Inside Lane: Aaron Lennon's value to Spurs is underlined by his absence
PUBLISHED: 10:53 13 March 2013 | UPDATED: 15:51 13 March 2013
Tottenham blogger Declan Olley discusses Aaron Lennon's importance to Spurs following Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Liverpool.
Sunday’s trip to Anfield was the first Premier League game that Aaron Lennon has missed this season, and I think the defeat at Liverpool could partly be blamed on his rare absence – although Spurs’ silly mistakes were also very costly.
Mousa Dembele was given Lennon’s role on the right-hand side and he filled in admirably, displaying some silky touches and crisp passing. But Lennon’s threat is nearly impossible to replicate and he was severely missed when the game started to become stretched as Liverpool searched for an equaliser.
The Englishman is currently enjoying the best form of his career. He’s hit four goals – two away from his best ever season – and he’s grabbed six assists, while showing great desire.
I remember in Spurs’ home win over Reading in January how, even in the 90th minute and with the score at 3-1, Lennon sprinted back to dispossess Hal Robson-Kanu and subsequently win a free-kick. He has been tracking back like that all season and that commitment and determination could have curtailed Liverpool’s adventurous left-hand side.
Tottenham have relied on wing play for many years and Andre Villas-Boas has continued that philosophy, which is unsurprising considering that during his time at Porto he had pacy and powerful widemen in Hulk, Silvestre Varela and James Rodriguez.
Villas-Boas had a great effect on those Porto players and it seems to be rubbing off on Lennon, who has added much-needed and long-overdue consistency to his game.
To improve further, Villas-Boas wants Lennon to get on the scoresheet more – Spurs have never lost a game in which Lennon has scored – and I agree. Having already been at the club for more than eight years, Lennon can truly cement himself as a club legend if he can add some extra firepower. Still only 25 years old, time is on his side and the No7 is just reaching his peak.
So should he be rushed back from injury for tonight’s game against Inter? I think so. The Italians are vulnerable to pace. In fact they’re vulnerable in general – they were defeated 1-0 at home by Bologna on Sunday and currently sit fifth in Serie A.
And, lest we forget, Lennon’s last outing at the San Siro was a memorable one, having laid on the assist for Peter Crouch’s winner against AC Milan in the Champions League in 2011. Let’s hope for more of the same tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter @declanolley