Inside Lane: A Spurs fan’s verdict on AVB’s first home win over QPR
11:57 24 September 2012
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Tottenham supporter Daniel Grigg gives his views on yesterday’s 2-1 victory over the Rs at White Hart Lane
A victory was badly needed at White Hart Lane yesterday – firstly to end the disappointing run of results at White Hart Lane since Andre Villas-Boas took over, and secondly because a trip to Manchester United is looming next week.
Old Trafford certainly hasn’t been a happy hunting ground in recent years, and that ominous fixture was hard to forget when Spurs were trailing QPR 1-0 yesterday.
Indeed, it suddenly looked all too possible that the Lilywhites might have just five points on the board from six games this time next week – relegation form if that average were to continue over the while season.
Fortunately, two quickfire goals near the hour-mark changed the game and, with Spurs managing not to concede in the final 11 minutes of a league game for the first time this season, the whole picture changed.
Somewhat unbelievably, Tottenham are now just a point behind Arsenal and the reigning champions Manchester City - despite all the positive coverage that the Gunners have been getting, particularly defensively, in recent weeks.
Villas-Boas’ side are also only two points behind a resurgent Everton, four behind Manchester United and five behind the leaders Chelsea - a far brighter place to be.
The bad news is that the fixtures now get a lot tougher, and winning ugly only works if you start getting your act together at some stage.
Still, it’s another week where Villas-Boas can work with his players without intense pressure and speculation - at least from the media - about the security of his job.
After all, Harry Redknapp only picked up 10 points in his final six games of last season against pretty beatable opposition, so Spurs weren’t exactly walking on air towards the end of that campaign either.
Given Luka Modric’s departure, the assembly of a new side and a somewhat different way of playing, you could argue that the Portuguese head coach has had a decent - if unspectacular - start to his tenure.
But the performance against QPR was anything but accomplished and complete. Tottenham were very fortunate to escape with all three points after so many big-money and big-reputation players failed to turn up and show themselves.
Thankfully Jan Vertonghen wasn’t one of them. The Belgian defender is improving with every game to justify the lofty expectations which greeted his arrival earlier this summer.
Calmness personified in possession, he is as close to a direct replacement for Ledley King as the club could have found - and hopefully he will aid Steven Caulker’s development in much the same way that King did with Michael Dawson’s.
Caulker is 6t 3ins and weighs more than 12 stone so, while he is still only 20 years old, he already has the physique of a man. Having been successful in his various loan spells with Yeovil Town, Bristol City and Swansea City, he is looking like an excellent centre-back – and he was unlucky to see his first goal for Spurs against Lazio chalked off in midweek.
Caulker’s introduction at half-time yesterday was important as Villas-Boas pushed Gareth Bale forward to break up the floundering attacking midfield trio of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey and Aaron Lennon, who had hardly created a chance between them in the first 45 minutes.
Tottenham are still a long way away from a perfect balance and formation, for all the combinations tried so far, and they are still to put in a really good performance - the closest being the comfortable 3-1 win at Reading.
They are also yet to find the secret to getting someone other than Jermain Defoe on the scoresheet regularly.
Villas-Boas should be applauded for his handling of Defoe – unlike many of his predecessors – but Spurs have been heavily reliant on him.
Indeed, with the exception of Mousa Dembele’s brilliant debut strike against Norwich, the rest of Tottenham’s goals this season have been pretty lucky – Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s long-range effort against West Brom was deflected, Bale scuffed his shot at Reading and the equaliser yesterday was a QPR own goal.
There is plenty of room for improvement but, given that this is a work in progress, we will certainly take our tally of six points from the last two league games for now!