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Spurs Odyssey:Season Review 2007-2008(3) - The Defenders

Paul Smith, the webmaster of Spurs Odyssey has once again been selected to provide player profiles for the Professional Footballers' Association Annual "Who's Who" Directory. Published in time for the start of each new season, the directory gives an account regarding all players for the 92 league clubs who have made at least one full or substitute appearance in any official competitive game during the preceding season.

Paul has written the profiles for all 30 Spurs players who fulfil the necessary criteria, and has been given permission to reproduce them here.

This item deals with the 14 defenders who have played for Spurs this season:-

Pascal Chimbonda At the start of the season, it appeared that the Spurs right back was unsettled as he was being strongly linked with a move to Chelsea. He stayed and has played in 32 of Spurs Premier League games, and 49 games in all, including the Carling Cup Final, when Pascal did not enamour himself with the fans or the management by disappearing down the Wembley tunnel when substituted. He did re-appear for the post win celebrations though! Chimbonda appears to have lost his automatic selection as right back to Alan Hutton, who was signed from Rangers in January, and is rumoured to be a likely departure in the summer. Pascal has been asked to play at all positions across the back four, and is capable of well-timed tackles and headed clearances. Chimbonda likes to get forward too, and has had a hand in a number of goals with his crossing and headed assists, also scoring three goals during the season.

Young-Pyo Lee’s season at Tottenham was hampered both by injury and the arrival and emergence of other players at left back. Lee continues to represent his country, having played in a friendly against Turkmenistan in February and a World Cup qualifier against North Korea in March 2008. At Spurs, Lee has mostly been deployed at left back, despite his preference for his right foot. Lee is a fast defender, making plenty of valuable tackles and interceptions, but he is not as effective going forward as some would like. Lee has been linked with a summer move back to his former club – PSV Eindhoven – having played his last Tottenham game of the season in January.

Younes Kaboul was signed from Auxerre in the summer of 2007, and with Ledley King and Michael Dawson ahead of him in the Spurs pecking order, was clearly signed with a view to the future. However, early season injuries meant that Younes had to jump in at the deep end, and made his debut in Spurs’ first game at Sunderland. Younes is a skilful player, and likes to get forward as much as possible. His tendency to be a little too elaborate in crucial defensive positions caused problems at times, but at the other end he scored 4 goals for his club, including the memorable last minute equaliser in a dramatic 4-4 game against Aston Villa, which was the match chosen to commemorate Spurs’ 125 year history. Younes spent the end of the season being out of favour with the new manager. He has made 7 appearances for the French under-21 team.

Paul Stalteri. Spurs’ Canadian full back spent the season on loan at Fulham after a move in January, and played a full part in Fulham’s dramatic escape from relegation. Stalteri played a part in just 7 of Spurs games, and was never a first choice with Chimbonda ahead of him on the right and Gareth Bale and Young-Pyo Lee at left back. Paul continues to represent and captain his country.

Gilberto da Silva Melo. The 32 year old Brazilian International left back was signed in January by Spurs from Hertha Berlin. Gilberto had an in auspicious debut at home against PSV, when his mistake led to the solitary goal by the visitors, but he redeemed himself with a goal against West ham when coming off the bench. Gilberto has to date had limited first team opportunities, playing in 7 games in all, but has gained confidence as the season closed, demonstrating competent ball-winning and retention skills, with enough pace and penetration to give the opposition defence problems too. Gilberto was a regular for his country in the Copa America 2007, and has played in 5 games for Brazil during the season too.

Gareth Bale. The Spurs left back was signed from Southampton in the summer of 2007 for what will be potentially a massive fee. Gareth will only be 19 in 2008. Gareth made an immediate impact and was used both at left back, and in an attacking left-side of midfield role in his 12 games for Spurs, in which he scored 3 goals. One of these goals was a free-kick special against Arsenal, but the other two were in free play, where he demonstrates great pace, coupled with all the skill desirable in a wing player. Gareth is a full Welsh International, and played in 4 matches for his country, but sadly his season ended with a serious ankle injury sustained in December. If Gareth can recover his fitness and form, then next season should be a memorable one for him indeed.

Michael Dawson. The Spurs central defender was struck by injury at the dawn of the season, and then most crucially for him in February, thus missing out on the chance of a Carling Cup winner’s medal. Michael has still started 38 games and came off the bench once, but will now face competition from the presence of Jonathan Woodgate and a fit Ledley King. Michael scored two goals this season. He continues to impress with his determination, and long diagonal balls out of defence. There have been some lapses in his concentration though, but Michael is still only 24 and has the mentality to apply himself and succeed in future seasons.

