Same old, same old. You’d think that after a couple of decades and probably the best part of a thousand games it would be a bit easier to stomach, but no, Spurs’ capacity to frustrate remains unparalleled. Yet again, come the final whistle I was left looking around for a small puppy or irritating child to throttle.A usual gripe of mine is that we are playthings of the footballing gods, as flies to wanton boys and all that. Yesterday however, the footballing gods even took pity on us and gave us a couple of helping hands – disallowed goal for l’Arse which other refs might have permitted, Adebayor and his hammie, Eboue and his red card (nb Oh the hilarity of Eboue’s red! After the ostentatious embraces and words of comfort for Modric, when Eboue thought he’d got away with it, then to see him summoned back and sent packing – genius!). It really was set up for us on a plate. In fact, it was being spoon-fed to us. By half-time I had ventured from my private little pit of pessimism and was actually rather looking forward to the second half. The footballing gods, their work done, put their feet up to enjoy the spectacle. The gooners in the crowd, captured on tv, looked suitably morose. All was right with the world.
Sigh. One esteemed custodian of the interweb describes it as a kind of purgatory. Personally I see Tottenham as similar to women – intensely frustrating, with an adamant refusal to do things the simple way. A breed that seem to delight in complicating things solely in order to drive me to madness. And yet, I keep going back for more torture.
Despite the lack of cutting edge, it was not a bad display from us. In the early stages, of eleven vs eleven we seemed to be a bit sharper than they, the work-rate and team ethic an improvement upon much that has gone before this season. ‘Arry recently pointed to the attitude of Carlos Tevez as an example our players would do well to follow – of constantly harassing their man in possession, until this possession is eventually surrendered. At times yesterday, in patches, something akin to this could be seen from our lot, even as I pinched myself. Maybe it’s the start of a brave new era, and the arrival of a more determined mentality. Or maybe it’s just the perennial improved attitude for the game vs l’Arse, to be replaced next week with the usual lethargy.
Much of the credit for the high tempo of the early stages in particular must go to soon-to-be firm crowd favourite Wilson Palacios. For many this would have been our first good look at him, and, whisper it, he showed enough to suggest that he might be, you know, the one. The answer. If White Hart Lane is The Matrix, this guy could be our Keanu Reeves. Unless he goes off the boil like the second and third Matrix films. Anyway, either Palacios is possessed off rather extremely impressive energy levels, or he reads the game particularly well (maybe a generous dollop of both), as every time an Arse midfielder broke with the ball in the first half he seemed to be ready to greet him with snarl, foam at mouth, barrel chest and crunching tackle. He rather enjoys a foray forward too, and one gets the impression that he’ll be a lot more effective in the final third than do-do-do-Didier. I should probably also add a disclaimer that the screen on which I was watching was a little short on brightness and visibility, so it’s quite possible that every time Jenas did anything useful in the centre I automatically attributed it to Palacios.
However, as with Keanu in the early part of the film, Palacios still has room for improvement. The odd misplaced pass, and a typical piece of shambolic Tottenham marking from a corner that ought really to have seen Song score. Still, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the complete midfielder, turns us into a top-four team and sees everything as little columns of green numbers.
Until the final minute we didn’t create a clear-cut chance, but prior to that Lennon, Modric, Keane and Pav all had opportunities which weren’t too far off. Credit to Taarabt for playing in Modric in the final minute, he weighted the pass well. And Modric, ah Modric. No-one misses on purpose, I suppose, but one of these days I really will throttle a puppy, and have some difficulty explaining it to the constabulary (“I know I’ve got a dead puppy in my hand, but it was the last minute, he was clean through…”)
nb – Many thanks to Lee, for the venue recommendation for yesterday’s game. Home from home.