Someone at the club shop turn this week into a double DVD box-set with a snappy name, and pronto. Here at AANP Towers we considered our prognosis of four points from the visits of l’Arse and Chelski to be noble but sadly blinded by optimism. After last weekend’s debacle, who on God’s green earth ever envisaged a reality that saw us take six points from these two games, and with quite such élan? And all that with a team including the slightly terrifying sight of Kaboul at right-back?Performance Of The Season
The opening exchanges – in which we pinged the ball around in neat little olé-style triangles – set the tone, with our vanquished opponents notably unable to handle the link-up play of Modders, BAE and (inevitably) Bale, and in fact barely able to touch the ball. Nor was Cheslki’s anticipated second half onslaught allowed to materialise, and I’m not even sure they created a clear-cut chance until the 93rd minute, itself an astonishing testament to our injury-hit defence.
And then there was the second most glorious sight in Christendom: the lightning-quick lilywhite counter-attacks that had us outnumbering them from the halfway line. These really ought to have seen us give the scoreboard a more memorable edge, but they did at least bring about the most glorious sight in Christendom, the sending-off of the ever-likeable John Terry.
Apparently Chelski recorded around twice as many completed passes as our lot. Bravo to them. If anything this stat reinforces the incisiveness of our play, for while they passed sideways and sideways again, in their vain search for a chink in our armour, our heroes scythed through them repeatedly with lightning-quick one-touch moves. We completed fewer passes because we needed fewer passes. Such was the confidence and quality of our football that within two or three passes we were bearing down on goal.
How Do You Solve A Problem Like Palacios?
It was the worrying question on our lips last weekend, the cause of several thousand furrowed brows trooping up the High Road. Sergeant Wilson’s two-match ban loomed at seemingly the worst time conceivable – but goodness me it was a problem addressed in quite astonishing fashion. When not in possession, Modders and Hudd did not try to mimic Palacios by rushing out and harrying opponents. Instead they kept their discipline and sat, a two-man barrier in front of the back-four, through which Lampard, Cole et al struggled throughout to fashion an opening. Absolutely ruddy marvellous.
Seasoned visitors to AANP Towers will now that here have not traditionally dwelt the Hudd’s greatest admirers. Against l’Arse and Chelski however he turned in remarkably polished performances. Not one Hollywood pass in sight, he just kept things ticking over with a glorious maturity, playing first-time passes with the air of a man who had had a quick look around immediately prior to receiving possession and therefore knew exactly where the ball would go as soon as it came his way. We kept possession like a team who truly cherished the little white orb, and for that much credit is due to the Hudd, although the contributions of our wide men, as well as Pav and, latterly, the Ice Man, also merit appreciative high-fives.
Modders too has given two of his best showings of the season this week, all slick passing, tight control, intricate dribbling and a determination not to be barged off the ball that belies his paperweight frame. Our little-and-large central midfield pairing have turned themselves into a most accomplished partnership, a feat all the more impressive as it has been achieved against a pair of teams deploying three in central midfield. Unbelievably, the problem now surrounding Wilson Palacios is how to accommodate his return. (The AANP solution is to move Modders to the left and Bale to left-back – a formation which to all intents and purposes works as a five-man midfield, once Modders tucks inside and Bale overlaps).
Other Points Of Note
I’m not entirely sure what any of Bale’s goal celebrations are about, but it’s about time we started to see them. No-one is more deserving of the headlines, but goals had been rather conspicuously absent from his series of bravura performances of recent weeks. I look forward to more curious hand-gestures in coming weeks, while bracing myself for a summer of speculation about his future.
Which unknowing observer would have correctly identified the established England centre-back from the candidates on show? Michael Dawson, I salute thee, even if Don Fabio does not.
As for the penalty calls, AANP considered that there were a couple of strong shouts – Terrys shirt-tug on Defoe, and a sliding challenge (from Malouda?) on Bale – before the eventual penalty award (which, entertainingly enough, seemed from this vantage point a little harsh on Terry).
Sort out how to break down those deep-lying defensive teams and we could be aiming even higher than the top four. That is a conundrum for another day, however. Now is the time for making merry, and revelling in a quite astonishingly good couple of days.
Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates: