It has indeed been a joyous holiday season at White Hart Lane, with Spurs beginning the New Year in fourth. This has been accomplished on the back of four clean sheets, the first time this feat has been achieved in almost nine years. The last four games have been marked by consistency, purpose, and no small measure of attractive, flowing football. As 2010 beckons, anything less than a Champions League place by the end of the season will prove to be - on current form at least - a disappointment.
Although Defoe's goal against West Ham moved him equal with Drogba at the top of the scoring charts and Lennon put in another impressive display in the same game, the foundation of the good run has been the defence and the goalkeeper. Michael Dawson may not be the most technically gifted player in the Spurs team, but he has flourished in the role of senior partner in the defensive pairing with Bassong. Although his commitment has never been in doubt, his once poor decision-making seems to be much improved and he has also weighed in with a couple of goals. If Spurs ever manage to have Dawson, Bassong, Woodgate and King all fit at the same time - a forlorn hope perhaps - then they will truly possess an embarrassment of riches in central defence. Both full backs have also been playing well, with Assou-Ekotto thankfully back on form, to the extent that he will be badly missed during the Africa Cup of Nations.
Behind these defenders, Heuelho Gomes has been outstanding and was largely responsible for Spurs earning a point from the tricky Boxing Day fixture at Craven Cottage. The terrible gaffe made by the Brazilian goalkeeper at that same ground last season receded into distant memory as he kept Fulham at bay with a series of top-class saves. If rumors are to be believed, he may soon be challenged for the goalie's jersey by David James, who is understood to be unhappy at the disintegration of the Portsmouth team created by Harry Redknapp:
"You could say that I'm flattered by a team of Tottenham's stature and that it would be good for my England chances to join an upwardly-mobile club … The departure of so many players from the club last summer was a great pity, especially when those players are your proven goalscorers."
The "proven goalscorers" in question are Crouch and Defoe, surely now Harry Redknapp's first choice combination up front, following yet another dismal performance by Robbie Keane against Fulham. Keane astonishingly started that game ahead of Defoe and however unhappy he may be, he certainly can’t complain - unlike Roman Pavlyuchenko - about a lack of opportunities. Redknapp's disregard for Pavlyuchenko is presumably based on the Russian's attitude rather than his ability, and the manager may move the player on in January, admitting that "if someone comes in for Pav I wouldn't necessarily look to replace him". Redknapp apparently feels that three strikers would be adequate, in which case his best bet would be to sell both Pavlyuchenko and Keane and spend the money on a top class striker. With the defence solid, Lennon on fire, Modric returning to full fitness, and Defoe scoring for fun, a keeper and a forward would help round out a squad that already looks like it can compete with the very best.