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Spurs match reports

Spurs – Man City Preview: Pessimism Abounds

An early preview, as I’m off gallivanting for the weekend, and for the second time in a week this all looks rather ominous. City’s charming social experiment into whether money can indeed buy you everything has turned them into something approaching the equal of the United side that so emphatically dismantled us last week.The visit of City presents us with two potential strategies: close our eyes, curl up into a small ball and panic; or get Messrs Hudd and/or Modric on the pitch pronto. Kranjcar and Livermore offer technique and enthusiasm respectively, but looked every inch our sixth- and seventh-choice central midfielders against United, and a step up in quality is desperately needed this week. It is possible that Jenas might also compete for a starting berth on Sunday, and while this chap did once play in central midfield against Brazil, his presence would not inspire confidence in anyone other than our visitors.

Adebayor?

At the time of writing I’m a little unsure, but presume that Adebayor will be ineligible against his parent club, which would be rather exasperating after an 18-month wait for a decent striker. Given the relative toothlessness of the Defoe-VDV combo last week it will be interesting to see whether ‘Arry gives them another whirl on Sunday, but Pav’s performance on Thursday night hardly made an irresistible case for inclusion.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

While central midfield will be a critical area, Lennon and Bale could also be key, their match-ups against Clichy and Richards respectively making for a jolly lip-smacking prospect. Elsewhere, ‘Arry will have to choose between Corluka and Walker, while Friedel will presumably retain his spot.

‘Tis a measure of the deflating effects of last week, in terms of performance as much as result, that my capacity for optimism in even the bleakest situations as a Spurs fan has been all but extinguished. Pessimism abounds at AANP Towers. Even as the home side I fear we will struggle. Fingers crossed and prayers offered that our heroes prove me wrong.

 

 

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Spurs match reports

Man Utd 3-0 Spurs: Well Worth The Wait

My, this is embarrassing. We wait three months – plus those tortuous extra 9 days – for our season to begin, then promptly find ourselves nestled amongst the bottom one teams in the table after being torn apart by a bunch of blasted kids. Thank heavens for the fixture-list and its remaining 37 entries.After studying numerous repeats of last night’s game in infra-red and from all manner of camera angles the crack team of football connoisseurs at AANP Towers have concluded that Man Utd are a bit better than Hearts. This was particularly evident in central midfield, rather inevitably.  Poor old Livermore fought the good fight pretty well, but could hardly be said to have grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and given it a ruddy good talking to. Once United stepped up a gear, midway through the second half, they blew us away, those damn red-clad whippersnappers haring all over the place – around us, over us, beneath us, through our legs and from all angles until it was left to Friedel to do his damnedest while they queued up and peppered his goal. “They’re coming out of the walls man, they’re coming out of the goddamn walls”, Friedel would have been forgiven for musing.

Alas, instead of Sigourney Weaver with a double flame-thrower, our midfield was patrolled by Niko Kranjcar. In recent weeks here at AANP Towers I have been doing my best to ignore the Modric tommyrot and instead been bleating on about the virtues of our other Croatian midfielder. Cue a Kranjcar performance that began modestly, with a healthy percentage of misplaced passes, and gradually saw him descend into anonymity. One esteemed Croatian acquaintance of mine today opined that Kranjcar will one day fall asleep on the pitch; a little cruel perhaps, but well as some jolly lazy distribution (he was not alone in committing this particular misdemeanour) he became slower and slower in the chasing of United shadows, eventually running out of steam completely and spending 10 minutes just standing in the centre-circle panting, alongside the similarly wheezy VDV, before being withdrawn by ‘Arry and placed on a ventilator. Two players of dashed good technique, but if we ever consider sticking the pair of them together again in such close proximity in the centre, it might be worth injecting into their blood-streams some Lucozade, or Coke, or whichever Class A drugs the kids are using these days for their afternoon energy boost.

Elsewhere On The Pitch 

A cracking performance too from Brad Friedel, despite conceding three. The stats may say he is 40 but one glance at his kindly, wizened visage betrays the fact that he is clearly somewhere closer to 70, and like any good grandfather he has a rather comforting presence. His shot-stopping was excellent, and he seemed to gather the odd corner with none of the fuss and bluster of a Gomes.

Lennon’s exasperatingly poor decision-making (you know the one I mean) and Defoe’s rattling of the woodwork could be rued, but we can hardly complain about the outcome. Our heroes need to get their act together sharpish, but there were first half moments – the odd one-touch passing move, the occasional dart from Bale – to suggest that things will improve soon enough.

