What to do when they park the bus

If it wasn't known already, the weekend's game against QPR showed once again that if you put a brick wall up in front of Tottenham, they simply do not have the armoury to blast through it.

And if the club is fool enough not to recognise that, and chooses not to bring in a big shiny, new cannon during this January transfer window, then the unfortunate reality is that our Champions League qualification will again be jeopardised.

The QPR game was a lot like the Stoke game and other such matches this year and last where teams approach their Tottenham encounter looking for no more than the one-point. Get lots of bodies into mid-field, hassle the Tottenham middle wherever possible, mark up on our wingers and then sit everyone in the side just in front of the penalty box.

Tottenham has a number of chronic disabilities that prevent us from taking home three points against these types of strategies. The first is our shocking effectiveness from corners and set-plays. I'm sure opposition teams worry very little when they concede a corner or penalty against Spurs. Our delivery is mostly awful and our ability to convert when we actually do get the incoming kick right is woeful.

Our strikers struggle in this scenario too. Defoe gets marked heavily and muscled off the ball, while Adebeyor is just not clinical enough when the rare opportunity falls to him. Having to play two strikers, also reduces our creativity - at least while Ade is in such poor touch.

We also struggle for leadership when attacking. In a match like that, you need your big guns to step forward and try and use those special skills to effect. Gareth Bale can't afford to get marked out of a game and Moussa Dembele needs to try and create more directly using his majestic dribbling skills. As the match wore on against QPR, it was hard to imagine just who was going to step up and break the match open for us.

It's in this type of game where our lack of a creative passer also really comes to the fore. In this kind of match, you'd want to pair a Lewis Holtby with Dembele in mid-field rather than a Sandro or Parker, who's strengths are largely unrequired in this type of game.

What can we do?

As the season wears on and every point becomes more valuable for the stragglers, we're going to face this type of strategy more and more. The same thing happened last year and it cost us critical points and dented our confidence. If AVB goes blinkered into the back half of the season, thinking everything will work itself out, chances are it won't. This is an opportunity for AVB to show his ability to work through a problem and find a solution.

I maintain that we require a striker who can play effectively on his own. Without that we have too little ability to change up our tactics and bring a bit of unpredictability to our game. We also need something more in mid-field. In retrospect, Tom Huddlestone would have been a better substitute than Scott Parker due both to his better passing abilities and his ability to shoot from distance. However, it seems pretty clear than AVB doesn't have a lot of faith in Huddlestone (and probably has reason to have done so) but he desperately needs someone who can add spark to the mid-field for these types of affairs. Again, I don't see why we would put down the 2 million to bring Holtby in early when there is so much at stake.

Indeed, I think AVB needs to totally re-think the side's approach and team selections against the lower rung of clubs who are more likely to park the bus. Players like Gylfi Sigrudsson and Steven Caulker who can bring more to our set pieces, would both get starts in my eleven against a team like QPR. Caulker's aerial ability is desperately needed (and the pace he has over Dawson is also well-suited against teams playing the counter-attack) while Sigurdsson delivery is the best in the side and he can create goals out of nothing with his long-range shooting talents.
Indeed, I'd like to see Sigurdsson at 10, swapping throughout the match with Bale to force the Welshman to get onto the ball and the ball at his feet within striking distance. You'd even consider Dempsey for Lennon on the other flank giving you a forward three behind the striker, who can all shoot and swap positions on the park at will to try and unsettle the defence.

The reality is Tottenham is unmatched when it comes to playing fast, counter-attacking football but very ordinary against breaking down stubborn defences. What works in the former scenario has proven not to do so, against the latter.

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