All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Spurs Holiday Musings – Liverpool Loss & Fond Farewells

AANP has just biffed off on holiday this last week (Malta, since you ask), and these sunny retreats to foreign climes would not be worthy of the name if they did not at some point involve tracking down an English-themed watering-hole to watch Spurs get thoroughly dismantled, to the mirth of the nearby pink-faced denizens.

Despite the uncontainable urge amongst some of particularly dramatic ilk to race to the nearest hasty conclusion and yelp “Crisis! False dawn! Just not good enough, dash it!” this strikes me as but a stumble along a fairly promising path. A jolly chastening stumble mind, complete with unceremonious landing and all the trimmings, but not yet the moment to be inciting unrest amongst the nearest angry mob.

Midfield Creativity: AWOL

Particularly infuriating was the fact that that smug lot beat us at our own game, blast them – harrying off the ball, counter-attacking in a blurry burst of heels and generally executing some slick, incisive stuff in the final third.

By contrast, Bentaleb and Capoue seemed resolute in their determination to avoid anything with the merest whiff of deep-lying creativity (which potentially gives the Brains Trust food for thought in The Great Capoue Vs Dembele Debate, given the Belgian’s uncontrollable urge to puff out a chest and trundle goalward). The dull hum of inactivity behind them meant quite the onus on Eriksen, Chadli and Lamela to run riot. Alas, the first two in particular seemed not to care for such frivolous duties, seemingly content instead to bask in the glory of the previous week’s efforts, and other than the occasional long ball hoicked over the top there was nary a sniff of goal all afternoon.

Adebayor showed a hint of spirit, as did Lamela in the second half, like a couple of puppies haring round after the ball, but for all their gusto there was precious little effect, and by and large ignominy was jolly well in her element and having an absolute whale of a time. This being Spurs such things happen, but the imperative for Pochettino and chums now is to ensure that this is most certifiably the exception rather than the rule.

Fond Farewells

And to round off a rather doleful few days we have now bid rather hasty farewells to a couple of the elder statesmen. Few could make a convincing case that Daws is still of top-rate Premiership quality (the highlights of his Hull debut appeared rather cruelly to corroborate this), but the blighter could not have been more committed to the lilywhite cause if he were hatched from a cockerel’s egg laid in the centre of the White Hart Lane turf. And by all accounts a thoroughly decent old bean too. Oh that a spot could have been found for him as a permanent mascot leading the players onto the pitch each week. Gone, but absolutely not forgotten, I suspect that it is not just at AANP Towers he will be welcome to a free bourbon any time he jolly well chooses.

Amidst the hullaballoo of it all, the bods at the top have sneakily shunted Sandro down the exit chute as well. Of quality and endearing commitment he had plenty, and the weekly axis of awesomeness that he formed alongside Dembele a couple of years back will live long in the memory, but the point has been made that the poor blighter was rarely in good health, so the rationale for selling him is understandable, if nevertheless regrettable.

Two long-serving troops is probably enough for one episode of this particular soap opera, but despite a few swirling murmurs Monsieur Kaboul remains in situ. Time is not in the habit of waiting for the good mortals of this sphere, but in Kaboul’s case Time seems to have legged it while the Frenchman’s back was turned and disappeared into the distance. No longer the colossus of two or three years back, the Liverpool game was the latest indication that the chap has lost several yards of pace, and is adding a distinct flavour of fallibility to proceedings at the back. Captain by default he may be, but he looks less and less the inspiring leader with every passing minute. One rather hopes that the new chap Fazio is fully-clad and limbered up, because his appears the next cab on the rank.

Spurs 0-5 Liverpool: Thoughts On This Month’s Thrashing

Heavens above. To ship six goals away at Man City could be explained away with some embarrassed looks, statistics and mumbled interviews – but five goals at home, to a Liverpool side who have some way to go to emulate the European champs of yesteryear, rather makes one pause for thought and sip the evening bourbon with a little more concern than normal.

Defence

One trying to shake a stick at the plethora of mishaps, mistakes and moments of buffoonery will need a jolly large stick, but using the infallible AVB method of shrugging, closing my eyes and randomly pointing my finger, I point ye gentlefolk firstly towards the high defensive line.

