Inside Lane: Spurs finally have an array of viable attacking options
Tottenham blogger Chris Miller is pleased that Mauricio Pochettino now has more players offering different qualities behind the striker.
Options! We have options! For the first time in what feels like too long, Spurs have more viable attacking options than we know what to do with.
Many Tottenham fans were livid after the transfer window, with no striker having been signed, and with the team one broken Harry Kane metatarsal away from disaster. It’s true that we have left ourselves short of out-and-out strikers - but the transfer window was generally positive. We improved our defence significantly and, just as importantly, we provided genuine options to play in the band of attackers behind Kane.
We added three such players to our squad, with Dele Alli returning from loan, and Clinton Njie and Heung-min Son brought in from Lyon and Bayer Leverkusen respectively. These are three very different players with, importantly, significantly different skill sets.
Last year we were a little ‘samey’. We had Nacer Chadli on the left to provide strength and a goal threat, Christian Eriksen in the middle to add a bit of craft and intelligence, and Erik Lamela or Andros Townsend competing on the right to provide work-rate and through balls or the ability to beat a man, depending on who was fit that week. But there were few other pertinent options beyond those names.
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We tried Paulinho as a blunderbuss of a No10, we tried Aaron Lennon as a more defensive winger and we occasionally pushed Mousa Dembele forward to add ball retention.
But, aside from a couple of positive showings from Dembele, none of these alternatives provided enough to push the preferred options to improve. And, crucially, when injuries or fatigue hit, we suffered.
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Yet we now have players who have different physical qualities, different tactical qualities and who are versatile enough to provide cover in other positions too.
Son’s three goals in 309 minutes so far show he is another very capable goal-getter, who will hopefully push Chadli and Eriksen in the race to provide the most goals from midfield. But it was his boundless energy, including a tackle at left-back in the 59th minute, that impressed me most against Manchester City.
In Chadli we have had the goal threat, and in Lennon we have had the ability to work back. If Son can consistently meld both of these, we have a gem.
Clinton’s turn and then acceleration to get up the wing, followed by his well-executed cross to set up Lamela, showed genuine pace with end product - long may it continue.
Meanwhile, Alli has taken to Premier League life instantly, combining the exuberance of being a teenager with the assuredness of a player that has played two full seasons in the middle of a League One club’s midfield.
The other good news is that Lamela has put together his best run of performances so far, and his man-of-the-match display against Man City was arguably the best he has played in the lilywhite shirt.
Chadli gives us a fantastic bench or rotation option; Eriksen has already bettered his assist tally from last year; Townsend made the sort of impact off the bench against Sunderland that got fans off their seats when he first broke into the team.
I have not even mentioned Alex Pritchard - still sidelined with an ankle injury, but bubbling just beneath the first-team squad.
Last season Mauricio Pochettino had his hands tied somewhat, and subsequently played his players over and over until fatigue began to show.
But this year he has genuine options in the squad, and he can change things up should he need to. It bodes well for a squad that will compete on at least two fronts from here on in.
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