After two goals for England, can Jermain Defoe score the goals that keep their North London rivals at bay for another week?
While observers may have branded England’s 8-0 thrashing of San Marino as more akin to a training game, it also gave Jermain Defoe the chance to fill his boots before his Tottenham side’s crucial run-in.
Two goals scored and one disallowed is impressive regardless of the opposition; and when the final whistle blows, tap-ins count just as much as thirty-yard screamers.
During his time at White Hart Lane, Defoe has shown he can score both. But now more than ever, the pressure is on to score the goals that ensure all the hard work of the last eight months isn’t lost in an end-of-season slump that sees Arsenal pip them at the death.
Having lost their last two league games, Spurs must beat Swansea today to maintain the four point gap between the last Champions League place and the Gunners in fifth. Lose and the gap will be down to one, if Arsenal do as expected and beat Reading at the Emirates.
The fact that Arsene Wenger’s side have a game in hand means slip-ups must be a thing of the past for the Lillywhites.
Sandwiched between their recent league defeats was Spurs’ 4-1 almost-humiliation away to Inter Milan. That Emmanuel Adebayor saved their blushes means they remain in a competition that is both a distraction and a tantalising chance of silverware.
But winning it will be no substitute for Champions League football next season.
With each new transfer window, Tottenham fans cry out for a striker. And yet for now they must rely on what they have.
Defoe has 14 goals in 36 appearances this season. It may not be a statistic that terrifies the opposition, but it speaks of a man who knows his job. And having scored his first goals of 2013 for England last week, it is time he does the same for his club.
The 30-year-old is something of a conundrum, one of those players you imagine could have been so much better than he was. Perhaps he still can be, if only briefly, for consistency appears to have blighted him the way others are blighted by injury. But if he can find that consistency for the next eight games, he could make all the difference.
As much as Gareth Bale’s form suggests otherwise, Spurs cannot rely on him to do the attacking on his own.
The simple fact is that as of today, Arsenal are on the up while Tottenham are at risk of heading the other way. Andre Villas-Boas will hope the echoes of last season do not become prophetic.
A striker who has never quite fulfilled his potential has the chance to propel his current side to the next level. A level they must reach sooner rather than later should they wish to keep all the players who are striving to get them there.
Can Defoe score the goals that keep Tottenham in the Champions League places?
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