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Birmingham - Spurs Preview: Will A Stirring Performance Be To Much To Ask?

Really not sure how to call this one. Back in August I would have pencilled in Birmingham away as a solid point and a good chance for all three, but it’s a different kettle of fish here in January 2010. Our win over Fulham was bizarrely comfortable, but hardly suggested that the Tottenham juggernaut is revved up to full throttle, ready to blitz aside all-comers.Birmingham for their part had been unbeaten in about five years until they were soundly despatched by Chelski midweek, so no obvious indication as to how they will amble up either. This will be no stroll in the park, but a stirring performance from our lot would not be too much to ask, and a convincing win at St Andrews would give us a most welcome second-wind going into spring. Of course, the alternative, of an insipid, uninspired defeat, would be the cue for the voices of doom to bellow forth their scathing critique once again.

With neither the signings of Gudjohnsen nor Kaboul confirmed as yet I presume there will be a fairly familiar look about the team tomorrow. Bassong for Ledley; Bentley to return no-man’s land (presuming Kranjcar has recovered from his sniffles); a choice of Crouch or Keane in attack. Defoe has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, but I sneer in the face of the man/woman who dismisses his goal-threat. He may not have had many chances recently, but the lob against Leeds and disallowed goal against Liverpool suggest that he has not forgotten where the netting is moored.

Sergeant Wilson has given a few encouraging indications over the past seven days that he may be returning to form, and away from home his will be an important role. As will that of the boy Bale. Speed on the counter-attack always helps on our travels, and with Lennon’s “two-week” groin strain now a month-long absence our primary pace outlet appears to be the reborn left-back. However, Bale has yet to be particularly given a severe test defensively since returning to the starting line-up, and tomorrow might be an occasion on which that side of his game is of primary importance.

In a season in which all the pretenders for fourth are resolutely taking one step back after every two steps forward, a run of four or five consecutive wins would do us a world of good. With Villa at home and Wigan away to follow, opportunity knocks for our heroes tomorrow.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s Dad - White Hart Lane Legend

At the time of typing it seems that the i’s have not yet been dotted, t’s crossed and funky Icelandic symbols inserted, but nevertheless it seems that Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen is heading to the Lane imminently. The AANP verdict? Instinctive reaction is a thumbs-up. Admittedly I haven’t seen him play for a few years, other than the odd Champions League cameo, but he’s only 31 so I’d imagine he’s still got it. “It” in this instance is a Sheringham-esque ability to play thoughtfully with his back to goal. Back in the day I thought he was a cracking little player - smart, able to pick passes that few others spot and technically excellent. I fancy that he and Modders will find each other’s wavelengths without too much difficulty, which is a lip-smacking prospect.We’ve tried to use Keane in that withdrawn role, helping out the midfield, but few would suggest that it has been an overwhelming success this season. Crouch does a noble job of dropping deep and laying off the ball for team-mates, but he could not be described as a hub of creativity. Gudjohnsen, I hope, will be able to do that job with a lot more élan and inventiveness.

This does essentially leave us with five strikers, so the welcoming handshakes offered by Messrs Keane and Pav might be a little firmer than is could strictly be deemed friendly, but if it improves performances I won’t complain. A half-season loan is hardly high-risk either.

West Ham’s new owners seem rather miffed at our conduct here, spookily suggesting that karma will have its wicked way with us. Personally I have no bone to pick with that lot – as with every other team I just hope we beat them twice a season, so there is no underlying sense of vitriol when I suggest that we do not seem to have done anything wrong here. The guy was available for transfer; West Ham have tried to get him; before he signed for them we too have courted him; and it appears that, with impeccable judgement, he is opting for us. All seems above board, and if anything the man himself should be incurring their wrath.

Should we seal the deal AANP Towers will clink a glass to Gudjohnsen tonight. As has been suggested in other quarters, other areas of the team may be a higher priority, but as a cheap short-term deal this is fine. And the name Gudjohnsen already has its place in White Hart Lane history – if you just bear with me while I don my anorak I’ll tell you that Eidur’s Dad (and agent) Arnor was the chap whose crucial penalty was saved by Tony Parks, in the 1984 UEFA Cup Final shoot-out.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith,Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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 hereAnd as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Spurs 2-0 Fulham: A Team of Jermaine Jenases

Curiouser and curiouser. You think you’ve seen it all at the Lane, you brace yourself for the worst – and are then treated to a completely serene, straightforward, almost routine home win, as far removed from the All-Action-No-Plot mentality as is possible.It Was The Midfield What Won It 

