All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Spurs – Everton Preview: Quite the Test for AVB

No Bale. No Lennon. And just in time for the most crucial multipack of fixtures of the season. Maybe Skynet did win after all.

‘Tis a test that ought to put some hair on the AVB chest. For all the huffing, puffing and neat technique, if our heroes are not scything teams open through nifty interplay and a killer pass of the VDV mould – and these days it tends to be the exception rather than the norm – the default setting does seem to be to look to Bale to magic up a goal from nothing, on his own. Time for AVB to stun the watching world, and Everton, with the mother of all Plan Bs.

On top of which, the absence of Lennon stirs some eminently forgettable memories of our lot taking to the field in lopsided manner and promptly turning a 12-game unbeaten run into a three-match losing streak. Presumably rather than the ill-advised solution of sticking Dembele onto the right wing again, the plan this time will be to muddle Messrs Sigurdsson, Dempsey and Holtby around the left, right and central positions, while letting Dembele run operations from the centre.

Elsewhere, Adebayor’s reign as Lilywhite Enemy Number One is reinforced by the game, with the usual array of mis-controls and air-kicks, but in truth I thought the blighter put the effort in on Thursday, his cause not helped by a lack of service. The defence at least ought to have a more solid look to it, with Lloris back and Gallas nowhere to be seen.

There really isno’t any margin for error now, especially with l’Arse churning out results, but Everton are themselves without a couple of key  players, and if our lot can rediscover the zippy passing groove that occasionally surfaces it will matter not that Bale or Lennon are not on hand. Fingers crossed.


Spurs – Everton Preview: Fare Thee Well, Game In Hand

So finally this much-vaunted “Game in Hand” is upon us. Truth be told, I will be a little sad to see it go. It has practically become part of the family, like a scruffy, uncouth urchin discovered in the wreckage of the summer riots, and adopted by the cheery folk of White Hart Lane. And let’s face it, this Game in Hand has proved more useful than the Sword of Omens when it comes to pointless bickering with fans of l’Arse, Chelski, Liverpool and the like. Whatever they say, I have smugly bleated “Game in Hand! Game in Hand!”, occasionally pointing to a copy of the Premiership table, and repeated this process ad nauseum until they storm off in a fit of pique to count their injured full-backs.

But alas, today is the day. Fond though I am of Game in Hand, ‘tis time to lead it unwittingly to the altar of Three Valuable Points For Our Ongoing Top-Four Push (Or Even – Whisper It – Title Challenge). Tonight, Game in Hand, shall ye be sacrificed, never to be seen again; but be proud to note that ye shall not die in vain. Unless we lose, I suppose.

Boo, Hiss

Irritatingly, when Game in Hand does finally depart this mortal sphere for the great Premiership table in the sky, he shall be bade farewell by a midfield disturbingly lacking in bite. Sandro is out, and Parker is not far behind him, if ‘Arry’s gloomy murmurings are to be believed (although that is quite a sizeable conditional, I acknowledge). This may leave us with a central midfield combo of Modders and VDV, or possibly even Krancjar, chaps who might as well just form a guard of honour through which Everton can bear down on our goal whenever they pick up possession in the midfield. Should young Livermore be thrust into the fold, much would be expected.

Huzzah!

On a cheerier note One Aaron Lennon is primed to return, and it turns out that both Cameroon and Togo somehow failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations, so Adebayor will continue to stick his derrière into opposing defenders, and BAE will continue to perform shoulder-drops and Cruyff-turns in thoroughly inappropriate areas.

Elsewhere Michael Dawson is set to ease himself into the Ledley-shaped hole alongside Kaboul, while our resident blond with no knowledge of the offside rule may begin glancing towards the transfer window, if demoted to the bench again.

And that ought to be that. We have waited half the season for this – for goodness’ sake let’s make it worthwhile.

Everton 2-1 Spurs: “Don’t Panic” – The New “Audere Est Facere”

Hmmm. And flying forward in attack at every opportunity, in gung-ho and open manner, irrespective of who we were playing, where we playing and whether or not we were even in possession of the ball, had seemed like such a fool-proof plan. After all, if 2010 taught us anything it is surely that no matter how many we concede we will always score more? A plan of tactical genius, it could not possibly fail. Ever.Curses then upon those dastardly Everton rotters, who cunningly hit upon the idea of doing exactly the same thing to us, and making merry in the various yawning gaps we carelessly left strewn around Goodison Park.

