Inside Lane: A new solution to Spurs’ striking problem?

11:20 06 November 2012

Tottenham

Tottenham's Ryan Mason (left) in action against Carlisle in the Capital One Cup

EMPICS Sport

Tottenham blogger Chris Miller examines the Lilywhites’ selection issues up front and suggests some alternative candidates for the No10 role.

Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson were seen by many Spurs fans as direct replacements for Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric.

Simply put, they are not. Not only are they both a level below that of the outgoing duo, they are both very different types of players.

Modric loved to get on the ball in deep midfield, and either keep possession with intelligent passing and movement or drive forward, using his dribbling ability to ghost past the opposition midfield.

Meanwhile, Van der Vaart was a player who dropped into the space between the front man and midfield, linking play with one-twos, playing reverse passes or simply ensuring that we kept the ball for long periods. The common theme is that they were both possession players who rarely lost the ball, and often created chances.

Sigurdsson’s main strengths are his late running into the box, his shooting from distance and his dead-ball delivery, while Dempsey’s main strength is his ability to come in off the flank untracked and get shots away.

Neither is a possession player. Neither is likely to drop deep and dictate or even to link play. To expect either to play a Modric or a Van der Vaart role is unrealistic.

However, whilst neither is a direct replacement, I do not feel that Andres Villas-Boas will get the best out of either while Jermain Defoe is leading the line.

Defoe’s scoring record this season has been reasonable - five goals in 13 starts and one substitute appearance in all competitions.

Yet it has often been said that if Defoe doesn’t score, he achieves very little - not least in games like Saturday’s against Wigan, where he only touched the ball 11 times.

To select Sigurdsson or Dempsey along with Defoe means that you are essentially picking two forward players who aren’t too interested in build-up play.

Conversely, we have a player in Emmanuel Adebayor who thrives on this side of the game, who encourages ball retention around the opposition box and is therefore much better suited to playing with either.

The main criticism of Adebayor among fans is that he is not predatory enough - yet he has a better strike-rate in English football than Defoe.

But it is not the strike-rate that differentiates him from Defoe - nor is it his strength or physical presence, although they help.

The key to Adebayor being a leader of the line is his intelligence. He has a terrific awareness of other players, and is very unselfish. Indeed, he was the only player in the Premier League last season to get into double figures for both goals AND assists.

Last campaign both Sigurdsson and Dempsey showed their qualities when linking with a striker who can retain the ball in the final third and bring others into the game - Danny Graham for Sigurdsson at Swansea, and Bobby Zamora for Dempsey at Fulham before his move to QPR in January. We will surely see the best of both when Adebayor becomes a first-team regular again.

However, my suggestion is more left-field. Why not play a more natural No10? If Villas-Boas is prepared to put his trust in Sigurdsson (23) and Jake Livermore (22) then why not Yago Falque (22) or Ryan Mason (21)?

Both are far more suited to the traditional No10 role. They thrive on having the ball at their feet - at passing and moving, at unlocking defences.

They will create an option for a deep midfield duo who desperately need options ahead of them - note Tom Huddlestone’s constant sideways passes on Saturday due to a lack of movement in the final third. They are young, raw players and will make mistakes, but no more than Sigurdsson or Dempsey are making right now.

Falque showed a level of maturity in his performance against Norwich last week, making intelligent decisions and delivering well into the box.

He has predominantly played from the right flank in his appearances so far, but seems well-equipped to play centrally, possessing decent strength on the ball and good vision.

As for Mason, he is a somewhat “un-English” player, and I have enjoyed watching him play since he was 16.

Even in those days, he always played like he was 10 years older - his appreciation for other players always stood out - and I think that now, with Sigurdsson and Dempsey low in confidence and struggling for form, is a perfect opportunity to blood him.

Follow me on Twitter @WindyCOYS

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Tottenham news

Friday, May 27, 2016
SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 27: England players celebrate with Marcus Rashford after he scored in the first half during the International Friendly match between England and Australia at Stadium of Light on May 27, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Marcus Rashford scored after just two minutes to become the youngest player to score on their England debut while Wayne Rooney came off the bench to net as England beat Australia 2-1 at the Stadium of Light. Here’s how we rated England.

Saturday, May 28, 2016
Arsenal's new signing Granit Xhaka has 41 caps for Switzerland(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

West Ham are currently the only London side playing a pre-season friendly in the capital ahead of the 2016/17 Premier League season.

Friday, May 27, 2016
SIX-FOURS-LES-PLAGES, FRANCE - MAY 25: Lewis Baker of England (C) celebrates his side's first goal during the Toulon Tournament match between Paraguay and England at  Stade Antoinr Baptiste on May 25, 2016 in Six-Fours-Les-Plages, France. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

England Under-21s reached the final of the Toulon Tournament for the first time in 22 years after a 1-0 win over Japan.

Friday, May 27, 2016
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 22:  Dele Alli of England signals during the International Friendly match between England and Turkey at Etihad Stadium on May 22, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has credited the trust put in him by manager Mauricio Pochettino as the foundation behind his remarkable first season at White Hart Lane this year.

Competitions

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Read more
Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Read more

Quizzes

If you remember this lot you'll love our new West Ham quiz!

One for the West Ham anoraks out there, 18 fiendish questions designed to test your knowledge to the limit.

If this guy rings a bell you'll love our 17 question West Ham quiz (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

We’ve taken a trip down memory lane and dug up some fantastic West Ham squad photoshoots but how many of those in claret and blue can you name?

Latest Tech News

Transport