It has seemed at times this season that Andre Villas Boas’s press conferences are the most aggressive thing about this Tottenham Hotspur set up – an intricate but blunt approach to attacking has left supporters struggling to find their voices and opposition teams content to soak up the drip-drop pressure of Spurs’s front line.
It’s not all down to Villas Boas though as the opening ten games have been doubly frustrated by the need to gel seven new signings into a team that was previously dependent on one man in Gareth Bale and opponents who have decided to set up cautiously to counteract the North Londoners’s possession based style.
Newcastle United are likely to adopt tactics that are now frustratingly familiar to the White Hart Lane faithful when they arrive, especially since it worked so well for their 2-0 home victory over Chelsea last weekend.
Though a long way off Premier League quality FC Sheriff’s approach to Thursday’s Europa League tie was similar, the Moldovans were undone by some incisive dribbling by Erik Lamela, whose slow burning introduction to domestic duty is likely to see him start from the bench here.
Villas Boas will know though that a win here is an opportunity to kick start a season that has been ticking over so far especially if the result of the later kick off between Manchester United and Arsenal is favourable.
The introduction of Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen in place of the industrious but ineffective Lewis Holtby in the starting line up would say a lot about Villas Boas’s intentions here, the Portuguese manager will have to build on an almost immaculate defensive record which has seen seven clean sheets in ten games sooner rather than later if Spurs are to kick on.
“It hasn’t been easy for us to try and break in behind but we will persist as this is the way we want to move forward. Hopefully we can one day manage to do more combinations that will lead to more goals being created. It is very, very difficult for a team to hold on defensively due to the amount of time we have the ball,” he said acknowledging that his system needs more influence from his creative players.
“It is not easy to find the spaces, you need people to start taking on opponents to start unlocking them. We need to take risks, unlocking defences is probably a part of our game where we have to work.”