Spurs preview

Spurs – Wigan Preview: Same Again?


And so, slightly dizzying, we head straight back to the Premiership. It seems like it was only yesterday we gathered around the wireless to listen to the Champions League draw, with the breathless excitement of children on Christmas morn. From Inter to Wigan in the blink of an eye. ‘Tis a lifestyle to which we will have to become accustomed fairly rapidly.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> <!–[endif]–>

There was something vaguely memorable about Wigan’s last trip to the Lane, and memories of that heady November evening, combined with two early-season thrashings, suggest that our visitors may approach this fixture with a fair degree of trepidation. However, I would quite happily settle for a 1-0 win this time, our heroes having put an awful lot into their midweek jaunt.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> <!–[endif]–>

Time for all and sundry to murmur knowingly about “squad depth” again, and opportunity therefore potentially knocks for the likes of Kaboul, Bassong, Jenas, Kranjcar, Gio, Pav and Keane, while beady eyes will presumably need to be cast over the fitness of Gomes and Modders. Saturday also heralds a potential debut for William Gallas, and having already offered my tuppence worth on his signing last week I am now quite curious as to what sort of reception he receives at the Lane.

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–> <!–[endif]–>

Alas, I will need to be informed of this and all other developments via furtive text messages while I nod and smile appropriately in church, as AANP is donning its suit to head to a wedding this weekend. Do keep me posted won’t you?

Spurs preview

Spurs – Young Boys Preview: A Glory Glory Night At The Lane?

Audere est Facere? Tonight it’s Aut Vincere Aut Mori – kill or be killed. Do or die. Damn well strain every sinew on pitch, while we scream ourselves hoarse in the stands, and keep it going until we’re in the Champions League group stages.


The rabbit-in-headlights approach of the first leg was vaguely understandable, but as every other game we play these days seems to be the biggest in our recent history, there should be no stage-fright this time. No dodgy surface either. Tonight, instead, we’ve got the pristine White Hart Lane carpet, floodlights, the Champions League theme tune and a 36,000-strong choir singing the slow “Oh when the Spurs…”.


For all the time I spent patiently trying to explain the permutations to my female colleagues last week in the aftermath of the first leg, the nub of the matter is that just about any win will do. Admittedly we are the sort of team uniquely capable of winning 4-3 and thereby knocking ourselves out, but broadly speaking victory will suffice. And while the complete disintegration of order, game-plan and sanity in the first 30 minutes last week was a tad difficult to stomach, I’m secretly actually happier knowing that our lot have to go out there and attack, rather than, say, try to protect a one-goal lead for 90 minutes. Remember ye the 5-1 thrashing of l’Arse, when we went into the game facing a 2-1 deficit, psyched ourselves appropriately, scored after 2 minutes and didn’t let up thereafter.


’Arry’s seems to have the right idea. Castigated in some quarters for an over-adventurous mentality in the first leg, there is no point in sitting back this time, so his tag-line tonight is the rather exciting “Swarm all over them”. The absence of Modders does not exactly aid the cause, while my admittedly sparse medical knowledge has me querying the wisdom of sanctioning Defoe’s involvement when he is apparently in need of groin surgery. Nevertheless, we should have plenty at our disposal. Ye gods be praised for the return of Ledley at the back, while we look like scoring every time Bale touches the ball, and Pav demonstrated last week the value at this level of a striker with a touch of class, even on an off-day. Add to that the return from injury of Keane and Giovani, the fact that Lennon makes his CL debut and an already promising start to the season from Hudd, and we have ourselves an impressive cast-list. I fret a little that the absence of Modders may mean that Sergeant Wilson starts, but given the need for goals I suspect ‘Arry will look elsewhere – to Kranjcar perhaps, or maybe even Jenas (if it came to it I think I would prefer an immobile Modric to a fully-fit Jenas, but it’s ‘Arry’s call).


