All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
"AANP - nobody knows what it means, but it's provocative."

Stoke 1 – 2 Spurs: We Like The Look Of That

It could still all go horribly wrong, but for the moment at least our lot continue to make all the right moves. The threatened second half implosion did not materialise, and instead, after a fourth consecutive League win, we now have to come to terms with the fact that our glorious heroes have discovered some consistency, of all things.BAE vs Corluka

It was hardly Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed, but Messrs Corluka and Assou-Ekotto were notably unimpressed with each other’s conduct in the second half. Apparently Charlie lumbered over to deliver a pointed critique of Benny’s positioning at a corner; the braided one appeared to suggest in reply that he go forth and multiply. Given BAE’s permanently glazed expression of a hired assassin, this was quite possibly a moment for which he had been waiting his whole life (although in a fist-fight to the death I think I would back the Croat). Excitingly, there was even a level of push-and-shove that would have had Didier Drogba hurtling to the turf and screaming like a baby, but our two heroes both walked away unscathed.

Much ado about nothing ultimately, but truth be told we at AANP Towers are secretly rather pleased by all this. Tottenham players have typically seemed a little too precious and delicate in recent years, rather than ready to roll up their sleeves and fight for the cause, often giving the impression that they care more about their next haircut or tattoo than the cockerel. The sight of juices flowing and blood boiling out there on the pitch therefore elicits a silent nod of approval. We like the look of that around these parts.

As an epilogue, ‘Arry’s comments on Benny make frankly hilarious reading, although I do rather wonder about the lad:

Benoit is a strange boy. He’s a bit highly strung and hardly speaks English. If you say something to him he’s hard work. He hasn’t improved his English in the couple of years he’s been here.”
[Asked why the player had walked off on his own, Redknapp replied:] “He didn’t know the result! He probably thought we’d drawn. He’ll turn up Wednesday and play great, but he won’t know we’re playing Fulham until someone tells him. That’s how he is. He’s unreal. He walks off and he’s thinking about the music he’s going to play when he puts his headphones on.”
 

It was a risky move, but resting Palacios and bringing in Younes Kaboul ultimately paid dividends. With Sergeant Wilson one booking away from suspension and Kaboul cup-tied, the latter took to the pitch yesterday, to ensure that Palacios will be available for the FA Cup game on Wednesday (keep up). The proof of the pudding was ultimately the result, and whatever the misgivings from various quarters about Kaboul’s ability as a midfielder, ‘Arry need not say a word, but can simply wave three points at all of us by way of justification.

Fourth Striker

In Gudjohnsen we may have the perfect fourth striker. Unlike, say, a younger tyro of the Darren Bent ilk, one gets the impression that Gudjohnsen is a darned sight more philosophical about starting regularly on the bench, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, back in the day. Not that this attitude would count for much of course, if he were complete bobbins once on the pitch, but as he demonstrated on Saturday he certainly seems to know his way around.

We at AANP Towers have been fond of likening him to Sheringham, but the strength he showed for his goal, in holding off the challenge of Faye (I think), followed by the clinical, powerful finish, was more akin to Shearer. He adds much-needed experience to a young squad, which suggests that he probably has something to contribute on the training-ground as well as the pitch, and on the evidence of the weekend can still be relied upon to produce the goods when called upon. If anything, yesterday’s performance suggested that he may merit elevation up the ladder to something higher than fourth-choice striker, but if remains the man to whom we turn in an emergency we can’t be doing too badly.

Another Week, Another Injury

This time Pav hobbled off stage left. All vaguely reminiscent of one of those action/horror films in which the cast are killed off one by one, in various gruesome ways, until Sigourney Weaver is left to sort things out in the final scene. That we have kept churning out wins with personnel dropping like flies is mightily impressive, and to do so on Saturday without King, Palacios, Lennon or Defoe, as well as various supporting cast-members, really is thigh-slappingly good. With a bit of luck the situation might soon ease, as Bentley is supposed to be nearing fitness, while Hudd is also reportedly progressing well. This gearing up to be one heck of a season finale.

 

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). But never mind all that – the new trailer for Predators is now out, and it looks awesome. Have a butcher’s here.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. 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Stoke – Spurs Preview: There’s A Storm Coming

Boy: Viene la tormenta
Sarah Connor: What did he just say?
Attendant: He said there’s a storm coming.
Sarah Connor: I know.

