Tottenham vs. Reading: 7 Things We Learned in Andre Villas-Boas' First Win
Usually, when clubs like Tottenham, who finished in the top four the previous season, go up against newly promoted teams like Reading, the results are predictable and lead supporters from the favored team to be a little less than excited for the match.
On Sunday afternoon, there wasn't a Spurs fan who wasn't on the edge of their seat for the full 90 minutes.
Tottenham traveled to Reading for the fourth week of the league season, but since Andre Villas-Boas had no wins and only two points from three matches prior, all eyes were on him to deliver a win.
Deliver he did.
Jermain Defoe, who has been slotted in at the striker position for the first few weeks, got the visiting side on the board by the 18th minute.
It was a hole Reading would never be able to dig themselves out of.
Gareth Bale made it 2-0 in the 71st minute, and Defoe made it a double just minutes later. The home side added a goal during injury time of the second half, but it was only consolation—Tottenham had this one in the bag.
There's a lot to learn about Tottenham from their 3-1 win over Reading, but I give you the seven biggest takeaways concerning Villas-Boas' first win in charge at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham Still Thinks Matches Only Last 80 Minutes
Can someone please tell Tottenham regulation football matches last 90 minutes?
Whether it's giving up injury time goals to West Bromwich Albion and Reading, or letting opponents like Norwich City run free in their third, Spurs have fallen apart in the waning minutes of play this season.
We learned that for Spurs to get into that top tier of the league table, they need to continue to pressure, continue to attack and continue to stress the importance of finishing matches.
Jermain Defoe Unquestioned Starter at Striker
He asked, he pleaded, he put in extra time on the training pitch and he stuck around with Tottenham despite new manager Andre Villas-Boas not staying quiet about his search for a new striker.
Jermain Defoe wanted to be the starting striker at White Hart Lane—and now he's got it.
His three goals are tied for third in the league through four matches and his finishing capabilities are getting better every week.
Clint Dempsey Match Ready
With 12 minutes left to go, Americans got what they've wanted for over two weeks now—Clint Dempsey, on the pitch, playing for a Champions League contender.
It was only 12 minutes, but it shows that Dempsey has taken part in enough training pitch exercises to be considered good to go on match-day.
It also means he's one step closer towards making his first start for Spurs, something that could very well happen next weekend when Tottenham host crosstown rivals Queens Park Rangers.
William Gallas Earning His Paycheck
I'll be the first to admit that I was bemoaning Tottenham's situation at centre-back, primarily because it meant that the 35-year-old William Gallas would be making regular starts.
And when you're wrong, you're wrong.
Gallas has been every bit as strong as opponents 10 years his junior. His athleticism against Reading saved two late attempts and nearly saved the clean sheet for Spurs 'keeper Brad Friedel.
Now if only right-back Kyle Walker had the presence of mind to stay on his man until the final whistle blew...
...and Sigurdsson Isn't
I like Gylfi Sigurdsson. I still do. His coming to Tottenham gives the club, at the very least, a formidable attacking midfielder for non-league starts and keeps him out of opposing lineups.
At his best, he's one of the best supporters in the world, setting up teammates with pinpoint crosses and potentially earning an assist every two matches.
But Sigurdsson just hasn't been very good since league play started. He looks out of sync and while he's winning the ball in the air—one of things his predecessor Rafael van der Vaart could never do—he's not clicking with strikers Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor.
Friedel Not Going Gentle into That Good Night
You've got to love the story of Brad Friedel and his relentless pursuit at keeping his spot between the posts for Spurs.
Villas-Boas goes out and gets world-class 'keeper Hugo Lloris from Lyon so that Tottenham has someone younger than 31 to defend the goal. Lloris comes in and thinks the job will be handed to him.
Friedel has one more shot until Lloris is match-ready and he does a superb job in goal against Norwich City, stopping everything he could.
Then he goes out and does it again at Reading, with the only goal conceded coming from right-back Kyle Walker's falling asleep at the wheel.
He may be relegated to non-league matches next weekend, or he may stay in until he doesn't perform superbly. Either way, it's one of the most intriguing storylines in English football and a joy to watch.
Spurs Will Be Fine Under Villas-Boas
For all the early-season miscues Tottenham suffered, Villas-Boas seems to have righted the ship.
The only thing going wrong for Spurs at the moment seems to be the last 10 minutes of matches—something very, very obvious to Villas-Boas and something that can be fixed with some tweaks on the training pitch.
I'm excited to see how Tottenham plays down the stretch. Will they truly jell together and improve in quality? Or will they continue to be marked by disjointed play, performing well one week and letting one slip through their fingers the next?
Let me know in the comments below!
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