This weekend should tell us a thing or two about ‘Arry’s Tottenham. Fully capable of obliterating the lesser teams of the division, yet pretty emphatically dismantled by those in the top tier, our form this season has generally swung quite wildly between two extremes.Objectively, it’s difficult to tell whether the Tottenham tankard is half-full or half-empty, with two consecutive wins having followed a decidedly patchy run of results and performances. We were as awesome against Wigan last week as we were awful against l’Arse last month. As one of our rivals for fourth spot, Villa are more evenly matched, and both result and performance today will give an indication of how we are progressing.
Hudd Would Have Got Away With It If it Weren’t For Those Pesky Kids
The Hudd makes for a handy barometer of our form. He has rarely looked happier than in recent weeks when he has been able to pull the strings – and chip in with the odd peach of a goal – as we have sauntered around with the cushion of a several-goal lead. One suspects he won’t be afforded such a luxury at Villa Park this afternoon, and bearing in mind his anonymous performances against Man Utd and l’Arse just a few weeks back, this is a chance for us to unmask the chap in Scooby-Doo fashion and discover just who Tom Huddlestone really is. Place your bets – international-class boss of the midfield, or fat man chasing shadows?
Also interested to see how we react to last week’s little nine-goal parade. Actually, not so much “interested” as overcome with an inevitable dread. Once the euphoria of last Sunday had faded, that old cloak of pessimism enveloped me, and as a result I can quite clearly envisage a performance against Villa which will be scientifically classified as the polar opposite of last week’s swaggering goal-fest.
When I close my eyes, the particular recurring nightmare of this week has been that post Carling Cup-hangover of 2008, which had the team labouring under the misapprehension that winners’ medals granted them the divine right to win further games simply by pitching up and harking back to that glorious Sunday afternoon. Lest we forget, they stumbled back to a royal thrashing the following weekend (up in the Midlands, incidentally – Birmingham away on that occasion) and spent the rest of the season bombing. It is certainly not difficult to envisage a similar complacency causing our downfall today.
Naturally, there are those who, on the basis of the Wigan game, have already begun planning their trips to the Nou Camp and San Siro for next season’s Champions League games. On the whole however, perspective seems to have been retained amongst the Tottenham faithful. It was awesome, but only one game and only three points. Actually, given the boost provided to goal difference, it was effectively four points – but the conclusion remains that such good work will be largely undone if we mess things up at Villa Park.
Villa Away: Not The Same As Wigan At Home
While I would love to think we’ll follow up last week’s entertainment with another goal-blitz, Villa away will be a vastly different kettle of fish. We came out of the blocks well last week, but a better team might have punished us first for failing to increase our lead early on and then for playing a tad carelessly in the 20-minute period before half-time.
Moreover the curious rule of The Away Team means that we are unlikely to begin the game in the same rip-roaring manner as we did at home last week. (Although why the devil this should be I really don’t know – the dimensions of the Villa Park pitch are presumably just about identical to White Hart Lane, are they not? The ball is still round? So why the change in mentality? Presumably the answer is crowd noise, yet players always seem to bang on about the fact that they do not really hear the crowd once the game begins… Apologies for the rant, just a personal bête-noire.)
Having won 9-1 last time out, wholesale changes are unlikely, but ‘Arry may yet tinker with the front line, with Keane a possible replacement for Crouch. Our lot can take credit for resisting the long-ball urge last week, but away from home, if Crouch is in the team the temptation to go long might just prove too much.
Elsewhere, the usual suspects remain injured, although there are some delightful snaps on the club website of Modders finally taking his first steps back to fitness, with a game against a bunch of primary school kids in Spurs tracksuits.
And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here