Tottenham Hotspur: 5 Players Most Responsible for the Current Slump
I have a confession to make: I've avoided writing about Tottenham over the last few weeks in the hopes that Tottenham would undergo a rebirth of form that would allow us to forget about their numerous struggles down the stretch.
But unfortunately, it's now impossible to ignore the rot. From being 10 points clear of Arsenal in mid-February, we've not only been passed by the Gunners, but a superb effort from Newcastle United has seen them knock us out of fourth place as well.
The doomsday prediction of Tottenham not making the Champions League is well on course to becoming a reality.
Though it won't cheer me—or any other Tottenham fan—up, it's time to take a closer look at what's going wrong. First, we'll take a look at the players who haven't been performing at the level expected of them.
5. Gareth Bale
By the end of January, Gareth Bale's magnificent performances had made him a decent candidate for PFA Player of the Year and almost a lock to win the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
His 10 goals and eight assists in 22 matches had been huge in helping Tottenham overachieve tremendously up to the middle of January.
And then it all came crashing down.
Bale put in decent showings against Arsenal and Everton, though by no means was he at his explosive best. Against Norwich, though, his game just seemed to unravel.
Bale's took five shots, leading his team in shots taken, but not a single one of them was on target. Renowned for his dribbling, Bale did not complete a single successful dribble, but rather was dispossessed twice and turned the ball over three times.
Bale put a game-high eight crosses into the box, but not one of them found a target. His contributions on defense were minimal too, and almost nothing went right for the Welshman.
He managed to turn in a decent game against QPR, where the only thing glaringly absent was any end product from the Welshman.
I wouldn't call him one of the biggest culprits for Spurs recent slump, but he was one of the worst players versus Norwich and was unable to take his game to its highest level in Spurs' other recent losses.
4. Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor has been and still is our best striker.
But he's been unable to provide the consistency of top caliber striker down the stretch.
Sure, he was great against Swansea City, scoring two well-placed headers, but that was his one good performance in his last seven games.
Against Everton, Chelsea (twice), Sunderland and Norwich, he's looked consistently mediocre. He still holds up play well and performs decently as a target man, but his goal-scoring touch has deserted him too frequently in recent games.
If there's one player who Tottenham are most reliant on, it's Emmanuel Adebayor. If he puts in a mediocre game, chances are Tottenham will be mediocre too, and at this point of the season, mediocre isn't enough to win games.
Adebayor needs to start scoring again, and soon.
3. Ledley King
The man who drew glowing reviews for his toughness in defense earlier this season has been disastrous as of late.
Ledley King did almost nothing in the Arsenal game. He passed the ball well, but he committed only one successful tackle all game long and won none of his aerial battles. He was also at fault for more than one Arsenal goal.
Against Manchester United, King put in an improved performance, in that he was not directly at fault for any of the conceded goals, but once again his lack of tackles indicated his somewhat passive approach to the game.
This approach was replicated against Everton, Norwich and QPR.
To be fair, King's interceptions and clearances are what King is all about, and make up for his lack of tackling. But the error that gave Norwich their goal and cost Tottenham the game was another sign that King's game may be slipping.
Whatever your opinion of King's individual performances, it's hard to deny that his level has slipped considerably in recent games, so much so that he's looked consistently second-best to Younes Kaboul when they've played alongside each other.
2. Rafael Van Der Vaart
I've been very patient with Rafael van der Vaart, hoping that that patience would be rewarded with a run of goals that would take Tottenham back to the Champions League.
But I've been painfully disappointed.
Rafael van der Vaart put in a very solid performance against Swansea City, and did manage to nick a last minute equalizer versus Stoke.
But his performances in Tottenham's losses have been abysmal. Against Arsenal, the man brought on to stem the tide and put the momentum back in Tottenham's hands was absent for practically the entire second half. He didn't do much as a substitute versus Everton or Norwich either.
Against QPR, like Gareth Bale, Van der Vaart was only missing an end product that almost surely would've made him Tottenham's man of the match. The Dutchman played very well, but just couldn't get the goal Tottenham needed.
Aside from the QPR loss, Van der Vaart has not really done what he's needed to do for Tottenham down the stretch. Let's hope that his performance in the QPR loss is a sign of things to come, and not just a brief respite from the awful form Van der Vaart has been in as of late.
1. Louis Saha
By now, it should be obvious to any Spurs fan that Louis Saha has been a dud (not a stud) from the very start.
Saha's two goals versus Newcastle, goal versus Arsenal and goal versus Bolton even fooled me for a while, but mediocre to poor performances in Saha's last six appearances for Spurs have made it clear that Saha just isn't a Premier League caliber striker anymore, let alone one worthy of playing for a Champions League side.
His movement is okay and can occasionally get him into good scoring positions, but his speed is largely gone, he isn't able to convert crosses as one might expect with his height, and he isn't good under pressure either.
He's no target man, that's for sure. His possession retention is awful, as shown against United when he was dispossessed three times and turned the ball over another five times.
Continuing to rely on Saha has seriously hurt Tottenham, as he's been unable to score in 262 minutes of Premier League play since the end of February.
I don't want to make it seem like I'm letting everyone else off by only naming the five above guys. I'm not, and I definitely recognize that a number of other Tottenham players have struggled recently as well.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker haven't looked nearly as good as they did at the start of the season, and both have committed big errors that have led to conceded goals for Tottenham.
Neither Younes Kaboul nor William Gallas have looked consistently solid in the center of defense either. Michael Dawson's injury has seriously hurt the Spurs' quality in what was once their strongest position.
Finally, Jermaine Defoe's inconsistency is not something I've chosen to completely overlook. He was one of Tottenham's worst players against QPR, but his lack of playing time down the stretch makes it hard for me put him on this list.
Ultimately, the whole team is to blame for their poor performances. But the five I've mentioned have been especially at fault, either because they've failed to perform to their level or because their performances have been so bad that they've hurt the team.
Don't agree? Let me know how you feel in the comments section.