Tottenham Hotspur are set to face PSV Eindhoven this evening in a fixture which could make or break their European campaign.
After losing their opening fixtures against Inter Milan and Barcelona, Tottenham simply cannot afford to take anything less than three points away from Holland in the early kick-off.
Failure to record victory over the Eredivisie league leaders could prove terminal to their ambition of reaching the knockout stages of the competition, but if Erik Lamela can emulate the type of performance he made against West Ham last Saturday there’s no doubt Mauricio Pochettino’s side will have every chance of recording a priceless victory.
Lamela exuded a level of confidence against the Hammers which is typically reserved for an exclusive club of Europe’s most talented players, with an all-round display in Tottenham’s number ten role drawing esteemed praise throughout the British media.
In light of Lamela’s masterclass in the London derby, Sky Sports pundit Adam Bate produced an article on how Pochettino’s decision to deploy his compatriot in a more central role has paid dividends so far this season.
‘Another possible reason for Lamela’s improvement is down to how Pochettino is now using him.
‘As a youngster, Lamela expressed a preference to play as a more typical Argentine No 10 but many of his minutes have come in a wider position in a 4-2-3-1.
‘The chance to operate once again as an inside forward is bringing out the best in him.’
The manner in which Lamela ghosted into the penalty area to intelligently guide the ball beyond a helpless Lukasz Fabianski hinted at his intuitive ability to find space in between the lines of midfield and attack, and that may well derive from the early days of his development in Argentina.
A role which is predominantly reserved for naturally enigmatic and creative players, the number ten position is one where Lamela can hone in on his elusive qualities without the manacles of a wide berth restricting his license to roam in the final-third.
Whenever Pochettino has deployed Lamela out wide, the Argentina international has consistently produced displays characterised by a diligent determination to recover possession for Tottenham to ensure that he strikes a fine balance between his attacking and defensive responsibilities.
But more than five-years of service to the club, has Pochettino finally discovered that Lamela is best suited to a central role all along? His tendency to drift in from the touchline to influence proceedings hinted that may be the case but it’s only in the absence of Eriksen and Alli where that notion has been validated on the field of play.
Pochettino’s decision to move Lamela in from the touchline into Tottenham’s creative number ten role has been a stroke of genius so far and it will be interesting to see how the dynamic of the squad shifts when Eriksen and Alli return.
Bate’s claim that ‘a reinvigorated Lamela is a tantalising prospect for Tottenham’ is absolutely spot on based on his electric performances in recent weeks, and the supporters will be praying this is just the beginning of his best ever campaign since moving to north London in 2013.
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