Or, more accurately, the yawning gap it creates in between back-four and goalkeeper, into which Liverpool and their merry band of runners tore with gay abandon. A couple of one-touch passes, some of them – shock horror – going backwards first in order to move forwards, and our befuddled heroes were ripped to shreds. To shove poor old Daws bang into the middle of a system that relies so heavily upon pace seems suspiciously to contravene the UN charter on Human Rights, and sure enough, in the midst of the bedlam our intrepid leader earned his yellow card for hurtling into a centre-circle challenge as a crafty forward slipped the ball beyond him.

It is a measure of quite how bad things were that the more obvious candidate for withdrawal was young Master Naughton, who was sent spinning this way and that, evoking memories of that afternoon last season when Walcott tormented him to within an inch of his life as we conceded five at the Emirates. A theme begins to emerge, what?

Midfield

The midfield deserve a jolly hefty couple of clips round the ears too. Paulinho generously found the time to squeeze in a couple of wild shanks into the upper tier and moments of halting our own speedy counter-attacks with that old ‘put-my-foot-on-the-ball-and-turn-backwards’ gambit, before getting sent off. Holtby buzzed around with some intent, to his credit, but as ever the whole thing was painfully pedestrian going forward (a term I use lightly), while the back-four, the goalkeeper and the seismic gap between them were afforded precious little protection.

Suspicion grows that locked away in the safe at Chadli Towers are some compromising photos of AVB, explaining the Belgian’s weekly selection, while the cunning plan to starve Lennon of the ball again failed to break down the Liverpool defence.

All things considered, quite the muddle, and with precious little in the way of game-plan or consistency of team selection, our glorious leader might be forgiven for shifting his feet uneasily and sporting the look of a toddler discovered with one hand in the biscuit tin. One rather hopes we won’t have to go through this nonsense every month.

Spurs – Liverpool Preview: Striking Dilemma Ahoy

They may only have been the dregs of the English and Russian leagues respectively, but three consecutive wins have done enough to secure nods of mild satisfaction where once there were howls of anguish, so we can go into this one with sentiments bordering on cautious optimism. Moreover, the gods of fate seem to have nonchalantly tossed us a couple of extra scraps, and thus we find that the red mob will toddle up to the front gates sans Messrs Gerrard and Sturridge. Admittedly seeing Dawson go toe-to-toe with Suarez will be a little like having a member of the undead spend 90 minutes pulling a single entrail from our gut, but beyond that particular mismatch we ought to have a decent chance.

AVB would presumably not have dreamed of this a couple of weeks ago, but he actually has a few positive selection dilemmas to chew over today. To claim that we have an embarrassment of riches in attack is perhaps stretching the point, but after Defoe applied himself with some rigour and effect vs Sunderland and Fulham, we then had Soldado stumbling upon the secret formula for alchemy in midweek, albeit against fairly dreadful opposition. There are some who would still love to see the two of them pitted alongside each other and told to go out there and make merry, but presumably it will be one or t’other this afternoon.

In defence there seems to be a fairly definite hierarchy, so selection will simply depend upon who is fit, but the five across the midfield/attack again pose a few positive problems. AVB seems in recent weeks to have settled upon a selection strategy that involves writing names on paper, throwing them in the air and picking the ones that land nearest to him, but Messrs Lennon, Townsend and Holtby have all done the footballing equivalent of jumping up and down in front of him yelling “Pick me! Pick me!” while Sigurdsson seems a reliable sort of egg, and Lamela’s pass for the second goal on Thursday was drop-dead gorgeous. Nice to see the lad Eriksen back on his feet as well, and ahead of all of these in the queue is Master Paulinho, who has been the furthest man forward in recent weeks.

In the grand scheme of things three points would naturally help chivvy us along to where we want to be, but to take them at the expense of one our rivals – and particularly one boasting quite such smug office colleagues as this lot – would be a most desirable conclusion of affairs.

Liverpool – Spurs Preview: Pilfering the Anfield Larder

Another day, another dickens of a lip-smacking fixture for the good ship Hotspur. Merrily enough, our heroes have spent the week positively sneering at the reputations dandily waved around by opponents who dare share the turf – in particular the reaction to the final whistle on Thursday, when a comprehensive battering of Inter elicited little more than a couple of back-slaps and a business-like march back to the changing rooms, suggests that standards have been raised in N17. Pilfering the Anfield larders is not necessarily high on the list of Traditionally Straightforward Premiership Jollies, but our heroes can certainly approach matters in a buoyant mood, for should they play anything like they did on Thursday the red mob will probably wander off in a huff at not being allowed even a touch of the ball. But alas, ‘tis a new day, and our foes are unlikely to roll over and request a playful tickle of their tummies, in the manner of Inter. A slippery prospect looms; such challenges have been met with several shades of aplomb in recent weeks.