Today’s Mantra

Still, Spurs fans the world over seem to have spent the day pointedly barking the mantra “No need to panic. You hear me? DON’T PANIC!” at anyone within earshot. We all seem to be agreed that there is no need to make wholesale personnel changes or sack anyone.  Actually, it appears that the instant reaction to defeat will be to sell Robbie Keane, but ‘unless ‘Arry is scarily impulsive I think it safe to assume that this is just circumstance. Perspective is being maintained. Give Gareth Bale a vigorous back-rub, maybe let a couple of them sit out the Cup game at the weekend and I suspect we will emerge from our 45-minute rut in tip-top form once more.

Nevertheless, having approached kick-off with the usual gleeful hand-rub of optimism this was mighty disappointing. The buoyancy of successive clean sheets was instantly destroyed as Gomes was caught staring in disbelief at Louis Saha’s quite astonishing hair, rather than focusing on the ball, during the opening exchanges. He can hardly be blamed, for everything about Saha’s mop defies the rules of normality, leaving him looking like someone has planted foliage atop his head, left it to wither and die and then produced some malevolent spell to turn it the most lurid orange.

However, there has not been any stage this season at which conceding a goal has been a cause for concern amongst our heroes, and sure enough we were level in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Part Two of the plan duly followed, when one of our lot went off injured, but Part Three (Winning Goal) bafflingly failed to materialise, as the steam just seemed to drain from their legs, with composure following swiftly from their heads.

Cause For Cheer: VDV

As ever, VDV gave us plenty about which to smile, but watching him attempt overhead volleys from 30 yards got me chewing over a chicken-and-egg style quandary of what came first: the Dutchman’s insistence that he will only score if it is spectacular, or Pav’s insistence that he will only score if it is spectacular. VDV spent much of the game seeking out new and ever more acrobatic means of peppering Everton’s goal, but alas when a fairly straightforward – if rather sharp – chance fell his way, from short range in the second half, he could do no better than stab it straight at Tim Howard. Oh that the chance had instead been presented to him at shoulder height, when he had his back to goal, somewhere near the halfway line. His disallowed goal was also eye-catching (naturally), but alas, being neither a Man Utd player nor Thierry Henry the benefit of the doubt was not forthcoming.

Perhaps Not Such A Great Cause For Cheer: Crouch

Meanwhile Crouch worked diligently to make our heads explode with another quandary, as we tried to decide whether he should have all his pointy limbs hacked off, dumped in a sack with a slab of concrete and thrown out to sea, as his punishment for plumbing new depths of ineptitude; or whether he should be cherished and adored for the rather specific but nevertheless valuable talent of setting up VDV with uncanny regularity. It ain’t pretty (a comment that could comfortably apply to Crouch’s every movement, ever, but which in this instance applies in particular to the thrashing of the orb heavenwards for Crouch to do his thing and VDV then to do his thing) but it is darned effective.

So cherish and adore him we did, briefly. And yet only moments earlier, towering buffon that he can be, he still managed to demonstrate that knack of aiming a fairly straightforward headed chance anywhere but the goal, before hurtling into an offside position for that late first-half chance. After which he tried to kick himself, but missed. And then grinned about it.

Elsewhere On (And Off) The Pitch

The selection of Jenas over Sergeant Wilson took me by surprise, particularly away from home, when a modicum of restraint might have been deemed reasonable, but it is easy to suggest these things in hindsight. In truth, alas, Jenas’ was one of several fairly anonymous performances, the roll of dishonour also including Lennon, BAE and Kranjcar.

The frustration of the evening was compounded by the opportunity missed, due to points dropped by our cursed rivals, as well as the realisation that the draw against Chelski a couple of weeks back probably constitutes two points lost, rather than one gained. Curses and rude words for sure, but it is hardly a season-destroying result, for who amongst you doubts that our heroes will return in a blaze of attacking glory?

