Tottenham Thoughts: Lazio, Caulker, Friedel's Wrath and More

Trent ScottAnalyst IIISeptember 23, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Steven Caulker of Spurs rises above Stefano Mauri of Lazio to put the ball in the net, only for the goal to be disallowed by Referee Ovidiu Alin Hategan of Romania during the UEFA Europa League group J match between Tottenham Hotspur and Lazio at White Hart Lane on September 20, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Tottenham’s Sunday tussle with QPR at White Hart Lane will be scrutinized to see whether it was a legitimate performance from Spurs against Reading last week.

It will be seen as a challenge due to the Hoops holding off Chelsea last weekend and due to the nature of the way Spurs have struggled in the opening few matches of the season.

What may go under the radar is the way the squad handles the rigors of a European Thursday night heading into a weekend match.

Having for all intents and purposes handled Lazio (except on the scoreboard, where it matters), Tottenham will need to show that they can bounce back on short rest and still play at a high level.

Spurs used a line-up including seven starters from the previous Premier League match with the Royals against the Rome outfit and it will be interesting to see both how many of them start again and how long they can sustain a high level of play.

As much as Andre Villas-Boas loves the idea of competing in the Europa League, failure to win matches in the Premier League will not be tolerated for long if they are perceived to be due to fatigue from the continental matches.

The club hierarchy will not like the idea of advancing in Europe’s B League if Tottenham are not climbing the table steadily. It may conflict with Villas-Boas’ ideals, but Champions League football is the goal, not a cup title.


When the Score Line Deceives to Flatter

Having to catch the replay of Tottenham’s tie with Lazio, my initial fear when I saw the score line ahead of viewing the match was that Spurs either went into a bit of a shell or were profligate in front of goal.

After watching the match, however, it became apparent that the only thing lacking for the North London side was the ability to get a call to go their way.

Repeatedly, Tottenham attacked with aplomb and, while perhaps not set up for the best way to attack the blue half of Rome, made opportunities and took their chances, if only to see the whistle peg them back three times.

Not even that, though, was a discouraging sign. Spurs kept the ball extremely well against a side who have not yet lost in Serie A this season and sit comparatively seven places and four points better than Spurs do, having played a match less.

Lazio made things difficult for Spurs by sitting deep and were looking for the point. They were certainly fortunate to leave London with said point in hand.


You Would Think....

It was interesting to see the reaction Villas-Boas had to Steven Caulker’s disallowed goal against Lazio on Thursday night, throwing his hands up in frustration after Caulker was judged to come over the top of his marker unfairly.

One would think that Villas-Boas’ experiences abroad would remind him that the European officials have a much quicker whistle than those of their English counterparts.

Perhaps even he is now desensitized to the physical play that the Premier League offers on a weekly basis?

Speaking of Caulker, the young defender certainly did not look out of his depth against the Roman outfit, even though there are still some times that one wonders if he knows how fast the match is moving.

There are deadlier attacking forces still lurking in the Europa League, but Caulker acquitted himself well against one of the stronger sides Tottenham will see outside the confines of England.


The Obligatory "French Whine" Segment

No amount of yoga and meditation could prevent Brad Friedel from blowing his top at former French goalkeeper Fabian Barthez this week.

The ex-Manchester United stopper continued the French Whine segment about Hugo Lloris not being proclaimed starting net minder over the 41-year old.

It is old hat to many by now, but getting under Friedel’s skin takes some doing. When the man speaks out, it tends to carry a fair bit of weight behind it.

Everyone understands that in time, Lloris will be the backstop for Spurs and is certainly one of the best goalkeepers currently in the European game.

But it would still be nice if the France squad and its subsidiaries just got used to the fact that Lloris may have to earn his spot.

I mean, the only thing worse than listening to them babble on about Lloris is letting them draw comics in magazines, it seems.



This in itself has nothing to do with Tottenham, but it would still behoove everyone to be willing participants anywhere in the world in a moment of remembrance before the Liverpool vs. Manchester United match.

There is little that both clubs would like to do than to get three points from that clash but, for a few brief moments, that will not matter at all as Liverpool play their first home match since the Hillsborough document revelations of two weeks ago.

It may have simply served to confirm the beliefs of many, but for the many who have wanted to hear their names cleared, it was a day that took many moons too long to come.

It should not be underwritten as anything other than a moment of triumph for many who have worked tirelessly to bring a sense of peace to the deceased.