How has Tottenham Hotspur's season panned out so far? Here is our assessment...
We are entering late November, and it's more than three months since the season got underway. The league table is taking shape, and it's time to take a look at where it is going right for clubs, and what the achievements and disappointments so far have been.
Here is a look at the highs and lows of Tottenham Hotspur's season so far...
The Brazilian has been arguably Tottenham's best player this season, he has certainly been the most consistent. There were concerns that the midfielder could be tired after playing at the Olympics this summer, but he has looked healthier than ever. He has been an ever-present for Spurs in the league this season, featuring in every match His tough tackling displays have meant the injured Scott Parker has barely been missed.
Rumours had linked Defoe away from the club in the summer, even though at the time he was the club's only first team striker. It summed up how his lack of starts under Harry Redknapp had made him seem like a dispensable player. This season he has been anything but, looking lethal in front of goal, and is very much the club's number one striker. Even better, he has successfully answered the critics who doubted he could play up front on his own.
Ledley King's retirement was a sad day for all Spurs fans, but the ray of light was Steven Caulker having the potential to step up. He has done just that, and has won a place in the heart of the Spurs defence. He has also won his first international cap, and at only 20-years-old, looks like he can be a star in the backline for the best part of the next decade.
Breaking the Old Trafford Hoodoo
Spurs may have lost some big games so far this season, but one they did win was at Old Trafford, thereby erasing one of the most irritating statistics Spurs fans would have to endure every season. No longer will they have to listen to how they haven't won away to Manchester United in 23 years and counting, it stops there. It was a magnificent 3-2 victory and a day to savour.
Top four fight is on
Despite a slow start to the season, which saw them winless in three games, and a poor run of form that has seen them lose four of their last five, it is perhaps remarkable that Spurs remain very much in the hunt for the top four. They are six points away from surprise package West Brom, but at this stage of the season it can easily be made up. With such a period of transition in playing staff and a new manager, and their injuries, it was never going to be an easy season, but fans can take solace that for now there is very much a chance of reaching the Champions League places, and that they have not sunk further back, like Newcastle in 12th.
The goalkeeper situation
Bringing in Hugo Lloris was supposed to be a dream signing for Spurs, securing their next goalkeeper for future years. Except so far it has provided nothing but a headache. Fans are divided over who out of Lloris and Friedel should start each game, and so is Villas-Boas, who constantly chops and changes. The meddling of French coach Didier Deschamps has intensified the situation, and so far it has been an unwelcome sideshow to the important business on the pitch.
The signing of Clint Dempsey from Fulham was supposed to be a major coup, and it still may be, but so far it has not quite worked out. We believe he will come good, but right now it is yet to click. AVB is unsure where the American fits into his system, and Dempsey is still adapting to the players around him. His missed penalty meant the club were eliminated from the League Cup, so Spurs will be hoping the attacker's form and fortunes pick up soon.
Another summer signing, Gylfi Sigurdsson has been surprisingly underwhelming so far. It is a surprise, because the Icelandic international was excellent at Swansea, and was one of Spurs' best players in pre-season. He has played just 79 minutes out of a possible 270 in the last three matches, losing his place in the starting line-up, and like Dempsey, has some convincing to do.
When considering Tottenham's league position, it has to be done with factoring in their injury problems. Scott Parker and Younes Kaboul are yet to kick a ball, while first choice left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been missing for several weeks. Perhaps the key injury is that of Moussa Dembele; the club have struggled in his absence, the new signing who was so dominant at Old Trafford. An injury sustained by Caulker also caused him to miss the derby, while Adebayor has also been restricted by fitness. Parker and Dembele are both nearing comebacks, which is positive news at long last.
Sadly for Tottenham, their derby defeat will not be easy to shake. Losing 5-2 once to Arsenal was bad enough, but twice must be tough on morale. The players took a while to bounce back last time, and must do so much quicker this time around. Even if they do, it will be far more difficult for their fans to shake off, who must now live with the taunts of their neighbours for several months at least until the two teams clash at White Hart Lane.
What stands out for you so far?
image: © Shiraz Chakera