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Spurs preview

Man Utd – Spurs Preview: A Team of Younes Kabouls

Rejoice, all ye fellow lilywhites. Admittedly it is also with a degree of trepidation (Old Trafford will do that to a Spurs fan) but goodness me it is wonderful finally to be able to look forward to Spurs in Premiership action tonight. ‘Tis with delight therefore that I invite you to gather round and peruse with me the permutations of team selection for the evening’s festivities.Goalkeeper 

Right-Back? Kaboul?

BAE at left-back and Daws as half of the centre-back combo pick themselves; thereafter it becomes a bit tricky. Kaboul would be the obvious partner for Daws, given the absences of Gallas and Ledley, but what of right-back? Kyle Walker began against Hearts, but a Europa qualifier is a vastly different kettle of fish from a Premiership game away to the champions. Although I’m not quite sure where he was hiding last Thursday, I suspect that if fit Corluka will get the nod, so we can all enjoy the sight of him waddling along in the puff of smoke that Ashley Young leaves behind. Personally I’d go with Kaboul over any of the others at right-back.

Holding Midfielder? Kaboul?

No doubt ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums have been chuckling away to themselves at the irony of the fact that we possibly have more central midfielders in our squad than any other team in the Premiership, yet not a single one is fit for tonight. Ah, the hilarity! Livermore and Kranjcar then, I suppose. However, if ‘Arry wants someone with a bit of snap in central midfield the options are either sticking a jersey on Joe Jordan’s back and shoving him out there, or going with… Kaboul?

No Modders tonight, apparently “his head isn’t right”, which is an excuse I must try with my boss next time I just don’t fancy a day at the office. Still, where there is Bale and Lennon there is hope.

Attack? (Maybe Not Kaboul This Time) 

The Other Lot 

Moreover, United have thrown oodles of cash at a new goalkeeper who at best looks like he’d rather not be the chap hovering between the two big white sticks. De Gea will presumably prove his worth soon enough, but in his two appearances so far this season, as well as looking a few weeks shy of his 14th birthday and committing a crime against facial hair, he has displayed what appears to be a rather untimely allergy to ball. Apparently the lad also conceded a dozen or so goals from outside the area last season – and on a marvellously serendipitous note I read this morning that we scored more than any other team from outside the area last season…

It would be rather stretching the facts a mite to suggest that United are therefore there for the taking, but circumstances might be more favourable tonight than usual. Let the madness begin.

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Spurs news

The All Action No Plot Ten-Point Wish-List for Spurs This Season

Old hat it may be for everyone else, but here at AANP Towers we bounce around the walls like toddlers on a strict diet of fizzy drinks and E-numbers as we await the start of our Premiership season. Still, rather than pacing the corridors, rubbing hands together in feverish anticipation until tomorrow night, it occurred to me that the time is rather ripe for making public the various musings that have echoed around the walls of AANP Towers all summer. By golly that’s right – in no particular order, it’s the All Action No Plot Ten-Point Wish-List for Spurs’ Coming Season!1. Solve The VDV Conundrum

This one moonlights under the crafty pseudonym “Get Our Strikers Scoring Again”. While he has more talent than the rest of our forwards put together, the uneasy truth may be that VDV’s presence has rather discombobulated our strikers. Like gravity and the temperature at which water boils, that Messrs Pav and Defoe prefer playing within a front two is a scientific truth. Indeed, given a weekly starting-berth and a 4-4-2 one imagines that both would be capable of hitting 20 goals a season (although maybe not alongside each other). However, playing as the lone striker supported by VDV suits neither.

The solution we’ve been screeching from the stands for over a year is the purchase of a striker capable of playing on his own, Adebayor now apparently having displaced Llorente and Rossi atop that particular list. Be it a new signing, or somehow shoving VDV into a 4-4-2 – or even as my Spurs-supporting chum Ian recommends, shoving Bale up top – we really need our strikers to hit 40+ goals between them this season.

(While there is the Crouch option, which does sporadically bear fruit for VDV, my fragile mental state is such that I may eat my own brain if I have to endure another season of his headers flying off a random angular point of his cranium and looping gently into the Paxton.) 

A moot point admittedly, because if he comes ambling towards us making a heart with his hands it means a you-know-what scored by you-know-who, and we would all gratefully accept one of those each week. Nevertheless, one can hardly imagine Bruce Willis skipping off with heart-shaped fingers after capping a bad guy, or Mike Tyson acting similarly after pummelling some poor blighter back in his hey-day. Tyson bit off people’s ears dagnabbit, and while that might be a tad extreme, I hope that this season Bale produces something a bit less akin to an eight year-old girl celebrating the creation of a daisy-chain.

