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Spurs 4-2 Sunderland: 4-4-2 or 4-5-1?

Blessed relief. With the 4-4-2 formation, flowing pass-and-move stuff and hatful of chances throughout this was vaguely akin to the glory glory days of way back in season 2009-10. Seeing Paul Robinson look on forlornly as the ball crashed repeatedly into the net really did give the afternoon a retro feel, but after our recent run of form the priority was three points in any manner possible, and they have accordingly been lapped up most gleefully around these parts.

 

4-4-2 or 4-5-1?

 

For all the doom and gloom of poor form and lengthy injury-lists in the build-up to this one, I was thrilled to bits to see our heroes trot out in good old-fashioned 4-4-2 formation. It served us jolly well last season, both at the Lane and on our travels, but the kids these days are all peddling some variant of 4-5-1, and with VDV blazing magnificence in every direction we have duly adopted it ourselves. It is understandable enough away from home on big European nights, but at home to Blackburn ‘Arry quite rightly decided to revert to the more attacking set-up of yore.

 

It all worked fine and dandy. Jenas and Modders took turns at loitering deep, but by and large all four across the middle merrily wore their attacking hats; and with two bona fide strikers on the pitch we did not face the difficulties of previous weeks, of lacking presence in attack. Here at AANP Towers we whisper snide remarks and begin malicious hate-campaigns against one-man attacks, and stomp our feet in rage when that one-man attack consists entirely of Peter Crouch, but conversely, nothing soothes the savage beast around these parts quite like a two-pronged forward-line, and so it proved yesterday.

 

Of course, the flip-side of a 4-4-2 is that it leaves VDV homeless. Presumably he was the nominal right winger on the teamsheet, but by and large his contribution to the right flank amounted to little more than an occasional glance in its direction, as he took up residence further infield near familiar chums like Modders and Bale. By accident or design VDV’s general neglect of the right flank proved not to be a problem, as Alan Hutton seemed quite happy to do the job of two men, bombing up the flank and sprinting back to defend faster than you could say “Vedran Corluka”.

 

I can grudgingly admit that there is indeed a time and a place for 4-5-1, but not at home to colourless mid-table fare of the ilk of Blackburn. Given that we beat l’Arse, Chelski, Man City and Liverpool at the Lane last season with 4-4-2, I quietly hope that more often than not at the Lane (that is, in matches in which our heroes amble out onto the pitch as favourites) we retain this approach, and find a way to accommodate VDV accordingly.

 

Odd Stuff From Pav

 

On the subject of our two forwards, what a curious old bean our resident Russian is. He seems dashed determined not to score unless the finish involves high levels of complexity and a jolly good hammering of the laws of physics. As such straightforward penalties and one-on-ones do not interest our Pav, but the less-than-entirely-straightforward chance presented yesterday was positively gobbled up with minimal fuss. All told it was a good lively showing from the Russia, moaning and fussing about the nasty Blackburn rotters ‘tis true, but also demonstrating a laudable willingness to scurry to all four corners of the lush green turf.

 

The same could hardly be said of the gangly one, who for a 6’ 7” striker remains infuriatingly poor at shooting and heading. While he earns polite applause for his goal, in general his greatest value seemed to come in the aid he kindly offered the back-four, from set-pieces and the like. (And on the subject of his defending, it is curious to note that the exact challenges for which he is routinely penalised when attacking (arms splayed all over the torso of an opponent) go unpunished when used by the gangly one while defending.)

 

Modders and Jenas – A Startlingly Effective Central Midfield Combo

 

I would like to think that long after the game has finished and fans have departed, Modders remains out on the White Hart Lane turf simply for love of the game, continuing to control the ball immaculately, dip his shoulder and look for a pass. Not as headline-grabbing as some of his peers, but a joy to behold and currently looking like a man thoroughly enjoying life.

