All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs: Shooting Boots, & The Walking Calamity That is Danny Rose

Opportunity lost, as I’m sure all my fellow geniuses have also noticed. Should make for a frightfully exciting final-day finale though, what? As it happens our lot gave a dashed competent showing at Villa, so no particular complaints there. Plenty of intent, flair, movement and opportunity amongst our heroes, with the Lennon-right-and-Bale-left gambit loosely (though not rigidly) employed, creating a pleasing balance, while VDV and Modders crafted their usual array of intelligent triangles, and Sandro had another of his magnificent Chuck Norris days. In recent weeks some of our performances have hardly deserved a point, but this one merited three.

From this particularly hungover armchair spectator, the principal criticism de jour was that sometimes those chaps in lilywhite seem dreadfully reluctant to shoot. For a man who just a few days ago scored a goal sprinkled with celestial dreaminess, Modders seemed bizarrely opposed to the notion of repeating the feat, despite receiving the ball in a few highly agreeable patches of greenery just a few inches outside the edge of the Villa area. “By jove, have a crack my good man,” was the sentiment no doubt doing the rounds across the lilywhite spectrum, but mildly infuriatingly the little man seemed absolutely determined to jab the orb sideways to a chum. rather than blast a small hole in the top corner. VDV showed a greater proclivity for a vicious swing of the boot, but those two in particular could take a leaf out of the Bible According to Young Kyle Walker and thwack the ruddy thing as soon as the opportunity sidles into view. The goal scored by Villa in the first half perhaps gave an indication of quite how fruitful such an approach can prove, if repeated with some gusto.

And while I’m grumbling, when the devil will our lot score from a corner? Modders’ goal at Bolton was very much the exception, I think our first from a corner in well over 100 attempts, and there were almost 20 more in vain on Sunday. Part of the problem appears to be that with Adebayor typically peeling off to the back post we rarely have anyone patrolling the six-yard box with shooting boots primed when VDV swings them in. Within all of this I feel almost obliged to mention the name Defoe, and let others do with it what they will. But I’m sure ‘Arry is well aware of this, which is a relief.

The Latest Instalment in the Danny Rose Catalogue of Outstandingness

Playing with Danny Rose in our number is not exactly a million miles away from playing with ten men anyway, and having narrowly escaped a red card as soon as he appeared on the pitch, for that most unsightly, wonky red Mohawk, I’m not sure his repeated protestations (“He pushed me”) really exonerated him from a merited red card. Sans Rose our lot did just as good a job at sniffing out a goal, our ten men swarming all over Villa non-stop for the final half hour. Frankly few at AANP Towers would don sackcloth, ashes, black armbands and the like should those flailing Rose limbs never again be seen in lilywhite, for the boy is just not good enough.

A darned shame, these dropped points, given the opportunity so comically thrown our way by l’Arse a day earlier, but one final opportunity remains. Play this way against Fulham next week and our lot ought to prevail; the rest is in the lap of the gods.

Aston Villa – Spurs Preview: Dashed Complicated

Two games, one point, one goal, third place – it may sound like a convoluted ‘Arry’ catchphrase, but as we approach Important Finale Time that is the nutshell summary of our position, if you bend your neck and squint a bit. The usual hopes and concerns apply of course – a more clinical touch from Adebayor and VDV in front of goal; Bale and Lennon on their appropriate wings; Sandro to crunch anything that moves; and young Rose to retain possession at least once in every half-dozen touches.However, this being Important Finale Time the plot becomes more labyrinthine than that Inception gubbins from a year or two back. As well as simply needing to deliver an almighty thwack to Villa (and then Fulham at home next week), we also need Norwich to muster a draw or more against l’Arse; could jolly well do with Man City doing something nasty to Newcastle; and while we’re at it we might want to bolster our goal difference with wins greater than anything l’Arse manage. On top of which we might as well invade Roy Hodgson’s dreams and have a 360 degree rotating fight with Chris Foy.

