Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday Musings: Spurs Confusion

Spurs confusion
Three loses in a row and now it’s really problems for Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas. The problems, though, are of his own making.

Since taking over AVB has come across as uncertain of his plan, and whatever the reasons for selling Rafael van der Vaart and Giovani dos Santos are, they better be very good.

Tottenham are a fine team with quality players in every position. However, Villas-Boas has regularly appeared unsure in the league this season.

One problem for Spurs has become the player who plays behind the main striker – a position in which van der Vaart and Giovanni specialise.
With Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson not yet performing to top four standards this season, it is Tottenham’s main weakness and has muddled issues even more in terms of who the team’s front two should be.
Off you go!
The turning point... Adebayor sent off against Arsenal 
It was always a moot point regarding who should start up front, new big signing Emmanuel Adebayor or in-form Jermain Defoe. After initially opting for Defoe, Villas Boas seemingly gave in to pressure from Adebayor and started the Togo striker last weekend against City. And after Dempsey’s limp display at the Etihad, he compromised again against Arsenal by starting both Adebayor and Defoe.

To be fair to AVB, the match against Arsenal changed on Adebayor’s early dismissal regardless of Spurs manager’s assertions to the contrary, including claiming Tottenham had dominated from the first to last minute.

However, this just shows the folly of picking Adebayor in the first place, a very combustible player at the best of times. That and playing Hugo Lloris in goals are worrying signs of a coach who is unsure and is easily swayed – from making the signings in the first place and now to picking a consistent first eleven.

Spurs had done quite well until Defoe was sacrificed for Adebayor and Lloris took the place of Brad Friedel in goal.

Against Arsenal there was also a lack of tactical discipline and fortitude from Spurs after they went down to ten men. Gareth Bale didn’t help Kyle Naughton enough on the left against Theo Walcott and Tom Huddletsone, in particular, was very sloppy in midfield, surprising because he’d performed quite well this season.

For Arsenal there was a ruthlessness which they should take forward. Although Arsenal were playing 10 men, and even though there was a period of worrying nervousness when Spurs pulled it back to 4-2, you can’t argue with a 5-2 final score.

For Tottenham, they face West Ham next with the shadow of three consecutive losses, a run that didn’t have to be had Villas-Boas had a clear idea.

Chelsea’s problems begin and end with Fernando Torres
Chelsea’s problems begin and end with Fernando Torres. While it is a bit unfair to put so much blame on one player Torres is the focal point, and if they are to compete, Chelsea need to get a dangerous centre-forward.

It is truly perplexing what has happened to Torres. Even if the system and style of play has changed from Liverpool – which are reasonable factors – or even the pressure of the huge price tag, Torres looks nothing like the player that was Europe’s best striker in the 2007/08 season.
Another bad day at the office for Fernando Torres...
He seems to have lost his ability and at times looks like an amateur, harsh as that sounds. There have also been worrying comments attributed to Torres, none more so than a recent remark in which he said there were times he didn’t care last season.

That’s a pretty shocking thing for a top professional to say. World-class form and determination aren’t things you can turn on and off like a tap, and the worry is Torres will never be the same again.

Chelsea at times are playing with one less player because of Torres’ ineffectiveness.

Clearly the focus for Chelsea this season is on offence. Mata, Hazard and Oscar are good creators but with Torres this strategy is ultimately rendered obsolete because he is the spearhead. So unlike with Van Persie for United for example, Chelsea won’t always outscore their opponents.

There are other fundamental problems with the Chelsea team. The midfield is way too loose and it allows teams to get at the defence, a situation quite similar to that at Manchester United. Opposition players are able to get in between the line of midfield and defence with ease, and the opposing striker can find himself with time to be isolated with the defender, which is what Shane Long exploited a lot for West Brom on Saturday.

The defence also isn’t the sure unit it was once was even though it still contains capable defenders.

But ultimately it is the lack of threat of their number nine which is Chelsea’s biggest worry. And now since losing to United, Chelsea’s Premiership season is falling apart quick. Two points from a possible 12 is a mini-crisis and Chelsea need a striker to fire them out of their misery.

Newcastle flounder in bad tactics
Newcastle are starting to flounder. Alan Pardew has done a fine job at St James’ Park and may continue to do so, but he is not a tactically astute manager at all. The combination of Ba and Cisse (or such similar box strikers) is one that cannot work on a consistent basis. Firstly, they are too similar, and because none drops deep with regularity, this puts too much pressure on the midfield.

It is worrying that there are so many managers in the Premiership who seem to lack a coherent plan and/or system this season.
Kevin Nolan and West Ham are going upwards,
Newcastle seemingly headed the other way...
For Mancini at City, his problems have largely arisen because of unnecessary experimenting. This has cost him throughout his reign and it comes to a head in the Champions League where it is more about consistent team organisation than a collection of players.

Mark Hughes, meanwhile, at QPR doesn’t seem to have an idea of what he is trying achieve tactically.

One manager that has impressed, though, is Sam Allardyce. He is doing a fantastic job at West Ham. He is a manager of vast experience and he has learnt from his past mistakes. His team is watchable while organised. David Moyes too does a superb job at Everton, while serious credit should also goes to Tony Pulis at Stoke. At least he has a plan.

Manchester United midfield minefield
Man United have serious problems in the centre of the park. The midfield is not strong enough and this is where all problems start for any team. When Rooney is absent there is no one who can make up for the deficiencies of the midfield. Rooney is almost two players in one.

United’s most recent era of success (2006 to 2010) came when Hargreaves and then later Fletcher were scavenging in midfield. United need a player like that in midfield, a Mohamed Diame, Lassana Diarra, or Celtic’s Victor Wanyama (who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford) – a player who’s more mobile and able to cover space and also offers a platform from midfield.

With the offence they have United are usually able to make up for this deficiency, but it is unsustainable to think they can do it all the time, over the course of a season.
Norwich pile the misery on United
as Van Persie and co. fire blanks
United have capable defenders but defending is not done in isolation, it is a team game. No defence, no mater how good, can cope if it is always being exposed from the centre. A case in point is United’s 3-2 loss to Tottenham in which two Spurs goals came from players running virtually straight through the middle. That pretty much sums up United at the moment, and something needs to done about that central midfield two.

No comments:

Post a Comment