Alvaro Negredo's Brilliance Highlights the Crippling Issues in Spurs' Attack

Sam TigheFeatured Columnist IVNovember 21, 2016

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24:  Alvaro Negredo of Manchester City celebrates his team's fifth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amid the massacre that was Manchester City 6-0 Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, a statistic even more worrying than that horrendously one-sided scoreline arose:

Sergio Aguero (10) has scored more Premier League goals this season than the entire Spurs team combined (nine).

It's a damning assessment of a problem area for Andre Villas-Boas right now, and one has to wonder how this is even remotely possible given how much money was spent on offensive firepower this summer.

Sure, the club sold Gareth Bale—a one-man team at times last season—but they replaced him with £80 million worth of talent. Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Roberto Soldado and Nacer Chadli all arrived, among others, to shore up the attack and make it deeper, stronger and more potent.

Or so they thought.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07:  Christian Eriksen of Spurs on the ball during the UEFA Europa League Group K match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and FC Sheriff at White Hart Lane on November 7, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

With just nine goals from 12 games, Spurs' impotency in the final third is now impossible to ignore. The club have fallen to ninth in the league as we creep into the second third of the season, and some of the problems that have plagued them so far simply aren't going away.

Sunday staged an exhibition between two Spanish strikers enjoying wildly different fortunes in their debut Premier League campaigns.

Roberto Soldado, signed by Spurs from Valencia for around £26 million, has scored just once from open play and has padded his stats with a further three penalties in 11 starts. Alvaro Negredo, signed by Manchester City from Sevilla for around £22 million, has scored five from eight starts and added two assists.

It's that comparison, perhaps, the epitomises the difference between the Citizens' free-scoring attack and Spurs' stuttering one; suggestions abounded on Twitter after the thrashing that Negredo is the man AVB should have signed.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but what we can say for sure is that Soldado and Negredo are two entirely different animals.

"The Beast," as Negredo is known, epitomises everything you'd want from your typical complete forward: grit, graft, a killer's instinct, good size and admirable feet. His connection with Aguero has formed instantly, with both Spanish speakers interchanging and linking with ease.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Roberto Soldado of Tottenham Hotspur looks dejected after the third Manchester City goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Ma
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Soldado, on the other hand, walks a lonely path up front for Spurs. He's more your typical poacher, less willing to get involved in the build-up play and very limited in terms of hold-up. He needs it on a platter, and it will have been AVB's hope that his new attacking options could serve it up for him with ease.

What separates the two men, and perhaps the two sides, is the aggression and hunger (or lack thereof) shown by both players; Negredo is desperate to prove himself and sniffs out his own opportunities, whereas Soldado appears averse to replicating that strategy.

There are factors working against Spurs' forward, of course, but the worrying thing is that as a player, he hasn't changed a jot since leaving Valencia.

AVB's midfield have been incredibly slow moving the ball between the lines, and that places an onus on the striker to hold it and create chances for himself. It's almost as if Spurs have played 12 games in a row utterly blind to the fact that this asks Soldado to do what he's never been able to do.

Is Dembele a problem?
Is Dembele a problem?Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

The attacking midfield position has endured wild inconsistencies, with Christian Eriksen blowing hot and cold and Lewis Holtby underwhelming, while Lamela has taken an age to settle in. Mousa Dembele is hardly an incisive passer, while Gylfi Sigurdsson has been stuck out on the left.

Creativity behind Soldado has been limited, the midfield has been workmanlike with no spark and the ball is too slow to be moved forward—all things that are hindering the striker's ability to fit into the system.

Spurs and City represent two different teams who are using their peripherals in two different ways—one correctly, and one quite poorly.

Pellegrini's intelligent use of Negredo, allowing him to settle quickly and prosper, is in direct contrast to AVB's use of Soldado, which highlights all of his weaknesses and accentuates none of his strengths.

The £26 million man is not solely to blame, but he's a bad fit in a stuttering system. Change all-round is required.