Personnel

There is presumably a smidgeon of doubt around Aaron Lennon and his jazz-hands, so Sigurdsson-right and Holtby-left could be on the cards, which is far from being the worst amended line-up ever to traipse the greenery. Having oozed class as if afflicted by some puss-inducing malady in his last two outings at centre-back, Vertonghen would be well-advised to wring out every last drop of the stuff in preparation for an afternoon’s duelling with the multi-talented and renowned good egg Suarez. Dawson and Lloris will presumably return, and while Defoe attracted opprobrium in some quarters for the narrow-mindedness of his approach, his propensity for leathering the orb goalwards at every opportunity renders him the sort of foe to jolly well keep an opponent on his toes – and as such he seems a vastly preferable attacking option to Adebayor.

It seems safe to assume that a stern test awaits, but with our heroes now knee-deep in the tricky final slew of fixtures and faring well enough we can probably approach this one with cautious optimism.

Dreadfully Tardy Musings on Liverpool 0-0 Spurs

It was all slightly akin to a chess game, n’est ce pas? And not one of those awesome chess games either, in which one lad loses his rag somewhat, dashes the pieces across the board and clobbers his opponent with the clock, leading to a mass brawl involving spectators and allsorts. This was one of those chess games in which white thoughtfully strokes his chin for a good seven or eight minutes, before moving his bishop a few diagonals backwards whence he came, prompting black to ponder for four minutes himself, hover his hand over his queen, retract hand, ponder some more, and then move his knight back into its starting position.

It is a tad difficult to remember the last time our lilywhite heroes set out so determinedly to defend, but as the game wore on it became increasingly evident that the principal aim was not to wow the Merseyside mob with all manner of singing and dancing entertainment, but simply to grab that point, shove a chloroformed handkerchief in its mouth, wait for it to keel over and then lock it in a cage and drag it all the way home.

Pragmatic stuff, but something of a shame, as it evinced more than just a whiff of satisfaction with a Top-Four finish, rather than a straining of every sinew for the Title.

High-Fives and Celebratory Cigar Puffs

In terms of the ancient art of point-snaffling, few snaffled with more laudable prominence than Daws and (inevitably) Scott Parker. Such has been the rise of Kaboul’s star this season that I was a mite tremulous pre kick-off on learning that Daws was to deputise – for shame, AANP, for shame. Up against the far from accommodating hirsute hulk that is Andy Carroll, Dawson gave every bead of sweat, bless him, and really ought to be allowed to frame the clean sheet and hang it from his wall.

As for Parker, by the closing stages it appeared that he had been successfully cloned and scattered across the Anfield turf. The poor blighter is presumably still glugging lucozade, scoffing energy bars and gingerly applying TCP to the scrapes across his frame, but such is the price to be paid for giving every ounce of energy for the cause.

Less Favourably…

We be lucky folk, no doubt, for being treated weekly to the multi-faceted talents of Gareth Bale. However, the denizens of AANP Towers are old-fashioned purveyors of good, honest values, and the traditional distinction between right and wrong. On which note, I would implore someone with a degree of authority to have a pretty blunt word or ten with the handsome young Welshman, and tell him in no uncertain terms to cut out the histrionics. In general he goes down far too easily, and it sullies the good name of Tottenham Hotspur. When Scott Parker collapses with a wince I hold my breath. When Bale goes down and waves his arm for assistance I roll my eyes. For sure he does receive some pretty outrageous treatment – Agger (I think?) ought to have seen red for the shin-high challenge on Monday night – but generally Bale has begun to look for free-kicks when no foul has been remotely committed, and that is cheating. Not that he had much company, up there at the apex, but even that cat seemed to have a bit more spunk about him.

Alas, the distinction between “disinterested” and “uninterested” is not one I have ever truly mastered, but Adebayor was oozing one of them from many a pore.

All things considered (and by “all things” I principally mean the absences of VDV and Lennon) a point away from home to a loosely in-form team is eminently acceptable for a team looking to consolidate a Top Four finish, but that is rather the nub of the thing – I rather wish we had set our sights a little higher. Going 4-4-2 and pushing for victory may well have seen us become a little too open at the back, but having had a dashed good fist of attacking in almost every other game so far this season, we have positioned ourselves six inches from a title challenge. Could we not keep that pretence going a few weeks longer?