 

She wasn’t wrong either. There’s a storm coming alright – no less than L’Arse, Chelski and Man Utd, as well as Man City away in the final week of the season. Our heroes won’t quite have to go galloping around town on the run from an indestructible shape-changing policeman with ruddy great big knives for hands, but the task awaiting them next month is still mighty daunting. Even the greatest optimists amongst us might concede that a point or two could be dropped in that run-in. (The upbeat AANP projection is that we’ll actually take seven points from those four games – but that’s a story for another day).So if there is a time to be amassing points, it is the next eight days or so: up at Stoke tomorrow, and at home to Pompey a week hence. We have taken nine points from our last nine, and could feasibly extend this to 15 from 15, which would amount to jolly handy preparation for the forthcoming tormenta. First things first however, and Stoke away will be testing– we imploded there last year (two red cards and a near-death experience for Corluka) and were frustratingly snuffed out by them at the Lane earlier in the season, when they stuck every man and his dog behind the ball, launched a few long throws and mugged us in the final few minutes. However, where there is Bale there is hope…

Defoe Crocked

Well the good news is that nobody in the treatment room will be feeling lonely. Lennon, Ledley, Bentley, Jenas, Woodgate, Cudicini and Hudd have some new company, as Defoe has pulled a muscle, while the boy Rose and Kyle Walker also amongst the walking-wounded. Crouch will presumably line up alongside Pav, while Gudjohnsen will be on high alert and we might even resort to dragging back Keane, kicking and screaming – and pointing – from his latest boyhood idols.

All a bit threadbare then, although our starting eleven still looks strong enough. However, one more sprained ankle or chipped fingernail and we will be turning to Younes Kaboul to carry the midfield through the final few crunch games of the season.

Hudd Contracted

He may not be available tomorrow, but Hudd has been in the news this week, having inked a brand spanking new deal to keep him at the club for a few more years, the lucky devil. Footballers’ contracts do not seem to be worth much these days, and if (hypothetically) Man Utd came sniffing in a year or two it seems a mite unlikely that the big man would resolutely refuse to listen to their overtures, and insist that he honour the remaining few years of his deal at the Lane. Still, even as a fully-qualified cynic I can appreciate that a new contract represents a more positive scrap of paper than a transfer request.

Other tittle-tattle suggests that that Sandro lad is on his way in, while Adel Taraabt may well have talked his way out. In a couple of months, these and other more pressing concerns will have been concluded. ‘Arry reckons another 16 points will do the trick this season. I cannot be bothered to check the veracity of this claim, but given his “Two-points-eight-games” mantra I will assume he knows his numbers. A point tomorrow would not be bad, but if we want to make the Champions League we ought to target three.

 

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.You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Spurs 4-0 Bolton: ‘Arry’s Newfangled Concept Works A Treat

It was just like old times, those sepia-tinged, heady days of late-summer 2009, when rubbish teams would traipse up to the Lane and be promptly destroyed, with our heroes requiring nothing beyond second gear. From the outset the only worry last night was that we might fail to turn domination into goals, but merrily this was not to be one of those wretched occasions. A job well done, and without breaking sweat.Madness I Tell Ye

The evening began in thoroughly perplexing fashion, with the announcement that Assou-Ekotto was back in the team as well as the boy Bale. Completely discombobulated, AANP and chums frantically bandied around hypotheses in an effort to get our heads around the madness. Were we about to witness 3-5-2? Or Bale as a left-winger? Or a novel – if highly illegal – use of 12 players from the outset?

As it turned out it was nothing more outlandish than BAE at right-back. Some newfangled concept known as “squad rotation” apparently (it will never catch on). We have perhaps been a little spoiled by the frequent gallops, up the length of the pitch and back, by our handsome young Welshman, and last night was a reminder that the braided one is a little more restrained in his attacking forays, but it was still good to see him back in the fold. His reluctance to bomb on and inability to use his right foot had a rather detrimental effect upon poor old Bentley, who through little fault of his own was rendered fairly ineffective, but as events transpired this was no huge loss.

