If there's one thing we learned last month, it's that the 2012-13 season is going to be anything but boring for Tottenham Hotspur supporters. Just how crazy up-and-down, or rather down-then-up, was September for Spurs? When speaking with different Tottenham fans throughout the month about manager Andre Villas-Boas, I heard the following words used to describe the man brought in by Daniel Levy to return the club to Champions League: "Disaster," "clueless," "mistake," "hero," "genius," and last but certainly not least, "legend." As Villas-Boas has settled in at White Hart Lane, his team has gone seven straight matches across all competitions without a single loss, and Spurs entered October on a three-game winning streak. With all of that said, the question regarding the team's manager remains the same, even after the historic win at Old Trafford, a result that closed September out for Spurs:
Do you believe in AVB?
2012 Tottenham Hotspur September review: MVP
Benoit Assou-Ekotto may not have a spot in the Tottenham starting eleven once he returns from injury. Jan Vertonghen showed that he could be somewhere between a good and great center back in this particular lineup, but he has been a revelation at left back since filling in for BAE. Vertonghen's box-to-box quality has inserted life into Spurs counterattacks that was sorely missing throughout the early stages of the campaign, and he has, minus a few instances that came to memory while putting this piece together, been solid in defense whether playing in the middle or out on the wing.
One could easily argue that Vertonghen has been Tottenham's overall best player in their last three matches. He was responsible for the run that resulted in Jermain Defoe finding the game-winner against QPR, he nodded home a goal on a set piece in the team's Capital One Cup clash with Carlisle, and the former Ajax star opened the scoring in under 120 seconds when Spurs were away to Manchester United. I'd call that a solid end to any month.
2012 Tottenham Hotspur September review: AVB's lineup
Injuries forced Villas-Boas to make alterations to his first-choice lineup, something which may prove to be more of a positive than a negative for Spurs moving forward. Following the first half of the team's match against QPR, AVB has made all the right moves with his squad, and it seems that he now has a lineup that will be sent out each Premier League weekend as long as those players remain match fit.
I can't imagine Assou-Ekotto will move Vertonghen back to CB unless William Gallas, who has surprised me with his ability to play well late into games, or Steven Caulker can't go for whatever reason(s). Caulker should get significant playing time up through December, when Younes Kaboul is set to return from a knee injury. I'd be surprised if Scott Parker replaced Sandro once Parker is recovered from an Achilles problem that required surgery. Gylfi Sigurdsson has been relegated to the bench for now, and he's a fine second half option.
The big question mark continues to be the competition for playing time among front men Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor. Adebayor not being fully fit has made the decision easy for Villas-Boas over the past couple of weeks, but that likely won't be the case following the upcoming international break. I mentioned in pieces that were published at the end of September that I don't see how AVB could bench Defoe at this point in time.
Nothing has changed about the situation since I first wrote those words. Defoe's knack for scoring during the first month and a half of the season has been well-documented. The England National Team forward also made one of the most important plays of the United vs. Spurs match when he kept the ball from going over the line while down the left wing, and then played Gareth Bale into the penalty area. Bale's saved shot on goal fell right to the feet of Clint Dempsey, and Dempsey tapped in what proved to be the tally that won the game for Tottenham.
I believe that Adebayor will eventually return to the team's starting eleven. His time could even come before November 1. Defoe has earned starts with his play, and Villas-Boas has been loyal to such mainstays who have performed admirably. Don't take my word on it. Just ask Hugo Lloris.
2012 Tottenham Hotspur September review: Important stat
Tottenham surrendered a goal in the final ten minutes in each of their first four Premier League games; a loss when away to Newcastle, draws with West Brom and Norwich, and the team's 3-1 win over Reading. Spurs gave up no such goals in their final four matches of September. Of their four last September opponents, only United scored on Tottenham during the second half of a contest. Both of those goals came before the 54th minute of the match.
Perhaps the biggest complaint Spurs fans had about their beloved team four games into the season was that Tottenham were unable to adequately close out opponents. Every goal counts, after all, and thus allowing Reading to find the back of the net just a few minutes before the final whistle could prove to be costly. I'm waiting until league contests against Aston Villa and Chelsea before I'm ready to call the trend that we saw at the start of September dead and buried, but I like what I've seen as of late.
2012 Tottenham Hotspur September review: Overall
After all the controversy, criticism and even rumors of player "revolts," Spurs have somewhat out of nowhere risen to fifth in the league table, and they also won when away to United for the first time in over two decades. I'm rather pleased with how Spurs played during the second half of September. Villas-Boas and his team must now stay focused and not look ahead to the October 20 showdown with Chelsea. Otherwise, all of the good that they achieved last month could quickly be undone.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Jermain Defoe