No idea what the official stats are, but as we go into our final fixture of 2009 I suspect that a League table based on this calendar year would make for fairly pleasant reading. Vacuous admittedly, but nevertheless it is indicative of our progress, and back within the realms of the real world the more meaningful statistics have us well-placed for a top-four push with the season now in its second half. Points have been rather sloppily dropped at various junctures, but this has hardly been a trait unique to us. In fact, a testament to the generally impressive first half of this season is that the aim now has officially been stamped as “Champions League, s’il vous plaît”, when on 15 August most of us would probably have settled for top six.Decorum dictates that we make the usual polite noises about our visitors today – better than their League position suggests; in good form; likely to come out all guns blazing for a derby game et cetera. All fairly valid points, but anything less than a win and our heroes should be made to refund the paying public. West Ham are unlikely to roll over and let us tickle their tummies, and if it descends into a scrap I would be rather dubious of our chances, but, dispensing with the niceties, we ought to run rings around this lot. We tend to struggle against ten-man defences or red-hot midfields, and with West Ham ticking neither of these boxes, Lennon, Kranjcar, Modders et al should have the green light to go wild.
A couple of selection posers for ‘Arry ahead of kick-off. Arguably our best player over the last month, Kranjcar went scuttling down an awful lot of cul de sacs against Fulham a couple of days ago, and while dropping him would be a rather draconian measure for 60 minutes of under-achievement, we do have waiting in the wings another Croatian oozing creativity. Bassong limped off in the dying embers of the draw with Fulham, which may disrupt the centre-back pairing which has overseen three consecutive clean-sheets, but should he be absent today it ought not to cause too much disruption, given that Ledley is ready to step back into the first-team arena. Elsewhere, Defoe gets to renew that long wonderful loving relationship with the good folk of West Ham, and is a good bet either to score against his former club or miss a penalty at some point; while the game will also provide an opportunity for ‘Arry to have a scout of Messrs Parker and Upson.
As an awe-struck wide-eyed youth, AANP’s first ever trip to the Lane was to see us beat West Ham 3-1, and I’m inclined to suggest a similar outcome from today’s jamboree.
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, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here