The past season saw us struggle to establish a defined system of play. It’s no secret that AVB prefers a 4-3-3. But last season’s transfers were more Daniel Levy’s targets rather than AVB’s. A very direct consequence being that we often fielded a 4-2-3-1 line-up (and also occasionally a 4-4-2 with Bale given a free role) instead of the manager’s preferred 4-3-3. There are subtle differences between the two but which were exposed by oppositions (e.g. parking the bus to avoid ruthless counter-attacks exposed the lack of creativity) more frequently as the season went on.In a 4-3-3 the wingers are closer to the goal and are required to provide width and do the majority of the chance creation and provide a significant goal return. The wide forward is not generally tasked with protecting the full-back (at least not as much as the wingers are in a 4-2-3-1). The central midfielders are the ones generally protecting the full-backs.Below are some telling stats of wide forwards and wingers in formations elsewhere (Arsenal 2012-13, Liverpool 2012-13, Porto 2010-11, Brazil @ confeds; Madrid 2012-13, Man United 2011-2013, Athletico Madrid 2012-13)
note: stats considered when above players have played on the flanks. insignificant substitute appearances have not been considered.
Blue denotes wide forward roles and biege denotes winger role
Apart from the exceptional Angel di Maria (surrounded by highly talented players at Madrid), the wingers are generally grouped towards the bottom with only two out-of-form players, an 18 yr. old kid and Lennon below them.
Aaron Lennon clearly is more suited to playing a winger than a wide forward. He generally uses his dribbling and pace to cut inside from the right but being a right footed player is rather reluctant to shoot (reflected in his goal tally). Lennon’s defensive work rate is immense however he’s not much of a direct goal threat. His final ball delivery is also somewhat poor for an otherwise technically strong player.
This summer’s transfer activity clearly points to rectifying this imbalance in Spurs’ squad. The last few games of 2012-13 and the pre-season showed AVB’s inclination to play Bale out wide on the right where he can cut onto his favoured left foot to unleash unstoppable long range efforts. Being a natural winger though, he has no problem taking up wide positions and curling in delicious outside-of-the-foot crosses towards a poacher. The left wing though needs to be sorted out (and the right, if Bale leaves). A look at the stats of Chadli, Willian and Lamela shows they might just be the missing piece of the jigsaw.
note: stats over the past two seasons
We can probably hope to see Willian, Soldado, Bale/Lamela lining up in attack very soon with Dembele or Holtby behind them, exchanging positions fluidly. Suddenly the forward line for the new season is looking a whole lot better than last year when Sigurdsson, Defoe and Lennon started upfront with Bale given a free role.
A big kudos to AVB, Baldini and Levy for having recognised the issue and moved quickly and surely to bring in the necessary players.
About the author:
Parth Kapadia, 21, Hyderabad
Obsessed with Spurs, tactics and statistics
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