Gareth Bale has been stealing all the headlines recently, but one player who has been pivotal for Tottenham Hotspur this season is Aaron Lennon. Having recently missed the defeat at Liverpool, Spurs fans will be relieved to see him back against Fulham this weekend.
Lennon’s attacking credentials have never come into question since he broke into the Spurs team eight years ago. His sheer pace and ability to run at, and beat, defenders have been pivotal to Spurs’ success, as well as his own development.
However, this season has seen Lennon step up his game to a new level. While still providing a potent attacking threat and chipping in with a number of crucial goals, including winners’ against Sunderland and Arsenal, his work rate has been quite simply phenomenal. On the odd occasion that Lennon does lose the ball, you can guarantee he will win it back again soon after.
Although Lennon has continued to be a thorn for defenders this season, his ability to support and protect Kyle Walker means he has become just as important defensively as he has in the opposition’s half.
Lennon’s absence at Anfield last week was a massive blow for Spurs. While Dembele excelled in a more advanced position, the lack of width and balance to the team meant Spurs really struggled to get in behind the Liverpool back line.
Although we were the victims of our own downfall on the day, the inability to test Johnson and Enrique down the wings meant we struggled to create as many chances as we usually do, although we still managed to have more shots than the hosts. On the one occasion where we did find space out wide, Bale’s superb cross led to Vertonghen’s opening goal
Lennon was missed defensively too, with Kyle Walker far too often becoming isolated. Much of Liverpool’s threat, including the opening goal came from their left hand side. While I’m not saying we would’ve won the game with Lennon, you can’t help but feel we would’ve looked a lot more solid and better balanced with him in the team.
Lennon was once again absent from the Spurs starting eleven that faced Inter Milan on Thursday night, although he was named among the substitutes. Despite a catastrophic performance on the night, Spurs had a far better balance and looked like a much more attacking threat when Lennon was introduced with twenty minutes of normal time remaining.
His ability to find space and take defenders out of the game presented a lot more opportunities in the final third, which eventually enabled Spurs to find the all important away goal to take us through.
With nine league games remaining, keeping Lennon fit will be imperative if Spurs are to secure a top four finish for the second season running. Having him back in the side against a Fulham team that struggle away from home will be a huge boost this weekend.