Tottenham got the job done at White Hart Lane against Cardiff, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.
Here are five talking points from the match...
The Spaniard’s nightmare in front of goal during his debut season in the Premier League requires no introduction at this point. Mercifully, Roberto Soldado’s latest dry spell that dated back to December 29 came to an end with a well-taken finish - from open play no less - for the winner. The relief on the £26m man’s face was broadcast for all to see as his team-mates circled around him in celebration. Whilst it was exactly the moment that Soldado needed, the question of whether he’ll now turn the corner remains up in the air. The striker offered little outside of his goal but Tim Sherwood will be hoping to avoid a false dawn nonetheless.
Fryers was in over his head
Left-back has been an area of major concern for Spurs and the issue doesn’t look like being solved with the presence of Fryers. Danny Rose missed out yet again with Cardiff coming to town and the 21-year-old didn’t cover himself in glory in just his second top flight start. The former England U-19 international gave the ball away cheaply countless times to invite the counter, with Sherwood visibly perturbed on the touchline by the events unfolding. Rose will almost undoubtedly come back into the team once he’s available again, but Tottenham should be dipping into the transfer market for a new left-back come summer.
Eriksen is essential
Seeing Spurs without the Dane in the line-up says it all - creativity was lacking in every sense of the word as they laboured to beak down a Cardiff side playing with three at the back. He was unavailable this time out - but we saw what a difference the playmaker makes to the team’s attacking prospects in the win over Dnipro on Thursday. Tottenham too often look to be crying out in need of inspiration going forward and Eriksen’s prowess is no secret. Supporters will continue to hope the manager has seen the writing on the wall and duly will install him as a mainstay when he returns from a back injury.
Dawson responded well
Michael Dawson has received plenty of stick this term, the most common criticism surrounding his lack of pace. On Sunday, however, Spurs just may have gone home unhappy without him. The captain nearly rippled the net himself and was the most active presence at the back as Tottenham were subjected to pressure on the break on more than one occasion. He may never get back into the England squad, but the skipper’s club benefited from his experience and leadership in the centre of defence on a difficult afternoon. Dawson’s been written off repeatedly, though showed he won’t be put out to pasture without haven his say.
Two simple positives
Thursday’s dramatic comeback victory over Dnipro to move on in the Europa League was certainly good for morale, but took a great deal of energy out of a side that’s suffered a litany of continental hangovers this term. With that in mind, two simple positives can be taken from the victory over Cardiff - three points and a performance that was ‘good enough’ to get it following a midweek tie. One issue that still stands out is how continued participation in Europe’s secondary competition will affect the side in the run-in, however. Tottenham are synthetically - Manchester City have two games in hand - four points off the Champions League spots, and based on recent history, Europa League football will be a detriment in trying to cross a bridge that may already be too far.
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