It was all slightly akin to a chess game, n’est ce pas? And not one of those awesome chess games either, in which one lad loses his rag somewhat, dashes the pieces across the board and clobbers his opponent with the clock, leading to a mass brawl involving spectators and allsorts. This was one of those chess games in which white thoughtfully strokes his chin for a good seven or eight minutes, before moving his bishop a few diagonals backwards whence he came, prompting black to ponder for four minutes himself, hover his hand over his queen, retract hand, ponder some more, and then move his knight back into its starting position.
It is a tad difficult to remember the last time our lilywhite heroes set out so determinedly to defend, but as the game wore on it became increasingly evident that the principal aim was not to wow the Merseyside mob with all manner of singing and dancing entertainment, but simply to grab that point, shove a chloroformed handkerchief in its mouth, wait for it to keel over and then lock it in a cage and drag it all the way home.
Pragmatic stuff, but something of a shame, as it evinced more than just a whiff of satisfaction with a Top-Four finish, rather than a straining of every sinew for the Title.
High-Fives and Celebratory Cigar Puffs
In terms of the ancient art of point-snaffling, few snaffled with more laudable prominence than Daws and (inevitably) Scott Parker. Such has been the rise of Kaboul’s star this season that I was a mite tremulous pre kick-off on learning that Daws was to deputise – for shame, AANP, for shame. Up against the far from accommodating hirsute hulk that is Andy Carroll, Dawson gave every bead of sweat, bless him, and really ought to be allowed to frame the clean sheet and hang it from his wall.
As for Parker, by the closing stages it appeared that he had been successfully cloned and scattered across the Anfield turf. The poor blighter is presumably still glugging lucozade, scoffing energy bars and gingerly applying TCP to the scrapes across his frame, but such is the price to be paid for giving every ounce of energy for the cause.
We be lucky folk, no doubt, for being treated weekly to the multi-faceted talents of Gareth Bale. However, the denizens of AANP Towers are old-fashioned purveyors of good, honest values, and the traditional distinction between right and wrong. On which note, I would implore someone with a degree of authority to have a pretty blunt word or ten with the handsome young Welshman, and tell him in no uncertain terms to cut out the histrionics. In general he goes down far too easily, and it sullies the good name of Tottenham Hotspur. When Scott Parker collapses with a wince I hold my breath. When Bale goes down and waves his arm for assistance I roll my eyes. For sure he does receive some pretty outrageous treatment – Agger (I think?) ought to have seen red for the shin-high challenge on Monday night – but generally Bale has begun to look for free-kicks when no foul has been remotely committed, and that is cheating. Not that he had much company, up there at the apex, but even that cat seemed to have a bit more spunk about him.
Alas, the distinction between “disinterested” and “uninterested” is not one I have ever truly mastered, but Adebayor was oozing one of them from many a pore.
All things considered (and by “all things” I principally mean the absences of VDV and Lennon) a point away from home to a loosely in-form team is eminently acceptable for a team looking to consolidate a Top Four finish, but that is rather the nub of the thing – I rather wish we had set our sights a little higher. Going 4-4-2 and pushing for victory may well have seen us become a little too open at the back, but having had a dashed good fist of attacking in almost every other game so far this season, we have positioned ourselves six inches from a title challenge. Could we not keep that pretence going a few weeks longer?