Tottenham's Vlad Chiriches a Swashbuckling Star Against Anzhi Makhachkala
He started on the right side of Younes Kaboul in a back line consisting of Hugo Lloris in goal, Kyle Walker at right-back and Zeki Fryers at left-back.
Instead of facing Samuel Eto'o (released to Chelsea) or Aleksandr Kokorin (sold back to Dynamo Moscow), Chiriches and Kaboul were tasked with keeping tabs on Islamnur Abdulavov.
Nineteen-year-old Abdulavov, a 6'1" striker, was nonexistent. He didn't trouble Lloris and was subbed off for 6'8" Ivorian target man Lacina Traore.
The main criticism against Chiriches is his inability to win headers and command a defence when the ball is flung into the box.
This was evident when he played for Steaua Bucharest in last season's Europa League.
Three of Stuggart's four first-half goals were headers, whilst Ajax, Chelsea and Copenhagen also scored via headers.
In an email interview with Romanian football expert Radu Baicu, who has scouted Romanian prospects for various European clubs, he told me Chiriches is weak in the air.
"Yes, I repeatedly expressed my concerns about his aerial ability," Baicu said. "There's also a lack of strength and these two weaknesses can only be masked by his intelligence."
Baicu pointed to Romania's 2-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying loss to Turkey as an example where Chiriches and Dorin Goian failed to deal with a Caner Erkin cross, which resulted in Burak Yilmaz scoring.
The positive takeaway for Spurs supporters was that Chiriches' positioning against Anzhi wasn't suspect, but you can counter that by pointing to Traore not receiving adequate service from his teammates.
It was a miserable crossing display, with Pavel Solomatin (0/9), Odil Ahmedov (0/5) and Andrey Eshchenko (0/3) all major culprits in Anzhi going 0/21 in total crosses.
When you watched Chiriches, he played with such confidence that it was as if he had done an entire preseason with Spurs and started every single game heading into the match against Anzhi.
In reality, Chiriches arrived at White Hart Lane with no Spurs preseason and received his work permit two weeks ago.
Baicu told me Chiriches' extravagant play from the back has often resulted in mistakes.
"He is indeed very good on the ball but that kind of ability combined with a rather poor level of regular opposition lead to errors," Baicu said. "But, as we all know, keeping things simple is at times the most difficult thing to do."
In the 2-0 win over Anzhi, Chiriches completed more dribbles than Erik Lamela, Lewis Holtby and Nacer Chadli combined.
There was one instance when Chiriches took the ball on the right flank and glided past an Anzhi player.
Spurs' possession-based style plays into Chiriches' strengths, according to what Baicu told me.
"Chiriches is a ball-playing centre-back, composed, comfortable in possession," Baicu said. "[He's] suited for a positive team, one that wants possession and likes to start the build-up from the back."
Tottenham controlled the game against Anzhi, accumulating 66.3 percent of possession while Chiriches completed 94 percent of his passes and was 7/8 in long passes.
It was a stroll for Spurs to the extent that Chiriches spent 22.4 percent of the game in midfield territory.
You can't escape the fact this is an Anzhi team still picking up the pieces after owner Suleyman Kerimov clicked the reset button.
Yes, Chiriches was a standout against Anzhi, but use the game as a pointer to who he is as a footballer rather than the performance foreshadowing future displays.
Allan Jiang is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via email interview.
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