Hudd

Seasoned AANP followers will be aware that while happy to offer the guy polite applause, I have yet to become a fully paid-up member of the Tommy Hudd Fan Club, and I was a tad dubious on hearing his name read out yesterday. Need not have worried however. For a start, he took to the pitch sporting a haircut vaguely akin to Mr T, which is always a good move in my book. He then began the game with a confidence and willingness to take charge which he has occasionally lacked in home games this season (Man Utd and Hull, off the top of my head). From the off he constantly demanded the ball, kept things ticking over briskly and stung the ‘keeper’s palms. We like that around these parts. He could also be seen to hassle and harry – not exactly in a bone-crunching Sergeant Wilson sort of way, but showing enough willing and energy to hurry along the opposition. AANP happily awards him a doughnut by way of reward.

Sergeant Wilson

His actual distribution of the little orb bordered on woeful, but the snarl and bite was commendable. Still not at the standard of last season, but this was one of his better days of the current campaign.

Modders 

Bentley

Much-maligned, and unlikely to play for us again if ‘Arry can possibly get away with it, but he is really not a bad player. Crossing with both feet he produced some that were delicious and some that went awry, but on the whole it was a decent shift. Equally pleasing was his attitude, the brylcreemed one showing a good wholesome work-rate. And while it does not count for much, we at AANP Towers rather approved of the fact that on a night as cold as yesterday he did not pitch up with gloves and tights, but played in short sleeves. Good lad.

Bale

He still not been given a stern defensive test, but this was another welcome attacking performance from the lad, and with Modders cutting infield Bale’s presence bombing up the flank has gone down swimmingly.  I think we had all forgotten what it was like to have an over-lapping full-back merrily tearing forward at every opportunity, but he augments attack so well that I rather conveniently include him in this little parade of honour, even though I am supposedly lauding the midfielders. Bale may not be the finished article, but he’s still a whipper-snapper and got bundles of potential - so hopefully he will live long and prosper at the Lane, even if BAE does swan straight back into the starting line-up when fit.

All that may have read like a rather over-enthusiastic canticle of praise; not so. There were moments of needless sloppiness; we still desperately miss Lennon; and a more incisive team might have given us more problems than Fulham. However, after some of the horrors we have witnessed at the Lane this season, a nice straightforward victory without hitting top gear – aided by a healthy dose of luck in front of goal – were more than welcome. I’ll happily settle for at least one more of those before I start lambasting the players for lack of entertainment.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith,Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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 hereAnd as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Spurs - Fulham Preview: The Team That No Longer Picks Itself

Team selection was never really an issue when we were banging them in left, right and centre and the side picked itself, but times are a-changing. While annus horribilis is probably a bit strong, our form since the turn of the year has been worrying, reflected not only by poor results and sloppy performances but now scrutiny of the line-up.Corluka or Hutton

The name “Aaron Lennon” ought also to be factored in here, for many a left-back has been confounded by the Lennon-Corluka combo. In Lennon’s absence, Hutton offers a darned sight more pace on the right than the lumbering Croat - but as he is something of a liability defensively, Charlie is likelier to get the nod tonight.

B.A.L.E or B.A.E.

With suggestions in some quarters that Assou-Ekotto might be back, ‘Arry’s selection here will be interesting. Bale has been one of our better players in recent weeks, offering more attacking thrust than BAE and generally doing about as much as could be expected of him during his four-game opportunity. That said, the braided one is the more solid defender. We at AANP Towers like a bit of gung-ho sprinkled into our daily porridge, so would prefer Bale, but ‘Arry ‘as his favourites, and I would expect BAE to waltz straight back in if fit.

Wingers

The lawyers are being readied at AANP Towers, for the use of the term “Wingers” might be queried under the Trade Descriptions Act, but Lennon is still injured (curses) so unless ‘Arry goes clinically insane and starts with Rose and Bentley I presume Modders and Kranjcar will get the nod.

Centre-Mid

The source of much consternation in recent weeks, our centre midfield has shown all the aggression and feistiness of a heavily sedated kitten settling down for its afternoon nap. The possible return from injury of Hudd will suit us perfectly if we find ourselves a couple of goals ahead at some point, but otherwise I rather fret. When Jermaine Jenas played for England against Brazil a few months ago the universe almost collapsed under the weight of absurdity, but if Hudd remains injured JJ will again be our midfield fulcrum. I’d rather find that sleepy kitten and kit it out in lilywhite. Sergeant Wilson needs to discover his A-game, and pronto.