So how are your nerves? I presume I’m in a minority of approximately one, but in all honesty I’ve rarely felt as confident about a Spurs game. We’ve spent the last 12 months playing some fantastic football, particularly at home: do it again tonight and we will be fine. Admittedly the colour will drain from my face if we go into the final 15 with a 2-1 lead, but things really are set up frightfully well for us. Young Boys had a glorious opportunity to put us out of sight last week and blew it; while it is scarcely conceivable that our mob could play as badly. As mentioned above, even the one goal deficit at kick-off ought to work in our favour, in terms of our mentality.


Just the thought of hearing the Champions League theme tune five minutes before kick-off has me in goosebumps. I know it’s almost a legal requirement at this stage to be practically paralytic with nerves, but I can’t wait for this, potentially a real glory glory night at the Lane.

Spurs preview

Stoke – Spurs Preview, Plus William Gallas Musings

After the glamour of Tuesday night’s European jaunt, it’s the seedier side of this Champions League lark today, with our travel-weary heroes heading up north for a fixture that is not quite ideal. Still, if we are to progress in Europe we will need to get used to this business of returning to Premiership fare with a trip to less than entirely salubrious locations.


The fall-out from Tuesday suggests that our lot have just returned from Afghanistan rather than Berne. Defoe, Keane, Pav, Modders and Giovani all apparently ended up amongst the bodies strewn across the Astroturf, and as a result the gangly one will plough a lone furrow up top today.The injuries in attack suggest that ‘Arry may now be forced into adopting some variant of 4-5-1, having occasionally dabbled in it in pre-season. I must confess to feeling ever so slightly baffled at the level of apoplexy that adherence to 4-4-2 seems to generate these days. The hip kids apparently play 4-2-3-1, with plenty of it on show during the World Cup, while a 4-3-3 is the modus operandi for the great and good on their Champions League away days. Thus, in the wake of the Young Boys debacle ‘Arry copped a fair amount of flak for loading up with ammo, removing the safety-catches and going out all guns blazing with 4-4-2. However, the 4-4-2 served us remarkably well in the Premiership, notably in the victories over l’Arse and Chelski, as well as away to Man City, and everything seemed tickety-boo last week at home to City too. I can’ t help thinking that the personnel gets overlooked for formation sometimes, but nevertheless, a 4-5-1/4-3-3 beckons this afternoon.

After effectively dropping two points last week, a win would be particularly welcome today, and come the end of the season, if we are to challenge for fourth again, Stoke away is one from which we would really need three points.

Musings On William Gallas Of All People

By the pricking of my thumbs William Gallas this way comes.

Well first things first: on the credit side, the car-crash that was the first half hour against Young Boys suggests that we would benefit from a central defender with the experience to marshal troops, organise bodies and generally steady the ship whenever it stops violently a-rocking. Gallas also ticks off one of the criteria on AANP’s pre-season wish-list, for an older head to come into the squad and provide a spot of off-the-pitch guidance as well as on-pitch nous, à la Naybet and Davids in years gone by. Moreover, Gallas knows the ins and outs of the English game as well as any defender around.

However, to put it rather euphemistically, the signing has been granted with full-blown wariness at AANP Towers. The blighter has something of a history of upsetting his colleagues and lobbing his toys from the pram, so it remains to be seen quite how positive an influence he has on the squad. As well as this, when we secured fourth at the end of last season, and rubbed our hands in Champions League-inspired glee, Gallas’ was not amongst the list of stellar names anyone had in mind for our summer shopping.

Moreover, I suspect I’m not alone in feeling downright unclean at the prospect of pilfering someone from that ‘orrible lot down the road. I’ve spent much of my adult life loathing William Gallas, and occasionally even expressing the sentiment through the medium of words. From now on I suppose he will receive some polite encouragement from this quarter I suppose, but with the illogical approach fairly unique to a football fan I just don’t like the idea of buying a player from our rivals. If ‘Arry wanted an experienced centre-back to shore things up, I would have thought there were others around to whom he could have turned. Off the top of my head, for example, that Mexican lad Marquez went from Barca to the MLS this summer (I think, may be wrong). He may not necessarily be the chap for us, but just as an example it suggests that there are other players of the required ilk out there, and if ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums had banged their heads together for a couple of hours, they’d have sore heads and quite possibly a list of likely candidates, without having to resort to shopping at the Emirates.

