December 12 2013 Latest news:
By George Lacey
Monday, September 30, 2013
Tottenham blogger George Lacey looks back on Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at White Hart Lane and questions whether Jermain Defoe should replace Roberto Soldado for the next league game against West Ham.
A first-half Gylfi Sigurdsson strike wasn’t enough to steal all three points on Saturday afternoon, as John Terry snatched a point for 10-man Chelsea at White Hart Lane.
In a game dubbed ‘the master versus the apprentice’, Spurs started the game strongly until the break with the outstanding Andros Townsend at his dazzling best, and Spurs were leading at half-time.
However, a disapproving Jose Mourinho re-jigged his XI for the second half and the response from his side was very positive.
Ramires was moved from right midfield back into a central pairing with Frank Lampard, and Juan Mata came on for John Obi Mikel to take up a position on the right wing.
The change of Chelsea’s system posed questions of Spurs’ resolve and the home side didn’t really come out after the interval, with Chelsea dominating and Hugo Lloris being in top form yet again.
This was no Mourinho masterstroke, yet an obvious but very effective transition. Ramires looked laboured on the right and, once he was moved back inside, the Brazilian looked right at home.
Paulinho and Mousa Dembele, who dominated proceedings in the first half, were getting over-run and a resurgent Fernando Torres - despite his late dismissal - caused our defence problems all afternoon. On another day, that was a game we could have easily lost.
Critics will tell you that to be a real top side in the Premier League, these are the games you have to take maximum points from - and thus far we have played both of our main London rivals and gained one point from a possible six.
These are early days of course, but there was a real opportunity for Spurs on Saturday and their lacklustre showing in the second half was a big disappointment.
There is promising news in that Etienne Capoue should be back after the international break, giving us more options in the middle, but our midfield pairing looked burnt out at the weekend after a gruelling few weeks of fixtures.
Sandro still isn’t match fit and remains on the bench, as does a certain Jermain Defoe – his recent exploits in the cup competitions haven’t gained him a starting berth in the league yet.
Roberto Soldado has maintained his position as Spurs’ favoured front man, yet he only has two penalties to show for it in the Premier League.
Therefore, I believe Sunday’s game against West Ham at the Lane will be the perfect time to start Defoe ahead of Soldado to freshen the side up.
The England man has a very good record against his former club West Ham, and starting him may well keep him engaged before he begins pondering another move away - if he isn’t already.
However, with a game in Russia on Thursday evening, I’m sure Andre Villas-Boas will field Defoe against Anzhi in the Europa League instead.
Meanwhile, Erik Lamela is a player that Spurs fans have got excited over - yet due to Townsend’s form, the Argentine has been used sparingly. Like Defoe, he seems to be a second choice.
Despite his hefty transfer fee, AVB did mention he will need time to settle and adapt to the rigours of English football, which is understandable.
However, many Spurs fans would like to see the new recruit given more playing time, given the £26million price tag on his head, and see him given an opportunity to showcase his undoubted talent.
Overall, I do feel that our new squad is beginning to blossom and is showing signs of great potential, but the biggest test for Villas-Boas will be keeping his squad happy and, in particular, players that can win you games in the likes of Lamela and Defoe.
While there will be selection dilemmas for AVB in due course, in terms of a squad ‘you’d rather be looking at it than looking for it,’ as the old saying goes.
It’s Anzhi away Thursday, then another mouth-watering London derby with West Ham on Sunday as the games continue to come thick and fast.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs