Reading vs. Tottenham Hotspur: 6 Things We Learned
The England forward scored two brilliantly taken goals either side of Gareth Bale strike to give Villas-Boas his first victory as Spurs manager. The move elevates the Lilywhites to 10th in the Premier League with a home game against QPR up next before a tough trip to Old Trafford and Manchester United.
Spurs were deserved winners as they bossed a poor Reading team around for pretty much the entire game. Moussa Dembele was excellent in midfield, providing power and penetration from deep, while Gylfi Sigurdsson provided guile and intelligence from behind Defoe in a 4-5-1 formation.
The win provided a much needed three points for Villas-Boas amid ridiculous reports in The Sun that the Portuguese had three games to save his job.
Here we look at the lessons we learned from the match.
Read on and leave your comments and observations in the section below.
Andre Villas-Boas Has Learned His Lessons Too Well
The fact that Andre Villas-Boas was sacked from Chelsea is old news. The fact that he was sacked for trying to change things around too quickly is also old news.
The Portuguese 34-year-old is now manager at Spurs and is adamant he will not make the same mistakes again—even if Spurs' fans boo their team off when they don't win.
This season, despite the fact that Spurs have not started as well as expected, Andre Villas-Boas has stuck with the pecking order of the dressing room and is respecting his players' histories with the club.
At the moment, the players on the Spurs bench are better than the players in team.
Emmanuel Adebayor is a better option for Villas-Boas' favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, even with the England striker's current great form. Clint Dempsey is a better option for a breaking midfielder than almost any other player at the club, and Hugo Lloris is the future of the club as far as goalkeeping is concerned. But not just yet, as 41-year-old Brad Friedel has the starting berth.
Andre Villas-Boas has chosen to start with a weaker lineup instead of inflicting his philosophy and too many changes upon the Spurs team. The thought process behind this is that while at Chelsea, Villas-Boas made too many changes too quickly to key players and that when results inevitably turned against his team, so too did the team.
At Spurs, he is going to let natural selection make his decisions for him as the better players will get into the team eventually through merit.
In this way, when results do turn against Spurs, he will retain control over the team—and his own destiny.
Reading Will Concede Far Too Many Goals to Stay Up
Reading are extremely poor at the back and will struggle to keep clean sheets in the Premier League this season.
Spurs, playing Jermain Defoe up-front by himself, literally pulled the Royals defence all over the place.
As expected, Defoe used his superior speed over short distances to find plenty of space against the central defensive pairing of Alex Pearce and Kaspar Gorkss. Neither defender seemed sure of how to pick up the diminutive England striker, and he used his cleverness as a striker to cause great uncertainty among them.
However, the biggest problem facing Reading and Pearce and Gorkss is not their static defending; it is their indecision in dealing with high balls.
On a number of occasions, Defoe split the pair and then rose completely unchallenged to take the ball down between them.
When you consider that Defoe is only 1.67m (5'5") tall and that Pearce and Gorkks are 1.88m (6'2") and 1.92m (6'4") respectively, this is a most worrying factor concerning survival and the rest of the season.
Spurs Will Not Miss Luka Modric After Capturing Moussa Dembele
It says much about Moussa Dembele that his signing for Spurs means that the Lilywhites will not miss Luka Modric this season.
Modric, in his day at Spurs, was the best play-making midfielder in the Premier League. Dembele is nowhere near the same kind of player, and his playing style now gives Spurs far more penetration and direction from midfield than they ever had with the Croatian in the side.
Dembele is a dynamic player blessed with huge amounts of power and pace that help him ghost past players like they are not even there.
He is arguably a far more complete player than Modric will ever be, and as the season matures, so too will Dembele—and Spurs will reap all the benefits.
Jermain Defoe Can Play 4-5-1
In the two seasons previous, Harry Redknapp used a 4-5-1 formation at Spurs and refused to play Jermain Defoe at the pinnacle.
The general consensus regarding the diminutive centre-forward was that he was too small to play up front by himself. Defoe is a player who does most damage when playing off the shoulder of the last defender. In this position, he can use his amazing pace over short distances to terrify and expose central defenders.
His link-up play is viewed as being below par, and because of that, Redknapp used Emmanuel Adebayor instead.
This season Andre Villas-Boas has made subtle tactical changes to Spurs to get the best out of Defoe by playing Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon slightly deeper.
The end result has been far more creativity from Lennon but a slight drop in the levels expected of Bale as he adjusts to the new style. Jermain Defoe has become an ever-present threat and has weighed in with three goals from his first four games.
Kudos to Villas-Boas for changing the way people perceive Jermain Defoe.
Does anyone think he can't play at the top of a 4-5-1 anymore?
This Game Would Have Been Better on FIFA 13
A couple of weeks ago Tottenham Hotspur used FIFA 13 to unveil their new third strip.
It was an interesting and intelligent way to advertise a strip that usually does not sell well at any club and to further emphasize that marketing strategy they used that black and grey quartered strip against Reading today.
Spurs should realise that marketing does not sell football kits; good football does.
Make no mistake about it, Andre Villas-Boas' team were the better side and played football in sporadic bursts approaching what they will be capable of as the season matures.
As far as this match is concerned, it would have been more entertaining on FIFA 13.
Spurs did enough to beat a poor Reading side, and their class saw them through in the end.
It must be said though: It was a bad game that would have benefited from some FIFA-style tension.
You'll Never Walk Alone
In a week where the horrific truth behind Hillsborough became known, it was fitting that grounds around the country echoed with the immortal words of "You'll Never Walk Alone."
This small but significant action by fans showed the true solidarity of the football fan that links each and every single one of us together.
With managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Brendan Rodgers calling for an end to bating by opposition fans, this beautiful song sung by football friends and foes alike for the remembered is a step in the right direction.
Justice for 96.