Everton – Spurs Preview: Time For Squad Rotation?

Around ten days ago I mused that I would have settled for eight points from our four Christmas-New Year games. Three games in and we already have nine, which means that the riotously good fun continues into 2011 – still not yet out of the title race, most definitely still in the Top Four race and looking down upon the rotters from Stamford Bridge, languishing beneath us. Glorious fun.Squad Rotation: Not Welcome At The Lane 

I do furrow my brow in contemplation of another possible side-effect, namely that playing the same blighters on a twice-weekly basis will imminently lead to the pinging of a hamstring, or some similarly vital body-part, of someone dashed important. I cannot remember the last time Bale was omitted, while Modders is another who seems to get 90 minutes every time. Admittedly it is not exactly a medical opinion, but I suspect that the practice of non-rotation might have been a contributory factor in Hutton’s injury last weekend, while there was a mild air of sluggishness about everyone in lilywhite during the Fulham win on Saturday.

However the rather compelling counter-argument to all this is that if the likes of Bale and Modric are fit we might as well reap the benefits. When key personnel do get injured/suspended (eg VDV, Hudd, Defoe, the massed ranks of centre-backs) the other chaps simply roll up their sleeves and cope, and moreover, there might be a mini-riot in the Park Lane if Bale were left out one week. ‘Arry seems to have stumbled upon the occasional right call during his time at the helm, so perhaps it would be best if I piped down at this point and left him to get on with things.

Team News 

Flabbergastingly enough we have a jolly good chance to record a third consecutive clean-sheet. While one must never discount the possibility that Gomes will briefly and without any warning completely lose the plot and go rugby-tackling the nearest opponent in the penalty area, the return of the marvellous Daws has stiffened up things no end at the back. On top of this Everton’s strikers are currently being investigated under the Trade Descriptions Act, and my Fantasy League dealings have alerted me to the fact that their principal goalscoring threat, Tim Cahill, is so embarrassed about his countrymen’s surrender of the Ashes that he has scarpered the country under the spurious claim of playing in something called the Asian Cup.

Everton away is traditionally a tricky one, but they appear to be having a rough time of things this season so presumably we will adopt our usual cagey away mentality and go all guns blazing for another three points.

Spurs 1-1 Everton: Would We Have Won Had We Not Played Midweek?

Sages the breadth of Christendom have been popping up all over the media this season to opine knowingly that our heroes would struggle to cope with the rigours of Champions League and the Premiership each week. As such I was jolly well hoping that we would emphatically destroy Everton with a loud roar of triumph (or at the very least fashion another 2-1 win) to prove the blighters wrong – but in truth we looked every inch a team jaded from the madcap doings of Wednesday night.

 

Lofting Crosses Into Orbit: The Tottenham Way?

 

The first task of the day was to negotiate the first 13 minutes without going 3-0 down. While this was successfully achieved the effort evidently took its toll, as just moments later we conceded. Still, coming from behind is very much the vogue for our heroes these days, and it was the old Crouch-VDV combo yet again.

 

This time the goal was hardly the prettiest thing we have witnessed at the Lane all season – with Tim Howard attempting to swat a passing wasp rather than bothering with the incoming cross; Crouch doing his best to let the ball roll off his stomach; and VDV seemingly convinced that if he snapped the net from its moorings he would actually be awarded two goals. It is difficult to complain about the tactic of launching balls into orbit from the flanks for the gangly one to set up VDV, as it bears fruit every week. However, here at AANP Towers we would prefer the ball to be kept on the green stuff, at least until the alarm bells clang to inform us that desperate measures are called for.

 

Aside from the goal nothing really clicked, which is always rather a shame. Last season, free from midweek exertions, I suspect we would have found a way to eke out three points; this time our lot looked a tad flat, and by the final whistle, absolutely shattered.

 

Bale and VDV: Possibly Mere Mortals After All

 

Unsurprisingly, every time the ball went anywhere near Bale Everton players swarmed all over him. He still wriggled free occasionally, but his wonderfulness was generally stymied, while VDV was also well-marshalled. (Although it is nice to see that he cares so much for the cause that he is willing to give the advertising hoarding a good kicking. Good lad.)

