Guard your flanks !

Image: SpursWeb

Well, well, well – here are we post defeat at the hands of the third most expensive football team in the world (I made that up – not the defeat – but it sounds about right). I hear murmurings of “this is progress” or “we competed”. Well didn’t we lose well ? It feels good to lose ? I am sorry “To Dare is to Do” is not how I see us moving forward. I don’t think we “dare” and we certainly didn’t “do”.

Yes Lampard is a cheat – the offside position and the penalty – but how naïve is young Lamela. The answer is very ! I have said this before and I will say it again we can’t play Lamela and Eriksen in the same team. Add Chadli and you have 3 midfielders who have distinct trouble in getting back efficiently. I hate to say this but there are many examples of attacking midfielders that get back defensively and do a fine job – Rooney is a good example (when he plays am) – Hazard, Milner, Oscar, anyone from Swansea !, even the Ass (no that is OX – sorry), Ramsarse too gets up and down when fit, Sterling does too but like Lamela he shouldn’t, Aguero is also a work horse and Ross Barkley etc etc. So we don’t have the skills or the discipline to play Pochatino’s pressing game. we are too weak down the flanks. How many times do good teams trouble us down the flanks ? Manskitty spent all their time running and laughing down both flanks but particularly at Broadway Danny Rose. With no real cover, he stood no chance.

Chelski can play that pressing game so can Manskitty but we bloody can’t. Both can break down the wings with speed with full backs that get crosses in and score goals. I will tell you why we are in trouble. Our full backs are not good enough. Yes Rose is playing better than last season. Unfortunately Walker is injured and fortunately so is Naughton. But in reality Dier is a central defender and Rose is a converted winger. Rose is excelling at neither at the moment. Alas poor Ben Davies has been shocking so far at the Lane – he was my big hope. So our best left back (we all know) is Vertonghen but he doesn’t like playing football with us anymore – especially at left back. Walker we do miss but he is only good at going forward he has the positional sense of a lemming (no not a Lamela- oh yes like a Lamela !). How many times has that diagonal ball completely flummoxed Kyle Walker ?  – it is simply too complicated for him – it does involve angles, tricky things them ! Look at Chelski’s full backs – Ivanovic and Azpilicueta, or at Manskitty – Zabelletta and Kolarov. Even look at Everton’s Baines and Coleman. This is really important this bit – so pay attention. Rose, Naughton, and Dier are not good enough for us to succeed. Walker and Davies give us a chance but not much. The season when BAE and Walker were playing well (3/4 seasons ago) we were much better. Bale and Lennon were playing well and both worked hard to cover their full backs. But that isn’t happening anymore. Dier gets no comfort from Lamela’s forays into defense and Rose gets no help from Chadli. Eriksen does get back to better effect but he is our most creative player – he is supposed to play through the middle. Our subs don’t help, when An Dross comes on we aren’t any better off, even Harry Kane has scored an OG this year, and poor old Arron Lennon looks knackered and out of ideas.

So now we come to our misdiagnosed problem. Forwards. Most teams have 4 we have 3. Unfortunately all of our three are not scoring. So, clearly we need one. Even poor teams have a good striker Bony, Benteke, Pelle, Lukaku, Sakho. We knew we needed one over each of the last two seasons so if one of the three don’t step up soon we need to buy a new one in January. I am of the opinion that all three of our strikers would succeed if our fullbacks were better at going forward and if out wide midfielders are better at offering cover. 

To sum up : the full backs aren’t getting enough cover from the wide midfielders, and none of our fullbacks are good enough. As a consequence wide midfielders are trying to get back but don’t succeed and neither are fast so they don’t get forward fast enough after they have struggled to get back. It highlights our bad defending from the flanks and is the reason our forwards are getting poor service. It also draws central defenders and central defensive midfielders out wide and can leave us open through the middle. It is a problem that Pochettino inherited. He needs a solution rather quickly.

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