How does Erik Lamela fit back into Tottenham’s plans?
The winger has returned to full training
Erik Lamela has been the forgotten man at Tottenham Hotspur over the last 12 months. He’s been out of sight and out of mind. It’s almost exactly a year since his last appearance for the club.
It took the winger a while to find his feet in England following his big-money move from Roma in 2013. Mauricio Pochettino’s arrival seemed to bring the best out of his fellow Argentine and Lamela struck five league goals and created nine more in 2015-16.
He then featured in all of the first nine league games of last season before suffering a hip injury that’s kept him out since then.
In his absence, Spurs have settled on a 3-4-3 system that doesn’t have room for a natural winger. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli support Harry Kane up front, while the wing-backs provide the width.
Now Lamela is back in training, his return to action can’t be too far away. Where will he fit in?
Stretch the Play
Tottenham have won all five of their away games this season. They’ve only conceded two goals on the road too.
It’s been a different story at Wembley. Their only domestic win came over Barnsley in the Carabao Cup. Spurs did beat an under-strength Borussia Dortmund at their temporary home, though they didn’t play their usual game. They sat back and countered, rather than press from the front.
They’ve struggled to impose their style on the bigger pitch at the national stadium. Lamela would help them to stretch the play in wide areas and take advantage of the extra space.
His speed and ability to beat a man can help the team to move higher up the pitch. He also works very hard to win the ball back once Spurs lose possession.
Strength in Depth
Pochettino has one of the best starting XIs in the Premier League. However, there isn’t much depth in key areas. And he has few options to change a game from the bench.
In Spurs’ last outing against Huddersfield Town, there wasn’t much to choose from after Son Heung-Min.
Fernando Llorente is a good back-up for Harry Kane but a significant step down from the England star. Moussa Sissoko has been a huge disappointment since arriving from Newcastle last summer. And Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, Kyle Walker-Peters and Juan Foyth only have seven top-flight appearances between them.
Lamela would be a reliable option that offers something different to the likes of Eriksen or Alli. He could play in the two behind Kane, or he gives Pochettino the ability to switch to a different system with wingers.
Spurs face Real Madrid twice, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal in the next few weeks, so his return could be perfectly timed.
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