 

As a result of the focus upon Bale and VDV, young Modders became our default string-puller. He seemed rather to enjoy himself, in his own shy little way, but with no inclination to burst into the Everton area and scare the bejesus out of its guardians, his impact was ultimately a tad limited.

 

Right-Flank Version 2.0: Lennon and Hutton

 

Not sure if ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums have ever actually sat down and explained the concept to Alan Hutton, but he jolly well retains the look of a man who simply does not believe that he is a defender.

 

As he seems convinced that victory will be achieved if he sprints to the opposite by-line at a rate of knots, his interplay with Lennon on the right wing is vastly different from that of Corluka and Lennon. Back in the day the lumbering Croat would hang back and play cute little diagonal balls as Lennon whizzed forward, jazz-hands merrily a-waving; now it seems the trick is for Lennon to jink inside, while Hutton overlaps on the right. A fledgling manoeuvre, but one that in time may bear fruit.

 

Elsewhere on the Pitch

 

Kaboul was a fairly reassuring presence at the back; Palacios was decent enough without rediscovering the form of his early days in lilywhite; and right across the pitch similar adjectives of gentle-but-by-no-means-rip-roaring-praise could be dished out. Decent but unspectacular, we did not really do enough to merit a win. A draw at home to an in-form Everton is not a bad result, but is nevertheless the sort of thing that will leave us short of the top-four come May. Curses.

Spurs – Everton Preview: Never Mind Bale, Van’s The Man

Gareth Bale this. Gareth Bale that.

 

Gareth Bale.

 

Gareth Bale.

 

Gareth Bale

 

That seems to be the general gist of the breathless chatterings amongst Spurs fans in recent days (and with some justification I suppose). Fine by me, particularly if David Moyes has been eavesdropping ahead of tomorrow’s game. Everton are quite welcome to double-team, or indeed stick an entire squadron of players on the handsome young Welshman. The chances are that he’ll escape their evil clutches anyway, but the real beauty of the plan is that all this Bale hullabaloo neatly diverts attention from the chap who has made us tick so far this season. Van der Vaart must be seething with indignation that his thunder has been temporarily stolen, we can all expect him to wrestle back the headlines with a virtuoso performance on the morrow.

 

One For The Sky TV Cameras

 

As a wide-eyed whippersnapper in the ‘80’s learning my leg-breaks from my googlies, I remember watching the Ashes on TV, and seeing a banner in the crowd that read “If you cross the Border there’ll be Waugh” – a pretty nifty reference to two of the batting behemoths in that all-conquering Aussie cricket team. “If you successfully shackle Bale a fool you shall remain, for Van der Vaart will wreak havoc elsewhere I tell ye” may not have quite the same ring, nor the cunning play on words, but I might still scribble it on a piece of paper and brandish it intermittently as the Sky cameras pan over during tomorrow’s game.

 

In fact, not only do we have VDV, we also have Modders and Hudd, while out on something called the right flank, for which I care not these days, young Aaron Lennon is beginning to ease back into form too. We have waited the best part of a year for the positively dreamy combo of Bale storming one wing while Lennon is let off the leash on t’other, and for the first time it looks like they might finally both be hitting full tilt simultaneously. Marvellous.

 

Team Selection

 

Stick Hudd, Modders and VDV in between them, and our cup jolly well floweth over with all manner of attacking juices. (Which is just as well, given the defensive masterclass from Gallas and Bassong on Wednesday.) Crouch or Pav remains the conundrum in attack, with neither yet looking particularly comfortable in a 4-5-1, and given the strains of a ten-man game in midweek, the fresh legs of Pav, Kranjcar and Sandro may be called upon tomorrow.

 

A tricky one this, but if we want to silence those murmurs about an inability to juggle Premiership and Champions League duties, tomorrow lunchtime would be as good as any.

