Since the arrival of Andre Villas-Boas, Gareth Bale has been the recipient of overwhelming criticism, with the influential winger flourishing under the Tottenham manager. His midfield counter-part, Aaron Lennon, has also put in solid performances under Villas-Boas, but has the Englishman actually improved since the arrival of the new manager?
This season, Lennon has assisted 6 goals and scored a further three since in 2176 minutes of Premier League football, starting 25 games for the north London club this season. This contrasts to last season’s smaller number of minutes played tallying up to 1,581, with Lennon already playing 33% more minutes.
Interestingly, Lennon provided three goals last season along with five assists, making similar numbers to the ones under Villas-Boas. Additionally, Lennon has tried the opposing goalkeeper 23 times this season, a small increase from last season’s 17. But, with the club’s underwhelming strikeforce failing to deliver, the midfield must contribute on the goalscoring front if the club are going to challenge for a top four place.
But considering Tottenham have been playing since December without an in-form recognised striker, with Adebayor and Defoe falling below par, it is essential to look at the total number of chances Lennon has created. This helps to show the improvement of Lennon, with the 25-year-old creating 54 chances this season, in contrast to last season’s 39.
Lennon has also been more heavily involved in games as a winger, playing on the right of a 4-2-3-1 system, pushing the former Leeds’ player up the field more. This has been shown in his higher number of dribbles attempted, successfully completing 49% of the 68 he has tried so far. This is a slight improvement to his time under Redknapp in the Premier League campaign prior, where he only completed 44% of his 48 dribbles.
As well as this, Lennon has been involved in helping to make the prior pass before the assist, as well as moving the ball around the opposition’s penalty area to wait for the perfect time before penetrating the onlooking defenders, which matches with Villas-Boas’ ideology. This can be shown by Lennon attempting 316 passes in the final third of the pitch, a much improved figure from last season’s 263.
Interestingly, Lennon’s goals have been more crucial for Tottenham this season, with two of his goals coming in games with a one goal winning margin, in contrast to last season, where his goals came in games which we were already wrapped up with larger winning margins. Despite this since joining Tottenham, the club have not lost a game in which the winger has scored, in a record which dates back to 2005!
Not only has his attacking qualities improved, but more impressively, his defensive ability has been transformed. Last season, Lennon made a total number of 15 tackles, half of his current tally of 29.
As well as this, his ground dual tackling success has improved slightly too, with Lennon now winning 53% instead of last season’s 43%. Furthermore, Lennon has successfully cleared the ball 9 times, which is a 125% increase from last season’s four clearances.
The final view to consider is the disciplinary record of Lennon. This includes how many fouls he has given away, as well as the number of fouls he has won through his pacy dribbles. Despite giving away two more fouls than last season, with a total number of 10, Lennon has won 36 fouls so far, which is a 257% increase from last season’s 14 fouls won.
So after considering the increase in attacking play which Lennon has played under AVB, there is no doubt that the Englishman has improved under the new manager, just like Gareth Bale. With some features of his game play being more prominent, such as his lobbed balls across the six yard boss, and sticking to the touchline, there is no doubt that the performance level of Tottenham’s number seven has improved, and judging by his season so far, he could be a crucial figure in Tottenham’s hunt for a top-four position.
Statistics via www.eplindex.com