End product vs No end product

Eric Lamela last night started to show watching football public why Spurs paid £30 million for him during the summer (initial fee £25.7m) to replace Gareth Bale as the wide goal scoring threat. Regular readers will know I have felt his best position would eventually be wide right and his performance last night added weight to that.

He is only 21, doesn't speak the language, has come to a new culture without his family, who only arrived last week and to a new faster more physical league. Unsurprisingly it is taking him time to adapt, it took Sandro until Christmas when he arrived unable to speak the language. I can not stress enough just how important it is to be able to communicate, not just on the field, but to simply live in a country. If you stop and think about it you start to appreciate the problems a player can have and the isolation he can feel, all of which affects his game. The English do not learn foreign languages they expect the world to learn English.

However against FC Sheriff at White Hart Lane the young Argentinian started to show his worth and his performance will help Andros Townsend understand what is missing from his game. Three pieces of play in particular highlighted this.

I have discussed Andros Townsend before, he has talent and is learning his craft, however that is also causing us creativity problems at the moment. When Townsend dribbles, he tends to dribble sideways and blast a shot, 40 so far this season. When he goes outside his man it is almost an afterthought and defenders have found it relatively easy to prevent him putting the ball into the area.

So lets have a look at how taking aspects of Lamela game can improve his own.

Play Number One
In the first half Lamela came inside dribbling but then started going outside his man who kept fouling him to prevent him getting past. Lamela then attacked on the outside again but at the penalty area. Any foul then is a penalty and indeed he was taken but didn't go to ground which would surely have resulted in the spot kick.

The lesson to learn here is that he dribbled into a danger zone which gives the attacker a greater chance of a successful end product as the defender can no longer simply foul him, he is moving the odds more into his favour. Townsend lately has rarely attacked the penalty box, his performances have as can be expected flattened out a bit.

Play Number Two
Erik Lamela's goal showed two aspects that Andros can improve his game with. Lamela received the ball wide on the touchline. You will recall my last article where I pointed out the impact Lennon had doing this against Everton and Les Ferdinand made the very same points at half time that I was making. Both wide men were at this point stretching the defence.

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Lamela cut inside with the ball but instead of running with it himself looking for a shot, he quickly played the ball central to Christian Eriksen giving him more time and space. That was aspect number one, running in there himself simply drags more defenders into the middle making it harder for everyone.

Aspect number two was that he immediately arched his run into the penalty area. Eriksen played the ball and it ricoheted to Lamela who drilled it home with composure. His relief was evident, this was clearly a big moment for him, getting his debut goal at a new club.

The points Townsend needs to take from this were the quick ball into the centre and then running into the box, into the danger zone. Townsend doesn't run that channel enough if at all. Against Everton we didn't get men in the box, we play around outside it, Veronghen was attacking the same channel on the left that Lamela scored from on the right. Both against Everton and last night the holes were caused by the wide men being wide on the touchline and not tucked in.

Play Number Three
Play number three saw the difference in dribbling and emphasises a point I have made before. When Townsend dribbles there is often no end product but Lamela attacked the penalty box with a dribble, he took the ball into the danger zone and invited a challenge. The result a penalty, an end product.

Lamela took on 11 dribbles last night, 7 times he was fouled resulting in free kicks  and two penalty shouts. Free kicks just outside the area and penalties are dangerous end products. How many Townsend dribbles result in a dangerous end product.

Now you may argue a blast into the stands is an end product and I couldn't disagree with you but when only 1 in 40 go in it can hardly be classed as dangerous. One creates high pressure moments when we can get men in the box and creates clear cut chances, one doesn't.

Townsend has the basic game to build upon, he is young, he is learning, he will make mistakes, but in Erik Lamela he has someone he can learn from.

If Andros can add the elements into his game that create these danger moments in dangerous areas then he has a very bright future.

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