Tottenham Hotspur: 5 Things We Learned from Draw with Queens Park Rangers
Currently sitting dead last in the Premier League, QPR shouldn't have been much of a problem for the North London club, but it wasn't to be for Andre Villas-Boas' side, who blew several good goal-scoring opportunities throughout the match.
The draw sees Tottenham surrender third place in the league once more to Chelsea, whilst QPR gained a valuable point in their relegation battle. But what else did we learn from the scoreless draw?
Read on to see five key talking points to come out of this one.
1. Result Isn't Completely Bad News
First and foremost, a scoreless draw away from home isn't a complete disaster for Tottenham.
It might have been against the last-placed Queens Park Rangers, but still, considering what QPR did to Chelsea last week, the result isn't all bad news for Tottenham.
They weren't overrun through the middle; they weren't troubled too much in defense—this was still a good performance from Andre Villas-Boas' side considering their opponents played very deep in defense and gave them literally nothing to work with.
Whenever an opponent is simply parking the bus like Rangers did this weekend, to create the chances that they did and almost pull off the win was a good result for Tottenham. It might not have been what they were after and it won't have helped them in the race for the top four, but at least they didn't lose and at least they didn't concede.
The North London club are still in fourth and will still be fourth by the time they take on Manchester United at White Hart Lane next weekend. They are by no means out of the top-four race and they are by no means in a form slump at the moment.
Truth be told, they played very well this weekend other than getting the three points. Everything else was largely positive for Tottenham Hotspur.
2. Sandro Is a Huge Loss for Spurs
Tottenham lost midfield maestro Sandro midway through the first half to a knee injury, and his presence was clearly missed throughout the remainder of the match.
His tackling and ability to win the ball back was simply not replaced, and Moussa Dembele was not his attacking self given the fact he had to drop back further into defense. Scott Parker did not come close to replacing Sandro and his significance to Tottenham's midfield.
In terms of the actual injury itself, it seems that the North London club might have caught a lucky break, with West London Sport reporting that the injury is not serious.
Andre Villas-Boas was quoted as saying, "He should be fine...he felt a big knock on the knee and thought there was ligament damage, but on a further look it looks okay."
Either way, Sandro's importance to Tottenham was clearly seen here, and he will subsequently be a huge inclusion or withdrawal for Spurs' next Premier League match against Manchester United.
3. Africa Cup Comes at the Right Time
Last year, Emmanuel Adebayor was on loan from Manchester City and doing everything he could to prove he deserved a permanent move to White Hart Lane.
He was scoring goals, threatening in attack and he was proving to be one the top strikers in the Premier League—something that simply hasn't happened this year.
Adebayor has netted just two goals this year for the club and doesn't look at all the dominant force that he was in attack. He is turning the ball over, missing easy opportunities and doesn't appear to be as interested or involved as he was last year for the club.
From a red card in the North London derby to the performance that was seen yesterday, Adebayor isn't the go-to striker at the club this season and Andre Villas-Boas would do well to look for other alternatives—meaning that his departure for the next few weeks comes at a perfect time.
Adebayor will be off on Africa Cup of Nations duty for Togo, which allows American international Clint Dempsey to show what he can do alongside Jermain Defoe.
Which, hopefully for Tottenham fans, is more than Adebayor has managed to do this season.
4. Julio Cesar Continues to Impress
Whilst Tottenham and their fans will feel like they dropped two points here, credit must be given to Julio Cesar for keeping QPR in this match with a string of fine saves.
His double effort to somehow keep out Jermain Defoe and then Emmanuel Adebayor was one of the finest moments seen by a goalkeeper in the Premier League this season and completely changed the outcome and tempo of the game.
Had either of those efforts gone in, Tottenham would have been in front and QPR would have been unable to sit so deep and play defense the whole game.
Andre Villas-Boas alluded to Cesar's impact on the match, telling Sky Sports:
Julio made some great, great saves, and in the end they are decisive because if you score one it unlocks QPR...
In a team ranked dead last, to only concede 20 goals in your 14 appearances is a truly remarkable effort and one that indicates just how important the shot-stopper is to QPR.
Cesar will no doubt be huge in Rangers' push to avoid relegation this season.
5. Spurs' Defense Is Very Solid
It must also be noted and recognized how good Tottenham were defensively in this one also—like they have been throughout the year as well.
QPR didn't offer a whole lot in attack other than a few chances to Shaun Wright-Phillips, but Spurs were still very sound at the back here, with Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson looking to consolidate themselves as one of the best central pairings in the league.
Rangers didn't get a shot on target all match, with Hugo Lloris only really called into action for a clearance and a shot from Wright-Phillips, which Dawson managed to block.
The North London club have now conceded just 27 goals from their 22 league games—averaging just one goal against per game at home and 1.45 against away from home. They are posting clean sheets in 27.3 percent of their league matches and have allowed just six goals in their last 10 matches.
All that reads for a pretty good form line heading into their match against the best attacking team in the league—Manchester United. That's when we'll really get to see just how good this defense is and whether they can shut down some of the best attackers in the English competition.
What did you make of Tottenham's draw vs. Queens Park Rangers?
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