Why don't Tottenham Hotspur have more wingers in the squad?

Gareth Bale

For several seasons now Spurs' style of play has relied on Bale and Lennon tearing down the flanks, but the club have not had adequate back-up available for when one of these two get injured.

Whenever one of Aaron Lennon or Gareth Bale gets injured, there is always a twin sucker punch for Spurs fans, as they first realise they'll be without a key player for upcoming matches, then scramble desperately to think of who will cover for them.

This was demonstrated again on Saturday. When Bale limped off with a hamstring problem, Gylfi Sigurdsson was subbed on to cover on the left flank, rotating with Clint Dempsey in that position.

This turned out quite well against Fulham, with each of Sigurdsson and Dempsey laying on a goal for Defoe after Bale left the pitch, but it does again show the lack of depth Spurs have on the flanks, a problem that has been apparent and unresolved for several seasons.

This season Sigurdsson, Dempsey and perhaps Falque will cover for Bale and Lennon shoudl he get injured. In previous seasons players like Pienaar, Krancjar and even Van Der Vaart have filled in when one of Lennon or Bale was injured.

All good players, and fairly comfortable in that position, but they are not out and out, hug the touchline wingers like Bale and Lennon. Spurs style of play therefore has to change when one of these two is injured, which seems an odd situation for the club to have been in for so long.

This year Spurs have largely operated with a 4-2-3-1 system, which means that replacing Bale with an attacking midfielder should be fine. However Bale's injury does mean that the choice of moving to a 4-4-2 now Adebayor is available again is complicated, as Dempsey or Sigurdsson will have to play on the left flank of a four man midfield, something that would generally require a more traditional winger.

In previous years 4-4-2 has been the norm, with Bale and Lennon's width absolutely integral to Spurs' play, meaning a lack of a similar player to replace them has been costly at times.

Bale's injury is unlikely to derail Spurs' entirely, but it's a strange situation to see a club have no like-for-like cover for two of its first team regulars, and it's something that should have been addressed for a long time.

Villas-Boas indicated after the match at the weekend that Spurs have no big January plans, but back-up on the wings should be a priority, it's been a long time coming.

image: © Jan S0L0

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