Sunday, August 24, 2008

Problems in North London

Juande Ramos for all his tactical acumen has in my opinion not only missed a trick or two in the transfer market, but has also failed to adopt the right match day strategies that will help Tottenham Hotspur further their ambitions this season. If Spurs need to even so far as come close to qualification for Europe, Ramos needs to amend his ways with immediate effect. Jermaine Jenas and Luka Modric will never do well enough alongside each other in the centre of midfield. Jenas likes to bomb forward from midfield and is at his best when he plays as the link man between the midfield and the forwards. Modric as I have said before is a trequartista of the finest calibre and Ramos needs to deploy him in the ‘hole’ if he wants to see the best of him. My misgivings about the strategy employed by Spurs stem more out of the players deployed by Spurs in the different positions rather than out of the 4-4-1-1 formation that they had employed in the first two games of the season.

If Ramos had played Modric in the hole and Bentley and Bale on the right and left respectively, I am not too sure if Spurs would have done as poorly as they have in the opening two games. Jenas and Modric in the centre of midfield, as I mentioned earlier is an impracticable arrangement and Spurs need to play someone alongside Jenas who can anchor the midfield much in the Michael Carrick mould. I still believe Spurs’ failure to find an adequate replacement for Carrick has been the chief reason for their downfall over the last couple of seasons and is probably the cause of Martin Jol’s departure from the club. Didier Zokora is a player of moderate abilities and Tom Huddlestone in spite of his precocious passing abilities does not seem cut out for the big league. Spurs are in desperate need for a deep lying central midfielder and if they don’t sign one within the end of the present transfer window, I see them finishing below the likes of Portsmouth, Aston Villa and probably even Newcastle who seem rejuvenated under King Kev.

Tottenham have never quite needed attacking reinforcements beyond the odd player or two and singing Modric, Bentley and dos Santos makes good sense only if necessary strengthening has been undertaken in other areas of the pitch, such as in central midfield and up front, where they have already lost Robbie Keane and are looking increasing likely to lose Dimitar Berbatov, the two of whom nearly scored fifty goals between them last season. Signing, albeit a gifted Andrei Arshavin, would in my mind be a colossal waste of resources. Of what use would it be to have a hundred ‘hole’ players in your squad, all of whom are equally capable of threading the perfect through ball, when you don’t possess a striker who can apply the much needed finish? Goals and not passes win football matches and Spurs need to understand that before it’s too late. They must do their utmost in my opinion to sign a quality number 9 and a deep lying central midfielder if they have any interest in qualifying for Europe this season.

Moving on regrettably for Tottenham fans to the bigger club from North London, Arsenal, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to decipher that they are missing Mathieu Flamini in the centre of their midfield. Flamini was magnificent for the Gunners last season and I am not too sure what Wenger has in mind in terms of the central midfield combination for this season. No doubt, Fabregas has missed the first two games with an injury, but even when he does come back, Wenger needs to address the problem of whom to play alongside him. With the signing of Mikael Silvestre from rivals Manchester United, I expect to see Kolo Toure increasingly being used as a defensive midfielder and only time will tell whether the experiment succeeds. Wenger is a past master at getting his players to adapt to different positions on the pitch, but I still think Arsenal will do well to sign a conventional central midfielder of significant experience. If Arsenal can somehow land Xabi Alonso, they can ensure that they are there and thereabouts in the title race come March. Samir Nasri, who was impressive in his debut against West Brom failed to make an adequate impact against Fulham yesterday and whilst he is a talented young player, he will need time to adjust to the rigours of the BPL. It remains to be seen how Nasri performs when a Phil Neville or a Brett Emerton gets stuck into him, but he has unquestionably made a good first impression, by showing a willingness to shoot and tackle when needed.

We can expect Arsenal to play a lot of good football this season much like they did last season, but they continue to lack experience in a few key areas and William Gallas has shown himself to be a very poor inspiration for some of the younger wards, which could prove costly for the Gunners in the long run this season. Having said that, Fabregas remains the key for Arsenal. Fabregas possesses maturity that belies his age and when he does return to the line-up, we can in my opinion expect to see the best of the Gunners.


ayan said...

Completely agree with you. But I have serious doubts about the ability of Arsenal to pull off any trophies this season. The game against Fulham was, quite frankly, the worst performance by them in a long time. I think this could end up in being yet another season of "adaptation" and "transition"....and to be honest a very annoying one. On the other hand we have been very strongly linked with the signing of Gokhan Inler, so maybe he can add some steel that we seem to be lacking since the loss of Flamini.

A Couch-side View said...

Inler is a good player, but I would think a more experienced player is what Arsenal require. Xabi Alonso would be great, but with Barry looking likely to stay put at Villa, Alonso will probably be retained by Liverpool. I think its important Arsenal retain their best players in the coming seasons. If nothing happens this season, you can expect the likes of van Persie and Adebayor to be on thier way and that would once again leave a hole.

Rahul Saha said...

Didier Zakora?I thought he was the new Keane. Box to box and all.

A Couch-side View said...

Until he signed for Spurs, he was a decent talent. and we saw at the world cup, he played pretty well, didn't he?

Rahul Saha said...

Haha. Just kidding dude. Haven't seen much of him really.