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Spurs Odyssey Reviews the Premiership Season
for 2011-2012 - Match 31
When did Harry stumble upon 4-2-3-1?

This is a question I have been asking myself this week. It is not a formation that Spurs manager Harry Redknapp has consistently used, but in three consecutive games against Chelsea (away), then Bolton and Swansea at home, the formation has paid dividends to Spurs' ongoing pursuit of automatic Champions League football next season (third place), and to their progress in the FA Cup. The success of the formation augurs well for our next game at Sunderland, when surely it will be deployed again, and then the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.

However, I can't help thinking that sometimes our manager stumbles upon a successful strategy or team selection. Integral to the use of two defensive midfielders is the availability of the Brazilian Sandro, who has not been available for enough of this season, due to injury. However, Jake Livermore has always been available, and can fulfil the same function as Sandro. There is no-one at the club though who is quite as successful as Scott Parker, when it comes to vital defensive tackles and interceptions. Harry said himself, before Sunday's game that Jake had been unlucky not to be selected from the start, and he has had a terrific first full season in the Premier League.

Formations do depend upon available personnel, of course. On Sunday against Swansea, Aaron Lennon was held back on the bench, but when he was introduced (and eventually deployed!), Aaron added the extra attacking dimension that we like to see at home. Perhaps next Monday's game against Norwich will see Aaron in full flight in a 4-4-1-1 behind Van der Vaart and Adebayor. Or perhaps, with the close proximity of our next two games, we might see Jermain Defoe and/or Saha in a 4-4-2 on Easter Monday.

My essential point is that there have been games under Harry, when that 4-2-3-1 would have given us more chance to break down an opponent's five man midfield, as seen in the recent game against Stoke, when Rafa grabbed that oh so vital added time goal. I can tell you that we tried 4-2-3-1 in our home pre-season friendly against Athletic Bilbao, who we beat 2-1. In that game, we played Jenas and Huddlestone at the back of midfield for the first half, but reverted to 4-4-2 in the second half. It was all experimental of course, and incidentally we lost the first half, and won the second!

We have also used the 4-2-3-1 in one or two of our Europa League games.

Continental teams play that way all the time, and some of our Premier League opponents such as Arsenal and Chelsea have been playing that way regularly for quite a while. Perhaps Harry has finally been convinced of the merits of this system.

We did use the formation against Swansea at The Liberty Stadium, but whilst I wouldn't call my research scientific, I am arguing that there have been times when it could have been used before the system re-emerged at Stamford Bridge. Everton was a case in point, when we went 4-4-2 against a five man midfield, and lost. One of the reasons we failed at Arsenal was because of their 4-2-3-1 ultimately taking over the midfield, whilst Spurs went for a more maverick style of 4-3-2-1, allowing Bale a free role behind Saha and Adebayor. We went two up, but ultimately crumbled.

No doubt there will be more trials and tribuations on the exciting run-in we have ahead of us. Let us hope that we enjoy success all the way!

Gareth Bale is enjoying a return to his best form in recent games. Spending more time down his favoured left side must help, but he was voted your man of the match against Swansea, and has won that accolade in three of the last four games. At his current rate, he could easily pip Scott Parker for the player of the season vote!

See the "Spursometer" for the Swansea game here


Results 31.03- 02.04.12

A. Villa   2-4   Chelsea
Everton    2-0   West Brom
Fulham     2-1   Norwich
Man City   3-3   S'derland
QPR        2-1   Arsenal
Wigan      2-0   Stoke
Wolves     2-3   Bolton
Newcastle  2-0   Liverpool
Spurs      3-1   Swansea
Blackburn  0-2   Man Utd

       Barclays Premier League
 
Pos Team      P  W  D  L   F  A  GD  Pts

1  Man Utd   31 24  4  3  76 27  49  76
=======================================
2  Man City  31 22  5  4  75 25  50  71
3  Arsenal   31 18  4  9  62 41  21  58
4  Spurs     31 17  7  7  56 36  20  58
=======================================
5  Chelsea   31 15  8  8  53 36  17  53
6  Newcastle 31 15  8  8  46 42   4  53
7  Everton   31 12  7 12  32 32   0  43
8  Liverpool 31 11  9 11  36 33   3  42
9  S'derland 31 11  8 12  42 37   5  41
10 Fulham    31 10  9 12  39 42  -3  39
11 Swansea   31 10  9 12  35 39  -4  39
12 Norwich   31 10  9 12  42 49  -7  39
13 Stoke     31 10  8 13  29 43 -14  38
14 West Brom 31 10  6 15  36 43  -7  36
15 A. Villa  30  7 12 11  33 42  -9  33
16 Bolton    30  9  2 19  36 60 -24  29
17 QPR       31  7  7 17  34 53 -19  28
=======================================
18 Blackburn 31  7  7 17  43 64 -21  28
19 Wigan     31  6 10 15  29 55 -26  28
20 Wolves    31  5  7 19  33 68 -35  22

All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats

This week last year

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