Despite a fourth successive league win, Spurs relinquished their place at the top of the table to London rivals Chelsea on goal difference. The loss of top spot pales into insignificance, however, in light of the broken leg suffered by Luka Modric following a tussle with Birmingham’s Lee Bowyer. The influential midfielder will now be out for at least six weeks and so will miss important games with Chelsea and Man United, as well as Croatia’s World Cup qualifier against England.
It was, in fact, the injury to Modric that led to the introduction of Peter Crouch and a marked increase in Spurs’ attacking threat. The big striker could easily have had a hat trick, not only scoring once but also hitting the frame of the goal and having another effort cleared off the line by Lee Carsley. Little wonder then that he has been drafted into the England squad alongside Lennon and Defoe for the upcoming friendly against Slovenia and the aforementioned World Cup tie with Croatia. Harry Redknapp has intimated that Crouch will feature - presumably at the expense of Keane - in the next couple of Premier League games:
"He can become Plan A easily - you look at that performance, it’s going to be hard to keep him out of the team. Especially when you play against Man United and Chelsea, you need something different in your team at times. "
Crouch had done his cause no harm by finding the net in the Carling Cup tie at Doncaster in midweek. Also on the score sheet that night were three players whose futures may well prove to have been affected by Modric’s injury. In retrospect, would Jamie O’Hara have been allowed to move on loan to Portsmouth? With Modric out, is David Bentley going to be presented with a last chance to redeem himself at White Hart Lane, rather than moving at a cut-rate to Everton? And is Tom Huddlestone capable of stepping up to the plate and becoming the dominant creative influence in the Spurs midfield?
The answer to all of these questions may be moot if Redknapp is successful in bringing in Martin Petrov, who is currently warming the bench at Man City. Although the wrong side of 30, Petrov would be another very good capture, if a deal can be done before the transfer window closes. Gone are Kevin-Prince Boateng (yet another ineffectual signing from the Damien Comolli era) and Pascal Chimbonda - although never say never with Chimbonda, who has already had two separate spells at the club in less than three years. Who knows, he may be back by Christmas.
With five games played, there is much to be positive about. Those four league games and one cup-tie have produced 16 goals, a very good tally made all the more pleasing by the fact that it has been shared among eleven different players. In the Birmingham game, Spurs were yet again clearly the better side, with the bulk of the possession and twice as many attempts on goal. Without Modric, however, the next two games against two of the title favorites will test the sustainability of Spurs’ great start to the season.