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Birmingham 1-1 Spurs: How to Lose Two Points in 45 Minutes

Curses. There has been some debate across various corners of the interweb, but here at AANP Towers we had rather been enjoying the exalted status of title dark-horses, and accordingly mark this down as two points lost. No catastrophe, but if we can win at the Emirates we should be able to win just about anywhere, especially after giving the opposition a one-goal first-half thrashing, if such a thing there be.Everything looked fairly tickety-boo in the first half. While Birmingham occasionally reminded us that they were taking part, flapping around in their own area and occasionally placing half a foot on the little round thing, we generally bossed proceedings. The usual suspects were summoned and duly earned their corn. Modders dictated matters in between nervous flicks of his mop; Lennon occasionally surfaced to race past his man, before racing just as quickly out of the limelight; and Bale continued his search for new and exciting ways to escape the ever-growing army of deviants sent to contain him.

One-way traffic, which ought to have been reflected by a half-time scoreline greater than one-nil, but such are the hazards of operating with Crouch in attack. He seemed hell-bent on getting all his limbs under control before attempting to shoot. Reasonable enough I suppose, but it made for typically infuriating viewing at times, when the ball itself seemed to beg him to be thumped into the net.

In our official capacity as Kings of the Second Half Comeback we really ought to have known better than to wither away and gently die after the break, but that we did. Irony abounded in fact, for not only were we this time on the receiving end of a late fightback, but Birmingham even used against us that very Plan B to which we assumed we had exclusive rights. On came their giant striker, the aerial bombardment began, the goal arrived. The introduction of Birmingham’s very own slightly inept beanpole as we defended a one-goal lead with ten minutes remaining might have been the cue for ‘Arry to reinforce things with the introduction of Michael Dawson, but such a call is easy to make after the event, and as caution is not exactly in the Tottenham DNA the only substitution ‘Arry plumped for was Princess Pav for Defoe.

Elsewhere On The Pitch… 

Gallas continued to lead by example, and Sergeant Wilson’s ongoing malaise does not really show much sign of abating, but one of the most eye-catching aspect of proceedings was on the bench rather than the pitch. Egads – two substitute ‘keepers! This injury business really is veering wildly out of hand, and with those marvellous FA suits deciding that squads this season are limited to 25 we are only a couple more groin strains from the sight of Cudicini showing Palacios how it’s done in midfield, or even an appearance from Niko Kranjcar.

Elsewhere Off The Pitch… 

Monsieur Bassong has also hinted at a move over the weekend, on the not unreasonable basis that he wants first-team football. He certainly does a handy job as sixth-choice centre-back, but presuming Daws and Kaboul return to fitness (Ledley and Woodgate represent a different kettle of fish) young Bassong’s chances will remain limited, and “adieu” it may well be.

Back to the game. An unfortunate weekend to drop points, with l’Arse and Man City both winning, but it hardly signals the end of our season, and there will be weeks when we profit and others slip up. Six points off top-spot – and on a four-game unbeaten run – represents fairly healthy going, particularly with a decimated squad, so I urge ye to pause before creating those “’Arry Out” placards. Victory against Chelski next week – and we can jolly well fancy our chances – would put us right back in the thick of things and banish the memory of the two points lost here. Silver lining? That our progress is such that we now consider a draw at Birmingham two points lost, while looking forward with confidence to the visit of Chelski.

“Spurs’ Cult Heroes”- A Christmas Stocking-Filler 

 

As well as cheerily reminiscing over the Tottenham careers of 20 of the club’s most popular fans’ favourites (Greaves, Blanchflower, Hoddle, Gazza, Klinsmann and the like) the book also covers some of the most fabled traditions etched into Spurs’ history: big European nights, magic Wembley moments, exotic foreign arrivals, questionable musical offerings, dodgy mullets etc. Quite the stocking-filler for the fellow lilywhite in your life.

Birmingham 1-1 Spurs: The Adel Taarabt View

Apologies for the radio silence, been sunning myself in the land of Adel Taarabt and Noureddine Naybet over the last few days. Therefore, if you want a blow-by-blow analysis of this game, look elsewhere – as indeed I’m sure you have done, at some point since Saturday afternoon.Premiership goings-on are not top of the agenda in Morocco, but I did eventually ascertain the outcome of this one. Away from home, against a Birmingham team in pretty solid form of recent months, it struck me as decent enough. There have been a few too many draws in recent months, and the value of this one was certainly sullied by wins for Villa, Liverpool and Man City; but a draw at Birmingham was not bad.

A day later however I found out the timing of the goals, and the AANP brow, so untroubled during every preceding moment of my time in Morocco, immediately furrowed. A last-minute equaliser? Karma of sorts, some would suggest, following the mighty late steal against Birmingham at White Hart Lane back in August. I have lost track of the points thrown away by missed chances and last-minute mishaps now, which is a damning indictment in itself. The saving grace this season is that all our rivals seem to be dropping points with just as much gusto as we.

While there is precious little I can add, one line in an English newspaper I saw on Tuesday caught my eye, as it named one David Bentley as Man of the Match. C’est vrai? Less surprising was the news that Jermaine Jenas was introduced onto the pitch in the 89th minute, and the team promptly imploded, seeming victory instantly melting down to a draw. Just this once I’ll cut the blighter some slack, and presume that his entrance had little to do with the circumstances surrounding our concession of the equaliser. (Nevertheless, seasoned AANP followers will not be surprised to know that I find it mighty tempting to pick up the rubber stamp that reads “Scapegoat” and emblazon the word across his forehead…)

Short-Term Disappointment; But Long-Term Progress Continuing? 

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith,Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

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

Birmingham – Spurs Preview: Will A Stirring Performance Be To Much To Ask?

Really not sure how to call this one. Back in August I would have pencilled in Birmingham away as a solid point and a good chance for all three, but it’s a different kettle of fish here in January 2010. Our win over Fulham was bizarrely comfortable, but hardly suggested that the Tottenham juggernaut is revved up to full throttle, ready to blitz aside all-comers.Birmingham for their part had been unbeaten in about five years until they were soundly despatched by Chelski midweek, so no obvious indication as to how they will amble up either. This will be no stroll in the park, but a stirring performance from our lot would not be too much to ask, and a convincing win at St Andrews would give us a most welcome second-wind going into spring. Of course, the alternative, of an insipid, uninspired defeat, would be the cue for the voices of doom to bellow forth their scathing critique once again.

With neither the signings of Gudjohnsen nor Kaboul confirmed as yet I presume there will be a fairly familiar look about the team tomorrow. Bassong for Ledley; Bentley to return no-man’s land (presuming Kranjcar has recovered from his sniffles); a choice of Crouch or Keane in attack. Defoe has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, but I sneer in the face of the man/woman who dismisses his goal-threat. He may not have had many chances recently, but the lob against Leeds and disallowed goal against Liverpool suggest that he has not forgotten where the netting is moored.

Sergeant Wilson has given a few encouraging indications over the past seven days that he may be returning to form, and away from home his will be an important role. As will that of the boy Bale. Speed on the counter-attack always helps on our travels, and with Lennon’s “two-week” groin strain now a month-long absence our primary pace outlet appears to be the reborn left-back. However, Bale has yet to be particularly given a severe test defensively since returning to the starting line-up, and tomorrow might be an occasion on which that side of his game is of primary importance.

In a season in which all the pretenders for fourth are resolutely taking one step back after every two steps forward, a run of four or five consecutive wins would do us a world of good. With Villa at home and Wigan away to follow, opportunity knocks for our heroes tomorrow.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb 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

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