Nick Harris takes a look at Tottenham's weekend win and the issues arising...
Sandro and Dembele
The Belgian made it six wins from six starts for his new club, and was once again central to Spurs efforts going, completing more passes than anyone else on the pitch. No less important was Sandro, with the Brazilian picking up his second league goal for the club and making more interceptions than any other player. Brilliant players both defensively and going forward, and firm fan’s favourites already, Spurs might have their best central midfield partnership in years.
Nothing sends a shiver down the spine of Spurs fan like seeing Gareth Bale pull up and limp off the pitch. Although the early indications are that Bale’s injury will only keep him out for 1-2 weeks, Spurs have to ensure they can maintain their momentum in his absence. Who comes into the side is the key question, with Sigurdsson and Dempsey both playing well and laying on goals from Defoe after Bale went off, and Adebayor now back from his suspension. With a tricky trip to Everton next week, if Spurs can get a result without Bale they will demonstrate the strength in depth required to challenge for 3rd or 4th.
As mentioned above, Adebayor will be available for selection next week, and the questions over Spurs’ system and Defoe’s place in it will be asked again. Four goals in three wins surely makes Defoe undroppable for the Everton match, but in the longer term Defoe is likely to only start for Spurs in a 4-4-2 system. Defoe’s excellent start to the season means it has to be given a go.
Yesterday Spurs started the match with none of their presumed first choice back four in place, and then saw another centre back taken off injured during the game. The fact they kept a clean sheet is testament to the strength in depth available at the back, but their defensive issues are still apparent. With Gallas shaky in recent weeks, and Naughton fairly solid at Fulham, the best option for the Everton match - presuming Dawson is sidelined and Walker is fit - might be to move Vertonghen into the centre, and play Naughton at left back.
Rivals stutter again
This has been a massive week for Spurs, as Villas-Boas predicted it would be. Three wins have lifted them into 4th, level on points with Chelsea in 3rd. Whilst Spurs have been doing this, all of their main rivals have been dropping points. Chelsea picked up only two points this week, as did Arsenal. Everton drew all three games they played this week, and West Brom’s bubble burst with two defeats in their last two matches. Anything can still happen this season, but if Spurs do push on to take a Champions League place, this week might have been pivotal.
image: © simonw92