- Straight Talk by Steve McMahon -
SPURS fans must have experienced that sinking feeling as they watched Jermain Defoe limp out of Tottenham’s recent game against West Brom.
With Emmanuel Adebayor still tired after his African Nations Cup exploits with Togo, the former West Ham man’s ankle injury left Andre Villas-Boas with no recognised striker to call upon.
Clint Dempsey might have poached a vital goal against Manchester United earlier in the year, but the American is not good enough to lead the line for a club hoping to qualify for the Champions League.
I’m not convinced by talk of Villas-Boas deploying Gareth Bale in a striking role either, as it would limit the Welshman’s influence on the game.
Tottenham could have prevented this headache by strengthening in the January transfer window. Their decision not to is baffling and a clear example of poor management that I hope it will not come back to bite them.
Nevertheless, optimistic Spurs fans have plenty to distract themselves with, as the club are closing in fast on Chelsea. With Rafa Benitez’s side afflicted by paralysing inconsistency, Tottenham are poised to steal third place from the Champions League holders.
Spurs new boy Lewis Holtby will very likely play his part if that happens, as he has looked impressive in the few appearances so far.
Newcastle, a team with a host of new signings themselves, travel to White Hart Lane this weekend hoping to continue their revival. Judging Pardew’s team by their league position now could lead to Tottenham’s undoing, as the Magpies are a side transformed, powering to wins thanks to the relentless Moussa Sissoko.
Newcastle will now be hoping to go on a run of positive results so as not to be dragged into the relegation quagmire.
And a string of victories is exactly what Roberto Mancini needs as well from now till the end of the season, but even that might not be enough for Manchester City to retain the title.
Mathematically, it’s still possible of course, but I cannot see Manchester United reprising their slip-up from last season. As it stands, Alex Ferguson’s squad are obviously the strongest team in the league and City’s chances of matching them have come and gone after a quiet transfer window.
Fearsome as they are in attack, United are not without a weak link. Despite backing from his team-mates and manager, David De Gea’s ability to do the job expected of him continues to be questioned.
There is little doubt that the Spaniard could become one of the world’s best goalkeepers, but until he reaches his full potential, he will always be looked upon as a risk. A team looking to challenge for every domestic and European honour available to them cannot afford to play someone who does not pull his own weight, so it would not surprise me if Ferguson swoops for a more consistent option at the end of the season.
Marouane Fellaini’s recent double salvo was a good warning of what could take place at Old Trafford this weekend should the former Atletico Madrid custodian not show up. David Moyes’ team sparked United’s slide last season and then beat them again on the opening day of the new campaign. The upcoming encounter is another potential banana skin.
Everton’s cross-town rivals Liverpool so nearly aided United in their title charge by claiming City’s scalp last weekend. Unfortunately for the team’s fans, Steven Gerrard’s wondrous strike was undone by Pepe Reina’s error.
I feel for the England Player of the Year, as his time at Anfield will very likely end without the honour of a Premier League title. Instead, Gerrard might have to make do with being a part of a resurgent Reds side as one of his final acts.
Former Liverpool and England International Steve McMahon is a football expert with FOX SPORTS’ Monday nights ‘The Verdict’, on at 8pm HKT.
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