Aaron Lennon had a very up and down season for Spurs in the last campaign.
Our nippy little wing-wonder was in and out of the line-up with various groin, hamstring and ankle injuries all term. This led to him missing a number of games throughout the season. Having appeared in thirty-four matches in the 2010-11 campaign, he would only make 23 appearances in 2011-12.
He would provide three goals in the Premier League, just as he did the season before, but this time he would also add five assists.
Aaron Lennon can usually be counted upon to get the ball wide on the right, looking to get to the by-line and pull it back. However, as opposition defenders have become wise to this over the years, Lennon recorded just one assist last season from going down the outside. With four of his five assists in the last campaign coming from driving inside, why doesn’t he do this more often to keep defenders honest?
The usual game of Aaron Lennon
Aaron Lennon can usually be counted upon to play wide, hugging the touchline and looking to get at the opposition full-back at every opportunity. If we take a look at the final game of last season against Fulham using Stats Zone, we can see just this.
Aaron Lennon gets the ball out wide just over the halfway line and also at the corner edge of the area as he looks to get his man lined up one-on-one.
From here, he is looking to beat him to the by-line in order to provide a cross. He attempts five from the right, three are successful and one from the left after switching wings with Gareth Bale.
Lennon’s speed and quick feat make him a tough cover for opposition full-backs, with the smarter ones either doubling on him, or overplaying by cutting the line off. The effect of this can either see him struggle, as he attempts to go around the outside against two defenders, or he is forced inside.
It is actually when Aaron Lennon is forced to come inside that he picked up four of his five assists last season in the Premier League, so why doesn’t he do it more often?
Aaron Lennon sets up two against QPR
Lennon’s first two assists of last season came in our 3-1 thumping of QPR at the Lane. Rangers really tried to nullify his attacking threat to get to the by-line, with left-back Armand Traore making six interceptions and Shaun Wright-Phillips three tackles.
As a result, Aaron Lennon only received the ball 19 times and very rarely far up the pitch where he could go to work and do damage by crossing the ball back from deep. He only managed to get the ball in once from the right from an area below the 18-yard box.
However, with Rangers cutting the by-line off, he is forced to come inside and creates two goals for Gareth Bale cutting in from his left side position.
Aaron Lennon comes inside to provide against Man City
Our trip to the Etihad may have seen Man City nick a 3-2 win, but Aaron Lennon again ran in to tough opponents in Gael Clichy and Gareth Barry. The former Gooner made 3 tackles and three interceptions on our man, who struggled to get the ball inside the City half.
Aaron Lennon failed to put in any balls from the right during his 87 minutes on pitch. On switching to the left wing, he is forced to come inside on his natural right foot, creating again for Gareth Bale who whips a left-footed shot in to the top corner.
Three assists for Aaron Lennon on the season, all to Gareth Bale and all from cutting inside looking to create.
Aaron Lennon assists for Adebayor at Bolton
Without an away win in seven Premier League matches, we travelled to the Reebok as Spurs hammered Bolton 4-1. Aaron Lennon sees more of the ball, receiving 29 passes and in better areas for him to go to work.
However, Sam Ricketts along with Nigel Reo-Coker are able to double up on him, forcing him to struggle to provide anything in to the box from going to the by-line.
At 2-1 and with the game hanging in the balance, Aaron Lennon is able to cut inside, latching on to Luka Modric pass down the inside right-channel. He is able to cut the ball back for Emmanuel Adebayor to tap in the third and put the game away.
That was Aaron Lennon’s fourth assist of the season from cutting inside out of his total of five in the Premier League.
His only helper from going to the by-line and cutting the ball back came against Swansea in a brief 20 minute stint from the subs bench.
With four minutes to play and Spurs again up 2-1, Aaron Lennon skipped passed left-back Neil Taylor and put in a cross for Emmanuel Adebayor to head home.
It was Lennon’s only assist in the Premier League from cutting the ball back once he had beaten his marker down the outside in order to put in a cross.
Full-backs cutting him off and stopping him getting to the outside may be the reason he only completed 14 of his 54 crosses attempted in his 23 appearances last season?
Aaron Lennon is frustratingly good. When on his game he can beat opposition full backs for fun. However, he focuses too much on getting down the outside to the by-line in order to cross.
When opposition full-backs cut him off from doing this, through either doubling up with a midfielder or by overplaying the line, he can get stopped too easily.
If Aaron Lennon comes inside more often looking to create, in order to keep the defender honest, he will prove a much bigger threat for Spurs this season.