Tag Archives: Ledley King

3-5-2? 4-2-2-2? It’s a King size question! Man City V Spurs preview

With less than 24 hours remaining till our crucial game at Manchester City my thoughts turn to our line up, particularly the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor as a condition of his loan from our opponents. Consequently this may be the first game when Peter Crouch is missed having signed off his Spurs career in the 1-5 reverse at White Hart Lane back in August.

When he played a good part of his game was the part that related to defensive duties at set pieces and corners and Adebayor has more than made up or him since his arrival. He may not put away enough chances he does one heck of a lot of work moving the defence around taking defenders with him, conceding less free kicks than Crouch did and actively participating in defensive corners.

Whoever replaces him tomorrow will be unable to fulfil that duty. Defoe can only support on the post or sit up field and Pav is extraordinarily poor in the air in aerial challenges. Whilst this shouldn’t affect our game going forward, where it is in our interests to keep it on the deck, when we haven’t got the ball it could be a problem.

One of Harry’s biggest concerns is how he might get over this to increase our chances of keeping City out and giving us the prospect of a clean sheet. I don’t see a high scoring game if we are to win it and if the goals start to go in it is more likely to suggest another defeat to the Champions elect.

So what can we do? Firstly it depends upon the fitness of Ledley King. Whilst Harry is suggesting that Ledley might or might not train on Saturday he will be desperate to name him in the starting line up. If he does should someone drop out or do we add him to the back line?

In my opinion Kaboul has done so well that he doesn’t deserve to sit it out andDawsonwill not be dropped. So it is a decision as to whether we are brave enough to start with 3 across the back? For the reasons set out above about attackers not being able to offer assistance I think I would choose that route pushing Walker and Benny into wing back positions allowing them to add extra to the defence or be able to use their ability and pace to assist the attack.

If Ledley remains unfit then we have to continue with a 4 across the back as I doubt we will experiment with Bassong for this game despite his role in the defeat at Stoke.

Harry’s press conference also suggested that Sandro is not yet ready to play despite stepping up to outside work along with Gallas. That leaves a decision as to whether to play both Parker and Livermore. Parker had his worst Spurs performance last week but was settling back in after injury. He needed the game to prepare for this match and I expect him to be ready to put in a decent performance leading them midfield from the front.

If Ledley plays then we might keepLivermoreback and play Modric a little deeper with Parker in the middle with Van Der Vaart and Bale ahead of them. If he doesn’t then Livermore and Parker with Modric and Bale ahead of them with Rafa and Defoe further forward seems likely.

Up front I cannot see anyone else than Defoe getting the start for his pace and direct approach. As long as he can stay onside and being on the counter attack that should be easier we have to hope that he can hit the target and make Joe Hart earn his money. Pav is at his best around the edge of the box but, for me, his work rate is insufficient to make the type of contribution required.

That unfortunately sacrifices Lennon but only because I cannot see Rafa, Luka or Gareth Bale being dropped before him. That is a disappointment because for me he gives us our width and was always a decent threat with Defoe in days gone by. You can get away with a lack of width more easily away from home as we showed atNorwichbut, with no disrespect to them, this is the next level up. Nevertheless we still have Aaron from the bench should we need an injection of pace.

So to recap, a choice of sides depending upon the man with one knee (who’s better than anotherEnglandcentre back). With him:

                          Friedel

          Kaboul     Dawson      King

Walker     Parker       Modric     Benny

                 VDV       Bale

                        Defoe

 And without him:

                      Friedel

   Walker   Kaboul    Dawson    Benny

            Livermore      Parker

                 Modric    Bale

                  VDV

                          Defoe

But what do I know I am sure you have a variety of other line ups in your mind. Whatever, lets hope for a great result tomorrow. Without YaYa and Kompany I fancy our chances are improved and hopefully we can put the cat in amongst the pigeons and put pressure on United to win.

Come on You Spurs make us proud!

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Half Term Report – dealing with multiple fronts, keepers and defenders

It’s not that long ago when Spurs fans were demanding wholesale changes each and every transfer window as a consequence of going whole months without adding to points totals and handing over leads in closing minutes to snatch defeats from the jaws of victory. But from the start of the Jol years continual improvement has been the name of the game, barring the post Carling Cup win period under Ramos, to a point where Harry’s skills as a football manager rather than the other suggestion he strongly refutes require little change to the playing staff in the January 2011 window.  

Standing in fifth place in the Premier League and having secured a Champions League knock out place as Group A champions with the level of injury we have had at the club is a superb first half to the 2010/11 season. And with players returning to fitness we look to be in a decent position to push on towards the business end of the season. I expected Chelsea to beat Bolton but to have actually been ahead of them after their start to the season is something we would take to be improbable but shows that if we keep producing results we can indeed put in a real challenge.

So the question to ponder, having played all of our games for 2010, is “Does our squad have satisfactory talent to see out the season challenging for honours?” 

Dealing with multiple fronts

The trouble with Spurs is that we’ve never shown the consistency to challenge for the big prize. We’ve come close since 1960-61 but never been able to do just enough over the 38-42 games. Our skill has been more geared to lifting our performance for cup games or having a run of home ties against lower calibre opposition. 

This may be our undoing this season as we try to compete week in week out in the Premier League whilst getting an FA Cup run going and trying to progress in the Champions League. Our home form suggests we can give the very best a game at White Hart Lane and this offers us the opportunity of an FA Cup run and a chance over two legs in the Champions League. 

What it cannot ignore is our need to win away points to secure a large enough total in the Premier League to re-qualify for next season’s Champions League. Ultimately this will be our test for the remainder of the season and if we can continue to secure points our challenge is maintained. To do this we need to be firing on all cylinders in every department. Whether we are able to do so remains to be seen.  

