Has Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas-Boas finally found the perfect blend?
It has been no secret that Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas’ favourite formation is the 4-3-3, however, since his appointment at Tottenham, he has stated that he doesn’t have the personnel to play this formation at Spurs.
But on Sunday, when Tottenham were losing 1-0 at home to Manchester City, he made 2 midfield changes so as to implement a 4-3-3. And within 20 minutes of the substitutions, Tottenham were 3-1 up, proving that AVB does have the personnel to play the formation he loves.
The key to a 4-3-3 is to have a midfield three who complement each other on the football pitch. On Sunday, the three were Mousa Dembele, Tom Huddlestone, and Lewis Holtby. Dembele is the driver and tempo-setter; Huddlestone is the passer; and Holtby is the workhorse. They are a perfect combination of central midfielders.
On Sunday, the Englishman sat extremely deep: just in front of the central defenders, in fact. But from this position, he was able to contribute to Spurs’ attacks magnificently.
Beautiful ‘pinged’ passes left, right and centre added more punch and width to the Spurs attacks, whilst his deep position also meant he could fulfil his defensive duties.
The Belgian Dembele also played a pivotal role; he was responsible for driving the play up the pitch. His powerful, surging runs transformed Spurs from deep-lying to offensive in a matter of seconds, and forced the Spurs full-backs up the pitch to aid the attacks.
The German Holtby ran around a lot. Breaking up play, getting the ball forward, linking up with Bale and Dempsey, you name it, if it involved hustle, he did it. And to cap it all off, he hit a gorgeously-weighted pass out to Defoe to assist the second goal.
Normally, Brazilian Sandro would be a shoo-in for the Spurs midfield; he could swap with either Huddlestone or Holtby in this system with ease, such is the versatility to his midfield play that he has gained over the past year.
Back-up midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson could also play in a 4-3-3 in a variety of positions; he could play the role of Dembele, or either winger, and Clint Dempsey, Andros Townsend and Scott Parker are also useful squad options.
The attacking side of the 4-3-3 is self-explanatory; Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon tearing down the flanks, with Jermain Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor or <insert striker here> providing the bulk of the goals.
The 4-3-3 is an exciting and fluent formation; it could finally be time for AVB to use it at Spurs on a permanent basis.
image: © Vladimir Maiorov