When I think of a team who play in the now en vogue 4-2-3-1, I immediately think of their trequartista, or in English, 'their man in the hole.' Chelsea's is Juan Mata. Real Madrid's is Mesut Ozil. Borussia Dortmund's is Mario Gotze. Tottenham's is Clint Dempsey, or Gylfi Sigurdsson. And there lies in the problem with Spurs playing the 4-2-3-1: they have no genuine trequartista.
Wigan at home last weekend was a great example of this. In the 1-0 defeat, Spurs created very little and it was no surprise when you consider that Jermain Defoe, Dempsey and Sigurdsson, all goalscorers, were all playing in advanced, attacking positions.
The absence of Mousa Dembele hinders creativity, but the Belgian for me is the pivot at the base of Spurs' midfield, not the team's man in the hole. Losing Rafael Van der Vaart, Spurs' trequartista for the last two seasons, to Hamburg in the summer was always going to be risky, but that risk would have been lessened if a genuine replacement would have been brought in.
Nobody was, though, and only now has it sunk in how much Tottenham missed out on Willian in the summer. The Shakhtar Donetsk man exhibited exactly what Spurs are lacking at the moment against Chelsea on Wednesday night.
Playing off of the left, but mainly coming inside, his direct and pacy style caused Chelsea's defence umpteen problems. His tactical awareness was shrewd too: he constantly sought out the unmarked marauding right-back Darijo Srna and tracked Branislav Ivanovic's runs.
He also scored the Ukrainians' two goals, with finishes as cool as his hair. Whether Spurs will go back for him in January after chasing him this summer is another question, with Manchester City now rumoured to be interested in the 24-year-old.
But one thing is for certain, it will take much more than the reported £11.9m bid Spurs had rejected for him in August, after all, Shakhtar bought him for £12m from Corinthians in 2007. It does not have to be Willian though; Spurs need someone with flair, someone who holds the key to unlocking defences to play in behind the lone striker.
And as much as I want Dempsey and Sigurdsson to succeed at Spurs, they will never be the creative spark Tottenham so desperately need.