Sunday’s North London derby brought Tottenham Hotspur back down to earth after an unexpected thrashing at the hands of Arsenal. Two goals down with five minutes to go until half time, the Gunners drew level prior to the break before emphatically defeating Spurs 5-2. A lot of the blame seems to have been thrown at manager Harry Redknapp for his tactics and substitutions that had little impact. But was the inadequate fitness of the squad Tottenham’s true downfall?

This season’s stand out centre back Younes Kaboul was partnered by the ever-reliant skipper Ledley King at the heart of our defence. Although consistent in the way of performance over the years, King has notably had an injury plagued few seasons. For the first time this campaign, Ledley’s lack of fitness was majorly called into question on Sunday.

The captain was slow to react for both Tomas Rosicky’s goal and the first of Theo Walcott’s strikes, adding to a rather ineffectual performance from the usually influential defender. His substitution with ten minutes left was either a sign that King was too unfit to finish the game, or that Redknapp realised the contest was over, meaning it was time for the skipper’s condition to be savoured for future fixtures.

Arsenal’s attacking dominance towards the end of the first period was enough for Redknapp to take action and bring on Sandro to bolster our midfield. A calf injury had recently kept the Brazilian midfielder out of the team, and it was unforeseen that he would even make the bench. Nevertheless, Sandro was introduced at the break, but unfortunately made little impact in preventing Arsenal from running riot. It was clear that he had returned from injury too early; a fully fit Jake Livermore may have been a wiser option.

Rafael Van der Vaart was also brought on at half time, replacing the scorer of Spurs’ first goal Louis Saha. Like Sandro, Van der Vaart has recently been struggling to return from injury and may also have been thrown into action prematurely, signified by a lacklustre and luckless run out. Since signing for Tottenham in the summer of 2010, the Dutchman has suffered from persistent niggles, forcing him to be often sidelined. We’ve all seen that Rafael is most effective when he has a run of games under his belt, such as earlier this season when he managed to score in five league games on the bounce.

Another evident issue on Sunday was Spurs’ lack of width and pace. Gareth Bale wasn’t played in his most effective left wing role, whilst Aaron Lennon remained on the bench for the whole game. The fitness of Lennon must also be called into question, as surely the English winger would have been introduced at some point if properly ready. The problem with Aaron Lennon is that whenever he hits form, injuries tend to take their toll and it seems that he has to rebuild his confidence all over again. The condition of Lennon could be crucial to the rest of our season, as on his day he is one of Tottenham’s very best players.

Despite inevitable continuous fitness worries, at the end of it all we have to move on. A bad day at the office should never be taken lightly, but Tottenham must put this devastating defeat behind them and concentrate on finishing in the top three of the Premier League. Next up – Manchester United at home. Spurs will be hoping that the confidence returns and that they can finally show they are good enough to beat the champions.

Follow Steve Jennings on Twitter: @_SteveJenn93

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Not looking good this one tbh… walker injured, king knackered, bale injured, parker suspended, sandro vdv lennon and bae not fit so where do we look? recalled smith but too young imo so who do we pick? my choice – brad smith kaboul dawson bae – lennon sandro modic rose – ade defoe coys!!

  2. The team used against Arse was totally unbalanced and that has resulted to the heavy defeat. If you add to that the slow pace most of Spurs players used and the inability of some midfield players to keep position you can easy understand why the team has lost that game.

    • A bit harsh on pace. Adebayor, Bale, Walker, Ekotto, Saha, Kaboul, Modric are not slow. That is 7 of the outfield players. However, positionally yes you are right. Parker was not back far enough when we were capitulating… He may have been able to hinder that backlash a tad. Niko is NEVER in position – he is not a wide player. We planned to play on the break, and got done on the break.

  3. BAE and, specially, Modric aren’t so quick. That makes only 5 of the outfield players. Parker, as mostly, was tremendous but he can’t cover all the other midfield players all the time and in every moment of a game. He makes the difference this season. Sandro doesn’t have the personality (yet?) and the insight of Parker. Instead I find Livermore is playing more disciplined and he holds position.

  4. Sandro all thw way for me boys, he has what it takes and he will be an awesome boy in years to come. Livermore is not in the same class as Sandro and parker, he is middle of the road. Just out of interst where do you think big Tom will slide in when fit next season, I lnow where I would like him to slide in but aht do you think boys HHXX

  5. Teams will always have injuries. The Arsenal debacle was due to bad tactics. Having a midfield of Modric, Bale, Parker and Kranjaer is fine at home against weaker teams (or more specifically weaker midfields). Against Arsenal that is just looking for trouble. Bale needed to stay on the left, Livermore could have started, and Lennon on the right. One of Saha or Adebeyour would have missed out. The likes of Sagna would have had a lot more to think about in this formation. But this is the past, and hopefully Harry has learnt. Only problem is with Bale injured, he might put Modric on the left that would not be clever

    • There are probably some half decent Arsenal blogs out there lads, if you’re so confident you’re going to catch us then why don’t you talk about it with your own fans?

  6. MCPX helicopter..

    I am an Aussie Arsenal fan, a big one at that i live and breath Arsenal and as per the norm i don’t like spurs at all. In years gone spurs were a club we beat every time, no sweat. However now it’s different and even tho we are 7 points behind I really want the challenge. We both can’t/won’t win the league, so the next challenge is to beat you mob, can’t wait am sure u can’t either.
    Also as a foreign fan (95′ I started) I didn’t know about the rivalry between our great clubs so spurs were like any other team we had to beat. Then soon after I found out bout you and our ‘dislike’ of each other, but I just couldn’t join in with the hatred Gooners have of spurs. I tried and even talked the talk saying i hate spurs, but didn’t really believe it, UNTIL the last couple of years, maybe even starting with that 4-4 come back draw, at the Ems (when Bentley scored that goal and thought he was the bees knees)!!!!
    So once you were an annoying ‘teenager’ to us, now you are a tough brute of a man that we need to reassert our dominance on! The big test is that when ‘Arry goes will you still be the tough brute, or go back to the annoying teenager? 
    One thing is for sure that your doing a good job at annoying me, so something must be working White Hart Lane, a good barometer to see if ur doing good. 
    Good luck and may the best team win! 

  7. To all you, oh so cocky before the game, spuds: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, Hihihihihihihihihi, UhahahahahHahahahaha!!!

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