Just as it would be folly to think that Tottenham were a bad side after their 2-0 defeat to Bolton, it would be equally inept to think after the 2-0 home win against Sheffield United that Tottenham were a complete side.
It would be unwise to judge Tottenham on anything other than their strength of personnel and performances on the pitch. And in two highly contrasting matches in the last week, there is much to think about.
Robbie Keane, Berbatov and Aaron Lennon are Tottenham’s version of Rooney, Saha and Ronaldo (or Henry, van Persie and Walcott – whatever comparison you wish to make here) although not in the same class and form the core of Tottenham’s attacking threat. Lennon has quickly become the most-talked about right-winger along with Ronaldo (although Lennon is usually mentioned for the ‘right’ reasons) and if he can learn to impose himself on the game he will be Tottenham’s most valuable player this season.
Berbatov reminds me of a ballet dancer – that’s not meant as an insult, but only as my perception of his skillful footwork and slick passing. He’s a stylish player who has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time. On a football pitch, that’s a golden trait to have. However, as I said earlier, the man needs to be physically stronger and more involved in the game, otherwise he could struggle against the top sides.
Robbie Keane was simply amazing in the first 30 minutes of the Sheffield United game and continued to cause them a lot of problems even after David Unsworth was instructed to man-mark the Tottenham captain. As good as Berbatov and Lennon are, Keane remains the key to Tottenham’s success this season provided that he maintains his form (IMO).
Edgar Davids and Benoit Assou-Ekoto turned out excellent performances. Assou-Ekoto in particular looks like an excellent signing and along with Berbatov looks to be settling quickly into the Premiership (I’ll get to Zokora in a bit).
I’ve said this earlier, but it’s worth repeating – Tottenham will miss Davids when he leaves. His value to the Spurs midfield cannot be overestimated. Zokora is expected to eventually take his place (alongside Jenas in central midfield), but Davids is in a class of his own (even at his age) and it will take Zokora some doing to match the Dutchman.
In the Tottenham v Bolton match report I talked about the Spurs lacking a physical approach to their game, and that showed against Sheffield United as well once the visitors got their early nerves they went for the game and their tough approach kept Tottenham at bay. Granted, the game had already been won but in the second half Tottenham were not as dominating as they were in the first half.
The lesson – Tottenham don’t have the physical presence in their squad to match the tough teams. In crunch encounters in Europe and in the Premiership this will matter, and unless Zokora steps up and and starts to dominate the midfield, they are going to be in trouble.
The left-wing is a big, big problem for Tottenham. Almost all their attacks on the left side went from infield, with Davids, Tainio and Keane linking up. Martin Jol is still looking for a left-winger and if Tottenham go into September without having bought reinforcements in that area I would seriously question their chances of success in Europe and the Premiership. Opposition sides will look to exploit this weakness (can you imagine Ronaldo and Neville running rampant doing that wing on September 9th?). Davids naturally drifts infield while Tainio isn’t much good in that position either.
I’m not totally convinced about Tottenham’s defence either. Davenport was made to look good by Seffield United, and while the kid has talent he’s still not first-team material. King’s return will give the side much-needed solidity, but the right-back position needs to be improved on as well.
Tottenham have a good core of players, but if they don’t improve in these areas they will remain a contender for a UEFA place rather than ‘favourites’ to break into the top four.
Note: For those idiots who only comment to tell me that I should have watched the game, I’ll have you know that I managed to stay awake through the whole 90 minutes…I did watch the game. If you don’t have anything intelligent to say, please don’t. For the rest of you fans (the decent, normal ones), let me know what you think in the comments below.