Skip to content

Kicking the can on Clint Dempsey’s precarious place with Spurs

Jan 2, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT

Clint Dempsey Getty Images

Clint Dempsey may have bagged a goal to start 2013, but yesterday was a decidedly mixed one for the U.S. international. With Gareth Bale suspended for diving too much, you would have expected Dempsey, having returned from a groin injury during Spurs’ trip to Sunderland, to start on the left side of André Villas-Boas’s 4-4-2. Instead, Gylfi Sigurdsson got the call.

To his credit, Sigurdsson has forced Villas-Boas’s hand. For the better part of a month, the attacking midfielder has been Spurs’ best player on the ball. If it wasn’t for Gareth Bale’s Boxing Day explosion, you could argue the Icelander has been the team’s best attacker (per minute) period. If he’s fighting Clint Dempsey for playing time, there’s little doubt Sigurdsson has started to get the upper hand.

It’s a battle that’s been implied since Deadline Day, when Spurs took advantage of a short-sighted Liverpool to land the American on the cheap. The move pushed Sigurdsson down the depth chart, and while both players struggled in their first months at White Hart Lane, Dempsey was able to maintain his relative advantage.

Now that Sigurdsson is flashing his Swansea form, he and Dempsey may have swapped spots, a state that could see “Deuce” eventually struggle for playing time. Over the next month, if Emmanuel Adebayor goes the Africa Cup of Nations (for Togo), Dempsey should get starts up top (provided Villas-Boas doesn’t use the absence as an excuse to switch back to a 4-2-3-1). There, Dempsey will be expected to produce goals. If he can’t catch fire, he’ll may slot in behind Sigurdsson on the depth chart when Adebayor returns.

On a fully healthy Spurs team, that means Dempsey is the second attacker off the bench. Specific matchups and game situations may see him used before Sigurdsson, but unless Dempsey can start to winning this one-on-one with the Icelandic international, he’s going to scrounging for playing time in the new year.

It’s a situation that’s always brought the best out of Dempsey in the past. At Fulham, he would habitually lose his place whenever the Cottagers were forced to swap coaches. Within months, he’d not only be back in the starting lineup but be one of Fulham’s best players.

The only difference this time: Dempsey had a spot to lose. André Villas-Boas has never forced him to prove himself. The Portuguese manager has put his faith in Dempsey.

At a competitive place like Tottenham, though, faith is not enough. Bottom line: Dempsey needs to play better to keep his spot.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 5-1 Colorado Rapids

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

    alvaro_saborio_real_salt_lake AP

    Real Salt Lake demolished the Colorado Rapids, 5-1, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

  2. WATCH: Real Salt Lake nets five consecutive goals to lead Colorado, 5-1

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    javier_morales AP

    Five consecutive goals have Real Salt Lake ahead of the Colorado Rapids tonight, 5-1.

  3. Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Liverpool

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly Getty Images

    Preview of West Ham v. Liverpool match on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET this Saturday.

  4. Watch Live: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (Lineups)

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    Edson Buddle, Nat Borchers AP

    Watch Real Salt Lake encounter the Colorado Rapids live on NBCSN or NBC Sports Live Extra at 10:00 p.m. ET tonight.

  5. Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Arsenal

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Preview of Aston Villa vs. Arsenal match on NBCSN at 10:00 a.m. ET this Saturday.

  6. Pellegrini, Mourinho have different views on Lampard’s Chelsea exit

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT

    41361 Getty Images

    Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hold different rationales about midfielder Frank Lampard’s Stamford Bridge exit this year.

  7. UEFA president Michel Platini to keep gifted watch despite FIFA’s dislike

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

    EURO 2016 Steering Committee Meeting Getty Images

    UEFA president Michel Platini doesn’t wish to give into FIFA’s pressure to return a watch gifted to him at the World Cup.

  8. Seattle Sounders ink Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    Olympics+Day+15+Football+57gftmf5b8fl Getty Images

    Seattle Sounders FC have signed Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam.

  9. WATCH: Coritiba striker Joel vanishes into hole during goal celebration

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Joel+Coritiba+v+Chapecoense+Brasileirao+Series+hdtIomrwmOml Getty Images

    Coritiba striker Joel brought out a one-of-a-kind goal celebration vs. Sao Paolo.

  10. Chicharito admires Sir Alex Ferguson for spearheading “European dream”

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has sung the praises of former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who the forward believed was instrumental in getting himself exposure in Europe.

  11. At “massive” Madrid, Bale hails Spurs fans, mentions possible return

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Gareth Bale, AP

    Gareth Bale could one day return to Tottenham, but his waxing poetic on White Hart Lane is likely nothing more than political fare.

  12. Van Gaal has interest in Ronaldo, doesn’t think Real Madrid will sell

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Of course it’s possible that Louis van Gaal could bring Ronaldo to Manchester United, but he doesn’t believe his current team is interested.

  13. WATCH: Ronaldinho’s brutal PK attempt mars Mexican debut

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

    Ronaldinho AP

    How many times in his life has Ronaldinho performed this task with flair (or at least adequately)?

  14. Americans Abroad preview: Guzan looks to keep Villa rolling

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Tim Howard’s stint as No. 1 USMNT backstop may be on hiatus, but the battle of who’s the top American goalkeeper in the Premier League is on

  15. Premier League Preview: Queens Park Rangers vs. Stoke City

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    niko-kranjcar-qpr-stoke-64064-1928575_613x460

    An even rivalry heads to Loftus Road to start its season series on Saturday, kicking off the Premier League weekend.

  16. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 5

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 5, right here.

  17. Awaiting trial on domestic abuse charges, Hope Solo plays on. Fair?

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Mexico v United States Getty Images

    A Washington Post report asks why Hope Solo is being celebrated for her on-field efforts while awaiting the results of her not guilty plea to domestic abuse charges.

  18. Di Vaio seems ready to call time on prolific stint in Montreal, career

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Di Vaio

    It’s not about the Impact, the CONCACAF Champions League or the club’s record. For Di Vaio, it’s about home.

  19. Benoit Assou-Ekotto suspended for comments on Anelka quenelle gesture

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

    Benoit-Assou-Ekotto-tweet-2932591

    Perhaps the investigation took a bit too long, but it seems many athletes did not understand the depths of their joke usage.

Featured video

Breaking down Man City vs. Chelsea