Up-Front

It looks like the delicate issue of whether Pav’s Saturday night cameo merits a shake-up of our attack can neatly be swept under the carpet. He’s strained a groinski apparently, so Defoe will be partnered by Crouch or Keane, while penalty-taking duties are apparently being shoved towards Hudd or Kranjcar.

Easy to forget that it’s only one defeat in six League games, and that we are still fourth, but this feels an awful lot more important.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith,Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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 hereAnd as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Spurs 2-2 Leeds: A Dying Art Lives On At The Lane

We at AANP Towers are firm proponents of the dying art of chivalry, always happy to whip off the jacket and place it over a puddle for a lady to walk across, or leap into a burning building to save a one-armed orphan; but once on the football pitch I would positively encourage our lot to dispense with the p’s and q’s, and instead adopt all the airs and graces of a gaggle of behooded youths at a train station. Alas, our heroes are just too darned nice sometimes. When we needed ruthlessness last night, and a good violent kicking was required of opponents who were down, we instead extended the hand of comradeship at every given opportunity. Defoe’s penalty; Jenas’ back-pass; the usual disparity between our attempts-on-goal and goals-scored tallies; and of course, when all else failed, a bizarrely reckless and unnecessary penalty-area challenge in the sixth minute of injury-time. Model citizens the lot of them, and their mothers would be proud, but 30,000 at the Lane would rather see a Neanderthalic savaging of the enemy.The technical quality of our players is not in doubt. Crisp one-touch passing looks wonderful when it works (Exhibit A – our second goal), and if we are two or three goals to the good our football really is lined in gold. At the risk of sounding like a broken record however (a record first produced back in the ‘80’s) when up against a team determined to slug it out we are constantly found wanting. Our lot need to draw inspiration from someone in the centre, but as ever our default switch last night was set to “dainty”. Jenas, Hudd, Modders, Kranjcar – none are the sort to whom we look with confidence when a clinical despatch is called for.

Sergeant Wilson added some bite when he came on, and his burst set up the second goal, but by and large he has been below par this season. It is a crack we have typically papered over with early goals followed by lightning-fast counter-attacks. More often than not, this approach will be sufficient for victory, but all the nine-one wins in the world will not disguise the fact that we still lack a true leader in central midfield, who will take the game by the scruff of the neck and go charging into attack like that beardy chap in the film about Sparta.

Instead, we have Jermaine Jenas. The lad must be quite sensational in training, because he certainly never does anything during an organised game to merit inclusion. At one point yesterday we were treated to the sight of Jenas’ annual Burst-With-The-Ball-From-Deep, a gallop of fully 60 yards on the counter-attack offering a charming hint of just how good a player he might be if he did the same thing throughout the game, every game. He does not do this every game however; he does it once a blue-moon, typically finishing by knocking the ball sideways to an opponent, to the inevitable vocal accompaniment from the stands. The point of his existence continues to be pondered by all bar a succession of Tottenham and England managers.

Elsewhere on the Pitch… 

For all his single-mindedness in front of goal from open-play (and that early attempted lob-volley was rather eye-catching) Defoe’s penalty-taking is truly woeful. The award of a penalty ought to be greeted with back-slaps and satisfaction; instead I can barely bring myself to watch either him or Keane step up. It is a pretty damning indictment of these two that I now find myself scanning the periphery of the area to see who is most alert for the rebound.

More excitingly, The Rarely-Sighted Pav may have reminded ‘Arry that rather than just being a foreign chap with a mullet always loitering in the background his preferred trade is actually that of a professional footballer. Fingers are crossed here at AANP Towers that the Russian is given another chance on Tuesday night.

A decent shift from the boy Bale, although few have ever doubted his attacking prowess. He will face sterner defensive tests, but for various reasons – pace, left-footedness, crossing ability, age – he remains in favour at AANP Towers, the news of which will make his weekend I’m sure.

In need of a leader we have not held back in heaping praise upon Michael Dawson in the last couple of months, and one or two crunching tackles again yesterday indicated why. The fellow’s commitment to the cause is a welcome contrast to so many around him, but a couple of wobbles against Liverpool and then the penalty conceded yesterday were reminders that he does still rather act first and think later. We all love to see someone diving in across the turf and sending an opponent flying, but there is a time and a place, and Daws erred pretty spectacularly on both counts in the dying seconds.

