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Seven Days At Spurs: Holtby Settling Well & Bale’s Enjoying New Role
Tottenham Hotspur fan Steve Jennings gives us his latest installment of his ‘Seven days @ Spurs’ series, where he sums up the weeks events at White Hart Lane.
A sense of pure joy and relief swept over the Tottenham travelling contingent as Gareth Bale emphatically put Spurs 1-0 up at the Hawthorns on Sunday. West Brom were a man short and had admirably kept Spurs out until the Welshman’s second wonder strike in a week, accentuating his side’s intent to challenge Chelsea for third spot in the Premier League.
Earlier in the week, Andre Villas-Boas’ side had seemingly failed to get over the previous weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Leeds. The North Londoners started sloppily at Norwich, going down 1-0 at the break. The introduction of new signing Lewis Holtby in the second period gave Spurs the edge, and when Gareth Bale broke from his own half to score a ludicrously good individual goal, Tottenham’s sluggishness transformed into momentum. Gylfi Sigurdsson was unlucky not to bag a late winner.
The following day, Daniel Levy failed to bring in Leandro Damiao from Internacional. Spurs fans must now succumb to dealing with a limited strike force for the rest of the season after Jermain Defoe’s ankle ligaments have added injury to insult.
But is it all so bad? Togo’s defeat in the Africa Cup of Nations last night means Emmanuel Adebayor will be making a much needed return to the squad. Hopefully the competition has helped the front-man find some tenacity, adding another dimension to Spurs’ game.
The prospect of Holtby playing in behind Adebayor bodes well. Holtby injected some much needed urgency into an impassioned line-up yesterday. The resplendent German seemingly has the desirous attitude that made Rafael van der Vaart such a huge success at White Hart Lane, in addition to certain Luka Modric-esque attributes – vision, one-touch awareness and a keen eye for a pass.
Adebayor’s link-up play brought fluidity to Tottenham last season. Unfortunately he has so far failed to match those standards since signing permanently. With Defoe out of the side, Adebayor will almost certainly get a good run in the team. Holtby’s partnership with the striker could be significant in preventing a repeat of the horrific decline in form the team undeniably suffered from last year.
Despite Sunday’s welcome result, certain performances were worrying. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Spurs looked to recruit fresh full-backs in the summer as well as a long-term replacement for Jermain Defoe.
Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto both distributed the ball all too erratically in the first half. Walker’s form is particularly worrying to large sections of Spurs supporters; the England full-back’s defending, at times, doesn’t even seem worthy of the Premier League. Assou-Ekotto can often be relied on to keep calm in pressured situations, but without Gareth Bale playing ahead of him, the Cameroon international seems lost and somewhat isolated when it comes to decision making.
This could be a problem as Bale seems to have found a new position to wreak havoc from. Luckily, Assou-Ekotto is most likely the only one to suffer from said change; Bale was superb in the No.10 role at the Hawthorns. Surging forward with pace and intent on numerous occasions, there was obviously no way to stop him when he brilliantly side-stepped a West Brom defender before finally breaking the deadlock in spectacular style.
The Welsh wizard has been the catalyst in many Tottenham breakthroughs so far this season. Sunday’s performance, however, outshone all the rest. Bale was unplayable, illustrating his own perception of how to play the game properly – with power, passion and pure speed, bound to overcome the opposition eventually.
Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen were quietly vital to Spurs’ victory. Dawson and Parker got stuck in, Lennon twisted and turned and Dempsey, despite not getting too involved, threatened the Albion defence, though his knack of scoring important goals deserted him.
A prolific Bale was far and away man of the match, but the rest of the team’s performances were debatably pleasing in an important win, the most promising of which being that of Lewis Holtby. The nimble, battling play-maker looks to have found his feet very quickly in the Premier League, most likely due to the powerfully pacey similarities to the Bundesliga.
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Do Spurs fans think Holtby has settled well? Will we be able to cope with our limited options up front? Get involved in the comments section below.