Tottenham Hotspur: Can Villas-Boas Continue to Make the Most of His Squad?

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2012

Tottenham have benefited from several strong performances from throughout their squad over the last few games.
Tottenham have benefited from several strong performances from throughout their squad over the last few games.Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur's three-game winning streak, extended on Saturday by a 3-0 win at Fulham, has coincided with changes Andre Villas-Boas has made to the team.

Emmanuel Adebayor's return to the starting lineup came to an enforced end with his suspension, and left to his own devices, Jermain Defoe has flourished, netting four goals in the space of a week.

Villas-Boas finally brought Michael Dawson into the team after one too many shaky defensive displays, resulting in an immediately more solid backline.

Alongside those decisions, various other players have been rotated according to fitness, illness, injury and form, and going by the results you would have to say it has paid off.

The reality is not just as simple as that.

The majority of these players were also involved in four straight domestic losses, and while Arsenal and Manchester City provided tougher tests than the teams Spurs have faced since then, there has undoubtedly been a squad-wide realization of the need for a dramatic improvement in performances.

Its on-field manifestation has been seen in sturdier and more concentrated defensive efforts, along with an eagerness to keep pressurizing the opposition beyond the point of taking a lead (though, admittedly, the Liverpool match saw Spurs defending far more than they attacked).

So far at least, the evidence seems to suggest the North London derby loss was something of a watershed moment.

Before Adebayor's sending off, the visitors had begun brightly, the same player's goal giving them the lead as his team threatened to overwhelm the Gunners when they advanced with the ball.

There was plenty of football still to be played that even had Adebayor not been dismissed, Arsenal may still have come back into the match.

But Spurs never had the chance to find out either way, and, instead, it was they who were overwhelmed by a numerical advantage that left them easily exposed to the swiftness of Arsenal's attacks.

It hurts to lose to a rival, especially when you believe you could have beaten them if circumstances had not altered so dramatically.

Nearly every Spur to a man seems to have had this in mind since then and generally have made the utmost effort to play their part in ensuring the club do not have to ask themselves "what if?" again.

Injuries to Dawson and Gareth Bale in the defeat of Fulham, two of the standouts of the last week, mean Villas-Boas definitely needs to reshuffle his squad once again (though the manager told BBC Sport he hopes neither will be out for more than a fortnight).

Panathinaikos in the Europa League and Everton away are next on the schedule, two games that offer opportunity once more for players to make a positive impact in the way several have over the last week.

Gylfi Sigurdsson came on for Bale on Saturday and soon after crafted a fine assist for Jermain Defoe to score Tottenham's second.

The Icelandic midfielder has not had the best of starts since joining Spurs in the summer, but here was an example of the kind of play he was bought for.

The incisive run inside and the subsequent awareness to square the ball to Defoe was not entirely dissimilar to some of Bale's finer moments of late, and it is Sigurdsson who will likely be required to deputize in such a manner in the Welshman's absence.

This is the benefit of having some of the players Tottenham have at their disposal, and while it has not worked out in all instances this season, there have been enough positives to suggest Spurs do have players capable of coming in and performing when needed.

Villas-Boas faces a challenge in getting another couple of good performances out of his squad in the coming week as they seek to extend a great run of results.

It will be a test of the Portuguese's own managerial nous to motivate and prepare for two very different sides that await them.