Hardly straightforward, and it does rather make me reflect wistfully on the blasted defeats to QPR and Norwich, and the points thrown away at the death against Swansea and Man City earlier in the season – but such is the existence of the Tottenham fan. Let us at least despatch Villa, and then reconvene for a fresh session of nail-chewing and permutation-grasping next weekend.

Spurs 2-0 Villa: Bafflingly Easy

Oh that life were always that simple. Villa’s scouting network appear to have concluded that any attempt to disrupt the Tottenham modus operandi would result in a riot, and consequently they spent the entire night carefully keeping a safe distance from us, allowing our heroes to do whatever they jolly well pleased. Still, objective achieved, and boxes ticked left, right and centre., but if I may be so bold I would dare to suggest that when in such utter dominance they could do worse than display an attitude of bloody-minded ruthlessness. There were moments when Lennon tried a flick in his own half, or VDV dabbled in unnecessary ornateness, when at 2-0 the fait was not necessarily accompli. When in complete control let’s go crazy and score until it’s a tad embarrassing for all concerned. Plenty of time for own half fancy flicks when the scoreboard has hit double figures.

Our lot certainly deserve credit, for alternating between sensible bouts of keep-ball and occasionally knife-through-butter thrusts

However, I digress rather wildly from the point that this is the best Tottenham side in living memory, and that without breaking sweat they stomped all over those poor little Villa lambs. Bale, Modders, Parker and Kaboul no doubt sipped their celebratory bourbon with relish last night, after performances of particular majesty, while BAE threatened to steal the show simply by unbraiding his quite sensational mop.

Oh Dear…

Word reaches me that the chatter amongst the more excitable members of the lilywhite fraternity is of title-winning frolics. To each their own I suppose, and our juggernaut is certainly trundling along most merrily at present, but I do feel rather inclined to point out that it is but November. Top Four is the aim; top three is pleasingly realistic; yet we still remain but three points above seventh. These are wondrous times at N17, with cracking stuff from our mob on a weekly basis now, so rather than pore over the possibilities of May 2012 I plan to spend the coming days donning slippers and gown, and contentedly puffing upon a pipe.

Spurs – Aston Villa Preview: Preferably Not Another Scott Parker MoM Performance

What ho, and I trust you are in as fine fettle as AANP, for today’s basic algebra lesson is that a win today will take us third, and with a game in hand no less. Crivens! Let’s ruddy well get out there, dominate, take the lead, sit back, invite pressure, concede one and hang for dear life for those three points! Our current streak of fairly relentless goodness bodes well, as does Villa’s winless away record this season, but this being THFC there will inevitably be many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip.

Scott Parker’s inexorable march towards Fans’ Player of the Season has seen him just about Man of the Match his way through all eight of his games in lilywhite to date, games that have seen us record seven wins and a draw. Just this once however, I rather hope that Parker’s contribution is minimal, and that we can cruise through to victory without recourse to his indefatigable last-gasp heroics. It would be absolutely topping if the headlines tomorrow were all about Adebayor, VDV/Defoe, Modders, Bale and Lennon, with Friedel a spectator and Parker just occasionally required to play some of his gentle one-twos on halfway, before the forward line launch their next little blitzkrieg.

Corluka is apparently restored to full health, but it is unlikely that young Master Walker will be displaced. If there is a change at all it might be in attack, where, VDV has been recuperating from his latest hamstring mischief by shopping in the supermarket aisle next to the venerable AANP Senior. Defoe no doubt strains at the leash. Meanwhile, the terms of his loan mean that The Lord of All Things Sideways and Backwards will not pop up in midfield for Villa, to invite pressure upon his temporary employers, but one former lilywhite on show will be Alan Hutton, whose defensive frailties ought to be brutally exposed by Bale at full gallop. All things considered this should be three more points for the pot.

Aston Villa 1-2 Spurs: The Barcelona Five Minutes

Forget the goals, and the red card, and the slightly bonkers refereeing and whatnot – the entire game pales into insignificance besides that quite blisteringly good five minutes just before half-time. Away from home – and down to ten men – our heroes, as they had threatened to do from kick-off, indulged in a lengthy period of the most glorious keep-ball, borne of impeccable technique and worthy of Barcelona. Villa huffed and puffed and we just kept pinging the thing around, in a manner that would have been rather cruel had it not been so absolutely ruddy brilliant.

