Tottenham Hotspur: Gylfi Sigurdsson Starting to Settle at White Hart Lane
Gareth Bale may have been deservedly getting all the plaudits in recent weeks for his mesmerizing displays for Tottenham Hotspur, but another midfielder appears to have also found his feet at just the right time.
Before the turn of the year, Gylfi Sigurðsson had hardly set the world alight following his multi-million pound move from 1899 Hoffenheim, but the start of 2013 appears to have breathed new life into the Icelander.
Since being granted an extended spell on the bench by André Villas-Boas, Sigurðsson has come back firing on all cylinders and has put in a number of impressive displays following his re-introduction.
But defensively, the Icelandic midfielder was just as effective and often led the way in Tottenham's high-pressing ploy as Inter struggled to even get out of their own half.
It's a tactic that Villas-Boas has clearly drilled into his players consistently on the training ground, and the Portuguese is certainly starting to reap the rewards with his team in red-hot form both domestically and in Europe.
Often, English teams fall into the trap of trying to play the game at a slower pace in European competition, but Spurs showed no such mercy on Thursday night as they dictated how they wanted the game to be played.
Looking at the defensive contribution of Sigurðsson against Inter (Via FourFourTwo Stats Zone), it's clear that the 23-year-old played a really unselfish role.
Much of his dispossessions took place high up the pitch, which illustrates how much pressure he was putting on the Serie A side's defenders.
So good was Sigurðsson's display that only Scott Parker was able to complete more tackles, hardly a rare occurrence when you consider Parker's Energizer Bunny-like energy!
It was a performance that epitomised Sigurðsson's growing maturity and showed just why he is now starting to come to terms with life at White Hart Lane.
At his previous clubs in England, Sigurðsson has been very much the main man, and coming into an environment in which you are no longer a "big fish in a small pond" can be a difficult adjustment.
Of course, many players fail to make that transition (Charlie Adam's largely unsuccessful stint at Liverpool last season is an obvious example), but you get the feeling that Sigurðsson is a different proposition because it's there for everyone to see how hard he is working at his game.
After being taken out of the firing line for a good period of time by Villas-Boas, Sigurðsson has forced his way back into the starting line-up and showed everyone just why Spurs forked out a reported £8 million to lure him away from the Bundesliga.
It would be unfair to suggest that Sigurðsson "struggled" as such in the opening stages of the season, but few would argue against the suggestion that there was always a lingering impression that there was perhaps more to come for him.
Managing to net his first Premier League goal for his new club against West Ham United last month was an obvious monkey off his back, and since that point, the former Hoffenheim man has been exemplary.
It was a scrappy goal, but often that change in fortune is exactly what's needed to kick-start a season, and Sigurðsson was instrumental in turning the game on its head against the Hammers.
A failed bid by former employers Reading may have acted as a wake-up call to Sigurðsson that things needed to improve, but the fact that the approach was promptly turned down by Spurs also illustrated the belief that Villas-Boas has in his summer recruit.
Is Gylfi Sigurðsson a good long-term prospect for Spurs?
Anyone who has followed Sigurðsson's career will know that the Iceland International has always been primarily used as an attacking midfielder at previous clubs, but in recent weeks, Villas-Boas has chosen to shift the 23-year-old out towards the left and allow the free-scoring Gareth Bale to play in more central areas.
It's a transformation that has worked to brilliant effect for Spurs, and Sigurðsson must be commended for how he has taken to new surroundings.
He's shown great positional discipline of that left-hand side, as well as offering an attacking threat, and without creative players like Sigurðsson around him, Bale would unquestionably find it harder to thrive.
Now the challenge is for Sigurðsson to keep developing his game at White Hart Lane as he continues to progress.
Some could have been forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that Sigurðsson's spell in North London would be a short one, but it appears that he may just be sticking around for a little while yet.
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