erik-lamela-spurs-11014

Erik Lamela – another false dawn or the first rays of change?

We’ve seen glimpses of potential with Erik Lamela, but are more consistent performances on the horizon?

False dawns. We’ve been here before with Erik Lamela. His wicked curling drive in to the corner against Burnley and the audacious rabona goal in the Europa League. Both strikes hinted at the lighting of the blue touch paper that would see our record buy explode in to the player we thought he could be. On both occasions it failed to come to fruition.

However, change may well be in the air. Lamela has recently returned to the first team after missing almost a month and the performances have picked up, hinting that more is on the horizon. Not always in the ways you’d expect though. The Argentinean is doing it with a defence first attitude, as his pressing and harrying of the opposition obviously pleases Mauricio Pochettino.

Erik Lamela closing down

What has been extremely noticeable about the play of Erik Lamela since returning to the line-up has been his speed and energy to close down opposing players. Mauricio Pochettino has worked on our team’s fitness and levels of stamina and it is paying off through increased pressing to regain possession and late goals.

Lamela has always had an ability to retrieve the ball from the opposition, something we looked at that he would bring to our team when he signed for Spurs. His trouble with fouling that he had at Roma still continues, but in our last two Premier League matches, he has been recovering the ball, often in the opposition half.

He did this well against Arsenal, where his drifting in to the centre saw him regain the ball in dangerous areas for the Gooners.

erik-lamela-defence-spurs-arsenal

Erik Lamela tackles (crosses), intercepts (diamonds) vs Arsenal.

In our last Premier League match with Liverpool, he defended much wider and provided better cover for Kyle Walker, but still retrieved the ball in their half.

erik-lamela-defence-liverpool-spurs

Tackles (crosses), intercepts (diamonds), fouls (triangles) vs Liverpool.

His three fouls in the Liverpool match show that the problem with conceding free kicks still remains. However, energy and speed to close down the opposition is something Pochettino requires from his wide forwards and Erik Lamela provides this along with an added tenacity that others don’t have.

Erik Lamela on the attack

Whilst Erik Lamela has done a very good job on the defensive side of the ball, there have been a few signs he is improving on it as well.

The first is his ability to drift in to the space between the lines so that he can get on the ball and dribble with it. Erik Lamela is a much better player when he can receive the ball on the half turn or facing the opponent’s goal rather than when he has his back to it.

Lamela was constant threat doing this against Sheffield United in our Capital One Cup semi-final.

sheffield-united-2-2-spurs-lamela-btl

Erik Lamela loose between the lines.

With the Blades chasing the game, he drifted constantly in to the spaces beyond their midfield, picked up the ball and drove forward with it to release Harry Kane.

sheffield-united-2-2-spurs-lamela-btl-2

Erik Lamela free between the lines once more.

A slight change that Mauricio Pochettino has made to the midfield has given him more space to do this. Our head coach has Ryan Mason playing a lot more through the left side, which removes the a player inside of Lamela, creating more area for him to cut inside and roam in to. We can see this in the Sheffield United game above, but also at Liverpool, where Dembele has come deep from the number ten position and Lamela has peeled in to his space with Mason further over to his left.

erik-lamela-liverpool 3-2-spurs

Erik Lamela between the lines with Mason left.

What this does is get Erik Lamela on the ball, in space and travelling towards goal where he is much more of a threat than in traffic with his back to it.

This allows him to run in to central areas and play short through balls for Harry Kane. Here Kane was unlucky not to score as Lamela played a reverse pass for him to run on to.

liverpool-3-2-spurs-lamela-kane-pass

Erik Lamela drifts centraly to feed in Harry Kane.

This sighter paved the way for a better execution of the ploy, as Kane levelled the scores up at 1-1.

liverpool-3-2-spurs-lamela-kane-goal

Erik Lamela sets up Harry Kane to score.

In the second half, Lamela would burst through again and miss an obvious pass to Mason running through on his left, highlighting the shift of Ryan once more. It had created the space for Erik Lamela to run in to, but also magnified his decision-making, which is still hit and miss.

Overall, Erik Lamela was having a big influence on the game by getting in to the space between the lines and playing through balls. His execution, as the Mason incident showed,  still requires some work.

liverpool-3-2-spurs-erik-lamela-passes

Erik Lamela passes played, Liverpool 3-2 Spurs.

False dawn or first rays of change?

Erik Lamela arrived with the reputation of having been something of a goalscorer in Serie A. Although these are yet to flow from the Argentinean’s boot, recent matches have hinted that he is becoming a factor in other ways.

The defensive tenacity that was often overlooked in his game in Italy has been coming to the fore. It’s no coincidence that our pressing game has become more of a factor since he returned to the line-up and Mousa Dembele has been moved alongside him at the number ten position.

Mauricio Pochettino is also finding ways to get him on the ball so that he can have space to run at the opposition defence rather than operating in a congested midfield. These two attributes have seen him become more of a team player, but he is also developing in to an important cog in the machine that our new head coach is building.

