Spurs usually line up in something resembling 4-2-3-1 with Bale and Lennon pushed onto opposition fullbacks. With Lennon’s injury, Defoe has been played through the middle as a second striker with VdV wide but Lennon should return for this one with VdV returning to his more accustomed role in the hole. Redknapp has deployed Bale through the middle at times, recently with devastating results against Norwich as the average position image (above) shows so don’t be surprised to see him coming off the left flank. Injury wise, they have defensive problems like ourselves with skipper Ledley King definitely out and Gallas also missing . Scott Parker is a doubt and will most likely be replaced by Livermore in central midfield.
2.Tactics & Strategy
It’s fair to say Harry Redknapp doesn’t embrace the tactical side of the game as much as other managers. Forward Rafael Van Der Vaart pointed out last season that “There are no long and boring speeches about tactics, like I was used to at Real Madrid. There is a clipboard in our dressing room but Harry doesn’t write anything. It’s not that we do nothing – but it’s close to that,” Whether it’s tactical or not, the key strategy is getting Bale on the ball which is why attacks are mostly focused down the left flank from Assou Ekotto passes to Bale. Modric’s long passes are superb with an 81% completion so far this season – this enables Spurs to go from defence to attack rapidly with the pace they have in wide offensive areas.
Make no mistake, we are really up against it on Wednesday night. Tottenham are very strong going forward, making the most shots per game (18.6) in the division. Their forward talent has certainly won them many friends this season and with the vision and incision of VdV and Modric, combined with the ferocious pace of Walker/ Lennon / Bale and the physicality of Adebayor it’s hard to pinpoint weaknesses in their offensive strategy. Bale is a key man in many ways and his crossing is top draw – so far posting a 31% accuracy from wide deliveries, slightly ahead of Baines 28%. Defensively they are not too shabby either – the Man City routing apart they have the best defensive record at home in the league.
Ledley King’s leadership and organisation will be a big loss for Spurs whose 3 league defeats so far this season have all come when he has been out injured . Kyle Walker has established himself this season at right back and whilst his pacey attacking surges and subsequent ability to push opposition wingers backwards is a strength, he is still quite raw in terms of positional play – certainly weaker than Assou Ekotto on the opposing flank – so Drenthe and Baines in tandem could certainly get some joy in the space he vacates.
Despite being at club’s with larger cheque books than Moyes, Redknapp has not enjoyed a great record against him in top flight games, having only won 3 out of 16 of the games they have gone head to head. Both managers have their strengths and weaknesses with Moyes much more risk averse than Redknapp and a more defensively astute tactician capable of nullifying opponent’s attacking personnel. This is perhaps why he has been able to stifle Redknapp’s attacking approach more often that not. A potential weakness could be in terms of conceding goals in the later stages – Spurs concede 45% of their goals in the last 20 mins of games whilst we score over 40% of our goals in the last 10 minutes of games so it could (hopefully) be a grandstand finish.
Injury wise, Jagielka is definitely out injured whilst Osman, Coleman, Cahill and Rodwell are all doubts. Moyes has tweaked his 4-5-1 this season, switching between 4-4-1-1, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-2-1. Personnel wise, I think shifting between 4-5-1 (off the ball) and 4-3-2-1 (on the ball) will be our best hope here, with Heitinga’s ability to hit long diagonals to either Drenthe or Donovan crucial as the duo will provide the closest support to Saha.
Defensively it will be interesting to see what Moyes strategy is for Bale. Last season Moyes opted to double up on Bale with Neville at fullback supported by Coleman. The average position shot (right) shows how close the pair positioned themselves to reduce Bale’s impact. This worked well – Bale failed to make one successful cross and was eventually shifted to the right. The other option is of course to push Bale backwards towards his own goal as Swansea did a couple of weeks ago with their attacking fullback Angel Rangel, however I’d expect us to drop off and double up again with Donovan asked to cut off the angle of the pass to Bale in the first instance and then helping Neville should the ball get past him.
It will also be interesting to see how Moyes shapes us with his defensive line. At home we keep a very high line and press opponents high up field. Against the better sides this season away from home this has been less so. Against Chelsea we were penned in by Chelsea’s pressing, whilst at Man City we voluntarily sat deep. The only time we have used a high line and squeezed play was at Arsenal (right) when only a wonder goal from Van Persie beat us. The threat of adopting this tactic is leaving large spaces in behind our back 4– we were sprung a few times by the Gunners but luckily Gervnho and Walcott were wasteful. Against Spurs though it would be much riskier given Modric’s ability as a deep lying playmaker to spin accurate balls over our backline. For this reason I think we will have to sit a bit deeper and look to counter attacks and our pacey wide men as our best bet of getting a goal.