International Soccer - England

Stoppage Time: Troubling times ahead for Tottenham?

By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

( - Words like ashamed and embarrassed were mentioned often following Tottenham's humbling 6-0 defeat at Manchester City on Sunday.

It was the worst loss in league play for Tottenham in 17 years, and it is the kind of defeat that makes players and coaches take a long look at themselves to see where things went wrong.

But while Tottenham is getting introspective this week, chances are that most people associated with the club won't like what they see when looking inward.

Through 12 games this season, Tottenham resides in ninth place in the Premiership and appears to be headed in the wrong direction with just one point from its last three games.

Now manager Andre Villas-Boas must rally his side for a big match with Manchester United on Sunday, knowing that another defeat to a top rival will only increase the level of panic around White Hart Lane.

So what exactly went wrong in Sunday's thrashing at the hands of City?

Well, pretty much everything.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris handed City the opening goal just 15 seconds into the match with a poor clearance, and things never got better after that as Sergio Aguero and Jesus Navas scored two goals apiece with an own goal thrown in for good measure.

Sometimes teams are able to write off a performance like that as an aberration, like Manchester United did two years ago after losing 6-1 at home to Manchester City.

United shook off that result and embarked on a nine-match unbeaten streak to vault the team into a tie at the top of the league.

Yet based on its recent run of results, things only figure to get more difficult for a team that harbors aspirations of a top-four finish.

The most obvious flaw for Tottenham is the fact the team quite frankly looks clueless in the offensive third.

Last season, the team simply gave the ball to dynamic winger Gareth Bale and let him do the rest with the Welshman scoring 21 goals, 10 more than the next closest player.

But Bale now plies his trade in Spain after a record move to Real Madrid for $132 million, leaving a massive void in attack that Tottenham has yet to fill despite a summer spending spree that netted the club a pair of $40 million players in striker Roberto Soldado and winger Erik Lamela.

Nacer Chadli, Paulinho, Christian Eriksen and Etienne Capoue also were brought in to bolster the attack, but so far that group has combined to score five goals, with four belonging to Soldado.

Tottenham has failed to score in each of its last three games, and the only sides in the league with fewer goals than Spurs are Crystal Palace and Sunderland, the bottom two teams in the Premiership.

Soldado was a prolific scorer for Valencia last season, netting 24 goals in league play for Los Che. And his arrival was expected to give Tottenham the type of target man who would help to ease the loss of Bale.

Yet, Soldado has proven to be ineffective for Spurs, with three of his four goals coming from the penalty spot, while he has too often been isolated up top and left alone to fend for himself.

With so many new faces to integrate into the offense, the onus is on Villas- Boas to come up with a system that better suits his side, something he must do soon if Tottenham's woes in front of goal are going to come to an end.

Outside of Sunday's match, Tottenham has been very sound defensively, but it wasn't necessarily the number of goals the team conceded that was the most alarming thing. Rather it was the utter lack of fight that Spurs showed after falling behind early.

Sunday's loss has the potential to serve as a wake-up call for a sputtering Spurs side. But unless Villas-Boas is able to come up with a way to get more production out of his stable of summer signings as well as restore some confidence in the team, it could be just the beginning of a frustrating spell for a club still searching for its identity.

11/25 14:57:51 ET