The Premier League can often be the cruelest of mistresses and as both Tottenham Hotspur and Andre Villas-Boas know only too well, it doesn’t care much for mistakes and misfortune.

A win against Arsenal on Saturday in the North London derby, could have seen the Lilywhites haul themselves back to within a win away from fourth, open up a four point gap over their rivals and give themselves a springboard to finally turn their disappointing run of form around.

Instead, a chastising 5-2 defeat at the hands of Arsene Wenger’s men awaited and despite going 1-0 up courtesy of Emmanuel Adebayor’s prodded effort, the big Togolese striker proceeded to leave both his team and most poignantly his manager, in a real hole of concern.

Of course, a three-match ban isn’t particularly welcome at any point of the season, but you can’t escape the feeling that Adebayor’s mindless lunge on Santi Cazorla couldn’t have come at a more crucial point in the season for Tottenham.

Make no mistake about it, the upcoming home games against West Ham United and Liverpool, followed by the trip to West London for the tie with Fulham, represent a make or break moment for Andre Villas-Boas’ Spurs side.

Should they loose to Sam Allardyce’s Hammers side next Sunday, the league table might not paint a very pretty picture at all. A run of results which is by no means beyond the realms of reality, could see Spurs sit tenth come this time next week, with the potential for a nine point gap between themselves and Champions League qualification to emerge.

And given the pressure that is slowly beginning to mount on Andre Villas-Boas, having the term ‘must-win game’ shoved down his throat is hardly going to help. But unfortunately, the inescapable reality is that the West Ham game is a must win tie for Spurs.

No one can deny that the Portuguese has had some relatively torrid working conditions that have contributed to his side’s difficult start to the Premier League season. The injuries that the likes of Younes Kaboul, Scott Parker, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Mousa Dembele and until recently Emmanuel Adebayor have picked up, hardly constitute the loss of squad players. That’s more or less five first team players that Villas-Boas has been deprived a consistent use of, let alone the prospect of the quintet lining up in the same XI together.

Furthermore, the failures of chairman Daniel Levy within the summer transfer window are hardly some urban myth, either. Villas-Boas has been left with mish-mash squad uncomfortable in fitting in with the brand of football he was brought to the club to introduce, courtesy of a needless game of transfer brinkmanship which has served to do nothing but balance the books and weaken the team.

Unfortunately for the former Porto boss, sympathy is an emotion that remains difficult to find within the Premier League. The term ‘results based business’ sounds more at home in a Martin Scorsese film than it does within the realms of English football, although league tables and history books don’t look back on circumstance. Villas-Boas has to find a way to get his side winning games through whatever means necessary.

If Spurs fail to win against both West Ham and Liverpool, which considering how poor their home form has appeared is hardly out of the question, then both Villas-Boas and his side are in big trouble. Regardless of whether you’ve warmed to him, feel sorry for him, despise him or long for something else, the omens most certainly wouldn’t look good should results go against him in the next three games. Games which on paper, his side are more than capable of winning.

Such has been the inconsistency that the teams around Tottenham have shown in recent weeks, a run of three straight wins could see them propelled straight back into race for fourth, with the perfect platform to push on towards the busy festive period. But they’ve got to come through the next couple of weeks.

It’s time for Villas-Boas to make the sort of tough calls and cut throat decisions in which careers are defined and seasons are shaped. In the future, there is no reason why he can’t try and cultivate this Spurs side towards the 4-3-3 remit in which he was seemingly brought in to cultivate. But unless he gets through the next few games, he might not have a chance to try and rectify things in the January window, let alone the near future.

He has to be ruthless and he has to make sacrifices. Michael Dawson might not be the sort of defender that offers a long-term solution to a possession-based way of playing. But he’s a fighter, a thoroughbred and he’s surely the sort of man you want in the trenches when West Ham come calling this weekend. Worry about playing the ball out from the back when the squad has recuperated from injuries – not during a set of make or break fixtures.

Again, Emmanuel Adebayor’s moment of madness has left Villas-Boas in the mire up in the striking department. But now isn’t the time to persevere with playing Jermain Defoe in an ineffectual role up front on his own. Go 4-4-2, play Dempsey alongside him as he did in the second half against QPR and go for the jugular. Of course it’s not an ideal world and it’s not building the vision that Villas-Boas clearly craves for the club – but unless they start picking up performances, he might not get a chance to build for anything.

Emmanuel Adebayor’s suspension represents simply the latest hindrance in the perpetual environment of turbulence of which Andre Villas-Boas has had to work in since coming to the club. But instead of looking into the future, he has to try and mould a team for the present, starting with this weekend’s fixture against West Ham.

Is the West Ham game a must win fixture? How would you set Spurs up without the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor? Join me on Twitter and tell me what you think. 

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  • Bazza
    2 years ago

    Well when your manager persists with the likes of overrated WG & the loss of a hungry right back KW thats 50% of your defence missing, both players have been missing in games the last month and a half, the wingers are reluctant to track back busting a gut for 90 minutes, so hence, clean sheets are a no no, it didnt help with Ade getting sent off, but 10 men have and do still win games, sorry, But AVB is out of his depth as proved yet again, i do believe some ex Barcelona coach is picking sand from between his toes somewhere !!!!!

