Villas-Boas backs Soldado to inspire Spurs

18 August 2013 11:46

Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas believes Roberto Soldado can supply his side with 20 goals this season after the Spain forward's strike earned a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.

Tottenham paid Valencia £26 million ($40.4 million, 30.4 million euros) for Soldado and he began to repay their faith with a coolly taken penalty on Sunday, just as he had in last weekend's pre-season friendly against Espanyol.

"Of course I think so," Villas-Boas said when asked if Soldado could successfully export his La Liga form, which has seen him pass the 20-goal mark regularly.

"His career speaks for itself. To see him step up so confidently and put it to the same side as he did against Espanyol was important for us, so it was good to see him up there."

With Gareth Bale sidelined by a foot injury and the Wales forward still being courted by Real Madrid over a potential world-record transfer, the pressure had been on Tottenham to record a rare opening-day success.

Villas-Boas opted for a formation that saw Soldado as the lone striker, with three attack-minded players behind him.

One, operating in Bale's usual position on the left, was another new signing, Nacer Chadli, while £17 million fellow newcomer Paulinho was deployed alongside Mousa Dembele in front of the back four.

That set-up allowed Tottenham to dominate possession against a side who were playing in the Championship last season, but second-half misses by Gylfi Sigurdsson and substitute Jermain Defoe meant the hosts remained in the hunt for an equaliser until the final whistle.

Villas-Boas said he had been "extremely happy" with the way his new signings had fared.

"Most of these players arrived at a later stage, particularly Soldado and Paulinho, who have had two or three weeks with us only," he said.

"Bearing in mind for all of them the Premier League is a different proposition in terms of intensity and passion for the game, they did extremely well."

Palace have been widely tipped for relegation but manager Ian Holloway was keen to make a point afterwards.

The former Blackpool manager claimed his side had been treated unfairly by referee Mark Clattenburg, who awarded the penalty for handball when Aaron Lennon's cross hit the flailing hand of Palace defender Dean Moxey.

"I don't understand how it was a penalty, or how Dean Moxey could have got out of the way of it," he said.

"It's going to be a long hard season for me with these people. I had this with Blackpool. Certain clubs get fouls and others don't. Tottenham will feel that if they play Man United.

"Do I think I would have got that at Tottenham? No, I don't. I just want a bit of fairness. I want a foul like anyone else would have got one. I've got a horrible taste in my mouth after that."

Tottenham, fifth in the English top flight last season, host Swansea City next weekend, while Palace visit Stoke City.

Source: AFP

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