The Tactics Underpinning Tottenham's Bold New Dawn

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The Tactics Underpinning Tottenham's Bold New Dawn
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There is a revolution of sorts going on in North London this season. 

With general Andre Villas-Boas in charge, Tottenham Hotspur have overhauled their squad and made a statement that they should be considered as serious English Premier League title contenders. 

While this is the second year of the Villas-Boas era at White Hart Lane, the first seven matches of the season have felt like a new manager with a reinvigorated squad have taken the pitch in a Spurs kit. 

By letting Welsh superstar and current Real Madrid Galatico Gareth Bale go during the summer transfer window, Villas-Boas was able to go out and sign the players that fit his 4-2-3-1 formation perfectly. 

The 4-2-3-1 installed by Villas-Boas on the white half of North London last season did reap some benefits, but in the end a disappointing fifth place finish was the final result. 

A few of the holdovers from last season's squad are still playing key roles, including center-backs Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, right-back Kyle Walker, and midfielders Gylfi Sigurdsson and Moussa Dembele

Lloris and his back four, that also includes left-back Danny Rose, who is a rising star at his position, have conceded just five goals this season, three of which came in Sunday's shocking home defeat to West Ham United

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Toward the end of last season, Dawson and Vertonghen began to form an unbreakable bond at center-back after the towering Vertonghen was outsourced to left-back because of injuries early in the season.

After an offseason of working together, the unlikely pairing of an Englishman that was on the brink of leaving the club at the start of AVB's time in charge and the Belgian who asserted himself last season as one of the best defenders in the world have jelled quite well together. 

The same can be said about the defensive part of the midfield, where Dembele has been paired with summer signing Paulinho

That was not supposed to be the starting duo at that position, but due to an early season injury to the impressive new signing Etienne Capoue, Dembele has moved back to the position where he thrived for most of last season. 

Unfortunately for the defensive masterminds of White Hart Lane, they have not received the press they deserve because of the arsenal of attacking talent that Spurs brought into North London during the summer. 

The most valuable signature captured by Tottenham this past summer was the one of Roberto Soldado, who has solved the goal-scoring crisis that fell upon the club last season when Bale was ineffective. 

Behind the Spaniard, who has two goals this season, is the highest-profile of those summer signings in Danish wunderkind Christian Eriksen.

The 21-year-old has been the engine in midfield that Spurs were searching for all of last season. Due to the lack of consistent playmakers in the center of the attacking midfield trio last season, Bale was forced at times to move into the center and make the team become more one-dimensional than it already was. 

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Moussa Dembele in action against Cardiff City.

Adding to the more threatening attack has been the placement of Gylfi Sigurdsson on the left side of the attacking midfield trio. By putting the Icelandic international on the left, he gives Eriksen the opportunity to be more creative in the midfield.

If Eriksen decides to shift out wide to set up a run of attacking play, he has a player in Sigurdsson that is versatile enough to move into the center of the pitch and provide a crucial pass when called upon. 

The most striking revelation in the Spurs lineup this season has been right attacking midfielder Andros Townsend, who has resurrected his career and rendered Aaron Lennon useless.

The attacking midfield trio all average over one key pass per game. Eriksen leads the charge with 2.3 key passes per game while the games of Sigurdsson (1.2) and Townsend (1.5) have greatly benefited from the skills of the former Ajax man. 

Villas-Boas also has something he did not have last season, and that is depth. 

The Portuguese manager has been able to rest some of his key players for UEFA Europa League matches without sacrificing the playmaking integrity of his squad. 

In his European setup, Lewis Holtby, Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli occupy the attacking midfield behind forward Jermain Defoe, who has scored three goals in two Group K matches against Tromso and Anzhi Makhachkala

The quality in the Spurs attack has not dropped, it has statistically gotten better as both Holtby and Lamela have averaged two key passes per match while Holtby has averaged 1.5 accurate through balls in that time as well. 

Those players have also been able to contribute as substitutes during domestic matches with Lamela's pass across the box to set up Paulinho's match-winning goal at Cardiff on September 22 being the best example of that.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Andros Townsend has starred early in the season for Spurs.

Further back in the starting 11, defensive midfield powerhouse Sandro has partnered with Dembele while Romanian Vlad Chiriches has lined up alongside Younes Kaboul at center-back. 

Only Lloris, Rose, Walker and Dembele have consistently started in both the EPL and Europa League, and while that may not seem like a big deal at the moment, it will come into play in a positive manner as the fixture list heats up later in the season. 

Now that Villas-Boas has kickstarted the revolution at White Hart Lane by bringing in players that fit his scheme, it is now time for Spurs to reach the next level and qualify for the UEFA Champions League and maybe even win the long, 38-match war otherwise known as the English Premier League. 

 

Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.

All statistics obtained from WhoScored.com.

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