Since I’m a bit late with this, I thought I might as well make a return to the ‘winners and losers’ format for old times’ sake – so here we are. Spurs win against QPR wasn’t the daring, swashbuckling performance we were perhaps expecting, but regardless of the somewhat fortuitous circumstances, it gets Andre Villas Boas off the mark with his first win at White Hart Lane. After the great performance against Lazio in the Europa League, it was a bit of a comedown to scrape victory against a QPR side still deep in the squad-gelling process, but then tiredness after the mid-week fixture was always an anticipated factor. At any rate, a win leaves us buoyed going into the League Cup tie against Carlisle tomorrow – and here are the winners and losers:
- Jermain Defoe: Making the most of his current run in the team by banging in the goals on a weekly basis. He might offer little else to the team (off the top of my head, I remember reading he had something like 17 touches of the ball over the 90 minutes against QPR), but when he’s on a prolific streak, you can’t argue with his inclusion. The question is whether AVB will prefer the more rounded contribution of Emmanuel Adebayor once he’s back to full fitness – in most of our games so far this season, Defoe has been an isolated figure, and whilst he’s scored several goals, it could be argued his selfishness whenever remotely near a scoring opportunity might have denied the team several as well.
- Jan Vertonghen: An inarguable Man of the Match performance from the Belgian centre-half, despite him occupying his less preferred left-back position for the second half. He showed he’s not immune to making mistakes after losing Bobby Zamora for QPR’s goal, but bar that he was one of the few Spurs players to emerge from the first half with any credit. In the second half, his performance kicked up a notch – his rampaging run from left-back led to Gareth Bale’s crossbar-rattling shot, which was then turned in by Defoe, whilst his last ditch tackle on Junior Hoilett denied an excellent opportunity to level things up. He may have only played 4 games for the club, but in each of those he’s recorded a 100% tackle success rate, and he’s fast become a firm favourite with Spurs fans.
- AVB - He may have got the initial line-up wrong, with Gareth Bale ineffectual stepping in at left-back, but he didn’t shirk from making the needed changes at half-time, and whether by good fortune or not, they paid off. A home win will get the media even further off his back, and was the perfect prelude to a much trickier game away at Old Trafford next weekend. I’m still at a loss to explain how there can be Spurs fans who still want AVB to fail after witnessing his frankly brilliantly enthusiastic goal celebrations, but there you go.
- Gareth Bale: He may have started his Spurs career filling in at left-back, but on Sunday to describe his first half performance as forgettable would be putting it kindly. There was little sign of the searing left-flank runs that characterised his breakthrough into the Spurs first team, and it was little surprise to see him shifted back to his now usual role on the left wing after half-time. Even then, although his shot led to Jermain Defoe’s goal, he’s still nowhere near reaching the heights of performance we know he can. All too often he displayed a selfishness that has perhaps impacted on his game of late, going it alone Defoe-style when team-mates were in much better positions and crying out to receive the ball. Perhaps that’s an unavoidable consequence of the way his past performances thrust him into the limelight, but it’d be nice if he could find the way back to being a bit more of a team player.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson: Sigurdsson is another who’s stuck in a rut of poor form. Back in pre-season, where he assisted a couple of goals and grabbed a wonderful individual goal against LA Galaxy, it looked as though he would prove a perfect fit for Spurs. However, fast-forward 5 games into the season, and he’s still yet to shine in the Premier League, currently looking like a poor man’s version of the player who was smashing in goals for Swansea left, right and centre in the second half of last season. It’s not so much his lack of goals that’s the concern, rather the frequent misplaced passes. You’d've thought that, after coming from a passing side like Swansea, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but against QPR in the first half his passing was frequently woeful, and there was little surprise that he was the man pulled at half time. He’s had some good moments – his defence splitting pass against Reading for one – but he needs to find some consistency.
- Hugo Lloris: After a series of cracking saves from Brad Friedel, Lloris still doesn’t look like getting that Premier League first team place any time soon. Big Brad might have his faults, and he’s still yet to keep a clean sheet in the League so far, but he definitely deserves his place in the team until he shows otherwise. Of course, any supposed discontent on the behalf of Lloris is essentially another facet of the media’s AVB witch-hunt, but unless Brad drops a massive clanger in the new future, he’s probably assured of his place for much of the rest of the season. Which is no bad thing – there’s no reason Lloris can’t ease himself into life at Spurs by playing in the cup competitions, then taking on the mantle in the Premier League next season.
On Twitter: @AEFSpurs.