In the aftermath of a victory like that which Tottenham Hotspur picked up on Monday night against West Ham, it can be easy to ride the euphoria and ignore any deficiencies that were evident in the side throughout the match. In this case it is fine to do so, as every player Spurs fielded was unequivocally brilliant, with a brilliant team performances capped off by a brilliant brilliant brilliant goal that was brilliantly celebrated.
But speaking metaphorically, it could have been the case that the side demonstrated worrying frailties, both in front of goal and in the centre of the park. In this situation there might have even been a huge amount of frustration with certain players up until the late turnaround, and how Spurs use their squad in upcoming matches to address those issues might be key to nabbing that elusive Champions League spot.
Two players in particular impressed from the bench against West Ham, with Gylfi Sigurdsson finally scoring the important goal he has threatened on several occasions in the league, and Tom Carroll looking sharp in the centre of the park, even if his “assist” was rather made by Gareth Bale’s extraordinary finish. With certain first regulars looking jaded and a little out of form, will Sigurdsson and Carroll play a bigger role in the rest of the season?
The midfield pairing of Scott Parker and Mousa Dembele has come under the spotlight in particular, with neither man providing a huge amount of creativity. Parker has yet to come close to the form he demonstrated for long stretches last season, and playing with the Englishman rather than Sandro seems to have placed limitations on Dembele’s game.
Tom Carroll could be used more by Andre Villas-Boas to try and counter this. While young and inexperienced, Carroll’s passing game naturally creates space for Spurs going forward. In a similar manner to Lewis Holtby, Carroll is happy to move the ball on in one or two touches, ensuring that the opposition can’t settle in defence. Sigurdsson can also provide this kind of passing and movement in the final third, but the Icelandic player has another great attribute that Spurs could benefit from in the next few weeks.
Despite the fact that Sigurdsson netted his first league goal last night, he has come close on several occasions to having a similar impact in other matches. As he demonstrated last season, Sigurdsson can score goals regularly from midfield, and either starting or coming off the bench he adds a threat that is often lacking in the current side. Sigurdsson is also an excellent corner taker, which could improve an aspect to Spurs’ game that is generally poor.
Andre Villas-Boas has been canny in rotating his defenders throughout the season to ensure that he has plenty of fresh, but also match fit, players to call on in that area. However he has been reluctant to do the same in the midfield, with Spurs heavily reliant on certain players. While this has been the right decision given the form of the likes of Dembele, Aaron Lennon and Bale, there are now issues in the team that might be addressed by playing Sigurdsson, Carroll and even Jake Livermore more regularly, with those players perhaps now showing they are ready to pick up the slack in the side.