Scoring his first goal in our opening Premier League match was a great way for Roberto Soldado to get his Spurs career off to a flying start.
But how was the rest of the Spaniard’s play Sunday afternoon?
Working the channels
In the article “How Roberto Soldado will change Spurs” I looked at his movement and how he can pull away from defenders. Our new number nine was at this all afternoon as he worked the channels to great effect.
Our play was based around the combination of Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon down the right hand side. With the ball here, Roberto Soldado was also moving in to the inside right channel where he received plenty of passes from both Kyle and Aaron.
Once in possession, he was recycling the ball in this area back to these two and then moving in to the box looking for a return.
As looked at in the article above, this side of the field was one frequently worked by Roberto Soldado and Valencia last season. Therefore, it was no surprise to see him being very comfortable out there linking the play.
One such passage of possession where he worked the inside right channel extremely well, was when he moved off the shoulder of the Palace centre backs. Fed in by Kyle Walker once again, Soldado squared the ball for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The Icelander fired inches wide, but it was a pleasing piece of play.
Soldado working the channel combined the off the shoulder runs of Jermain Defoe with the passing presence of Emmanuel Adebayor circa 2011-12. Rather than having one striker who drops in and links the play well and another who is always looking to play on the shoulder, Roberto Soldado looked a good combination of the two.
Even with the Spaniard working this side of the pitch very well, the more attacking passes came in to him from Danny Rose on the left. This side of the field saw quicker, more diagonal passes directly to him inside the box and gave him the slightly better service.
Roberto Soldado shooting
Despite his good link up play, Roberto Soldado had very few decent opportunities other than his penalty strike (1).
A free kick from Gylfi Sigurdsson saw him try a deft flick with the outside of the boot that flew over (2). Had it gone in it would have been a contender for goal of the season.
A better cross from Danny Rose (3) saw him plant a header wide, but as mentioned above, this is where the more direct service was coming from.
The chance he seemed most disappointed about was the near post flick with his left foot (4).
I looked in the Crystal Palace 0 Spurs 1 match report at how Lennon and Walker were looking to play passes in behind the Eagles’ full back for a runner to latch on to. Kyle fed Aaron on the move and Soldado nicked his low cross straight at the Palace keeper.
It was a neat move and will form the basis of how we try to carve open the opposition this season and arguably Soldado’s best chance from open play.
The penalty apart, we didn’t really get to see many chances for Roberto Soldado to shoot. He does like to take the ball first time, as we saw on the flick from Sigurdsson’s free kick and also on Lennon’s low cross.
With Palace sat so deep, there wasn’t the usual space in the penalty area that he thrives on. Apart from squaring the pass to Gylfi, there also wasn’t another opportunity to run on to a through ball played in-behind.
More, and better, chances should come his way this season.
Roberto Soldado passing
Soldado’s passing was neat and crisp all afternoon. As talked about above, he worked the right side of the pitch well, recycling possession with Walker and Lennon.
Passes backwards and square were easily completed, but where he struggled was with balls played forward, highlighted by the red lines. This is something he’ll need to work on, but overall I was impressed with his chance creation.
The cut back to Sigurdsson (1) showed good awareness of those around him, a feature of Soldado’s play all afternoon. This was also mirrored when he gave up possession with Nacer Chadli bursting through (2). Soldado looked tired by this point given his lack of pre-season. He was aware of the Belgian thundering by at great speed though, which would have caused the defence more problems than if he’d retained possession.
A high and wide shot by Etienne Capoue (3) was the result of some nice hold up play out on the left. Another lay back to Sigurdsson (4) saw the Icelander’s shot blocked from the edge of the area.
Throughout the match, Roberto Soldado did much more than just look like a scorer. If he continues in this way, he will set up his fair share of goals too.
Overall, it was a good debut from our new number nine. Roberto Soldado linked the play well, but also showed the speed and quickness of thought to then burst forward towards the penalty area.
His contribution out on the right with Lennon and Walker was impressive, as we sought to get in behind Palace full back Dean Moxey.
He didn’t get that many chances given Palace’s deep sitting defence, but the signs are very encouraging that there are not only goals, but also assists in his locker. On his first Premier League start, Roberto Soldado looked much more than just a goalscorer.