Tottenham’s 2-1 win over bitter rivals Arsenal on Sunday put them seven points ahead of the 5th-placed Gunners, but also intriguingly only two points behind Manchester City in second.
They, like everyone else, remain far behind Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League but what would Spurs need to challenge at the very top?
The squad Andre Villas-Boas has at his disposal is generally thought of as one of the strongest in the league, with only one or two areas that require additions in the summer. In goal, they have the French captain, Hugo Lloris, one of the best keepers in Europe, while the defence has four top centre-backs, depth in the full-back positions, and with Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale two electrifying wingers-come-forwards. In midfield, Sandro and Scott Parker provide the bite, Moussa Dembele can glide past opponents, while Lewis Holtby, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Clint Dempsey offer versatile attacking options.
Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll are progressing through the ranks, Andros Townsend is impressing on loan at Queens Park Rangers, while Harry Kane is gaining valuable game time at Leicester. If Spurs can continue to integrate their young talent into the first-team squad, like they have with England international Steven Caulker, they will continue to have that valuable strength in depth.
Problems begin to surface when looking at the striking department. Jermain Defoe started the season on fire but has struggled in 2013, only returning from injury on Sunday after six weeks out. Emmanuel Adebayor has scored three goals in 21 appearances and lacked the drive and determination that earned him a permanent move from City in the summer. Dempsey fills in as a striker but is not wholly comfortable, and if it were not for the heroics of Gareth Bale Spurs would be struggling in the league and out of Europe.
The Daily Express has linked Adebayor with a move in the summer, with long-term Tottenham target Leandro Damiao coming in. If Adebayor continues to play poorly he may find himself on the scrap heap, but regardless of the Togo star’s future, Spurs need scoring reinforcements.
Andre Villas-Boas could also do with a midfield playmaker. Luka Modric is sorely missed in the middle of Tottenham’s midfield, and while Dembele has impressed the White Hart Lane faithful he does not have the vision or passing ability to make the play and maintain the tempo.
Tottenham were linked with Joao Moutinho in the summer and in January, and it is easy to see why. Spurs have struggled to break down defensive teams, often relying on counter attacks, set pieces, or individual brilliance to get goals. More striker options would help, but they need someone who can stimulate the play.
The Tottenham collection is almost complete, but the two big pieces missing are naturally the rarest. It will cost big bucks to bring players of Damiao and Moutinho’s class, and while Champions League football will help, Tottenham need to decide if they are willing to spend the money that will take them to the very top.
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