What’s The Matter With? – Kyle Walker’s decline in form
Walker needs time to acclimatise to a new role under Andre Villas-Boas
Andre Villas-Boas has wasted little time in trying to incorporate his own philosophy on Tottenham, but it seems that Kyle Walker is being the most inconvenienced by the changes and is therefore bearing the brunt of the frustrations of Spurs fans.
Walker has already been forced to close down his Twitter account after being turned on by his own supporters and the fact he was caught dallying in possession to confirm Chelsea’s victory at White Hart Lane would not have helped his cause.
But fans may need to be a bit patient if Walker is to rediscover his high-level of form from last season, as he is still young and is still settling into a new role in the first-team.
One of the big changes being made by AVB is in terms of formation, dumping the 442 of Harry Redknapp to his preferred 433.
This puts a different onus on the wide players, with the wingers expected to break into space between the full-backs and central defenders, rather than hugging the touchline and providing crosses into the box.
By doing this, Aaron Lennon’s strongest asset is not being fully utilised. He is largely one dimensional, but effective at standing his full-back up, jinking past him and getting the ball into the box.
He is not a free-roaming winger in the form of Juan Mata or a converted striker like Hulk was at Porto, who are more of a threat in this role.
What this means for Walker is that the responsibility is almost solely his to produce the width, with Lennon playing narrower.
Walker is naturally an attacking full-back, almost a must in today’s game, but given his amended role, his defensive contribution has suffered.
There is more protection for the defence with Sandro employed just in front of the back four, but Walker must remember that he is a defender first and an attacking force second.
He made more successful tackles than any other Premier League defender last season, but now that his starting position seems slightly higher up the pitch, he has more responsibility to press and intercept.
Getting the fine margins right will take some time, but it would be wise if he toned down his attacking forages for a few weeks in order to get some defensive confidence back and begin to get some of his own fans back on-side.