Fittingly enough, our two goals were jolly special too. I’m sure all Brummies present last night will agree that Modders deserves to have a bronze bust constructed of his diminutive frame outside the gates of Villa Park, solely in honour of the scything 60-yard diagonal pass for Hutton, for the first goal, bisecting half the Villa team. We were then treated to the archetypal counter-attack goal, featuring all manner of lovely touches and awareness from VDV, Bale and Lennon, and all was right with the world.

Not that this was an impeccable performance. Our heroes demonstrated one rather enduring flaw, with what one might term a 90-minute bout of Assou-Ekottitis. Everyone who touched the ball in or around their own penalty area seemed determined to dribble or dink or back-heel their way out of danger. Admittedly when BAE himself executed one-such back-heel at the end of the first half we might as well have stopped the game and enjoyed a full five minute standing ovation, because it really was that good, but the team in general (and, curiously, Modders in particular) took the principles of the beautiful game to a charming but slightly dangerous extreme, with their insistence upon glorious little triangles, no matter how limited the confines and pressing the danger.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

The renaissance of Sergeant Wilson continued; while, most curiously, Gareth Bale stumbled upon the opposite of alchemy, with the result that almost every time he touched the ball in the first hour things went quite awry. Kaboul again gave a performance to suggest that he will become quite the colossus at centre-back; Daws was again near-flawless; Gomes made some good saves and poor judgements.

Those Great Big Officiating Calls In The First Half

Moaning about the ref is not really the modus operandi here at AANP Towers, so the big calls of the first half will be awarded only the most cursory analysis.

Gomes-Heskey Pealty Shout: Thought Gomes got a fist on the ball myself, but if you want objectivity you most certainly have stumbled into the wrong corner of the interweb.

Kaboul Goal: Whole of the ball crossed the whole of the line? Did not appear thus from the comfort of the armchair. The ball was kept in, and the goal should have stood. An incident notable for being possibly the first time in history that anyone in their right mind has ever wished those pointless fifth officials were present.

Defoe Red: Bit daft of the wee man to go flailing his forearms thus, and by the letter of the law the ref will not have lost any sleep, but it was hardly a chainsaw massacre.

And let these incidents never be spoken of again. Instead let us talk forever and a day about the quite wonderful pre-half-time five minutes, the glory of our two goals and the truth, which should by now be universally acknowledged: present us with a powder-puff midfield and we will pass you to death. (Evil laugh, fade out)

We clung on in the final few minutes, but deserved the three points for the deific masterclass of the first 80 minutes. In fact it was so good I thought we deserved four points. No Spurs fans particularly  mind Villa but we all hate Robert Pires, so hopefully Joe Jordan battered the daylights out of him during the post-match formalities.

A fine evening’s work, setting us up nicely for a productive festive fixture-list. What a merry Christmas this has been.

 

Aston Villa – Spurs Preview: Look Who’s Back

What-ho ho ho! All I wanted for Christmas was the return to a full fitness of a top-notch midfielder – and lo, the good Santa provideth. VDV is back, the baby Jesus be praised, and the rather enticing prospect now looms of him lining up behind Defoe. Topping stuff I’m sure you will agree, unless you are a Villa fan stumbling confusedly across this little corner of interweb (in which case – seasons greetings!).In fact, from the ashes of the injury-decimated first half of the season there now rises a phoenix that probably is only one Huddlestone and a Ledley short of being our first choice XI. Marvellous stuff.

As it happens,

the impromptu Christmas break has allowed quite a few wounds to heal, meaning that, Kaboul, Jenas and Kranjcar are also now straining at the leash ahead of kick-off today. The return of VDV is by far the glitziest, most sparkly news, but in a more understated sort of way we at AANP Towers have poured a cheeky whisky and toasted the news of Kaboul’s return. We are certainly reaping the benefits of ‘Arry’s masterstroke of employing seven central defenders, as yet again we go into a game with two of them fully fit. 