Still, every time I have doubted ‘Arry (from the comfort of my armchair) he has proved me wrong, so I’ll back him on this one too. Through gritted teeth I proclaim: William Gallas, AANP Towers welcomes thee to White Hart Lane.

Spurs match reports

Young Boys 3-2 Spurs: History Repeating Itself?

Well first of all, a history lesson: in our first ever European Cup tie, back in 1962, Blanchflower, Mackay et al travelled to Poland to play Gornik, under the auspices of Bill Nick, and promptly found themselves 4-0 down at half-time, before scoring two late goals. Back at the Lane in the return leg we won 8-1… (That and just about everything else in our history can be read about in AANP’s book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, now a tenner on Amazon, ahem).So that, ladies and gents, is the Champions League, Tottenham style. Despite the fact that players, management, fans, pundits and just about anyone remotely connected with the club had spent the entire summer banging on about the Champions League, our lot looked to be taken completely by surprise by the whole experience. Everywhere we looked players were discovering new and exciting forms of ineptitude. Daws and Bassong spent the first half hour diligently practising their Corluka-running impressions, and by half-time had given some near-perfect examples of that running-through-quicksand look. If there is a physical opposite to Velcro, Pav appeared to have wrapped himself in it in the first half, as the ball flew several yards away from him every time he tried to control it. And so on. Giovani looked lively in the opening stages, but the rest of them ought to have worn sixes and sevens on the back of their shirts. Action in places, but not the merest semblance of plot.

And yet, even despite the sudden presence of Larry, Curly and Moe in the Tottenham defence, the feeling around these parts persisted that we would at some point sneak an away goal or two and have plenty to play for in the second leg. From the outset, although our hosts were merrily waltzing through our back line, there were some fairly straightforward indications their own defence was far from watertight, with Giovani and Defoe spurning a couple of early opportunities. A more seasoned CL outfit may well have slammed the door in our faces and lobbed the key into the Rhine; instead, for all the euphoria of their early blitz Young Boys seemed oblivious to the fact that in European competition a miserly defence at home is paramount.

We May Have Ourselves A Scapegoat…

Presumably much will be made of the plastic pitch, but from the comfort of the AANP armchair it is difficult to know quite how great an impact that had. It may have had a psychological effect, or it may have meant that any pass over 20 yards fizzed off the surface and away, but whatever the reason, the introduction of Hudd, and the short passing he brought with him, certainly seemed to aid our recovery. Passes under 10 yards looked like they were easier to control, and for a period either side of half-time the players appeared to warm to the task.

By and large however, they made it look like they were running across a minefield rather than an artificial pitch. Ought not these chaps, whose entire lives have been geared towards mastering the dark arts of a size 5 football, have been capable of adjusting to Astroturf pronto? Perhaps, but AANP is reluctant to chastise our lot on this account until I’ve walked a mile in their astro boots. Moreover, injuries sustained by Defoe and Modders suggests that beneath those artificial fibres lurked some malevolent daemon of terra firma. No doubt our heroes will be a darned sight happier on the green, green grass of home. 

A Word On Our Glorious Leader 

We’ll Be Fine

An inauspicious start then, but better things should await in the second leg. No doubt we rode our luck yesterday, as Young Boys could have hit five or six but for some schoolboy (sorry, couldn’t resist) finishing. Nevertheless with Ledley quite possibly to be restored to offer some almost motherly reassurance and organisation at the back, plus Aaron Lennon waiting in the wings, and Gareth Bale yet to make an impact on the tie, I sense that our opponents have blown a good opportunity to give themselves a much more imposing lead.

So, unusually, panic is nowhere to be seen at AANP Towers. If we hit a level remotely near the standards of last season I back us to cruise through, particularly at a throbbing, floodlit White Hart Lane. It may of course all go pear-shaped again (recall ye our UEFA Quarter Final home leg to Sevilla, a few years back, when after an encouraging 2-1 away leg defeat we cunningly conceded twice in the first ten minutes at the Lane to set ourselves a Herculean task), but I personally draw inspiration from the class of ’62, and their christening of Tottenham’s European adventures with the concession of four first-half goals, before proceeding to a 10-5 aggregate victory. Gifting the opposition an early lead, and generally doing everything in our powers to complicate the uncomplicated is a peculiarly Tottenham trait, as proudly displayed today as five decades ago. One-nil may suffice next week, but I suspect that our lot will find a vastly more complicated means of progressing.

