With Spurs signing Paulinho and Nacer Chadli some neutral fans may be perplexed as to how they will fit into Andre Villas-Boas’ team next year, maybe some Tottenham fans will be wondering as to how the new addition will fit in as well. I believe I know the answer, but don’t quote it as gospel! It is common knowledge that AVB favours a 4-3-3 formation more than any else, and he now has some of the key players missing to utilize that system.
As mentioned in Mike Butler’s article about Villas-Boas’ Porto side, the Portuguese tactician needs certain players for his formation to be a success. In Sandro, Mousa Dembele and Paulinho, he has the perfect three. Sandro as demonstrated, when fit, performs the destroyer role excellently. During the first half of last season he was arguably Tottenham’s best player. The Brazilian is fantastic at intercepting passes and is strong and generally successful in the tackle.
Although he would play the defensive midfielder in AVB’s midfield three he could easily burst forward to provide an attacking threat. Alongside a destroyer, enforcer, defensive midfield type player needs to be a box-to-box midfielder, a la Frank Lampard and then a creative midfielder. These three individual type players are vital to the system as is the ability to interchange roles.
Tottenham’s latest Brazilian signing, Paulinho will be Spurs’ Frank Lampard and the Confederation Cup winner agrees with the comparison. He said:
“This comparison is a responsibility that I will take. I will not run away from it. Lampard is a great player, not only for Chelsea but in world football. I intend to follow in his footsteps as he is a very professional guy. David Luiz always speak of him on international duty. I’ve always looked at what Lampard does and to me he is a huge phenomenon.”
“The way he hits the ball, what positions he takes up, he really is incredible.”
Now I’m not saying Paulinho will go on to score 203 goals like Frank has for Chelsea but he is without doubt a midfielder who has a knack for popping up with goals. As shown in the Confederations Cup he has a terrific engine, he is strong in the tackle and can pick a pass, making him the perfect box-to-box midfielder for AVB’s Tottenham.
Mousa Dembele is the creative midfielder but that is a role, Paulinho or even Sandro can take up as well. The Belgium midfielder average 1.8 key passes per game for Tottenham last season, with a spare partner alongside him next season I expect this to improve.
Steven Gerrard averaged 2.6 key passes and although I would agree one of Dembele’s main assests is his dribbling ability, he does, contrary to belief have an eye for a killer pass. I expect the three listed above to be Tottenham’s starting midfield but the likes of Lewis Holtby, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tom Carroll, Jake Livermore and if they are still here Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker all to play a vital role next season when inevitably injuries occur.
Moving on to how Nacer Chadli fits into AVB’s team next year. As a massive Aaron Lennon enthusiast, it pains me to say the 26-year-old winger will, I expect, be an impact sub next season. I think Lennon will most likely start the season as the right wing-forward but a few weeks into the season we will see Chadli coming into the team and show the goalscoring threat our front three will have.
Chadli can play on either wing and his goalscoring record last season speaks for itself and makes him a better option than Lennon in this formation. He scored 18 goals for Twente in all competitions and like Bale will be expected to score the goals for Spurs alongside a striker. Possible players we will have as impact subs or if we fall to injuries will be Lennon, Andros Townsend, Sigurdsson and Dempsey, all four would be adequate replacements for Chadli, although not Bale.
Moving back onto Chadli and Bale, another positive about the pair is their ability to interchange positions, thus confusing defenders about who they are meant to mark. Villas-Boas started Bale on the right towards the end of the season, where he could cut inside and unleash unstoppable shots with his left foot. Chadli will be expected to do the same on the opposite wing. However both can easily alternate which would see Bale pop up on the left and Chadli on the right. Here they can provide crosses with their stronger foot for our forward.
It appears that forward may be Valencia striker Roberto Soldado although whoever does come in will have the task of switching positions, linking play, dragging defenders out from their positions and more importantly being clinical in front of goal. Soldado could well be that striker and could Spurs secure his services it would prove to be one of their best transfer windows ever. A lot hinges on signing a centre forward AND keeping Gareth Bale, two things I am confident will happen.