Tottenham's best XI

Posted by Martin Laurence,

Mousa Dembele is the strongest passer in the Tottenham squad.PA PhotosMousa Dembele is the strongest passer in the Tottenham squad.

A 5-0 defeat may have been the final nail in the coffin for Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs, but their performances had been subdued pretty much all season, and perhaps before that. In the previous campaign the manager could rely on the wonder strikes of Gareth Bale to save his side's skin. If you look back to the start of the year only one other player has scored more than four Premier League goals in 2013 and that's Gylfi Sigurdsson (six), who fell out of favour at the end of Villas-Boas' reign.

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In that time, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado have four apiece, with three of the latter's strikes coming from the spot, while Jermain Defoe, whom many claim should be in the team due to his finishing ability, has just one in 25 appearances (46 shots). It was Villas-Boas' job to replace the goals of Bale and despite what seemed like some astute advances into the transfer market at the time, albeit at a cost, it was the inability of those new signings to hit the ground running that ultimately cost the Portuguese his job.

The club's three strikers to play in the calendar year have scored just nine league goals between them, coming from 103 shots (11.4 percent). It's been an obvious problem for Spurs for some time but certainly not the only one. Villas-Boas signed a glut of central midfielders in his time at the club, all with undoubted quality, but never really found the right blend. The manager's inability to decide on his best XI throughout the squad may well have cost him, so we've taken the chance to look at's statistical ratings to decipher what could have been his best side.

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Hugo Lloris is undoubtedly the best keeper at the club but has looked a little unconvincing of late, most notably for an error that led to Adam Johnson's opener at the Stadium of Light. Lloris' rating of 6.76 is decent but unspectacular, and since picking up a nasty-looking head injury against Everton, Spurs have conceded 15 goals in his last five appearances.

There's only one option at right-back, with Kyle Walker starting every league game thus far and picking up a respectable rating of 7.18, but it's the issue on the opposite side that has led to problems this season. Danny Rose went straight into the team after an impressive season on loan at Sunderland and began the campaign well before a lengthy toe injury -- indeed, his rating of 7.33 from four appearances is the best in the Spurs squad.

A lack of cover and the decision to loan Assou-Ekotto to QPR has led to issues across the back line. The player that most would consider to be Tottenham's best centre-back, Jan Vertonghen, has been shifted over at times, and Kyle Naughton, a right-back on the left, was all too easily exposed in the drubbing by Liverpool.

With Younes Kaboul still struggling for fitness, and Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches sidelined, Michael Dawson, whom Villas-Boas was more than happy to see leave the club when he was first appointed, has played every minute in the league this season. The captain's form has come in for criticism from large sections of the Spurs support, with his lack of athleticism consistently exposed by strikers who have it in abundance (step forward, Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero et al).

It's Chiriches (7.22) and Vertonghen (7) who make the centre-back pairing in Spurs' best XI then, with the three in front of them likely to divide opinion. Some have suggested that the likes of Etienne Capoue, Mousa Dembele and Paulinho are too similar, but that isn't exactly the case.

In three appearances before his injury in the North London derby, Capoue proved to be a solid defensive midfielder, breaking up play with a team high of 2.8 interceptions per game this season. Paulinho, meanwhile, has made impressive forays forward, often finding himself in scoring positions, having averaged three shots per game; more than both Soldado and Defoe. Dembele is the strongest passer of the three -- and of the entire squad, in fact -- with an accuracy of 90.6 percent, while he also completes an impressive 2.5 dribbles per game.

Andros Townsend is another player who was dropped in Villas-Boas' final matches but his rating of 7.30 suggests that he may have been hard done by. There's certainly a feeling that the winger was becoming somewhat of a one-trick pony, but the fact that he continued to dribble at and past players (a league high of 4.1 per game) before launching shots (a team high of 3.3 per game), admittedly from distance, proves it was a trick that remained tough to stop.

It was the left flank that again proved problematic as the side lacked balance in both defence and attack from wide areas. The top-rated player on that flank is Nacer Chadli (6.88), whose performances have underwhelmed at times but outranked those of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Lennon and Erik Lamela thus far. It's fair to say that the latter pairing will need to step up if Spurs are to get their increasingly unlikely campaign for Champions League football back on track.

Underwhelming is certainly a word that can be used to describe Soldado's start to life in the Premier League, but he remains a more viable option than Defoe on current form, with the England international failing to score in the league from 17 shots thus far. The Spaniard's tally of four can be largely attributed to three spot kicks, but he has combined with those around him at times to average 1.3 key passes per game, though his involvement in general play must improve.

All in all it's a line-up that could combine well in both defence and midfield, but could still have problems going forward, and one that Villas-Boas never started together, either by design or due to injuries, on a single occasion during the current Premier League campaign.

Martin Laurence -- follow him on Twitter: @martinlaurence7

All statistics courtesy of where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.


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