The balance of Andre Villas-Boas’ side seems to be better when the combative holding midfielder features in the centre of the park.
Much has been made of Tottenham inability to score frequently from open play, with the side seemingly struggling to unlock the benefits of Andre Villas-Boas’ 4-2-3-1 formation.
A total of 15 goals this season is significantly less than Spurs’ fellow top-four rivals and fewer than what the White Hart Lane faithful would like to see.
With a lone striker, whether it is Jermain Defoe or Roberto Soldado, the emphasis is on the midfield to get forward and support the forward to avoid him becoming isolated.
Surprisingly, it may well be the permanent installation of a defensive midfielder into the Spurs line-up that could unleash the side’s attacking potential.
Against Sunderland last Saturday, Tottenham fell a goal behind in the first-half and looked like a team devoid of ideas to get back into the game. Although having plenty of possession, the incisiveness, movement off the ball and thrust was not there.
It took Paulinho to get forward and grab an equaliser before the break, and allowing this talented Brazilian box-to-box man the licence to support the attackers could well be the answer to Spurs’ woes.
The former Corinthians man started the game against Sunderland as a designated holding midfielder, and the team’s attack looked one-dimensional as a result.
However, with Sandro introduced in the second 45, Spurs dominated possession and although they ended up winning 2-1, it could and should have been fix or six.
With Sandro holding in front of the side’s back four, Paulniho was given a licence to get forward and the Stadium of Light outfit struggled to contain the South American’s work rate and movement.
Although Paulinho has been guilty of not hitting the net enough given the amount of favourable positions he ends up in, it is that opportunism and ability to get into goalscoring positions that could well be the difference.
Sandro adds an authority in front of the defence and the midfield looks much more rounded with the Brazilian pair in there together.
image: © simonw92