Tottenham Focus - Assou-Ekotto makes welcome return
Benoît Assou-Ekoto returned to the Tottenham team in the FA Cup tie against Coventry. The match was a useful run out for the Cameroonian, as well as Scott Parker, returning from four months out injured.
Defensively, this was an easy return for the left-back with Coventry hardly posing much attacking threat, allowing Assou-Ekotto to link up with Gareth Bale down the left flank. His and Parker’s return means that going into the second half of the season, Spurs will have - with the exception of Younes Kaboul - almost a full strength squad to select from.
Assou-Ekoto stated on Sunday about his determination to regain his left-back position in Spurs staring XI, saying: “When I came here six years ago I was in competition with Gilberto, Lee Young-Pyo and Gareth Bale and it ended up being my place so it's not a problem.”
He continued: “It was not difficult because it is more easy to come back in to a team who are playing well. It was easy to play. I am cool to come back and to have a win at the end of the game so it's cool for us, for the team and for me.”
The 28-year-old should find winning his place back relatively easy. With Danny Rose out on loan, Assou-Ekoto is the only specialist left-back in the squad. Kyle Naughton has been solid and improving but, naturally right footed, is perhaps seen more as cover for both full-back positions. Jan Vertonghen has performed excellently in the role but has stated his preference to lay at centre-back, his usual position.
Known as Benny, Assou-Ekotto has continued to improve since joining Spurs in 2006. Last season he was fifth for Spurs on the number of tackles won per game, second on interceptions and fifth for total number of clearances. He is good at reading the game - hence the high number of interceptions - has a good passing average both short and long passes and chips in with assists and the occasional screamer of a goal - he doesn’t seem to score ordinary ones. His relationship with Bale on the left has been important to Spurs with his overlapping and crossing going forward creating space for the winger.
Assou-Ekoto has seemed to divide Spurs fans, however. In the past his consistency has been a problem as has his sporadic eccentricities on the pitch. However, the consistency has greatly improved but for many, Benny’s unconventionality has always been part of his charm. This is after all a professional footballer who has stated he does not particularly like football, and plays because he is relatively good at it and the job pays well. A player who, for a top flight footballer, appears pretty grounded in this day and age of football celebrities, and who described himself as cool, quiet and true.
There appear fewer characters in football these days. There may be better left-backs but there is only one Benny. Many Spurs fans will be glad he is theirs. As the chant goes: “Don’t cha wish your left-back was B-A-E?”
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on QPR v Tottenham