Tottenham’s line-up for Sunday - thoughts and fears 2

Joe Greenwood gives his take on the current selection policy at White Hart Lane and explores the options available for Sunday…


This Sunday, Spurs take on Newcastle at midday, and it should provide a good indication of how Andre Villas-Boas will pick his team for the rest of the reason.

The defence is starting to pick itself at this point. Whilst Danny Rose is still injured, Jan Vertonghen has been very solid, and against Everton last week he was the best player on the pitch - along with Vlad Chiriches who with each passing game is becoming harder to drop. And even though they are susceptible to mistakes, Michael Dawson and Kyle Walker have been solid but unspectacular.

For me Villas-Boas, two major selection issues: who will play along side Sandro, and who will provide the width.

For many fans and outside observers, Andros Townsend has been Spurs’ most dynamic player, but in reality he hasn’t produced that much. The Everton game was a good example of his season so far; strong running to force the opposition back, before cutting inside off his wing and either shooting tamely or being indecisive and allowing the defence to crowd him out. Now is the time for AVB to put his trust in Erik Lamela, a player who has yet to produce his best stuff for his new team, but in all reality he hasn’t been given the opportunity to do that, frequently coming on as a sub and being unable to find his footing within the game.

On the left-flank, Gylfi Sigurdsson has to start. He’s scored three goals from this position, combining well with Christian Eriksen and Roberto Soldado against Norwich and Chelsea, and has on numerous occasions either hit the woodwork or made the goalkeeper work for his save, and not just hit it straight at him. Additionally, Sigurdsson provides the kind of defensive cover that no other player in that role is currently able to offer.

In deep-midfield, Spurs have used Moussa Dembele (too slow and cautious with his passing) and Paulinho (still adjusting to new surroundings) together with mixed results, and with Sandro. An interesting move would be to play Lewis Holtby with Sandro. Against Everton and Aston Villa, AVB used Holtby as a supporting player behind Soldado, which would work well if Holtby’s natural inclination wasn’t to go looking for the ball, frequently leaving Soldado isolated up-front. A better option would be for Holtby to play next to Sandro, which would then allow Holtby to go looking for the ball, and giving a direct supply line to the more static Christian Eriksen, who is someone who waits for the ball to come to him.

In reality we won’t see this. It’ll be the same team we saw against Everton, the same labouring to create an opening, and probably the same result. Spurs are so close to finding the right combination these current performances become all the more frustrating.

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