As the calendar year draws to a close, we consider Tottenham's best players from this January to December
Despite a mixed start to the new season Tottenham have still enjoyed a strong calendar year, just six points from top spot at the time of writing, and with 19 wins, 9 draws, and 7 losses from 35 Premier League games. If that was a normal season, that would leave the club on 65 points with three games left to play.
Below we propose the five best players in 2013:
Gareth Bale - Indicative of the faltering first half to the 2013-14 season is the fact that undoubtedly the best Spurs player of 2013 is last year's Football Writer's, PFA Player, and Club Player of the Year Gareth Bale. Someone that commands a world record fee will naturally be hard to replace, and so it has proved as Tottenham spent their €100 million on several players that failed to replace the Welshman on so many levels. Bale, now plying his trade at Real of course, had a spectacular 2013 record of 16 goals in 22 games, something that seems like a sad and distant memory given Spurs' recent goalscoring troubles, but nevertheless, Tottenham can be proud to have had such a player on their books.
Jan Vertonghen - Super Jan Vertonghen was the second Spurs player included in last season's team of the year, alongside former Spur Bale. Vertonghen excelled in a strong Tottenham run in the first half of the year, and was doing well in both a central and fullback position at the start of the new campaign. Strong and authoritative, the Belgian's ability to play decent football and offer a goal threat has made him one of the club's most important players. When he returns from injury, Vertonghen should be able to slot into his favoured central position again, having suffered in the recent poor run, looking much less comfortable on the left of the defence.
Kyle Walker - Kyle Walker may be a controversial choice in that he has gone through spells of excellent form, excelling defensively and using his outstanding pace to attack well too, before making mistakes that occasionally prove costly in big matches. Generally though, 2013 has been a good year for the former Sheffield United man, being the most settled defender in the Spurs back line and also staking a claim for the England number 2 shirt. Easy to forget that he is still only 23, so as he gets older and more mature, he should develop into one of the best right-backs in the league.
Hugo Lloris - The French international goalkeeper has been a great signing for Spurs, for the relatively paltry sum of around £10 million. His brand of anticipatory sweeper keeping was a strong aspect of Andre Villas-Boas' defensive strategy and Lloris also proved his ability as a shot stopper on many occasions over the last 12 months. Like Vertonghen and Walker, his form dipped during Spurs' recent struggles, but there is no doubting that he is a top keeper and it will be interesting to see how he will play if the new manager comes in with a deeper defensive line.
Andros Townsend - Few Spurs players would have enjoyed 2013 more than Andros Townsend. Already with four England caps to his name, Townsend is arguably the highest profile academy graduate since Ledley King, and it is hard to believe that this time last year Townsend was very much on the fringes of the first team and toying with the idea of another Championship loan. However, winding up at Loftus Road for five months would be the making of him, proving that he could have an impact in the Premier League both as a starting player and from week-to-week. The young winger managed to transfer this form back to Spurs successfully during the beginning of the season, impressing for England too, and it is surprising that he has been on the receiving end of some criticism from fans that think he is too one-dimensional and direct - isn't that the one thing they have demanded of their side over the last few weeks?
images: © Stanislav Vedmid