Monday, 30 September 2013

Defoe's goals must be rewarded to maintain healthy competition

SPURS fans may have got the hitman they wanted in the summer but the selection process has to be fair or motivation will become an issue.

Roberto Soldado scored four goals in his first three games since arriving for £26million in the summer but his impact has waned in recent weeks.

That is not to deny his quality on the ball or in bringing others into the game - his awareness to set up Gylfi Sigurdsson's goal against Chelsea on Saturday was right out the top drawer.

But Jermain Defoe now has six goals in three cup starts and has to be banging loudly on the door for a Premier League return.

Many Spurs fans had written him off from having any sizable impact on the new campaign, so loud were the calls for TWO new out-and-out strikers. 

But the arrival of Soldado and his immediate success seems to have jogged our England hitman into life. 

And the manner of the strikes is just as impressive as the number.

Defoe's reputation is for explosive, powerful finishing but his goals this season have shown far more composure and maturity.

From a placed effort against Dinamo Tbilisi to delicate a chip versus Tromso and selling Aston Villa's keeper a dummy.

Not to mention a cheeky header earlier in that same game - the Londoner is starting to look a more complete striker than ever.

He has hit similar early peaks in the past, scoring five in the first five games of the 2009-10 season, including a hat-trick in a 5-1 away win over Hull.

That season, Defoe went onto score 17 Prem goals and last season he hit four in the first five games. 

But for some reason, he still failed to hold down that No 1 striker position.

However, with Soldado brought in, Defoe is clearly playing for his place and that is exactly what we all want.

But that determination to fight tooth and nail for a spot on the weekend will soon disappear if it becomes evident that a step up is out of reach.

Besides which, there is a lot of pressure on Soldado and he too needs protecting as he settles in.

The negative statistics are starting to creep into the frame for the Spaniard; no goals in four games, no league goals from open play.

Some will argue that the figures are warped in Defoe's favour as it is easier to get goals against weakened League Cup sides and Europa League minnows.

If that is the case, then give Soldado a chance to rediscover his shooting boots against Anzhi this Thursday and let Defoe loose against his former club West Ham on Saturday.

Competition for places is what we had lacked until this season but, in order to keep everyone at the top of their game, those on the sidelines need to know that those on the pitch are not untouchable.

Give Defoe a shot on Saturday and this rate he'll take it in style - and it could force Soldado to rediscover his scoring form as well.

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