The wonders of the fixture-list mean that there are about a million points up for grabs in the next few days and Villa, Newcastle, Fulham and Everton in theory represent four winnable games.  The good men and women of the dedicated Tottenham Hotspur A&E Ward should probably also brace themselvs, for while four games in a week present all sorts of wondrous points possibilities, they do threaten to decimate the entire squad and leave the Spurs Lodge a blood-soaked mess of limbs come early-January.Pushing into 2011 unscathed on the injury front, and with seven or eight points in the bag would represent a success. The fun and frolics begin this evening, and on both sides’ current form a trip to Villa Park represents a chance for us to target three points rather than one.

(Back Catalogue) Spurs 2-1 Villa: Is VDV The New Berba or Asprilla?

Due to the horrors of the real world (new flat! new flat!), a near-lethal bout of man-flu and, most pertinently, a mightily ropey wi-fi connection, many of the AANP ramblings of recent weeks have been trapped, like the three evil types inside the glass prison in Superman 2, on a usb stick, unable to make it to the interweb. However, to ease the pain of the international break, this back-catalogue of previews and match reports will now finally see the light of day – which means that you lucky things will be able to relive all the hundred-miles-an-hour excitement of the past three weeks or so! Huzzah!

 

3/10/2010: While all and sundry are blurting out every superlative going, do forgive me if I go for something verging on the sacrilegious, but Van der Vaart actually reminds me of Dimitar Berbatov. Not for his sulky, dastardly personality you realise, nor physical appearance nor playing position; but in terms of being an addition to the ranks who is so clearly head and shoulders above his peers. Not since the days of Berba have we had a player whose technique is simply a class above, a player who does the outrageously difficult and makes it seem like second-nature. The sort of things you or I occasionally tried (and failed) in the park with our mates, when no-one was watching. VDV, like Berba before him, instinctively does those things in the middle of a high-octance, competitive game, and makes them look easy. As with the goal midweek against Twente, there was plenty of room for error with his second this afternoon – awkward height, awkward angle; but not a problem for a blinking football genius.

 

Another Bizarre VDV Comparison

 

Recall ye that season when Kevin Keegan went mad in a live TV interview? I may be mistaken, but I think that was the season Newcastle went about a thousand points clear at the top of the table by Christmas, but then rather embarrassingly frittered away their lead and ended up being pipped to the title by Man Utd, the poor loves. The reason? Well there were plenty I suppose, but one notable factor was the addition to the squad of Faustino Asprilla at Christmas. Personally I adored the chap, thought he was awesome, and one of the much worthier foreign additions to the Premiership in an era of Lars Bohinen and Anders Limpar, but adding him to an already mightily attacking mix rather skewed Newcastle’s tactics, and games they used to win they ended up blowing.

 

Fast-forward to N17 in 2010, and VDV is now adorned in lilywhite, and almost certainly better than any of his chums in the dressing-room. The problem is how the deuces to accommodate him. 4-4-2 worked fantastically for us last season. The central midfield of Modders and Hudd outplayed l’Arse, Chelski and Man City. The 4-4-2 worked, home and away. However, accommodate VDV we must, for the awesomeness seepeth from his every pore, and his natural abode appears to be a free role behind the centre forward/s.

 

But a 4-5-1-playing beast we are not, and there’s the rub. As well as lacking a genuine forward to play this role, there is also the problem of how to accommodate Defoe when he returns (and I personally am saddened that all this nudges Kranjcar towards the exit door, but c’est la vie). Bale, Modders and VDV into a 4-4-2 will not really go, unless the handsome young Welshman is shunted to left-back, which is rather a waste. VDV is no right winger, but we can’t play him and Modders as a central pairing in a 4-4-2, and… Well you get the point. Not that I’m about to solve it. That’s ‘Arry’s job, and in fairness it’s a dilemma about which he has being banging on fairly regularly.

