Debrief: The Premier League weekend reviewed, Oct 20
1) When failure's not a big story
2) Spurs must involve Soldado more
OK, so the Spaniard bagged Tottenham's second goal in their 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday. Fair enough.
But it's quite possible Andre Villas-Boas will be locked in a dark video room with his coaches this week, trying to work out how his side can involve Spurs's summer signing like the striker's old side, Valencia.
Soldado's goal was his first in open play in the Premier League this season, and epitomised the type of net-rippler Spurs fans dreamed of the Spaniard netting on regular basis this season. The visitors' passing was incisive and deadly, played quickly through the motions from wide eventually through to Soldado's territory: Holtby to Paulinho, to Soldado, to goal - deadly.
The hitman's lack of involvement has been noted before, but it should come as little surprise given the nature of his goal-getting exploits in La Liga. Soldado is a poacher who relies on service, which is why Villas-Boas' decision to pick Gylfi Sigurdsson over Christian Eriksen was perhaps a little surprising. While the Iceland international has netted three times this season, his creative nous doesn't quite live up to that of his young Danish team-mate's.
Importantly, Spurs must show a little more urgency in the final third if they're to help Soldado as their lone man. Their build-up play was often laboured and lacking pace against Villa, whle Lewis Holtby was not invovled regularly enough making his first league start of the campaign. It was no surprise to see Spurs' second goal arrive as a result of both his and Paulinho's (who rarely ventured out of his own half, as seen below) involvement going forward.
In the coming weeks it wouldn't be surprise to see Soldado add to his tally, though. With Sandro back - a grossly underrated figure in the Spurs engine room - it should allow the team's creative cogs to play closer to the Spaniard, who in turn should reap the rewards. Don't forget we're yet to really see what Erik Lamela can do, too. (JB)
3) Stoke's striking woes are a horror for Hughes
Mark Hughes' Stoke project was never going to be an overnight success now, was it? Nonetheless, the former Blackburn and Manchester City chief will hope his side's fortunes are transformed for the better sooner rather than later.
Hughes' shift in culture at a club still maligned for its ugly past is, understandably, taking its time to prevail. But while the Welshman's changes are focused on making the Potters a more refined force on the pitch, the Staffordshire outfit are still suffering the same ailments as before. Defensively they are sound - how could they not be with Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross calling the shots? - but up front there's a gaping void begging to be filled.
On Saturday Hughes didn't even bother playing a striker, instead electing for summer signing Marko Arnautovic as a false No.9. The young Austrian, however, predominantly hugged the right side where he was most accustomed to playing for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga last season. As such, opportunities were few and far between, and West Brom should have walked away from the Britannia Stadium with all three points.