Three players who are letting Tottenham down

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Despite losing 4-1 to Manchester City on Saturday, Mauricio Pochettino saw plenty of positive signs that his efforts on the training pitch are having an affect on his Tottenham players.

The season started brightly enough but home defeats to Liverpool and West Brom, and draws against Sunderland, Partizan Belgrade and Besiktas put a temporary stop to the lilywhites momentum.

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Mason's late arrival

The match against then Championship pace setters Nottingham Forest was nearly a further low point with the home side losing one-nil until Ryan Mason's introduction from the bench. The 23-year-old scored with a 25-yard thunderbolt and spurred Tottenham into action, eventually winning comfortably 3-1.

While the league performances have improved, the second string performances in the cup have still fell well below par as Pochettino finds out which players are up to the job. There are still big changes needed before Spurs can really challenge for the top honours, and these three players need to improve their game massively if they are to survive in north London.

3. Jan Vertonghen

While Vlad Chiriches' horror show in the 1-1 draw with Besiktas grabbed attention, it is the indifference offered by his centre back counterpart Vertonghen that should really worry Spurs fans. After being looked over for the Spurs captaincy in favour of Younes Kaboul, reportedly after Pochettino spoke to senior players, and turning down a new contract, Vertonghen has not put in the effort to match his undoubted quality.

On his day, the big Belgium is everything you want from a centre back. Strong in the air, powerful in the tackle, fairly mobile, accomplished on the ball and with the ability to step out of defence from time to time, the links with Arsenal and Barcelona in the past were not unwarranted. However, with Spurs suffering under Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood, the defender's attitude went downhill fast, fairly to track back, not showing that he cared, and performances this season have not improved enough.

The way in which Sergio Aguero beat Vertonghen to score his and City's 4th epitomised the ex-Ajax player's problem. He ran with Aguero but never moved close enough nor put in a challenge to stop the Argentine from shooting.

Vertonghen should be an automatic starter but the fact he is not is down to the player himself. Others struggle due to a lack of quality, Vertonghen struggles because he lacks character.

2. Paulinho

From someone who struggles when he declines to put in the effort, to a player who has never looked at home in North London.

After impressing for Corinthians, the Brazilian's signature was thought to be something of a coup for Spurs. However, it appears neither Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood or Mauricio Pochettino have either known how to get the best from Paulinho or been willing to play a system to suit the Brazilian.

Thought to be a more powerful Frank Lampard, arriving late into the box to score goals, the £17million transfer has lacked the technique or creativity to play as a number 10, nor the strength or passing to play deeper.

When lining up in a central two, Paulinho's unambitious passing and poor positioning has stifled Tottenham's attacking intent, and while played further up he has struggled to get involved in the game or score the goals required. Being second choice to Christian Eriksen is one thing; being behind Ryan Mason is quite another for a player who played for Brazil in the World Cup semi-final.

Paulinho is one of those players who might have done well coming into a settled team and offering something different, but in an inconsistent side and with plenty of similarily average midfielders to compete with, his sale seems only a matter of time.

1. Emmanuel Adebayor

While Vertonghen and Paulinho have been in and out of the team, Adebayor has been the first choice striker at White Hart Lane, lining up with, presumably, Pochettino's first choice selections.

However, one goal this season (the final goal in the 4-0 thumping of QPR) is far from satisfactory for a forward in a lone striker system. Of course, if that striker is a fine focal point, holding the ball up, linking with others, moving defenders out of position, and generally 'putting in a shift', then the lack of goals would be more acceptable. But Adebayor is not doing any of that.

After impressing in his first season at Spurs, scoring 17 in 33 league appearances while on loan from Manchester City, but his second season was less productive. He fell out of favour with AVB, came in from the cold under Tim Sherwood, but looks to be struggling in Pochettino's high-pressing game.

The Togolese international has only managed to get into double figures for league goals in consecutive seasons once in his entire career, and given he will be turning 31 in February questions will continue to come regarding his Spurs future. On form he is a terrifying presence for the opposition; on a bad day he effectively reduces Tottenham to ten men from the word go.

Unless his effort levels increase many fold, Tottenham will want a replacement. The striker position has been a problem since the days of Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov, and Adebayor's inconsistency is not a solution.

Tottenham Hotspur
Jan Vertonghen
Premier League
Emmanuel Adebayor

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