Tottenham Hotspur Thoughts: Gallas, Walker, Vertonghen, Keepers and Mini-Bale
Gallas was responsible for four goals on Saturday. Had Tottenham scored more than twice, this would be a good thing.
Never mind the fact that he had a hand in more goals that Juan Mata did Saturday—which is saying something—Gallas, as one half of a centre-back pairing that is diametrically opposite in age and skills, is currently the weak link in Spurs’ potentially lethal machine.
Has he been dreadful? At times.
But when it starts affecting what other players do, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Kyle Walker recently shut down his Twitter account upon taking a torrent of abuse from fans (via The Daily Mail) after getting the ball and his lunch money stolen by Mata in the dying stages of the match against the Blues Saturday.
Criticism does have its limits, but some of it is currently not without merit.
Walker has not been anywhere near the play of last season, partially because he seems handcuffed at the moment.
Last term, Walker was a fearless bomber down the wings and while there had been little to cross to, he still overlapped Aaron Lennon frequently in the attack.
This term, there are more memorable bursts from Jan Vertonghen than Walker. Granted, those bursts from Vertonghen have had some almighty impacts (not all good) in matches, but Walker seems to be restraining himself.
Therefore, a theory needs to be presented: Gallas’ frailties at the back are keeping Andre Villas-Boas from unleashing Walker full throttle on the attack.
Darijo Srna attacked frequently down the right and posed a very serious threat to the Blues, with John Terry too slow to help Ashley Cole and Ramires, after moving into Frank Lampard’s spot, occupied more often than not.
Given Walker’s vicious pace, surely there is a reason he is not utilizing the overlap more often against Spurs’ opponents.
That’s where Gallas’ poor play comes in. Without the ability to hold the high line Villas-Boas wants with confidence in both centre-backs, Walker is told to stay at home more often.
Unfortunately, he’s not quite as seasoned a defender as one might think when restricted. Many of Tottenham’s concessions this season have come as a result of either Walker or Gallas getting caught unaware on the attack.
A lack of confidence tends to manifest itself among people in the same areas of the pitch and it’s not much of a surprise that the duo are far more often at least partially at fault for several of the goals given up.
A more solid centre-back would probably give Villas-Boas the ability to set Walker free and have faith in the defense.
Without that faith, however, the right side of the defense needs to shore itself up before it leaks many more goals.
Now Hear This
Now, it would not be fair to credit Gallas with four goals in the match with Chelsea. More like three and three-quarters.
Chelsea’s equalizer deserves a little rub on Vertonghen, who decided that pouting about a non-call on a challenge by Ramires was worth not dropping back for.
Meanwhile, while Vertonghen and Ramires were having a pity party, Oscar was running down the right flank, being tracked by...Tom “Wheels” Huddlestone.
Cue the laugh track.
Huddlestone did his best to chase down the Brazilian, which, admittedly, was like watching a drag racer getting chased by a one wheeled scooter.
Had a foul been called, Jake Livermore would have been on the pitch in place of Huddlestone, as a substitution was in the offing.
In either case, though, Vertonghen’s Sad Sally routine put Tottenham under the cosh when simply running back to position might have altered Oscar’s path.
Maybe Oscar’s cross goes astray then? Maybe he goes on a dribble instead? We’ll never know.
All that we know is that Gallas’ head has a magnet for goals. Just not all for his own squad...
Texas-Sized Two-Month Two-Step
The goalkeeper rumba will continue on for another week with Brad Friedel’s streak getting to one after being reunited with the starting XI against Chelsea Saturday.
Let’s face up to something: This is going to be an ongoing issue for 10 more weeks, until the transfer market reopens.
At that point, one of the two will be moved on. If not, Tottenham are simply asking for trouble for the rest of the season.
It would be of this writer’s opinion that, by that point, Lloris will be fully blooded into English football and ready to handle the reins.
Even though it does provide good column space-fillers, Tottenham really do need to settle this by January 31 or expect to be hounded for the following four months.
How Bad Does He Want a Celebratory Goal?
Old man Gareth Bale is now a baby daddy. Good for him and his missus.
Hopefully, upon his return, he tries not to make a massive attempt at scoring a goal for the new little tyke.
A determined Bale is good for the Tottenham attack. A pressing Bale is likely to frustrate many a Spur fan against Maribor Thursday and more importantly at St. Mary’s, a homecoming at Southampton for the Welshman and certainly a place that will not be afraid to give him a little stick.
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