The Road to Wembley 

 

Spurs - Leeds Preview: The Quest For Ignominy Continues

Well this could turn into comfortably the worst week we have had for a while. After the frustration of Hull and the woeful ineptitude at Liverpool, a Cup-tie against lower-league opposition gives us an inviting platform for thorough and nicely-rounded humiliation.It’s been a decidedly painful week to be a Spurs fan, the players having left no stone unturned as they methodically explored every means possible in their quest for ignominy. Horrendous misses, defensive blunders, a fair share of bad luck and a dismal timidity in the face of a challenge have all been proudly evinced by our heroes over the last seven days. With l’Arse having taken top-spot in the Premiership it’s been target-practice for my colleagues in the office this week, and worryingly it is not particularly difficult to imagine the situation worsening around seven o’ clock tonight.

However, had this game taken place this time last Saturday, there would be far less concern. Leeds may have shown in the last round that they are capable of providing a stern test, but until we kicked off against Hull we were in cracking form, free-scoring at one end and miserly at the other. The Liverpool capitulation has certainly left AANP psychologically scarred, but one bad game ought not to ruin our season. I suppose such a tendency to over-reaction is programmed into supporters of most clubs, but having waxed lyrical at the victory over the might of West Ham a few weeks ago, the sackcloth and ashes which have greeted the Liverpool defeat is similarly over-the-top, and the reality is probably somewhere in between these extremes. A couple of strong performances at the Lane over the next four days will be the equivalent of a smack in the face with a wet fish, which I fancy is what we all need at the moment to snap out of this blip and get our season back on track.

There does not seem to be much chance of ‘Arry taking any chances with wholesale changes here, so we can expect a pretty strong line-up this evening. No Lennon, Ledley or Hudd, and Danny Rose might get a game against his erstwhile employers, but by and large it will be the usual suspects wandering out to the Star Wars theme at 5.15pm.

As I remarked after the 3rd round win over Peterborough, the elimination of our recent knock-out nemesis Man Utd from this season’s FA Cup makes the competition a darned sight easier for us to win, and consecutive home ties to lower-league opponents suggests that the gods are playing their part. As is the case every time we play weaker opponents at the Lane, the first goal today will be vital. Score first, and life ought to be a little easier.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Liverpool 2-0 Spurs: The Tottenham Way

Well on the bright side they all looked like they wanted to play The Tottenham Way. Sugar and spice and all things nice, with pretty passing and a minimum of three dainty touches in possession. Delightful stuff. Unfortunately this was an occasion which demanded urgency, a determination to win at all costs, a bloody-minded refusal to accept defeat and generally all those other clichéd attributes which Spurs perennially lack, but which are prerequisites for top-four qualification. I guess the absence of these attributes is a further trademark of The Tottenham Way. The other lot decided to roll up their sleeves and scrap for it; our heroes duly looked horrified, appearing close to tears each time a swarm of those uncouth Liverpool rotters descended on them like a pack of dogs.It was all rounded off, and neatly summed up, by possibly the worst attempt ever recorded in the history of the game at throwing-everything-at-the-opposition-in-the-final-ten-minutes. Instead of being camped in their penalty area we somehow contrived to allow Liverpool half a dozen point-blank chances inside ours, repeatedly insisting that they try and try again, as well as standing back to let them indulge in a spot of keep-ball whenever they got the urge.

Should I ever get the opportunity to storm into the Tottenham dressing-room and damn well scream at the players to fight, tooth and nail and ‘til the bitter end, in search of victory, I imagine the players would simply look quizzically at each other, trying to wrap their precious minds around the baffling concepts of which I speak, before retiring to the training-ground to engage in some delightfully pretty and gently-paced passing routines. In some parallel universe where tackling is completely banned from the game, our lot are absolutely awesome.

Even aside from the generally lacklustre attitude, we might have fared better if we had dispensed with the multiple-touch approach and just zipped the ball around first time, to leave the scousers chasing shadows (incidentally, even in absentia, this ball-dwelling is a misdemeanour of which Hudd is too frequently guilty). The one time we actually managed a one-touch move this we created our clearest chance of the match. By and large however, Modric and Kranjcar looked like foreigners of excellent technique who just could not cope with the pace and feistiness of a high-octane Premiership game. Jenas gave the definitive Jenas performance - backwards; sideways; earnest; energetic; ineffective.

