Spurs match reports

(Back Catalogue) West Ham 1-0 Spurs: Time For A Settled XI?

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, 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!

26/9/2010: Impossible to gauge, but I suspect I’m not alone in thinking that we would not be in this predicament if we did not have two games per week. Admittedly eight points from six games, and ninth position at this early stage, is hardly the most critical situation, but four points from the quadruple-header of Wigan, Wolves, West Brom and West Ham is pretty shoddy form, make no mistake.

Time to for a Settled XI?

I understand the principle of chopping and changing, resting players if possible and utilising our sizeable squad for the rigours of a two-games-per-week season, but with our league form now looking ropey I would quite happily see ‘Arry simply select his strongest available XI, irrespective of the competition, for the next half dozen fixtures or so. The Ledley situation is obviously the delicate issue here, but another month of haemorrhaged Premiership points would probably leave us playing catch-up in the bid to finish fourth again. Forget the notion of game-time for Sergeant Wilson, Jenas, Keane etc – could we not just pick our strongest 4-4-2 and try to rack up a few wins?

Lashings of Mediocrity

Rant over. The barrage of the West Ham goal for the last half hour or so was all very well, but our heroes were found badly wanting in the first half. There were some bright moments, particularly the interplay of Modders and VDV, but by and large we were second best to a team who simply appeared to want it more.

Rumours of Jenas’ latest resurgence looked woefully inaccurate, as he turned in the sort of anonymous, toothless display that has had all 36,000 at the Lane shrieking vitriol at him week in and week out for around ten years. Perhaps more bothersome, Hudd was also well below par, while Aaron Lennon’s shaved eyebrow does not look half as menacing when etched across a moody, frustrated visage. The back-four looked about as makeshift as Bale-Corluka-Bassong-Hutton sounds. Up in attack poor old Crouchy was on the whole starved both of service and company. If we persist with this 4-5-1 malarkey – and if it means more of the Modders-VDV roadshow there is a compelling reason to do so – we blinking well need a forward who can put the “1” into 4-5-1.

Admittedly, but for the fingertips of Green (barely recognisable from that World Cup clown) and the width of the woodwork, we might be purring admiringly about this being a well-ground out away point or three, but that is one for a parallel universe. Our lot looked a long way off another top-four challenge, and the players have the air of those who consider their Chamipons League status to equate to a cloak of invincibility from criticism. It is plain darn worrying that the urgency to scrape every point going, which by and large was present last season, is lacking this time around. Last season, falling behind at Upton Park meant fighting back and winning, because there was fourth place to play for, and every point gained in autumn would prove precious come May. This time around the thought of May, and points, and fourth, seems of less concern, a wrong that needs righting pronto.

West Ham – Spurs Preview

25/9/2010: A few years ago, during the glory glory days of Christian Gross and Gerry Francis, a trip to the bottom team would have been precisely the sort of fixture our heroes would lose. Back then, we were also the team against which a generally useless foreign striker, without a goal in half a dozen games since arriving in England, would break his duck; or when up against a team that had gone four games without a goal, we would find ourselves two down by half-time.

In recent years, and last season in particular, we appeared to have cured these maladies. Travel to a team in the relegation zone, and last season we tended to dig in and grab all three points. As a reward for such pains we now get to hear the Champions League theme tune every week or two. Admittedly there were hiccups at home, but generally we fared well at the Lane, and showed most un-Tottenham like fight on our travels.

Not quite sure where we stand this season however – the win at Stoke was marvellous, the home defeat to a Wigan team that had, until that point, been doing everything in their power to cast themselves as the division’s whipping-boys, was painfully reminiscent of the Francis/Gross eras.

So tomorrow off we toddle to those delightful folk at Upton Park, for a game against the bottom team in the Premiership, which on paper at least spells out “three points” in block capitals and stencil font, as used to such emphatic effect in the A-Team. The nagging worry is that with all the bells and whistles of the Champions League, back in the Premiership we are morphing back into the Francis/Gross teams.

Mercifully, the Tottenham circa 2010 can be distinguished from its 1990s equivalents by a handful of genuinely top-notch attackers. In van der Vaart, Modders and Bale we have three little nuggets of awesomeness, and even should the rest of them fail to fire on the requisite number of cylinders, I back these three, between them, to do enough for three points.



Spurs match reports

Spurs 0-1 Wigan: An Anomaly. Right?

Well this is embarrassing. After all the hubbub last week about the Champions League and Inter Milan the decent thing would have been to have given Wigan a good thrashing, destroy their crops and set fire to their small children. Instead, I return from a weekend away at a wedding to find my Spurs-supporting chums refusing to make eye-contact, shuffling their feet and muttering about uncanny happenings in the cricket.


