It has often been the case this season that Tottenham have had to leave out the likes of Sandro and Jermain Defoe, simply because we have had eleven players performing at an impressive and consistent level. With both Emanuel Adebayor and Rafael Van der Vaart in great goal scoring form, Defoe has repeatedly had to rely on injuries to come into the team. The numerous fantastic displays of Scott Parker have also limited Brazilian Sandro’s chances of first team football.
But as the 2011/2012 season reaches its half way point, knocks and niggles have inevitably began to take their toll, meaning Harry Redknapp has been forced to make changes in order to maintain an optimistic title challenge.
Aaron Lennon’s hamstring injury has brought about a tactical change that has seen our usual style of play altered.
For me, on his day, Lennon is a vital part of a team that likes to attack down the flanks. With Lennon and Gareth Bale on either side, Spurs often have relied on wing play to dominate games this season, seeing us climb to third in the table. Currently standing in for the injured right winger is the relentless Sandro.
Sandro has taken his place in the centre of midfield alongside Scott Parker, allowing Luka Modric to play a more creative, attacking role and also relieving most of the Croatian playmaker’s defensive duties. This has meant that Bale and Van der Vaart have been given free roles in which to fill in the gaps and play a more natural, flowing style of football.
Against Norwich, the tactical alteration worked brilliantly. Sandro and Parker were able to fully support the back four when needed, leaving Modric to influentially encourage the attacking part of our game. The outstanding Bale fitted into his new role perfectly, twice dominating centrally to dramatic effect in the 2-0 victory.
The following 1-1 draw against Swansea was a slightly different story. Bale found it hard to get on the ball as the Swans justified their recent praise, often being described as a superb passing football team. This begs the question – is there a lack of pace and excitement in our side without two designated wingers? On 70 minutes, Van der Vaart was replaced by Defoe; a change that again decreased width as Tottenham tried to hold on to a 1-0 lead. Without the wide attacking style, we failed to kill the game off and were soon punished by a late equaliser.
Potential to rotate and alter is evident, but can we find a consistent level that will comply with a squad rotation system? And what really is the best formation Redknapp has tried out this season?