Tottenham Focus - Sigurdsson earns his Spurs as Inter humiliated
Inter maybe a poor shadow of themselves these days but Tottenham still had a job to do. A healthy lead with no goals conceded would have been the ideal to take back to the San Siro. Spurs duly delivered.
As poor as Inter may have been, Tottenham were as impressive and arguably made the Nerazzurri look even worse. All the Spurs players performed well and there were several candidates for Man of the Match, including Jan Vertonghen, Scott Parker and Gareth Bale but arguably it was Gylfi Sigurdsson who deserved the accolade on Thursday night.
It wasn’t too long ago that some were questioning the Icelander’s capability to play for Spurs, whether he could make the transition from Swansea to a top four team. After a less than convincing start to his Spurs career, Sigurdsson was taken out of the firing line and benched.
His role became more of a few minutes here, 10 minutes there substitute. Perhaps this allowed him time in training to become more assimilated. His appearances from the bench showed sharpness if not luck. On several occasions Sigurdsson’s shots hit the woodwork or were well saved by the goalkeeper.
However, his 34 minute cameo against West Ham may have been the turning point. With his introduction, and that of Tom Carroll, Spurs looked much sharper, their passing looked quicker and snappier and Sigurdsson got his goal - bundling in a goal mouth scramble to equalize. The cameo earned him a start against Arsenal in which he performed well enough to gain a starting place against Inter.
Against the Italian giants he continued his impressive recent run of form in what was probably his best performance for Spurs. Sigurdsson was a live wire. Positioned nominally on the left - Bale started centrally - the Icelander was popping up all over the pitch, harking back to his Swansea form.
Sigurdsson showed good positioning and anticipation in scoring a tap in, following in on a Jermain Defoe shot. He had two shots, both on target, an assist for Bale’s opener with a superb cross following good trickery to get away from two Inter defenders. He also made several key passes, had a pass success rate of 84% and showed good movement and fluidity in attack.
However, despite excelling going forward Sigurdsson equally impressed in his defensive work rate. The Icelander hassled and harried the opposition, his pressing forcing Inter players to turn the ball over. Whenever Benoit Assou-Ekoto got forward on the wing, Sigurdsson dropped deep to cover his position, allowing Spurs to keep their shape on the left flank. Not only did he make two interceptions but he won five tackles, just behind Scott Parker and was working hard defensively in the Spurs penalty area when needed.
Was it clever management by André Villas-Boas to keep Sigurdsson out of the limelight following his early struggles? He has appeared a far more confident player now and his form suggests he could keep his starting place. After arriving at White Hart Lane amid high expectations, perhaps Sigurdsson has finally earned his spurs.
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