AVB hails Lennon contribution
Gareth Bale may be on the verge of receiving a host of personal accolades, but Andre Villas-Boas thinks Aaron Lennon's contribution to Tottenham's season must not be ignored.
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Much has been made of Tottenham's reliance on 23-goal Bale this season but the loss of Lennon, particularly in the games against Everton and Basle, hit the team hard.
Shorn of the 26-year-old's pace and delivery down the right flank, Tottenham looked narrow and short of ideas until Villas-Boas' tactical change inspired the team to a 3-1 win against Manchester City last Sunday.
Bale has been heavily tipped to win at least one of the PFA awards on Sunday while he remains among the favourites to win the Football Writers' Association gong.
But Lennon, who has bagged four goals in the league this season, is also worthy of high praise, according to his manager.
"He has had a wonderful year," Villas-Boas said.
"He has scored in some wonderful games, is a player that helps offensively and defensively, he has great responsibility and he has had a couple of games as a captain which is also important for him.
"He has been great throughout despite a couple of injuries."
His trickery and pace have ensured that Lennon has always been a fans' favourite since he joined the club from Leeds eight years ago for just £1million.
The only criticism, from inside and outside White Hart Lane, was that his final ball has not been quite good enough at times.
The winger seems to have remedied that problem this year, though. Statistics show he has whipped in 42 crosses in the league this year - and he has also provided seven assists.
The improvement has not gone unnoticed by Villas-Boas.
"I think he has developed his game," the Portuguese said.
"He has developed his diagonal balls, his passing, his crossing, and we've seen him finishing situations more often this season. That comes through training."
With Bale, Jermain Defoe, and Lennon back in his squad, Villas-Boas is upbeat about his team's chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
Spurs let their seven-point lead over Arsenal slip after a run of one win in four but they looked back to their best in the second half of the City game, when they came from 1-0 down to beat last year's shell-shocked champions.
A win at lowly Wigan on Saturday would push Spurs up from fifth to third just 24 hours before Arsenal and Chelsea face Manchester United and Swansea respectively.
Villas-Boas has challenged his team to repeat last weekend's second-half performance in what he concedes could be the match which determines whether Spurs will be playing in the Champions League or Europa League next season.
"We fought very, very hard against City," the 35-year-old said.
"It was a game we needed to win to keep us in the battle.
"It gave us a tremendous boost of confidence. To transfer it to the Wigan game is our objective.
"The opponent is completely different, they are involved in a different battle and only if we are able to transfer that motivation will we be able to get the three points.
"I think probably out of these remaining games the Wigan game could be the decisive factor for our run in."
One of the men who inspired that turnaround after coming off the substitutes' bench was Tom Huddlestone.
The midfielder, who has been plagued by an ankle injury over the last two seasons, admitted after the game he could leave the club if he does not play more regular first-team football.
When asked whether the England international remained part of his plans, Villas-Boas said: "I think so. The words are understandable from a player who has not been involved as much as he wanted.
"It has been difficult for him to break into the team but with performances like that he is able to get more chances, definitely."