Following on from my piece on the Tottenham defence, it’s now time to tackle the complexities of our midfield. Having read an excellent piece on our midfield from Mark Norris over the weekend, I hope you find the following stirs up further debate.
Where to start? No better place than our two holding players – Etienne Capoue and Sandro. The former looked to be on his way out in January as the gaffer appeared reluctant to play a holding player, but after thumping Newcastle last time out with Capoue back in the squad, I’m guessing a change of heart is in order.
It would’ve been something of a shock for the Spurs hierarch to admit defeat in selling Capoue so soon after his purchase, and having watched him in our opening game against the Gooners, I was most enthused with his energetic display. An injury sustained in that match saw him out of the side for over a month, but when he did return he failed to shine.
For me Capoue is decent back up for ‘The Beast’, and worth his place warming the bench, but the general consensus amongst Spurs fans is that Sandro is our Number One. Not one to shirk a tackle, he does a great job of cleaning up teammates’ mistakes and puts the wind up the opposition. My one negative from a few years back (though not so much a part of his game now) is that he was prone, as was Scott Parker, to giving away free kicks in dangerous places. But I’m a big fan, as I believe every team needs a strong arm in the middle of the park.
Moving to the more creative parts of the field, Mousa Dembélé is a number one choice on current display. It’s no wonder the guy has hip problems – for a big guy, the way he turns on a sixpence is something to see. He can tackle, regain a lost ball and shuffle his way into a shooting position, all while taking several of the opposing players out of the game as he looks for that killer pass.
The biggest surprise under Tim Sherwood’s embryonic tenure so far has been the introduction of the composed, yet inexperienced Nabil Bentaleb. As Mark Norris pointed out in his article, Bentaleb wouldn’t be a starter for me, as on-loan Tom Carroll is no worse (though almost half Bentaleb’s size). It is hard to believe at least one of our international players shouldn’t be ahead of young Bentaleb at this stage.
Fair play to Sherwood for giving this youngster an opportunity, as he shows composure, a decent pass and can break up play; however, he has been found wanting against the better teams. A slower introduction via the Europa League, League Cup, FA Cup and the lesser sides in the PL might serve him and the team better.
Like Capoue, Christian Eriksen also enjoyed a stellar debut, with one of the most intelligent lay-offs for a goal I’ve seen all season. Like the former, Eriksen also has failed to look worth his place on more than one occasion. To be fair, he is still adapting to the pace here, as are so many of the newcomers this term, and has punched above his weight more often than not so deserves to be a starter.
The one player in the centre of the park I’m still scratching my head over is Paulinho. The classy Brazilian has looked disinterested and bemused at times when losing the ball, with no great urgency to track back. ‘That’s unfair’, I hear some of you scream, but he is one of those players that can be a liability one minute and a match winner the next. I wonder if Tim has issued some rockets up his backside at some of the half-time talks?
Hang in there with me, just the wingers to go. For me, Nacer Chadli hasn’t shown he is PL class so I wouldn’t be sad to see him packed off to pastures new, despite his rocket goal at Newcastle. Aaron Lennon is a good old stick. A bit like Daws, he tends to put his heart and soul into the game, though he is prone to having a quiet game and his dodgy hamstrings are a concern.
Our new post-Gareth Bale hope, in the form of Andros Townsend was a breath of fresh air at the beginning of the season. When I hear him speak, there appears to be a genuine passion in his voice that suggests he is relentless in wanting to improve himself. He comes across as quite humble, which is refreshing to hear amongst some of the egos in the game these days.
I believe some teams have started to ‘read’ his movements on the pitch, which appears to have stifled his improvement, but playing time is only going to improve him. Already the impact he has made on the England team already has been quite breathtaking.
Glyfi Sigurdsson is another player who on occasions has come off the bench to change a game, and now that he’s back off the crocked list it will be interesting to see how much he figures in Sherwood’s plans. The ideal sub for me.
The one I feel slightly sorry for is Erik Lamela. I know, I know – but hear me out. As Tottenham’s record signing, the pressure he must be feeling can only be imagined, and this is compounded by well-documented family and relocation issues. Given the circumstances and the few games played thus far, I refuse to believe he is only as good, or poor as he has shown us so far. He needs a run in the side so I’m hoping we don’t give up on him just yet, as we could rue selling him on only to see him thrive elsewhere on the continent.
To cap off, my midfield would read Dembélé and Eriksen (with Sandro in behind if playing away or against a top four side), supported by Lennon and Townsend on the wings. Lamela, Paulinho and Sigurdsson on rotation.
Why don’t you get involved and tell us who your midfield dynamos would consist of?
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