Ledley King. The Spurs club captain continues to suffer with long term knee problems, and this season has been restricted to just 10 games. In fact he only managed 5 full games, but thankfully these included all 120 minutes of the fantastic Carling Cup Final win over Chelsea. Thus Ledley’s dream and just reward for his dedication and loyalty to Spurs was rewarded when he climbed the Wembley steps to lift and parade Spurs’ first trophy of the 21st Century. Ledley also played in the home and away legs of the semi-final against Arsenal, and the crucial UEFA Cup game against PSV Eindhoven. When fit, Ledley is an immaculate defender, worthy of International recognition, which was again offered this season, but had to be turned down due to his injury problems. Ledley was rested at the end of the season in the hope that his career can be renewed in 2008-09.

Alan Hutton. The Spurs right back was subject to some “Will he, won’t he sign” reports, when Spurs approached Rangers for his transfer. Hutton might have missed out on a UEFA Cup loser’s medal, but he won a Carling Cup winner’s medal in just his third game. Hutton was cup-tied for Spurs’ UEFA Cup challenge, but played 15 games after his January signing. Alan quickly won over the demanding Spurs fans, who recognised the 23 year old as a winner. Alan is tall, strong, fast and a direct player. He is good in the air and on the ground, and apart from his defensive duties, has been an integral part of Spurs attacks down the right side. Alan has yet to score for Spurs, but he has got a decent shot, and his crossing and passing skills will more than make up for any shortage of goals. Alan is a full Scottish International, and has played in 6 games this season, including the win over France in Paris in September, 2007.

Anthony Gardner. The Spurs centre-back’s chances were once again limited, partly due to injury, but mainly due to preference of other players. Anthony played in the first 4 games of the season, due to the absences of not only Ledley King, but also Michael Dawson. Sadly, Spurs had a losing start to the season, but it was Anthony who scored their first goal in their second game with a downward header from a corner. Anthony also featured in UEFA cup games under Martin Jol, but has yet to win selection by Juande Ramos. In January he was loaned to Everton, but made no appearances there. Now approaching 28 years of age, Anthony’s career appears to be reaching a crossroad point.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto. The Spurs left back was beset by ill-fortune early in the season, when he was struck by a serious knee injury sustained in training after having played a part in one UEFA Cup game and one Premier League game only. Benoit was forced to sit out the rest of the season, and it remains to be seen whether he can regain fitness then force his way back into the Spurs reckoning with Gareth bale being the logical first choice for his position.

Ricardo Rocha. The Spurs centre back was signed in January 2007 from Benfica. Having played a part in the close of the 2006-07 season, Ricardo had to be satisfied with a place on the bench in Spurs first game, despite the absence of Ledley King and Michael Dawson. Ricardo in fact only played in 5 of Spurs early season games, although he was an unused substitute on 8 more occasions. Ricardo has the necessary defensive expertise and experience, but today’s Premier League is very fast which could leave him exposed. Ricardo has spent various periods of the season either injured or playing for the Reserve side.

Jonathan Woodgate. Jonathan was signed by Spurs from Middlesbrough in January, and Spurs fans were naturally concerned because of his poor fitness record in recent years. Jonathan proved to be a fantastic signing, and in his debut game at Goodison Park, demonstrated what a cultured and classy player he is. Jonathan played in 17 games including the Carling Cup Final, when he scored the winning goal with his header against Petr Cech in extra time. Jonathan’s courage in the challenge proved decisive as he got the rub of the green and actually scored with a rebound after Cech tried to clear. Jonathan’s only other goal to date for Spurs came also against Chelsea, when he scored Spurs first goal with a clean header in the 4-4 draw. Jonathan reads the game very well; has good positional sense, winning the ball with head and feet. He is cool under pressure and may yet resurrect his England career with performances such as those seen this season.

Chris Gunter. The 18 year old Welsh International full-back was signed from Cardiff in the January transfer window. Whilst Chris continues to represent his country, having played 6 games at full and under-21 level this season, he is clearly regarded as an investment by Spurs, for whom he made a debut in their FA Cup win at Reading, but for whom he has featured in just 4 games this season. Chris can play at left or right back, but has played most of his Spurs football in the Reserve team to date.

The next instalment of profiles will cover the Spurs Midfielders.

· Season Review (1) - Form Guide

· Season Review (2) - The Goalkeepers

· Season Review (4) - The Midfield

· Season Review (5) - The Strikers

· Season Review (6) - Re-live the Carling Cup Final!

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