Does Tottenham’s Hearts attack improve the odds against Manchester United?
London24 Spurs blogger Daniel Grigg debates whether the Lilywhites’ 5-0 romp at Tynecastle will count for anything when they travel to Old Trafford on Monday
It’s a typical English football fan’s reaction to a 5-0 victory - immediately beginning to question the quality of the opposition and worry about the next game.
However, when you’ve just beaten Hearts and it’s Manchester United next, that’s probably a fair reaction.
Amidst the beautiful passing and the total dominance and ease of last night’s display, there were moments when Spurs’ defence looked susceptible and even nervous against a limited Hearts attack - opening game nerves for sure, but Tottenham will need to cut that out before Monday’s trip to Old Trafford.
Remember that Younes Kaboul is a France international footballer now, having started their most recent friendly alongside Barcelona’s Eric Abidal, and Michael Dawson is a regular in the England squad
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They clearly have pedigree, yet too often Kaboul rushed out of position and Dawson appeared to be lacking slightly in sharpness, which only allows those niggling doubts to linger ahead of next week’s meeting with Manchester United, and an on-fire Wayne Rooney.
Even at full flow and bursting with confidence - as Spurs were in 2009/10 when they went to Old Trafford, following victories against Arsenal and Chelsea - something just happens to Tottenham when they’re playing away at United.
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The sense of inferiority that the club have finally got rid of when facing Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool still remains stubbornly in place against the champions.
Rafael van der Vaart came as close as anyone to breaking that United dominance last season, striking the post at 0-0 away from home and narrowly missing the top corner with a curling attempt in the goalless draw at White Hart Lane.
And it was the Dutchman who began the demolition of Hearts last night with a neat finish in the opening minutes, before mimicing Luka Modric with some lovely quick passing in midfield, and some intelligent link-up play with Jermain Defoe.
Modric’s injury also gave Niko Kranjcar a rare opportunity to shine, and he revelled in the midfield playmaker role, spraying the ball with ease and accuracy in all directions.
His only fault was his lack of sharpness once he finally got into the opposition’s penalty area, but overall it was an impressive performance.
Making up for Kranjcar’s lack of pace, Harry Redknapp played the young and determined Jake Livermore alongside him.
Given the box-to-box midfielder role which used to be Jermaine Jenas’, Livermore’s confident and accomplished display made it even clearer that the time has come to sell Jenas.
Livermore’s goal (Tottenham’s third), had it been scored by Tom Cleverley or Jack Wilshere would no doubt have been talked about extensively for a couple of days, such was the sharpness and intricacy of the link-up play from Livermore and Defoe which gave the midfielder half a yard of room inside the box.
The finish was a mirror image of Spurs’ second, which Defoe had earlier stuck away with his left foot, drilling the ball low and just inside the near post, giving the goalkeeper no chance.
In fact, most of Spurs’ finishing was excellent, which was truly the major plus point of their display - five different goalscorers and five controlled finishes accurately tucked away, by midfielders and strikers alike.
Passing the ball as easily as they did against Hearts won’t be possible all season, but if Tottenham could just improve the accuracy of their finishing from last season, it could pay massive dividends and see the club back in the Champions League places again.
Signing a new striker is still essential though, and Spurs finally seem to be making positive moves in that direction now.
The talks concerning a loan move for Emmanuel Adebayor are hugely encouraging. Were Spurs to buy him outright it would be a real worry, but a loan deal is the perfect way to utilise the Manchester City striker, whose enormous wages are well out of Tottenham’s reach.
Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale’s form last night only heightens the anticipation of his arrival, as we all saw the Togolese striker’s aerial ability in the Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last season.
Indeed, one of Lennon’s crosses against Hearts was about as good an advert for signing Adebayor as you could wish to see.
It curled perfectly along the edge of the six-yard box, splitting defence and goalkeeper with the ball nicely at head height, yet only Defoe was there at the far post to attack it.
In the eyes of many pundits, Spurs have come into this new season as the sixth-best team in England - and yet the lack of transfer activity has by no means been a negative thing.
All Redknapp has to do is bring in one quality striker without selling any of his other first- team players and it will have been a hugely successful summer.