Has Tom Huddlestone earned himself a starting place for Tottenham Hotspur?

Tom Huddlestone

Andre Villas-Boas took the plaudits for his tactical changes as Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester City 3-1, but he now must decide whether to reward players like Huddlestone with a place in the first eleven.

Considering the dramatic turnaround at White Hart Lane on Sunday, it would not be surprising if Tottenham Hotspur started next weekend's match at Wigan with the team that finished against Manchester City, with Lewis Holtby, Jermain Defoe and Tom Huddlestone providing the spark from the substitute's bench that won the match.

Holtby and Defoe will certainly expect to start, but making the change to bring in Huddlestone for Scott Parker somehow seems a riskier choice for Villas-Boas. In the matches against Everton, Basel and Manchester City, Huddlestone has finally seemed to regain the form shown before his injury problems, but whether he is now ready to control a game from the start is a different matter.

If he is on form, Huddlestone clearly offers more than Parker going forward, but Spurs' system will need to be tweaked slightly to add cover in the midfield to account for his lack of mobility and free up his passing range. Playing the 4-3-3 they finished with against Manchester City is one way to do this, with Holtby and Dembele's energy and passing range nicely complementing Huddlestone.

Dropping Parker for Huddlestone and changing Spurs system to a 4-3-3 for the trip to Wigan would be a major call at this stage of the season, especially given the success they have enjoyed on the road using the 4-2-3-1 set up. It might also be argued that Huddlestone has been able to influence games as a substitute because the opposition is tiring when he comes on, giving him more space to find his passing range.

However that change is what delivered the win over Manchester City, and if Huddlestone is finding his best form then he looks a natural foil for a mobile attack including the likes of Jermain Defoe, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon.

Spurs had looked tired and short of ideas before the changes on Sunday, with the team transformed into a more direct, effective side after Huddlestone, Holtby and Defoe came on.

They will need to carry that threat in their remaining games to secure a top four place, and Huddlestone, who was so close to leaving in the summer, suddenly looks capable of being a vital part of the team in the next few weeks.

image: © apasciuto

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