Spurs 2-1 Everton: The Nerve-Shredding Final Ten Minutes

 

AANP did a Landon Donovan on Sunday and missed the entire ruddy thing altogether. If you want a blow-by-blow, warts-and-all account of Sunday’s magnificence you may be disappointed, as I was keeping tabs on big Martin Jol (blessed be his name) – a not entirely salubrious stag weekend culminating in a trip to the Amsterdam ArenA on Sunday lunchtime, to watch Ajax vs Utrecht (4-0, lest ye be wondering).

I did manage to catch the last ten minutes or so of the win over Everton, and mighty nerve-shredding stuff it looked too. However, for the finer points of the Pav-Defoe partnership; the broader contribution of Pav; the hygiene levels at Spurs’ training ground; and why Bentley was omitted altogether (I’m presuming injury/illness?) I can do no better than shrug. The general gist, as I understand, seems to be one of the Sven Goran Eriksson performances – first half good, second half not so good.

Some Plus-Points, From A Distant Vantage-Point

Without having seen the game there seem to be a handful of positives to take home and nurture lovingly. From this rather detached perspective a win over Everton is splendid news. After the various stumbles of January and February, victory against one of the in-form teams in the division is hugely welcome, and, I must confess, something of a surprise to this observer.

The goal-shy attitude of Jan/Feb has seemingly been addressed, and what had threatened to develop into something of a stigma can now be ignored for a few weeks. Jolly good timing from Pav, whose renaissance is virtually worth a new and rather expensive signing.

An impressive result without either King or Lennon is also cheering news. With Lennon one out for at least six further weeks it looks like we’ll have to make the Champions League without him – a tall order, but wins (and goals) in his absence are encouraging, for there have certainly been times when we seem to lack a little shaven-eyebrowed sparkle to unlock defences.

Ten Games Left

So just when it looked like our lot were wobbling wildly off the top-four road they’ve only gone and strung together back-to-back wins. Outrage and pessimism come so naturally to us Spurs fans that many of us had been writing off our Champions League chances with quite some gusto a couple of weeks back; but such sentiments have hastily had to be shelved, as we somehow find ourselves back in fourth. (Fret not, oh ye mongers of doom – it seems a pretty safe bet that there will be plenty more chances over the next ten games.)

Such have been the peculiarities of this season that a four/five-match winning streak would almost certainly create some daylight between us and one or two of the challengers for fourth – and we now have a chance to do exactly that with Blackburn, Stoke and Pompey up-coming in the League (although this would be far too straightforward, so I am instead bracing myself for another maddening spree of dropped points against that lot. Followed by wins at home to Chelski and l’Arse.)

There may be games in hand to factor in, but with ten matches left we are in fourth place – and which of us would not have taken that last August?

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, will be in shops from 6 Marchwith Gary Mabbutt signing copies that day in the Enfield Waterstones – 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

Spurs – Everton Preview: Pav or Crouch, Bale or BAE – Who Would You Pick?

As I’m away for the weekend, thought I’d post the Spurs-Everton preview nice and early… 

Confusion hath made its masterpiece here at AANP Towers. Are we back on track, or is this just a fleeting break from the woes of 2010? Sunday’s game should help clarify a situation that has become rather confusing for legions of bandwagon-jumpers. It barely seems five minutes ago that we were struggling for goals, and grumbles were being raised about ‘Arry’s future. Since then however, convincing wins against Wigan and Bolton have, temporarily at least, silenced such mischievous chatter, and ought to put some swagger in our step; but Everton will be a rather different kettle of fish. Seasoned visitors to AANP Towers will be aware that I rarely like to dwell on our opponents, but with successive wins over Chelski and Man Utd recently added to their CV, this lot are, strictly speaking, one of the most in-form teams in Europe.As such the microscope falls on several in lilywhite. It will be a day for the Hudd to shed that pesky anonymity cloak of which he is far too fond; Lennon’s continued absence means Bentley will be pitted against a potential England left-back in Leighton Baines; while in the absence of Ledley I don’t think any of us have quite the same confidence in our centre-back pairing, but it’s nevertheless another chance for Daws and Bassong to prove their worth.

Pav or Crouch?

