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By Declan Olley
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Tottenham blogger Declan Olley examines Spurs’ overly generous habit of giving away cheap goals at the back.
The festive season is upon us and Tottenham have been handing out plenty of gifts.
For Manchester United it was an assist and a penalty, for Fulham it was a silly loss of possession leading to an open right flank, and for Sunderland it was a poor piece of goalkeeping.
Who knows what presents Anzhi, Liverpool, West Ham, Southampton, West Brom and Stoke will get when they play Spurs this Christmas?
One can only hope that Andre Villas-Boas’ merry men can become a bit more Scrooge-like – as they were earlier in the season when they conceded just five goals in the opening 15 games in all competitions.
This December the Lilywhites have developed the habit of shooting themselves in the foot before firing at the right target.
On Sunday, Hugo Lloris’ error gave Adam Johnson and Sunderland the lead at the Stadium of Light. The Frenchman had also given away the equalising penalty against Manchester United – and let’s not mention the trip to Man City – but those questioning our No1 should remember his heroics in last week’s 2-1 win at Fulham.
When he was beaten that night, it was due to another individual error – this time from Michael Dawson, whose lacklustre ball left a marauding Jan Vertonghen stranded upfield, allowing Ashkan Dejagah the freedom of Craven Cottage to finish.
That all followed Kyle Walker’s brilliant assist in the Manchester United game – for Wayne Rooney. Yet 14 minutes before that gaffe he had thundered in a free-kick to give Spurs the lead, and that strike has been the springboard for some fine form.
The England right-back has never hit the same heights since he won PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2012, but he is showing signs of regaining that form with his strength, pace and energy becoming increasing influential in this refuelled Villas-Boas side.
Walker’s improvement owes much to the return of Aaron Lennon, who he admits he has a great understanding with.
Walker said after the win at Sunderland: “People do say to me that it wasn’t my best last season but I do think I improved a lot. I didn’t improve as much as my first season but it’s falling together and I now need to keep my feet on the floor.”
The same applies to Tottenham, who have a huge fixture against Liverpool this weekend – and they will need to ensure there are no gifts for Luis Suarez and co to unwrap.
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