Pav Still Super

The other notable selection was, of course, Pav up-front. It is perhaps a little premature to laud him to the heavens and name the new stadium after him, but in one and a bit games he has done all that could possibly have been expected of him, and certainly looks sharper in front of goal than Crouch ever did. The AANP jury is out on whether he and Defoe qualify alongside Sheringam-Klinsmann, Greaves-Gilzean and Bert-Ernie in the ranks of The World’s Greatest Ever Double-Acts, but while their partnership is hardly telepathic, it has nevertheless now become difficult to drop either.

Daws And Palacios’ Passing Master-Class

”You don’t know what it’s like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction…” 

As it happened though, the rather glorious exception to this yesterday was Palacios’ hand in the second goal, a delightful pass into the danger-zone. As with Bale in the second half, it is easy to chuckle at the buffoonery of the opposition for scoring own-goals, but let us not overlook the cracking delivery of the passes from Palacios and Bale, into areas against which it is jolly difficult to defend.

The All-Star Hollywood Midfield

Amusingly, ‘Arry came over all Ocean’s Eleven in the second half, and decided to cram as many silky superstars as possible into the team, with complete disregard for such ugly notions as tackle and bite. Thus it transpired that Sergeant Wilson was withdrawn, and we were treated to possibly our prettiest midfield ever, ball-players of the ilk of Modders, Hudd, Kranjcar, Gudjohnsen and Bentley alongside one another. It ought to have made for 20 minutes of the world’s most beautiful football, but by then the game was over and they just went through the motions. Rather a shame actually.

Gudjohnsen

Or Sheringham Mk II, if you prefer. He has no real inclination to go sprinting hither and thither, but with those little flicks and disguised diagonal passes he’s clearly far too laid-back for any such plebeian exertion as running. Not sure how he would cope in the hurly-burly of a high-octane Premiership fight to the death, but as a fourth striker he seems a welcome addition to the squad. He adds something very different; will be of value in games in which our front-men find themselves isolated; is of sufficient quality to give one of the other forwards a breather as fixtures pile up (there’s that crazy “squad rotation” concept once more); and adds some much-needed experience to what is generally a young squad.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

More attacking wondrousness from our Bale, again neatly glossing over his occasional defensive deficiency. Another watertight performance from Gomes. It would be easy to ignore, but he shot-stopped and punched impeccably, and made a particularly smart save at 2-0 just before half-time, which might otherwise have made things jittery. Sergeant Wilson became the first Latin American footballer in history to fail to execute perfectly a back-heel. The boy Rose looked good, if one-footed. And so on; we did the bare minimum, and it was more than enough. Fulham away is not easy, but eminently do-able, and suddenly…

[Shameless plug alert] Victory last night means that we’ll be in the Quarter Finals on Saturday 6th March – and also means that Gary Mabbutt’s signing of

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, that same day in Enfield Waterstones, is brought forward to 12 noon. 

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

Wolves 1-0 Spurs: A Possible Silver Lining

Oh dear. Going down all guns blazing, with seventeen shots on target and against a goalkeeper possessed by the spirit of Jennings is one thing; being outplayed by a side in the relegation zone is another. We actually started relatively well, with some slick passing all round, and Bentley looking a good bet for general mischief on the right. Unbelievably, that was as good as it got – once the goal went in we promptly ran out of ideas, and could probably have played all night and into the wee small hours without scoring.While surreptitiously glancing over the shoulder of the chap next to me on my morning commute, I noticed in his newspaper a quote from our glorious leader that, with regard to what is going wrong at the Lane, it was “Difficult to put your finger on it.” How encouraging. I blinking well hope that behind closed doors ‘Arry is able to put an entire grubby paw on it, diagnose it, solve it and ensure it never rears its ugly head again. The man’s remit, as I understand, extends beyond merely picking 11 of the blighters 30 minutes before kick-off each week. Heaven help us if he genuinely is out of ideas. While we probably cannot get much worse, it is quite feasible that we could maintain this standard of shoddiness for a few weeks more.

Debuts…

Before switching off for the evening and watching on cluelessly, ‘Arry made five changes, including the two debutants. Kaboul has apparently come on leaps and bounds as a central defender since he last appeared in lilywhite a few years back, but whether this be truth or cruel hoax remains unknown, as he was curiously shunted into the team at right-back. Every inch the square peg in a round hole, he showed plenty of energy and willing, none of which masked a chronic tendency to give the ball away.

