62 points. Nine more and fourth place is Spurs'. I am never short of ideas on Tottenham Hotspur. However, part of what's difficult about writing for the site is turning all of these thoughts into a single, well-thought out piece of analysis. But with so much craziness going on in Tottenham Hotspur's season right now, in seemed more apt to release a stream of consciousness on the site. So here's 5 points of analysis going into tomorrow's crucial Bolton Wanderers match.
1. After watching the Manchester Derby last night, I was walking home with my Chelsea-supporting mate Chris. Talk went on to the England Euros squad, and who are choice starting XI is. I as usual put my support with Micah Richards, who I rate as the best English right back. But Chris argued for our own Kyle Walker, stating that he's played more consistently and creates more in attack. And as much as I sputtered... I realized he kind of had a point.
Richards has really only played in about half of the league matches, and when push came to shove, Mancini favored Zabaleta over him. I talked on the pod that I wanted Walker at the Olympics, not the Euros. But besides the inherent talents of Richards, the only other competition for RB are Glen Johnson (flaw: he's Glen Johnson) and Chris Smalling/Phil Jones (neither are actually RB). If Walker can keep his form up as the season ends, he will make the Euros squad, and should have every chance to start.
2. Danny Rose has already had the greatest moment of his career, one he is unlikely to ever surpass. But these next three games are the most important of his career. Benoit Assou-Ekotto's injury has yielded Rose a chance to prove himself in high importance games. Assou-Ekotto had arguably been Tottenham's best player of all season, and his absence leaves a major hole. If Danny Rose wants to have a real future at Tottenham Hotspur, he needs to prove himself a quality left back. With Andros Townsend returning to Spurs next year, Rose's days may be numbered if he proves himself unable to play defense. However, with European competition looming again next season, a strong end of the season could have Rose earning league starts in 2012-13.
3. Well, I feel pretty vindicated in my choice starting XI I proposed on last week's Wheeler Dealer Radio being used by Harry Redknapp. The key though for me was undoubtedly Sandro. Before we signed Scott Parker, it was clear that Sandro was primed for a breakout season playing alongside Luka Modric. But Sandro's recovery from injury suffered in the Copa America and Parker's bright form to start the season relegated the Brazilian to the bench for much of the season. Sandro does pair extremely well with Modric though, as the defensive midfielder's work rate and pressure opens up space for Modric to pass and move from deep. With Tottenham's defense looking more vulnerable with BAE's absence, it seems that having Sandro in the side the rest of the season would help solidify Spurs the best.
4. Alongside this, I have not given up yet on Sandro and Parker playing together in central midfield. I have just given up on them playing together under Harry Redknapp. The key to having two defensive minded midfielders in either a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system is that while one anchors from deep, the other must get forward and pressure, interchanging to create chaos. However, under Redknapp both have sat deep, getting in each others way and conceding way too much space in the center of the pitch. I do actually think that if they were coached up, a Sandro/Parker combination combination could be effective. We'll just have to see who's there to manage them next season.
5. Gareth Bale has shown a serious drop in form. While Emanuel Adebayor is absent, this is understandable, Bale has to cut in and pick up much more of an attacking role. But what stood out against QPR with Adebayor back was that Bale was inverting too much and losing width. It was only last season that Gareth Bale had his greatest game ever. No, not his hat trick away to Inter Milan. It was the home match against against Inter, where Gareth Bale dropped two assists and gave us "Taxi for Maicon." Bale was hugging chalk that game, breaking with pace and providing great service from the left.
One of the biggest problems against QPR last week was how narrow they were able to play. Tottenham at its best has always been Tottenham with width. And although Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor haven't quite been able to match the chemistry Bale had with Peter Crouch, the pair need to keep trying to connect on crosses. Not because it's Tottenham's best way to attack, but because of the respect it commands and the space it opens. For Bale to get back to top form these last three games, he would be wise to get back to basics.