As the new season kicks off from what has been a busy if not hectic summer for Tottenham Hotspur, with transfer rumours and speculation, players coming in and players being moved on. For the first transfer window in a while Daniel Levy has cracked open the dusty checkbook and spent big, bringing in Roberto Soldado (£26 million), Nacer Chadli (£6 million), Paulinho (£17 million) and Etienne Capoue (£9.4 million). Although some of this cash has been supplemented by Villas-Boas’s “revolving door transfer policy” of quickly moving on players he finds excess to requirements like Huddlestone, Gallas, Dempsey and Cudicini. I feel overall it seems to have left the squad in a much stronger position, with more depth, quality and desire when compared to the start of last season.
Spurs started this season playing a 4-2-3-1 formation against Crystal Palace and won 1-0. We struggled to build in the centre of the pitch during the first half but grew into the game and dominated for most the the second. In what was a solid performance and positive start to the season. The first thought that comes to mind is “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” yet on the other hand AVB may want to slightly alter things as Bale and Sandro become available to play again.
The question moving forward from our first win is what formation can get the best out of our players? Last season we played a 4-2-3-1 shape with Dembele and Sandro making up the central duo. However with the addition of the impressive Capoue and the highly rated Paulinho to our squad, it will leave three or four top quality players vying for 2 places. Villas-Boas may intend to tactically rotate the positions from week to week, or else he could play with 3 central midfielders in a 4-3-3 shape. This would certainly give Tottenham more control over the middle of the park, would help us to keep possession and win the ball back quicker. And would mean Lennon and Bale would support Soldado from the wings.
Raising the debate of where exactly to play Gareth Bale (assuming he stays at Spurs). Last season saw Bale move into a no.10 role playing behind the striker, this allowed him to reach new heights; scoring 21 goals, winning worldwide acclaim and both PFA Player of the Year awards. This adds another layer of complexity to the question of formation, as Bale excels at the centre of the attacking trio in the 4-2-3-1 style. Although you can’t set up your entire team to suit one player, the fact is getting the best out of Bale is key to Tottenham’s success.
With our central midfielders favouring a 4-3-3 shape but with Bale more suited to 4-2-3-1, it’ll be quite a challenge for AVB to chose a formation that best suits the side.
Yet I have no doubt that this Spurs team will continue to improve and develop throughout the season and under the management of Villas-Boas, can find the perfect formation to get the best out of all the players and take the club onwards and upwards.
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