AVB hails Toon's Sissoko coup
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas thinks Newcastle counterpart Alan Pardew may have landed one of the signings of the season in midfielder Moussa Sissoko.
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The Magpies snapped up Sissoko for a nominal fee last month after the France international had been frozen out by his former club Toulouse following his failure to sign a contract extension.
18. Moussa Sissoko
The 23-year-old made an instant impact, impressing against Aston Villa before scoring a vital brace to snatch a win for the north-east side against European champions Chelsea last weekend.
Tottenham, along with a host of other top European clubs such as Juventus and Inter Milan, were thought to be interested in signing Sissoko, but the considerable Gallic contingent in the St James' Park dressing room convinced the dynamic midfielder to move to Tyneside on a six-and-a-half-year contract.
Villas-Boas is a big fan of Sissoko, and Newcastle's other January signings like Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran, so he knows his team will have to be on their guard when the Tynesiders arrive at White Hart Lane.
"Most of their signings have gone straight in and have had the right impact," the Spurs boss said.
"Sissoko was a great grab. A couple of years ago he was being linked with the top clubs in the world and to get him at such a low price was a massive coup for them."
While Toon boss Pardew splashed the cash to acquire some five new French additions to his squad, Villas-Boas was rather less active in the transfer window.
Lewis Holtby was the only senior signing the Portuguese made as efforts to bring in Internacional striker Leandro Damiao failed.
The Spurs manager is content with his squad, however, and is extremely pleased with how Holtby has settled in following his move from Schalke.
The Germany international has impressed off the bench in his two appearances so far, and he could start out wide on the left if Villas-Boas decides to go through with his plan to play Gareth Bale behind either Emmanuel Adebayor or Clint Dempsey.
"He's made an immediate impact in the team in both games," the former Chelsea manager said of the £1.25million midfielder.
"Lewis offers further options playing from the channels coming in.
"We haven't seen him in this position yet, but he finds comfort in that position because he played it before for Mainz.
"At the moment he's playing fantastically well. Hopefully we will continue to see him progress."
Although Spurs are unbeaten in two months in the Premier League, their tendency to draw matches had meant they have not been able to make an assault on second and third position.
Villas-Boas hopes his team can build on last weekend's narrow victory at West Brom by recording another win tomorrow that will put the Londoners six clear of Everton, and seven ahead of Arsenal should other results go their way.
"We want to build a gap over the teams that are chasing us and bridge the gap to those at the top," Villas-Boas said.
"It can go either way. Everton have a difficult away fixture (at Manchester United) this weekend, Arsenal have one too (at Sunderland).
"If we want to be able to profit in some way from these two fixtures, we have to get the result against Newcastle.
"We have to do our job."
Adebayor is expected to train for the first time with his team-mates on Friday afternoon since his near month-long spell with Togo at the African Nations Cup.
The 28-year-old was granted extended leave following his country's progression to the quarter-finals, meaning he will only have one training session with his team-mates before the game, but Villas-Boas said yesterday that he would have no qualms about throwing the player in to his starting XI, particularly as Jermain Defoe is out with an ankle injury.