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Tottenham needed something as special as Bale's goal against Southampton, as they were looking unlikely to score otherwise. As the table below details, they created by far the least amount of shots, and shots on goal, that they have in the last five games (source: BBC Sport).
|Opponent ||Shots ||Shots on goal
|2-2 Everton (H) 7 April ||19 ||10
|2-2 Basel (A) 11 April ||17 ||12
|3-1 Manchester City (H) 21 April ||11 ||8
|1-1 Wigan Athletic (A) 27 April ||14 ||7
|1-0 Southampton (H) ||7 ||4
Particularly disconcerting for Spurs will be the amount of shots they fired off against Southampton. Seven is way below their season average of 17 per game (source: WhoScored.com). A lack of creativity at this stage will certainly be a concern for Andre Villas-Boas.
Mauricio Pochettino's side worked hard to deny Spurs space in the final third in the first instance. When they did slip through, the Saints defense was just as diligent in closing them down. Even so, there was little real incisiveness to worry them.
One solution for Villas-Boas might be to utilize one of his better passers further forward. Though they do not possess an out-and-out playmaker, Spurs certainly have players who might instigate a more thoughtful approach higher up the pitch.
Tom Huddlestone has rarely been deployed in an advanced role, but it would be intriguing to see how his passing range fared in a more confined, but potentially more productive environment.
Either Lewis Holtby or Tom Carroll might be better bets given their greater mobility, not to mention their constant hunger for the ball. The likes of Bale and Jermain Defoe would almost certainly benefit from having someone with a greater understanding of where they like to receive the ball closer to them in the decisive positions.
The upcoming Chelsea game would seem a problematic occasion to try something a little different. But it might just be what Spurs need to avoid being predictable versus a side well capable of hurting them.