    Reply
    • Kurt
      2 years ago

      You’re dreaming if you think Pep will go to Spurs. Furthermore he’s about as unproven as AVB. Barcelona would have won everything they did under Guardiola with a shaved Gibbon in charge, such is the immense prowess of their squad.
      AVB needs time and the investment Levy promised him. Levy instead faffed about bargain hunting and we missed out on all our targets and panic bought the likes of Clint Dempsey who has been poor. Missing out on Moutinho by 4 minutes is just criminal, in any other line of work if you missed out on something as crucial as thta by 4 minutes they’d be getting the sack. Instead AVB get’s hung out to dry by no fault of his own.
      And the Spurs “faithful” seem blindly ignorant to all this…

      Reply
      • DAVSPURS
        2 years ago

        Why do we always turn to transfers when we get beat what if i am right and supplements are being swallowed no amount of new players will make a different. How do you explain Wigan beating Spurs then losing the next two i predicted it i could go on but you need to relies Uk SPORT now Ukad told me energy drugs is rife so you have to decide if Paddy Kenny Kolo Toure are the only two.

        Reply
  • B.Kay
    2 years ago

    For the people that feel that the next transfer window , with the chairman making money available, will solve the problem, i would ask which top players that we all would like to see at the lane, will consider coming to the lane as we do not pay top wages and our position on the playing front does not mean that top european football will be us for some time. We will need to get the best out of the players we have,with tactics that suit the type of player that we have (players out at the moment will sure assist when they return)

    Reply
  • Gerry hawthorn
    2 years ago

    I so agree with Kurts reply,AVB needs to be supported by the spurs faithful, and I am sure our Chairman will support AVB in january transfer window.

    Reply
  • Ryan Tackoory
    2 years ago

    I can’t understand why AVB continue to play Gallas weeks in weeks out. If he is supposed to be a fine tacticians, does he have some dirt in his eyes or all of us are blind. This man(Gallas) is finished and has to retire or play for a much lower division league. I’m not a coach, but i will re-arrange the back 4 with KW/MD/SC/JV,sub KN in mind Kaboul and BAE will return soon.

    Reply
  • Kate
    2 years ago

    The title says it all and yes AVB needs to be braver.

    He did this in the second half at the emirates and although we still lost it was a positive move. Huddestone needs to be dropped. He is not good enough and I am still scratching my head over what he actually brings on the pitch.

    I would choose tommy carroll over him any day. We desperately need dembele back who should be back for west ham or definitely liverpool which is going to make a HUGE difference. Until then Carroll over huddlestone all day long. I also would like to see falque giving some time. We have no playmaker without dembele the midfield is so poor creatively. We can’t rely on bale to charge down the wing time and time again. its not good enough.

    Gallas needs go as well. He is way too slow. Dawson over him any day until we get kaboul back. Dempsey is another player – no impact whatsover. waste of space in my eyes. I would play falque behind defoe. And once ade has served his 3 match ban he needs to play in the hole behind defoe.. simples!

    Reply
  • Kate
    2 years ago

    he title says it all and yes AVB needs to be braver.

    He did this in the second half at the emirates and although we still lost it was a positive move. Huddestone needs to be dropped. He is not good enough and I am still scratching my head over what he actually brings on the pitch.

    I would choose tommy carroll over him any day. We desperately need dembele back who should be back for west ham or definitely liverpool which is going to make a HUGE difference. Until then Carroll over huddlestone all day long. I also would like to see falque giving some time. We have no playmaker without dembele the midfield is so poor creatively. We can’t rely on bale to charge down the wing time and time again. its not good enough.

    Gallas needs go as well. He is way too slow. Dawson over him any day until we get kaboul back. Dempsey is another player – no impact whatsover. waste of space in my eyes. I would play falque behind defoe. And once ade has served his 3 match ban he needs to play in the hole behind defoe.. simples!

    Reply
  • William Grace
    2 years ago

    André Villas-Boas just doesn’t have it. Chelsea turned around in an instant when he left? How is that possible if this man is a winner? He shows up at a team with good plays and good spirit, and all of a sudden we have players wanting to leave. You can not ignore it, it follows him around. If he doesn’t go, Spurs will end up fighting to stay in the league. You read it here first.

    Reply
    • Jay
      2 years ago

      Uhhhhhh, wow that was unintelligible remark. For one, you failed to include the fact that Villas Boas was asked by Abramovich to move out the players over 30, effectively making him an outcast to the senior players. This is a problem if you are the manager.
      You also failed to mention that when Andre was sacked, Chelsea stood in 5th place. At the end of the season, Chelsea finished 6th. I wouldn’t say that his leaving completely turned around the team then, would you?
      And what about his purchases? Mata, Cahill, Courtois. Players for the future.
      And as for your claim that “it follows him around.” What exactly? Last time I checked, he did very well with Acdademica and Porto. The only scenario where Spurs would be “fighting to stay in the league” is if Dan Levy ever took advice from someone as naive and uninformed as you are.

      Reply
  • Edwin
    2 years ago

    Well said Jay.that guy is nuts.
    Anyway all we need right now is support our manager n the team despite what is going on.
    Walker is substandard right now n needs to be drooped.play Naughton,Daws,Caulker and Vert.Gallas should go and Dempsy dropped for him to get back his form.try Falque instead of Dempsey and then Carroll too.

    Reply