 

Elsewhere on the Pitch

 

Back to the game. Still not a fan of lobbing high balls up to Crouch, but in the last two games his lay-offs and knock-downs have brought about goals and penalties and all sorts, so I simply have to grumble in silence on that point. Nice to see Aaron Lennon looking more like his former self; Alan Hutton continues to look the polar opposite of Corluka at right-back; Hudd grew into his role as ad hoc centre-back, but in an ideal world would still be below Ledley/Dawson/Gallas/Kaboul/Woodgate in the pecking order.

 

Emile Heskey: Scourge of Lightweight Spurs Centre-Backs

 

For all the talk of Van der Vaart the turning-point in this one was arguably the disappearance of Heskey, injured, in the first half. The ease with he muscled past Bassong evoked a Hollywood-style montage in my head of all those instances over the years on which a Spurs centre-back has been sent flying by a big brusing striker. In fact Heskey himself started it about ten years ago, in his Leicester days, when he powered past Stuart Nethercott or someone and thumped the ball in. Anyway, off he went, back we came and the all-important three points were ours. Pre-match I had hoped for three points above performance, injuries or anything else, and a win against a decent Villa side is a jolly good result.

 

Spurs – Villa Preview

 

1/10/2010: This old conundrum again. Whether two games per week is simply too much for their precious limbs, or they really do believe the hype and only mentally attune themselves for Champions League Wednesdays I know not; but for whatever reason our heroes are not coping well with the rigours of a Saturday-Wednesday-and-Saturday-again schedule.

 

It has been hard enough to cope with Wigan and West Ham; now we face a resurgent Villa side, and I don’t mind admitting I approach this game with a fair degree of trepidation. Generally I like our home performances served up with a healthy dose of swash and buckle, but in the interests of keeping pace with the top-four runners and riders, I will happily settle for all manner of scrappiness if it guarantees us another three points heading into the international break.

         

Spurs 0-0 Aston Villa: How The Devil Do We Score At Home?

Frustrating stuff. A couple of months ago I was fairly sanguine about points dropped at home, reasoning with sage, Yoda-like calm that as long as we kept playing well the goals and wins would eventually follow. Never folk to take decisive action if we could get away with thrusting our heads into the sand and waiting, we at AANP Towers reasoned that there was no need to panic – the problem would take care of itself.Not so, it appears. Week after week we seem to turn in a strong performance but draw a blank, and as well as making for an unhappy trek down the High Road this is now beginning to derail the top-four push. The notion of turning White Hart Lane into a fortress seems to have been wildly misunderstood by our heroes, currently labouring under the misapprehension that it requires clean sheets for both sides. Future visitors to the Lane include Everton, Blackburn, Bolton and Pompey (as well as l’Arse and Chelski), and more ten-man lock-outs are on the agenda.

The team of monkeys here at AANP Towers has been hard at work brainstorming ideas as to what the devil we are doing wrong at the moment. And so, in no particular order…

Not Playing Good Football? 

Luck? 

A Different Forward-Line?

Controversial perhaps, as the problem seems to be that the opposition penalty area is just too darned crowded these days before we even get the ball to the front-two. Defoe’s raison d’être is simply to put the ball in the net when given a chance, and few are better at the art. Crouch has his limitations, but he had a decent enough game on Saturday, winning his fair share of headers and holding it up, giving us the option of the aerial route. As a combination, the pair work fairly well. However, I wouldn’t mind seeing Gudjohnsen given a chance to stretch his legs, and provide something a little different in attack, especially in those games in which the opposition back-line looks to have the measure of us.

A Dribbler? 

Lennon?

Bentley is doing a good job, but when it comes to Aaron Lennon, as that closely-cropped lady from the 80’s used to warble, nothing compares. For all the neat passing and technical ability, our team lacks pace. At the moment, opponents seem able to line themselves up in formation and repel. A burst of pace would help us actually get behind them and have a dig at their soft underbelly. Bale on the left gives glimpses of the panic this can cause in opposition ranks, always looking threatening when he hares down to the by-line.

