What we learned from Fulham 1-2 Spurs: Vlad Chiriches is Tottenham's top transfer
Chiriches looks Spurs' best capture
While the attacking players brought in to fill the shoes of Gareth Bale have all failed to look entirely comfortable at White Hart Lane (presumably because it's such a squeeze in those shoes), the man brought in to minimal fanfare at the other end of the pitch has slotted in superbly.
The Romanian's arrival almost went under the radar, coming on the same day as the far higher-profile signings of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela, but he has already proven himself to be an intelligent, hard-working and technically gifted defender. Tottenham's stats when he has played paint a picture: played 10, won 7, drawn 2, lost 1, scored 17, conceded 4.
Although the headline moment of his performance at Craven Cottage was the sweetly-struck 30-yarder that drew Spurs level (as if to show his fellow new boys up, Chiriches has now scored as many Premier League goals from open play as Eriksen, Lamela and Roberto Soldado combined), his defensive capabilities were also once again very much on display. This included 5 clearances and plenty of tidy distribution from the back.
But Lamela is showing signs of bedding in
It's perhaps not saying much, given he has been used so fleetingly up to this point, but Erik Lamela's performance on Wednesday evening was surely his best in a Spurs shirt so far.
The Argentine showed the confidence to run at Fulham's defence (although that only manifested itself in one successful 'take-on' on our dashboard, below), with one run and shot in the first half stinging the palms of Martin Stekelenberg in the Cottagers' goal, while his 32 completed passes bettered any other attacking player on the pitch.
He also looked comfortable on both the left and right flanks, versatility that will stand him in good stead as the season progresses. He also made five successful tackles, and the only man to make more was…
Scott Parker still has the hunger
With Parker enduring a frustrating 2012/13, hampered by injury and mixed form, many doubted the midfielder would be able to repeat the level of performance he showed during his time at West Ham - the kind of performance Fulham so desperately need right now.
But the former Spurs man certainly didn't look rusty on Wednesday evening, making 7 successful tackles against his former club over the course of the game – the most of any player on the pitch and a smidgen under a third of Fulham’s total for the match.
The season ahead will be a real battle for the Cottagers, but in Parker they certainly have a skipper up to the challenge. New boss Rene Meulensteen will need similar hunger from the rest of his squad if the west Londonders are to turn their season around.
Even Berba's tummy is starting to rumble...
There’s no doubt that the player Meulensteen will be most keen to squeeze every last drop out of will be their maverick Bulgarian talisman.
Although Wedenday’s showing was hardly classic Berba, there was a little more vim and vigour than had been shown in recent weeks – perhaps surprising, given news he wanted out of the club broke just hours before kick-off.
Berbatov’s quick thinking and tidy pass gave Ashkan Dejagah the opportunity to put Fulham ahead (he obliged), while the 32-year-old forward kept Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris busy with a selection of shots from relatively close range. He’ll certainly feel he could and should have scored, and surely would have had the Frenchman not been in such fine form in the Tottenham goal.
A few more good games and a few more goals should put the smile back on his face – then perhaps he can be coaxed into seeing out his Cottagers contract, which expires at the end of the season.
Holtby had everything Spurs needed
Tottenham - and indeed the game as a whole - looked a little limp in the first half, but the addition of Lewis Holtby at the interval gave the visitors exactly what they needed - energy, fight, confidence... and a winning goal.
Despite the fact the Germany international only entered the match at half time, only Berbatov and Jermain Defoe had more shots, Kyle Walker was the only player to complete more attacking-third passes, and Erik Lamela was the only Tottenham player to attempt more tackles. It was no coincidence that Spurs' best spell of the match came immediately after his introduction - that will have made it all the more frustrating for Andre Villas-Boas that his team conceded during this period.
Like Chiriches, Holtby scored his first Premier League goal on Wednesday evening and, like Chiriches, the German looked impressive in his early matches in a Tottenham shirt. Yet his performances then tailed off somewhat. The Holtby on show at Craven Cottage was the one Tottenham signed last January, and the one Villas-Boas will be desperate to see more of.
FULHAM 1-2 TOTTENHAM: Analyse this match yourself with Stats Zone