Clint Dempsey: Assessing the US Star's Early Influence at Tottenham

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Clint Dempsey: Assessing the US Star's Early Influence at Tottenham
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It’s still early days in Clint Dempsey’s Tottenham career, but there’s no doubt that he’s made an early and important impact on Spurs already. Since he came to White Hart Lane, Dempsey has played in all five of Spurs’ matches and picked up four starts.

Here are three ways Clint Dempsey is already impacting things at White Hart Lane.

 

Results

Tottenham was 0-1-2 to start off their Premier League campaign and sitting 14th in the EPL table when Dempsey arrived at the club. Since Dempsey’s arrival, Spurs are 4-0-1 in all competitions and now sit fifth in the EPL table.

Dempsey has played in all five matches for Tottenham since his arrival, starting four of those matches.

Obviously, while Tottenham’s much-improved results can’t simply be attributed to Dempsey’s arrival, his impact has no doubt been a positive one. He has quickly earned Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas’s faith to become such an immediate, and regular, fixture in Spurs lineup.

 

Where does he fit in?

For the majority of Tottenham’s games this season, Andre Villas-Boas has set the team up in a 4-2-3-1.

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When Dempsey was first signed by Spurs, many fans wondered where along the front four he would play.

Tottenham have Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor as out-and-out strikers, Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale and out-and-out wingers and a number of options for attacking midfielders, including new signings Gylfi Sigurdsson and Moussa Dembele.

While Dempsey has spent much of his career both at the club level and internationally as a wide midfielder, over the past year he has been used in a more forward role with both Fulham and the United States Men’s National Team.

Dempsey’s versatility, one of his great strengths, allows him to be effective at any of the front four positions for Tottenham.

In his three EPL games and one Europa League game this season with Spurs, Dempsey has been played on the left side of midfield twice and underneath the striker as the attacking midfielder/withdrawn forward twice.

One of his appearances on the left came in his first game against Reading, when he was a 78th-minute substitute for Gareth Bale. Dempsey’s other appearance on the left came when Bale was deployed as the left back against QPR.

Dempsey’s two appearances as the attacking midfielder/withdrawn forward were both starts and came against Lazio in the Europa League last week and against Manchester United this weekend.

Against Manchester United, Dempsey was played underneath Jermaine Defoe and Moussa Dembele was played as one of the holding midfielders. The interesting thing was, as a result of Dembele’s natural tendency to go forward, and Dempsey’s tendency to come back very deep for the ball, Spurs formation looked more like a 4-1-4-1 or 4-1-2-3, rather than a 4-2-3-1.

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Other than playing as the withdrawn forward, over the course of the season, Clint Dempsey should give Aaron Lennon some serious competition for the right midfield job. While Gareth Bale’s performances have made him a lock on the left, Lennon’s season best goal-scoring tally is five. Dempsey’s best is 23.

While Lennon certainly has far more pace than Dempsey, Dempsey’s technical foundation, possession ability, goal-scoring prowess and strength in the air are all far superior to Lennon.

 

How has he played?

Dempsey’s performances thus far have been mixed. While it takes any player time to adjust to a new club, a new manager and new teammates, the move to Tottenham from Fulham has to be one of the most minor moves a footballer could make.

Dempsey and his family get to remain in London, there is no new language to be learned, no new league culture to be adopted and no new city to adjust to.

From a statistical perspective, against Lazio, QPR and Manchester United, respectively, Dempsey has had possession percentages of 78, 68 and 82. Over those same three games, he has had 40, 52 and 38 touches on the ball.

Subjectively, Dempsey looked disconnected for much of the Manchester United match occupying space in the middle of the pitch, but not getting involved nearly as much as it seemed he should have been. Perhaps that is attributable to getting used to new teammates, perhaps it was due to the fact that Manchester United held 74 percent of the ball possession for the game.

However, it is tough to argue with the final results of Dempsey’s performance against Manchester United. He scored the game-winning goal for Tottenham, their first win at Old Trafford in 23 years. The goal was typical Dempsey, popping up in the right place at the right time to put away the chance created by Gareth Bale—just as Dempsey has done so many times before.

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