NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 16: Wilson Palacios of Honduras holds off Waldo Ponce of Chile during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group H match between Honduras and Chile at the Mbombela Stadium on June 16, 2010 in Nelspruit, South Africa. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
A little less than two months ago, at the end of October, Ryan Rosenblatt wrote a piece entitled "In Search Of Wilson Palacios." In that article, Ryan discussed Palacios's loss of form and how it's affected Tottenham Hotspur. In the beginning of the season, the team's lack of a quality defensive midfielder presented a bit of a problem. Palacios had fallen out of form and out of favor. Many of us were wondering, what happened to Palacios? Was he tired from the World Cup? Was he badly affected mentally by one poor performance? We all wanted to know where the player we saw for the previous season and a half had disappeared to.
I always held the belief that Palacios just needed a run of games to get back into form. There's no way that a player who was fantastic for Wigan, for Honduras, and for us for a season and a half had suddenly turned to crap. When he first started to come back, results were shaky at best. There were a couple of games where Palacios couldn't complete a simple pass to save his life. I recall Sports Illustrated's Georgina Turner remarking that Spurs would be a dangerous team if Palacios was a footballer. It was a harsh criticism, but not too far off base.
Then, the Tom Huddlestone injury struck. Harry Redknapp attempted to prolong the inevitable by playing Jermaine Jenas in a midfield pairing with Luka Modric. Predictably, this was rather ineffective. Although we eventually won the North London Derby against Arsenal thanks to a great second half comeback, the incredible lack of any defensive presence in the center of midfield in that match allowed Arsenal to take a 2-0 lead as part as one of the worst halves of football Spurs have played in recent years.
Between an injury to Jenas and the ineffectiveness of Jenas, he was replaced in the lineup by Wilson Palacios. It's not entirely clear if Jenas was forced out because of injury or if Harry was in the process of moving Palacios into the starting lineup anyway, but it's clear that the circumstances led us to a better place and a more effective lineup.
Since Palacios entered a UEFA Champions League match against Werder Bremen in the 20th minute for an injured Jermaine Jenas, he's been the man in the center of midfield. Palacios was good for the rest of that match and he's been very good in every match since. Thanks to a run of games in the first team, Palacios has found his footing again and is starting to look like the Palacios of old. This weekend, against Chelsea, he was very good despite a couple of minor lapses in judgment. As he continues to get starts, he should continue to minimize those mental errors.
Rafael van der Vaart should be returning to the first team very shortly with Tom Huddlestone coming back to the team within a month. This is what we would call a good kind of problem. Obviously, there is no way that we can fit all of our quality players on one field. The good news is that it wasn't clear a month ago whether or not Wilson Palacios was a good enough player to get regular playing time with this team. After a nice run of games, he's re-gained his form. Options are a good thing, and Harry can now adjust his tactics (I know, I just implied Harry thinks about tactics, shut up) based on what he wants to do instead of finding a way to get our best players on the field.
We've got a legitimate defensive midfielder. Time to party!