Gudjohnsen I imagine will eventually come good in a Spurs shirt. With his back to goal approach, tendency to drop deep and penchant for an eye-of-the-needle pass there is much of the Sheringham about him – but unfortunately last night this similarity also extended to his mobility and energy. His vision and astute little passes created a couple of early openings, and once he and his new chums are singing from the same hymn-sheet some wondrousness ought to ensue, but at the moment he looks rather off the pace. If Gudjohensen is to play, our midfielders will need to learn to bust a gut in support of Defoe upfront. Although Kranjcar and Jenas each made one charge into the Wolves area in the early stages of proceedings last night, by and large Defoe was left isolated.

And Swansongs?

Could the silver lining to yesterday’s nightmare be a less than entirely fond farewell to everyone’s favourite scapegoat? Offered a drink in the last-chance saloon, Jermaine Jenas eschewed a shot of vodka or neat whisky, and opted for a saucer of milk. His half-time withdrawal hinted that ‘Arry might have run out of patience. Or so I would like to think. After one encouraging attacking burst in the opening stages last night, he quickly reverted to type, alternating between ineffective and useless (note his failure to track Jones into the area for the Wolves goal, and a particularly fairy-like shake of the leg when Wolves’ Guedioura went galloping straight through the centre and into our area). While Bale, Bentley, Kranjcar and Pav typically show themselves to be capable – and occasionally excel – at Premiership level, Jenas is repeatedly poor.

However, Jenas was by no means the only man to turn in a woeful performance last night. There was huff and puff to varying degrees all over the pitch, but precious little intelligence or passion. While the pitch looked in places like a vegetable patch it hardly excuses the relentless stream of misplaced passes from our heroes, who would do well to note the dozen or so passes Wolves strung together in scoring their goal. Bentley began brightly but faded like the rest of them; Bale worked his way into some promising positions; Daws, while imperious as ever in the air, made another clumsy penalty area challenge. To suggest that the game might have panned out differently had Kranjcar buried his early chance is fair enough; but whether he scored or missed we still ought to have hammered away at Wolves until they caved.

Still In The Hunt

Naturally, lusty choruses of disapproval are ringing out from all quarters, and indeed, if we maintain this form we can expect a quite serene descent into the lower reaches of the table. However, at present we remain just one point off fourth – level on games with Liverpool and two games ahead of Man City, with a dozen left to play. It is still a handy position in which to be – we are by no means out of the race for fourth. If we can wipe the slate clean and hit some sort of form – and pronto –  there is every chance we will remain in the hunt for fourth until May. The return of Lennon will undoubtedly help to this end, but even without him we ought to have enough to beat the likes of Wolves.

 

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

Wolves – Spurs Preview: More Frustration Beckons

On the back of yet another ten-man shut-out, the prospect of Wolves tonight hardly has the AANP heart leaping in unbounded joy. Wolves boss Mick McCarthy earlier this season threw in the towel in one fixture, by resting his entire team, in order to save their juices for a more winnable fixture a couple of days later. Hardly the attitude of a man about to send his troops out hell for leather in search of victory tonight. A 10-0-0 formation and further frustration therefore beckon, rather ominously, to the extent that I am considering sticking an unhealthy proportion of my weekly earnings on a goalless draw, just to numb the pain.Meanwhile, without playing particularly well at any point this season, our rivals have caught us, overtaken us and, with games in hand, threaten to disappear over the horizon and far away. Fail to win tonight and we really will be drifting from the land of milk and honey, with fewer points in the bag but more games played than our rivals. Fingers firmly crossed over here that this proves the most wildly inaccurate preview of modern times, and that we instead score a couple of early goals, exhale in relief and settle back for a good old-fashioned thumping, as in those halcyon days at the start of the season; but in the countdown to kick-off this one seems to have “Frustrating Goalless Draw” stamped all over it in the emphatic chunky font they use in the A-Team logo.

