Tottenham’s shape and midfield

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

With Sandro returning from injury soon, how will we organise our midfield ? Sandro for me is the heart and soul of our team and unless he is injured he should be playing every Premier League game. Put simply Sandro Raniere Guimarães Cordeiro is a demi god – he is “The Beast”. The idea that Sherwood does not want to play a holding midfielder was trashed as we thumped Newcastle last Wednesday night. Capoue was designated holding midfielder, as admitted by Bentaleb in an interview after the Newcastle game, with Paulinho and Bentaleb as the number 8’s. Dembele was sent out to the right where he occasionally swapped with Lennon on the left. Personally much as I appreciate Dembele for doing a manful job out wide he was really wasted. He, more than anyone in a Spurs shirt, has the ability to glide effortlessly past opposition. Whilst he hasn’t always been that productive, it opens the game up for others. Capoue has been off the pace every time he plays and it is only a matter of time before he is red carded. The choice between Dembele and Paulinho is a more difficult one and they do seem some what interchangeable – so perhaps it is a form choice – whomever is in form gets the shout. For me that is Dembele right now.

Looking at our formation we seem to play two up front when playing poorer opposition (especially at home) that would leave 4 in the midfield. Lennon or Townsend wide right and Eriksen wide left with Dembele and Sandro in the middle. Sandro with the holding role. When we play with a loan striker (obviously Adebayor) I would like to see Sandro as the holding midfielder with Dembele and Eriksen (as a number 10) in the middle, with Lennon on one side and Townsend on the other. This allows wingers to swap out, Paulinho to come in as a sub for Dembele if we are losing or if Mousa is having a poor game and for Eriksen if we want to close the game out.

Bentaleb would be on my bench along with Paulinho, Lamela (when fit – Chadli otherwise), Chiriches, Dawson, Soldado and Friedel. Sigurdsson doesn’t make my bench neither does Naughton nor Harry Kane nor Capoue nor Chadli once Lamela gets fit.

I think that Tim Sherwood may not hold the same level of fondness for Sandro as I do and he may well persevere with Bentaleb but in March we have some tough games and “The Beast” will definitely be required not least because Bentaleb looks out of his depth against the bigger teams. With the mobility of Kaboul and the finesse and game reading ability of Vertonghen we are really solid at the back. I will miss Dawson’s commitment but little else ! Chiriches scares me when he starts turning on the ball. The Beast would solidify the centre of the park and we might start fulfilling our potential.

What would you do with our midfield ?

Against Liverpool would you play both Capoue and Sandro as holding midfielders ?

Have something to tell us about this article?


  1. Hi Mark, I think you have it pretty much spot on. Sandro when fit, must play and I think we could do worse than play a holding mid in all games. For me its a shoot out between Sandro & Capuoe. Also agree ref the front four. The only doubt in my mind right now is Lennon, his form isn't great, but with Dembele doing a decent job on the right and other options all of a sudden we don't look to bad do we?
    If Kaboul stays fit then our back 4 of him Jan, Kyle and Danny have pace and strength so we can play a slightly higher line. I don't rate Liverpool's back 4 at all, but their attack is the best in the league right now. So it may all be decided in midfield, whoever we go with must put pressure on Gerrad, if we can stop him dictating the tempo we have a decent chance. COYS – @AdamWright1991

    • Thanks for your input Adam. I think Lennon's poor form is down to how quickly we get him the ball. An early ball gives Lennon a chance to open up. You might also see that his movement opens up acres of space for Walker which has got more apparent this calender year. I also admire Lennon's work rate – rarely absent when needed for defensive duties (Andros doesn't really get involved consistently).

  2. Frankly
    I feel a 4-4-2 might do

    Walker, vertonghen, chiriches (or kaboul), rose
    Lennon, paulinho, sandro, eriksen
    Soldado, adebayor

    • Frankly I think not !! – that 4-4-2 formation is naive against teams with attacking capable midfields like Chelski, Arse, Liverpool and even Southampton. At the Lane Sherwood is under pressure to attack and entertain but against Everton he went with the one striker – shows his mindset – remember it was a "cup final" !!

  3. Good Article

    I agree with most of your views especially that Sandro should start when fit.

    Depending on who we are playing against the midfield would change. With the last 12 games of the season I would suggest two holding midfielders will be deployed against Chelsea and Liverpool away and possibly Arsenal at home depending on the result we are looking to get.

