Could this be the season when Spurs’ wingman hits his goal target?
There were plenty of reasons for positivity as the home fans left White Hart Lane on Sunday – and Aaron Lennon’s appearance on the scoresheet was certainly one of them.
It was the Spurs winger’s first goal since a 2-0 win over Everton back in January, finally ending his 24-match streak without a telling strike.
It all seemed so easy as Tottenham spread the play across the pitch before standing back and watching as the 25-year-old jinked outside Joe Bennett and fired across Brad Guzan into the far corner.
In fact, it just makes you wonder – why can’t he do that more often? Indeed, should we really be viewing Lennon’s goal as the icing on the cake and a nice little bonus, or is this in fact a basic requirement for a player in his advanced position?
There is no doubting the little winger’s importance to Tottenham - he has been one of the first names on the teamsheet for the last four years and recently signed a new contract which takes him up to 2016.
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Quick, skilful and elusive, he is one of the best around when it comes to beating his full-back or making a well-timed run inside his marker to unlock the defence – and his work ethic without the ball often goes unnoticed.
However, unlike the vast majority of his team-mates, Lennon has rarely had to fight for his place – and, perhaps as a result, question marks remain over the consistency of his end product.
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Given the frequency with which he gets in behind the rearguard or makes his trademark dart to the byline, the end result is often frustratingly poor.
The ensuing cross is often hammered into the nearest centre-back to ‘force a corner’ – a waste of a dangerous position rather than an achievement – or aimlessly dinked into the goalmouth and is routinely headed away.
At his best, Lennon has the ability to create a goal out of nothing – like his assist in the 3-1 win at Reading last month, when he raced in behind his full-back to receive Gylfi Sigurdsson’s through ball and pulled the ball back for Jermain Defoe to finish.
However, the consistency of Lennon’s final ball, or shot, pales in comparison to that of Gareth Bale on the other flank.
Lennon was a key player for Tottenham when Bale was in the wilderness in 2009, but the Welshman’s development has been as rapid as his runs down the touchline, and he has overtaken Lennon to become one of the best wingers in the world.
That is largely due to his deadly deliveries from wide positions, and also because he offers a constant goal threat - Bale has netted 25 goals for Spurs since August 2010, adding a further 18 assists (according to soccernet.espn.com).
Lennon trails in both departments, with 14 assists and just eight goals from the same period.
It is worth noting that Theo Walcott, who is currently playing a virtually identical role on the right flank for Arsenal and is vying with Lennon for Roy Hodgson’s affections, has scored 26 goals and contributed 21 assists for the Gunners during that time – and he is frequently criticised for a lack of end product.
There is no obvious justification for such a disparity. Indeed, Lennon admitted in August 2009 – one of his latest interviews due to his disaffection with the media - that he should be targeting double figures every year.
“I think five [in a season] is my best, but I definitely think I’m capable of getting 10 so I’ll look to get that this year,” he said at the time, having just scored in successive games against West Ham and Birmingham.
“I think I’ve got goals in me and I’ve set my goal at 10. That’s definitely one of the things I’ve been trying to improve in my game - getting more goals - and I’ve got two in two now so I’m happy, but I still want to get plenty of assists as well.”
In that respect there has been little progress, and it is well-known that Spurs were chasing Eden Hazard and then Willian during the summer.
Could it be that Harry Redknapp and his staff had isolated the right flank as an area which could be improved, and that Andre Villas-Boas was also keen to give Lennon some credible competition - particularly as he eyes a long-term switch to a 4-3-3 system?
Clint Dempsey’s post-match reaction on Sunday was also interesting: “I think in the first half we seemed to play a little bit on one side more than the other,” he said.
“In the second half we did a better job of balancing the play on both sides and making them have to work that little bit more.”
Bale was certainly much more involved than Lennon in the first half. Is it possible that, whether they realise it or not, Spurs have a tendency to look to their left rather than viewing their two wingers as equals?
If so, Lennon’s clinical strike against Villa was particularly valuable, and it also poses a tantalising question - what could Tottenham achieve this season if Lennon can keep producing the goods and hit his 10-goal target?
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs