Van der Vaart - the flying Dutchman making short trips cannot be ignored


Rafael van der Vaart is back – all be it in short bursts.

The Dutchman began the season with ingredients to name a recipe “steer clear”.

These ingredients included a postponed game, a horrific run of opening fixtures (including both Manchester clubs), and another hamstring injury.

Things are changing and van der Vaart is quietly amassing some serious points.

I’ve taken a look at his playing position, fitness, form and upcoming opponents to see whether it’s time we brought the sharp shooter into our squads.

Position

Jermain Defoe’s good form is creating doubts over van der Vaart’s position.

Van der Vaart wants to play off a lone striker (Adebayor), but Redknapp would ideally like to pair Defoe with Adebayor in a 4-4-2, and deploy van der Vaart on the right wing.

Van der Vaart’s unwillingness to track back defensively on the wing affectively means Harry must choose between van der Vaart and Defoe.

Van der Vaart said after the Arsenal match:

“You want to play in your preferred position, where you can play to the best of your ability but you can see from the goal they scored that my strength is in the centre- when I have to track back, that does not really benefit my game. I’ll do what the coach asks but I am assuming this will not happen regularly.”

Redknapp replied with:

“Yes, it does seem to be a problem. Rafa can’t run back and chase the full-back. Against the better teams it is a problem. Rafa’s best position is in the middle, playing just behind the front man. The only problem is that Jermain Defoe plays there too and Jermain is playing very, very well at the moment. So, I guess I have got a decision to make, haven’t I? I suppose it’s now between Rafa and Jermain over who plays in the team. Rafa is a terrific footballer. He has great skill. But if you’re in the team and asked to do a job, really, you should just do it.”

Defoe was benched against Newcastle last weekend but came on for van der Vaart on 62 minutes and scored a clinical strike.

Redknapp then said:

“It was a great finish. They’ll say I’m a clever manager – if I had been that clever maybe I should have started him. It is difficult, I have him and Rafa. Rafa didn’t look sharp today and looked a bit tired having been away with his country. I decided Jermain might give us a bit of sharpness.”

Do I think van der Vaart will be dropped? No, not seriously, but it’s clear his position is uncertain and game time could continue to be reduced.

Fitness

Van der Vaart’s ongoing hamstring troubles and inability to go 90 minutes is a concern.

He’s lasted 45, 77, 62 and 62 minutes in the last 4 games, which doesn’t inspire confidence.

Form

His form has been reasonable but he’s definitely delivering the points – and that’s all we care about!

3 goals, 1 assist and 8 bonus points in his last 4 games has seen the Dutchman amass 32 points (4, 10, 8, 10). Fantastic!

One of those goals could arguably have been given handball, while one was a penalty, but these points cannot be ignored.

Opponents

Tottenham travel to bottom of the table Blackburn this weekend and van der Vaart looks good to start – especially as he’s not in Tottenham’s midweek European squad.

Blackburn have conceded 10 goals in their 4 home games, including 7 in the last 2, against Arsenal and Man City.

Van der Vaart then faces QPR, ful, AVL, wba, BOL – a tasty run.

Our flying Dutchman is also on penalties, free kicks and corners, and is now available at £9.7m (down from his original £10m price).

He’s a cracking prospect – if you can put the positional and fitness doubts aside.