Whilst Mark Clattenburg was doing his best to usurp Howard Webb as Manchester’s favourite son, the dust was settling at Saint Mary’s. Spurs had moved back into the top four, scored a goal for the first time since 1999 at Southampton, and achieved all of this without their best midfielder and apparently their best striker. […]
Three Issues From Three Points
Whilst Mark Clattenburg was doing his best to usurp Howard Webb as Manchester’s favourite son, the dust was settling at Saint Mary’s. Spurs had moved back into the top four, scored a goal for the first time since 1999 at Southampton, and achieved all of this without their best midfielder and apparently their best striker.
Thanks to SKY showing two Red vs Blue fixtures, I along with many who didn’t take the trip down south, were left watching the game on various stuttering internet streams.
The game wasn’t a classic, or a yard stick by which to define our season so far, but it did yield three important points and sets us up nicely for a home game against Wigan.
With the Woolwich set to travel to Man United earlier in the day, Spurs could possibly be looking at a nice 5 point cushion as they prepare for an away game at Man City.
Despite the obvious positives of claiming three points and regaining our top four standing, there were certain issues to arise from the victory.
The most worrying was the form of Jermaine Defoe. Rather like a miniature Darren Bent, when the little guy isn’t scoring he isn’t doing much else. Some may point to his assist of the assist for Gareth Bale’s opener or the fact that its was the rebound off his shot that Clint Dempsey bundled in, but overall his performance was his worst of the 2012/2013 season so far.
Undoubtedly Defoe’s all round game has improved dramatically under Andre Villas Boas stewardship. Rather like Aaron Lennon outside him, he has developed his movement and spatial awareness but perhaps the weight of being the lone and only fit senior striker is finally getting to him.
The England international has started every game this season, which has included trips away to Greece and Slovenia. On Sunday the one reliable feature of Defoe’s game, his ability to hit the target went seriously askew. His catalogue of miscues and wild swings, included one effort that from inside the 18 yard box, managed to hit the St Mary’s jumbotron, a feat that even Jonny Wilkinson would be strained to match.
The striker needs a rest, but more importantly Spurs need Emmanuel Adebayor to capture some sort of fitness. As the game descended into a typical up and at them by Southampton, Spurs’ inability to hold the ball upfront, or utilise their speed on a counter left the back four under serious pressure.
Defoe is a great alternative, but he is far from being a solution.
Whilst one man struggled upfront, another was in his element. For a while now Spurs fans have been witnessing the Rise of Sandro. The Brazilian Kung-Fu aficionado put in a display on Sunday evening that rates alongside his coming of age moment at the San Siro a couple of years ago.
Relishing the chance to play consistent first team football, his stamina, speed and technical ability are improving week on week. When he stopped Morgan Schneiderlin power blaster with his face, had I possessed more X chromosome than Y I would have offered my body to him as a reward. It was a moment straight out of the 1960’s and deserves to be watched back in grainy black and white, not full colour HD, or a continually buffering internet stream.
Sandro’s rise to prominence only serves to highlights the weaknesses of the central midfielders he is paired with in Mousa Dembele’s absence. Jake Livermore a solid enough squad player has in recent weeks seemed ponderous, slow in the tackle and poor with the ball. This is a player who has been in recent England squads, his ability hasn’t dropped, it’s just that Sandro’s has risen meteorically.
The Copa Libertadores is now our main defensive midfielder, and will be hopefully for years to come.
Behind Sandro, Brad Friedel continues be his solid self between the sticks. The former American international is yet to have a bad game for Spurs, but it’s this steady level of averageness that worries me. This season we have bossed the majority of our games, especially at home, but Friedel has still conceded goals. His best performance of the season is generally regarded to be Norwich City game, but even in that his goals conceded to shots on target ratio is poor.
On the opening weekend of the season the goal he conceded to Newcastle’s Demba Ba highlighted his weaknesses.
The American has solid handling and decent positional sense, but it’s his inability to spring to either side, or race off his line that leaves him susceptible to talented footabllers. Friedel makes the routine saves you expect a leading Premier League keeper to make, but doesn’t pull of the saves that define what is a top class keeper and win the team points on an off day.
Friedel remains a good goalkeeper, but why have good when we have a great?
All views and opinions expressed in this article are the views and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of The Fighting Cock. We offer a platform for fans to commit their views to text and voice their thoughts. Football is a passionate game and as long as the views stay within the parameters of what is acceptable, we encourage people to write, get involved and share their thoughts on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur.