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« The life and dives of Gareth Frank Bale | Main | 6 things »

Villas 2 Villa 0

Tottenham 2 Villa 0

Still not completely convincing at home. Lacking that ruthless killer instinct. One or two players struggling with their form. Other's still settling. Other's forming new on field relationships. Pre-match I wanted to see:

  1. More than just 45 minutes of dominance, fluidity from start to finish.
  2. Boss midfield and tempo with aggression and pace.
  3. Clinical in front of goal.
  4. No late goals conceded.
  5. Comfortable win.
  6. Noisy happy atmosphere.

We sort of got some of the above, in pockets, more so in second half than in the first – including a moment or two where the opposition might have punished us, but thankfully, they too lacked that killer touch. Yet, even as this team builds momentum and team unity, even with new players still looking to find their groove in Lilywhite, we still find ourselves sitting in 5th spot with four consecutive league wins and unbeaten in nine games. Momentum breeds confidence and confidence breeds style. All in good time. Considering we lost two key players (Luka and Rafa) in the summer along with an injury to another (Parker)  and the retirement of Ledley plus an overhaul of coaching and training...if this is a transitional period, it's hardly traumatic. Andre Villas-Boas inherited a side in a state of flux. We are hardly the sitting ducks some expected (prayed for) in the aftermath of the summer.

Sure, okay, no problem...I agree (how can I not?) that the swagger isn’t quite free-flowing at the Lane. Would be naive to expect a new coach to implement new ideas as casually and easily as flicking a switch on. We look better, more fluid, away from home at the moment but the signs are there that improvements will be made which should have a more positive effect on how we set up at the Lane. It’s one thing being a side that attacks attacks attacks but if there is no added dimension to our play, no adaptability – then we’ll get unstuck against more clued up opponents. However, the drawback at the moment is that as we look to progress we might get unstuck by virtue of the problems that exist, the ones we’re trying to iron out.

Say, for example, sitting too deep at 1-0 or not taking our chances early in the game. Then again, as good as we were at full pelt last season at home there were plenty of games where for all our intent we failed to break down teams. Looks like we’re worked through our early season issues (WBA, Norwich) already but the real test will come when a far stronger side visits.

What did we learn with the 2-0 against Villa?

Sandro and Dembele are forming a robust partnership in the centre of midfield. The Belgian completing 77 passes from 79 and was never dispossessed and aided the powerful push forwards in the second half. Such a great mix of abilities and with Parker out, Sandro is able to graft his way towards making the position his own. Dembele is quality and players like that won't struggle to settle if they have the confidence to play thanks to their team mates effort and work rate. Can't wait to see the immensity of their partnership 20 games into the season.

Special extra mention: Sandro and the 720 degree turn. He's a mentalist.

Vertonghen is superb. So vital we have players in key positions that are world class. There, I said it. I'm not ashamed. He's a centre-back that looks equally comfortably at left-back and attacks as well ad he defends. Oozes confidence and leadership. Caulker's eduction by the side of both Jan and Gallas, better spent with us than out on loan. The youth of Spurs are being coached and selected. No favouritism. If you're good enough, you're in. Mature beyond his years but then we caught a glimpse of that when he was at Swansea. Talking of maturity, Gallas, on the quiet, getting the job done and continuing to prove many of us (including me) wrong. Still has it. We look strong at the back, more so when the injured return to full fitness.

Dempsey is still bedding in (much like Siggy is) – when both find their place in the team then both will give us that extra bit of oomph in midfield that we lost when van der Vaart returned to Germany. Dempsey scored a bundle for Fulham. Siggy equally effective for Swansea. Both, thus far, bit part players trying to work into the system. The American currently ahead in selection.

Adebayor’s return is massive for us. Holds up the ball, retains it well, allowing the midfielders to press forward and his link up play is far superior to what Defoe can offer. It’s part of his natural game. Hoping he gets in amongst it with the goals once he starts to play regularly.

Not sure of original source of image. Possibly computer generated. Blatant fake. They're all smiling.

Hugo Lloris proved why he’s got so much more than Brad Friedel between the sticks in terms of this being a team game. His distribution and his communication is vital to improving the way we defend, acting as both keeper and sweeper. He did make one mistake that went unpunished. Still, a clean sheet. Ta muchly. Brad, the model professional all smiles on the bench (unless Friedel was not actually at the game and Spurs were using 'tupac' holographic technology to show us a smiling Brad to aid with disguising the turmoil in the dressing room). Another feature of Hugo is the way he sees danger and seeks to throw himself onto the grenade. Love the way he reads the game so well and dashes out to tackle/win the ball. Also – 67% passing rate (Brad has 18% average).

We accepted the slice of luck to go 1-0 up and that was enough of a breakthrough to set us on our way for a far more comfortable second half. Although Villa had a moment or two (one shot straight at Lloris and the other, the aforementioned mistake from the keeper that thankfully saw Benteke’s header go wide). A reminder of those problems that need ironing out.

Walker is still struggling. I don’t get why some are so keen to dismiss him because he's currently detached from solid consistent form. He’s a young lad, he had a fantastic season last time out. I don’t know what the reason is behind his erratic displays but much like the team as a whole struggled, we need to be supportive.

Might be in need of some rotation/rest/competition once Naughton is available for selection again. We all know he needs to work and develop his positioning and defending. He's got all the right qualities for AVB's tactics. We just need to make sure he's focused and disciplined. Maybe he does need that rest. But there's no doubt he needs to understand he's a defender and usually defenders need to defend. Rest aside, the coaches need to nurture the raw talent. I guess some will still slag him off or not open their eyes to the long play much like they were all too eager to see Bale go off on loan to Forest.

Lennon's goal was great. Sandro, Dempsey involved, lovely finish from Azza. As for the first, Defoe cleverly aiming for Caulker to purposely deflect the shot in to beat the keeper. As for Gareth Bale. Solid performance without being outstanding but the 'dive' deserves its own article. Will share soon.

No sitting too deep second half with positive attack minded substitutions.

Villa were not very good. Did well in the first half to nullify us (although we still crafted chances of promise). But our first half misgivings had plenty to do with untidy passing and decision making and lack of tempo and composure. Too anxious perhaps? Trying too hard to force the issue rather than dismantling the opposing side with cool, calculated movement. We still looked solid and we improved and in the end the visitors had very little to show for it. A better striker up front for them and perhaps the game would have played out differently.

We could have made more of it after they went down to 10 men, but failed to find a third goal. Woodwork making sure of it.

Good work going into the international break. We still look like a side playing at around 60% - 70% of our true potential. The trick is that we retain that winning momentum when we’re not firing on all cylinders, whilst aiming for 80% +. Once the spine of the team is settled and we’re more fluid in movement and intensity, then we’ll be standing on that next level of performance. Once on that level, I’d expect us to be far more dominant and bullish at home. It still has that ominoius feeling that its a bit to much of a graft to earn the points. But then that's hardly a bad thing. We're still winning, still finding a way through. The progression of Andre Villas-Boas Tottenham continues.

Special mention again to Brad Friedel and 320 consecutive games played in the Premier League. Phenomenal. Also worth noting (again), seven played with fourteen points. One defeat. Nine games unbeaten all comps.

Reader Comments (19)

Atmosphere ! Why are we being out sung by the away support> Spooky this needs sorting and commented as its own subject.
Apart from that well happy with the result and extremely happy for Caulker and the new signiings . Especially Jan the man and the rock with skill Dembele.
Can only see good things on the horizon under AVB.

Oct 8, 2012 at 8:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterkoko61

I've spoken about atmosphere and support so much not sure there's that much more to add to the argument.

Oct 8, 2012 at 8:45 PM | Registered Commenterspooky

Spot on Spooky, completely agree. I think Lloris looks nervy at the moment, but the way the fans in the Park Lane treated him, he won't be nervy for long. I'll be interested to see how Andre sets up now Ade's back - Defoe's a man re-born!
I agree with koko61 re. atmosphere. 1882 is the answer, I'm sure of it. Maribor's on, right?

Oct 8, 2012 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaptainYid

Agree with almost of this. Gallas making me reconsider my view that he's our only fourth or fifth best centre-back but do think he'll struggle for fitness and don't want us to be rotating at centre-back as we have done in the last five years. He's no Ledley. Vertonghen and Kaboul would probably edge it. Adebayor's return is huge. Good to see Dempsey get a mention, quietly effective on Sunday, justifying his inclusion over Sigurdsson. How to squeeze Parker back into this set up? A big debate around me yesterday on whether it would be Parker or Sandro when both are fully fit.

Oct 8, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermunkeyjim

Sorry Spooky, did not see your blogs about this subject on atmosphere . 1882 it is then captain yid, hopefully Spooky who knows them well or you captainyid can device a solution to the problem.

Oct 8, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterkoko61

Bale, that made me shudder with embarrassment. Cut that out ASAP lad.

Is it just spurs or the pro Harry thing or what, but it has just been incredible the pressure that has been on avb from the media. I really don't think I've seen it before to this extent. I mean theyve really been ready to pounce.

I recently saw an interview with a mirror writer who said that he thought Lennon had the talent but was far from a professional/disciplined player. I know we've seen him drunk before but does anyone know anything more about this?

Lastly am I the only one that thought jan v was a bit suspect at left back against nani and Rafael? I might be crazy but I really thought most of the threat cam down that side and every time the ball was played out there, vertonghen was 15 yards away.

I'd love to hear what u guys think.

I'm getting slowly very excited abt this season. I think we're gonna be really really good. Get in avb

Oct 8, 2012 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterWookie

Good round-up of the match.

What I am noticing is that the team is improving every game.

