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Spurs 2-1 Chelsea: I Heart You Too, Gareth Bale

Someone at the club shop turn this week into a double DVD box-set with a snappy name, and pronto. Here at AANP Towers we considered our prognosis of four points from the visits of l’Arse and Chelski to be noble but sadly blinded by optimism. After last weekend’s debacle, who on God’s green earth ever envisaged a reality that saw us take six points from these two games, and with quite such élan? And all that with a team including the slightly terrifying sight of Kaboul at right-back?Performance Of The Season 

The opening exchanges – in which we pinged the ball around in neat little olé-style triangles – set the tone, with our vanquished opponents notably unable to handle the link-up play of Modders, BAE and (inevitably) Bale, and in fact barely able to touch the ball. Nor was Cheslki’s anticipated second half onslaught allowed to materialise, and I’m not even sure they created a clear-cut chance until the 93rd minute, itself an astonishing testament to our injury-hit defence.

And then there was the second most glorious sight in Christendom: the lightning-quick lilywhite counter-attacks that had us outnumbering them from the halfway line. These really ought to have seen us give the scoreboard a more memorable edge, but they did at least bring about the most glorious sight in Christendom, the sending-off of the ever-likeable John Terry.

Apparently Chelski recorded around twice as many completed passes as our lot. Bravo to them. If anything this stat reinforces the incisiveness of our play, for while they passed sideways and sideways again, in their vain search for a chink in our armour, our heroes scythed through them repeatedly with lightning-quick one-touch moves. We completed fewer passes because we needed fewer passes. Such was the confidence and quality of our football that within two or three passes we were bearing down on goal.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Palacios?

It was the worrying question on our lips last weekend, the cause of several thousand furrowed brows trooping up the High Road. Sergeant Wilson’s two-match ban loomed at seemingly the worst time conceivable – but goodness me it was a problem addressed in quite astonishing fashion. When not in possession, Modders and Hudd did not try to mimic Palacios by rushing out and harrying opponents. Instead they kept their discipline and sat, a two-man barrier in front of the back-four, through which Lampard, Cole et al struggled throughout to fashion an opening. Absolutely ruddy marvellous.

Seasoned visitors to AANP Towers will now that here have not traditionally dwelt the Hudd’s greatest admirers. Against l’Arse and Chelski however he turned in remarkably polished performances. Not one Hollywood pass in sight, he just kept things ticking over with a glorious maturity, playing first-time passes with the air of a man who had had a quick look around immediately prior to receiving possession and therefore knew exactly where the ball would go as soon as it came his way. We kept possession like a team who truly cherished the little white orb, and for that much credit is due to the Hudd, although the contributions of our wide men, as well as Pav and, latterly, the Ice Man, also merit appreciative high-fives.

Modders too has given two of his best showings of the season this week, all slick passing, tight control, intricate dribbling and a determination not to be barged off the ball that belies his paperweight frame. Our little-and-large central midfield pairing have turned themselves into a most accomplished partnership, a feat all the more impressive as it has been achieved against a pair of teams deploying three in central midfield. Unbelievably, the problem now surrounding Wilson Palacios is how to accommodate his return. (The AANP solution is to move Modders to the left and Bale to left-back – a formation which to all intents and purposes works as a five-man midfield, once Modders tucks inside and Bale overlaps).

Other Points Of Note

I’m not entirely sure what any of Bale’s goal celebrations are about, but it’s about time we started to see them. No-one is more deserving of the headlines, but goals had been rather conspicuously absent from his series of bravura performances of recent weeks. I look forward to more curious hand-gestures in coming weeks, while bracing myself for a summer of speculation about his future.

Which unknowing observer would have correctly identified the established England centre-back from the candidates on show? Michael Dawson, I salute thee, even if Don Fabio does not.

As for the penalty calls, AANP considered that there were a couple of strong shouts – Terrys shirt-tug on Defoe, and a sliding challenge (from Malouda?) on Bale  – before the eventual penalty award (which, entertainingly enough, seemed from this vantage point a little harsh on Terry).

Sort out how to break down those deep-lying defensive teams and we could be aiming even higher than the top four. That is a conundrum for another day, however. Now is the time for making merry, and revelling in a quite astonishingly good couple of days.

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates:
Waterstones Stevenage – Saturday 24 April, 12 noon;
Waterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm

, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).  

Spurs’ Cult Heroes

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10 Responses

  1. Ioan Says:

    Haha, I’ve thought the exact same thing about Bale! He just doesn’t seem to have a clue, these goals are going to be watched for years and years by Spurs fans on youtube, and what can he muster? An odd pointy thing against the Arse and an odd little heart without conviction against Chelsea! Quite unlike, may I add, Pav’s little heart earlier in the season, who clearly truly meant it!

  2. Spang Says:

    Outstanding – Pav coming back to harry their midfield; Hud and Modric totally refusing to be pulled out of position in front of our back four; BAE calm in defence and decisive in playing the ball forward; Kaboul and Bentley solid in their defensive play (maybe not so good going forward).

    Our back four was magnificent as a unit, keeping it narrow, much as they did against Arsenal, forcing all those completed sideways passes from Chelsea, and Bale/Bentley strong in preventing crosses coming in. Great to watch. We even looked so much more comfortable playing this way against Chelsea than we did against Arsenal… how strange.

    However – away from home? Man U? Palacios is surely a good bet to inspire some backbone in the midfield. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Crouch start up front too, knowing Harry. That would be disappointing.

  3. elwehbi@ibleedhotspur Says:

    The best performance of the season! There, I said it 🙂

  4. dean Says:

    simple, never change a winning combo!

  5. dean Says:

    General Modders is exactly where he belongs, CM. He directs everything from this position. He’s great out on the left, but the last two games you can see him pointing and talking to the players around him, making things happen and blocking the passing channels of the opposition. Spurs have NEVER looked better. The Sarge is fabulous but he is one dimensional.

  6. TMWNN Says:

    I think Modric’s best role would be in front of Palacios and one other central midfielder. Bale left and Lennon right. We’ll need a proper striker for that to work; all of ours are incomplete.

  7. JimmyG2 Says:

    My worry now is that we won’t do well at the World Cup and that Capello and
    Harry will swap jobs and we will have the Martin Jol,Ramos story all over again.
    Well as a Spurs fan I reserve the right to worry about something.

  8. Ted Says:

    Great piece. Best wishes to your son and his friend. Awesome couple of games to bring an awesome season to the boil. Only fly in saturdays ointment was the strikers – great work rate but in front of goal they were wasteful and selfish snatching at chances rather than using team work to score. Time for the Iceman to cometh and bring a new approach and for Pav to ponder how sandra would have done from the OT bench.

  9. Ted Says:

    oops, Posted that to the wrong blog – doh! All applies anyway except for the first line relates to the tottenhamonmymind blog about the chelsea game.

  10. AA Says:

    I agree with Dean. You solve the problem of Palacios by acknowledging there was no problem without him. If anything, Man U has a softer center than Chelski. Let it be. Roll on number 3.

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