3. Kyle Walker to Prove He Can Defend

Having existed on a right-back diet largely comprising Vedran “Usain” Corluka and Alan Hutton last season, hopes are high for young Master Walker, particularly after his loan at Villa somehow ended up with him being shoe-horned into Fabio’s England squad. I confess I barely watched Villa last season, but Walker’s U21 exploits this summer made interesting viewing: plenty of youthful brio when flying forward, but defending remains a crucial – if oft-overlooked – facet of being a defender, and on this topic the jury at AANP Towers wandered out and is yet to return. Harking back to his occasional Spurs appearances a year or two back (Bolton/Blackburn away?) he looked promising enough, but a hardly the finished article, a soft penalty numbering among a couple of mistakes.

He will get his chances, particularly in the Europa League, and looked impressive enough against Hearts, which might help answer the crucial question: can the lad defend? Until that one is answered I’d quite happily go with Kaboul at right-back.

4. Pav to Stop Whingeing

When the mood takes him he’s a mighty fine player, one who seems to delight in scoring spectacularly from 25 yards rather than anything more mundane, but goodness me, Pav acts like a big old baby at times. He was not built for a 4-5-1, nor has he had a consistent run in the team, so one sympathises, but every time a butterfly sneezes near him he squeals and goes down, and whenever a pass is placed a couple of yards beyond him that look of pained anguish is etched across his face, tears seemingly just around the corner, and arms inevitably a-flapping. For goodness sake sir, life is not fair, it’s the same for all of us – just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.

5. Hudd to Speed Up 

6. Fewer of Those Goalkeeping Clangers

Oh to have been a fly on the wall during transfer negotiations with Brad Friedel. Presumably he has not joined with the intention of warming those comfy-looking seats on the sidelines all season, yet Gomes appears the custodian as we chug along towards the belated season opener. Nevertheless, Friedel’s arrival can be interpreted as a shot of Jagerbomb at the Last Chance Saloon for Gomes: no more flapping. And that incorporates the fumbling of straightforward, straight-at-yer shots approaching with all the power generated by a sedated kitten, as well as general flailing at corners. Early signs, from the friendly vs that Spanish lot and the Europa game vs Hearts are not entirely encouraging – Gomes’ shot-stopping looked decent but one can almost hear the panic bells ringing in his head as a set-piece is delivered in his direction…

7. Don’t Sell Niko Kranjcar

A

dmittedly the opta stats would probably reflect that Pienaar covers about three times as much ground as Kranjcar, but while he may be a tad, ahem, languid, the Croat has undiluted magic in his boots, and given our struggles to break down rubbish teams last season he may have delivered that je ne sais quoi for which we searched in vain. On his rare opportunities last season he delivered a couple of belting strikes, and in midfield against the admittedly rubbish Hearts last week he looked imperious. Still, when Bale was absent ‘Arry seemed willing to try everyone but Kranjcar on the left, and the signing of Pienaar was about as unsubtle as it gets when it comes to ‘Arry’s plans.8. Joe Jordan to Eat Someone

Literally. Deep down he must be dying for a fight, and having restrained himself against Gattuso last season maybe, just maybe, Joey Barton or Arsene Wenger may push him just a bit too far on the touchline this season…

9. Finish in the Top Four 

10. Owen Coyle to Take Over When (“If”) ‘Arry Leaves Next Summer 

Controversial one this, not least because, as the pedants amongst you will have noted, an a wish-list for this season ought not to concern itself with next season. However, the chances are that when Fabio scrams in summer 2012 ‘Arry will cry God for England and St George. I admit immediately that my knowledge of up-and-coming European bosses is negligible, but of the British lot Coyle impresses me. All sorts of caveats here – not least that he’s unproven at a big club, with the cash, egos and whatnot – but he turned Bolton from a loathsome long-ball team to one that plays jolly decent passing football. Just a thought.

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Spurs news, rants

Gentle Musings on Spurs’ Summer

What ho, and how wonderful to reconvene in such happy circumstances, for glory be, the new season will up and runneth soon enough. Huzzah! Surging left-wing runs, infuriatingly aimless headers, goalkeeping howlers, near-suicidal-but-ultimately-ok left-backery, oodles of Sky Sports stats, European adventures on Channel 5 and, of course, madcap, all-action seven-goal thrillers and the like. Again I screech from the rooftops, glory be. Emerge ye, pale and emaciated from the interminable summer months minus football, and bask in the warm glow of lilywhite once more.In common with on-pitch exploits, things in this neck of the interweb rather tailed off at the end of last season – apologies – and by way of admonishment AANP now currently swims resignedly every day against a heaving tide of spam. Still, onwards and upwards. For season 11/12 our heroes look even more polished and shinier than before, like some sort of re-booted Hollywood film series.

