Tottenham Hotspur: Why Dempsey and Sigurdsson Have Been Unsung Heroes for AVB

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2013

Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson have not had perfect debut years with Tottenham Hotspur. But both have still found ways to contribute.
Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson have not had perfect debut years with Tottenham Hotspur. But both have still found ways to contribute.Clive Rose/Getty Images

Should Tottenham Hotspur finish fifth—which is a decent likelihood after Tuesday—it will be intriguing as to how aspects of their 2012-13 campaign are judged.

Star names like Gareth Bale, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen will come out of it with their reputations suitably enhanced after impressive years in the limelight. But there have been plenty of other contributors who have helped Tottenham to (possibly) within one win of Champions League qualification.

Of these comparatively unsung performers, Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson have stood out for Andre Villas-Boas' side since the turn of the year.

Regular Bleacher Report readers might scoff at Dempsey being "unsung," given the extensive coverage dedicated to him on this website alone.

Yet, the USA international and Sigurdsson have quietly gone about becoming important role players.

Injuries, squad rotation and tactical alterations have meant they (especially the latter) have had to make do with intermittent opportunities. As the season has progressed, they have become players used to coming in and doing a job, as and when the manager needs them.

They are not the only ones to have done this. Steven Caulker, Lewis Holtby and even Emmanuel Adebayor could be described as having similar job descriptions.

For Villas-Boas, there is evidently something reassuring about being able to bring Dempsey and Sigurdsson into the team.

Their respective goal and assist tallies (accounting for all competitions) back up their general usefulness. Dempsey has scored 12 times and set up an additional six goals. Sigurdsson has netted seven goals and assisted on a further six.

The duo deserve to be regarded as two of Tottenham's unsung heroes this season for the timing of their contributions. While Dempsey was featuring more often further back in the year, both have stepped up at crucial moments in the home stretch in the battle for a top-four place.

In Sigurdsson's first six months in North London, he occasionally impressed (some decent cup outings, tidy cameos versus Reading and Fulham). But it was bright showings in consecutive London derbies that underlined his value.

After scoring the equalizer against West Ham United (prior to Bale sealing the 3-2 win), the 23-year-old put in a hard afternoon's shift against Arsenal, marked out by a terrific assist for his team's opener.

These were two big games for Tottenham, and Sigurdsson showed his readiness for such occasions.

Impressively, even with the Iceland star being rotated since then, he has kept his head up and worked hard to help where he can. It has not always resulted in flawless performances, but his equalizers in the draws with Everton and Chelsea might yet come to be regarded as important moments for the Spurs.

After taking his time to settle in, Dempsey began finding his feet in North London shortly before Christmas. It was unfortunate timing that he was injured then, just as he was properly getting into tune with his teammates.

The same can be said about the niggles that followed a positive January featuring goals in the FA Cup and, most memorably, the equalizer against Manchester United. Dempsey may have been on the verge of establishing himself on the team with Jermain Defoe and Adebayor occasionally absent, and Bale yet to have grabbed the headlines from playing in the American's usual central attacking midfield position.

Even with the lack of certainty over where his best fit in Villas-Boas' side is, Dempsey has still managed to influence proceedings.

After a dire display against Everton, in the following game he scored twice against Basel to keep the Spurs' Europa League hopes alive. His latest appearance, last weekend versus Stoke City, was arguably his best for his new club.

Various squad members playing well at different times have combined to get Tottenham to where they are in the league table.

Alone, a few individuals (Bale, probably Dembele and Hugo Lloris too) have made the biggest impacts, and ideally, Villas-Boas would rather have a larger group doing the same. But, certainly if the Spurs finish in the top four, he will be largely pleased with the parts others have periodically played.

The caveat for Dempsey and Sigurdsson is that there is little certainty as to what is in store for them beyond this current campaign. It could just as likely be a move away or little game time, as greater hero status in a more involved role.

One's future at White Hart Lane may be at the expense of the other. For now, the decent jobs they have done this season deserve some recognition. They might get even more if either plays a big part in securing Champions League football this weekend


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