If the sign of a good team is winning when not playing the most coruscating stuff then I suppose our lot are trundling towards half-decent, and the Top Four goodies contained therein. Although things picked up in the second half, today we were certainly not at our Give-Scousers-The-Run-Around-And-Score-Goals-For-Fun best. Nor, I suppose, we were playing the toughest opponents around. Still, a handy three points, and the ongoing transition of General North London Eminence continues, now seemingly irresistibly.Where we pressed high up the pitch at Liverpool and tore them apart with multiple instances of football’ greatest shape – the humble triangle – today the drill seemed to be to sit back and contain their three man-midfield. Consequently, and a tad frustratingly, in the first half the other lot had most of the possession – although sportingly enough they did step aside and grant us the best chances. As the deep-lying member of their midfield triumvirate Arteta had the freedom of the Lane when in possession, while for our lot Modders was most decidedly below par in the first half.
The Great VDV Debate
VDV got the nod, but how many future nods will be directed his way – particularly within a 4-4-2 – remains a point of debate. As seasoned Corluka observers will no doubt testify, there is something a little incongruous about a top-level professional athlete waddling furiously hither and thither in what often looks like slow-motion, and at times we looked to have ten and a half men.
The flip side of the VDV argument is that few have the technique to finish as he did. Craftily side-stepping the issue of whether armpit equates to handball, the finish was a darned difficult skill made to look simple, an area in which VDV is quite the connoisseur.
As it happened, the replacement of VDV with Sandro – a move for which my little party of fellow onlookers were creating a petition by half-time – swung matters in our favour, the Brazilian doing a better impression of Scott Parker than Scott Parker himself. Things tightened up, we created more chances, and by the end of the game Ledley and Kaboul were repelling attacks simply by directing stern stares in the direction of their feeble foes. Thus does the balance of power swing up the High Road.
“Walker Makes Great Strides” And Other Predictable Word-Play
Young Walker’s Danny Rose moment would no doubt have had tabloid-writers across the country licking their lips. While blowing kisses at his chums in the stands, Walker generously opted not to make rude gestures at AANP, for around this part of the interweb aspersions have been cast on the young blighter’s defensive prowess (or perceived lack thereof). Today however I come to praise the lad, not bury him, and even as I write some bespectacled veteran of such occasions is carefully etching the chap’s name into Tottenham folklore. Although the occasional error of judgement does slip into his defensive game, these things will happen (recall ye, if you can, a young Ledley erring rather seismically in the 2002 Worthington Final), and ought to aid the learning process. One suspects Walker will make that particular right-hand strip of lilywhite turf his own for a few years to come. Good lad.
The Advance of the King
That said, the AANP Moment of Choice from today’s proceedings was the sight of Ledley ambling forward in almost reluctant fashion in the closing stages, to become, somewhat bafflingly, an auxiliary striker. One could almost hear the creaking of his bones, but mercifully the international break gives him plenty of time to do whatever he does while everyone else is training.
All things considered, a jolly satisfactory afternoon’s work. Things may not have begun quite as we planned, but by the end of proceedings we were solid in defence and chance-laden in offence, the stuff upon which all sort of wholesome end-of-season goodness is built. With a two-week break upon us, and this particular scalp swinging merrily from the mantelpiece, it seems that the most appropriate thing for all of us to do right now would be go forth and brag.