Spurs match reports

West Ham 1-2 Spurs: Tottenham Forget How To Be A Soft-Touch

Good grief, what’s come over them? The stylish win at home to Liverpool was in keeping with the glory-glory Tottenham tradition, the demolition of Hull an all-action romp – but getting bogged down in a scrap and emerging victorious? I plan to catch this, pop it in a jar and charge a tenner for people to come marvel at it.While never abandoning the principle of playing football that’s pretty to watch whenever we broke into their half, we also did the necessary dirty work, matching our hosts crunch for crunch, and niggle for niggle.

Countless times in years gone by we have grumbled about – and indeed resigned ourselves to – the fact that for all our flair and élan we have traditionally shown as much fight as an anaesthetised kitten. As a wide-eyed nipper with a mildly sadistic streak, I would flick woodlice onto their backs and inflict needless pain upon them in the general vicinity of the soft underbelly. Back then those woodlice might as well have been wearing Spurs shirts, but the multi-legged critters will now need to dress themselves in something other than the puma number with yellow flashes, circa 2009-10. Whisper it, but the early indications are that we are a soft-touch no longer.

Ledley and Bassong 

The Midfield

I’ll half include Keane in this, as he did his usual thing of scuttling hither and thither around the centre-circle. And a decent enough job he did too, encouraging all round him to keep the round thing on the green stuff, while also adding strength in numbers, countering West Ham’s five-man midfield.

Sergeant Wilson did what sergeant Wilson does, and showed sufficient discipline to avoid the temptation to go flying forward too frequently. Against Hull he had rather enjoyed himself in the final third; today wise counsels prevailed and he kept it defensive.

The Hudd debate continues, but AANP gives the big fella a third consecutive nod of approval. Just a nod mind, rather than a thumping backslap, for he did not boss the game in the manner we all hope he eventually will. Nevertheless, it was a smart, positionally-aware performance, protecting the back-line. He also distributed the ball thoughtfully, rather than a prima donna after a Hollywood ball every time.

Elsewhere On The Pitch… 

And on the subject of the little moments, a toast to Carlton Cole for his defence-splitting assist. Telepathic understanding with the boy Defoe.  Awfully good of you, old bean.

No-nonsense from Assou-Ekotto. The occasional moment of nonsense from Corluka (although nothing too damaging). Defoe on fire. The whole lot of them digging in, rather than capitulating, at one-nil down. And what do you know – Tottenham Hotspur FC remain top of the table. Ruddy marvellous.

Spurs preview

West Ham – Spurs Preview: Selection Posers for ‘Arry

A win against a top-four team; a win away in a potential banana-skin of a game against relegation fodder; now a London derby – one way or another we are certainly having our credentials rigorously tested in these early days.I desperately hope we win tomorrow. This has nothing to do with the whole issue of enmity with West Ham – as I have previously confessed, I am neither here nor there on that issue. Rather, it’s the notion of what sort of standard we are setting ourselves for this campaign. The first week of the season is no time to make any prediction, and six or seven points from a possible nine would still represent a decent start – but a win, a third consecutive win, would again hint that we are pushing on, looking to establish ourselves firmly as part of the chasing pack of teams snapping at the top four, rather than a slightly faceless mid-table outfit. West Ham away is a tricky one, but not impossible – and I would give one of my less essential limbs to see us consistently win these tricky-but-not-impossible matches. It would represent progress, and raise the bar slightly.

Selection Posers 

Some changes seem pretty straightforward – Cudicini in goal, Ledley slotting effortlessly back into defence. I was particularly impressed by West Ham’s Carlton Cole in the England friendly v Holland a couple of weeks back. Not someone to whom I had paid much attention previously, he showed good strength and some nifty footwork that night. He ought to keep Ledley and Bassong on their toes.

Ledley’s return is beyond debate, but raises the question of who will be right-back. Hutton made a decent fist of it against Hull, showing good pace and attacking intent, as well as that will to win that borders on the psychotic. However, we have all witnessed the telepathic understanding between Lennon and Corluka down the right, and the big Croat seems to be ‘Arry’s preferred choice.

The Hudd will presumably retain the central midfield spot, having generally impressed so far this season. An all-action midfield dynamo he is not, and never will be, but I think most fans are accepting of this and happy enough to see him play to the strengths he does possess. On which note – he has shown impressive judgement when opting between long and short balls, and has got stuck in as the situation has demanded. Another opportunity to cement his place in the starting line-up beckons.

Wednesday’s goal-fest is as close as Keane and Defoe will ever come to combining well together. Defoe certainly benefited from the work-rate and intelligent use of the ball shown by Keane (as well as the general string-pulling of Modric and Hudd). We may not have had a big man to hold onto possession up-top against Hull, but we did not particularly need one.

It could be a different kettle of fish tomorrow however, if our glorious leader decides that we require a physical presence in attack, rather than a link-up man sashaying between midfield and attack. ‘Arry is yet to drop Keane, and appears at times to be holding out until the end of time itself before he does so. After two decent performances the odds are that Keane will retain his place, but it is no certainty. Either way, I hope that Pav gets more than a five-minute cameo, having displayed sharpness and a generally laudable attitude in pre-season.