Rather excitingly, we also have a couple of genuine selection posers. Assuming that Crouch recovers from his knock, ‘Arry will presumably have to choose between him and Pav. The Russian certainly takes his goals with aplomb, but chins across N17 and beyond are being thoughtfully stroked as we ponder whether he does enough off-the-ball, or shows any signs of developing a partnership with Defoe. However, his classier touch, white-hot form and frankly the fact that he does not automatically induce the long-ball from his team-mates make him the preferred option around these parts.

Bale or BAE?

The return of Assou-Ekotto on Wednesday also provides some choice at left-back. Gareth Bale has been in blistering form, and in the absence of Lennon has often been our primary attacking outlet. With our left midfielders cutting infield, his overlapping from full-back has seen many an opposition’s right side cut merrily to shreds. Doubts remain over his defensive capabilities however – doubts which surfaced away to this same Everton side a couple of months back, when he was given the run-around at Goodison. In the long-term this does not strike me as a problem – Bale is still a whipper-snapper, and has plenty of time to improve his game – but in the short-term we cannot really afford a glaring defensive error at this stage of the season. BAE is a more solid defender, but offers nothing like the same attacking potency. The AANP verdict is Bale, particularly at home; ‘Arry’s opinion is as yet unknown.

Plenty for our glorious leader to ponder then. There are those – including yours truly – who suspect that our lot simply don’t quite have the desire to stand up and be counted at crucial junctures in the season; this represents a cracking chance to silence such criticism.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, will be in shops from 6 Marchwith Gary Mabbutt signing copies that day in the Enfield Waterstones – 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

Everton 2-2 Spurs: Doing It The Tottenham Way

How uniquely Tottenham. Could any other team in Christendom have managed to plough on with such determination towards ignominy, when offered quite so many opportunities for glory?The Tottenham Way

I’d like to think that when a player signs for Spurs, he is sat down and given a good thorough education on the club’s history. He is instructed in the tradition for playing football in a certain style – keeping the ball on the floor, moving it around slickly. The Blanchflower quote is drummed into him – “Glory… doing things in style… etc.” If the player in question is foreign, this quote is the first English he masters. He learns the names of every member of the ’51 Championship-winning push-and-run team, and dutifully sits through hours of black-and-white footage. He worships at the altar of the Bill Nick double-winners. He is sat down and forced to watch the one-touch extravagana that was Darren Anderton’s goal away to QPR in November 1993.

The reality? Probably money and nightclubs; but after games like today’s I wonder if the first thing they are taught on driving up through Bill Nicholson Way, with rigorous attention to every conceivable detail, is how to shoot themselves in the foot in any given situation. You are now a Tottenham player, and it is therefore your duty to explore every avenue for self-destruction, before ever proceeding to victory.

And for good measure, that kamikaze message is then presumably drummed home in the huddle before every game. If the FA were to decide retrospectively that the entire Everton squad took a bung for today’s game, and awarded the three points to us, some idiot in lilywhite would probably pipe up and suggest a rematch instead.

Ruthlessness: Not Welcome at White Hart Lane

A strange old game, because while enough to reduce grown men to tears of despair, it was by no means an awful performance. For so many of our lot, the laudable and the deplorable waltzed merrily hand-in-hand. If they were making lung-busting 20 yard runs to slide in and win a tackle one minute, you could blinking well guarantee that they’d be caught dawdling in possession the next. Adroit movement to create a clear goalscoring opportunity was duly matched by an inaccurate finish. It’s Tottenham in a microcosm. When we were good we were very good; when we were bad we were horrid. Ruthlessness had a look, but was firmly ushered away, and now seeks an abode elsewhere.

Sliver Lining. Honest.

Our heroes’ penchant for the mind-bogglingly infuriating has sunk to new depths, but I honestly believe that if we take time out from throttling the nearest small animal (I’m considering storing in my back garden a small pestilential rat, or rabid dog, or Thierry Henry, just so that I can come stomping back home after days like these and give the vile creature a damn good kicking) we can appreciate a few glass-half-full conclusions.

As mentioned, this was no awful performance. For the second away game in a week, we have done a jolly good impression of a home team. The notion of sitting back from kick-off, soaking up pressure and assessing the situation was given short shrift, as we dispensed with subtlety from the first whistle, and went at it hammer and tongs. Sure, Everton had their chances, and in the first half our defence conducted a couple of stringent examinations of precisely how the term “suicidal back-pass” ought to be defined, but we made one shooting chance after another. Against Wigan they all whistled just inside the post; this time, as with Villa last week, they all seemed to arrow a foot the other side.

