Spurs defeat against Valencia highlights need for rapid transfer business
Valencia 2 Tottenham 0
Tottenham’s squad players were exposed again tonight as the Lilywhites ended their pre-season campaign with a defeat away at Valencia.
Missing the likes of Luka Modric, Younes Kaboul, Sandro and Scott Parker – and with only Jermain Defoe and Harry Kane to choose from up front – the Lilywhites followed Sunday’s underwhelming 1-0 win at Watford with a loss in the Mestalla.
Spurs started brightly and had a number of fine chances to take the lead, but Valencia got the breakthrough against the run of play in the 18th minute and went on to dominate before doubling their lead 15 minutes from time.
Andre Villas-Boas appeared to be fielding the strongest side from his current available squad in his final warm-up game – which came just eight days before the Premier League opener at Newcastle.
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With Kaboul out of action due to injury, William Gallas was preferred to Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong – and with Modric, Parker and Sandro also missing, Jermaine Jenas was picked ahead of Tom Huddlestone and Tom Carroll.
Spurs began well, with Jake Livermore dropping deep between his centre-backs when the visitors were in possession to allow the full-backs to get forward – a tactic which worked effectively in the opening exchanges.
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Kyle Walker, the stand-out star of the victory at Watford, immediately picked up where he had left off – driving into opposition territory and delivering a low cross which unfortunately evaded all of his team-mates.
On the other side, Gareth Bale flew past his marker and delivered a low ball in to Gylfi Sigurdsson, who sliced his shot and thumped it at Defoe, who was unable to react and direct it at goal.
Tottenham survived a brief scare as Brad Friedel miscontrolled a simple backpass, but they were soon on the front foot again as Defoe held the ball up inside the left edge of the penalty box, darted to the by-line and delivered a low cross which was cleared away from the onrushing Aaron Lennon at the far post.
From the ensuing corner, Gallas headed down to Lennon, who forced a fine save from Diego Alves – and the Valencia keeper responded brilliantly to stop the follow-up effort from crossing the line.
The barrage continued as Lennon got around the back of the home side’s rearguard and teed up Defoe, but the striker fluffed his lines from a good position – and Walker then reached the by-line and pulled the ball back for Lennon, whose effort was deflected over the bar.
The misses proved to be costly though, because Valencia took the lead against the run of play in the 18th minute as Jonas found space between Spurs’ midfield and defence and unleashed an unstoppable, rising 25-yard drive into the top left corner.
The opening goal quickly turned the tide of the game, and the hosts maintained the upper hand until the break.
Walker failed to cut out a routine through ball, allowing Jeremy Mathieu to pull the back for Sofiane Feghouli, who scewed his shot wide and saw Paco Alcacer fail to connect with the wayward effort at the back post.
Jonas capitalised on the space in front of the Lilywhites’ rearguard again, sending a 20-yard curler narrowly wide of Friedel’s far post - and Joao Perreira was then able to overlap on the right flank and cross for Feghouli, who leapt above the Spurs defence but sent his header wide.
Jenas then gifted Valencia another opening, playing an underhit pass back towards Jan Vertonghen and forcing Friedel to scurry from his line to intercept the ensuing ball over the top of Spurs’ Belgian defender.
Tottenham started the second half positively, with Lennon delivering a cross which was just too high for the incoming Sigurdsson – but that proved to be a false dawn.
Valencia resumed control of possession, and the partnership of Livermore and Jenas was particularly exposed as they failed to limit the space in front of the rearguard or feed the ball through the lines to their attacking trio.
Villas-Boas responded by withdrawing the unimpressive Jenas after an hour, introducing Rafael van der Vaart behind the striker and pulling Sigurdsson back into a deeper role alongside Livermore.
However, it was Valencia who struck again to effectively seal their victory with 15 minutes remaining.
Spurs’ defensive issues were exposed once again as Andres Guardado picked the ball up in between the midfield and defence and played in Feghouli, who raced outside Vertonghen with far too much ease and fired home across Friedel.
Tottenham threatened as Van der Vaart swivelled smartly inside the area and saw a low effort deflected wide, and the Dutchman then forced Alves into a save – albeit a comfortable one – with a 25-yard free-kick.
Valencia were reduced to 10 men for the final seven minutes as Tino Costa was dismissed for dissent – and Spurs nearly took immediate advantage as Van der Vaart fed Defoe, who fired at Alves.
However, Spurs were unable to reduce the deficit, leaving Villas-Boas to consider how many changes he may need to make to his squad in the coming days – and ponder the fact that he will now have to blood any new arrivals in the heat of battle.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker (Naughton 77), Gallas, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Jenas (Van der Vaart 60), Livermore (Carroll 89), Lennon, Sigurdsson (Kane 81), Bale (Townsend 77), Defoe
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