. The Subbuteo Pitch: Michu (Swansea) v Tottenham Hotspur (Away) 16/12/12
posted by Paul Wilkes (Editor) on 2012-12-16 18:00:00

Background

Having scored 15 goals in last seasons Primera División with Rayo Vallecano, Michu made the move to Wales for just £2 million. It was a no-brainer and now he leads the scoring charts alongside Manchester United's Robin Van Persie, his 12 goals equaling Swansea's top scorer of last year Danny Graham.

How they lined up ?

Kyle Naughton replaced Steven Caulker in the one change to the Spurs team that lost to Everton last week. Former Real Madrid forward Emmanuel Adebayor partnered Jermaine Defoe in attack, as André Villas-Boas team played 4-4-2.

Leon Britton and Dwight Tiendalli came in for Danny Graham and the injured Spaniard Àngel Rangel, former Valencia winger Pablo Hernández was also ruled out. Michu started as striker in the usual 4-2-3-1 system.

Direct Dual

William Gallas and Jan Vertonghen were tasked with keeping a close eye on the former Real Oviedo youth player, in a bid to stop him from adding to his five goals in his last three Premiership starts.

1st Half

With Tottenham at home and firmly in the driving seat, for much of the first-half it was the Spaniards job to help spring the counter attacks. When Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris had the ball he would position himself between his opposing centre-backs, however, once the ball had moved further up the field he would drop into an area around Sandro, as a more 2nd striker. He would often drop into midfield and sometimes further, on one occasion there was only one other outfield player closer to his own goal, a poor first touch enabled Dembélé to run at the Swansea defence, the Belgians clever back-heel created a shooting opportunity for Defoe. Michu threw his body across blocking the shot, in an action most defenders would have been proud of.

During one counter attack, Dyer and Routledge were breaking their necks to combine, using there pace to try to beat the Spurs back four. Michu tentatively jogged behind, after the cross failed to find Routledge, he held his hand in the air to illustrate he had been unmarked arriving late into the area. Twice he seized upon loose passes, at both the start and the end of the opening 45. After three minutes Walker gave the ball to him, but it came to nothing; the second time was significantly more dangerous, with five minutes of the half remaining a Sandro pass was pounced upon by Michu. He took one touch then struck the ball just inside the Spurs half, the shot just sailing over Lloris and the goal frame.

2nd Half

Swansea's overall plan was working, but it was detrimental to Michu's game, as Spurs increased the pressure, there were longer balls in the air to him. He is capable of winning headers (he won 6 out of 10) and holding up the ball, but it doesn't come natural. A number of his headers would go straight to the opposition, his clever flicks, to play in others would struggle as he required his team-mates further up the pitch. The graphic shows how straight and long passes were up-to him, in comparison to the match against Arsenal (playing in the hole), where he received the ball in different variations.

The introduction of Luke Moore in the 74th minute, enabled Michu to move into the supporting striker role. When Vertonghen scored the only goal of the game, the cross may have been cleared by Michu had Davies not taken it out of his path. He was cleaned out by Lloris in stoppage time, when the French keeper collided with him.

Conclusion

Michael Laudrup admitted before the match that he thinks Michu prefers to play as a second striker, this performance did little to suggest otherwise. Ten of his 12 Premiership goals have come in the 2nd striker position, with the two as a lone forward coming against West Brom and Wigan. His five headed goals, the most in the Premiership, shows his aerial ability, but that's very different from a flick-on from hopeful balls forward. Laudrup would have been better served using Graham for this, a natural striker, especially against a top six team like Tottenham.


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