x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Spurs forwards are pulling down Champions League bid

Harry Redknapp's forward line's collective failure to score in league matches is threatening the club's chances of playing again next season.

Roman Pavlyuchenko, left, and Jermain Defoe, the Tottenham forwards, look dejected after Blackpool's third goal at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Roman Pavlyuchenko, left, and Jermain Defoe, the Tottenham forwards, look dejected after Blackpool's third goal at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

No wonder Harry Redknapp was so desperate to sign a striker in the January transfer window. On this season's showing, his forward line is going to cost Tottenham Hotspur their chance of Champions League football next season.

Tuesday night saw the Spurs manager angry after a series of missed chances contributed to his side's 3-1 defeat at Blackpool, which stopped them going third in the Premier League.

"It was incredible to watch in the second half as we missed chances from four or five yards out. It was unreal," Redknapp said.

Tottenham's free-scoring run to the last 16 of the Champions League - where they lead AC Milan 1-0 going into the second leg at home - has clouded the fact that, in domestic competition, the goals have dried up from their strikers.

Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Robbie Keane (before he left in January) have netted just eight league goals between them - 22 per cent of their side's 37-goal total.

That is why Tottenham made bids in excess of £20 million (Dh118m) during the transfer window for Atletico Madrid's Sergio Aguero, Villarreal's Giuseppe Rossi, Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente and Newcastle United's Andy Carroll.

Redknapp may have shot himself in the foot with the last-minute signing of Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid in the summer transfer window. While the Dutchman himself has been a revelation, it has left Redknapp with a surplus of high-quality midfielders.

Van der Vaart's ability to play as a classic No 10, just behind a lead striker, has led Redknapp to change his formation from a 4-4-2 last season, to a 4-4-1-1. It puts a lot of pressure on his lone striker.

The results are evident. Last season, playing two up front, those four strikers netted 37 league goals, just under one per game. Their current rate is just less than a goal every three and a half games.

It is not that Spurs are having a bad season, and in Europe their strikers have scored plenty.

But with Manchester City and Chelsea fighting for the two final Champions League spots, do not be surprised if Spurs miss out because of their wayward forwards.

 

twoods@thenational.ae