Such hastily garnered suggestions are unlikely to go down in history as the footballing equivalent of neurosurgery, but are a selection of the wonderings swimming around the AANP mind. More pertinently, what solutions can ‘Arry provide? He may have assembled a coaching team to cover every eventuality, but, worryingly, after each shut-out he seems to repeat the same line, at least publicly, that he could not have asked any more of the players, and that they tried everything they could. Almost, one might suggest, as if he himself is out of ideas as to how to win these games. If only he had had a couple of capable and creative substitutes to whom he could have turned on Saturday…

A Grumble About Substitutes

It seemed a little strange that ‘Arry did not look to the bench for some fresh attacking inspiration. Retaining the on-pitch status quo would have made sense if all were going to plan and we were romping home, but circumstances rather strongly suggested that a case could have been made for a change or two. Each of Hudd, Modders and Bentley were performing fairly well without ever scything open the massed ranks of Villa defenders, yet Kranjcar and Gudjohnsen were left to twiddle their thumbs on the bench.

And while I’m having a grumble, here’s another point that struck me on Saturday – our ratio of goals-scored-from-corners to corners-taken must be appalling. The statistic, whatever it is, is all the worse for the fact that we have a whole army of big, sturdy six-footers marching forward for each corner these days.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

An honourable mention to Gomes, now one of the finest ‘keepers around. A cracking double-save in the first half crowned yet another solid all-round performance, secure on crosses and always keen to prompt attacks hastily. Sergeant Wilson showed again that his bite seems to be returning, but his doings when actually in possession remain erratic. There was also another good showing from the handsome young Welshman on the left on Saturday, doing all that was required defensively as well as offering his usual potency in attack.

So yet again we have to rely this week upon other sides to do us favours. Hull, unbelievably, obliged, turning over Man City, but Liverpool have, for this weekend at least, capitalised upon our failing. I still cannot see Villa lasting the pace in the race for fourth. Utterly bereft of attacking ideas, it seems the principal reason they remain in the hunt at present is their goalkeeper, the ever-magnificent Brad Friedel. However, we ought to be capable of stringing together a run of wins that would render academic the form of our rivals. A draw against Villa, while disappointing, is not calamitous, and the blow would be softened by a few consecutive wins in future weeks.


AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out in early March and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here

Spurs – Aston Villa Preview: Two Reasons To Be Cheerful

Amidst the vacuous football-speak loosely bandied around, the phrase “massive” is merrily pre-fixed to just about every fixture of the season, by managers and players alike, but Spurs-Villa today is probably more deserving of the epithet than most fixtures. Not only are three home points at stake, but winning this one would go a long to reducing from four to three the group of contenders for the Champions League spot. While I can see Man City and even Liverpool stringing together a run of six straight wins, Villa strike me as having too small a squad to last the pace, and stretching out a five-point gap at this stage would go some way to getting shaking them from our coat-tails.”Massive” indeed then, and at AANP Towers we see at least two reasons to be cheerful going into this one.

1. No Ten-Man Defence At The Lane This Week 

If we need a template for victory today, the win over Man City before Christmas should be studied and memorised by our lot: the weathering of an early storm, followed by some lightning-quick counter-attacking and the usual flurry of chances. Admittedly Aaron Lennon’s pace was crucial on that occasion, but it was an open game, well-suited to our style of play, and the sort we can expect again today.

2. Villa Weren’t Very Good at Villa Park 

Team News

The latest post-Keane era beginneth, with Eidur Gudjohnsen in contention to come in for Crouch. Not wanting to over-burden the blighter, but personally I cannot wait to see him in action having quite happily heralded him the new messiah. Ledley is fit again, while Younes Kaboul and his quite scary eyebrows could also be back in a Spurs shirt at some point.

Having been in decent form in recent weeks David Bentley will presumably remain in the right, which means that Kranjcar would drop to the bench to accommodate Modders on the left. The concern at AANP Towers is that Gareth Bale may face his sternest test since returning to the team, his defensive capabilities likely to be fairly rigorously tested against Villa’s various pacey forwards.

