Yesterday we debated who should be Tottenham's starting striker and box-to-box/creative midfielder. Today we want to know who you think should start alongside Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela in our attacking midfield three. Who will it be, Andros Townsend, Aaron Lennon, or Nacer Chadli?
The case for Andros Townsend, by Skipjack
Last year, Andros Townsend burst onto the scene at Spurs with an impressive early season. Using his energy, athleticism, and pace he became the best part of Spurs' first few matches and played a crucial role in qualifying England for the World Cup. Buoyed by his success, he attacked goal with a ferocity that is rarely seen by young players. Unfortunately his efforts were more likely to launch the British Space Program than score any goals for Tottenham. Playing off the right, Townsend had a nasty habit of cutting inside and trying to shoot from positions that you really shouldn't be shooting from if your name isn't Gareth Bale.
As the season went on, Townsend's perfomances were defined by injury and profligacy. However the highlights he did have usually had the same thing in common: playing on the left. When on the left, Townsend has been much less likely to cut in and shoot and far more willing and able to draw his teammates into play. This is a trend which has carried through to the 2014 pre season. Townsend is undeniably an unrefined talent, but we have seen promising glimpses of what he is capable of. It would be foolish to dismiss a player with so much raw talent, particularly when playing him on the left seems to do so much to restrict his more frustrating tendencies.
The case for Aaron Lennon, by Lennon's Eyebrow
For the past decade, Aaron Lennon has been on the verge of irrelevance. Whether it was Wayne Routledge, David Bentley, Gio dos Santos, Andros Townsend, or Nacer Chadli, all of these guys meant Lennon was out the door or on the bench. And for the past decade, Aaron Lennon has been better than anyone who's threatened his spot. When AVB came in, everyone immediately looked at Aaron Lennon as a man who couldn't possibly fit into the particular system employed by the Portuguese coach. But Lennon flourished under AVB's tutelage, perhaps more so than anyone besides Gareth Bale. Because while at first blush Lennon is a guy who runs fast and puts in bad crosses, Lennon is also incredibly intelligent, and incredibly coachable. Married with his speed and workrate, used correctly Lennon can be absolutely lethal.
Alongside our dynamic duo of Lamela and Eriksen, Lennon has shown in preseason to be flourishing in a new role. No longer standing on the touchline waiting for the chance to run really fast or be marked so tightly he has to pass the ball back to his fullback and turn invisible for a half hour, Lennon is instead popping up all over the opposition half making quick combination passes with his teammates. When they move out of position, Lennon tracks back to cover the gaps they leave. His defensive workrate is the glue that can hold it all together. But most of all, his speed fits perfectly with Pochettino's love affair with chipped passes and through balls in behind the defense. Imagine Lennon's goal against Arsenal two years ago, but those runs happening all the time. Now if only Poche can improve his finishing...
The case for Nacer Chadli, by Brian Mechanick
Tottenham have one left sided midfielder on the roster (no Danny Rose, you don't count) and that man is Nacer Chadli. The Belgian international thrived as a left winger with his previous club FC Twente, tallying 18 goals in his 2012-13 season. Chadli provides a balance that no other Spurs player can in a left midfielder role--intelligent tactically and skilled enough with his left foot to maintain width, but dangerous enough on his natural right foot that he can be goal scoring threat from the wide role.
Our presumed attacking midfielders at the moment are Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela, two players that have no interest in maintaining width. Therefore, it becomes imperative that our left midfielder be tactically and positionally disciplined. Chadli is the player on the roster best positioned to do so. Chadli's width will take pressure off of new Spurs' LB Ben Davies getting forward and will instead allow him to focus on defense. However, Chadli's defensive abilities should allow Spurs to be not caught out when Davies does decide to attack.
Perhaps Chadli's most underrated ability is as diagonal target man. With no Tottenham strikers that enjoy playing with their backs to goal, Chadli ability to be a target on the diagonal could be a boon for Spurs' attack. Jay Rodriguez and Southampton thrived when the attacker played that role previously under Pocchetino. Chadli's size and dribbling ability not only make him a threat to win balls, but also then drive attacks on the counter. If Spurs want a wide player who can fit the system and bring unique talents to the pitch, then Chadli is their guy.