Tottenham striker shortage should have Levy & Villas-Boas at red alert

The north London club could not find a way to reel in Leeds in the FA Cup on Sunday, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat that looked inevitable with Defoe and Adebayor not present
By Jay Jaffa

It should have been his breakthrough moment, but sadly for Jonathan Obika and Tottenham, the youngster failed to capitalise when played in on goal and Spurs subsequently bowed out of the FA Cup to Leeds United on a Sunday jam-packed with upsets.

Tottenham's exit was not Obika's fault, and he should not shoulder the blame, even if Andre Villas-Boas articulated the feelings of Lilywhites up and down the country when he said the 22-year-old should have rippled the back of the net in the 89th minute.

It was always billed as a tricky tie. Leeds, one of the great English institutions, may be languishing in 11th in the Championship these days but with the backing of a vociferous home crowd and a penchant for cup upsets, always looked likely to make the game a contest. Indeed, a glance at the teamsheets would have stirred the locals and worried the visiting support in equal measure.

Games: 30
Goals: 14

Games: 26
Goals: 11


Games 28
Goals: 8

Games: 18
Goals: 3

Games: 29
Goals: 2

Jermain Defoe has been out of form for sometime now, as I analysed on Saturday, but games against lower calibre sides are his bread and butter. Flat-track bully is a smidgen too extreme, but Defoe has been known to boost his statistics on days like today, as his 22 career FA Cup goals attest.

So to hear that Defoe had not travelled to Yorkshire was an immediate cause for concern. In his absence Clint Dempsey led the line in a 4-2-3-1 and for all intents and purposes was more involved and vibrant than most occasions this season. But he is not a line-leading forward. The problem for Spurs was their inability to create clear chances, and when they did, Dempsey side-footed wide from six yards.

Whether the drought of opportunities is down to the movement of the striker or the service and ingenuity of the support players is open to debate. What is not open to debate is the shambolic situation Villas-Boas has been left in.

Defoe picked up a knock in training and was therefore unavailable. Emmanuel Adebayor is playing for Togo at the Africa Cup of Nations. That left an attacking midfielder to play alone up front and Obika, the perennial nearly man, a prolific reserve and youth team goalscorer, as the cavalry. It was the nightmare scenario finally realised but at least it was only Leeds.

Except that was the exact attitude the back four adopted at Elland Road. They did not have a great deal to do, but boy, when they did, they made a hash of it. The amateur work of Steven Caulker and Kyle Naughton laid the red carpet out for Luke Varney and Ross McCormack, leaving Spurs chasing the game for 75 minutes.

If you take Tottenham's Premier League rivals for the top four, there is a theme. Arsenal have Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott. Manchester United have Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Chicharito. Manchester City have Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. Chelsea may just have Demba Ba and Fernando Torres but they are backed up by a trio of goalscoring attacking midfielders.

They may be wealthy clubs, but they have followed the old saying that the hardest thing in football is scoring a goal and ensured they have depth. Lewis Holtby will arrive this month after Spurs agreed a £1.5m fee with Schalke on Monday morning, but Tottenham had no-one to effect the game from the bench.

Defoe and Adebayor have one goal each in their last eight games for Spurs and it is hardly a eureka moment to suggest signing a third striker is the answer. Yet, for the supporters it must feel as though they are banging their head against a brick wall with Daniel Levy in charge.
10/1 Tottenham are 10/1 to draw 0-0 with Norwich with bet365

The party line was rolled out by Villa-Boas in the post-match press conference, as he suggested: “We are happy with the options we have, but we understand injuries can put us in a difficult position.

“It is a risk we are willing to take.”

Is it? Well, for a club experiencing as much change off the pitch as Tottenham, you would be forgiven for thinking Levy may see the value in supplying his manager with a third centre-forward. For if Spurs are to retain fourth place and qualify for the Champions League, there is every chance it will depend on their ambition in the final days of the January transfer window.

Villas-Boas and his staff can point to the defeat at Elland Road and claim a bad day at the office. Perhaps so. Maybe Michael Dawson's experience would have kept Spurs more resolute at the back. But the fact remains; if Defoe or Adebayor are sidelined for a considerable length of time, their rivals will be snapping at their heels.

Is it a smokescreen? Is Villas-Boas playing games with the media? He has shown more tact when facing the press compared to his time at Chelsea and just maybe he is throwing journalists off the scent. After all, Levy and Tottenham seem to savour the final 24 hours of a transfer window. Such blind optimism will be worth nothing if a striker is not unveiled on Friday. So over to you Mr Levy, what are you waiting for?

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