As the season came to a close last Sunday, Tottenham narrowly missed out on a top four place despite beating a stubborn Sunderland team 1-0 with another world class strike from none other than Gareth Bale. However, as the gloomy faces around White Hart Lane told you, it was a mere formality as Arsenal too scrapped to a 1-0 victory against Newcastle which secured their top four place by a single point.
André Villas-Boas remained quietly optimistic in his post-game interviews, vowing that Spurs will come back improved and stronger next season, all this just after breaking Tottenham’s greatest ever Premier League points Tally of 70 points; set in 2009/10. This determination speaks volumes to André’s management style, instilling a sense of battling valiance and fortitude not associated with Tottenham sides in recent history, while still maintaining the silky passing football which is considered the ‘Tottenham way’. The players have done an excellent job this season and with a bit of luck on the injury front, could very well have been celebrating a top 4 place. Here are my player ratings for each player of the Tottenham squad this season.
Hugo Lloris : After breaking into the Tottenham team following a deadline day move from Lyon, Lloris went on to have a fantastic season, proving to be the prototype sweeper-keeper in the process. The high line defensive system was much more efficient with Lloris in between the sticks and the French shot stopper kept a total of 9 clean sheets in the league.
Brad Friedel : Friedel started off the season in as Spurs’ number 1 and did an adequate job for the most part. However his slow movement off his line meant he was detrimental to the high line system and it showed as Brad failed to keep a clean sheet in any of league games in which he played.
Kyle Walker : Struggled initially as the season began as his poor defensive positioning was exploited by opposition teams, he also found it particularly hard to defend stood-up crosses played from the left to his right flank often getting caught under the flight of the ball. That being said, Walker improved defensively as the season went on and was a constant threat in the attacking half, linking up well with Aaron Lennon on numerous occasions. His increased composure and defensive improvements over the season lead to Walker having a pretty good year, as opposed to what could have been if he continued on in his initial calamitous fashion.
Michael Dawson : Initially looked set to leave the club in the summer transfer window for QPR, Dawson fought hard for his place in the team and forced his way into the starting lineup. He was strong in the tackle and great in the air, winning 61% of his 130 aerial duels. He exhibited strong leadership qualities throughout the campaign as the club captain which rubbed off on other members of the squad. However, his lack of pace and mobility hampered him a few times towards the end of the season. Overall a very solid performer.
Jan Vertonghen : The Belgian defender had an amazing campaign, proving to be one of the best defenders in the Premier League in what is only his first season in England. He won 100% of his tackles in 21 of his 31 league appearances which is staggering and boasted an overall tackle win percentage of 81%. He also moved forward with the ball at his feet with elegance, picking out lovely passes for the attacking players and scored 4 goals this season. His PFA team of the year selection was completely justified.
Benoît Assou-Ekotto : Not the left back’s best season for Spurs, after coming back from injury – Assou-Ekotto often looked lost defensively, taking way too many risks in his positioning and displayed a tendency to over dribble in his own half. Provided little attacking impetus going forward and had by far the lowest pass% of all the Tottenham defenders with a disappointing 73%, summing up his wastefulness when in possession. A poor season by his standards.
Steven Caulker : The young centre-half had a very good season, eased into the team by AVB and was often very useful against the more physical imposing sides with his aerial presence a good tool defensively and a weapon from attacking set-pieces. He was efficient in his defending, successful in 79% of his tackles and used the ball well, shown by his 90% passing accuracy. A good season for the promising young defender who will surely see more game time next season
William Gallas : Inconsistency haunted the season of the ageing Frenchman. Performed reasonably well in some matches but was truly horrific in others. This level of inconsistency ultimately lead to him losing his starting berth and looks very likely to leave the club as his contract at the club ends in the summer.
Kyle Naughton : The right back had a solid season, often required to deputise at left back due to injuries. Was good defensively, winning 76% of his tackles and was somewhat surprisingly good in the air, winning 67% of his areal duels. All round, a solid season which he should take confidence from.
Younès Kaboul : The Frenchman came off an amazing season in 2011/2012 and looked set to be a key player this term. However he sustained a season ending knee injury in the first game of the season unfortunately.
Scott Parker : A tireless worker in the middle of the park for Spurs and got ‘stuck in’ in typical Scott Parker fashion. That aside, it has been a very poor season for Scotty, who now looks a shadow of his former self from last season. Too often we have seen Parker storming head down into a cul-de-sac of opposition players without the technical ability to wriggle his way out, resulting more often than not in a loss of possession. He has also seemed to have lost a yard of pace and mobility which has affected his ability to win the ball back as frequently as he used to.
Sandro : Before what turned out to be a season ending injury half way through the season, Sandro was arguably Tottenham’s best performer. The Brazilian enforcer came on leaps and bounds, winning the ball back at a very efficient rate of 65%, incredible considering the areas of the pitch he won them in as well as the sheer volume of challenges. He also showcased his improved ball-playing ability, playing 22 key passes in 22 appearances, a rate of 1 created chance per game from his defensive midfield position. If it weren’t for injury forcing him to miss half the season, Sandro would most definitely be rated as one of the Tottenham’s’ top performers this season.