Team News

No Ledley, although I doubt our back-line will be over-worked tonight. Bassong and Kaboul will therefore be in line to partner Daws, but more interesting will be ‘Arry’s selection up the other end. Pav is apparently back in contention, while Gudjohnsen awaits a debut. After 90 minutes of goalless huff and puff on Saturday, ‘Arry will be sorely tempted to try something different in attack tonight, and possibly even tinker further by accommodating Gudjohnsen somewhere in midfield. He can stick him in goal as far as I’m concerned, as long as one way or another we trundle back to North London with three points in the bag this evening.

 

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

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

Spurs – Aston Villa Preview: Two Reasons To Be Cheerful

Amidst the vacuous football-speak loosely bandied around, the phrase “massive” is merrily pre-fixed to just about every fixture of the season, by managers and players alike, but Spurs-Villa today is probably more deserving of the epithet than most fixtures. Not only are three home points at stake, but winning this one would go a long to reducing from four to three the group of contenders for the Champions League spot. While I can see Man City and even Liverpool stringing together a run of six straight wins, Villa strike me as having too small a squad to last the pace, and stretching out a five-point gap at this stage would go some way to getting shaking them from our coat-tails.”Massive” indeed then, and at AANP Towers we see at least two reasons to be cheerful going into this one.

1. No Ten-Man Defence At The Lane This Week 

If we need a template for victory today, the win over Man City before Christmas should be studied and memorised by our lot: the weathering of an early storm, followed by some lightning-quick counter-attacking and the usual flurry of chances. Admittedly Aaron Lennon’s pace was crucial on that occasion, but it was an open game, well-suited to our style of play, and the sort we can expect again today.

2. Villa Weren’t Very Good at Villa Park 

Team News

The latest post-Keane era beginneth, with Eidur Gudjohnsen in contention to come in for Crouch. Not wanting to over-burden the blighter, but personally I cannot wait to see him in action having quite happily heralded him the new messiah. Ledley is fit again, while Younes Kaboul and his quite scary eyebrows could also be back in a Spurs shirt at some point.

Having been in decent form in recent weeks David Bentley will presumably remain in the right, which means that Kranjcar would drop to the bench to accommodate Modders on the left. The concern at AANP Towers is that Gareth Bale may face his sternest test since returning to the team, his defensive capabilities likely to be fairly rigorously tested against Villa’s various pacey forwards.

Nevertheless, I am confident about this one. These big games at the Lane, against opponents willing to come here and have a go, tend to bring out the best in our heroes.

 

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

Leeds 1-3 Spurs: The Reason For David Bentley’s Resurgence?

In between various planes and trains back from Morocco I managed to catch yesterday’s goings-on at Elland Road, and jolly heartening they were too. One of my brothers, for whom the rigours of parenthood mean that Spurs-watching is less frequently indulged in these days, texted afterwards to note that, as the first full Spurs game he has seen in around a year, he was pleasantly surprised by our performance. He has a point, for it was an all-round performance of the sort to which we have grown accustomed in recent months – general neatness in possession, while creating a healthy number of chances. It is perhaps easy to lose sight of this amidst the frustrations of umpteen missed chances and haemorrhaged Premiership points, but on the whole these days we play an extremely attractive brand of football, and progress over the last 12 months has been exceptional.Interesting to reflect on how the team has evolved even within the space of half a season, partly through accident and partly through design. Having shot out of the traps back in August with Modric, Keane, Lennon and BAE in the ranks, last night we eased through with Kranjcar, Bale and Bentley each looking impressive. Whisper it, but recent weeks have shown that there really is a degree of squad-depth there, albeit still with a few bad apples in the White Hart Lane barrel.

This article, forwarded to me today by a particularly highly-regarded Spurs-supporting chum, makes the point that much of our progress has been due simply to the improvement of quality, on a player-for-player basis, over the last year or two. To borrow from the article:

Jermain Defoe is a better version of Darren Bent, Wilson Palacios is a better version of Didier Zokora, and the Spurs boss feels that Gudjohnsen is a better version of Keane. 

Bentley’s attitude in recent weeks has been admirable. Cynics may suggest that his motivation is personal rather than team-oriented, and personally I reckon his lip has been quivering with rage ever since Kranjcar arrived to steal his crown as Team Pretty-Boy, but whatever the reason I hugely approve of his approach. He has put his head down, slapped on even larger amounts of hair-gel and worked hard, producing decent quality both when delivering crosses and when cutting infield. He is by no means the finished article, and the smart-money remains on him heading elsewhere in the summer, but it is good to see him rising to the challenge.

