When will Cup Stars get League starts?


Well-Known Member
May 26, 2004
Thread starter #1
Things are looking pretty good for Andre Villas-Boas and Spurs. Our strongest squad in my living memory (all thirty years of it), a very nice start to the season, only two goals conceded so far in 11 games, plenty of players in good form and new signings adjusting well.

The strength of our squad can be shown in the cup competitions – 5-0, 3-0, 3-0, 4-0, 2-0 score lines do not hide just how convincing and dominant our ‘squad’ players have been, even against relatively weak opposition. The question is, how they done enough to become first choice starts in the big games?

Jermain Defoe is the first name that springs to mind, and the voices for the little goal poacher to start against West Ham on Sunday are growing louder with every goal scoring appearance. Bursts of form and goals, followed by barren periods have been a trademark of both JD’s spells at the club, indeed he first came to prominence after going on a ten match scoring run. Right now he is ‘hot’ and while Roberto Soldado has shown promising signs he has yet to get the goals his price tag warranted.

The Spaniard has shown impressive hold up play for someone who is by no means a target man, and in this system Defoe’s tendency to drift away from the striker position to get on the ball can leave us lacking a spearhead. However, Soldado’s anonymous second half against Chelsea showed that the ex-Valencia number nine still needs to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League. He completed just four passes all game.

Another player who suffered as we lost the initiative after half time against the Blues with Christian Eriksen. The young Dane has proved to be a missing link in the team, and ironically his arrival might have helped his direct rival, Lewis Holtby. The team setup has shifted from an anchor man with two in front, to a number 10 with two behind. This helps the German as the team does not have to deal with a change of style/formation when the German comes in.

Eriksen has tired as games have progressed and it was little surprise that Holtby and Defoe made second half appearances as we tried to wrestle back control. While Eriksen is a more clinical, technical player, Holtby is at least his direct rival.

Others trying to push into the league team include Younes Kaboul (injury permitting), Sandro, Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela. At the moment the players they would replace have not shown sufficient dips in form or energy levels to warrant a change, but how AVB manages the changes or lack of will be crucial to the success of our season.

Keep the cup stars out of the first choice line-up for too long and there will be discontent in the squad. Chop and change too frequently, with players literally only as good as their last game, and individual’s confidence could be destroyed and the team’s cohesion eradicated.

It is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. AVB has shown the willingness to give players a chance, and to stick with them if they perform, and Gyfli Sigurdsson and Andros Townsend are two examples of players who took their chances when given them. But the team is not yet 100% fluid, and we have yet to shine against the better sides we have faced (which make our results this season even more encouraging), and the likes of Defoe especially have made strong cases for inclusion.

It looks like Villas-Boas will stick with his usual starting eleven in the league, and who can blame him, but after the international break we may see a change. It was after the last set of internationals that Siggy came in and secured a starting berth with his goals against Norwich, and a little niggle for someone could open the door for another.

With two games a week nearly every week until January, there will be plenty of opportunities for those outside the first choice XI to prove their worth. The timing of when AVB moves them from the cup team into the league side will prove crucial in so many ways and we all hope the boss gets it right.

Aug 7, 2006
I agree that at some point the players in the cup team will get games in the league but at the moment I don't think anyone has been poor enough in the league to be dropped. The only one's I thought might be dropped are Sigurdsson or Townsend after they got Lamela but they are rightly in the team after they way they have been playing.


Active Member
Aug 3, 2003
Personally I have always believed JD is a Europa League level player, and that is no insult. All of us dream of being able to play at that level. Few do. JD would be perfect in the EPL starting XI for any team regularly aspiring to finish between 5th and 8th over the last 5 years; for example teams like Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle. No doubt one could now put Swansea in that group.

And yet the simple fact of the matter is that I have never seen JD step up to a high enough level when it counts in big games against top sides. He is a throwback player to the way this country played until the 90's when the Sky money and the foreign invasion started to slowly change the game - for better and worse. JD runs the channels, goes direct and more often than not chooses to hit the target over picking a particular spot. Power over placement. Roy of the Rovers stuff etc. And good for him. Sometimes it's deadly. But the game has evolved, especially at the top end of competitions. You saw how tactical AVB vs Mourinho was last weekend.

Right now I am happy with a Soldado who assists in 1 of every 2 EPL games, especially if he then goes on a goal run like he did for Valencia last season after a similarly quiet start. I'd prefer that to a JD who scores a brace at home against a bottom 5 club (West Brom/Palace etc) but then doesn't score at all against a top four team or a tricky physical side away from home (nb: there are more games in these two categories than the first!). And when used effectively, modern defensive high lines have just caused him to get caught offside even more (something a few of us didn't think was possible!)

