This season began with big hopes for Erik Lamela. With a year in England under his belt, an Argentine manager, and his injuries behind him, it was hoped that this would be the year that showed us all why Spurs invested so much money in the young midfielder.
Unfortunately, it hasn't gone exactly how we'd all hoped. Lamela has frequently looked either unsure of his role on the pitch, or unable to execute. While he has always worked his tail off on the pitch, and his defensive work has improved by leaps and bounds, he has yet to show the kind of offensive improvement that we had all wanted to see this year. By late February he found himself on the bench more often than not.
However, in April things started to turn around for the Argentine. Off the back of several impressive substitute appearances, Lamela began getting starts in the league once again. Whether he has improved his game in training or Mauricio Pochettino is just seeing what he's working with before the transfer window opens, it is difficult to say. What we can say is Lamela is making the most of the opportunity.
Sunday marked Lamela's third consecutive start and it was the most impressive of a promising bunch. Lamela was all over the pitch, constantly creating problems for City and showing us some of the quality we saw at Roma two years ago. Lamela had a very nice 69 touches, created six chances for his teammates, and almost scored Spurs' best chance of the match. In addition to all that he continued to show his defensive improvement with two tackles and five ball recoveries.
This isn't the kind of world class performance like what we've come to expect from Harry Kane, but it was a sign of positive progress. Lamela is proving more dangerous each and every week, making better decisions with the ball and more runs behind the defense. If there is any lesson we can take from Erik Lamela's last month or so of football, it is that he seems to finally get what his role is in this team. Given that there is probably no world where Spurs' achieve their goals without a very good Erik Lamela, this is all extremely promising for next year.