Tottenham face the coming weeks with only one striker, Jermain Defoe, until Emmanuel Adebayor returns from the Africa Cup of Nations. Spurs are desperately short of strikers, a situation which existed on the opening day of the season and has shown little improvement in the past five months. The late signing of Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey provided some support for Defoe who has avoided injury and has maintained reasonably consistent goal scoring form with 14 goals so far this season. Adebayor has failed to reproduce the form or the goals he scored last year due to taking time to gain full fitness having missed pre-season training during transfer discussions and with absences due to injury and suspension. Dempsey has taken time to settle at White Hart Lane and has been playing a deeper role behind the striker.
How have Tottenham managed to allow themselves to get into a position where they are so bereft of strikers?
Go back to the late 2000s and few teams in the Premier League could match Tottenham for the strikers they had available for selection. Not every player was a success or a favourite with the fans but hey provided competition, opportunities for rotation and variety to the Spurs attacking formation.
In January, 2005 Martin Jol signed Mido on loan from Roma to join up with Fredi Kanoute, Defoe and Robbie Keane. Jol had four international strikers available as he implemented his “little and large” policy. That season the strikers contributed 51 League and Cup goals.
Defoe: 22 Keane: 17 Kanoute: 9 Mido: 3
2005 – 06
The following August, Kanoute was transferred to Sevilla and Gregor Rasiak, the Poland striker, was signed from Derby County at the end of August. He didn’t prove a success, starting only 5 matches. The three strikers scored 36 goals as Spurs returned to European football.
Defoe: 9 Keane: 16 Mido: 11
2006 – 07
With the prospect of UEFA Cup football in 2006-07, Spurs signed Dimitar Berbatov to restore a four striker rota with Mido signing permanently. In all competitions the strikers amassed 67 goals.
Defoe: 22 Keane: 22 Mido: 5 Berbatov: 18
2007 – 08
The following summer, Darren Bent was signed for a record fee of £16.5 million to replace Mido. Berbatov and Keane had become Martin Jol’s preferred striking partnership, a decision which Juande Ramos endorsed on his appointment and which led to Defoe joining Portsmouth in the January transfer window. As Tottenham won the Carling Cup envious eyes were cast at their striking duo who shared 46 goals.
Defoe: 8 Keane: 23 Berbatov: 23 Bent: 8
2008 – 09
The summer of 2008 saw Tottenham lose their main goalscorers with Keane going to Liverpool and Manchester United making a late swoop for Berbatov. Roman Pavlyuchenko was signed and Fraizer Campbell joined on loan from Manchester United. After a poor start to the season, Harry Redknapp replaced Ramos and with major spending required to avoid relegation Keane and Defoe were resigned.
Defoe: 4 Keane: 5 Bent: 17 Pavlyuchenko: 14 Campbell: 3
2009 – 10
In August, 2009, Bent was sold to Sunderland and Campbell returned to United. Peter Crouch who had linked well with Defoe at Portsmouth returned to Spurs where he had started his football career. As Spurs secured a top four finish and Champions League qualification, Defoe was leading goalscorer.
Defoe: 24 Keane: 9 Pavlyuchenko: 10 Crouch: 13
2010 – 11
It was a late and unexpected signing in late August, 2010 which brought about a change in Tottenham’s need for four strikers. Rafael Van der vaart joined from Real Madrid and played a deeper role behind the striker, leading to Spurs changing from a 4 – 4 – 2 formation to 4 – 4 – 1 – 1. In season 2010 – 11, the strikers had a poor season collectively as Van der Vaart (15) and Gareth Bale (11) started to provide more goals from midfield. Crouch managed only 4 League goals, proving more effective in the Champions League.
Defoe: 9 Keane: 1 Pavlyuchenko: 12 Crouch: 11
2011 – 12
Last season saw Crouch leave in August as Emmanuel Adebayor joined on loan. This reduced the opportunities for Defoe and Pavlyuchenko with the Russian departing in January while Defoe made many appearances as a goal scoring substitute. Van der Vaart again provided 13 goals while Bale scored 12.
Defoe: 17 Pavlyuchenko: 4 Adebayor: 18
2012 – 13
Last August Van der Vaart returned to Germany but Adebayor was signed on a permanent deal and Clint Dempsey joined from Fulham. Defoe was given the opportunity to play as main striker and has repaid Andre Villas-Boas’ faith in him. Dempsey has scored 7 goals from a deeper position behind Defoe but Adebayor has managed only 3 from limited appearances. Bale has so far scored 11 from midfield.
Tottenham’s tally of 40 Premier League goals is five less than Manchester City, seven fewer than Chelsea and 17 less than Manchester United where robin van Persie is showing the benefits of having a top class striker who scorers consistently. Van Persie’s goals took Arsenal in to a Champions League place last season and this season they could well take United to the Premier League title.
On Sunday against United as Spurs tried to get a second half equaliser, there was no striker on the bench. There was no alternative other than to, as Scott Parker said in comments reported by Ron Lewis in The Times, “….keep plugging away.” Fortunately, on this occasion, Spurs managed to conjure a late equaliser but Villas-Boas needs to have options available to him to be able to cover all eventualities during a game.
Jermain Defoe has scored consistently so far this season but recently he has been finding it more difficult with his last goal being against Aston Villa on Boxing Day. It is a lot to expect Defoe to maintain his consistency throughout an entire season without suffering a dip in form at some point. With Spurs still involved in three competitions, an additional goalscoring striker would ease the burden which has fallen on Defoe’s shoulders this year. In the media, over the past number of transfer windows, Tottenham have been linked with strikers but will they sign one before the end of January, 2013?
Over to You!
Which goal scoring striker would you like Spurs should sign?