As if a flight across time-zones was not discombobulating enough, I found myself stepping off the plane to be greeted by the news that Alan Hutton had scored for us, while Jermaine Jenas had put in a decent performance and Robbie Keane had started -all of which left me wondering whether I had flown into a new space-time continuum rather than simply across continents.
No Match Report Around These Parts
No comment can be passed from AANP Towers on the specifics of our win over Wolves, as I was airborne at the time, but certain areas of the team selection certainly caught the eye in the aftermath. In particular, a penny for the thoughts of Messrs Assou-Ekotto and Corluka, once upon a time nailed-in as one quarter each, respectively, of the back four, but now looking like the weaker of the links in the Tottenham team.
Left-Back: Assou-Ekotto or Bale?
On reflection I’m not sure I would ever like an insight into the mind of BAE, given that few men in Christendom have ever been possessed of a gaze more suited to that of a cold-blooded murderer. That aside the chap is currently enduring something of a fall from grace. Season 2008-09 was rather the making of him, as he turned into a mighty dependable left-back in the wake of the Wendy Ramos debacle. Last season however saw Gareth Bale emerge from his cocoon like some infantile god hatching from a celestial egg – meaning that BAE’s selection now largely depends on how far up the pitch Bale will play.
BAE’s concerns have in this respect been exacerbated by the arrival of van der Vaart, as the inclusion of VDV, Modders and Bale is arguably best facilitated by switching Bale to left-back, even despite his defensive frailties.
BAE is nowhere near the equal of Bale when marauding forward, and it hardly helps that his defensive showings have been far from watertight this season. His erratic form so far this campaign seemed neatly encapsulated by the two legs against Young Boys: shoddy in the first leg he was hauled off after half an hour; but he followed up with an impeccable defensive display in the second.
In the final analysis therefore, in common with those undertaking the oldest profession in the world, much of BAE’s fortune depends on others, for if Modders and VDV are to be included in a 4-4-2 then Bale would get the nod at left-back.
But Isn’t Bale Rather Wasted At Left-Back?
This does of course beg the question of whether left-back bring the best out of Bale. Arriving from deep he has the advantage of a midfielder cutting infield ahead of him, creating room for him to overlap as, effectively, a fifth midfielder. Nevertheless there is always the nagging sense that Bale’s all-round attacking wondrousness is curtailed when he slots into his abode within the back-four.
On t’other flank, in his capacity as the complete antithesis of Usain Bolt, Corluka has generally expiated for the total absence of pace with his positioning and fairly sound reading of the game. Nevertheless, show me a Spurs supporter who does not panic whenever a winger knocks the ball beyond Corluka and scuttles, and I’ll show you someone who is blind or quite possibly an Arsenal fan.
The stakes have been raised at right-back by the curious renaissance of Younes Kaboul. Having initially taken to the role like an elephant to ballet, he swiftly learned the ins and outs and while he is still not exactly a classic full-back, he does now combine purposeful defence with speed going forward.
And then there is Alan Hutton, who was evidently hauled out of his two-year stint in a cryogenic freezing chamber on Saturday, and responded by reminding us that deep down he would probably like to be a right-winger. He rode his luck in scoring – first in his cunning use of a one-two with himself, and secondly in the handy deflection off his knee – but I cannot remember Corluka making too many determined sprints into the heart of the opposition area. As with Bale on the left however, Hutton’s attacking instincts have generally gambolled hand-in-hand with concerns about his defensive ability.
As at left-back, much also depends on the selection in midfield, because the Corluka-Lennon combo has befuddled many an opposing left-back, with that weighted diagonal ball inside the full-back a particular favourite here at AANP Towers. Neverthless, in terms of hand-picking the best from both the attacking and defensive worlds, AANP currently plumps for Monsieur Kaboul.
All academic at the moment, with both Kaboul and Corluka currently injured, but something for ‘Arry to consider each morning as he chews on his Weetabix. Your own musings on these topics are very much welcomed below.