Spurs match reports

Spurs 0-0 Man City: Curses Upon Inspired Opposition Goalkeepers

Off and running anew then, but in various senses it was if the old season had never finished. The personnel all looked pretty familiar for a start, the sumptuous brand of football rolled out brought back sepia-tinged memories of the finer moments of season 2009/10 – and alas the profligacy of old also made an unwelcome return.AANP’s wish-list for the new season may have been hastily scribbled at the eleventh hour on the back of an envelope, but (unnervingly) at least one point has already proved frsutratingly prescient:

Be More Clinical In The Crunch Games 


While the blank we drew yesterday was due more to the heroics of the opposition goalkeeper than to egregiously bad finishing from our heroes, the point remains that one avenue for improvement is in increasing our ratio of gilt-edged chances created to goals scored.

A Thousand Curses Upon Inspired Opposition Goalkeepers

Tempting to search for a scapegoat, particularly after such a one-sided first half, but in truth just about all eleven of them – plus the three subs – turned in above-par performances. In such circumstances the default option here at AANP Towers is always to blame Jermaine Jenas, but, levity aside, it would be rather harsh to attribute point the finger at any of our lot. ‘Twas just one of those days. With a sprinkle of good fortune we would now be mixing it with Blackpool atop the table; alas, within the four walls of AANP Towers it is a truth universally acknowledged that if there is any luck going in North London, it goes the way of l’Arse (last-minute own-goal equaliser, the swines).

Last season, there were a number of games in which we created umpteen chances. Sometimes it seemed that just about all of them flew in (Wigan springing obviously to mind); on other occasions we came up against a goalkeeper turning in the performance of his career (Hull City, and that darned Boaz Myhill – whose obscurity since has been reflected by a headline-avoiding low-fee transfer this summer). Yesterday fell into the latter category, but we are consoling ourselves around these parts that more often than not our heroes will be rewarded for such performances with three points and shiny gold stars.

Consistency? At Tottenham Hotspur FC? Madness. 

The lack of transfer activity has caused a degree of disquiet in some quarters – including these, I must confess – but the benefits of a summer bereft of transfer activity could be witnessed from the off yesterday. While the City team assembled at a cost of approximately several million billion trillion pounds looked every inch a bunch of strangers newly-introduced, as they struggled to get a touch of the ball for the first 45 minutes, our lot gave an interesting tutorial in the benefits of consistency (not an adjective bandied around these parts too often in recent years).

The starting XI bore just the one change (Charlie for Kaboul) from the team that beat City at Eastlands last May, and as Bale and Lennon set about harassing the City full-backs (if that was Micah Richards’ audition for a White Hart Lane move I’d rather we politely discontinue our interest) it really was as if last season had not ended. None of that business of new management needing to dish out name badges, or a whole platoon of new faces needing to gel – our current lot should know each other’s deepest darkest secrets by now, and they set about their business on the green stuff looking accordingly square pegs in appropriately-shaped holes.

Other Points of Notes

As BAE’s volley dipped and swerved AANP idly wondered whether an audacious brush with the spectacular is going to be an annual first-day-of-the-season offering from the lad. Further up the field, he may not have been a big-money transfer as such, but the introduction of Giovani from the bench was a reminder that recalled loanees are vaguely akin to new signings, and the sprightly Mexican is one who would have commanded a sizeable fee. May he live long and prosper at the Lane.

An honourable mention too to HRH the King. Given the urban legends about his ricekty knees it is always reassuring to see some small child stumbling out of the White Hart Lane tunnel hand-in-hand with Ledley, just prior to kick-off. Having managed three games in a week at the end of last season it is not inconceivable that he might yet be good to go again on Tuesday in the Champions League (I trust it feels as good to read those last few words as it did to write them…).

