This is actually getting a bit boring. Every Spurs match report, both of this site, others like it and the national press, is turning into a huge love-in for Rafael van der Vaart. He is a bit good though, isn’t he?
The Dutchman has now got four goals in six games. One thing that we’ve lacked in recent seasons is a goalscoring midfielder who can get into double figures each season. It looks like we’ve now got our own man to rival the likes of Gerrard and Fat Frank.
Which is just as well, considering that our strikers haven’t been prolific this season in the Premier League. I wrote after the Twente game that Pav and Crouch wasn’t going to work and that we had to build the whole system around Van der Vaart. At half-time, that’s exactly what Harry did. Like Gerrard, Van der Vaart is obviously someone who will always just play where he wants to play, rather than where he’s told. When that’s the case and they’re good enough, you’re harming the team by trying to constrict them to an unfavoured position.
Crouch with Van der Vaart just off him, is looking like a very dangerous combination. The big lad heads the ball and Van der Vaart knocks it in the back of the net. Both goals against Villa were scored in this manner, as was our opener against FC Twente.
Pav is a good finisher, but he doesn’t quite get this ‘moving about’ business. If a chance comes his way, it generally happens to be coincidental, rather than him busting a gut to get to the near post, like your Gary Lineker used to do.
Van der Vaart on the other hand is Mr Perpetual motion. I remember Terry Venables describing Edgar Davids as the ‘Clockwork Orange’ for the sheer mechanical monotony of his non-stop movement. Van der Vaart is of the same ilk. It’s not just passing ability that allows the Dutch to move the ball around so well. Where there is movement there are options.
It wasn’t a one man effort though. Everyone played pretty well, in an entertaining game that made a great advert for the Premier League. It was particularity nice to see Aaron Lennon come off the bench to good effect and play a part in our winner. From such little acorns, some confidence might grow.
Of course Bassong was at fault for Villa’s opener. He should have just stuck it in the stands, because although Emile Heskey might be a national joke, he’s always been able to shoulder defenders off the ball and create chances for others. Other than that though, Bassong had a pretty solid game alongside Tom Huddlestone, who did an equally decent job. That was our tenth different central defensive partnership of the season, so I don’t think that we should beat ourselves up too much for not having kept many clean sheets.
A win was pretty vital going into the international break. It’s not been a brilliant start to the season, but we’re right up where we need to be and this was probably our most encouraging result of the season.