Paulinho — Spurs’ English-style Brazilian dynamo

Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Paulinho is Tottenham Hotspur’s un-Brazilian, Brazilian writes Luke Bushnell-Wye

José Paulo Bezerra Maciel Júnior—or just Paulinho to you and me—has split opinion since his move to Tottenham Hotspur from Corinthians in the summer of 2013. To some, he’s been a midfield maestro, imbued with the potential to one-day lead from the centre of the park in a similar manner to Lampard and Gerrard; players who Spurs fans have long held a silent, begrudging admiration for. To others, he’s looked to be an overrated and positionally indisciplined sort of luxury player whose performance level haven’t yet lived up to his billing or transfer fee. Continue reading

Arsenal, Tottenham and the return of the Number Eight


Simon Smith’s latest tactics column looks at North London’s Number Eights, who are currently trumping their rivals’ split teams…

An Arsenal fan recently told me he hoped Tottenham would finish second in the league this season. It turned out to be a tongue in cheek setup for a joke about how Arsenal always finish higher. While I laughed, I’m sure Spurs fans will struggle to see the humour through the cruelty: recruiting a new manager, changing the playing squad, extracting every last penny from the Madrid coffers to reinvest this season – literally every meticulous thing Daniel Levy has been able to do to improve Tottenham’s standing has been done. Meanwhile the red half of North London have somehow managed, at times, to appear languid and lazy while staying one step ahead.

Whether or not that will be the case by May remains to be seen, but certainly this increasingly divergent ethos of each team has been on display already this season. It’s not so much a style of play as much as a method in achieving this style: I couldn’t help but notice the very Tottenham and Arsenal ways that their new number eights have been unearthed and harnessed this season. I’m talking about the more attack-minded holding player, the function midfielder as opposed to the defensive specialist. Both have made a conscious decision to change the individual charged with this role, both have improved their fluidity as a result, but both have achieved this in a different manner. Continue reading