Goalkeepers

The goal keeper is an important specialist position which when played at its best controls the defence, keeps out the best efforts of the opposition and turns defence into attack in a slick movement. We’ve had a number of goal keepers since Pat Jennings graced the stage and none of them have bettered his performance. It’s doubtful whether anyone ever will. 

Of our current trio Gomes remains the best shot stopper but his confidence can suffer crisis and it is my opinion that at the present time he is suffering. I’m actually torn to decide whether he should stay between the posts or allow Cudicini another stint. His decision making at corners and for crosses is often shot, the punch he offers is weak and we haven’t even considered his rash challenges in the box. 

When he plays like this he reminds of the firing squad leader in Blackadder series 4, the gabbler, “Ready-Aim-fire! No style no finesse, but it gets the job done, eh boys.” Unfortunately for Heurelho he has discovered since arriving at Spurs that it rarely does. A pause for breath or thought would often improve his keeping and provide more confidence throughout the team. But is it possible?

Gomes greatest problem may rest with his physique. Rarely a game goes by without a visit from the trainer so the threat of injury must always be in his mind. As a result he may well be acting under blind terror on occasions. My concern is that he will cost us further points between now and the end of the season that may measure the difference between success and failure.

So would Cudicini be any better? I’m not altogether sure but I would not be concerned if he had to play. I think both are an improvement upon Robinson so both signings took us forward but if we have to be ruthless in our quest of the top four slot and then actually putting in challenges to win the tournaments a stronger goalkeeper may be needed. 

Targets? I’m not the greatest in knowing the names of targets but if we want to buy in January it needs to be someone with Premier League experience. This suggests holding onto till the summer unless Shay Given is available. I cannot believe he would be allowed to join us.

Defence

Every day the National Press link us to a centre back despite the fact we already have seven players who can play the position and now they all know each other most of play it very well. Granted two of this corp are disaster areas when it comes to injury and I do question how long we can continue throwing them back into the team rather than putting them onto the bench as back ups.

Last season Dawson put his marker upon lead position at centre back and he also ended up with the captaincy. For a long time Dawson had been uncomfortable with the lead role and like Sol Campbell before him tried to do too much often leaving himself too thin in an effort to support others. Last year that changed and he deservedly won player of the year. This year injury has restricted his opportunities but injury to Gallas led to a return against Chelsea and a fine first performance. I expect him to continue.

Quite who partners Daws is more difficult. Bassong is unlikely to get the nod full time but has done little wrong when called upon. Understandably he recognises his lack of first team opportunities and he has suggested that he would consider offers from specific clubs. For Seb to make a sensible decision he needs to understand the fitness of Ledley and Woodgate and how they might be used and then see how many games Gallas can manage. Seb’s problem is that the answer to these questions will not be known by 31 January 2011.

Ledley will always struggle with injury. Wonderful player of that there is no doubt but I still do question how long we can continue with project Ledley. Previously we wanted to put him back into the side but as others grow and improve is that still the situation? I’m not so sure. How can you get rhythm and consistency when we play pass the parcel with our important positions. And then if we play 4-4-2 who plays alongside Ledley. I’m happy he stays with us but maybe more as a squad player rather than being looked upon as a starter.

The same goes for Woody. Once again a long injury has cost him a large chunk of his career and he returns to fitness without a registered squad number. The talk is that he will go out on loan but is this for a month or the rest of the season? If it is for a month then I see him also as a back up who can come into the side if needed. He certainly has valuable experience in the Champions League to fall back on.

The arrival of Billy Gallas found favour with me and he can play both centre and full back. If Ekotto falls foul to injury then Gallas can certainly come in on the left and play as he did at Chelsea. His early games suggested that he had gone past his best but after an astonishing display at The Emirates – and as skipper – he played his best football until a hamstring injury robbed us for the Chelsea game.  I have no qualms about seeing Gallas partner Dawson as I feel this will be a decent pairing but what of Kaboul?

Younes has strength of that there is no doubt. And he has ball skills and puts the ball in the back of the net better than any of our centre backs. Since his return from Portsmouth he has put in some super performances which leave me in no doubt that in a couple of years he will cement a centre back spot alongside Dawson. Last season he had a couple of run outs at right back and used his ball skills successfully in this position. It may be for specific games that Kaboul will take the right back position and Gallas the left to allow a strong back four of centre backs to be used.

However, it will be difficult to drop our existing full backs as both Hutton and Ekotto have performed extremely well this season. There are always complaints about the full backs and both do have weaknesses but as it stands they are adding to the qualities of the side and in doing so Hutton has kept Corluka back as an able deputy. 

Charlie was very good at right back last season and performed well with Aaron Lennon. This season he has been less assured and whilst I am happy to see his name on the team sheet I did feel last timie out that he gave too much room and allowed crosses to be made into the box.  

As a consequence I believe that we have sufficient difficulty in picking our centre back pairing without adding other names to the list and as it stands we have some of the best defenders who need a few more clean sheets to their credit to get the recognition they deserve. Now that they know each others games better it might be possible.

Coming up tomorrow Midfield, Attack and our Management and Ownership teams. Let me know what your thoughts are this half term on the above.

Defensive Challenge: Woodgate and King Vs Roberts and Miller

This is a tasty match up. On the one hand culture and composure on the other blood and guts; but there is an achilles heel – injury!

In the prelims Woodgate and King came out on top by a margin so you would expect them to win this one quite easily but you cannot write off Roberts Continue reading