It took little effort to see last weekend's 1-1 result against West Brom as nothing more than a one-off for Tottenham Hotspur. These things happen, after all, and every team will drop points against a lesser opponent during a campaign. While one may wish to panic after today's 1-1 draw with Norwich City, Spurs supporters would do well to take several deep breaths, relax and realize that the Andre Villas-Boas era is still a work in progress. Such calmness could quickly disappear, however, if Tottenham don't find a way to pick up that first win of the season at Reading on September 16.
Tottenham 1-1 Norwich: First positive
Moussa Dembele may not prove to be an exact replacement for the departed Luka Modric, but the new Tottenham play-maker didn't take long to impress his new boss and also a fan base that desperately needed something to cheer about on Saturday. Dembele was Tottenham's best field player almost immediately upon taking the pitch after the halftime break, something his teammates seemingly realized in that they constantly tried to get him the ball in the attacking third. He then created what Spurs fans are hoping will be the first of many memorable moments eight minutes past the hour mark, when he just about undressed Norwich's Jonathan Howson before firing off a far post strike that goalkeeper John Ruddy had zero chance of stopping.
Dembele is not known for regularly finding the back of the net, so Spurs fans may want to file that hit into memory for the time being. Still, the Belgium international was the lone bright spot in the Tottenham attack on Saturday, and supporters have plenty of reasons to expect even greater things from Dembele in the future; hopefully the near future.
Tottenham 1-1 Norwich: Second positive
Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel had quite the response to the club acquiring Hugo Lloris, thought by fans and analysts to be the team's first-choice 'keeper in-waiting, on deadline day. Friedel was again absolutely superb on Saturday, preventing Spurs from falling down a goal multiple times before Dembele was able to open the scoring. Friedel cannot at all be blamed for Norwich finding an equalizer five minutes from time, and the American living legend produced what could go down as a Tottenham save of the year candidate while facing a 2-on-1 situation in stoppage time.
Villas-Boas told reporters following the draw with Norwich that Friedel is his starting 'keeper for now. It's the only decision regarding that matter AVB could make after Saturday's match. Friedel has earned the right to at least compete for the starting gig, and he was unsurprisingly spectacular despite Tottenham failing to again pick up all of the points.
Tottenham 1-1 Norwich: AVB error
It is worth noting that Villas-Boas again did not have a complete squad for several reasons. The hope after the upcoming international break is that, once all players are fully fit and ready to play 90 minutes, AVB will not feature just one front man in the team's starting eleven. I've been willing to give Villas-Boas a break more so than have others, but I wasn't at all happy with his final substitution of the match.
With Spurs clinging to a 1-0 lead just eight minutes before stoppage time, Villas-Boas replaced Jermain Defoe with Tom Huddlestone. Spurs immediately fell into shambles once Emmanuel Adebayor had no partner in crime, and they held no real possession until Robert Snodgrass tied the match in the 85th minute. Huddlestone was ultimately forced to hit the showers early due to a challenge that may/may not have been red-card worthy.
I'm all for being patient and understanding that a new manager coupled with a new squad isn't going to get it right overnight. Spurs supporters are going to need to see some proof that the team's boss is "getting it" regarding his current squad and the formations that he sends out onto the field. Otherwise, those boos that were very noticeable at halftime and after the final whistle are only going to get louder.
Tottenham 1-1 Norwich: Back line
While CB William Gallas hasn't nearly been the disaster some would have you believe, one point that has been clear to me during each second half of play in Tottenham's first three matches of the campaign is that the team's back line needs more pace for AVB's preferred defensive style. One can guess that Friedel only has so many highlight reel saves left in him, and it's unfair to expect Jan Vertonghen or Benoit Assou-Ekotto to get back and make every necessary tackle inside the penalty area.
I don't know if Michael Dawson or Steven Caulker is a true answer while Spurs wait for Younes Kaboul to heal up. It's also hardly a secret that Villas-Boas is keen on starting Gallas. Villas-Boas may have no other choice but to seriously reevaluate the defenders he selects, however, if his team again gives up a goal at the death three Sundays from today.
Tottenham 1-1 Norwich: Conclusion
I don't blame a single Tottenham fan for being upset, or even for "overreacting" about what is the team's worst Premier League start in four years. There's a lot of talent in the Tottenham squad, after all, and not a single Spurs supporter I know, not even the most pessimistic of them, expected the team to have earned just two points from nine as of September 2. I'm still not ready for any "AVB and/or Levy out!" cries. A lot can change in just a few weeks.
Unfortunately, that may not necessarily be a good thing for Spurs.