Caulker Is Class, Bale Isn’t Ronaldo & Other Things We Learnt From Spurs v Lazio...
Caulker will be starting soon
Not many players are spoken of in the same breath as Ledley King, but then none of the players have been likened as a possible replacement for the Tottenham Hotspur legend. Steven Caulker made his first competitive start under head-coach Andre Villas-Boas in the 0-0 draw with Lazio and took to the pitch like a duck to water.
Much has been made of young Caulker after, like King, emerging through the ranks at White Hart Lane. Having spent time on loan with Yeovil Town, Bristol City and, most recently, Swansea City, many have tipped the 20-year-old to be a big hit with Spurs. His powerful, elegant performances for the Swans last season was the sole reason why he wasn’t loaned out again this year.
Started the campaign behind Younes Kaboul, Jan Vertonghen and William Gallas in the pecking order, his display last night will go a long way to giving Villas-Boas another selection headache ahead of the weekend encounter with QPR. With Kaboul ruled out until November and Gallas looking shaky in the backline, the England U-21 international may’ve played himself ahead of the experienced Frenchman in time for Sunday.
Bale needs to stop pretending to be Ronaldo
At times last night, Gareth Bale looked unstoppable. Maurading down the left, he gave Luis Cavanda a torrid time at right-back, who was regularly on the back foot in order to counter-act his influence. Then Spurs were handed the opportunity to open the scoring with a free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box.
The England U-21 international may’ve played himself ahead of the experienced Frenchman in time for Sunday
Up stepped Bale, fresh from netting a stunning effort in Wales’ 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Serbia a little over a week earlier. For those that haven’t seen it, it was Cristiano Ronaldo-esc. From the moment he stepped back, puffed out his chest, sprinted up and struck the ball with unrivalled technique; it was hard not to draw comparisons with the Real Madrid and Portugal ace.
Cue Bale attempting a similar effort every time Spurs won a free-kick within striking distance. Cue every effort striking the wall and myself discussing with my brother the frustration of Gareth Balnaldo. The winger needs to stop trying to emulate the 27-year-old, regardless of his talent and physical comparisons with Ronaldo, and get back to doing what he does best; breaking down the left at blistering pace before picking out the perfect ball for the front-man.
I love Hugo Lloris already
Excitement was high when Spurs announced the signing of Hugo Lloris. This is the France captain and one of the most revered goalkeepers in Europe. However, a man of the match performance against Norwich City ensured that Brad Friedel held on to his starting spot for the 3-1 win over Reading.
Unsurprisingly Lloris made his debut last night and looked calm, assured and effective in between the sticks, which for those that have seen him in the past; wouldn’t be at all surprised. However, what really stood out were two simple but effective traits from the Frenchman; coming off the line to collect the ball and his distribution.
Cue every effort striking the wall and myself discussing with my brother the frustration of Gareth Balnaldo
These two traits are what have let Friedel down in the past, with the American seemingly super-glued to his goal-line each and every game; it was refreshing to see Lloris make full use of the area when the opportunity presented itself. Furthermore, the Frenchman’s distribution was spot on, with a number of his clearances landing at the feet of a team-mate rather than being pumped upfield for Jermain Defoe, Clint Dempsey or Bale to knock on. Whether he starts this weekend is another matter altogether, but he made a good claim to take that number one spot from Friedel.
Dempsey isn’t quite Van der Vaart...yet
When it was announced that Rafael van der Vaart was to leave Spurs, fans, myself included, were distraught. The Dutchman went on to become a favourite within the club following his arrival in 2010 and will forever hold a special place in the hearts of fans. His replacement, Clint Dempsey, joined from Fulham on deadline day and made his first start in a Spurs shirt last night.
A lack of pre-season for the USA international was evident in the draw with Lazio, with the 29-year-old looking off the pace, regardless of his goal that was ruled out for offside. Dempsey is expected to provide the goal scoring threat from the midfield, much like Van der Vaart did, having netted 17 league goals last season for the Cottagers.
As mentioned, Dempsey looked off the pace, having failed to register an appearance this season before his substitute appearance during the 3-1 win over Reading last weekend. However, once he continues to train with his new team-mates and gets more first-team action under his belt, the goals from the American will surely begin to slow, much like they did with Van der Vaart.
The Dutchman went on to become a favourite within the club following his arrival in 2010
Spurs can win the Europa League
The result last night, to many, wasn’t a fair reflection on the performance of Spurs. Granted, Alvaro Gonzalez may’ve come closest for Lazio having struck the bar, but the North London side had two perfectly good goals incorrectly ruled out; Dempsey’s opening in the first half and Caulker’s header in the second.
Spurs controlled the game from start to finish and even though the result wasn’t ideal, it showcased that the Premier League outfit have enough about them to win the season’s tournament. Villas-Boas has already insisted that he is going to take the competition seriously and it proved last night with the starting XI he put out.
The likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto all missed the encounter through injury and it goes to show the strength in depth available to the Portuguese tactician. With the players at his disposal, it is hardly a shock to see Spurs labelled as one of the favourites to win the Europa League in May, with many confident that Villas-Boas can end there 29 year wait for a European trophy.
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