Some SC members still seem to be citing an 'anti-JD brigade' (and ironically a mild 'anti-Soldado' brigade also seems to be forming! haha) It's not that black and white guys. The fact is that JD represents the Harry Redknapp years. I would wager that many of the people who think JD should get a run in the EPL team as of now are the same romantics who quietly still miss Harry a little bit. (For the record there is nothing wrong with being a romantic, in any sense of the word). And I reckon a lot of the SC guys defending Soldado are probably younger (massive generalisation I know) or have more a general appreciation for European style and methods. Just a hunch. Ofc some of you might not fit this pattern. A lot of you might fit it, but still disagree with me out of choice. Such is life. I digress.

Going back to JD - come on, look at him, he is PERFECT for these Europa League teams! No disrespect, but has anyone even heard of some of them? Many are teams with slow, positionally ignorant defenders who will make him look good. Similar to a home EPL game against a bottom 5 team with us 1 or 2-0 up already. But why does this mean he should have started against Chelsea? It doesn't. Sorry.

I love JD. A top bloke as many have said, a model professional, even through all the trauma of his personal life (take note Ade), and he just keeps plugging away at his job. But does he take us to the next level? - which IS beating the best teams. From what I have seen in the last decade, long enough to make a calculated guess, he does not. Soldado's hold up play and technical quality suits the football AVB wants to play against top teams better. I don't care how many Soldado scores, the goals are all scored by Tottenham! Look at it another way - would Utd, Chelsea or City start JD in the CL? No. (Sod what Arsenal might do). So i'm afraid we are rapidly outgrowing the little guy, but luckily he is getting on now and so can hopefully have a few years banging them in somewhere else where he might start every week. And good luck to him, he has been a great ambassador for the club.

To quote 'The Dark Knight' - he's the hero Spurs deserve, but not the one it needs.


SC Supporter
Dec 7, 2006
Lamela is still bedding in, likewise Chiriches;
Kaboul is not fully recovered if he ever does and I have expressed doubts for some time.
While we are winning then Soldado should remain first choice
if only to preserve his morale.
Siggy, Eriksen and Townsend will remain first choices while we are getting results
and while there are plenty of other games to soak up the squad..
AVB is not a knee jerk chopper and changer.
Holtby, Chadli, Sandro and Defoe will continue to get sub chances.
In the end injuries will present plenty of chances for others
rather than say an outstanding performance outside the Premiership.
If it ain't broke... or something.


Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2005
This constant whining about The Soldiers second half peformance against Chelsea is pissing me off. NO player aside from Lloris covered themselves in glory during the second half and for sure the overall service provided to The Soldier was in general poor. Secondly while we are putting in solid performances and winning games in the PL why does AVB need to make changes unless they are forced!

The fact is that under AVB his tactical formation will i feel resullt in more goals from across the pitch, and i really cannot see a twenty goal a season striker emerging from anywhere in the squad irrespective of who starts especially against PL opposition. The standard of the early competition in the EL is simply poor,and shouldn't be seen as any indicator to PL potential form in my opinion.


Well-Known Member
Jul 26, 2004
I actually thought Sandro looked disheartened to be on the bench against the Chavs and his performance yesterday was his worst so far this season.

Playing against sub rate opponents every few weeks is not going to cut it for players hoping to make their WC squads (as most of ours are)
Jul 1, 2005
A nicely written article. I think the first thing to remember is that it is great that we are in this position in terms of Squad Depth. We have top class competition for all places and that is not a bad thing as long as it is used properly. I do have concerns that AVB has never dealt with a squad with the international depth that we have at the moment. And I believe his weakness (and all top managers have them) is a reluctance to make change. I can see some unrest occurring especially in a World Cup year.

I'm also not convinced about the 433 formation using 2 inside forwards. IMO, the Premier League has the best Central Defenders in the world and when both wide players cut inside and all attack happens within the width of the Penalty area, even mediocre Premier League defences can absorb that, a la Cardiff. I think it's no coincidence that in the cup games where we are playing a little wider up top, we are scoring more goals. Admittedly, it is weaker opposition for the most part. But I think it's a little simplistic to say that is the only reason that Defoe et al are hitting the back of the net.

The introduction of Eriksen has definitely helped as he has the ability to play those killer passes in a confined area but I feel the biggest victim of this formation has been Soldado. Like Defoe, if he gets chances in the area, he scores. Playing with a winger on his natural side opens up the space and I would like to see both Defoe and Lamela start again West Ham, not because Soldado or Townsend have done anything wrong but Defoe and Lamela have done things right. If not, I can see the result being another scrappy 1-0 win.