Tottenham won 1-0 over Crystal Palace, and the possibility of using two strikers seems to become more and more evident. Victor Janssen’s purchase back in July itself, hinted at that. After all, he was the top scorer in the Eredivisie last season. Based on Janssen’s stats, he would not be happy just being Harry Kane’s back-up, and there’s no reason why anybody would buy a player like him to act as the second choice.
If you take a look at Tottenham’s pre-season friendly against Inter Milan, Janssen played in the second half. Kane dropped deeper, while Janssen led the attack from the front. On paper, Spurs look the same as they did before Janssen. However, when you closely look at their attack formation, things have changed. Kane has taken up Dele Alli’s role last season – his time was divided between creation and execution, while Érik Lamela and Christian Eriksen played on the channels alongside him.
Although Kane is operating at Alli’s role now, there’s still a lot of difference between the two. Alli does employ a certain level of aggression in his game, but that does not make him a striker as such. Kane, on the other hand, is still a threat and the opposition would need to find a way to contain both Janssen and Kane.
Janssen’s inclusion does not change much about Kane’s natural game, and that’s the best thing out of this whole deal. The absence of Alli also doesn’t seem like it affects the team too much.
The reason behind that is having Lamela and Eriksen switch flanks. Ordinarily, they play from the right and left respectively, cutting through to get to the centre of the pitch. During their game against Crystal Palace, though, they were asked to do the exact opposite: stay wide, assist the full-backs whenever possible, and extend Palace’s midfield and defense.
Lamela did the best job at that. With Andros Townsend on the verge of breaking through Tottenham’s defensive right, having Lamela counter his efforts was vital. Along with Eriksen, he was able to keep Townsend at bay.
It would appear that Wanyama is the player who has benefited most from this new formation. His performance against Everton looked very dull, in terms of the attack. Against Palace, however, he performed in a way that closely resembled that of Moussa Dembélé, the man he’s replacing on a temporary basis.
Wanyama completed the most passes of anyone on the pitch, and not just in deep midfield. He had the space to go out, cut left and right to create chances and to prevent the opposition from advancing. His winning goal was the result of a corner seemed like a reward for his improved performance.
Whether this change proved to be a success or not remains to be seen in the long run, but for now, it does have its moments.
Eriksen’s influence seems to be diminishing on the right. Bringing on Alli in the future to play in the midfield might work, when it comes to the future. Although the 20-year-old might be quite the playmaker Eriksen is, but he would be more comfortable overall with operating in a wider area.
Tottenham’s two-striker system can work but it still a work in progress. It will be many more weeks before anybody can see its full potential. From the way they played against Palace, this can work, if implemented right. In fact, when it comes to facing opponents who operate with more width, it might be the preferred formation going forward.
Spurs have to face-off against Liverpool in their next game, and that will be a tough one. Pochettino might opt to get Alli out and add more substance to their midfield to counter Klopp’s attack. With Janssen making his presence felt in the wings, though, Tottenham might have just come across a killer formation with a deadly tool.