Tottenham Hotspur: A Breakthrough Win or a Striker Problem?

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Tottenham Hotspur: A Breakthrough Win or a Striker Problem?
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Did Paulinho's goal give Spurs a deserved win or cover up their failings in front of goal?

Was Tottenham Hotspur's last-gasp win at Cardiff City evidence of a team learning how to score at crucial moments—without Gareth Bale—or of a strike force unable to turn dominance into goals?    

Paulinho's stoppage-time winner won a match in which Spurs dominated possession, enjoying 64 percent of the ball and 29 shots compared to Cardiff's six efforts, according to The Football App.

After the joy of snatching a late winner and taking three points in a tricky away fixture, it might seem overly pessimistic to focus on a negative.

And there is no doubting that the start to the season has shown Spurs have the ability to win and keep hold of the ball—against Crystal Palace they enjoyed 58 percent possession, and even in the defeat at Arsenal the figure was 57.

But in these three games they have scored just once from open play, and against Swansea City it also needed a penalty to win a match in which Spurs had 21 shots, compared to the visitors' seven.

In the 2-0 win over Norwich City, Spurs did turn 69 percent possession into two goals from open play—though was this match the exception to a slightly worrying pattern? Will Tottenham's attacking players again fail to contribute the goals they need to if they want to be playing Champions League football next year?

Last season it was only Bale's goals that took the club close to a top-four finish, as his 21 league strikes helped win 25 points. Without these Spurs would have finished ninth.

With Bale gone and more than £100 million spent on new players, most of them in attacking positions, the question remains whether Spurs can score enough goals to finish higher than last year.

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Soldado has scored two penalties in the league—but nothing from open play.

Roberto Soldado has not yet scored a league goal from open play. Indeed, Paulinho and Gylfi Sigurdsson are the only players to have done so in the opening five matches and even 13th-place Aston Villa have scored more in the league than Spurs.

Tottenham will need oneor more likely a few—of their attackers to find their scoring touch, be it a new signing or a player who finds a new goalscoring touch this season. The Mirror's Mike Walters raised this issue after the Arsenal defeat.

Maybe it will be only the perennial pessimists raising it again after the latest win—the type of fans who walk from the ground after a brilliant victory over a top team and still find something to moan about.   

Michael Steele/Getty Images
Has Villas-Boas solved Spurs' striking issues? Only time will tell.

And manager Andre Villas-Boas said he was happy with the amount of chances his side created in the game. He told the BBC: "It took time but there would be only one winner today and it was us. We're playing good football."

Will the good football be good enough for a Champions League finish for Spurs? Only a prolific goalscorer or two can answer that question.

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