Andre Villas Boas’s flat midfield does Roberto Soldado no good

Blog by: TRP
Wenger’s capture of Mesut Ozil in the last hour of the window might have stolen much of the thunder from the rest of the league, but AVB and Daniel Levy’s miraculous deals have left even their supporters stunned.

As the initial 3 weeks of EPL flew by, AVB was able to display all his signing at some point of time, except the most recent Eriksen. And looking at the roles that the Portuguese manager has allotted to the likes of Paulinho, Chadli and Capoue, his new star upfront Soldado seems to be barely involved.

Roberto Soldado

A look back at last season’s Spurs will see a plethora of No.10s in the squad, with Dempsey, Holtby, Sigurdsson and Bale regularly flourishing in the hole. The situation now is quite the reverse. Now, AVB having added the final piece of this puzzle by bringing in a sure-shot 20 goal machine, seems to have switched off the route to the box itself.

Paulinho is exactly what Spurs needed after Parker and Huddlestone were almost single-handedly responsible for all the mix-ups in the middle of the pitch last season.

The Brazilian, who had an exceptional ConFed Cup, was touted to be used as the box to box midfielder in AVB’s double pivot in the centre, but now finds himself mostly as the attacking source of the midfield trio.

This has led to the three players in the centre becoming extremely flat. Though this will definitely improve the sturdiness in the centre, but due to much lesser flair on the wings, now AVB’s team is missing a proper No.10 to feed in Soldado.

Soldado is quite close to beign the perfect striker for the PL and is known to be deadly at making runs into the channels to feed on through balls. But apart from Gylfi in the Crystal Palace game, AVB has not yet fielded a proper No. 10 yet. And the figures show exactly that: Out of the 490 passes that Spurs played against Swansea there was only 1 through ball played upfront, and 48% of the 21 shots attempts were from outside the box.

Similarly in the Arsenal game, out of the 548 passes attempted there, was only 1 through ball played, with 71% of the shots coming from outside the box. Contrarily, Arsenal recorded 6 through balls upfront with an overload of Cazorla and Rosicky in the No.10 spot.

Paulinho’s directness from the centre is quite coherent with AVB’s philosophy of vertical football, and Dembele’s style of gliding with the ball from deeper positions, does not help the cause.

As can be seen from the depictions above, most of the passes from midfield are lateral and barely has there been a chance taken of finding Soldado. In fact, the Spanish striker’s only role until now has been to hold up the ball and bring in Townsend on the left. Even this seemed to fail against the likes of Koscielny on Sunday.

When the midfield is this flat, the only remaining option is to play a 4-3-3 with highly attacking wingers. Andros Townsend seems to a likely candidate in this regard on the left, as he was seen repeatedly beating Gibbs while cutting-in on Sunday.

Despite his impressive efforts till now, club record signing Eric Lamela seems destined to take that spot. The 20-year-old Argentine will surely add an extra bite upfront, and his cut-in runs from the left again demand a proper No.10 who can find these.

Nacer Chadli on the right came in with much less fanfare, though being a Belgian he is now expected to deliver much more. His style is quite similar to his compatriot Miralas in Merseyside, though his towering physique has seen him being used as the target man in the centre on a couple of occasions.

Chadli is often seen hugging the touchline, and his neat flicks are a constant inspiration for Danny Rose to keep rushing ahead. The Belgian seems to be a definite option for AVB throughout the season, and this leaves Townsend surely as the one to be replaced by Lamela.

With the defence sorted out well, the roles of Holtby and Eriksen are the only question marks in this side. Holtby was rumoured to be unsettled in London, but the German U-21 captain holds a highly important role in this team for AVB.

Eriksen though will be expected to shift in smoothly into the No. 10 spot, will definitely need time to step up to the standard of English football. Even then, Lewis Holtby seems to be a better creative and goal scoring option in the hole for AVB.


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