The best so far?
I know its early in the season, but as we are on an international break and we have played the first ten games, I thought I would ask which player has impressed you most?
I think we have had several outstanding and consistent performers this season, but I have narrowed it down to six names that I feel have contributed to both the team and as individuals so far, though feel free to add others or dispute my picks based on your own observations and reasons.
First up, I have opted for Brad Friedel. Perhaps this wont be a name that many will agree with, but not only has he played consistently well, but he has also raised his game with the increased competition, which is why I have been so impressed. We can all debate whether he was at fault for this or that goal or individual likes and dislikes, but surely we want all of our players to show the fight for their place that Brad has since the arrival of Lloris, and that alone shows what a shining example he is to everyone, as well as still being an excellent keeper.
Replacing Ledley King was seen as an almost impossible task, but in the signing of Jan Vertonghen, we have done pretty well. Technically excellent, strong and a good leader and talker for someone that has only just joined the club and is in a new country. Add to the fact that he has not only looked outstanding at centre back, but also left back as well, and we can see what a great and versatile player he is and what a valuable one he will become. It will be interesting where AVB plays him, once we see BAE return to full fitness, though in the long term I feel he will be our left sided CB, and a very good one at that.
Sticking with defence, I have gone with Steven Caulker. In six appearances so far, we can already see what a great player he can become. I have been championing Caulker for some time, and for those who doubted his ability to step up, I'm sure you are now converted to thinking he can be an outstanding player for club and country. A giant at the back and also in the opposing area, it could become a very nice headache to have Caulker, Gallas, Kaboul and Vertonghen after Christmas, and his form also adds to the feeling that we can sell Michael Dawson and have a players that is already at his level and can get much better, and that isn't written with disrespect to Dawson.
Sandro has fast approaching the player we hoped he would be. He has always had huge potential, but has now matured that bit more and his decision making has improved massively, perhaps with age, games and that bit of confidence of knowing he is a first choice starter. The injury to Scott Parker, has perhaps been a blessing to Sandro in allowing him to start as the first choice DCM, whilst partnering him with a player that has creativity and the ability to cover, has also allowed Sandro a greater freedom to extras himself in a way that he never seemed able to do when playing with Parker or Livermore. A lesson learned that we perhaps can't play two naturally defensive midfielders together, but I also feel that with increased confidence, we will see our Brazilian enforcer become so much more.
If we are looking at a player that has improved us as a team, then the vote has to go with Moussa Dembele. before he signed, we looked flat and devoid of ideas. Both Sandro and Livermore struggled to express themselves either as a pair or individually and only the drive and creative spark of Dembele has sparked our midfield and made us look three dimensional as a team. Moussa rarely loses possession and offers a support to the attack that no other central player can consistently offer. His partnership with Sandro has been devastating, but such is his quality and impact, I have no doubt that the same would have happened if he was playing alongside Parker or Livermore.
A couple of months ago, I don't think there would have been anyone that would have believed that Jermain Defoe could have played as a lone striker, but his form for club and country this season has killed any doubters stone dead. Without question Jermain has worked hard on his game and that perhaps belies the accusers that he doesn't play with intelligence. Six goals in twelve games, is a great return and though we have always accepted he is a player that if played regularly would score goals, I believe his work-rate and general team play has been exceptional, especially when we consider that is terms of his size, he will always struggle in certain situations when played on his own, but his willingness to run all game and chase lose causes, has impressed me greatly.
So there are my six candidates, and I feel that though we have seen several other highly impressive performances, they have been six of the best and are all worthy of consideration and debate as to who has been our outstanding starter to the season. Personally, I find it very difficult to pick one winner from the six...