Tottenham Focus – Could Defoe injury benefit Spurs
By the time Tottenham line up at home to Newcastle next weekend, they will have been unbeaten in the league for two months. Their unbeaten run extended at the weekend with a 1-0 victory at the Hawthorns thanks in part to an excellent goal from Gareth Bale.
The match itself may have turned out to be comfortable for Spurs, especially after the red shown to Goran Popov in the 47th minute. There were improved performances from Mousa Dembelé and Scott Parker, the defense was fairly solid in front of the excellent Hugo Lloris and of course Bale; the Welshman excelling in a freer roaming role than perhaps expected.
Many Spurs fans may have been hoping for their new signing, Lewis Holtby to start after his exciting cameo against Norwich. However, Coach André Villas-Boas stayed true to the same principle as when Hugo Lloris joined – a new player has to earn a starting place and will not automatically go into the team. However, the events that unfolded Sunday afternoon may prove that to be a mute-point.
The last few days has seen a deluge of comment and argument about “the failure” of Daniel Levy to sign a striker. Any wish to return to on the pitch matters yesterday will not have lasted long. The Football Gods have if nothing, a huge sense of irony and of course following the window’s close, and with Emmanuel Adebayor in South Africa, was there an inevitability to Jermain Defoe hobbling off the pitch in the 35th minute?
It may be difficult to escape the fact that, if the injury to Defoe is long term, there may be times until the end of the season where that extra striker may be missed. However, after Defoe went off, Spurs appeared a more balanced team. This has to be taken in the context that WBA were a man down for most of the last 55 minutes, but Spurs controlled the match.
There was patience, possession and movement. Defoe has been struggling with injury and with form. Prior to his injury, Defoe had only had nine touches of the ball and looked to be finding it difficult to get service, to get into the match. The introduction of Holtby for Defoe, seemed to change Spurs’ dynamic. With Dempsey moving to a more forward role, Holtby came into the No 10 position – nominally. Holtby was everywhere, interchanging positions with Bale and Aaron Lennon. Have Spurs finally got a player with the creation to replace Rafael van der Vaart?
With Adebayor’s Togo now out of the African Cup of Nations, the rangy forward should be available for the Newcastle fixture. Defoe’s injury may therefore see a return to the 4-2-3-1 formation that arguably, the Lilywhites looked more at home with than the 4-4-2 of late.
Adebayor’s movement, ability to hold up the ball and bring teammates into play, should benefit a Spurs attacking trio of Holtby, Lennon and Bale.
It may be harsh on the in-form Dempsey, and sharp looking Gylfi Sigurdsson but Lewis Holtby may have already earned his starting place.
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