Spurs fringe players fail to make the cut vs. Leeds

Posted by Dan Fitch

Oh dear. The inevitable has happened. Trying to get through the whole season with just 2 1/2 strikers was never going to work, was it?

Where was Jermain Defoe Sunday? There have been Twitter rumours circulating all week that he has picked up an injury. It would certainly explain why he wasn’t even on the bench.

Clint Dempsey is not a striker. He can do a pretty good impression of one, especially since he normally scores, but there’s more to playing up front as a lone forward than just putting the ball into the net.

-- Second-tier Leeds stun Spurs in FA Cup

It would be wrong to claim Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat to Leeds was merely down to the missing Defoe. It was a very poor team performance, as the fringe players who came into the team failed to deliver.

More than anyone, Spurs miss Moussa Dembele when he doesn’t play. The team lacks any sort of flair through the middle without the Belgian.

Dempsey isn’t the sort of player who is going to control games, but at least he is delivering in front of goal. His header to pull it back to 2-1 was brilliant.

Just what is Gylfi Sigurdsson contributing, though? He looks completely shorn of confidence and a shadow of the player we saw at Swansea.

Something similar could be said about Tom Huddlestone. I was always a fan, but since returning from injury he’s looked well off the pace.

If you were being kind about Huddlestone, you’d say that he needs to go out on loan, to start playing regular football again and build up his fitness. If you were to be hard, you’d say that it looks like his career at Spurs is over and he needs to be sold.

At least the central midfielders had the excuse they hadn’t been playing much of late. The defence looked equally poor. Kyle Naughton did very badly in the buildup to Leeds’ opener from Luke Varney.

Steven Caulker and Jan Vertinghen weren’t much better for Leeds’ second goal. Between them they completely lost Ross McCormack and then the Scot turned Caulker inside out as he raced through on goal before scoring with a curled finish.

Tottenham weren’t the only Premier League team to have a disappointing FA Cup result Sunday. You could blame Chelsea’s draw and Tottenham's and Liverpool’s loss on the fact all their managers fielded a slightly weakened side, but in truth all three had strong enough teams out there to win.

The same was true of Norwich and QPR Saturday. Premier League reserves are better players than first-teamers from the lower leagues these days.

No, it seems to me more of a question of attitude. It’s as if the Premier League players think that they only have to turn up and they’ll automatically win.

What that doesn’t take into account is the fact that the lower league players are putting everything on the line. For some, these FA Cup games will be the highlight of their career. This is as big as it gets.

For Spurs and the rest of the Premier League losers, it’s just a case of a shrug of the shoulders as they return to the only domestic competition that really matters to them -- the Premier League.

I suppose that supporters should try to look at the positives as well. When fringe players aren’t good enough, perhaps they should be grateful Spurs slim squad can now concentrate on the league.

We might also hope that Sunday's non-striker debacle might prompt Spurs to enter the transfer market. Let’s stop all this nonsense about getting a ‘world-class’ striker in. Supporters have been waiting for years for one and there’s a reason they won’t come to Spurs. Not enough money and no Champions League.

What Spurs need to do is take a punt on young strikers with promise. That’s just what they do when recruiting for every other position in the team and in doing so Tottenham has unearthed some gems.

I don’t suppose for a moment though, that Tottenham will have anyone signed by Wednesday night when they play Norwich. In which case, let’s hope those Defoe rumours are just that and Spurs can put Sunday's Cup woe quickly behind them.

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