Kranjcar’s cup continues to runneth over with new and ingenious ways of causing panic in opposition ranks, and Lennon really does seem to have mastered the art of the inviting cross. It’s not just a one-off, a hazy estimate suggest that four out of five were whipped into pleasingly dangerous areas.

I can think of games just this season (Stoke, first half vs Sunderland) in which we’ve had plenty of possession but struggled to create a genuine goalscoring chance. There has been a lack of movement off the ball, which has clotted our creative juices (notably of Hudd) and led to too much dependency upon the cursed long-ball game. By contrast, over the course of the last few games (and I even include the Man Utd match amongst these) there has been a distinctive buzz of movement in our ranks. Yes, we need to convert rather than rue our chances; and by golly we need to beg, steal or borrow the ability to wrap up a game when leading 2-0 going into the final 15 minutes; but on a broader front there is at least the sense that we have the capacity to create sackfuls of chances.

The counter-argument is that for all this approach-play loveliness WE STILL DIDN’T BLOODY WIN DID WE? Well, granted. When the time came to dig in and fight to the death, we were found wanting. And two points from what really ought to be six, will almost certainly come back to make rude gestures at us come mid-May. Fourth is still in our own hands, but if are to make it we seem determined to do so in the most excruciating manner possible. How uniquely Tottenham.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or 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 forthcoming book 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, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Everton – Spurs Preview: ‘Arry’s Cunning Plan

The defeat to Man Utd prompted great ear-piercing shrieks of anguish from the faithful this week, much to the bemusement of AANP Towers, where the game had been filed philosophically under “Disappointing” rather than “Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth”.However, with our glorious leader and his trusty coiffeured lieutenant foremost amongst the critics, I have my suspicions that the slightly disproportionate backlash was all just a cunning ploy to keep the players on their toes. If this is indeed the case, I raise a glass to ‘Arry,, an evil genius in the making. Each of the players has presumably been politely asked to up their respective games or suffer a Pavluychenko-esque banishment into obscurity, which hopefully means that the wrath of N17 will now be unleashed upon Everton this afternoon. Admittedly wrath-unleashing has never exactly been a forte of Spurs teams over the years, but if ‘Arry did indeed give them a verbal lashing after the Man Utd game one would hope that they will bound out today with fire in their bellies and something approaching frenzy in their eyes. Resuming where they left off against Villa would go down nicely.

More Of The Same – But This Time With Three Points 

I suspect we would all welcome a similar performance today, but anything less than a win would be disappointing, at least in this corner of the interweb. While it is perhaps a mark of the progress we have made that failure to win away to Everton would be greeted with disappointment, it also reflects the fact that David Moyes’ side have hardly been blowing up any skirts so far this season. We for our part need to show that after the wins against Sunderland and Wigan, and draw at Villa, we can produce some consistency by continuing our unbeaten run. Like wrath, consistency has hardly been a trademark of modern Spurs sides, but Champions League qualification will require it to some extent.

Our rivals have picked up their points this weekend, which adds pressure, although this can hardly be a cause for complaint. If we are to make fourth it will have to be on merit; that our competitors will regularly collect wins is to be expected. The ball remains in our court.

Team News 

After another underwhelming performance in midweek, Robbie Keane can consider himself mighty fortunate if he starts today. White Hart Lane may reverberate each week to lusty choruses of “There’s Only One Keano”, but such refrains only seem to punctuate the grumblings amongst fans about his performances.

On a brighter note, Niko Kranjcar has been in sparkling form on the left in recent weeks, and with Lennon’s crossing from the other flank having noticeably improved there ought to be good reason to sit up and take note whenever we win possession.

I know I ought to let it go, but with each passing week I stare at the Premiership table and ruefully recall the three points dropped at home to Stoke. A win away to Everton would go some way to healing that particular wound.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or 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 forthcoming book 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, Jurgen Klinsmann here

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