Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas made headlines and upset many US Soccer supporters in the process when he selected Hugo Lloris over Brad Friedel when Tottenham hosted Aston Villa on October 7, thus ending Friedel's streak of 310 straight Premier League starts. Such disgruntled fans may want to get used to seeing Friedel on the sidelines whenever watching Spurs, because Lloris is having himself a rather solid October.
Lloris was a star for the France National Team during their clash with Spain in Tuesday's 2014 World Cup qualifier. He was credited with five total saves on the evening, and his extraordinary performance kept the visitors in the contest up through the 90th minute. Olivier Giroud nodded home an equalizer in the final seconds of stoppage time to earn France a 1-1 draw that was a deserved and fair result for both sides.
It wasn't all good times for the Tottenham 'keeper in the first half of Tuesday's international showdown. Spain opened the scoring 25 minutes into play, when Sergio Ramos made France pay for his being given a second opportunity while inside the box. Ramos attempted to score the match-opener from a corner kick, but his headed effort deflected off the bar. His second chance, which came after a pass was delivered into the center of the box, beat Lloris and landed in the upper portion of the net.
Lloris would then produce some highlights of his own. Spain were awarded a penalty five minutes before the halftime break, and Cesc Fabregas stepped up to the spot. Fabregas placed his attempt toward the lower left corner, but Lloris guessed correctly and dove to his right to make the stop. As important and clutch as that save was for France's hopes in avoiding what easily could have turned into a blowout had Fabregas converted, one could argue that Lloris' most impressive stops of the evening came just a few minutes later.
A brilliant chip played Pedro past the France back line and through into the box. Pedro attempted a low shot that was denied by Lloris, but the ball bounced right to the waiting Fabregas. Fabregas went high with this attempt, but Lloris had readied himself for the rebound effort, and he deflected the ball out of play for a corner.
The 1-1 draw keeps France and Spain at the top of Group I of Europe World Cup qualifying. Both teams are on seven points after three matches played. Spain currently lead the group via goal difference. Georgia are on four points, Belarus have three points, and Finland have one.
Villas-Boas now has quite the decision ahead of him as Spurs prepare to host Chelsea on Saturday. All indications following the Aston Villa match were that AVB was going to rotate his 'keepers as he deemed necessary. Some even speculated that Villas-Boas only started Lloris against Villa to get the goalkeeper ready for France's two matches that occurred during the current international break. A not-so-silent group of Tottenham supporters located not just in the States claimed that Friedel had earned the starting gig at Spurs with his play throughout the early stages of the 2012-13 campaign.
Based on that logic, Lloris should get the nod this coming Saturday.
Having two goalkeepers who are in-form and able to start during both Premier League weekends and Europa League Thursdays is a nice problem to have. Villas-Boas has thus far mostly done well in managing aspects of his squad other than the goalkeeper position. Considering how well Lloris has played this October, I don't see how the manager can sit the French goalkeeper for Tottenham's most important league match to date of the current campaign. With that said, starting Friedel over Lloris wouldn't be the first time Villas-Boas has turned heads with a lineup selection this fall.
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- Hugo Lloris
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- Aston Villa
- Cesc Fabregas
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- Tottenham Hotspur