After all is said and done after yesterday’s game between Tottenham and Manchester United, the fact of the matter is that the game represents two dropped points for Spurs and it will ultimately go down as a missed opportunity. With that in mind, Spurs need to make a real push in the transfer market this window otherwise they are in danger of dropping out of the title race altogether.
Harry Redknapp has managed to concoct a very fluid, attackingly-minded and settled Spurs side. No mean feat considering the club’s penchant to shoot itself in the foot whenever something promising threatens to outdo the mediocrity that the White Hart Lane faithful have suffered through for much of the last decade.
This current Spurs side are now on the precipice in terms of its future development. A fork in the road as it were. Are they simply content to maintain their newly found status as a top four/five outfit or do they have bigger ambitions, to challenge for the title this season? It’s clearly there for the taking.
Man Utd somehow remain unbeaten in the league this term, and while an impressive stat, for the most part they’ve been underwhelming and have rarely got out of second gear.
I don’t think I can quite remember a title race like the one we have at the minute. With every top side containing such an obvious weakness, it really is wide open. Man Utd’s lethargy and failure to be as clinical as they once were, while it may not have cost them too dearly yet, may come back to haunt them at the end of the season with the amount of draws they’ve accrued on the road. Man City, while a strong outfit are susceptible to the sort of kamikaze defending that gave Wolves a glimmer of hope at the weekend. Arsenal are injury-prone and at times, terrible at the back with none of their current centre halves, baring the injured and deeply missed Thomas Vermaelen, inspiring any sort of confidence. And Chelsea look like a club on the wane. Tired, old and lacking the necessary confidence to display their powerful approach.
I think in Gomes, the club have a fine keeper who is rather unfortunately prone to errors on the big occassion, but he’s fine for now. Spurs have an array of excellent centre halves, but they are all extremely injury prone, but if you can get the likes of Dawson and King playing regularly, they have one of the best centre half partnerships in the top flight. Surely Dawson is the country’s most improved defender over the last couple of seasons? He’s shown this term when he’s played that the superb form towards the back end of last season was no fluke.
Kyle Walker looks a fine prospect and until he gains the necessary top flight experience, which he’ll now gain at Aston Villa while on loan there until the end of the season, they have Alan Hutton and a unspectacular, but perfectly safe figure nonetheless in Vedran Corluka. Assou-Ekotto at left back has also come on in leaps and bounds.
Consistency is the key at the back, and injuries have robbed Spurs of that this season. Without that continuity at the heart of defence, they’re robbed of fulfilling their full defensive potential.
The midfield is sorted. Simple as that. Huddlestone is growing, quite literally, every season and is capable of stretching the play with his accurate passing range. Bale has gone from nearly being loaned out last January to one of the world’s best players. Palacios seems to have lost the form that made him the most destructive enforcer in the league last year but he’s good to have around. Lennon, when on form, is one of the most exciting wingers in Europe and spreads the pitch so wide that it’s difficult to play against him as you can’t help but grant him space.
Luka Modric is the true star performer for me though. He orchestrates their play and while Bale has grabbed all the headlines this year, it’s the diminutive Croat who is the key to the way Spurs set up. Without him, they’re half the side they are when he’s in the side. He’s also made a mockery of those that thought him incapable of playing in a four man midfield and he’s added a steeliness to his game that will have surprised many.
Signing of the season Rafael Van Der Vaart offers more options going forward and can perform an invaluable role just off the front man in Europe. His goals have been a welcome boost for Redknapp and his versatility is also a great asset to have at your disposal. But it’s in the quality of the front men that he’s supplying where Spurs can look to improve if they truly want to challenge.
The options currently available to Redknapp are Roman Pavlyuchenko, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, with Robbie Keane all but set to leave this transfer window with West Ham or Birmingham looking the most likely destinations.
This strike force, while perfectly serviceable, is hardly one capable of striking fear into the hearts of opponents defences and if they want to move up a notch they need to add a mobility and creativity up top to match they fantastic supply the are getting from midfield.
Crouch is a decent option to have on the bench, but he’s having a poor season domestically with only 1 goal in 14 appearances. He’s proved a handful in Europe though and with an excellent return of 7 goals in 6 games this season in the Champions League, he’s a good backup option to have. Nonetheless, for a team with serious title aspirations, they need someone better playing week in week out.
Pavlyuchenko, while he does score goals, contributes little else to Spurs’ general play. He’s an old fashioned centre forward. Clinical, lazy and limited. The same as with Crouch, he won’t help you win a title and also like Crouch, while a good squad player, which is exactly what he is right now, they need to improve the strength of their firepower.
Defoe is an undeniable terrace favourite, but I’m not entirely convinced he has the quality to truly trouble the best. I think he’s a tad inconsistent and he tends to score goals in bunches which make his statistics seem a little more flattering than they otherwise would be. His general play has improved massively though and whereas before he was ‘can’t pass, won’t pass’ he now seems a much more intelligent player. Finding a partner for him, in the short-term, is Spurs main obstacle to truly challenging.
Luis Suarez would seem to fit the bill perfectly and Redknapp is on record (of course he is) as being a big fan of the player in question. Karim Benzema is another one in the frame, but with Real Madrid looking to recruit a striker in January, it’s unlikely that they’ll let him leave the Bernabeu. Plus, his ego probably wouldn’t even fit in White Hart Lane’s tiny halls and he’s even lazier than Pavlyuchenko. As arrogant as they come, yet when he’s on form, he’s frighteningly devastating.
All in all, Spurs aren’t too far off in terms of the quality they have on the pitch, their strength in depth is tremendous, but they could do with, in my opinion, significant investment up front to truly challenge. Daniel Levy is savvy and ambitions enough to know that this Spurs side isn’t too far away from achieving something special, but now they’re 8 points off leaders Man Utd, who have a game in hand to boot, and they’re in very real danger of falling off the pace with the frontrunners.
January is always a tricky time to do business in and more often than not deals go south in terms of success, but I just think that with the league as unpredictably open as it has been so far, the one thing you can bank on is the other top teams dropping crucial points at crucial periods of the season. The right signing this transfer window, a statement of intent, could go a long way to ensuring that any title ambitions Redknapp et al may harbour, are not over by March.
What does everyone else think? Do Spurs need strengthening at all this January? Is Suarez the answer? Who would you like to see the club move for?