Time For Villas-Boas To Turn To Adebayor

With Spurs struggling to break teams down, it's time for Villas-Boas to bury the hatchet with Adebayor and bring the striker back into the fold. He's the best option at present...

Last Updated: 13/11/13 at 10:59 Post Comment

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The second highest average possession in the Premier League and the most shots per game, yet only the bottom two have scored fewer goals than Tottenham this season. This is what Arsene Wenger terms 'sterile domination' and the Arsenal manager would surely allow himself a wry smile at the struggles down the road in north London, especially following Andre Villas-Boas' claim that the Gunners were in a 'negative spiral' towards the end of last season.

The inescapable truth is that Spurs have made a poor start to the campaign, narrowly winning the easy battles and failing in tougher tests. They haven't won any of their four games against the other teams in the top half of the table, drawing two and losing two. An encouraging first half against Chelsea disintegrated into a poor performance after the break, while Arsenal eased to a 1-0 victory in September with barely a whimper from their rivals. It does not bode well ahead of back-to-back matches against Manchester City and Manchester United.

At the start of October, Villas-Boas at least had the excuse that his team were picking up results, but two home defeats in their last five outings is a warning that more troubles lie ahead. They may have been denied by a superb performance from Tim Krul on Sunday, but the fact remains that no other team in the top ten has scored fewer goals than Spurs from open play. It is hardly the sign of a side ready to challenge for the title, as many claimed following the summer splurge at White Hart Lane.

So what can be done to resolve the status quo? Villas-Boas' decision to persevere with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation is not necessarily borne out of stubbornness. The system suited Spurs for much of last season when they had Gareth Bale and they have shown remarkable resilience in the current campaign, conceding only six strikes in their first 11 matches. The problem is clearly in the space vacated by Bale, and how to settle on the right combination to negate the loss of the Welshman.

As Nick Miller suggested in Winners and Losers, Villas-Boas should perhaps diverge from his plan to play inverted wingers, not only in the hope that it might deter Andros Townsend from cutting inside and shooting if he's forced to do so on his weaker foot. Playing 'pure' wide men would arguably get more out of penalty-box poacher Roberto Soldado, whose build-up play has flattered to deceive on occasion.

Another possible solution, however, is to drop Soldado altogether and bring Emmanuel Adebayor back into the fold. It may not be a popular decision with the fans - or Daniel Levy after he shelled out £26million on Soldado - but it might be in Spurs' best interests at present. The striker has been suffering following the death of his brother in October, but he has recently spoken of his 'full commitment' to Spurs and 'unfinished business' which hints that his desire is still there, despite accusations to the contrary.

"If selected I will give everything to be a success here," said Adebayor. "If not selected, I will give everything to be selected." He has been making all the right noises while the only sound at White Hart Lane is one of increasing frustration of expectant supporters.

The crucial advantage to starting Adebayor is that he possesses the range of skills required to be the '1' in Villas-Boas' 4-2-3-1 formation, unlike Soldado and Jermain Defoe. Not only is he capable of scoring decisive goals from inside or outside the penalty area, he is also adept at holding on to the ball and bringing teammates into play. Although Adebayor is often criticised for having a poor work rate, he is consistent at doing the menial tasks well and were it not for his reckless red card in the 5-2 defeat to Arsenal last November, perhaps his season would have unfolded differently. Five goals in his last 11 appearances certainly hinted at a return to form.

It is clear that time is running out for Adebayor to prove himself, both at Spurs and in the Premier League. He is in the last chance saloon not because of a lack of talent, but owing to a questionable attitude that has seen him shunned by several managers. But at the moment, Villas-Boas cannot afford to bear a grudge. If he is to halt Spurs' slide down the table, it is time for the manager to turn to the striker who best fits his plans, even if they were made without Adebayor in mind.

Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.

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