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Wigan 0-3 Spurs: How Delightfully Un-Tottenham

Well we can postpone work on those “Sack ‘Arry” placards for the time-being at least. With a maturity that even they themselves probably did not realise they possessed our heroes adapted to the conditions better than the other lot, made better chances and saw out the game with consummate professionalism. While I braced myself for a late bout of insanity from someone or other, the players abandoned an age-old Tottenham tradition and instead navigated through to the end without any scares.The pitch hardly made for champagne football, and for a while it looked like our lot were under orders to bypass the mud by pinging long balls at every opportunity, but to their credit they persevered with the passing game as much as the conditions allowed. (Before Modders came and made it look like he was playing on a bowling-green.)

As well as their use of the ball and acclimatisation to the conditions, the willingness to roll up sleeves, slide through the mud and fight the attritional war was also most gratifying (in theory at least, although Messrs Defoe and Bale adopted dangerously dubious interpretations of the notion of “getting stuck in”). While we did not necessarily always win those 50-50 balls, neither did we look like we would shirk the challenges. Top marks, chaps.

The Opening Goal

I suspect even objective Wigan fans would admit that we were good value for the win, but there is no denying that the first goal went miles beyond the boundary of “fortuitous”, and ensconced itself comfortably in the world of the downright absurd. While Bale’s charge down the left merits thumping applause, Defoe had, as ever, clearly jumped the gun. He did at least have the grace to look suitably embarrassed by it all.

C’est la vie. Statistics may suggest otherwise, but AANP is of the train of thought that these things loosely even out over a season, and we have certainly been hard done by in recent weeks (off the top of my head Defoe’s disallowed goal against Liverpool, and penalty shout against Villa, in recent weeks). Moreover, for all the controversy surrounding it the opening goal did not make a huge difference to the general pattern of the game, throughout which manful efforts to plough through the quagmire were achieved better by our lot than theirs.

However, there is a counter-argument that that opening goal was crucial for us inasmuch as that breaking the deadlock has become something of a mental barrier for us in recent weeks. Time and again we have played well but failed to get that all-important first goal, with the result that we have ended up battering away at a ten-man defence. On Sunday, through outrageous officiating we found ourselves ahead – and were then able to play against a team forced to edge out towards us. Wigan did not exactly come at us all guns blazing, but nor were they able to pile bodies into defence. As a result, particularly in the second half, our forwards found themselves man-to-man against a defender, rather than facing two banks of four.

Triffic Substitutions 

Pav: Super

He is evidently a popular little bunny amongst his team-mates, but ‘Arry did not exactly look thrilled to bits with Pav’s little cameo, the camera close-up straight after the third goal capturing a particularly morose expression across the face of our glorious leader. However, there is now no avoiding the fact that our head honcho has a selection dilemma. An inspired twenty minutes as substitute is one thing, but can Pav produce the goods on a regular basis? Does he only play like that against weaker teams? How would he fare if given a regular run in a settled side (I discount the Wendy Ramos era in which he featured as not constituting “a settled side”)? Would he and Defoe work as a combo?

Such questions are unanswered at present, but he looked mighty darned classy on Sunday, the contrast with his gangling strike partner neatly emphasised when he scored precisely the sort of chance Crouch had missed moments earlier. Not many tears would be shed if the lanky one were dropped to the bench and Pav given a starting-berth alongside Defoe for a few games. Crouch is a jack of various trades but master of none, and the time might be right to lock him in a cage labelled “Plan B”.

Corluka: Not So Super 

All told however, it was a staggeringly professional display. Solid in defence; determined and creative as necessary in midfield; sharp in attack. That’s three consecutive halves of good football from our lot – so for one week at least the Prophets of Doom have courteously shuffled aside, to let the Top-Four Delusionalists make themselves heard.

 

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9 Responses

  1. Spooky Says:

    However, there is a counter-argument that that opening goal was crucial for us inasmuch as that breaking the deadlock has become something of a mental barrier for us in recent weeks. Time and again we have played well but failed to get that all-important first goal, with the result that we have ended up battering away at a ten-man defence.

    /

    This.

    Slice of lucky, whatever, it was much required. And perhaps now we’ll settle down and simply work the ball to better effect rather than Raziak it all over the place.

  2. Spang Says:

    What a game this is where we expect luck to even out over the season. It may be true, but it doesn’t really help the team playing on the day. And lets face it, we know the top 4 will get the bulk of the decisions their way, right?

    I’d rather have the luck Man City had with that disallowed goal last week than what we had. But hey, never look a gift horse in the mouth.

  3. cookiebun Says:

    Bale is no substitute material. In fact not one reporter or blogger mentioned his failure to win a game he started in for two years. He has put that statistic firmly behind him. His awareness as a defender and his usefulness as a winger, makes him a first team man, even when BAE returns from injury. Harry has turned around the attitude and the performances of, not only Bale, but that of Huddlestone, Bentley and now Pavleychenko. Long live Harry, a great tactation.

  4. Spud Gun Says:

    Twas a strangely professional approach from the lads.

    Bassong had me a little worried when he first came on for Ledley. Wondered if he would do another Liverpool. After a shakey start he settled well when Wigan put on the pressure.

    Hopefully Pav can step up a gear now and show us what he can do (god knows he’s banged on about getting opportunitys). I still think of him as a misjudged panic buy and not sure what he has done to warrant such staunch support from some sections of supporters but hope he kicks on from this.

    God knows Harry will try and take credit if he takes on from here!

  5. Spang Says:

    Oh, and you mention Crouch missing one similar to Pav’s first goal; but I remember it as being Defoe who got the ball in a very similar way, one touch control with right, shot with his left, straight into Kirkland’s arms. He was a few metres further out, but anyway.

    Perhaps we’re all just getting over-excited as we’ve finally seen a striker not just smash the ball directly at the goalie for the first time in 3 months.

  6. elwehbi@ibleedhotspur Says:

    Was surprised and excited to see Pav come on the pitch. The fans let him know how much they appreciate him; so did his teammates after the match. Will he still be around next season? Hmm… not if Harry continues to look the way he did after the goal was scored.

    If Pav turns out to be a goal-scoring machine, Harry and the Russian need to patch up things… quick!

    COYS!!!!

  7. Ashley J. Collie Says:

    An inspired Modric (again after his post-injury lull), a smiling scoring Pav, and something a little different from Gud, and it’ll be like 3 new additions to our squad for the tough run-in. A late-season appearance of Azza would be a bonus, on top! COYS!

  8. Ted Says:

    Wigan had been softened up by the time he appeared but credit where it is due Pav looked sharp and took his goals well. Still looks more like a poacher to me which means he and Defoe look for the same chances and so his natural partner would be Crouch or maybe EG.

    Like Spud Gun above I can’t see where the adoration of him comes from – he doesn’t look a patch on Berbatov although he does draw a better heart shape in the air than Berba ever did. He is a decent enough player when he wants to be but for £14m I expect better than we have seen from him in a Spurs shirt. But if he manages to play the way he did at Wigan then my opinion goes out the window because goals matter more.

    Regarding the team performance as others have said it was a game where a Spurs side would often have failed. But in fact we were pretty comfortable despite playing on a swamp of a pitch. I still think we will fall short of CL this season but seeing us back in 4th place is great so well done to Harry and the boys.

  9. bookholders Says:

    Spurs match reports are always bring some good information.

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