1. Andre Villas-Boas knows how to adapt
If there was one particular problem that wound up Spurs fans during Harry Redknapp’s tenure in charge at White Hart Lane it was his apparent lack of a plan B. If things weren’t going his way, Redknapp’s inconsistent and uninventive substitutions often caused much grumbling amongst the Tottenham faithful. Thankfully for Spurs supporters, Andre Villas-Boas has no such problem in changing the game plan if it isn’t working, as we saw during this game. In the space of 9 minutes, off came useless space-waster Emmanuel Adebayor, hit-and-miss midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and tiring battler Scott Parker and in their stead appeared Jermain Defoe, Lewis Holtby and Tom Huddlestone.
Holtby offered the dynamism missing from the central midfield, Huddlestone the sumptuous passing and Defoe the deadly accuracy and will to shoot so clearly missing from Adebayor’s game. Within 4 minutes of the final of these substitutions (Defoe), Tottenham had equalised at 1-1. Seven minutes later, Spurs had struck with 2 more goals to send a dazed Manchester City to a defeat that looked so highly unlikely in the first half. Kudos, AVB.
To use a meme:
2. Roberto Mancini has an interesting approach to substitutions
Having seen his side surrender their deserved 1-0 lead, a lead they’d gained during a fairly comfortable and impressive first half performance, Roberto Mancini still had 2 substitutions available to him. The minute after Bale scored to make it 3-1, the Italian decided to replace Edin Dzeko with Scott Sinclair. That’s Scott Sinclair with 14 appearances and 0 goals for City this season; as opposed to the equally available, Sergio Aguero… 34 appearances, 15 goals.
Not only that, but in the last couple of minutes, Gael Clichy the pacy full-back came off for… lumbering centre-back, Joleon Lescott, who inexplicably was sent up front in a desperate attempt to grab a goal.
If Manchester United do win the league against Aston Villa, surely Roberto Mancini would have preferred to go out fighting than go out with self-defeating, mind-boggling, bizarre substitutions in a game they should and could have won.
3. Jermain Defoe should be Tottenham’s first-choice striker… always
Jermain Defoe may not be as consistent as the very top goalscorers in the Premier League but as finisher he is the equal of any of them. His venomous instinctive strike past Joe Hart against Manchester City summed up exactly what has been missing from Spurs’ team. It is lucky for Tottenham that Gareth Bale has stepped into the breach and performed so excellently in 2013; with both men in the team, have Spurs now got the firepower to carry through their challenge for 4th?
4. Emmanuel Adebayor has had one of the worst seasons in the history of time
28 appearances, 6 goals in all competitions, 20 appearances, 3 goals in the Premier League. Emmanuel Adebayor’s record doesn’t do his performances justice… he’s been worse than they suggest. Tired, slow, poor reactions, bad touch, Defoe’s return surely spells the end of Adebayor’s unimpressive stint up front for Spurs.
5. The battle for 4th will go down to the wire, the ‘battle’ for 1st won’t
That’s it then. Unless something extraordinary happens, Manchester United will win the Premier League tomorrow night at home to Aston Villa. Whilst Paul Lambert’s team have finally started to show themselves to be better than 11 strangers straight out of school, it’s hard to see past a United victory. And there will end Manchester City’s title defence, as disappointingly surrendered as it was insanely won last season.
As for a place in the top 4, it is deliciously balanced following Tottenham’s impressive victory and Liverpool’s controversial late equaliser at home to Rafa’s Chelsea. The table now has Arsenal in 3rd, 63 points, 34 games played, Chelsea 4th, 62 points, 33 games played and Spurs 5th, 61 points, 33 games played.
Arsenal still have Manchester United to play, although Ferguson’s men will probably already have the title in the bag by then, so next Sunday might prove a good time (if there is such a thing) to play the reds. Spurs, meanwhile have 4 of the bottom 8 to play before the end of the season and Chelsea have still to face Manchester United and Everton. The big game, however looks likely to be the showdown at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea take on Tottenham on Wednesday the 8th of May.