Inside Lane: A Spurs fan’s verdict on Hugo Lloris and the victory over Villa
11:57 08 October 2012
Tottenham blogger Daniel Grigg gives his view on Spurs’ goalkeeping situation and yesterday’s 2-0 home win over the Villans.
It might have been a surprise move to drop Brad Friedel following a victory at Old Trafford, but I do think the timing was right for that switch to happen.
Regardless of how many consecutive Premier League games Friedel has played (his record has been ended at 310) it makes sense to give Hugo Lloris his first taste of action in England’s top flight sooner rather than later.
The Frenchman, who is 16 years Friedel’s junior and undoubtedly a great shot-stopper, was only worried once in his first league outing against Aston Villa yesterday - and it was largely of his own making.
An ambitious quick throw was intercepted down the left wing and a cross delivered for Christian Benteke, who sent a free header wide of goal with Lloris stranded.
Paul Robinson, Heurelho Gomes, Carlo Cudicini and Brad Friedel have all struggled to keep hold of the gloves for an extended number of seasons for various reasons.
But hopefully all of the debates over this position will end soon, at least by the end of the season, following Lloris’ arrival and “period of adaptation”, as he put it.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Villas-Boas swapping his goalkeeper again in the Premier League, and he may even turn back to Friedel for the next game against Chelsea in two weeks’ time.
However, I hope he persists with the same starting 11 after the international break. It doesn’t matter how talented someone might be, or how wise a decision may seem, there really is no substitute for confidence - and few things breed confidence quite so well as a clean sheet straight off the bat.
Of course, Lloris had already kept a clean sheet in his first game for Spurs against Lazio – and that shut-out at the Lane was Tottenham’s first of the season.
A few weeks on, Lloris’ Premier League debut has resulted in the Lilywhites’ first clean sheet in the league – and it has taken until October to achieve that feat.
If anything, that is a credit to Jermain Defoe and the attacking players in the side - that Spurs’ tendency to concede hasn’t cost them more points already. It’s always tough if you have to score at least twice in every game to pick up a win, but that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.
Yesterday’s win was probably Tottenham’s best and most complete midfield performance of the season so far as well - an excellent return to full speed and top form after the languid ineptitude of Thursday afternoon’s trip, or trip-up, against Panathinaikos in the Europa League.
Mousa Dembele and Sandro bossed it in the middle, repeatedly stealing possession and looking to drive forwards and turn momentum straight back in the direction of the goal which Villa were doggedly attempting to defend.
Indeed, Villa’s Ron Vlaar showed that Jan Vertonghen isn’t the only top-notch centre-back to come out of Dutch football over the summer, although Vertonghen looks a class above in whatever position Villas-Boas chooses to use him.
Dembele is just 25 years old and has been signed up until 2017, while Sandro is only 23 and has a deal until 2016, so the future looks very good in that department.
The same can be said on the flanks with Gareth Bale and the scorer of the second goal, Aaron Lennon, who is back in the England squad this week.
Both of them looked like completely different players from the start of the season, as they capitalised on the improved service in advanced areas, a crowd that was buzzing around them, and the confident form of the likes of Clint Dempsey and Jermain Defoe.
We now have 14 points from the first seven league games – one more than Harry Redknapp’s side had after the same stage last campaign. Whisper it, but it’s all looking rather good.