Tom Carroll – the change of pace to the power game?

Tom Carroll has long been heralded as one of our most talented young players, a neat passing playmaker with an eye for a killer ball.

After a handful of appearances in the Europa League during Harry Redknapp’s last term in charge and a loan stint at Derby, it seemed as if he was progressing nicely.

Last season he could have gone out on loan again, but Andre Villas-Boas kept him at the Lane. The head coach handed him some more starts in the Europa League, as well as introducing him to the Premier League from the substitutes bench.

Carroll’s first taste of the top division came in our 1-0 loss to Wigan. That day saw us have plenty of the ball but fail to break down a resolute Latics side that sat deep and made itself compact.

Wigan weren’t the only side that played that way at the Lane, as teams tried to prevent us getting in behind with our speed and pace on the counter.

The signing of Paulinho and the pursuit of Christian Benteke indicate that Andre Villas-Boas is looking to go in to the power game this season. Sandro’s ability to stop anything in its tracks, Gareth Bale’s direct runs and Moussa Dembele’s dribble-drives will now have the added hustle of Paulinho’s box-to-box style, which could potentially be combined with Benteke’s presence in the penalty area.

Last season opposing teams made it difficult for us to get in-behind them. This term, a mixture of speed, strength and power could well overrun them.

On the surface it leaves very little space for Tom Carroll to get a look in. His pure passing style would seem to be at odds with what Andre Villas-Boas is looking to create. However, one thing we have learnt during the Portuguese’s first season in charge is that he always has a plan B. We’ve seen a number of game-changing substitutions that have swung matches and when the power game isn’t working, Tom Carroll could prove to be the key to unlocking opposition defences.

Last season, Tom Huddlestone carved out a role as an emergency quarterback. AVB would bring him in to matches in order to increase the tempo in which the play was transferred from back to front. Huddlestone’s ability to move the ball accurately meant we could turn games against tiring opponents by quickly altering the point of attack.

His performance against Man City was an excellent example of this. He came on and looked to move the ball over distance down the channels and out to the flanks, as well as playing a perfectly weighted through ball to Gareth Bale to score.


Spurs 3 Man City 1: Tom Huddlestone passes played.

With Tom Huddlestone reported to be on the transfer list, Tom Carroll could well find himself in the role of providing the change of pace this season.

He showed last term that he has the ability to move the ball up the field, with 72% of his passes being forward.

His calculated and vertical passing style was in evidence in a number of matches as he tried to find team mates running behind opposition defences.

Tom Carroll vertical passing style

Tom Carroll was handed his first start in the Europa League this season at home to Maribor and he didn’t disappoint.

He not only controlled much of the flow of the game, but his ability to move the ball accurately forward helped carve open the Slovenian side’s defence.

His top passing targets were Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor, as we heavily attacked down the left side of the field. The length of some of his passing lines show how he moved the ball quickly over distance in order to deliver it to them. His main focus was trying to get in behind through the inside left channel with diagonal passes that eventually saw him assist on Jermain Defoe’s second goal.


Tom Carroll passes played, Spurs 3 Maribor 1.

It wasn’t just against Maribor where his vertical passing has been on display. He’s also been brought on in Premier League games to unlock defences with his through balls.

With us chasing the game against Fulham, Tom Carroll was introduced with 24 minutes to go and immediately looked to unpick their deep-sitting defence. Although all six of his through passes failed to find their targets, the intent to quicken the tempo with vertical passing and change the game was there.


Tom Carroll passes played, Spurs 0 Fulham 1.

At home to Everton, he was brought on with minutes remaining as we went in search of a winner. Just as against Maribor, his attempts to unlock the defence with right to left diagonal passing through the inside channels was in evidence once again.


Tom Carroll passes played, Spurs 2 Everton 2.

Tom Carroll – the change of pace to the power game?

After getting his first taste of the Premier League last season, Tom Carroll would have been looking to gain more playing time this term.

The addition of Paulinho to an already congested midfield indicates that Andre Villas-Boas is looking to bring an even more physical, athletic style to Spurs this season. While this will mean fewer chances to start for Tom Carroll, it may also provide him with an opportunity to impact games from the bench.

