It was a pretty manic, all-action-no-plot match; a performance pleasingly high on commitment from every man in lilywhite; and, but for an irritatingly supreme performance from the Premiership’s self-styled philosopher-in-chief, David James, it would have had ended with three points in the bag.James had perplexingly taken to quoting completely irrelevant lines from Isaac Newton in the pre-game build-up, but appeared not to have neglected the day-job once on the pitch. Early on he was leaping at full-stretch to his left, to palm away a Ledley header. “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination,” he could clearly be seen to mouth as he dusted himself off – “Oscar Wilde”. Moments later, as Defoe dived to head goalwards a Lennon cross, James tipped it over the bar, murmuring as he did so, “The luck of having talent is not enough; one must also have a talent for luck.”
In the second half James’ talent for luck became even more evident, with his snap-save to keep out a deflection from Lennon’s driven cross. “Illusory joy is often worth more than genuine sorrow,” whispered the Premiership’s resident academic , as the save led to a Pompey break which 15 seconds later saw Nugent score. “Kant!” screamed ‘Arry. “Descartes,” corrected James.
Although possession was frequently conceded, Spurs looked to have far better balance with Three-Touch O’ Hara out left, rather than Bentley and his hair-gel. Three-Touch’s presence also seemed to have a calming influence upon half-man-half-simian Gareth Bale, whose performance was less mistake-riddled than in recent weeks. No doubt having taken umbrage at the nickname ascribed to him at All-Action-No-Plot Towers, young O’ Hara did his best to dispel the accusation that he needs at least three touches when in possession – but alas, he seemed to have misunderstood the nature of the slight, and instead frequently resorted to five or six touches. Sterling performance, though, with generally decent distribution, and passion in the tackle.
Lennon’s willingness to cut infield as well as dip the shoulder and dart out wide caused problems for Belhadj, a very capable left-back. Encouragingly, Lennon’s performance also included a peach of a cross for Defoe, as noted above. Despite never lumbering beyond first gear, Corluka made a vital goal-saving intervention, as well as augmening attack to good effect.
The injury to Pav can apparently be filed under “Whingeing Foreigner” rather than “Out For The Season”, which will probably disappoint ‘Arry, who was no doubt straining at the leash for another excuse to bid £15 mil for more mediocre Premiership strikers. Meanwhile, the sight of Ledley limping off was dispiriting, but hardly surprising, for such is the plight of a man whose physique comprises feathers held together with blu-tac.
And so to Defoe. Bouyed by his success in the All-Action-No-Plot Haircut of 2008 category (see http://www.allactionnoplot.com/?p=161) the young man made an early bid to retain his crown with a Craig David circa ’99 effort, and also turned back the clock with his shoot-on-sight policy. The man has his detractors, and is accused of limited ability, but I’m a big fan of his penchant for regularly shooting on target, and generally with some power. Forcing the ‘keeper to make a save invites success at any level. Today, he was unfortunate to come up against a full-time philosopher with a line in breathtaking saves, but oh that Darren Bent would adopt a similar hit-the-target-and-see approach…
Defoe’s efforts were ultimately rewarded with the equalising goal (leaving James to muse with sadness “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same…”). Our pressure merited a winner, and but for Bent’s awful sense of geography would have done so, but the manner of the performance gives cause for optimism. Consummatum est, as David James no doubt mused at full-time.