The three Tottenham players returning from injury played against Dinamo Tbilisi as if they had a point to prove to their manager. Last night Younes Kaboul, Sandro and Lewis Holtby felt they had something to prove after being out through injury especially with so many new players arriving during their absence. Jermain Defoe with his two goals also wanted to remind AVB that he hadn’t lost his goalscoring touch.
It has been a long wait for Kaboul and Sandro who were out for twelve months and six months respectively last season. Their recovery from serious injury took longer than expected and in their absence the Tottenham team has had a complete overhaul with everyone talking about the early impressive performances of Paulinho, Nacer Cadli, Etienne Capoue and Roberto Soldado. The wait for Holtby hasn’t been so long but his injury sustained during the Under-21 European championships with Germany couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Having joined Spurs last January, Holtby had been hoping for a good preseason to make an impression but instead had to sit it out while AVB reinforced his midfield with quality signings.
Three Have a Point to Prove
Younes KaboulKaboul started his second match after injury and wanted to take the opportunity to remind AVB of his power in defence and that he hadn’t lost the ability to deliver a commanding performance. With the arrival of Vlad Chiriches, there are now four central defenders vying for two positions. With it being a World Cup year they will all hold ambitions of representing their country in next year’s finals in Brazil. None of them will want to miss any opportunity to play and know that they need regular football if they are to be considered by their international manager. Having dominated at the back, Kaboul showed his desire to get forward with a penetrating, rampaging run down the right reminding all of his time spent at full back. Twelve months ago, many of us expected Kaboul and newly signed Jan Vertonghen to become Spurs’ most effective centre-back pairing but the game against Tbilisi was their first opportunity to play together in a competitive match.
With Tottenham five goals up from the 1st leg in Georgia, the match was played, for the most part, at the pace of a training game except when Sandro intervened. Having watched Capoue and Paulinho stake a very strong claim for his central midfield position, Sandro wanted to remind everyone that he knew how to be competitive and forceful in the centre of the pitch. In the opening minutes he was everywhere, making challenges, winning tackles and powering around the field. In his enthusiasm to show that he could be a dominant force in midfield he got carried away with one diving challenge too many and after only 15 minutes ended up with a yellow card. This brought the desired response and he calmed down although he was still just as committed but was a little more circumspect in his play while totally involved in the centre of the pitch.
Holtby has always been lively, energetic and enthusiastic in his performances for Spurs but last night there was that extra edge to his game, wanting to remind the manager of what he could do. With midfield players already signed and knowing that Tottenham were continuing to seek players to strengthen in that area, Holtby while only out for a short period in comparison to Kaboul and Sandro, still felt he had a point to prove.
He was very enthusiastic and was all over the pitch in his efforts to be involved. By the time he scored his goal after 69 minutes, he was totally exhausted. He had set up Defoe for the opening goal and rounded the evening off with the third. It was a fierce shot from the edge of the penalty box, giving the goalkeeper no chance. With 15 minutes to play he was rightly substituted as he builds up to full fitness. With a goal and an assist, he had shown that he could make a contribution to the team.
The arrival of Roberto Soldado has sidelined Defoe who has been restricted to the last ten minutes with little opportunity to shine. Starting the game against Tbilisi was Defoe’s opportunity to build fitness but also to sharpen his goalscoring skills. Defoe did what Defoe does – he was offside, he shot over, he put the ball wide, he dropped deep and then when he gets enough opportunities he’ll put one or two away – job done. What more would you want from your striker?
The two goals against Tbilisi take Defoe further up the Tottenham all-time goalscoring record. A successful night, the two goals see him leave Alan Gilzean behind and move past Len Duquemin onto 135 goals in all competitions and into 6th place, 2 goals behind 5th placed George Hunt.
He has now scored 17 goals in European competitions for Tottenham as he closes in on Martin Chivers’ total of 22 goals.
Andre Villas-Boas speaking on the Spurs’ website was impressed by the performance of the three players who have returned from injury, saying,
It was great for Sandro, Younes Kaboul, Lewis Holtby, players who we’ve missed for a long time and are picking up form. They have all done extremely well recently. I’m pleased with everyone’s performance, particularly the players who have recently come back from injury.