Nevertheless, I am confident about this one. These big games at the Lane, against opponents willing to come here and have a go, tend to bring out the best in our heroes.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out in early March and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith,Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here

Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs: A Better Result For Tottenham Than Last Week?

A better result than last week? Well, no, in a word. As a result, a draw away to Villa is ok on paper, but no reason to go popping corks and lighting Cubans. However, the performance, particularly in the second half, was without doubt one to warm the cockles. If last week was an all guns blazing Terminator 2, this was a well-constructed The Usual Suspects – different genre, but mightily impressive in its own right. 

The nine-goal fest against thoroughly clueless opponents was a fun day out, but there was a nagging worry all week that we’d struggle against a team who did not politely stand aside and usher us through. Such fears appeared to transpire in the first half hour or so, when we were second-best to too many balls – as typified by the Villa goal.Typical Spurs, No Spine, No Fight…

Those who have Spurs down as a soft touch sat back and waited expectantly – only to be stunned by, of all things, a bloody-minded refusal to accept defeat. Towards half-time, and every moment thereafter, we displayed a character which I had not dared think the players had in them. There before our very disbelieving eyes, sleeves were rolled up and hands dirtied, as our lot hammered away until they got a goal. Then they carried on hammering for good measure, in search of a winner. And all this, recall, not against one of the division’s less potent spoilers, but against our closest challengers for fourth. Crikey.

Feet ought to remain grounded – we did not win, after all, and Villa were curiously negative – but that glorious refusal to go down without a fight ought really to have been played out to a stirring Thomas Arne soundtrack. Fittingly enough Michael Dawson was the hero, thumping in our equaliser before presumably riding home on horseback and in full armour, with a sword in one hand and the severed head of a barbarian in the other.

Kranjcar Fast Becoming An AANP Favourite

 

Kranjcar again was superb, making a mockery of those pointless efforts to shoe-horn Robbie Keane into the left-side role. In the first half the Croat seemed to be at the hub of all that was good, raising the notion that a few weeks down the line, ‘Arry might even be tempted to dabble in a Kranjcar-Modric-Palacios-Lennon midfield. I drool in anticipation. The energy Kranjcar injected gradually spread across the team, and before you could say “We-may-be-one-down-at-Vila-Park-after-half-an-hour-but-by-golly-I-think-we’re getting-on-top-here” they were all at it – movement, patient build-up and the occasional half-chance, hinting at what was to come.I had a rant yesterday about the common Away-Team mentality of sitting back and adopting a safety-first defend-and-nullify mindset. Happily however, anyone in Tottenham ranks who suggested this yesterday was taken out the back and shot, while on the pitch we seized the initiative and pounded relentlessly at the Villa door. Another brownie point can be distributed as appropriate for the fact that there was no panicked resort to a procession of long-balls, despite the presence of Crouch up top. Yes, we did occasionally take the aerial route from deep, but this was mixed up with crosses from the flanks, attempts to pass our way in and thumping long shots.

Encouraging Stuff From Hudd 

Elsewhere on the Pitch 

Lennon was generally shackled by two men throughout, only finding any space in the closing stages – but even when not producing the goods, his presence caused panic in opposition ranks.

Bold Substitutions 

Jenas, to his credit (yes, you read correctly) entered the fray with exactly the right attitude. Previously a man maligned for his willingness to pass backwards if his life depended on going forward, he showed attacking intent every time he received the ball, looking to press forward, either via a pass or dribble, at every opportunity.

In the aftermath of the goal celebrations, ‘Arry resisted any urge to alter the planned substitution, instead ploughing on with the replacement of Kranjcar by Keane, when others may well have paused and thrown on a more defensive player instead. It reminded me of a substitution made by Martin Jol (blessed be his name) many moons back, possibly in his first game in charge in fact, when having trailed 2-0 away to Charlton, we got back to 2-2, before Jol threw on another striker and was rewarded with three points. No three-point haul today, but immense credit to all involved, for the positive mentality adopted.

 

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And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

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