The news that the England international has returned to action with an outing for the reserves is a welcome boost for Spurs ahead of the Christmas schedule, and Villas-Boas should try to find a system where his three excellent central midfielders have a place.
Slowly but surely, Spurs’ injured and suspended players are starting to return to action. Adebayor and Dembele are now available for first team action, with the latter starting the past couple of matches, and Parker and Assou-Ekotto are nearing a return.
Parker played 90 minutes on Tuesday night for the reserves, and could be available for the first team for most of December.
With Sandro and Dembele in excellent form, there have been questions over where Parker will slot into the side once fit. Given his own form for the side last season, Parker should be viewed as more than just backup to Dembele and Sandro and be accommodated into the side somewhere, and there are a couple of ways that Villas-Boas may look to do this.
Moving Dembele from a position he has been so successful in may seem an odd choice, but you could see the Belgian playing in the central role behind the striker that Dempsey has been given quite comfortably. This would mean that the 4-2-3-1 system could be retained whilst fitting Parker in, but I would suggest that there is perhaps a better solution.
Rather than playing 4-3-2-1, Spurs could switch to a 4-1-2-2-1, with one of Parker or Sandro playing behind two central midfielders that press higher up the pitch. I would put Parker behind Sandro and Dembele, giving those two the freedom to operate in more advanced positions. Given the mobility of Lennon, Bale and either Defoe or Adebayor ahead of them, this should result in a bank of five players pressing the opposition in their own half, whilst Spurs remain covered at the back with Parker screening the back four aided by Dembele and Sandro tracking back.
This system should also result in Spurs retaining possession better in the final third, with Dembele and Sandro both proving highly adept at holding onto the ball wherever they are on the pitch. Spurs should also be able to dominate the opposition's midfield with Dembele, Parker and Sandro all on the pitch, and playing the three of them also gives more freedom to the full backs as Parker can cover their forward runs.
Clearly this is all hypothetical at the moment, with Parker yet to return to first team action. But if the England midfielder can reproduce his form from last season, he is too good to be left on the bench. I would love to see him added into a midfield with Sandro and Dembele, with the latter pair unleashed by his presence to go and win the ball back in the opposition's half.
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