Until the goals start to arrive, then he will never justify the £30 million price tag, as these are a pre-requisite when spending this kind of money. He is just 22-years old though and after last season was a non-starter due to injury, this one could be viewed as his acclimatisation to the English game.

Erik Lamela’s first season in Italy yielded just 4 league goals, which was followed by a breakout 15 in the following campaign. So, next season may just be when we get to see the best of our record buy.



If you enjoyed this post, please share:

,

12 Responses to Erik Lamela – another false dawn or the first rays of change?

  1. the whistle blows 17th February 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    Another thought provoking post Mark. Totally agree that Eric seems to be getting much more effectively involved in the game since his injury return. I like his work rate,and the youthful exuberance will hopefully pass and with it the number of fouls and errant passes drop off too. He is such an upgrade on Aaron Lennon that I am willing to give him another year to fulfil his promise and price tag. What he has that neither Lennon nor Townsend, or many other wingers/ wing forwards have, is the ability to drift into space. He’s one of those players that seem to just pop up in positions that no-one notices. It bodes well for the fluid front 4 system that Potch favours. Its been a joy to watch us in recent weeks as all the front players hunt down the ball from all over the pitch, regardless of their starting positions – even harry kane tackling back into the edge of our box.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 18th February 2015 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks for reading. Poch is bringing him on leaps and bounds since he first arrived and agree that he is an upgrade on Townsend and Lennon.

  2. Brian Himself 17th February 2015 at 9:49 pm #

    Lamela is coming along nicely. Mason is showing signs of fatigue and needs a rest. Hopefully Poch can avoid using Adebayor and we will be right there in contention.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 18th February 2015 at 10:36 am #

      As Kane can’t play every game, i’m thinking that we haven’t seen the last of Adebayor.

      • Brian Himself 18th February 2015 at 4:39 pm #

        You might be right,but I hope not. Were I Poch, I’d use Soldado to back up Kane and push Lamela or Townsend forward if needed. Ade really is no longer a contributing factor nor do I look to see him do some kind of rebound. Problem is that Levy still wants to cash in on him and may push Poch to play him in order to increase his sale value. That hasn’t been working. I was astounded that anyone was willing to pay half his salary and flabbergasted that Levy turned it down. Player selection is not his forte,

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 19th February 2015 at 10:37 am #

          I would use Soldado too, but i’m sure we’ll see Ade again if we progress in the Europa League.

        • Brian Himself 19th February 2015 at 4:39 pm #

          You might be right. I just hope not. If we advance in the Europa league; it will only be – until – we use Ade. Pretty hard to advance, playing a man short.
          Ade is done, he just hasn’t got the ability to play at this level anymore. He is not going to contribute anything to the Spurs efforts. Who can blame him for hanging around for the money. Levy really needs to acknowledge his mistake and either buy him out and release him or send him home and pay him until his contract is up.

  3. Peter 18th February 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    His work rate is very good and the lad has a winner mentality. He has loads of skill but still has to learn a lot in terms of reading the game. This being said, he makes far better runs since Dembélé is keeping the opponent busy and creates space in his destructive forward role. On the negative side, I still don’t see much chemistry with Eriksen. Talking about Eriksen, he has to play as a CAM, not on the left. He cannot influence the game enough from that position and he doesn’t shield our LB enough (a big problem when Rose is playing). Maybe Poch has to choose between Dembélé and Eriksen as a CAM according to the opponent (allowing Eriksen a rest once in a while).

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 19th February 2015 at 10:35 am #

      I think its a balancing act with Eriksen. In order to get a more aggressive pressing number ten in the side, Pochettino needs to incorporate Dembele, which has a trade off shifting Eriksen wide. He does drift in to the centre though to create the four man overload that Pochettino likes to create in the middle of the park. If he were to move Eriksen central, then he could be starting in a more congested zone, depending on what the opposition are doing and ths would then force Dembele wide where he is not as effective or deeper, which means that either Mason or Bentaleb would have to give way. Its a fine art of trying to find what suits the overall team best rather than just one player.

  4. swerve 22nd February 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    Dembele – Soldado – Davies -Kabou l- Fazzio – Dier – Lamela should never be on a match day squad. All completely useless and will never be good enough!

    FALSE DAWN £30M aaarrrgghhh

  5. bradical 27th February 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    Lamela may be the most creative and technically skilled we have…but he tries to do too much and too frequently squanders possession. His possessions often seem like acid jazz. Never taking the obvious decision. It seems he may take top competition more seriously – against world class players the path of least resistance is more palatable. He just needs an ounce of maturity.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th February 2015 at 12:32 am #

      He is still very young. He’ll either get it and the penny will drop and he’ll go on to be a really top player for us. Or, he’ll never learn and end up being one of those ‘could’ve been great as he had all the tools’ type of buys. Hoping its the former.