With every passing week, it appears more and more people in the football world are ready to count Tottenham Hotspur out of the race for a top four finish in the Barclays Premier League table, that is except for the club’s players and resilient caretaker manager Tim Sherwood. On Sunday afternoon, the club picked up another victory over Cardiff City, which displayed the efficiency with which Tottenham has picked up points since Sherwood took over, and also why they can’t be counted out of the top four race quite yet.
The biggest relief of the day was that the game’s lone goal came from Roberto Soldado, who slotted home a finely played ball from strike partner Emmanuel Adebayor into the back of the net. The goal was only Soldado’s second from open play in 23 Barclays Premier League appearances, and the relief on both the strikers face and the joy of his teammates was palpable. Andros Townsend was the first to mob the Spaniard, and the remainder of the 10 players on the side for Tottenham followed suit, looking enthralled that the strikers misery had come to an end, and surely hopeful that he will start pouring in goals for the 10 remaining league games.
Seeing Soldado finally slot home a goal was not the only reason for Spurs fans to be happy on the night though, as fans were given a first class display of the value of the depth acquired over the past summer. Perennial starters Kyle Walker, Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose were all left out of the 18-man matchday roster because of knocks, yet the club was still able to dominate possession and surely were unfortunate not to have more goals on the day. Furthermore, they were able to see Sandro come in as a late match substitute, and the Brazilian provided his normal dosage of high energy play that always seems to buoy the club.
There is no doubting that playing against a helpless Cardiff City side aided Tottenham in looking good, but no match in the Barclays Premier League is a lock for three points. The win now gives Tottenham eight wins, two draws and two losses since Sherwood took over, a run that has seen the club continuously pick apart the bottom level teams that have proven so difficult to decipher in past years. The manager seems to grasp a better understanding of tactical prowess with each passing week, yet refrains from the extreme reliance on a set system that doomed Andre Villas-Boas.
That stalwarts such as Sandro, Walker and Eriksen are all due to come back into the fold permanently gives the club its near ideal starting XI, sans Vlad Chiriches missing out in favor of Michael Dawson. The impact of Sandro especially can’t be doubted moving forward, as he firmly understands his role as an energetic defensive minded midfielder, which allows guys like Eriksen, Mousa Dembele and Paulinho to focus on surging runs and incisive passes from midfield. This in turn makes life easier for Soldado and Adebayor up front in getting service, and in the back four having secure cover.
Moving forward, it is clear that Tottenham has a big road facing them in order to get into the top four, as they are six points behind both Arsenal and Liverpool with 10 games to play. Fortunately enough, however, two of the next for games for the Spurs are against these sides, which means they essentially have their future in their own hands. Winning these games is certainly no sure thing, but Tottenham is used to fighting against the odds, and they are rounding into form in an effort to finish in the top four and salvage what likely will be Sherwood’s final matches in charge.