Well ‘Arry reckons everything is tickety-boo in the Tottenham camp after the Sunday afternoon nightmare. No-one tired, no-one too depressed – just one big, happy, upbeat family. Marvellous. Here at AANP Towers we have been moping around with the air of those who have just had the will to live sucked from their being. Admittedly ‘Arry can hardly pitch up to the press and declare that the whole lot of them are weeping into their bovril and marching the corridors of White Hart Lane waving placards proclaiming “We’re Doomed”.Whatever their mental and physical conditions after Sunday, the players have no option but to dust themselves down and try again tonight. Pushing aside all the mindless fluff and clichés about this being the perfect game to play on the back of the Portsmouth defeat, what exactly are the reasons to be cheerful?
No Deep-Lying Opposition – Huzzah!
If l’Arse stuck nine men behind the ball, held a line just inside their own area and spent the evening crowding out our lot every time they approached, I would weep tears of blood. Praise to the heavens then, for opponents like l’Arse, who will instead attempt to scythe through us with lightning-quick one-touch football, thereby sparing us the anguish of a 90 minutes spent camped in the opposition area without rippling the onion bag.
Moreover, with l’Arse defending relatively high up the pitch, our Welsh Messiah will have plenty of space behind them into which to gallop. Could make for interesting viewing – the handsome young Welshman is odds-on to be our most creative outlet once again.
No Fabregas – Huzzah!
AANP is notoriously bad at scouting opponents. Whenever I watch Spurs I tend to lump every opponent together as They Who Must Be Vanquished, and if a chum should remark that the opposition number 16 (or whomever) had a good game, I will present a face the very picture of blankness. Amongst the few exceptions to this bizarre blinkeredness are Messrs Scholes, Gerrard, Cahill and Fabregas (although this selection may have something to do with the fact that they typically come up against Jenas). The point of this slightly tangential ramble is that AANP fears Fabregas, and rejoices in his absence. (The absences of Song and Gallas are also bonuses.)
Floodlights – Huzzah!
White Hart Lane by night might be a little eerie most nights of the week, but come match-night, with the floodlights on, the place crackles with atmosphere. If you’ve read this far the chances are that you too love floodlit nights at the Lane, and with that ‘orrible lot from down the road ambling onto our patch tonight we in the stands have the chance to scare the bejeesus out of them before the game even begins. The packed train on the way to the stadium; the booing of Sol’s name when it’s announced over the tannoy; the Star Wars theme as the players march out; and the cacophony of noise as the game kicks off – money cannot buy that sort of atmosphere. Our lot would have to live on different planets not to receive an adrenaline shot from these evening kick-offs.
So this may yet be a night to rival 5-1, or indeed the original St Hotspur’s Day, 19 years ago today. However…
I recall feeling mightily peeved at the injustice of it all when, at the very end of Carlito’s Way, having steered clear of all manner of unsavoury types and approaching gunmen, in just about the last scene of the film and within spitting distance of freedom, Al Pacino is gunned down by Billy Blanco from the Bronx. Similarly unjust was the Sergeant Wilson saga – having gone a good eight or nine games knowing that one more yellow card would see him banned, to pick up a caution in the dying moments of the semi-final – and unjustly too – was cruel in the extreme.
Personal injustice aside, it leaves us with a distinctly less menacing look to the midfield. The Hudd was miles off the pace on Sunday, and rarely rises to the occasion against the big boys. Kaboul – or even Ledley – might yet be given the holding role in midfield. Sometimes we can get away with the absence of Palacios in midfield (the league game against Pompey a couple of weeks ago being a case in point). A league game against l’Arse is not one such occasion. The AANP prayer mat has been rolled out and dusted down.
Other Team News
The target of much vitriol following Sunday’s defeat, evidence continues to mount in favour of Crouch’s use as an impact substitute only, and it would be surprising if he were retained in tonight’s starting line-up. Niko Kranjcar is the latest to join the queue for a band-aid, while Lennon has suffered a mysterious “setback” in his rehabilitation.
For various reasons, this should be a completely different kettle of fish from Sunday’s game – but as on Sunday, defeat is unthinkable. As on Sunday it is time to stand up and be counted. The spirit of Gazza and Lineker ’91 would do nicely.
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