Tottenham’s win over Stoke City was encouraging as was the performance of the individual players. They played with a greater understanding of each other and deserved their victory which could have been greater if their finishing had been more clinical.
Tim Sherwood was pleased with the team’s display. In his post-match interview he commented to @SpursOfficial:
Tim: "I thought we were excellent from start to finish and I’m really pleased with the performance." #THFC
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 29, 2013
Assessment of Players:
Hugo Lloris: He had a quiet afternoon with little to do, the only anxiety came on the hour when he challenged for a high ball aimed at Peter Crouch but it was too high and everyone missed it. Otherwise, his catching of crosses was secure as Stoke no longer pose the threat from set-pieces on which their reputation was based. It was his 12th clean sheet of the season but his first since the Everton match.
Kyle Naughton: He is so much more comfortable at right back but with Kyle Walker the player in possession has little chance of playing there. He had a sound game in defence and going forward in attack.
Michael Dawson: He gave his usual totally committed performance but was fortunate not to concede a first half penalty for the challenge on Assaidi before Spurs went ahead.
Vlad Chiriches: Had a much better game against Stoke after some recent disappointing displays. Was looking to carry the ball out of defence and use it constructively.
Zeki Fryers: Had a comfortable game for his first start in the Premier League for Tottenham. He had an early scare when Walters broke away in the opening minutes but after that he settled down and was able to get forward and deliver crosses into the area.Aaron Lennon: He caused Stoke frequent problems with jinking runs down the wing and cutting into the penalty area to deliver crosses. He rounded his game off with a well-taken third goal. His end product is still lacking but he works hard and is a handful for defenders. He has maintained his record that Spurs have never lost when he has scored.
Paulinho: He returned refreshed after his three games off through suspension. He showed great touch in midfield with passes and instinctive flicks to set players free. It was a delightful flick which put Roberto Soldado free on goal, only to shoot wide. A much improved display from a player many had started to doubt. Unfortunately he had to be taken off with an ankle injury.
Mousa Dembele: A good game from Dembele using his strength and power to dominate midfield with Paulinho. He created and scored a lovely second goal, his first in the Premier League since his debut against Norwich in September, 2012.
Christian Eriksen: He was playing on the left of midfield but drifted in and around the pitch. It was a ‘curate’s egg’ of a performance with some good parts and some not. He battled hard to win the ball and set up others but he also gave the ball away and his set-piece delivery was poor.
Emmanuel Adebayor: A much better all-round performance for Adebayor. He dropped deep to collect the ball and linked well with Soldado. He missed a good early chance but it was his acrobatic shot which brought the penalty. Some good runs from deep and was involved in the build up to Lennon’s goal.
Roberto Soldado: He had a good early opportunity when played in by Paulinho and a second half chance when Adebayor set him up but both went begging. In between he coolly scored the penalty which had come from his cross to Adebayor and it was his cross which brought Lennon’s goal although Adebayor had a touch on its way to the winger. He is working hard, drifting out wide to set up opportunities for others but there are times when he should be getting into the area more quickly.
All seven summer signings were included in the match-day squad and all played a part in the game with Etienne Capoue, Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli coming off the bench. It took Capoue a little time to get to the pace of the game which Spurs were so in control of, Lamela had an early scoring opportunity created by Adebayor but it was blocked and Chadli had limited opportunity in the final minutes.
An encouraging win and performance to end 2013. What will 2014 bring with games at Old Trafford and the Emirates?