An impressive 15 minutes was followed by a heart attack inducing 75 and Tottenham Hotspur came away from White Hart Lane with all three points following a 2-1 win over Liverpool. The hosts were made to work hard for the victory, but in the end the share of the spoils remained in North London - Spurs’ second win in as many games
Much of the credit for the upturn in form goes to Michael Dawson. Fans have been calling for him to be reinstated to the starting XI for some time and against West Ham, the Spurs faithful finally had their prayers answered.
While I may’ve called for him to be dropped to the bench against Liverpool, such is the trickery and pace of Luis Suarez, Steven Caulker being struck down with illness for the second time in 10 days meant Dawson was forced to partner William Gallas in the heart of the defence.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of Gallas and Dawson starting against Suarez scared the s**t out of me. Both aren’t the quickest, while the former has proven to be a hindrance in the back four rather than an asset over recent months.
It was evident just a minute before Gareth Bale’s free kick when the Frenchman allowed a through ball pass between legs and almost saw Jordan Henderson net an equaliser, only for the England midfielder to shoot wide under pressure from Kyle Walker.
That’s the same Kyle Walker that has come under increased scrutiny this season. Last year, the young right-back was the toast of the town, with a number of excellent displays in the Tottenham Hotspur defence winning him the plaudits he rightly deserved.
However, a change of system and key sales of personnel have seen the 22-year-old criticised following a downturn in form. It’s true - Walker hasn’t looked the same player he did last season, often caught out against players he comfortably had the better of last year.
Yet, two key changes has seen his usually high standards drop - injury to Scott Parker and the change in formation. With the man with the perfected combover in the middle of the park, Walker often received the necessary cover to push further forward, with his compatriot available to ‘sweep up’ behind him.
Sandro may’ve come in and done bloody brilliantly in his absence, it had to be said, but Parker’s positional discipline ensured that the young right-back was never in danger, defensively, when he supported Aaron Lennon higher up the pitch.
This brings me nicely onto the second point. Andre Villas-Boas’ change in formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 has seen Lennon pushed further forward, which the pint sized winger has blossomed. Yet, while the wideman is benefitting from his new place on the field, the lack of defensive cover has again hindered Walker.
Nevertheless, his last two performances, he has really stepped it up once again. Matt Jarvis may not have been the most challenging of wingers, but Liverpool’s Jose Enrique is certainly a player that will give any opposition full-back a testing 90 minutes.
The Spaniard has again shot to prominence following a blistering start to the season and manager Brendan Rodgers is reaping the rewards of pushing him higher up the pitch, with Enrique offering a more direct threat on the left-wing than Stewart Downing.
The 26-year-old again impressed, but was kept in check by Walker on Wednesday evening. It isn’t coincidental that his upturn his form has coincided with the return of Dawson to the starting XI. His leadership capabilities are evident and it’s no shock to have seen him captain the side on two of his Premiership starts this season.
With Dawson back in defence, Tottenham Hotspur's backline is certainly solidified and it is Walker who is profiting from his return to the first-team fold.