Nabil Bentaleb produced an impressive display on his first ever Premier League start. Clearly one of Tim Sherwood’s favourites from when he was in charge of the Under 21’s the Frenchman has been eased into the first team squad and has managed to use his substitute appearances well, by coming in and dictating play from the centre of midfield. Bentaleb appears to have figured out the line between confidence and cockiness as you can see from his play he manages to get the simple things done as well as showing bravery to implement the fantastic when it is needed, thus fitting into Sherwood’s plans of attacking football perfectly.
The weekends result against Crystal Palace provided a much needed 3 points in order for Tottenham to keep challenging for Champions League football. Statistics clearly show the 19 year olds influence in the 2-0 win because throughout 90 minutes he managed to pass the ball a total of 107 times and maintained a high success rate of 93%, which emphasises that although it was a game of two halves, Crystal Palace clearly dominated the first half, Spurs were able to rely on a midfield man to keep possession which is something I think they have lacked recently due to over investing in advanced creative midfielders such as Eriksen, Holtby, Paulinho and Dembele. It appeared to me that Spurs had been trying to turn Dembele into this type of player when all along Bentaleb was right under their noses. These stats also meant that Bentaleb was the top of the passing leaderboard for game week 21, making the most passes by 17.
The Success rate didn’t just come from passing the ball backwards, mainly using the wings with 34% and 32% of his passes going left and right. This clearly illustrates the youngster’s talent and although it maybe too soon to say this with only 4 appearances in the Premier League under his belt, he could be within the same band of players as Januzaj and Gnabry.
A stunning strike from Bentaleb almost sent Tottenham in at half time with an undeserved scoreline of 1-0. Dembele rolled the ball backwards towards Bentaleb whom ran onto the ball from roughly 25 yards out generating power and curve with his left foot and the ball shot through the air to hit the inside of the post and then unfortunately roll across the line. With only a 50% success rate for shots on target, although playing from midfield, a strike like this should have been encouraging to his performance to get him to take more than 2 shots throughout the 90 minutes, especially when Spurs are in a serious need of goals.
An improvement in defensive decision making could be made when being critical of the Frenchman’s performance as he tended to sit off the Crystal Palace players for too long providing them with too much time to think thus picking out the right pass. Bentaleb achieved an impressive 100% tackle success but he was dribbled past four times – an area that requires improvement for the young starlet.
From previous performances I know that Bentaleb is a player with heart and desire however only winning 38% of ground 50/50’s doesn’t cut it, and without desire to win the ball from these opportunities, stronger teams will make Spurs pay.
Overall, managing to achieve such impressive passing figures I expect to see Bentaleb’s name in the team sheet more frequently, especially after achieving Man of the Match. However it needs to be seen in the big games in order for him to gain a place in an overloaded competitive Tottenham Hotspur midfield.