A first goal for the club, and the first signs of a £30million player. The goal had a touch of fortune about it but the boost in confidence was there for all to see as he slalomed through the Sheriff defence to win the penalty.
Lamela has gone from a player who people did not even mention to one that people think should have come on against Newcastle to turn around the deficit. It’s important not to place too much on the young man’s shoulders after one good game against pretty average opponents, but then again he was the best player on the pitch on Thursday night.
Good week for JD for two reasons: firstly, he broke Chivers European goalscoring record for the club, and secondly after another goalless display his chances of playing have surely improved. Whether it will be with Roberto Soldado or instead of the Spaniard remains to be seen.
Back in Premier League, hopefully his fitness worries are now behind him.
Irrational as it sounds, the introduction of a proper defensive midfielder helped improve our attacking play as the Beast gave us that bite, energy and initiative in midfield.
Playing regularly in a Derby side going great guns under Steve McLaren. It’s been a great struggle for the lad (now man), and he will not make it at Tottenham, but the club deserves some credit for sticking with a player who suffered a leg break and at one point did not look like having a professional career. We talk about youngsters breaking into the first team but the club has a duty beyond that, and it is nice to see more of the youth products staying in the professional ranks.
On the one hand, we have qualified from our Europa League group nice and early. On the other, we struggled to score despite having plenty of the ball in both games. AVB is being asked the same questions, and the same answer (4-2-3-1, inverted wingers) is not the solution.
At least we gave it a go in the second half. It was the type of 1-0 defeat we are used to at the Lane – plenty of efforts on goal, keeper plays pretty well, we all go home frustrated – but all those who remained upbeat after our recent disappointments, saying we were still in fourth and kept seven clean sheets etc, can now see the worry when a team does not score goals despite being handed the ball for most of the game.
It only takes one weak challenge to let the opposition in, and 17 out of 20 Premier League teams are more ruthless than us.
While it was Paulinho’s weak challenge that led to the only goal on Sunday, alongside the Brazilian Dembele was worse than poor. Sometimes players are anonymous, but Dembele seems content in his anonymity.
Sandro showed what a defensive midfielder is all about in his second half appearance. Paulinho has scored more goals in his short Spurs career already than Dembele, and the ex-Fulham man is no playmaker. His movement off the ball is terrible, often simply offering a backwards option which the centre backs were already offering, his passing is slow, he takes too many touches, and his greatest skill – that tight, muscular dribbling that sees the ball stuck to his foot as he jinxes past a player – all too often happens on the halfway line instead of around the penalty box.
With Capoue back as well, I just don’t see where Dembele fits in. It may do Moussa some good to take a step back, and I am not surprised that as the team struggles Dembele struggles as he still seems a little unnatural in the middle of the park. Perhaps AVB will rejig the side and Dembele will rediscover his mojo.
The Swindon loanees
Dumped out of the FA Cup at non-league Macclesfield 4-0. Ouch.