It just had to be Clint Dempsey.
Dempsey was arguably the worst player on the pitch for 92 minutes of Sunday's Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United match. He was often out of position and unable to hold possession while in the midfield, and his inability to finish while in the penalty area cost the hosts on multiple occasions. All of that was erased from the memory in the final minute of play, however, when the American coolly slotted his easiest and final scoring chance into the bottom left corner of the net before running into the crowd to celebrate his fourth goal of the calendar year. That tally earned Spurs a draw that they absolutely deserved, a result that guarantees them the fourth place spot in the league table for at least a couple of more weeks.
3 thoughts on Spurs 1-1 United: Missing man
Plenty could and maybe even should be made about Tottenham still lacking a top notch front man. That aside, we got a glimpse at what this team looks like when Jan Vertonghen is not an available option, and it wasn't all that pretty. Spurs visibly missed Vertonghen, who was dealing with an illness, in the back during the opening half, and one could assume that he and not Kyle Walker would have been marking Robin van Persie when RvP headed home United's only goal. Tottenham also could have used the Belgium international as an attacking presence coming out of the back, something that was non-existent for Spurs throughout the match.
Aaron Lennon, who was again fantastic on Sunday, has, minus last weekend's dreadful performance against QPR, been Tottenham's best overall player during the current season. This game again offered proof that, while Lennon and Gareth Bale are undeniably great when at their best, Vertonghen just might be the most important player for Spurs. One thing is for sure: Tottenham set pieces that don't include Vertonghen as a potential scorer are missable affairs.
3 thoughts on Spurs 1-1 United: Appreciated
Moussa Dembele was never going to be what Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart were for Spurs. Partially because a portion of fans were unwilling to accept the previous sentence to be fact and partially because people are impatient, some within circles of Tottenham supporters have been quick to label Dembele a flop. Dembele is one of those players who doesn't always do something to warrant a mention in match reports, but he once again quietly had a solid outing, and he would have been responsible for creating Tottenham's first goal had Dempsey located his shooting boots before the 93rd minute.
Dembele is the type of scrappy play-maker I love to see at Spurs, one who finds a second and, if necessary, third wind in the closing stages of matches. Nobody was working harder than was Dembele in the final minutes of play, and I think he bossed the midfield throughout the second half. Hope he stays healthy, Tottenham fans, because Dembele could prove to be quite the difference maker in the second half of the season.
3 thoughts on Spurs 1-1 United: AVB
It never really felt like Spurs were going to find that breakthrough moment heading into stoppage time, but they never gave up and showed the determination and heart that a team needs in order to earn Champions League football. Some part of this has to be attributed to manager Andre Villas-Boas. AVB's squad adjusted to the new boss much quicker than critics expected, and they seem to have eliminated the "let's just stop playing with ten minutes left on the clock" problem that cost them multiple points during the first half of the season.
Harry Redknapp did plenty right while at Spurs. He took them on a magical European journey, and he was also there at the Emirates when Tottenham rallied back from two goals down. Still, I don't believe Redknapp's Spurs would have found a goal on this day. Villas-Boas hasn't yet taken Tottenham to that "next step," but they're going in the right direction.
That's good enough for season one of the AVB era.