Big Tom isn't in Evan's first choice XI. Agree or disagree? (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
I'm definitely a sucker for tactics on the pitch, almost to a fault. Whenever my friends & I play FIFA I'll spend five minutes tinkering with the squad & formation before a game. Time consuming? Yes. But leaving my friends in my wake? Totally worth the time.
Good ol' Harry Redknapp is a bit of a tactician himself, utilizing numerous formations over the course of the season, and even games. In this year's campaign he's been forced to be fairly creative in his squad selection due to poor runs of form, but more so due to a squad being reduced by injuries. Let's just assume that the injury fairy waved her magic wand over Spurs Lodge and there was a full healthy squad to choose from. What would the team look like?
Goalkeeper: This is a fairly obvious decision. Gomes has had a sometimes iffy yet extremely solid season thus far (personified by his penalty inducing yellow card challenge and penalty save against Chelsea in the waning moments of the 1-1 draw). Carlo Cudicini has filled in well when needed and loaned Croatian keeper Stipe Pletikosa has been a non-factor, except providing competition in practice.
Defense: The back line has been hit extremely hard with injuries so far this year, so a completely healthy crew to choose from is a welcome sight for sore eyes. Left back is cemented to Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Side note: I suppose one COULD argue Gareth Bale would be an option at LB, but we'll discuss this during the midfield). Like Ryan discussed yesterday, the right back position provides some interesting options, but I'll be casting my vote for Vedran Corluka to get the call because he can defend and frees up the right midfield player (hold your horses) to attack. Centreback is where things get interesting, considering former Starting XI member & FA Cup hero Jonathan Woodgate coming back in the mix. Although I'm tempted to throw a classic Ledley King/Jonathan Woodgate pairing here, I've really been impressed with William Gallas and his leadership (see this year's North London derby) this year. The emotional boost that King gives when he's on the pitch also can't be discounted.
Midfield: The previous two position areas are, for the most part, fairly straight forward. The midfield, however, has been less than easy to peg due to 1) several formations Harry has installed throughout the season, 2) the inconsistent form of numerous midfield players and 3) the style of play needed for a particular game. There are two main options here, based on the forward availability. Here are my different options:
Four player midfield w/ two forwards (L-R): Bale, Palacios, Modric, Van der Vaart
Five player midfield w/ one forward: Bale, Palacios, Modric, Lennon; Van der Vaart
I'm a fan of the 4-5-1 because it accommodates our loaded midfield better and allows Van der Vaart to play in his preferred central role supporting a lone striker. That being said, the four person midfield will probably be here to stay due to our...
Forwards: When Jermaine Defoe went down with an injury, the five-man midfield picked up steam in support of a lone robotic striker. Seeing increased playing time from last season, Roman Pavlyuchenko has garnered 12 starts in all competitions this year (15 EPL appearances) and bagged nine goals (five in the EPL) so far. Shockingly, Robbie Keane has seen a dramatically decreased role from last season (six EPL appearances, no goals) and looks to be on his way out this January. Who do I prefer? The big/little tandem of Crouch and Defoe for two strikers because the pair compliments each other's strengths well, and Pavlyuchenko by himself, because he provides a daft finishing touch from Bale & Lennon crosses.
Evan's Ideal Tottenham 4-4-2
Assou-Ekkoto, Gallas, King, Corluka
Bale, Palacios, Modric, Van der Vaart
Evan's Ideal Tottenham 4-5-1
Assou-Ekkoto, Gallas, King, Corluka
Bale, Palacios, Modric, Lennon
Van der Vaart
Agree with my picks or absolutely hate them? Who is your ideal starting eleven for Spurs and why?