Spurs beat Dinamo Tblisi 3-0 at White Hart Lane on Thursday night, with a number of second-string players impressing for the victors.
Andre Villas-Boas rested the bulk of his stars for the return fixture against Dinamo Tblisi last night, with a mood-setting north London derby on Sunday in his thoughts.
Despite the likes of new faces Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Nacer Chadli not playing a part, the hosts fielded a strong-looking line-up, which emphasises the strength in depth available to the Portuguese coach.
A number of players will be glad to have been given time on the pitch for one reason or another. Two first-team players returning from injury played the full 90 minutes, in the form of Sandro and Younes Kaboul. This is great news for Tottenham and really beefs up competition for places for upcoming Premier League places.
Brazil international Sandro has grown in stature steadily over the three years that he has been in England, but suffered an injury setback last term. The former Internacional man adds steel to the Spurs midfield and his tireless work-rate and will-to-win have endeared him to the club’s supporters.
However, with the summer signings of Paulinho and Etienne Capoue, and the presence of Mousa Dembele, Sandro is no longer guaranteed a place in Tottenham’s starting XI. With the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal in the market for a central midfielder, it is uplifting for Tottenham that they have four international players to pick from in the heart of their team.
Kaboul is something of a cult figure with the Spurs fans and his return will certainly give Villas-Boas more options at centre-back. The current first-choice of Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen have been solid so far at the start of the campaign, but the Frenchman’s return will allow Spurs to push the Belgian out to left-back if required.
Youngsters Tom Carroll and Kyle Naughton will both be glad to get time on the pitch, however face a tough challenge in their quest to feature regularly for the side. They are both able deputies though, and Villas-Boas may well have to call on them again in the run of things over a long campaign.
Jermain Defoe put in a typical performance in a rare start, scoring two goals and looking sharp. Although Soldado will return to the starting line-up for the derby at the Emirates Stadium, this outing will help the England international’s confidence and keep him focused.
There has been talk that Tottenham could sell Defoe before the end of the transfer window, but this would be ill advised. The former Portsmouth hitman is as predatory as they come, and a more-than able replacement for Soldado if he is needed. If Tottenham are ever chasing a game, Defoe is the ideal player to call upon from the bench.
Finally, Lewis Holtby returned to the fold to set up the opener and score the third goal himself. The German is something of a forgotten man due to all the talk surrounding Bale, Lamela and Eriksen, but the former Schalke star still will have a significant role to play this season.
The 22-year-old has yet to really show the White Hart Lane faithful what he is capable of after signing in January, but with Bale leaving will make a big push for the starting XI this term.
image: © sandroraniere