Harry Redknapp has recently tweaked his tactics slightly to incorporate an extra defensive midfielder in his line-up against fellow top four contenders. Instead of the usual 4-4-2 system, an extra combative midfielder has been installed to change the format to a 4-5-1, that turns to a 4-3-3 when Spurs are on the attack. This I feel has added extra balance to the side, but it will be interesting to see if Redknapp continues this approach against Swansea at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

This change in tactics and personnel have changed the roles of a number of players. The old 4-4-2 system saw Scott Parker and Luka Modric in the centre of the park, two wingers and two strikers. Against the better teams Tottenham started to get over-run, with Parker’s workload at times unmanageable. However, with either Sandro or Jake Livermore both more than adept at fitting into a three-man central midfield, it makes Tottenham a more difficult team to break down. Additionally, the idea is that with two battlers in front of the backline will hopefully free Modric to get forward a bit more and free the creative player slightly of defensive duties.

Moving forward, Emmanuel Adebayor’s position of frontman does not change, but Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon once he is fit will have to alter their roles slightly. With a three-man central midfield a side can become vulnerable on the flanks, so former left-back Bale and Van der Vaart or Lennon on the right will have to help out their respective full backs. The Dutch forward has previously indicated that he is not keen to play wide and wants to play centrally, but this system may suit both him and the team if he is willing to track back when needed; he did this well against Chelsea.

Finally, the main losers out of the change in tactics however are Jermain Defoe and Louis Saha. With Bale and Van der Vaart certainties to play when fit, there is space for only one out-and-out striker, which for the time being will be Adebayor. An extra midfielder cuts down the second forward’s time on the pitch, with Defoe in particular sure to be frustrated with lack of opportunities.

There is a case for Spurs continuing their three-man central midfield against Swansea, as the Welsh side are fearless away from home and have shown sleek passing this season. Sandro and Scott Parker together would cut down space for the likes Gylfi Sigurdsson and Joe Allan, but with Tottenham in desperate need for three points Redknapp will be tempted to go back to 4-4-2 and play Saha instead.

Published – Bleacher Report


  1. Er..i’ve been watching the wrong spurs for most of the season. We haven’t played a normal 442 since VDV joined. When Rednapp does pick a 442 we lose or play poorly. No problem going 442 for periods of a game but a 451 has many more options not least of all having parker govern infront of the back four. Prior to the chelsea and bolton games parker found himself in front of modric far too often and we conceded far too easily. I know this is difficult for some spurs fans to get used to but 442 is usueless. No one..like no one who wins anything employs this system as the basics to their tactics. 442 has been a major problem for spurs for years. It takes a centre midfielder out of position when we attack and leaves them up field when we are caught out. It’s a terrible system. Even when we have lennon and Bale fit we don’t need a 442. A 4321 is far more useful as would a 433. At least in these formations players can cover each other without being miles apart and covering too much ground. 442 opens the middle of the park straight at your defense, useless system. Looks great going forward but teams soak it up and bang one in the other end, ala Arsenal and Man u. Think they have better players than spurs?

  2. Hi SpursGuv, thanks for your comments – which all are very fair. I guess it is really a case of 4-4-1-1 or 4-5-1, with Van der Vaart the second striker. The 4-5-1 system is good because it is versatile, and changes to the 4-2-3-1 system that you mention when the side good forward. When the opposition have the ball it has the flexibility to resport back to a 4-5-1.

    I don’t think that Manchester United or Arsenal have better players at all, but against both sides we have been caught out this season in midfield – I am in favour of Sandro or Livermore accompanying Parker to thicken up the side in the centre of the park and allowing Modric to play.

    It will be interesting to see the team selection against Swansea at home, a game Tottenham expect to dominate possession and eventually win; do you think Redknapp will play two defensive midfielders or look to attack with an additional striker or midfielder in the 4-4-1-1 system you mention?


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