Defoe 

Statistics could probably be reeled out to counter the “flat-track bully” claim (and from memory I can pick his goal against Man Utd earlier this season and a harshly-disallowed goal at Anfield, as well as a blinding strike against l’Arse a few years ago as examples of strikes against the top-four) but the little drum I’ll bang here is that even if he is deemed no more than a tormentor of English football’s less-refined urchins this is nevertheless a mighty handy quality to have at a club with Top-Four and trophy aims. Long may it continue. Given our struggles this season against those sides we ought to be demolishing, the occasional Defoe hat-trick against a weak defence is quite welcome, and if the moniker best describing him is that of “flat-track bully” that elicits little more than a shrug.

Honourable Mentions 

 

Some of the others however, still appear stuck permanently within cruise control. He probably can’t help it, but by smiling and sticking out his tongue each time he misses a chance Crouch gives the impression that settling for second-best is not a problem. Tottenham players should be cursing, swearing and ready to kill with their bare hands when they miss chances or concede goals, and by golly they should be busting a gut to make sure it does not happen again. In short, we need to see them reacting on the pitch with the same passion we show in the stands.

Jenas

Really, what’s the point?

Spurs Are On Their Way To Wembley

It was only Leeds, but it might have been a lot worse. Many Spurs teams of yore would have started timidly yesterday, given the venue and the weather, but to their credit our lot played well for all but the ten minutes or so prior to half-time. Removing foot from throttle after taking the lead does not rank too highly on the list of The World’s Greatest Sporting Ideas, but that aside it was a pretty professional performance. A nod of approval too for the none-too-subtle attitude towards closing out the game in the final minutes, all and sundry displaying a quite stoic determination to head for the corners and run the clock down. Bolton away is tricky but winnable – a description one might pin to the tournament as a whole.

 

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

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s Dad – White Hart Lane Legend

At the time of typing it seems that the i’s have not yet been dotted, t’s crossed and funky Icelandic symbols inserted, but nevertheless it seems that Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen is heading to the Lane imminently. The AANP verdict? Instinctive reaction is a thumbs-up. Admittedly I haven’t seen him play for a few years, other than the odd Champions League cameo, but he’s only 31 so I’d imagine he’s still got it. “It” in this instance is a Sheringham-esque ability to play thoughtfully with his back to goal. Back in the day I thought he was a cracking little player – smart, able to pick passes that few others spot and technically excellent. I fancy that he and Modders will find each other’s wavelengths without too much difficulty, which is a lip-smacking prospect.We’ve tried to use Keane in that withdrawn role, helping out the midfield, but few would suggest that it has been an overwhelming success this season. Crouch does a noble job of dropping deep and laying off the ball for team-mates, but he could not be described as a hub of creativity. Gudjohnsen, I hope, will be able to do that job with a lot more élan and inventiveness.

This does essentially leave us with five strikers, so the welcoming handshakes offered by Messrs Keane and Pav might be a little firmer than is could strictly be deemed friendly, but if it improves performances I won’t complain. A half-season loan is hardly high-risk either.

West Ham’s new owners seem rather miffed at our conduct here, spookily suggesting that karma will have its wicked way with us. Personally I have no bone to pick with that lot – as with every other team I just hope we beat them twice a season, so there is no underlying sense of vitriol when I suggest that we do not seem to have done anything wrong here. The guy was available for transfer; West Ham have tried to get him; before he signed for them we too have courted him; and it appears that, with impeccable judgement, he is opting for us. All seems above board, and if anything the man himself should be incurring their wrath.

Should we seal the deal AANP Towers will clink a glass to Gudjohnsen tonight. As has been suggested in other quarters, other areas of the team may be a higher priority, but as a cheap short-term deal this is fine. And the name Gudjohnsen already has its place in White Hart Lane history – if you just bear with me while I don my anorak I’ll tell you that Eidur’s Dad (and agent) Arnor was the chap whose crucial penalty was saved by Tony Parks, in the 1984 UEFA Cup Final shoot-out.

 

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 hereAnd 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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