Four points from three domestic games then, on top of which there was the meltdown in the Young Boys first leg and the march of triumph in the second. When set out like that it seems that so far this season we have already covered just about every possible base from sublime to ridiculous.


CRISIS!!! (Just Kidding)


In the wake of Saturday’s debacle various members of our clan have been grabbing each other by the collars and screeching not to panic, because this is not – repeat, not – a crisis. One shoddy home defeat doth not a crisis make. Such mishaps as this occurred a couple of times last season, and were soon swallowed up by all-singing, all-dancing wizadry against the Premiership’s elite. Moreover, even this season the bright and bubbly start against Man City, hard-earned win at Stoke and jolly romp against Young Boys suggests that matters at N17 are, broadly, still tickety-boo. Somebody somewhere probably needs a good slap on the wrist after the Wigan game, but otherwise this is probably one to be glossed over before normal service is resumed.


There is, of course, the concern we dare not voice – that this sort of nonsense will follow every Champions League outing. Before we begin scrambling for places aboard that particular bandwagon it is worth recalling that the win at Stoke three days after our trip to Switzerland suggested no such malady, but time shall tell on this front. In terms of numbers and Premiership-standard personnel I would think our squad is capable of coping with a slightly bloated fixture-list, but it would nevertheless be cheery to see a little extra sprinkling of quality added to our ranks before the transfer window shuts.



Our heroes now have a couple of weeks during which to sit in the naughty corner and think about what they have done, and the curiously alliterative glut of games (West Brom, Wolves, West Ham) that follows represents a chance to right a few wrongs and go making merry, with goals and points aplenty. Mind you, fluff our lines against that lot and I won’t be able to sleep at night for the mocking laughs from the ghosts of Gerry Francis and Christian Gross. This business, of outclassing a team in every department on paper, only to succumb with excruciating apathy on the green stuff, happened far too often back in the day for me simply to forget about it in the blink of an eye. However, bag a few consecutive wins – and it is eminently feasible – and Wigan at home will be regarded as this season’s White Hart Lane anomaly.

Spurs match reports

Bolton 2-2 Spurs: One Point Gained Or Two Points Lost?

I miss Ledley. Some games we’re so rampant going forward that he is barely needed at the back, but on days like yesterday we cry out for someone to hold things together and be in the right place – as well as dealing with any aerial bullying meted out by opposition forwards. The lack of a commander-in-chief at the back was notable in the first half in which Spurs players competed earnestly with each other to be the most obliging to our hosts. To a collectively disbelieving shaking of heads amongst the faithful, our heroes stepped aside and ushered in the Bolton players through the gaping holes in defence, then tried all manner of cute passes and dribbles inside their own area.Credit to Bolton, whose play (slick on the floor as well as threatening in the air) probably merited more than their one first half goal, but our lot merrily shooting round after round at their own feet really didn’t help. One first half moment in particular sent an involuntary shiver down the spine, as Bolton’s Gardner skipped his way towards our goal, while Jenas, Kranjcar and even Palacios made such dainty, half-hearted challenges that Tinkerbell herself would have blushed. For an elongated spell in the first half it looked like a return to the not-so-distant days of Francis, Gross et al, as we switched from four-four-two to sixes and sevens, with a powder-puff midfield in front of an uncertain defence, and everyone working assiduously to throw in unforced errors whenever possible.

We really ought to have been spanked out of sight by half-time, but somehow went in level. It may have been wildly against the run of play, but it was a dapper goal when it came, Kranjcar showing good technique with the finish. Thereafter I expected us to win it. While it would be an exaggeration to describe the game as one of two halves, we were certainly much improved going forward after the interval, albeit still an accident waiting to happen at the back. We made the best of the chances in the second half but it was one of those days when every attack launched by either side looked like it might result in a goal.

”Not One Of His Better Days…” 

Nobody covered themselves in glory, but Assou-Ekotto was guilty of a particularly egregious mistake for the second Bolton goal, attempting to clear the danger through the dubious medium of psychokinesis, rather than the infinitely more reliable method of charging to the ball and thumping it clear. Davies duly shoved him out of the way and we were losing again.

Crouch had a couple of glorious late chances, one in particular where he brought the ball down, took a touch, took another touch, made a cup of team and pored over a crossword before eventually shooting wide. The sight of Hudd looking to dictate play from central defence is always encouraging, vastly preferable to the aimless thwack favoured by most other centre-backs, but he still does not fill me with confidence as a centre-back, while Bassong was caught daydreaming more than once.

And The Positives 


Glenn Hoddle is the latest Spurs great to be featured in the forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, and you are invited to share your memories of him here. As ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the featured players: Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here