Colchester United vs. Tottenham: 5 Things We Learned in Spurs' Preseason Outing
An intermittently lively affair was played out on a splendid summer's evening at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Much like Tuesday's game with Swindon Town, Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas made several changes throughout the match as he gave his squad another welcomed workout.
Villas-Boas revealed to Sky Sports postgame that Gareth Bale, Clint Dempsey and Aaron Lennon were absent as a precautionary measure, following injuries in training.
As for the game itself, here are a few takeaways from Spurs' visit to Colchester.
Falque Is Worth Another Look
Getting his first run-out this summer for Spurs was their Spanish midfielder Yago Falque (some spell his first name beginning with an "I," but his club's official website uses a "Y," so that is what we will use).
After initially joining from Juventus on a season-long loan in 2011, he completed a permanent transfer to Spurs the following January.
An underwhelming loan spell at Southampton shortly followed, but prior to and since then, Falque had impressed with some solid cup showings—notably away at Maribor last September.
You would be forgiven for losing track of Falque after that. Those who have paid attention will know he is not long off completing a loan spell with Almeria in which he helped them earn promotion to La Liga, earning positive reviews along the way.
The 23-year-old faces an unsure summer back in North London as he looks to find his way into the first team squad.
Falque's bright display against Colchester will certainly have helped his cause.
Prior to the game, he was described by Assistant Head Coach Steffen Freund to TottenhamHotspur.com as someone who "has a lot of skill, great technique and I believe as a player he can create opportunities for the team."
Those qualities were on display against the U's in some neat exchanges with full-back Danny Rose down the left flank, as well as in some exciting forays into the penalty box.
On one occasion, he fired off a stinging volley that Colchester keeper Sam Walker did well to push away.
Falque faces stiff competition if he is to get his chance at Spurs, but here was a reminder he is certainly worth another look at from the club's coaching staff.
Townsend Can Ensure Lennon Has Backup/Competition This Season
Operating on the opposite flank to Falque in the first half was Andros Townsend.
His loan spell at Queens Park Rangers last season underlined his Premier League credentials. Albeit against lesser opposition in League One Colchester, Townsend reinforced why he is such an exciting prospect for Tottenham.
Coming in off the right, his combination of trickery and pace made him one of Spurs' biggest threats on the night. The home side's defense struggled to get a handle on the 22-year-old, and he was able to fire in several shots on target.
Townsend is not as quick as his teammate Aaron Lennon, who is a more varied performer in his methods of attack. The former has some way to go to get anywhere near matching the sustained impact Lennon has had on the Premier League for nearly a decade now.
However, Townsend is someone who could (and probably should) be used to keep Lennon on his toes—as well as for backup.
With Gareth Bale not being regarded as strictly a wide-man anymore, Townsend can provide Spurs with a quicker option than the more considered style of Falque or Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Interestingly, later in the game against Colchester, Tom Carroll was moved to left midfield for a short spell. His and Townsend's replacements—Nabil Bentaleb and Shaquile Coulthirst, respectively—also played on the wings.
Bentaleb used the ball sensibly, growing into the game as it progressed. Normally a striker, Coulthirst was commended by Villas-Boas on Spurs' Twitter page for his "tactical discipline," though he was not shy in getting into the box when possible.
We Are Not Yet Clear on What Villas-Boas' Preferred Formation Will Be
It may just have been his way of fitting in players into familiar positions while giving them all enough time for a good workout. Even so, Villas-Boas' switching between formations against Colchester left us no clearer as to what his preferred formation to begin the season will be.
The first half saw him deploy something that appeared predominantly like a 4-5-1, while occasionally giving the impression of the 4-2-3-1 we frequently watched last year.
The second-half introduction of Jermain Defoe and Harry Kane saw the team line up in a 4-4-2 to accommodate the strike pair.
Several first-team players like Dempsey, Mousa Dembele and Lewis Holtby are scheduled to return to action after their summer breaks for Spurs' participation in the Barclays Asia Trophy next week.
It stands to reason that Villas-Boas will begin in earnest to shape his side with an eye on the season opener, rather than setting it up according with fitness considerations, as has understandably been the case thus far.
With new signing Paulinho not due to arrive properly for a couple of weeks, it leaves the Spurs coach without a likely key component of his setup for the season—for the time being.
That may mean the "full" unveiling of Spurs' formation for the season will not take place until the latter part of preseason.
Spurs' Attack Is Better Than Given Credit For...But Improvements Are Needed
Given the opposition and the early nature of this fixture in preseason, it is difficult to evaluate the performance of the Spurs attack one way or another.
Emmanuel Adebayor was occasionally menacing and on occasion showed a real desire to get involved. Other times, his nonchalance on the ball was a little too on the frustrating side.
Defoe twisted and teased through the Colchester defense, getting into some typically good shooting positions that worked substitute goalkeeper Mark Cousins, without always overly testing him.
Kane played with a pleasing confidence, maintaining possession with great skill and strength as he muscled his way between defenders (though Colchester's burly Magnus Okuonghae proved a particularly tough match). As promisingly as the young forward is progressing, he remains raw in the finishing department.
All could prove to be valuable contributors for Spurs this season, and it is likely that at least a couple of them will be.
Yet even in this friendly, it was hard to get away from the belief that Villas-Boas could do with a deadlier option upfront.
The coach is well aware of the need for improvement here, as he hold TottenhamHotspur.com. However he was right too in stating "the goalkeepers have been excellent against us, so we have to give them credit as well."
Bale certainly offers a measure of that killer instinct, but depending on where he is used, he may have responsibilities elsewhere.
Just who Spurs can sign to provide this needed quality upfront is just as uncertain as it has been for a while now.
Rose Is Looking Like a First Choice Full-Back
Danny Rose's performances on loan at Sunderland last season—coupled with Benoit Assou-Ekotto's below-par showings at the same time—have made for the former to be, in the minds of many, Spurs' left-back elect for 2013-14.
Rose's Colchester performance was that of someone who has that target firmly in mind.
Though not quite at peak-playing levels yet, he was hungry to join his team's attacks and largely stymied any attempts to catch him out.
One occasion did see Colchester take advantage of the gap left after he joined an attack, but Jan Vertonghen safely covered for him.
While Rose remains a work in progress, he possesses a determination that has seemed absent in Assou-Ekotto for a little while now.
He performed fine against Colchester, but with his rival chomping at the bit to take his place, he may need to do more.
You write the Cameroon international off at your peril, but without doubt, he is facing some serious competition for his place.