Subs make the difference
Holtby to Lamela to Paulinho – GOAL!
Villas-Boas is often criticised for his delayed substitutions; he generally waits until quite late in games to make a change, which can frustrate us fans. But on Sunday, two out of the three substitutes that AVB introduced were involved in the winning goal. Hats off to him, as they say.
Lamela replaced Sigurdsson after 71 minutes – just as Cardiff were having a slight resurgence. He initially drifted over to the left, but was soon moved to the right, where he was clearly more comfortable. He made five crosses, one of which was successful – the vital pass for the goal.
Lamela is still finding his feet at Spurs, and looks a little nervous when it comes to beating a man – the fact that he only attempt one ‘take-on’ (in stats speak) is telling, but his contribution was still hugely important.
AVB showed a lot of faith in Kane by bringing him on for Townsend on 81 minutes, with other attacking options available. The 20-year old repaid the Head Coach’s faith with a strong showing, adding presence and control to the left side, from which he cut in and either fed his team mates, or looked to angle crosses in. One such cross was especially dangerous and might have led to a goal. Kane also curled a low shot narrowly wide.
It’s no surprise to me that Kane had his best performance in a Spurs shirt in a more natural position for him. He is certainly more of a support striker than an out-and-out line leader (as he has previously been used in our first team). Hopefully this cameo will give him some confidence and he will be able to produce similar displays more consistently.
Lewis Holtby arguably had the biggest impact, despite only leaving the bench on 89 minutes. In his five minutes on the pitch he managed to complete 13 passes, including one key pass which sent Paulinho through for his chipped effort on goal. Importantly, of course, Holtby also got on the end of Lamela’s knock-down and found the Argentinian in space with a slide-rule pass, which allowed him to cross for Paulinho’s goal.
Whilst last season we often relied on Bale to come up with a bit of magic to win us these sorts of tight games, it is testament to the newly beefed-up squad that we are now able to put faith in our substitutes to come on and change games – and this without the likes of Defoe, Adebayor, Lennon and Chadli.