Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham’s Formation Dilemma

By on November 12, 2012

Andre Villas-Boas

After Spurs’ 1-0 home defeat to Wigan last weekend, it was evident that something had to change in AVB’s tactics and team selection. Playing 4-2-3-1 with a player ‘in the hole’ has its advantages away from home (notably with a victory at Old Trafford), but Spurs were criticised by fans and media alike for lacking any sort of creativity against the Latics. With all due respect to Wigan, Tottenham’s advanced four of Bale, Lennon, Dempsey and Defoe on their day are enough to trouble any defence in the league, but they lacked that creative spark in the formation that AVB prefers.

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Fans called to change to the old style of Redknapp’s rigid 4-4-2, and this alteration was made in the week against Maribor. Although Maribor were labelled by the ITV commentary team as a ‘poor championship side’, Spurs looked a completely different team, and they earned a deserved 3-1 win. Jermain Defoe’s third goal was a striking similarity of Pavlyuchenko’s goal against Inter Milan in 2010. Released down the left, Bale burst into life and crossed for Defoe to slot home, and fans were reminded of a golden victory at White Hart Lane two years prior in this one magic moment.

If Spurs lost to Maribor at White Hart Lane, AVB would think right to stay faithful to 4-2-3-1 in which the striker looks to bring in pacey Bale and Lennon down the flanks. However, Spurs won the match in a more rigid 4-4-2, and AVB has been praised for adapting stuttering tactics, resulting in a formation dilemma.

Since an opening day defeat to Newcastle, Tottenham were unbeaten away from home in the Premier League until a recent 2-1 loss at Manchester City. AVB would have been committing football suicide playing 4-4-2 away at the Etihad with Bale and Lennon in such advanced positions, yet throughout the match Sandro and Huddlestone were still often overrun in midfield.

Unfortunately for Spurs, the players vastly under-performed in the second half, and AVB made some strange substitutions, opting to leave Dempsey on and swap Defoe for Adebayor. Despite a poor second half performance and a loss to the Premier League champions, it is hard to see AVB changing to a 4-4-2 away from White Hart Lane anytime soon.

AVB made a tough decision to remove Defoe from the starting team after a midweek hat-trick, but Adebayor used his strength and close control to hold up the ball and try to bring in Bale, Lennon and Dempsey whenever possible for a counter-attack. Knowing Manchester City would have the majority of possession, Adebayor brilliantly dropped off into the Dempsey role, held up the ball, won free kicks, and brought in advancing midfielders and wing backs. Unfortunately, Tottenham struggled to keep possession in the second half, and there was an unusual lack of pace in their counter attacks and a questionable amount of desire.

It is inevitable that five midfielders will again be chosen when Tottenham face a huge trip to Arsenal next Saturday at Noon, and after a 2-1 loss at the Etihad with little high notes, Adebayor did have a strong performance and will more than likely be again preferred to Defoe. Although AVB has come under fire for his formation selections, he is unlikely to select an attacking 4-4-2 at the Emirates.

Taking nothing away from Manchester City’s comeback, they are unbeaten this season and Tottenham have had a severe dip of form since the injury of Dembele. Huddlestone and Dempsey in particular struggled with the pace of Manchester City’s midfield, particularly Yaya Toure. However, the dilemma arises for Tottenham’s following two home games against West Ham and Liverpool, and whether AVB can conjure a winning formation, and possibility of returning to the attacking 4-4-2 that beat Maribor. The Portuguese manager’s stubbornness in his tactics has been cited as the reason for his Chelsea departure, and when Spurs have often taken a lead this season he has opted for Huddlestone or Livermore to come on and help defend a lead.

In charge of a team desperate for Champions League, AVB often struggles to adapt to the unpredictability of football, and makes some unusual substitutions. After their recent defeat to Manchester City, he is likely to come under more pressure about his team selection and formation. Spurs fans know their team’s attacking prowess and if AVB opts for 4-2-3-1 and they do not get two wins against West Ham and Liverpool, questions will once more be asked.

What are Tottenham fans opinions on our formation issues? Get involved in the comments section.

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6 Comments

  1. ROB

    November 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

    442 Bring Arry back, AVB has no clue

  2. Bennie Isaacs

    November 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

    The problem is not one of formation, we are strong on the flanks, at the back and in attack. The central midfield is the problem. Sandro is fine, but Huddlestone is too slow, for defence or attack. His passing has been average at best. We have Sandro, Dembele (only quality offensive central midfielder), Parker. Two out of the three are injured. If we are to challenge for anything, this must change.

  3. Dutch Spur

    November 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Indeed, in central midfield Sandro and Dembele or Parker.The next three Lennon, ADEBAYOR, Bale and in front Defoe. My firstchoice goalkeeper would be Lloris.

  4. Darryl

    November 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Sandro and Dembele are the best central midfield combination. Dembele really needs to be back. They should also give a chance to the younger players like Tom Carroll and Iago Falque. Carroll alongside sandro if huddlestone is injured. Or even try sigurdsson in central midfield next to sandro should be tried. Iago falque should be given a chance in the central attacking midfield position. He might just prove to be a superb player. And starting adebayor with defoe will definitely start winning games. And first choice keeper should definitely be Lloris.

  5. Shaaril

    November 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Sack inexperience egoistic avb…bring back harry…stupid formation 4-2-3-1…you only play this formation if you have very strong midfield that can deliver to big strong lone striker like ibrahimovic not the little defoe…4-4-2 formation provide wide fast pace wingers best in premier league. Other team used to be afraid to meet spurs but now they see spurs as division 1 team..no fear and in between the post if that grandfather plays you can expect at least a goal conceded…bring the fresh leg in… do someting levy…cmon you spurs!

  6. Shaaril

    November 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Sack inexperience egoistic avb. Bring back Harry. In formation 4-2-3-1…you only play this formation if you have very strong midfield that can deliver to big strong lone striker like ibrahimovic not the little defoe…4-4-2 formation provide wide fast pace wingers best in premier league. Other team used to be afraid to meet spurs but now they see spurs as division 1 team..no fear and in between the post if that grandfather plays you can expect at least a goal conceded…bring the fresh leg in… do someting levy…cmon you spurs!

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