The Refereeing Decisions

The most generous interpretation that could be given is that this whole business of the offside rule and its “phases of play” is sufficiently obscure to be entirely subjective. At the whim of the officials, Defoe was ruled against, possibly for having strayed offside back on Saturday against Hull. AANP’s latest watertight theory is that God supports l’Arse, and His will be done.

As for the elongated one’s penalty shout – less of a complaint, given that pens are so rarely awarded for the countless little misdeeds at set-pieces. That said, I don’t know what the opposite of a force-field is, but Crouch has one around him at all times, ensuring that whatever the occasion and whatever he does, if he is in the opposition penalty area he will be penalised. It’s the law.

However, the creases across the AANP brow this morning were caused by the performances of those in lilywhite rather than black. Creative though the refereeing decisions may have been, it does not disguise the fact that we were mightily disappointing, in such a crunch game. Points lost against weakened rivals is galling enough, but seeing points surrendered quite so meekly is vaguely soul-destroying. As for the buoyant optimism and spring in the step of just 24 hours ago, we denizens of AANP Towers have been given a most severe reprimand for such wild and thoughtless misjudgements.

I Kid Ye Not – We’re Still Fourth

And yet, come May we may very well make fourth. Everyone around us seems to have a gun pointed at their own foot and an itchy trigger-finger, so it could yet happen. Easy to forget we still are fourth actually. No extra points are lost for a display of complete impotence, or for an attempt to fashion a team around Jermaine Jenas; nor would we have gained any more points for beating Liverpool away than we will do if we turn over Fulham at home next week. Bad day at the office, but there are plenty of points left to be gathered.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Liverpool - Spurs Preview: Rightly or Wrongly It’s Sunny Optimism Round These Parts…

‘Arry has been banging on about the triffic opportunity tonight’s game presents, and he has a point – for without Gerrard and Torres that lot suffer from a lack of both confidence and quality; while clean sheets a-plenty have underpinned some pretty decent recent performances from our heroes. Off the top of my head I can’t actually remember the last time we ever won in the League at Anfield, but having caught snatches of their game against Reading in the Cup last week the place looks more like a wendy-house than a fortress at the moment. As a cautionary note, it is worth bearing in mind that while they are supposedly enduring a nightmare season, they are still only four points behind us. Unfortunately then it is unlikely that they will roll over and let us tickle their tummies (quite a mental image) but a spirit of blisteringly sunny optimism has nevertheless made itself at home in AANP Towers ahead of this one.All sorts of wholesome goodness would flow from a win today. Beating the “top four” teams (admittedly it’s debatable whether the definition of this term still includes Liverpool) is rare enough for our heroes; beating them on their own patch has been, as far as I’m aware, strictly beyond the laws of science. Turning over Liverpool at Anfield would give us renewed belief that we can make the Champs League spots - in much the same way as the opening-day win did in fact. Straying slightly from the point, many of the best chants of the season seem to have been directed at Liverpool, from “You’re supposed to be in jail”, to “You’re just a fat Spanish waiter.” And in more pragmatic terms, a win tonight would open up a seven-point gap over Liverpool, as well as three points over City and five over Villa. Game in hand for our rivals? The way this season has panned out I’d much rather have points on the board.

Strangely, after the frustrations of Hull at home on Saturday I’m even more convinced that we can win tonight. Liverpool, particularly at home, are not going to stick every man and his dog behind the ball and defend for their lives, a hilarious fall from grace though that would be. They will push forward, and leave gaps behind them. A shame then that Lennon is injured, and to a lesser extent a shame that Hudd too is possibly crocked, but the match pattern ought still to suit us relatively well. The absence of Hudd will be an interesting one – in this neck of the woods we’re quite partial to a good old-fashioned whinge about the lad and his immobility, but absence often makes the heart grow fonder, so I’m intrigued to see whether we are obviously weakened (or indeed strengthened) without him. This could be a rare start for Jenas, or possibly even O’ Hara, while a mischievous rumour doing the rounds suggests that tonight might be Ledley’s monthly appearance in lilywhite. Whatever the line-up, it’s an upbeat AANP marching into battle tonight.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Spurs 0-0 Hull: “Just One Of Those Days” - Again?

