May 25 2013 Latest news:
By Daniel Grigg
Monday, January 28, 2013
Tottenham blogger Daniel Grigg gives his verdict on Tottenham’s FA Cup exit at Elland Road.
There’s a reason why Jonathan Obika is yet to make his Premier League debut, despite closing in on 100 appearances in the Championship and League One during his various loan spells.
When the 22-year-old striker was handed Tottenham’s best chance of a late equaliser, he wasn’t able to capitalise as Lee Peltier and goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown rushed to stop him, and Spurs were out of another cup competition. It is now 22 years since we reached the FA Cup Final.
All in all, it was pretty uninspiring stuff as Spurs attempted to come back from 2-0 down, and the performance was dotted with a few brighter moments - mainly from Gareth Bale - rather being coated with brilliance.
Tottenham were without Jermain Defoe, and the striking options are now being spread extremely thinly – although the visitors created enough chances and had enough shots on goal to score more than once.
That ruthless streak gone out of Spurs’ game recently. They are struggling to turn chances into victories and they never managed to silence or dishearten the almost 30,000-strong Elland Road crowd.
Elsewhere, Emmanuel Adebayor was busy scoring for Togo in a win over Algeria at the Africa Cup of Nations – a goal which represents half of his goal tally in the league for Tottenham this season.
Meanwhile, Harry Kane’s loan spell with Chris Hughton’s Norwich hasn’t yielded anything like the playing opportunities or success that either he or Spurs would have hoped for – he has been restricted to fewer than four hours of first-team football since joining the Canaries, largely due to injury, and he was substituted at half-time against Luton.
In retrospect he would probably have been better off at another Championship club as he is not yet at the level of Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton, Steven Caulker or Danny Rose, who have also been loaned out to Premier League clubs in recent years.
Yet despite Spurs’ lack of options up front, the words coming out of the Spurs hierarchy remain pretty standard and resolute. They do not intend nor feel the need to buy a new striker this week, despite the views of the fans and the media.
Clint Dempsey is clearly now being seen as a perfectly capable emergency third-choice centre forward – and it might be worth reminding Daniel Levy that the American was a deadline day signing himself, as the chairman weighs up whether to get his chequebook out.
Playing in the advanced role, the American scored his fifth goal in five appearances yesterday – and he has scored five of Spurs’ eight goals in 2013 while Bale and Defoe’s have all but dried up.
However, having Dempsey up front is still an unsatisfactory situation for a side who have playing two up top for a while and are chasing a top-four finish.
Sunday’s maladies were not entirely striker-orientated though. While the numbers in midfield remain plentiful, the strength in depth once you scrape below the surface simply isn’t there.
Tom Huddlestone has increasingly become a liability and, worryingly, his career seems to be following the same path as Jermaine Jenas’.
It is easy to forget that Huddlestone won an England cap in mid-November against Sweden – which probably says more about England’s own problems in central midfield than anything else.
Meanwhile, Gylfi Sigurdsson probably wins the prize for being Spurs’ worst signing this season. Some will argue that Adebayor pushes him close, but the rest of the summer’s recruits have been excellent.
Sigurdsson seems to be turning from the skilful goal-scoring creator that he’s been for most of his early career into this edgy, clumsy also-ran who seems to have lost all of his confidence close to the goal, despite a few assists this season.
The Iceland international was substituted just before the hour-mark, and Huddlestone was dragged off with him. He was scoring close to a goal every two games for both Reading and Swansea, but he is yet to register in 20 league games for Tottenham.
Admittedly, he has only been given one shot at a full 90 minutes – but it is a good job there was enough foresight to sign Dempsey as well in the summer!
On paper, the changes to the defence shouldn’t have made much of a difference against Leeds - Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Jan Vertonghen came in for Walker and Michael Dawson, who were part of the rearguard which restricted Manchester United to a single goal in the previous game.
However, Leeds were able to exploit Tottenham’s worrying weakness whenever the ball was played in behind them, as the offside trap failed badly.
United absolutely slicing Spurs open for the first goal. Naughton was caught out by a simple flick-on and was unable to get back as Luke Varney flew off into the distance - and Varney’s no Bale when it comes to pace.
Steven Caulker had pushed up way too far, trying to pre-empt play rather than staying back in the defensive line, and he ended up in no-man’s land.
Vertonghen was helpless for both goals and could only watch the second goal as Ross McCormack broke the offside trap and managed to beat Caulker in the box before firing beyond Brad Friedel.
It was certainly not a good weekend for Tottenham fans - although Liverpool’s subsequent defeat to Oldham took the focus away from Spurs’ upset.
Our next opponents, Norwich, were even worse after losing 1-0 at home to Luton - admittedly after fielding a weakened team in readiness for their upcoming league clash against us on Wednesday.
It is now a test of both sides’ management, to see which side can bounce back stronger at Carrow Road.
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