 

As for his central midfield partner – lo and behold. No doubt the entire global membership of The Society of All Things Sideways and Backwards watched on aghast yesterday, as their leading proponent repeatedly broke the habit of a lifetime. Jermaine Jenas has generally edged the better side of average on his appearances this season, and it was most pleasing to observe yesterday that every time he received possession he seemed determined to push forward in search of glitz and glamour. He is hardly in the same class as Messrs Modric and VDV when it comes to caressing the ball as if it were a svelte brunette in a revealing dress, but his energy and attacking intent were most impressive, and he helped give our midfield fairly healthy balance – quite a feat considering that we were without either a genuine right-sided outlet or deep-lying holding type.

 

Further Progress in Construction of The Ultimate Footballer

 

Having already proved himself adept at dribbling, crossing, shooting, as well as boasting the ability to hurl in a throw-in like a man possessed, young Master Bale has now ticked “Scoring With Head” off the list of attributes required by a bionic footballer. His questionable fashion sense remains however, the man who once sported a hair-clip pin thing (to give it its technical name) in his mop yesterday opting for bright pink tape across his thighs. Still, whatever works for him.

 

Other Points of Note

 

A bird? A plane? For those scratching their heads in utter bewilderment I can confirm that it was indeed a Tottenham goal from a corner. My oh my, whatever next?

 

We threatened to throw away a 4-0 lead, but 15 minutes proved not quite long enough for the Kaboul-Gallas comedy routine to hit top gear (I should retract that actually, as both made cracking goal-line clearances), and in truth we ought to have won by far more than a two-goal margin. With l’Arse, Liverpool and Chelski all rapidly approaching on the horizon, a win yesterday was an absolute necessity, so give yourselves a round of applause chaps. The league remains such that the current occupants of the top four positions have been dropping points with gay and fairly frequent abandon, so fret not at our current state, behind Bolton and Sunderland. Despite the mishaps of recent weeks our heroes are by no means out of the running just yet.

15 Responses

  1. sean lambe Says:

    it was blackburn we beat 4-2 not sunderland dude

  2. coxie Says:

    It was Blackburn mate

  3. elwehbi Says:

    The smell of weed is seeping through the door cracks at AANP lol Blackburn… Sunderland… same shit.

  4. Spooky Says:

    If he says its Sunderland, it’s Sunderland.

  5. Crisandro Says:

    Sunderland must have had one of those strange weekends… going down 4-2 at the Lane… then moving across the capital within 24hours they beat Chelsea 3-0… who says players can’t play 2 games in a week when they can play 2 games in 2 days! lol

  6. jonboysafc Says:

    Mmmmm same shit r we? lets see…. Black-burn n Black-pool are same shit n lets see if they can beat Chelski 0-3 at the Bridge eh… dream on pleeeese!

  7. Prosinecki Says:

    So the Offspring were wrong – it’s not music that soothes the savage beast…but infact a Crouch & Pav frontline.

    Interesting.

  8. Ashley J. Collie Says:

    AANP, solid win, great post. As for VDV drifting in to reside alongside Modders & Baler, not only did Hutton take up the slack, but Baler found himself over on the right, too. Good place to hide away from the double teaming he’s now getting on the left flank, it throws off the opposition’s game plan too, and it’s like Sir Alex switching Giggs and Ronaldo and throwing a spanner in the works. If our own Welsh boy learns to use his right foot (as well as that great noggin’), while also bombing down the right, what a double threat that will be. But how do we fit two strikers (including JD when he’s back) with Bale, VDV, Modders, Hudd/Jenas, Azza? Nice selection choices for ‘Arry! Last year at this point we were in fourth — now we’re 3P off fourth, and top of CL group, not ‘alf bad all in all. PS So why has JJ stepped it up — a little more competition? On the other hand, when he went on that last foray, we just knew he was going to fall over when in the clear in the PK area. Plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme chose!

  9. SpurredoninDublin Says:

    Spurs strength this year has been in going forward.

    Watching the Sunderland game (1-1) it was frustrating watching all the high balls into the Sunderland box in the first half, and I don’t think we won a single header. It was particular galling to watch the good work being done on the right by Hutton, and whenever he passed to Bentley, how Bentley screwed things up.

    In the Blackburn game, no Bentley, and we looked much more dangerous on the right. I know VDV is a different class to Bentley, but what a difference when Hutton has someone with skill to link up with.

    Kaboul (apart from the clearance off the line) and Gallas are more like a comedy act than Premier league CB’s. Am I the only one who has noticed the irony that two key players (Dawson and Defoe) are injured while playing for England and the rules imposed by the FA work against us?

  10. Lillywhite London Says:

    J.J and Modders in center might be alright at home against opposition like this but it’s not a partnership that will be tough to break up once Hudd’s back. I think Willy P could be off soon, poss summer. He’s hit a brick wall for whatever reason, rather than looking like he’d run through them for his team. he was never an anchor man but for J.J to have eclipsed him this season says a lot. Maybe we’ve moved on and left him trailing?

    At least we’ve still got him if he have another relegation scrap come end of the season!! He’s had a tough time the lad but it looks like that dream move to Real is some way off…

  11. Stratty Says:

    Spurs sites everywhere suddenly flooded with the realisation that we play better 4-4-2. Now we’ve properly had it shoved down our throats scoring four where on Tuesday there was one… even we have worked it out.

    4-5-1 never looked the way, from the first moments at Stoke we looked half the team of last year. But I’m glad we’ve had a run with it, so that when it IS required (probably at the Library next week) we half know what we’re doing!

    COYS!

  12. AllActionNoPlot Says:

    “it was blackburn we beat 4-2 not sunderland dude” – Out there somewhere, Jermaine Jenas is mercilessly ridiculing AANP…

    4-5-1 with VDV in the hole worked marvellously vs Inter, so probably ought not to be torn up and burnt to a cinder just yet. Keep it for the tougher games (eg l’Arse away next week), and maybe go with 4-4-2 vs Sunderland, Blackburn and other teams who are all pretty much merge into the same thing? A midfield four of VDV-Mod-Hudd-Bale in such games, meaning Lennon (and Jenas) are the fall-guys?

    Agree with Lillywhite (and probably all other lilywhites the world over) – ‘twas a decent enough showing from JJ, but Hudd moves straight back into the starting XI as soon as he is fit again.

    Ashely J. Collie – spot on sir, when JJ went flying forward at the end one just knew it would end in ignominy…

  13. Stratty Says:

    You’ll upset him, but is RVDV as effective as Lennon on right wing?

    Difficult one, if he were dropped, he’d doubtless be less effective when we did need him.

    He’s probably already got the arse about being played where he was. Tricky managerial one, although Harry is doubtless paid handsomely to solve such dilemmas.

  14. Dr JAB Says:

    Pleased to see the debate about the formation since it is the critical factor when Defoe returns and the role of VdV. Despite the talk of 442 (which worked well and ended the goal drought) and 451, what about 352 to accommodate 2 strikers. A back 3 of King, Dawson and Kaboul/Corluka and a midfield of Bale,VdV,Hudd/Palacios/Sandro, Modric and Hutton with Pav/Crouch and Defoe.
    The formation needs 2 wingbacks to attack and defend ie Bale and Hutton – the latter is good going forward and can cross. Keep Lennon in case things going badly and replace Hutton.
    This formation plays to our strengths when all are fit (great midfielders) and 2 strikers.
    Enjoy your site Michael and the style of writing that mixes humour with insightful analysis.

  15. JimmyG2 Says:

    I sympathise Sir.
    You were clearly watching the Spurs performance so closely in order to provide us with an insightful analysis of our heroes’ performance that the fact that a few days had passed and that the team had changed shirts and place of origen went unnoticed.

    Such is the dedication and devotion to duty of top bloggers.

    Two goals from headers, how long since?

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