AVB used Tom Huddlestone for that role at times last season and if he is on his way out of White Hart Lane, Carroll has shown that he could step right in. His ability to move the ball quickly and accurately, often over distance, will change the pace and also style of matches to unpick teams that can resist the power game.

Last season, Andre Villas-Boas showed that he was willing to change his tactics mid-match. Whilst Tom Carroll may not be plan A in this campaign, he could well prove to be a very decent plan B.

If you enjoyed this post, please share:


10 Responses to Tom Carroll – the change of pace to the power game?

  1. Brian 12th July 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Tom Carroll should be the first name on the team sheet. Spurs need creative players in midfield. He will be the only player at Spurs who can pass the ball and can create goal scoring opportunities.

    It was a total waste of a top talent not playing him last season which cost him his place in the England under 21 team.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th July 2013 at 2:01 pm #

      Maybe in a few years, but i don’t think he is ready to be the first name on the team sheet just yet given he’s only played a total of 71 minutes in the Premier League!

  2. Marc 12th July 2013 at 11:18 am #

    When AVB became the manager of Spurs, I was hoping that he would bring in creative, skillful players. He has done the complete opposite.

    Holtby is better suited to deep midfield. He is not a suitable replacement for Van der Vaart.

    Sigurdsson is nowhere near as creative or effective as Krancjar.

    Dembele offers no creativity and is a poor replacement for Modric.

    Tom Carroll is currently the only midfielder who plays the Tottenham way. But AVB never picks him.

  3. Dickspur 12th July 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Agree with everything said about TC, I’m a fan. But the ‘elephant’ in this particular room is why we’re prepared to release Huddlestone. He’s not only about the best passer in the PL, with both feet, but also the best passing decision-maker – long or short ball, first touch or hold for time – his decisions are almost always the right ones. Sure, 90 mins mobility will always be a problem, but less so in the ‘impact quarter back’ role. If he’s going I hope it’s his wish rather than AVB’s.

  4. Neil 12th July 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Three defensive midfielders in the same team is not my idea of entertaining football.

    I would prefer to watch a midfield of Sandro, Carroll and Pjanic.

    • Dan Mac 12th July 2013 at 1:03 pm #

      3 Defensive midfielders? Sandro defensive. Dembele, was a striker, then played just off the striker for Fulham and centre mid for Spurs as Bale came inside behind the striker and Sandro was injured (basically, he can play as a great defensive midfielder but he’s actually a more attacking player who’s one of the best players around a beating a man with the ball at his feet). Paulinho is a box-to-box midfielder very much like Gerrard/Lampard, so it’s actually a very, very well rounded midfield three!

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th July 2013 at 2:22 pm #

        I’m very excited by this midfield trio as they all have their own traits, but could all quite easily switch positions.

  5. David 12th July 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Tom Carroll is too good for this current Spurs team.

    Spurs need to bring in other great passers of the ball, who are on his wavelength.

    All the top teams have skilful players like Carroll playing for them.

    At Man City they have Silva, Aguero, Nasri and last season Tevez.

    At Chelsea they have Hazard, Mata, Oscar, DeBryun, Schurlle and Van Winkle.

    At Arsenal they have Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla.

    At Man Utd last season they had Scholes and Carrick.

    At Real Madrid they have Modric, Isco, Ronaldo, Ozil

    At Barcelona they have Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Neymar (more youth players to follow like Gerard Deulofeu, who Spurs missed out, on getting him on loan)

  6. serious 12th July 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    You guys seem to forget there Will be 3 forwards in front of the midfield plus attacking Full backs you can not have a weak slow midfield in this formation. It seams in england we don’t really understand these formations? Also what will happen if sandro is injured again? Will it be like last season just fall away with a weak midfield, if we had paulinho to come in instead of Parker we would be playing CL all ready! Carroll just needs to be loaned out until January and review from there.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th July 2013 at 2:08 pm #

      I think a loan last season would have been good for Tom Carroll, but the fact AVB kept him with the team indicates how much he thinks of him. If he’s not in AVB’s plans this season, i’d like to see him go on loan, preferably to a Premier League side, but as i talk about in the article, i think he may have plans to utilise Carroll more in this campaign.