Following the disappointing 0-0 draw with Hull City at the weekend, are Tottenham fans proclaiming too soon the devil in Robbie Keane? Slowly becoming the new Jermaine Jenas at White Hart Lane, Keano has received a fair amount of criticism this term. However, is it not prudent to consider that, although Keane’s form has dipped, he cannot be the sole reason for the disappointing results Spurs earned against Stoke, Wolves and Hull? Perhaps the pressure placed upon Keane to be removed from the starting line-up is unwarranted, and perhaps Tottenham fans should consider the team’s reliance on Aaron Lennon as more of a worry.
When Aaron Lennon plays well for Tottenham, the side invariably win. When Lennon is absent, as in the game against Hull City, or Lennon is marked out the game, Tottenham appear to struggle. Lennon has the pace to frighten any team in the Premier League, and if a team’s play an open brand of football and Lennon is given the space, Tottenham can run riot. The most obvious example being the games against Manchester City or Wigan at home, where Lennon created the majority of the 9 assists that have left him second in Premier League assists in the OPTA stats table, behind only Fabregas at Arsenal. Nevertheless, despite rightly receiving plaudits for his improved crossing and overall play this season, it can still be easy to mark Lennon. Many Spurs fans will note that whilst the player is blessed with fantastic pace, the player lacks the ability on the ball to beat a defender who marks him tightly, leaving Lennon unable to turn his marker. It is at these times, which have invariably occurred this season, that Tottenham have looked short of ideas, and this might be a cause for concern.
With Modric missing against Stoke, and only playing a bit part against Wolves, he has perhaps been the missing link when Lennon has been underperforming or unavailable, with only the Hull City goal keeper Boaz Myhill preventing a Tottenham victory last Saturday. However, another criticism that one might level at Spurs is a lack of pace, which the majority of the top sides possess in midfield. Although the Croats we have at the club ooze class, they lack the genuine pace to turn teams around, along with the achingly slow Tom Huddlestone. Lennon is thus the only player that has genuine pace throughout the team, excluding Jenas, who rarely sees much action these days. Tottenham have often resorted to playing long balls up to Crouch (if he’s on the pitch), and whilst effective to a degree, this is not a desirable plan B.
It would be typical of Spurs fans to start ringing the alarm bells after one 0-0 draw, and so caution should be taken before sweeping accusations are made regarding Tottenham’s chances of breaking into the Champions League elite. Spurs are currently on a run of six clean sheets in a row after Saturday’s match, equalling the club record of five consecutive league games and six consecutive league and cup matches without conceding a goal. The defence is looking consistent and Dawson in particular is playing out of his skin. However, Tottenham have now failed to win three games against teams placed currently in the bottom half of the table, with Hull and Wolves in particular seen as home bankers. Is it thus time to question whether the side is too reliant on Aaron Lennon, and lack a ‘plan B’?
Written By Mark Turner