Mousa Dembélé : Brought in with the task of replacing Luka Modric and did just that. Dembélé had an excellent season as he evolved as a player into a dynamic box-to-box midfielder. The Belgian is class personified on the ball, completing 65% of his take-on dribbles, effortlessly gliding past opposition players. He is also an extremely accurate passer, completing 91% of his passes with 56.1% of those being forward and largely in the opponents final third. He has also shown how brilliant a ball winner he is boasting the best tackle win%, 84%, of any player to attempt 90 or more tackles in the Premier League this season. An excellent year for the playmaker and he should feel unlucky not to have made the PFA team of the Year.
Tom Huddlestone : A largely frustrating season for Tom as he was resigned to the bench for much of it. Despite this fact, he hardly ever failed to make an impact when on the field of play. Exhibiting some excellent passing technique, Huddlestone has an average passing range of 26 meters which from a central midfield is very unique and a testament to the degree of difficulty in the passes he attempts to get his team into the final third quickly. Did very well in his time on the pitch.
Gylfi Sigurðsson : Struggled early on in the season following his summer move from Hoffenheim. As a result, featured mostly from the bench until the last few months of the season in which he regularly featured from the start. He grew into his new left sided role as the season progressed and as a result all his 3 league goals arrived in 2013. Frequently showcased promising signs of his playmaking ability and is a young player with a big future.
Lewis Holtby : He only arrived at the club in January and hasn’t had a lot of match time to make an impact but Holtby had a few very encouraging matches which I am sure he’ll build on. Organizes and links play well with clever passing and has an extremely high work rate. He managed to create 11 chances in 11 games; 7 of those appearances were off the bench, a rate of one chance created a game, getting two assists to his name in the process. Another young player with a bright future and his rating is based mostly off a lack of games.
Aaron Lennon : Vastly improved from last season, Lennon has been an integral part of the Tottenham team this season. Terrifying Premier League defenses with his pace and dribbling, Lennon created a very impressive 66 chances from the wing, racking up 7 assists. He is making more incisive runs into the final third than ever before and creates space and time for his teammates around him. His unselfish nature also extends itself to the defensive side of the game providing excellent defensive cover for Kyle Walker time and time again. An excellent season for the nippy winger.
Jake Livermore : Another player who has not had a lot of match time to have an impact, it remains to be seen how he will be utilized in the Spurs team. A decent all-round player though and could be a useful player in the future.
Tom Carroll : Carroll only played 7 games this season but the youngster has shown he could have a very bright future. Blessed with great vision, Andre has used him almost exclusively as an emergency substitute to pick out passes in dangerous areas when the team are desperately chasing a goal. He plays 71% of his passes forwards at a completion rate of 84% which shows the attacking intent in his passing. A very promising youngster.
Clint Dempsey : The American has largely split opinion amongst the White Hart Lane faithful following his deadline day move from Fulham. He has struggled to play any one position consistently well, whether it be as a second striker (Number 10), or as an inside forward playing from the left, he has failed to set the world alight. That being said Dempsey has scored some very important goals in big matches, none bigger than his last gasp stoppage time equalizer to rescue a point at home against Manchester United, and has worked as hard as anyone when not in possession of the ball. In total he’s scored 7 league goals and grabbed 4 assists. Dempsey has not reached his performance levels of last season but has had a fairly decent season.
Gareth Bale : A truly stellar campaign from the Welshman, morphing into one of the worlds very best players. After his move to a central position, Bale went onto become a prolific goal scorer, netting 21 league goals, 9 of which were from outside of the box; more than any other player in Europe. His match-winning strike against West Ham at Upton Park was my pick of the bunch, a truly scintillating goal. Bale has also proven to be a very good creative presence too, crafting out 75 chances in his 33 league appearances, picking up 4 assists. Simply put Bale has been incredible this season and shown his impressive versatility by switching between 3 or 4 different positions in a single match at times. An amazing season from Bale who is now one of the hottest properties in the world.
Jermain Defoe : His season started off in a very promising fashion, scoring freely whilst looking to have adapted well to the lone striker role. As the season has progressed though, Jermain has endured a torrid time in front of goal, only netting 2 goals since the start of the calendar year. Defoe ended the season with just 11 league goals in 34 games, which is not good enough for a striker playing for one of the top sides in the league.
Emmanuel Adebayor : A very poor season from Adebayor, scoring a total of 5 goals in the league – from a striker of his quality is just unacceptable. AVB has stated that Adebayor has played the majority of the season with a pain in his knee which may partly explain this uncharacteristic season. In the last 3 games of the campaign though Adebayor looked fitter, more mobile and contributed 2 of his 5 league goals in this period which may insinuate to the overcoming of this particular injury. All in all though an abysmal season for the target man.