Towards the end of last season I was one of the many people that thought Tom Huddlestone’s time had come and gone. The midfielder signed from Derby County in 2005 for £3 million and spent much of his time trying to force his way into the first team, but had had little success and he continued to play bit-part roles for the side. I was one football fan who was of the belief that Huddlestone needed to move to pastures new in order to progress with his career. I am happy to say that it looks like I was very wrong.
Tottenham had a host of pre-season injuries in the midfield department and Huddlestone was given the chance to shine under manager Harry Redknapp. He once again reminded everyone, including Redknapp, of his outstanding natural ability and his form impressed the Spurs manager enough to continue with the youngster as the Premier League season begun.
It is no secret that Tottenham have started the season in blistering form. They currently lie in third place on 26 points, ahead of both rivals Arsenal and Liverpool, behind only champions Manchester United and title favourites Chelsea. Huddlestone has been a key part to Spurs’ successful start to the season. The centre of midfield is arguably one of the most of important positions on the pitch, it is at the heart of the action and can be where games are won and lost. The youngster has performed exceptionally in the role in the opening third of the season and has given the Tottenham midfield a balance that they have lacked in previous years. The defensive attributes of Wilson Palacios coupled with the vision and technical abilities of Huddlestone have benefited the attacking presence of Aaron Lennon and Niko Kranjcar. Spurs’ players have been complimenting each other this season and there is no finer evidence of this than the recent 9-1 mauling of Wigan Athletic, a game in which Huddlestone played a key part, completing the 90 minutes.
In recent years Huddlestone has received his fair share of criticism regarding his build. Having often been considered overweight, many critics believed the midfielder would struggle with the pace of the Premier League and although we are yet to see a great deal of Huddlestone in big games this season, so far he has proved them wrong. His abilities lie in his vision, passing and technique and always have done and although he has worked on losing some weight, it should be noted that it is unlikely to affect those aspects of his game.
Although it is a big part of his game, passing and assists are not all Huddlestone has to offer. His shooting ability was there for all to see in the recent home fixture against Steve Bruce’s Sunderland. With Spurs’ 1-0 up, yet thoroughly unconvincing, Huddlestone broke forward before sending a thunderous shot crashing past Márton Fulop into the top corner of the net. It was an important goal for Spurs as it settled the game, securing another three points for the North London club.
Huddlestone’s fine form was recently rewarded with an England first team call up and if his current form continues there is no reason why he can’t stake a claim for a plane ticket to South Africa. Capello has shown that if a player performs consistently well then he will consider them, no matter who they are. Huddlestone will aim to continue his sparkling form throughout the Christmas period, a period that is of huge importance to Tottenham’s season, and if he can do this then I believe he has every chance of a World Cup place.