Well I would have settled for a draw beforehand – that it was such a memorable, high-octane, pulsating spectacle of a game was a bonus. As against Bolton in the last round, the AANP view is that our opponents have blown their best chance of victory by failing to beat us on their own patch. Back at the Lane and under the floodlights I fancy us to come out on top, injuries permitting. Fulham at home and Pompey at Wembley in order to make the FA Cup Final? Now there’s a thought…
A Good Day For Bullies
It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it appears that sometimes bullies finish first. Sergeant Wilson refused to let anyone have their way, and spent his 90 minutes ruining things for any Fulham player who came near him; while for the other lot, Bobby Zamora made himself a complete pain from start to finish. The well-behaved kids, like Modders, didn’t stand a chance. Too nice by half, our Luka was given the opportunity to boss things from central midfield, but again gave reason to conclude that he is best deployed as a left midfielder, drifting infield and linking with an overlapping full-back.
A Nagging Worry
There remains a nagging frustration here at AANP Towers that the central midfield berth remains an area for improvement generally. I humbly suggest that Hudd needs to offer more than just his passing-range; and less humbly decree Jenas a lost cause; while as we saw yesterday Modders does not appear to have the requisite muscle and feistiness for the role. Until the end of the season we will have to plough on with the resources we have, but come the summer I fervently hope that we beg, steal or borrow a top-notch, attack-minded central midfielder. Admittedly there are precious few of them out there, and ‘Arry will probably just persist with Hudd, but to become a Champions League-standard team we need a midfielder who can run the show.
Bale’s Midfield Adventure
Back to yesterday’s game, about which many a sage has ventured that a draw seemed about right. Our heroes started fairly well, but by golly the Fulham defence was well-organised, and within about fifteen minutes I had already started mentally clearing the diary for the replay date. The game became a little more stretched in the second half, with Fulham hitting upon the novel idea of trying to win the thing, and Gomes was called upon to go leaping around once or twice, but the closest thing to a goal was probably Corluka’s coronary-inducing slashed clearance in the dying embers of the game, which drifted horrifyingly close to his own net.
As ever, all that was best from our lot came from the ever-wondrous size nines of Gareth Bale. Worries that his creative juices might be sapped by his new midfield role proved fairly unfounded, as he increasingly became our default attack option – the only man capable of getting behind the Fulham defence, frequently drawing two opponents towards him and occasionally also haring infield. I’m not sure too many women want him, or too many men want to be him, but I have a healthy dose of man-love for the guy, and sincerely hope that his every whim is indulged by those in authority at the Lane, to ensure he remains in lilywhite for years to come. Every now and then I allow myself to drift off and imagine how ruddy unstoppable we might be with Bale pelting down one flank and a fit-again Aaron Lennon on the other…
Elsewhere On The Pitch
Less impressive were our two full-backs. Assou-Ekotto was a little too casual at times, while not for the first time Corluka’s distribution was rather wayward. Bassong however probably deserves a nod of approval, for sticking manfully to his Zamora-containment duties throughout, a blinking hard task by the look of it.
The Crouch-Pav pairing did not really have me slapping my thigh and ordering champagne. There was huffing and puffing a-plenty up-front, but not too many clear-cut chances amidst the suffocating line of Fulham defenders.
So a replay it will be. We may yet rue failure to capitalise upon the absence of Danny Murphy in the Fulham ranks, and there is also the very ominous possibility that injury or suspension might deplete our midfield further; but as things stand we are jolly well-placed to reach the FA Cup Final.
AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).
All are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding the players 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. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.
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