(Yes yes, it’s about a year late. Sorry. Finishing touches being applied to the opus Spurs’ Cult Heroes)It appears that “Just one of those days” is lined up to become ‘Arry’s Triffic Phrase of the Season 2009/10, following the success of “Two points, eight games” last year. The official company line at least appears to be that the blank drawn against Hull is not something about which to get too worked up, and in a sense one can appreciate the point – we may not have been at our fluid best, but Gomes spent most of the game in smoking-jacket and slippers, puffing contentedly on cigar and squinting down the far end of the pitch. While one cheery Hull fan on a phone-in rather optimistically tried to argue that they had actually outplayed us, the stats of zero shots on target by Hull, compared to around three thousand by our lot, fairly convincingly suggest otherwise. It might not have been vintage Spurs, but we made a couple of clear-cut chances, and had Defoe or Keane done what they normally do with eyes closed we might have been dusting off the abacus.

But they didn’t and we weren’t. Not for the first time we’ve lollopped along Easy Street but lost our way and come stumbling back out again. Just one of those days? For the third time this season? At what point does the reaction morph from bemused shrug to desperate scramble for the panic stations?

For what it’s worth, the reaction is restraint – albeit of the mightily irritated variety – rather than wild-eyed panic here at AANP Towers. Unlike against Stoke, when we created worryingly few chances, against Hull we created a decent number, and but for that Myhill lad would have breezed it.

Elsewhere on the Pitch 

A decent shift from Gareth Bale, offensively and defensively. Further such displays may give our glorious leader something to chew on once BAE recovers from injury. Modders looked pleasingly urgent throughout; but Kranjcar returned from his cloud of wondrousness, back to earth with a bump, in the realm of the largely ineffective. While these two cut inside with gay abandon, central midfield remains a worry from this vantage point. When up against opponents willing to venture forward Hudd is more effective and Sergeant Wilson more suitably employed, but in the face of a 10-0-0 formation Hudd had precious few ideas. Boundless energy has never been his forte, and no-one expects that of him (whether rightly or wrongly is perhaps a debate for another day), but it would at least have been nice to see him rolling things along quickly, first-time passes and the like, playing like he a man who knows where he’ll put the ball before he even receives it.

The silver lining to all this is that a draw at home to a team in the relegation zone turned out to be one of the best results of the weekend, and by virtue of the charming generosity of our closes challengers we’re somehow back in the top four. The table would look infinitely cheerier if we had wins against Hull, Stoke and Wolves to add to the collection, but it is what it is.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Spurs - Hull Preview: Happy New Year?

What ho. It’s been a while, hasn’t it – in fact we haven’t had a league game this decade. When we last wandered these parts our glorious heroes had gone into overdrive – four wins in five, clean sheet after clean sheet and plenty of attacking brio. A pessimist might bemoan the fact that the wintry interlude has rudely interrupted the momentum that had been gathering; but Hull at home presents an excellent opportunity to pick up where we left off. No walkover – they knocked us over in the corresponding fixture last season – but definitely one to toss into the “Three Points, Minimum Fuss s’il vous plaît” basket. We at AANP Towers tend to avoid making scoreline predictions, but I’ll happily assert that we will have around 20 shots on goal today – just a question of whether we pummel our visitors but lose 1-0 à la Stoke-Wolves, or score first and put this lot to bed.Who’s A Naughty Boy?

‘Arry has been in the headlines, with someone somewhere apparently alleging that he’s been a naughty boy. I have neither the ability nor inclination to comment on the minutiae of all that, but with things looking tickety-boo on the pitch the last thing we need is for him to be forced out for reasons relating to his piggy-bank. Rather hoping that this is all a bad dream, from which I will soon wake, with ‘Arry’s crumpled face twitching away in the face of questions posed by John Motson rather than Her Majesty’s finest.

Team News 

With BAE injured, young Bale gets a run of games at left-back. Personally I prefer the latter as an attacking outlet, for the boy can barely disguise his eagerness to go scampering into opposition territory as an auxiliary winger, and a fine job he does too, particularly in the absence of an orthodox, touchline-hugging left-footer. When defensive duties call however, the AANP heart tends to wedge itself in mouth, mistakes such as those at Goodison a few weeks back being the norm rather than the exception when the Welshman is involved. One hopes that today we will spend most of the game on the front-foot, allowing all defensive deficiencies to be surreptitiously swept under the carpet to haunt us another day.

At any given point it seems that one of Villa, Liverpool or City enjoy a run of form which makes them our primary challenger for fourth; for our part we simply need to keep registering wins, particularly at home to the division’s weaker teams. The fewer games we look back on ruefully come mid-May, the better.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

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