A frustrating home draw against Stoke was followed by two away wins that brought plenty of Christmas cheer to Spurs fans.
What are the main points to take from the games ahead of the New Year?
The Welsh winger stole the headlines on Boxing Day with a superb hat trick at Villa Park, and produced a largely excellent display in the win at Sunderland that followed. However at the end of the year what people are talking about is whether Bale is a diver, after he picked up a third yellow card for simulation this season, adding to the two from last year. Bale has protested that any touch knocks him over when traveling at full speed, but diving isn’t just about contact, and few could argue that Bale doesn’t make the most of challenges at times. The yellow cards Bale has received have looked harsh, but there have been other occasions when he has dived and not been pulled up. Referees need to ensure they’re not making decisions based on reputation, but Bale needs to try and help himself by staying on his feet on more occasions.
Adebayor and Defoe
With Dempsey injured, Spurs’ two strikers were given a run of games as a partnership, and it’s fair to say they haven’t been overly impressive. Adebayor looks bereft of confidence, and the off the pitch issues relating to Togo cannot be helping, and Defoe looks understandably jaded. Spurs could do with another striker, but in the meantime playing Dempsey off Defoe looks the best bet.
Spurs have tightened up considerably in recent weeks, and it was timed perfectly for a hectic schedule where pinching games by the odd goal was vital. Hugo Lloris is making a big difference in commanding his defence and clearing the lines when the side is under the cosh late in matches, and Kyle Naughton and William Gallas improved their performances drastically. With Benoit Assou-Ekotto close to full fitness, Spurs can move Vertonghen into the middle, and begin to settle down their back five into an excellent unit.
Spurs have finished the year strongly, but could still do with a creative midfielder. The links with Wesley Sneijder gave fans plenty of excitement, and he is the kind of player they need, even if the Dutchman himself ends up being out of Spurs’ league in terms of wages. Miralem Pjanic or Christian Eriksen might be more realistic, and either would be a massive boost to the side’s chances of a top four finish.
Away day success
After the win over Sunderland Spurs have now won six of their ten games away from White Hart Lane this season, with only Manchester United managing more victories on the road. In the past three seasons Spurs have only won seven games away in the whole season, and the improvement could be essential to their attempts to get into the top four.
image: © andybrannan