the lane and left with victories with the latter being one of the final nails in our Champions League coffin.
So what was the cause of the West Ham debacle? A number of factors have been cited with a punishing fixture schedule being mentioned in most circles. True, Spurs looked sluggish in the second half but if they had taken their chances early on this wouldn’t have been a problem. Which brings me to my point: is our lack of goals and more importantly a goalscorer going to hurt us again this season?
We were all pleased with the signing of Soldado; he’s a proven international with a good pedigree. Our faith in the signing looked to be justified with his well-taken spot kicks in our 1st two league games but unfortunately he’s struggled to find the net since. His all round play has been good, with his movement in the Cardiff game being particularly noteworthy but a striker lives on goals and most disappointly for the Spanish International, these have been in short supply. His absence form the starting line up last week may have raised a few eyebrows but Defoe was there on merit given his recent goalscoring escapades in the Europa League and League cup. Let’s not forget Defoe also has an enviable scoring ratio against his former club but unfortunately all that counted for nothing against the Hammers and the perceived gamble didn’t pay off.
So is there a deeper lying problem here in the system currently employed by AVB? It could be argued that the reason for our lack of goals may lie in the fact that in order for the current 4-2-3-1 system to work, the man in the no.10 role needs to be the fulcrum for most of his team’s attacks. If he isn’t performing, then all too often the system breaks down. Take our game against Chelsea for instance, Spurs dominated the first half with Hazard struggling in the role for the visitors but when he was shunted wide and Mata was introduced at half time the game took on a completely new dynamic with Mata pulling the strings and becoming the creator of most of their subsequent chances. If the system breaks down, the lone striker can be left isolated to plough a lonely furrow and will at best only influence the game sporadically; this is what we witnessed in the Arsenal and West Ham games.
We have a couple of excellent attacking midfield options in Eriksen and Holtby, Eriksen has started life well at Spurs, with his eye-catching debut against Norwich being a highlight, Holtby has also fared well when given the chance. It could be argued that if there is one thing currently missing from their game it’s consistency. But we have to remember that both players are still extremely young and it should also be noted that Holtby has yet to find a settled role in the team, being asked to play in a number of different positions. There is also the issue of our record signing Lamela and his gradual introduction to the team, the young Argentinean has shown flashes of his Latin brilliance and one feels he will have a much bigger role to play when he finally settles into the team.
When all these pieces of the jigsaw finally fit it will be left to our front men to answer the call, be it Defoe or Soldado they will have to produce the goods in a settled team. I firmly believe if the team had a front man grabbing 20-25 league goals in the past few seasons we would have made Champions league qualification a formality. A third season in a row without this would be unforgiveable and if that happens the blame may just lie at the door of our strikers…. let’s hope it never comes to that.
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