When he was signed in the summer from Valencia, Roberto Soldado was seen as a player that would bring a real clinical edge to Tottenham. The Spanish forward had been prolific for Valencia in previous seasons scoring 59 league goals in his last three seasons. In his first six league games at Tottenham, Soldado is yet to score from open play. The striker scored two penalties in Spurs’ first two games but has yet to net in the league since. The debate has been raging whether Soldado’s link up play has been what has kept him in the team. If his link up play has not been as good as suggested, it could be the Andre Villas-Boas has given him game time in order to let him adjust to the Premier League as soon as possible.
Soldado has had eleven shots on target this season, with six of those being on target. This gives him a shot accuracy of 55%. He has also scored two of his four clear cut chances. This stat can be seen as misleading as the two he has scored have been from the penalty spot, meaning the two he has missed have been his only chances from open play. His creativity and passing in the final third then become important in judging his overall contribution. Soldado has created ten chances including two that were clear cut. This has led to him contributing one assist for Tottenham this season and he has had a pass completion of 73% in the attacking zone. In terms of comparison, last season Emmanuel Adebayor had a shooting accuracy of 63%, a pass completion of 78% in the attacking zone, but only contributed one assist in the whole of last season. It becomes clear that Andre-Villas Boas is looking for a striker that does not only score, but assists unlike Adebayor.
With Soldado not scoring from open play, some will feel that Jermain Defoe deserves a start for Tottenham. Soldado has not scored for Spurs since August. In that time Jermain Defoe has scored six times in seven games in all competitions. Despite his good return this season, Defoe is yet to score in the Premier League and some could question the quality of the sides he has scored against. What is undeniable is that Defoe has managed to score two goals in every game he has started this season. It can also be argued that Defoe has not started a Premier League having only been introduced from off the bench. In his one start against a Premier League team, albeit a weakened Aston Villa team in the League Cup, Defoe showcased what he is capable of.
The point remains that Jermain Defoe contributed only three assists last season as well as only creating two clear cut chances for his team mates. Soldado has already created two clear cut chances and if he continues his assist tally is certain to grow from the one he has already. It seems that AVB wants an all-round number 9, something he feels that Soldado can offer him. It is also important to stress that this is Soldado’s first season in English football, so he will need time to acclimatise, something that AVB is supposedly giving the striker. Although link up play is important, Soldado is known for his goal scoring exploits, something all strikers are judged on. It is therefore important that he gets his first goal from open play for Spurs as soon as possible as a continued goal drought may force AVB to drop Soldado which may damage his adjustment to the Premier League. However it is a long season which will eventually offer Soldado plenty of time to get up to speed and firing on all cylinders for Spurs.