Vertonghen Is A Beast, Defoe Is On Fire & What We Learnt From Spurs’ Win v Reading

The morning chill that accompanied the rising sun on Monday morning wasn’t the change from summer to autumn, but rather Tottenham Hotspur fans breathing a huge sigh of relief following their first Premier League win of the season...
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Vertonghen Is A Great Signing

When Spurs were initially linked with Jan Vertonghen in January, many wouldn’t have dreamed of seeing the Belgium international in the Lilywhite shirt. Fast forward seven months and there is the young centre-back signing on at White Hart Lane. Many were excited about his arrival, but none could’ve foreseen the 25-year-old adjusting to life in England this quickly.

To say Vertonghen has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water would be an understatement. The former Ajax captain, who missed to season opening defeat to Newcastle United, has been ever present in the heart of the Spurs defence following a knee injury to Younes Kaboul, which has left the Frenchman ruled out for the next four months.

Nevertheless, alongside William Gallas, Vertonghen has looked assured, reliable and, at times, unplayable in the back-line. Against Reading, the young defender ensured that Pavel Pogrebnyak and, following his half-time arrival, Adam Le Fondre barely got a sniff in at Brad Friedel’s goal. After just three games, the Belgian looks like the accomplished defender the club required following the retirement of Ledley King. Every time I see him play, I can only thank my lucky stars that Spurs beat Arsenal to his signature.

Defoe Can Keep This Form Up

When fans saw Jermain Defoe’s name in the starting XI, many held their head in their hands wondering why Villas-Boas was persisting with the pint-sized hitman over Emmanuel Adebayor. Defoe has been tried and tested as the lone front-man and has, at times, cataclysmically failed to deliver.

Every time I see him play, I can only thank my lucky stars that Spurs beat Arsenal to his signature

Roy Hodgson has placed his faith in the Spurs man and has been repaid with two very good performances for England in the 5-0 rout of Moldova and 1-1 draw with Ukraine. Villas-Boas is evidently a fan of Defoe, regardless of his poor showing against Norwich City two weeks ago, and the 29-year-old didn’t disappoint this time around, netting a brace in the 3-1 win and proving to be Jermain Man in the encounter.

Defoe gave the Royals centre-back pairing of Alex Pearce and Kaspars Gorkss the run around on Sunday afternoon, with his two goals an epitome of his striking capabilities, the second of his an exceptional strike from the England man as he powered his way through the Reading defence, holding off the threat of Pearce, before smashing past Alex McCarthy. If he can keep this form up, it will be hard for Adebayor to dislodge him from the starting XI, having now netted three goals in four Premier League games.

Sandro In Beast Mode Is Unstoppable

With Scott Parker ruled out with an Achilles problem, the defensive duties have been placed upon the shoulders of Jake Livermore and Sandro during Spurs’ first three games of the season. The defensive pivots may provide the necessary steel during the tough away encounters, but at home; one needs to be dropped to accommodate the creativity that the likes of Mousa Dembele, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey will offer.

However, the Brazilian isn’t the man to be sacrificed in the middle of the park. With Parker out, Sandro alone is the player to anchor the midfield and was at his ferocious best during the 3-1 win. He eradicated any attacks that were thrown his way and looked to break forward at every given opportunity to support his team-mates.

Defoe gave the Royals centre-back pairing of Alex Pearce and Kaspars Gorkss the run around on Sunday afternoon

He may not receive the same time on the ball as he did against Reading in the future, but with the chance to exploit the gaps in the midfield; Sandro didn’t disappoint. Many dubbed the young Brazil international man of the match and you wouldn’t find many people arguing with that, with the 23-year-old delivering a performance reminiscent of that of, dare I say it, Patrick Vieira in his Arsenal heyday.

Dembele Is More Than Capable Of Replacing Modric

Many were hoping to see Joao Moutinho bought in to replace the departing Luka Modric. Once it was confirmed that the Croatia international was to be leaving White Hart Lane, Spurs wasted no time in bringing in the reinforcements. Two days after the sale went through; the North London side saw a £15m bid for Fulham star Mousa Dembele accepted.

The Belgian wasted no time in endearing himself to the Spurs faithful, netting 24 minutes into his debut during the 1-1 draw with Norwich. His arrival in the encounter was imperative, with Spurs lacking any form of cohesion during the stalemate with the Canaries. However, starting from the off, Dembele showcased why Spurs spent £15m on him in the first place.

The 25-year-old looked assured in possession and was a constant thorn in the side of the Reading midfield as he continued to poke and probe, looking for that killer ball to open up the Royals back-line. Alongside Sandro in the middle of the park, charged as the ‘deep-lying playmaker’ that Modric fulfilled sublimely, Dembele was at his creative best as he looked to make things happen from the midfield and with the energetic and defensive minded Brazilian alongside him; he had a licence to break forward and support the creative quartet of Defoe, Bale, Sigurdsson and Aaron Lennon.

Naughton Is A More Than Capable Stand-In

The first question asked when the starting XI’s were announced was that of the whereabouts of Benoit Assou-Ekotto. The Cameroon international has been a guaranteed starter, bar injuries and suspensions, since Harry Redknapp took charge back in 2008. However, ‘Disco Benny’ wasn’t to be seen when the 18-man squad was finally made public.

The 23-year-old delivering a performance reminiscent of that of, dare I say it, Patrick Vieira in his Arsenal heyday

Many were curious as to whether he had been dropped, following a poor start to the season, before it was revealed he suffered a flare up of a knee problem in the lead-up to the game. Understandably, it was Kyle Naughton who was called-upon to slot in at left-back, despite Villas-Boas having the option of Vertonghen to take the place at full-back.

However, the Belgian may not be needed following Naughton’s performance against Reading. The young full-back, who spent last season on loan with Norwich, may’ve looked shaky at times, but did enough to quell the threat of Garath McCleary down the right and looked assured during the encounter. The 23-year-old almost came close to claiming an assist during the first half, playing a stupendous long ball over the top to Defoe, who brought it down exceptionally before coming within inches of netting his second just minutes after breaking the deadlock.

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