Tottenham winning, but also missing Gareth Bale

Tottenham fans will be delighted with their team’s start to the new season, with two wins from two games and two clean sheets to boot. It was always going to be a transient period at the beginning of the campaign due to the number of new faces at White Hart Lane, and one significant absentee in the form of Gareth Bale.

The Wales international looks set to be unveiled by Real Madrid as the new most-expensive player in the world of football this week. There are cases stating positive and negative factors for the north London club in Bale’s sale, which were both apparent against Swansea yesterday.

The plus points are the new faces that have been acquired for a combined fee in the region of £60 million over the summer, which have been afforded by the massive windfall that Spurs will receive from selling their prize asset.

Paulinho, Étienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and Roberto Soldado have all started their careers with André Villas-Boas’ men positively and all look like excellent additions to the Tottenham squad.

France international Capoue has been arguably the most impressive of the quartet to date. The former Toulouse battler has shown real tenacity and a drive in the two games he has featured in, which will be a major boost for Tottenham’s midfield.

Paulinho backed up a solid first performance against Crystal Palace with a more forward-thinking display yesterday, with the Brazilian contributing to the team’s attacking mindset and getting forward. The South American showed his ability on the ball and was unlucky not to get a goal for his considerable efforts over the 90 minutes.

Chadli’s performance against Swansea was improved on his debut and along with youth product Andros Townsend looked dangerous when in possession. The pair both have potential to improve substantially, but need to work on their final product in the short term.

Soldado has scored two goals in two games, both from the penalty spot, and has shown a positive work rate and some nice touches on the ball. Apart from this, unfortunately the Spaniard has had very few glimpses at goal, if any.

Gareth BaleTottenham certainly look like a more solid side with the inclusion of their central midfield duo and limited their opponents to a relatively measly eight shots on goal over 180 minutes. However, despite being more compact and adding quality deeper in the team, going forward something still appears to be missing.

It is always going to be very difficult to replace someone like Gareth Bale, regardless of who you are. Tottenham thought they had gone some way to doing so in the form of Willian, who was cruelly snatched away from their grasp by Chelsea. Erik Lamela is still a reported target and Spurs will certainly assess others before the window slams shut on September 2.

In the win over Swansea, there was a hole between Tottenham’s midfield and frontman Soldado, which needed a trequartista or attacking midfielder to fill. Chadli and Townsend stayed relatively wide, where most of Spurs’ joy in attack came from, but to cut open better teams in the division a number 10 or attacking-minded midfielder is really needed.

Bale played the role last season with aplomb. He had a licence to go wherever he wanted to pick up the ball, brought others into play, looked to create chances for Spurs’ strikers and provided a real goal threat himself.

It is obvious that none of Spurs’ current crop are at the same level as Gareth Bale, but the inclusion of an attacking midfielder in that hole is needed to maximise Soldado’s potential. The Spain international needs supply centrally as well as from wide – if Bale was still in the Tottenham line-up the former Valencia man’s opportunities to score would be much more than what they have been so far.

Pushing Paulinho further forward may well be an option also, as the Brazilian looked dangerous when making strides into the Swansea half. With Sandro almost back to fitness, bringing Paulinho’s countryman into the side as a defensive shield would unleash the former Corinthians man.

Tottenham have made a positive start and in no way is this article intended to be a slight against a strong 180 minutes of football so far for André Villas-Boas’ men. However, with Arsenal at the Emirates next up for Spurs, additional attacking options playing off Soldado will be needed to break down more stubborn defences for the rest of the campaign.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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