So two points dropped they may be, but after careful inspection of the liquid content, refraction of light and meniscus level, AANP ventures that the glass is half full.  To spend 45 minutes fairly uninterruptedly slicing open one of our principal rivals for whatever it is at which we’re aiming this season (fourth? sixth? a trophy?) constitutes a decent start, and bodes fairly well. Even though standards were noticeably lower in the second half, we arguably created more – and better – chances. Darned frustrating stuff, but a decent start nonetheless.

Spurs news, rants

The Week’s Doings At Tottenham Hotspur…

It’s hardly been the most frenetic week in recent memory, but as the hour-glass gently edges us towards 2010/11, the look-outs atop the parapet of AANP Towers have assembled in the boardroom to deliver their findings on the week’s happenings.Young Boys (Snigger)

It’s the draw that had a nation of headline-writers treading mighty carefully. Whatever fates befall us over the course of the next nine months, we can weigh it up against the good fortune meted out on 6 August 2010, when the Champions League gods decreed in their wisdom that our path to the group stage depended upon conquering these relative minnows of Switzerland. The White Hart Lane dignitaries duly trotted out the usual platitudes (you know the sort of gubbins – “Any team at this level will be difficult” et cetera), while various straight-faced Spurs officials have also been at pains to point out that they beat Fenerbahce in the last round, so let that be a lesson to the lot of us.

The veracity of such points cannot be doubted, but the fact remains that this could have been a jolly sight more difficult. It is a glorious chance, and having beaten Chelski, l’Arse, Liverpool and Man City (home and away) last season, we ought to be capable of steering past this lot over two legs.

Fare Thee Well Adel Taraabt 

One or two may wistfully wonder what might have been, particularly if, say, injuries elsewhere had allowed him a run in the starting line-up à la Pav last season, but we at AANP Towers wish him well with a fairly ambivalent wave. I somehow suspect that in a couple of years time he’ll pop up in the Champions League for someone or other; however, for the time-being it’s the slightly less glamorous headlines generated by a £1 million move to QPR.


Eusebio Cup Champions 2010, Apparently 

‘Twas with a mixture of pleasure and relief that AANP noted young Gareth Bale galloping down the left in precisely the manner with which he ended season 2009-10; while on t’other flank Aaron Lennon was similarly lively. The brow occasionally furrowed at the ease with which Benfica every now and then scythed through our central areas, but we emerged victorious, and picked up a peculiarly shaped ornament at the end of it all, as is our pre-season wont. With Ledley putting in a 45-minute shift slightly closer to home, this week can probably be filed under the heading “Satisfactory”.

Spurs match reports

Spurs 0-1 Wolves: Personnel, Tactics Or A More Familiar Problem?

I’m not sure what the seven stages of grief are (or whether there are actually eight, rather than seven?) but the mood around these parts is encapsulated by nothing more than a wearied, philosophical shrug.This sort of shambles can no longer really be classified as just an isolated incident. We seem to be returning to the good old, bad old Spurs. Which is a shame, because over the first couple of months of the season I genuinely believed – fool that I am – that we might have turned a corner, and evolved into a team that routinely turned over the Premiership riff-raff and won all those “home-bankers”. Alas, not so.

Not for the first time a bunch of spoilers have turned up, defended for their lives, taken their only chance and scuttled off back up the High Road before we can even yelp “But just look at how much possession we had, dagnabbit.” When we score first (and early) in such games the floodgates tend to open, which is dandy. Generally however, that 10-man-defence-and-double-marking-of-Lennon routine is one that befuddles us. Plenty of encouragement then for other Premiership strugglers to adopt a similar mentality, and food for thought for our glorious leader, who needs to stumble upon a way to un-fuddle this problem pronto.

Despite this however, there is no particularly profound sense of morbidity at AANP Towers, just that philosophical shrug. The football we are playing is still decent, if not exactly scintillating. There was a slightly anxious resort to the long-ball once Crouch lollopped on, but generally we stuck to our principles, used the ball fairly intelligently (for this I doff my cap at Kranjcar once more) and made a handful of half-chances, against a side camping around their own penalty area. The defeat to Stoke earlier in the season, and also Man Utd a couple of months back, had me cursing far more angrily because on those occasions there seemed to be so little invention and movement. Losing at home to Wolves remains a horrendous result, but we have not become a bad team overnight.

