Spurs secured their first league win of the season under Andre Villas-Boas (AVB) with as comprehensive a 3-1 victory as you are likely to witness in the Premiership this season. The final score line arguably flattered a Reading side who failed to show any sense of urgency during a flat first half and allowed Spurs to take charge of proceedings.
With just one away win in their last 11 league games and rumours circulating around AVB being handed a set number of games to turn things around, this was a potentially awkward game yet Spurs handled it convincingly.
Reading Vs Spurs Line Up
With a 25 day break since their previous league game, Reading were suitably rested for this game. Brian McDermott announced an unchanged line up from that game, a 4-2 away defeat to Chelsea.
Guthrie was tasked with providing support to Pogrebnyak as Reading lined up in a broadly 4-4-1-1 formation with Leigertwood the deepest midfielder. In the second half Reading moved to a 4-4-2 and provided a better contest for Spurs without really threatening sufficiently.
AVB announced a changed line up for Spurs for the fourth league game in a row. Assou-Ekotto was replaced by Kyle Naughton at left back whilst Livermore dropped to the bench as Dembele made his first start for his new club.
Despite the personnel changes, Spurs lined up in 4-3-3 formation with an adventurous looking midfield trio, the more defensively minded Sandro partnered by the attack minded duo of Dembele and Sigurdsson.
The Spurs line up was very attack minded. Would such a midfield have been selected against stronger opposition who carried more attacking threat? Nonetheless, not only was the line up attacking on paper but in operation also.
Both full backs pushed very high up the pitch from the outset. There was seen as early as the 2nd minute when Naughton crossed from the left and Walker shot over from just outside the penalty area.
In general, Naughton pushed slightly higher on the left handside, staying wide as Bale cut infield. With Lennon tending to hug the touchline on the right, there was less space for Walker to move into but when the opportunity arose he pushed forward as evidenced by his assist for the second goal.
When Friedel had possession, the centre backs would split allowing Sandro, and on occasion Dembele, to drop between them offering three outlets against Reading ’s two pressers in Pogrebnyak and Guthrie. Spurs were able to pass their way out from the back with ease as the Reading midfield dropped off leaving their two attacking players somewhat isolated and fulfilling the thankless, and fruitless, task of pressing in an uncoordinated fashion.
At Porto, AVB preferred his midfield trio to rotate and there were signs this was occurring at Reading . There was a fluidity between the midfield trio and particularly the pairing of Dembele and Sandro that allowed Spurs to pass their way around the challenge presented by Reading.
Further forward, AVB is a fan of a traditional winger on one flank with an inverted winger on the other. The deployment of Lennon on the right and Bale on the left provides for this perfectly and was showcased by Bale’s goal when he broke into the penalty area to convert Walker ’s cut back.
There is however, a concern about positioning Bale so far forward which is discussed later.
Next Page: Sandro and Dembele Stats, Goals analysis and Gareth Bale