    I would suggest that if we had one holding midfielder I would play


    ——Dembele—- Beteleb——-


    I think Erikson offers more than Townsend in the team. Lennon and Townsend can rotate depending who is in form. Dembele is missed in the middle when played out wide.

    If we want two holding drop Benteleb deeper or bring Copoue in.

    I have left out Paulinho however with 12 games to go we will need Benteleb, Dembele, Paulinho and Erikson all rotating.

    I would also like to see if everyone agrees that Kaboul and Vertoghen should start together at the back? Dawson has looked lackluster at times, he will be good cover for those two – especially with them both coming back from injury.

    • I agree that the natural width of Townsend and Lennon offers another dimension to the team. Except I feel you can't leave Dembele out. He is too good of a player and offers more than both Townsend and Paulinho.

      • How about this then?


  4. Almost certainly agree that Sandro is the first name on the sheet, just maybe at the moment behind Adebayor and Lloris. Capoue however looks a step slow and is still getting used to the pace of the PL. Dembele goes left only so he really needs to be in the middle of the field. Eriksen looks to me like Modric did in his first season, he has the best touch on the team but gets banged around in really physical games. Everton gave him a genuine beating. Having said that, he’s still got to play, because next season he’ll be irreplaceable. And then there’s Paulinho, just before he got injured he was untouchable, so don’t judge on his first game back. By March when we hit the real tough part of the schedule he’ll be all the way back and we’ll need him. He’s gotta play too

    • I agree Larry, Paulinho looked great in the Stoke game prior to meeting meathead Adam. But not so great in other games. He is another one yet to find his feet in the EPL. 100% with you on Eriksen. Perhaps it was a bad idea to buy 7 new talents that need game time to evolve into EPL stars ? Lesson learnt anyone ?

  5. Why not play a holding midfielder?? Why have two midfielders who switch between defensive and attacking duties throughout a match when you can simply delegate duties and have specialists. For me, 4-2-3-1 is a far more effective formation for Spurs at the moment. It allows us to play the key players we have (Townsend, Sandro, Eriksen, Paulinho, Dembele) at once. With 4-4-2, someone has to miss out, and we don’t exactly have two fantastic strikers to accommodate that setup. Our best setup imo is Sandro alongside a box-to-box midfielder like Paulinho or Bentaleb with Eriksen as the attacking midfielder. I don’t mind having Dembele on the right as I think he is far better when his first instinct is to run instead of passing and I reckon its about time we start getting more goals out of him. Against Liverpool, we don’t necessarily have to play two holding midfielders, we just have to maintain a strong defensive presence to handle the 3 S’s and to press Coutinho. The golden rule when playing Liverpool imo, is to not overcommit players in attack. Counter-attack is the best way to take them on and we have the players to do exactly that (as we did at OT).

  6. …well get Sandro fit and able to play a run of games first. Until then, it should be Chadli….who did not get credit for a good performance… WHEN we need a defensive midfielder. Sandro needs to be managed as he is a bit fragile. As for Kaboul,mhe especially needs managing. He is not back yet, and we should use he sparingly.i would still save him for Europa until he proves dependability. Sherwood will play Bentaleb, so let's not moan about it, and actually reflect that we have got a great run of results with him in the heart of midfield. He can't be doing badly then.

    • Tony do you mean Capoue – Chadli did absolutely nothing other than score a very fine goal ! As for Kaboul he has been available for a couple of weeks so he should be fit enough to play but we all agree that a player who always seems to be injured is useless to us. I still think it was premature to ship out Caulker.

  7. Isn't what's caught up with us the last couple of years is playing the same players every week until they're exhausted? Dembele in particular looked dead on his feet towards the end of last season. I'd like to see Sandro playing against the best opposition but Capoue enabling him to have a rest some matches: likewise Bentelab is the ideal player to rotate with Dembele and give him a much needed rest. we've got a large squad and need to look how clubs like Chelsea use theirs: not just 'best XI ever week'.

  8. I beg to differ. Sandro is a liability n is a negative player. Have observed him many years n all he does is mostly pass the ball back to defenders. He lacks creativity n his passing is quite horribl, losses the ball easily. Reminds me of another david batty, who was just making up number. Gareth Barry is miles ahead of Sandro. Sandro should be shipped out urgently.

    • Vince must say I disagree with you completely Sandro is a tremendous power house and I am happy that he wins the ball and completes the pass which is what he is really good at – one of the top players in Europe at interceptions, tackles and completed passes !


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