The blow of yesterday’s defeat is also cushioned by the fact that our direct challengers generally seem to be matching us stride for stumbling stride. Villa may have overtaken us but their next faux pas is likely to be just around the corner. Man City and Liverpool both have the worrying potential to string a good half-dozen successive wins together, but neither have pulled away from us. We ought not to rely on others slipping up, but the fact is that everyone is doing it, even Chelski and Man Utd.

Disclaimer: As a fan, with no control over what happens on the pitch, I can get away with saying this. However, if any of the players adopt either of the sentiments voiced in the previous two paragraphs they ought to have limbs chopped off. Those guys ought to be busting a gut to win every time, because i ) it is within their control, and ii) they are paid to do as much.

’Arry’s Selections

As for matters on the pitch, ‘Arry sprung a bit of a surprise before kick-off. The absences of Bentley and Pav were understandable given the recent rumblings from the corridors of White Hart Lane, but while I searched high and low there was not a Jenas in sight. Interesting. Might we have benefited from the presence of his rarely-spotted alter ego – Genuinely Potent Attacking Jenas – in the second half, when Crouch was winning the occasional header but no-one was around to pick up the scraps?

Keane coming in for Crouch was an eye-catching selection. While the pointy-shouty tantrum he threw when not awarded a first-half corner was one which my two year-old nephew would have stepped back and observed in awe, that it was his most notable contribution says much.

At various points we had Defoe, Keane, Crouch, Modric, Kranjcar, Lennon, Giovani and the Hudd on the pitch, and still couldn’t score against a team that had kept only one clean-sheet all season. I am tempted to suggest that perhaps a genuine dribbler – a la Taraabt – may have helped to draw defenders and squeeze an opening (although dribbling is one of the assets Giovani supposedly brings), but the problem does not really seem to be a shortage of attack-minded personnel.

Tactically there were a couple of grumbles. We might have benefited from greater willingness from the central midfielders to get into the area for crosses, particularly when Crouch is on the pitch doing his nod-down routine. And a propos Crouch, bona fide crosses – ie from the wing, getting to the by-line – rather than long-balls from deep, might work better for the big man.

Generally however, although it’s a lazy conclusion at which to arrive, the principal problem was the same one we’ve had since the days of yore. A bloody-minded desire to accept nothing less than victory at any cost was conspicuous by its absence. Daws seems the only blighter with any leadership juices flowing through his veins. Somehow ‘Arry has to find the football equivalent of the Sword of Omens, to turn our poor lambs into a bunch of bad-ass commandoes with fire in their bellies.


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

Spurs preview

Spurs – Burnley Preview: Will Keane Play Left Mid? Is Dawson A Jedi Yet?

Two consecutive defeats it may be, but even the most pessimistic amongst us have struggled to make a convincing case for this being a crisis. Man Utd and Chelski are the best two teams in the country, and amongst the best handful in Europe. Losing to them is not exactly to be welcomed, but neither is it a cause for alarm. That we have lost two games on the bounce says more about the quirks of the fixture-list than any catastrophe at N17.Losing at home to Burnley would be a slightly different kettle of fish however. For a team with aspirations of the top six and possibly more, home games against the newly-promoted ought to represent three points. A defeat here really would undo much of the good work of August, shunting us further towards mid-table and giving a signal to the doleful chap at the back to start ringing the alarm bells.

However, I do not really see this worst-case scenario transpiring. Any suggestion that the consecutive defeats had caused a crisis of confidence was quickly dispelled with the midweek mauling of Preston. In attack in particular, the impression is of a bunch of top-quality players chomping at the bit.

Square Building-Blocks, Triangle-Shaped Holes 

Time For Dawson To Prove Himself A True Jedi 


Your memories are still welcomed here on Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, the latest to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes. Feel free to contribute your memories – or browse those of others – on Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here, Gary Mabbutt here Graham Roberts here

Spurs match reports

Preston 1-5 Spurs: Has Crouch Done Enough To Become Plan A?