Oct 8, 2012 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterAmericanBarbarian

tremendous article.once again you have provided great dimensions in your views and thoughts regarding tottenham hotspur football club.
i cant think of anything else to write,but if i did i would use words like immense and dedication and solution and ambition and more immense and dimension because thats how i speak nowadays.

Oct 8, 2012 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterspoz

Another great analysis of the game Spooky I was thinking that Walker might have taken his foot off the gas since their is no one of top quality to replace him ? He looks a different player from last season . Looking forward to the next home game hope us fans can ramp up the atmosphere a notch or three.

Love the shirt COYS

Oct 8, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered Commenter1965YID

Walker needs a rest to think about his game, but until Naughton or Kaboul are back this won't happen. I am worried what might happen when ChavSKA come calling and they target the right flank as we try to shut off their routes through the middle.

Oct 8, 2012 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSweetsman

Koko - I'm avoiding it because it usually ends up with me being critical of those that turn up to boo or sit there in disgust that we're not winning 5-0.

Oct 8, 2012 at 9:41 PM | Registered Commenterspooky

I get your point Spooky. When Me and my mates get upset with our play we shout and urge our team on, like the good old days. But have never booed my beloved team in all the 41 years of going to the lane. Even when we were relegated to the 2nd division, we still went to all the home games and enjoyed going away at Millwall Charlton and leyton orient. Getting behind our team and being the 12th man is whats needed, like the away fans are.

Oct 8, 2012 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterkoko61

Great article Spooky!
I ve seen the highlights of Moutinho's last game in the Championsleague and I believe he would have given us a nice headache to decide how to build our midfield! The lad really knows how to distribute the ball and to make through passes. Dembele is doing a great job though, even if his style is rather to turn and move with the ball.
The main position that has still to be explored is the position behind the striker. Nor Siggy, nor Dempsey have made big impact in any game. And it is not clear to me if a more playmaking, or supporting striker role is expected? If AVB puts Adebayor to lead the line, I would be tempted to see how it would look like with Defoe comming from behind. Considering Defoe would do also the defending job... Another option to think about could be to put Sandro and Parker in the middle and move Dembele a bit up the pitch? This side is getting better and as you said there is loads of potential for improvement. COYS

Oct 9, 2012 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterFab

A pleasing result with some positives from the game.

1). We got 3 points.

2). We didn't concede late on.

3). We played for the full 90 mins. In fact we played better in the second half than we did in the first.

On the down side we didn't take the chances on offer in the first half. And if the TV commentary team were correct Villa have only won 3 games in the calendar year 2012. Hardly a team brimming with confidence. Therefore I would say that our performance was workman like competence. It certainly was not brilliant or scintillating.

With Ade now fit and Parker, Kabul and BAE returning before Xmas this will give AVB a bit of a headache as to who will play. Whatever team he puts out, we will have a very strong bench with which to change games later on in the season.

Someone should tell Bale that flopping down like a Norwegian Blue Parrot when Gusan is still a fiord length away from him is not a particularly edifying spectacle, especially when wearing a Spurs shirt. That sort of behavior can get us reduced to ten men.

I am looking forward to the Chelsea game.

Oct 9, 2012 at 3:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterkingdom of sod

Great flow and energy in second half.
Very happy to see smiles all around on the bench.
Harmony among the intire squad so very important.
Chelsea up next, - COYS!

Oct 9, 2012 at 4:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan

As usual great article, spooky.

Oct 9, 2012 at 6:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSingspur

Friedel did absolutely nothing to deserve getting dropped. I couldn't understand it. And at least his distribution is to our players. Oh well, it seems AVB caved in to the pressure. Friedel is a much better proposition for Chelsea, and I hope our manager realises that.

Oct 9, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterShannon

50 years in the doldrums, so many managers have come and gone I have lost count. What I am seeing is a meaningful transition to continental European style football playing intelligently from the back of the park, not the long hopeful ball to a very good, but not world class, diminutive lone striker. As much as I admire Friedel, but then we have had Gomes and part time Cudicini up til then, lloris Is the man for us going forward. Sandro also epitomises this in the centre of the park and Is the better player in that position covering his back four, he is growing in stature and confidence. Chelsea are not a team to be feared and yet are currently top of the league, we are still only a few games into the new season and I have changed my view from thinking we will be in the top half to maybe ending up in the top four. I also think we will beat Chelsea at home. i have no doubt that the shallow supporters will become vociferous again when we lose our first match and will want the whole team and AvB replaced!

Oct 9, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Richards

Walker needs to work on his positioning seriously. The likes of Mata, Torres, Hazard and Oscar could really make his errs pay in 2 weeks' time. He's the weak link in Spurs' back line. Chelsea's left flank is also their weaker side, because with their 3 playmakers rotating about, and that Hazard doesn't often track back means Spurs could easily overload Ashley Cole with Lennon and Walker. So as you can see, Walker's performance, both in attack and defense, may be key versus Chelsea.

Oct 9, 2012 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBoon

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