Massive, Gob-Smacking Marquee Transfers 

Thus it transpires that despite needing a great big hulking brick outhouse of a striker capable of sticking out his rear-end, holding up the ball, elbowing aside various defensive types and thumping the little orb netwards, our transfer chiefs have instead tootled along in silence as Messrs Pav, Crouch, Defoe and even Keane return to Spurs Lodge to practise spraying the ball anywhere but the goal.

We have made one attacking signing, a whippersnapper by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, who is reportedly fresh from scoring about 15 goals in five minutes at the U-17 World Cup. Underwhelming news for all those who have followed the careers of Tomas Peckhart, Adel Taraabt, Giovani et al.  While I have dropped down on bended knee to plead to the gods of football fate that this chap does in fact turn out to be the second coming of Drogba, I am tempted to stick a fiver on him going on loan to the Championship and popping up at Lyon in four years time, before randomly appearing for AC Milan in the Champions League. Either way, this is unlikely to be his season.

Elsewhere, ‘Arry’s commitment to signing sackloads of decent players we don’t really need has extended to the goalkeeping position. Hard not to like Brad Friedel, but I’m not sure he is the solution to anything in particular. Still, if the best way to stop Gomes flapping around is to employ a genial bald yank to wheeze down his neck then so be it.

Modric (Grrr) 

Back to the point. Difficult though it is to fathom, we would cope without him – we did a decent enough job following his early season injury vs Birmingham back in 09/10. As such, I would accept £40 mil plus Drogba, perhaps giving you all an insight into why my 9-to-5 job is a million miles removed from running a football club. However, rather than take the cash I would much prefer that Levy keeps his heels firmly dug in for the 27 days of the window, and the clean-shaven Jesus remains a lilywhite come September 1st. Just give us one more season Luka, and get us back into the Champions League…

New Kit 

Indeed, some would very persuasively argue that the launch of a football kit barely deserves comment anyway, but such has been the emptiness of these summer months. We seem to be in neither better nor worse condition than last season (aside from an injury to Sandro, which has me shaking an enraged fist at the screen on my computer box). Still time for changes in personnel, but for now the focus is presumably to get through 90 minutes against Deportivo without fresh injuries. Fingers crossed.

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Spurs preview

Wigan – Spurs Preview: Nine Things I’d Like To See From Tottenham Today

Just picking an entirely arbitrary number, it’s AANP’s (by no means exhaustive) nine-point wish-list for this afternoon’s trip to Wigan…1. Same Old Same Old From Gomes


Watching l’Arse goalkeeper Lucas Fabianski pass his Three Stooges audition with flying colours this week gave a pleasant reminder that, for all our problems at the other end, between the sticks we are well-blessed. In generations to come AANP’s grandchildren will gather around and listen with disbelieving ears at tales of how calamitous Gomes was in his early days, but mercifully such an age is long passed.  The big Brazilian has been one of our best performers this season, and at the end of a week in which even such goalkeeping luminaries as Shay Given and Brad Friedel have erred rather prominently, it is good to know that our last line of defence is so secure. More of the same this afternoon please.2. Domineering Performance From Hudd

Whatever the varying opinions of his contributions, it is beyond dispute that Hudd is first-choice centre-midfielder – so let’s see him play like one. Every week. All the best players have occasional off-days, but the big lad’s are far too frequent. Wigan away might not necessarily be the jolliest of cake-walks, but a central midfielder at a top-four team ought to dominate such fare.

3. Score The Next Ruddy Penalty We Are Awarded 

4. Give Us Back Our Modric 

5. Law of the Ex 

6. Striking Alternative 

7. The Return of Lennnon 

8. Turn Up at Kick-Off 

9. Three Points

By hook, crook or penalties. Forget nine goals, just one more than the other lot will suffice. The momentum has disappeared from our season in the manner of a Jenas forward burst, pause, about-turn and backwards pass; but we are still very much in touch with the top-four chasers, and our current malady is nothing a little string of wins would not cure.

 

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, will be in shops from 6 March – but is available to pre-order now from Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as 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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Spurs match reports

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