Midfield Overload or Exceptional Planning?


The sun begins to set on another stimulating transfer bazaar, and we of the Spurs clan will doubtless have mixed feelings as to the comings and (now virtually inevitable) goings at the Lane.

In my last piece, I suggested that Gareth may remain with us throughout another season, however with the acquisitions of both Erik Lamela and Christian Erikson, it now seems more likely than ever that he will be leaving for greasier pastures.

Yet I am not disheartened, for Eriksen (as I have had the pleasure of witnessing with mine own eyes) and Lamela (as I am led to believe through numerous sources I am powerless but to defer to) are very capable replacements.

But these new recruits do leave Tottenham with an abundance of worthy soldiers in the middle of the park, and final attacking third, and one would be forgiven for pondering how they can all be accommodated.

However, there is one very simple way that they can be, all of them- except perhaps Gylfi Sigurdsson, whom I am sorry to say, may not be able to compete for a starting birth amongst the other candidates unless he significantly enhances his game. The way that I refer to is this:

We play different teams, and need different players to beat them!

I know this seems like a crazy idea when we all pick a strongest eleven in our minds every season, but we need to accept that the strongest eleven for one game might not win us the next.

An illustration of this is a team which ‘parks the bus’. Tottenham’s traditionally open, counter attacking style of play is effective against most teams who play a similarly open, attacking formula, as the pace we have on the counter is so dangerous. We can literally outpace any team and score lightening quick goals before they even realise their corner didn’t result in a goal for their team.

However this is not a fool proof formula. It requires a high opposition defensive line; it requires significant opposition midfield advancement, and it requires
our players to be faster than their players.

With Gareth this was easier, but in his absence we need an alternative solution. Not only in his absence I might add, as on numerous occasions with Gareth, Tottenham could not find that killer pass to get a decisive goal.

The teams where this was a problem, were those that ‘parked the proverbial bus’. They left now space behind defenders. They barely attacked; their goal was to stifle our attack, keep a clean sheet and get a well deserved point.

But now Tottenham have the players to break them down.

It is likely that our formation will be either 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 depending on who we play against, and it is generally accepted that the striker will be Soldado in any event, and that two wide players from Chadli, Lennon, Townsend and Lamela will provide attacking support.

The key to defeating those teams that park the bus and those teams challenging for the title or rivalling for fourth, that we simply need to beat, will be the use of either formation, but in particular with the allotted personnel.

4-2-3-1 will be the formation against the teams that park the bus. The wide players and striker will be as aforementioned, yet the midfield will be geared towards creativity and goals. So often in the past have we lacked that killer pass in the final third, or the ingenuity to play through a team when pace has proven unsuccessful, yet now we may be able to achieve this. Players of the calibre of Holtby and Erikson can provide serious creativity for our forward players. Add in a Sandro for defensive measure and we have both a solid and inventive side which could break through a team playing on the edge of their own 18 yard line.

Yet conversely, when playing against a better side, one adept at keeping possession and creating dangerous chances of their own, we are more likely to play a 4-3-3; the front three again as aforementioned, yet in this scenario, the middle three will be taken up by any three of Paulinho, Sandro, Capoue or Dembele. The aim of such a midfield will be to retain control and avoid defeat at any cost. We will still retain pace and ability score via the counter, yet will operate far more solidly than in previous years.

The road to Champions League football will not be simply through winning games, but through not losing to rivals

Tottenham now have the personnel to provide the maximum chance of achieving both of those goals. It is an exciting time to be at the Lane, and throughout the course of a long season, all will have their parts to play…unless your name is Gylfi that is.

Sorry Gylfi mate, but in what promises to be a hot and spicy season at the Lane, you just don’t cut the mustard!


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When finding time away from the cut and thrust of the courtroom and student exams, Glenn is an avid Tottenham Hospur fan, so apologies for any hint of bias appearing within the articles (But then this is a Spurs site, so what do you expect!) He combines an eternal optimism with an intellectually stimulated cynicism when it comes to his beloved Tottenham, and feels that best piece of transfer business in the last few years was selling Jermaine Jenas for ACTUAL money! An actual fee was paid! He still can't believe it!


  1. First. His name is Eriksen (Not Erikson).
    Second. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Eriksen are quite alike. If you think Eriksen has the pace of Townsend or Lennon you will get disappointed. Even their mentality is alike and they will be proper team-players without much fuss.
    Third. Do I need to remind you of the time it took Bale to adapt. Both Gylfi and Christian need time to adapt.

    • Gylfi and Eriksen are nothing alike Eriksen is much more technical in the mould of Madrid or vdv and his through balls and skills so the talking also bale came at 17 from Southampton while Eriksen comes at 25 from Dutch champions and regular champions league team Ajax also gylfi has has a year and is not good enough.for the squad he should be sold

      • My dear spurs-freind. Gylfi played as a winger last year !. If you play Christian as a winger he will fail just as well. To sell him is propably right because I want him to succeed. But I feel sorry for my fellow country man (Christian) if he does not get to play behind a strong striker.

  2. Disagree with how the formations would be set up depending on the team we play. I'd probably suggest the 4-2-3-1 is more suitable against tougher teams as the 2 holding players help nullify attacking threat and allow us to spring on the counter. The 4-3-3 is much more suited against teams that are tough to break down since 2 of the midfield 3 can be freed to be more creative, and in a much more patient manner, whilst the wide men are also able to provide an extra goal threat and are unlikely to track back as much (something you'd need for them to do against a more competitive team).

    Other than that I agree, and the important and impressive thing is we're in a position now where we can tailor the players to the team we're playing and rotate naturally rather than doing so simply for the sake of keeping players fresh. Plus we'll have great tactical options from the bench…holding onto a lead with 20 minutes to go but happy with how the shape of the team is working? Bring Holtby or Dembele on for Eriksen, maybe swap out Paulinho for Capoue…same shape but a much tougher team to break down at the expense of some creativity. It's frightening at just how much depth we have in midfield, and yet with their differing respective skillsets and the number of matches this season you can't see anyone really losing out on game time. Gylfi probably is the only exception, another player capable of pressing and getting stuck in high up the pitch but with less ability at linking midfield to attack than Holtby or Dembele. It's a shame because I do like him but I do think we should cash in on him now…especially when you consider Eriksen and Lamela, whilst counting as U21 this season will need to be added to the 25 man squad list the following season.

  3. It's not a crazy idea but necessary common sense to have players who can create teams with different styles.
    Great teams always have multiple playing methods: counterattack, winger & .target man. central pressing, direct and long ball etc and having p[layers who excel at various areas gives the flexibility required to do this. Everyone obsesses with the 4-4-2 or the 4-3-3 or the 4-2-3-1 etc but all of these are just the scaffolding upon which you place a style of play or combination of styles. The Double Team could switch style without a change in pattern or shape or they could change their pattern at will. In theory it was a 3-2-2-3 but in practice it was any combination deemed necessary by Nicholson and often Mackay dropped back to create what would now be called a back 4 although Ramsey is usually given the credit for 4 at the back

  4. Do we think Lennon will want to leave Spurs considering the form of Townsend and a number of quality wide men coming in this summer? There were rumours last year that he wanted to leave and go back up north maybe he will get his way this year?

    Personally I think he should stay as we need the strength and depth in every position, especially as Townsend is still young and may struggle to maintain the same level of performance throughout the season but, sorry Lennon, I think his lack of end product means he will start most games on the bench. It doesn't really matter how many ppl he can run past if he constantly struggles to create assists for the team.


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