Tottenham made it two wins from two with a 1-0 victory over Swansea on Sunday, but the Welsh superstar’s absence is noticeable.
Andre Villas-Boas and the White Hart Lane faithful will be pleased with Tottenham’s start to the season, after the second game of the campaign was decided in similar fashion to the first, with a Roberto Soldado penalty proving the difference.
With Gareth Bale looking set to complete a world-record move to Real Madrid in the next 48 hours and a summer of recruitment, it is a new-look Tottenham team that has taken to the field for the first two games of this campaign.
Spurs were fully deserved of their victory over Swansea, as they had the better chances, limited the possession of their talented opponents and looked the more dangerous of the two sides going forward.
New central midfield duo Etienne Capoue and Paulinho both stood out in the win. The France international showed all the signs that he can be a top defensive midfielder for his side, with his energy, combativeness and physical abilities impressing in the victory.
Brazilian Paulinho again looked lively and added an attacking element to his game, striding forward on a number of occasions and unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet.
Ahead of that, Nacer Chadli had a better game than his debut, while Andros Townsend was fully justified in his starting berth after backing up a star performance in Georgia with a competent showing here. Both will need time to develop, but their natural ability shines through.
Soldado may well have scored in both of Tottenham’s outings so far, but the Spaniard has not had a real chance in open play to show just why the north London club smashed their club transfer record to bring him to England.
Although no one could argue that Tottenham have deserved to win both of their fixtures so far this season, Gareth Bale’s absence is noticeable. Spurs have lacked the incision that the Wales international gave them on so many occasions last term.
Bale got Tottenham out of a hole on more occasions than Spurs fans would care to remember last term, winning games singlehandedly with stunning long-range strikes in the dying moments of matches that would have otherwise been draws.
In Sunday’s win over Swansea, it felt like there was something missing in the space between Tottenham’s midfield and their lone forward. The signing of Willian would have provided it – Villas-Boas will hope that the side can capture Roma’s Erik Lamela to go some way to plugging it this week.
Even a more creative and less direct player, like Ajax’s Christian Eriksen would offer a guile and creativity that was lacking through the centre of the park, or pushing Paulinho forward and giving him a licence to influence things may help.
All-in-all Spurs have started their season well, but without Bale have not looked as dangerous an attacking outfit. In tighter games against better opposition, Villas-Boas will need added options to turn to in order to break down defences and create opportunities for Soldado to take.
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