If you want to save yourself time you might as well just cast your mind back to the first round tie away to Doncaster – five more goals, away from home, and despite the occasional early scare the gulf in class eventually told. Deja-vu all over again. It’s not the Tottenham I grew up with I tell ye. Instead of stumbling, slipping and generally making things unnecessarily complicated against lower-league opponents, we turned in a pretty clinical display. Frankly, I’m suspicious.Crouch Makes His Case 

And yet… The sentiment persists from over here that he is best deployed as Plan B for us. Hang on, hang on, hear me out. Against weaker opposition – lower league teams and even bottom-half Premiership sides – he will play well, and we will play well, and everyone lives happily ever after. I don’t’ mind him as Plan A on these occasions. But in the big games, against top four teams and also our main rivals for the top six, I’m not convinced he is the right man for the job, and a hat-trick against Preston is not a sufficiently convincing argument. He will still inadvertently encourage too many long balls, and against top teams rarely has same impact when on the pitch from the start as he does when introduced against tiring legs as a late impact-sub. Just an opinion mind, and the floodgates can now be considered officially opened for the plethora of angry voices arguing otherwise.

Elsewhere On The Pitch… 

As in the previous round, the emphatic scoreline might have been very different had it not been for some smart goalkeeping in the early stages. It was a return to the good old days for Gomes, with the sublime and the ridiculous merrily co-habiting. If I may be pedantic, a clean-sheet would be nice at some stage, but as long as we outscore the opposition on a regular basis I won’t kick up a fuss.

Job Done

All told it was a very professional performance. Preston are no mugs, in good from near the top of the Championship, but we quelled them, scored early, and then treated them to a spot of spirit-sapping keep-ball in the second half. That second half mentality really did induce some approving head-nods and even some thigh-slaps from this quarter. It really took the sting out of the game, and was reinforced by the team turning superiority into goals. A third five-goal haul in a season barely six weeks old really is good stuff. These displays may have been against weaker opposition, but Spurs teams of the past have tripped up, and on the back of two defeats a ropey performance would have prompted some murmurs of concern. Job done. Bravo.


Your memories are still welcomed on Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, the latest to be featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a book looking at White Hart Lane legends, due out next spring. Feel free to leave your memories – or browse those of others – here, while those of others can also be perused/added to: Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here, Gary Mabbutt here Graham Roberts here

Spurs preview

Preston – Spurs Carling Cup Preview: Giovani’s Chance

Well we can call off the missing person’s search. Head down to Deepdale tonight and you’re likely to be treated to rare glimpses of Giovani and David Bentley, last seen being surreptitiously airbrushed into the background as ‘Arry’s favourites went through their pre-match warm-ups. There has been some clamour for Giovani’s inclusion in recent weeks, and after the two woeful attempts by ‘Arry to compensate for the absence of Modric, it would really warm the cockles tonight to see the Mexican put in a virtuoso performance on the left.Nevertheless, that ‘Arry has his favourites is beyond dispute, and the sentiment at AANP Towers is that Giovani could score six goals, save a penalty and discover a cure for cancer tonight, and he’d still be behind Keane in the left-midfield pecking-order. The likes of Giovani, Bentley and Pav are only likely to get a run of games – or even a cameo substitute appearance – if half the squad comes down with plague, and while we’re crying out for centre-halves, the attacking slots seem off-limits at the moment.

There will be welcome returns from injury tonight for Messrs Dawson and Gomes, while Bale may also get a chance to stretch his legs. Spare a thought for poor old Pav though, injured at the one time of the month when he seemed likely to get a game.

The usual mantra applies tonight, about warning against complacency. Spurs certainly have some pedigree when it comes to Imploding-In-Humiliating-Fashion-Against-Lower-League-Opposition-In-The-Carling-Cup, as the inhabitants of AANP Towers still break out into cold sweats at the memory of last year’s debacle away to Burnley. Want it enough however, and they’ll win it tonight.


Your memories are still welcomed on Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, the latest to be featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a book looking at White Hart Lane legends, due out next spring. Feel free to leave your memories – or browse those of others – here, while memories of others can also be perused/added to: Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here, Gary Mabbutt here Graham Roberts here