LONDON (AP) – Tottenham forward Clint Dempsey thinks he is finally getting to grips with the task of filling the giant void left by Rafael van der Vaart's departure.
Van der Vaart scored 28 goals and provided many more assists during a two-year spell at White Hart Lane before he returned to Hamburg this summer.
Andre Villas-Boas signed Dempsey to fill the number 10 role Van der Vaart performed so well in even though the American was used to operating off the left flank.
Dempsey scored a whopping 23 goals from Fulham last season, but he struggled initially to settle in to the more central role required of him at Spurs this season.
Dempsey has scored only twice in Tottenham colors, but he combined well with Jermain Defoe against West Ham on Sunday, and the 29-year-old thinks he is finally becoming accustomed to his new position.
"I've been frustrated with not getting on the ball, being in the game or affecting games, but I think I'm now starting to do a better job," Dempsey said after the 3-1 win. "I thought I was good against West Ham. I was able to get a little bit more on the angle, be able to drive with the ball a bit more, take more shots and create chances for other people. It was good to play a part in two of the goals and I was unlucky to hit the post but I enjoyed the game."
Part of Dempsey's initial struggle to fit in to the Tottenham team can be put down to what was a tumultuous summer for the 29-year-old.
Dempsey thought he would secure a dream move to Liverpool that he had hankered for all summer when Brendan Rodgers made an inquiry for the forward, but the Merseysiders failed to follow it up with a bid.
Martin Jol left Dempsey out of his Fulham squad at the start of the season before Tottenham ended the forward's nightmare summer by meeting the £6million asking price that Liverpool were unwilling to match.
"It was a difficult August for me. I didn't have a pre-season with Tottenham or anybody, so I'm trying to play catch-up a little bit and trying to adjust to this team and the style they play," said Dempsey, who supplied Gareth Bale for Tottenham's second with a clever chip pass.
"I've been looking at videos and trying to figure out a way to make an impact and help the team. I'm traditionally used to playing in a 4-4-2 where I'm the guy on the left but I'm not an out-and-out winger. I come inside and I'm more like an attacking inside-left, so being more central is good, but it's about getting on the ball and making the right movements, and I'm starting to do a better job in that respect."
Sunday's victory was not only significant for Dempsey. Michael Dawson excelled in a tough battle with Andy Carroll at the heart of the Spurs defense in his first Barclays Premier League start of the season.
Villas-Boas has preferred 35-year-old William Gallas instead of the Dawson - something which has clearly not gone down well with the Spurs club captain.
"I love playing football and I want to be playing," Dawson said. "It's hard when you're not (playing). It is frustrating, but you've got to keep your head down, work hard and when your chance comes you've got to go out there and perform, and I thought all our players performed well."
Dawson turned down a £9million move to QPR this summer, bur Harry Redknapp's appointment at Loftus Road has led to speculation the west London club will rekindle their interest in January.
When asked whether he would consider a move to QPR, Dawson said: "I'm at Tottenham. I'm playing my football, I played today..."