Don’t Panic! Things can look a little bleak at five o’clock on a Saturday having just lost at home, but although there are real worries for the club at the moment, there is still a base of good players. Wigan were excellent yesterday, and their contribution to the home team’s defeat shouldn’t be underestimated. Spurs are also still, through a combination of earlier good results and incompetence from our competitors, level on points with Everton in fourth place. Adjusting the side for the next few league games won’t be easy, but if Spurs can come through this tricky period of injuries and hard fixtures still in or around the top four, they should be well set.
OK, panic a little bit. With Sandro going off yesterday Spurs now have none of their presumed top three central midfielders. Parker is still weeks away from a return, early indications put Sandro out for a month, and Dembele could end up side-lined longer than that if he has to have an operation. The current 4-2-3-1 system demands mobility and the ability to bring the ball forward from deep positions, and the rest of the senior midfielders available don’t look comfortable playing it. Either the system or the personnel, something needs to change.
Tom Carroll and Iago Falque. If the system is staying, Spurs may want to try Carroll and Falque from the start against Maribor. The former looks a more natural fit to the role than players like Tom Huddlestone despite his inexperience, and perhaps should have been the man to come on for Sandro when he was injured, rather than Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose passing was abject at times. Falque has delivered good performances in his limited playing time this year, and should be given a chance playing off the striker on Thursday.
4-4-2. If the system is going, it might be time to put two up top. Adebayor was one of the better performers from last year, and Dempsey and Sigurdsson have not been at their in the attacking midfield role so far. Bale and Lennon may get more joy from a deeper starting position too.
Passing. Spurs lost their radar entirely at times in the face of some intelligent pressing from Wigan, and ended up hoofing the ball long to the increasingly frustrated Defoe. Sigurdsson was amongst the most profligate, it’s telling that he only attempted one more pass than Sandro (20 vs 19), and actually completed fewer (16 vs 18) despite replacing the Brazilian in the 23rd minute.
image: © Alfonso Jimenez