Vertonghen: This is the most complete Spurs side I’ve played in
09:00 03 February 2015
Jan Vertonghen believes this is the most complete Tottenham side he has played in, and he feels Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen are on their way to emulating Gareth Bale’s matchwinning displays for the club.
Vertonghen arrived at White Hart Lane in the summer of 2012 and, in the following campaign, a Lilywhites outfit inspired by Bale and managed by Andre Villas-Boas were just beaten to fourth place by Arsenal, missing out by one point on the final day.
Bale scored 26 goals for Spurs that year, aided by Jermain Defoe (15), Clint Dempsey (12) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (seven).
Last season was a disappointing one, with Tottenham falling 10 points short and finishing sixth, but they are right in the race under Mauricio Pochettino this term.
Harry Kane struck his 19th and 20th goals of the campaign in Saturday’s 3-0 victory at West Brom, while Christian Eriksen was on target for the 11th time, leaving Spurs two points behind fourth-placed Southampton and arch-rivals Arsenal ahead of the weekend’s crucial north London derby at White Hart Lane.
“I think we had a very good team in my first year as well but Gareth was outstanding, even a class higher than what we have now,” said Vertonghen. “But we’ve got a couple of guys who can achieve the same performances as he did, and they’re on their way.
“I think we’re more complete. We still have a long way to go but what we are doing now is unbelievable. In the beginning of the season we had some problems creating chances and now they’re coming out of nowhere.
“Harry and Christian are just unbelievable players - but I don’t want to just talk about them. We’re very happy that Nacer [Chadli] is back and we can score from everywhere. Our full-backs did a great job on Saturday too, and we’re just getting more and more complete.”
Chadli has contributed nine goals this season, while another of Vertonghen’s fellow Belgians – Mousa Dembele – has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the past week.
Having been deployed as a defensive midfielder for much of his time under Villas-Boas and Pochettino, the 27-year-old was moved forward into the No10 position at Sheffield United last Wednesday and excelled in the role.
Dembele then started behind the striker again at West Brom on Saturday and set up two goals in the first 15 minutes, winning the free kick that produced Eriksen’s early opener and then finding Kane as the England Under-21 striker doubled Spurs’ lead.
“I think he [Dembele] needed two performances like this, and he can be up there [for us] as well,” said Vertonghen. “He’s not a natural goalscorer but had a great assist [at West Brom] and was important in winning the free kick as well.”
Tottenham fans continue to debate where the enigmatic Dembele is most effective, and Vertonghen admits he isn’t sure either.
“I don’t know because he’s very strong defensively as well,” he said. “With a good No6 next to him he can do what he did for two seasons.
“I don’t know what his best position is - I think he can play right wing and right full-back because he has this strength in him that no-one can pass him. He’s just one of those players that you want in your team.”
Tottenham are now preparing for two crunch clashes against top-four rivals Arsenal and Liverpool, with Saturday’s north London derby being quickly followed by a trip to Anfield on Tuesday night.
“I don’t want to say they will be decisive, but they will be very important for us,” said Vertonghen. “A home game against Arsenal is always something special and, against Liverpool, we haven’t done too well in the last couple of years but we have to go there and try to win.
“We’ve won more big games than we did in the last two years but we lost a couple of stupid home games so we need to win points against them to achieve the fourth place, and that’s very important.”
Vertonghen is likely to start both games, having been in the line-up for 13 of the last 14 matches in all competitions.
“I think it’s good for centre-backs to play as many games as possible because it’s one of those positions where you really need to adapt to one another,” he said.
“For strikers, midfielders and full-backs it’s different, you need more rest, but for a goalkeeper and centre-backs it’s good to play a certain amount of games a week and I’m happy to have the confidence of the manager.”
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