Crocked Spurs defence in need of a revamp?

by Marc Sibbons

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

So it feels like three league defeats on the trot for Harry’s troops after a frustrating draw against a determined and gutsy Sunderland side, in a game that most Spurs fans would expect nothing but 3 points on the board for the Champions League debutants.

So who or what is to blame for the recent dry spell in the league begs the question of the Spurs faithful. Did that memorable night against the European Champions create an ill-fated fatigue and lack of motivation against mid-table occupants Sunderland and Bolton? Is the focus of a Champions League adventure proving to be an indefinite priority for Redknapp? or is there a deeper problem laying at the heart of the Spurs foundations?

Personally, I think it’s the latter. Offensively, Tottenham have been sound this season with a total of 14 goals from 12 games. That statistic doesn’t sound particularly impressive, but it hardly represents the attractive, attacking football played by Harry’s men this season. All this without star striker Jermain Defoe for the majority of the season thus far.

The Signing of Rafael Van Der Vaart for a mere £8m has proved to be an inspirational figure, with many supporters claiming he is the key to bringing the glory days back to the North London club. Furthermore, the rise of a certain Gareth Bale has continued to grow from the back end of last season where he has displayed many moments of brilliance, underlining his precocious talent (look no further than the two legs against Inter.)

The past two league games has recorded a total of one point from a possible six where they are now playing catch up to their nearest competitors. Although the post match loss to Bolton via the Inter game saw them leak four goals, they still managed to score two quality goals courtesy of Hutton and Pavlyuchenko. However, when you look at the other end of the stick and pinpoint the defence, old question marks are beginning to be raised once again.

On paper, the defensive area is arguably as good as you are going to get from a top four club. Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, and Vedran Corluka form the preferred back four where they are all top class performers on their day. However, how many of the four have played over half the league games so far this season? the answer is one, Assou Ekotto.

Due to long-term injuries to King, Dawson and Corluka, Spurs have been robbed of utilising their preferred back four for most of the season. Not to mention another talented centre half wasted by injury, Jonathan Woodgate, who is surely never going to recover from his latest setback. In particular, Ledley King’s injury problems are well documented in the football world where a long-standing knee injury prevents him from even training with the first team squad. As much as I rate King when fit, Spurs sadly cannot rely on their defensive lynchpin anymore, so a replacement figure when he isn’t available is surely a priority for Redknapp in the January transfer window.

The left and right back positions are safe. On the left side, the increasingly effective Assou Ekotto has played in almost every game this season, whereas Bale can also slot in there if need be. On the right, Hutton is growing with each start and gives us an attacking threat down that side. The centre half position is the most worrying considering the back up options available. Both William Gallas and Younes Kaboul have struggled in many games this season as a partnership, particularly during the Bolton match this week, whilst the former was at fault for Sunderland’s equalising goal.

Baring all the injuries in mind, the unpredictability of Gallas and Kaboul, and with games coming thick and fast for Spurs domestically and in Europe, action needs to be taken by Redknapp. January seems like an ideal time to acquire at least one experienced top class centre half, who can easily play at least 30-35 games a season without fail. All in all, there’s no disaster but it’s arguably Tottenham’s most important season in recent times and it’s certainly make or break time for Harry’s blue and white army.


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  • Laurie

    You’re right Marc, in terms of the current defence, the problem seems to lie at centre-half. Both Kaboul and Gallas are switching off on too many occasions, the goal we conceded last night was a prime example of this.

    Although i believe Kaboul is a far better defender than what he was with us in his first spell, neither him nor Gallas seemed to be ‘leading’ the defence in the way that Dawson or King would.

    Dawson has been a massive loss, the sooner he is back the better. King will always be inconsistent in terms of the amount of games he plays for us, as will Woodgate (if he ever comes back.) But with Dawson back soon, as well as King, and also the new South African CB Khumalo joining in Jan, are options will improve, as will our defence.

  • Marc Sibbons

    Yeah i agree with the opinion that Kaboul is a better defender, i think its more Gallas and Bassong that i feel uneasy about when they are playing. Haven’t seen much footage of Khumalo, but we cant really go wrong for a tall, powerful centre half who only cost us £1.5m! doubt he will be a starter but maybe a good back up option to have. I still feel we need a top class centre half to really boost the squad and make up for King’s inevitable absence every other game.

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