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Is Tottenham's Rotating Defence a Calm Carousel or is it Beginning to Creak?
The second leg of the last 16 of the Europa League against Inter Milan was a torrid watch for all Spurs fans. There have not been many occasions in recent years where Spurs have looked so enormously outclassed after Inter demolished them 4-1, but a late away goal from Adebayor put them through.
Despite all of the praise that Andre Villas-Boas has received recently, there has been some slight criticism that he continues to rotate the two central defenders. I personally do not feel there is anything wrong with not having a regular pairing as he picks the two he thinks will nullify the attackers of the opposing side on a match-by-match basis. There have been times where Villas-Boas has got it wrong, such as the FA Cup match against Leeds when he decided to choose Vertonghen and Caulker who were bullied by a very physical side. The decision to use William Gallas repeatedly this season has also been concerning, as he looks increasingly error prone and a shadow of his former self. However the majority of cases have been correct and performances from specifically Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen have been superb.
However, I believe that the discussion around the central defender combinations is something of a smokescreen, as it has hidden the quality of performances from the full-backs. Kyle Walker has arguably been the weak link of a strong Spurs team. His physical presence and speed petrified defenders last season but he has failed to add an extra dimension to his game. There has been too much focus on attacking and it has led to multiple defensive mistakes and a severe lack of positional awareness. Benoit Assou-Ekotto has also been disappointing since his return from injury, and he has been looking extremely lethargic which could mean he is not completely fit.
Spurs attacking players have been excellent this season, however the defenders of the team need to start pulling their weight. There are still a substantial amount of games remaining in the Premier League and with a continued Europa League campaign they will need to act quickly if they are going to achieve their goals for this season.
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