Spurs 4-0 Liverpool: 90 Minute Keep-Ball

Marvellous stuff. That certainly elbows its way into the handful of most emphatic performances I’ve seen from our lot, a 90-minute game of keep-ball. Even when 11 against 11 we seemed to have a one man advantage. Bravo chaps.Our Central Midfield: Awesome

Scott Parker will presumably have bad days in a Tottenham shirt, but in a potentially tricky encounter against Adam and Henderson he played like a man possessed (albeit, with shirt neatly tucked in and side parting, the most benign-looking possessed chap you’ll ever clap eyes upon. Superman disguised as Clark Kent). Every time a Liverpool player’s eye lit up at the mere smell of the ball, Parker was all over him like a particularly nasty rash, the speed at which he devoured loose balls helping to entice the foul from Charlie Adam that earned him a trip to the naughty step. Thanks largely to the protection he offered, Liverpool barely crept within shooting distance of Friedel’s goal. Moreover, whenever we were in possession – which admittedly was most of the time – Parker always seemed to be available, within six yards of the man on the ball.

Modders was the most obvious beneficiary of Parker’s noble work, and between the pair of them they tore Liverpool to shreds, which was jolly good fun to behold, and also had the useful side-effect of drawing yellow cards all over the place. I must confess that should Modders ever wander inadvertently into AANP Towers he will be still be met with a slightly frosty stare, sat down in a darkened, rat-infested room and asked to explain himself – but nevertheless, his on-pitch class remains indisputable. It was classic Modric, in terms of his pottering around the centre and doing whatever he pleased with the ball. In a curious chronological quirk he delivered his pièce de résistance in the opening exchanges of the game, but ignoring the linguistic and syntactical problems of that particular suggestion it was a rip-roaring finish, of which only a rare breed are capable.

Gareth Bale deserves a tip of the hat too, perhaps not quite delivering the masterful cutting edge of the last season and a half, but still causing general havoc down the left, including the engineering of Skrtel’s dismissal.

An Early Instalment In What Is Likely To Be The Long-Running Adebayor Debate

Smug looks all round from all those who have spent the last 18 months ranting about our need for a new centre-forward – which is just about every Tottenham fan around – as Adebayor delivered a mightily impressive home debut. Worth bearing in mind when he has us all tearing our hair out with lackadaisical folly a few months down the line. Whether holding up the ball, drifting into deeper positions or dinking little diagonals, he ticked boxes left, right and centre. Two cracking goals too – miles apart in style, but both meeting the requisite official criteria for “cracking”.

In this particular neck of the woods we were also thrilled to bits to see an old-fashioned two-man strike force. It might not necessarily work week in, week out, but after a season’s worth of crosses sailing over the head of one isolated striker, the 4-4-2 worked splendidly today (credit again to Parker, for putting in a shift that enabled us to work a two-man central midfield, and hence a two-man attack).

The only quibble with our first half performance was the inability to turn such a rampant performance into goals, but this wrong was eventually righted, four-nil a perfectly fair reflection of proceedings. So swimmingly did it all pan out that we were even afforded the luxury of chauffeuring off Ledley with five minutes to spare, and giving his creaking knees some early down-time. A grand afternoon’s work. Fourth place is as good as sown up now.

Spurs – Liverpool Preview (II): The Bubble Will Burst… But Not This Weekend

Having dried his tears and collected the assorted toys from outside his pram, a l’Arse-supporting chum earlier this week sent a message my way, the gist of which was that he was scratching his head in bewilderment trying for the life of him to remember the last time Spurs had enjoyed a week of quite so much good news. The man has a point. The derby win was followed by Champions League knock-out qualification, which was followed by an approving nod for a new Tottenham-based stadium, which has been followed by news that Michael Dawson is back in training, and even the rumour that Ledley is gingerly lifting himself from his wheelchair, sellotape and blu-tac duly applied to his balsawood limbs.There is talk in some quarters that our heroes really have turned the corner, and that those mentioning Spurs as potential Premiership or Champions League winners ought not necessarily to be thrown into a dusty spot of land and given a damn good thrashing for crimes against reason and common sense. A cautionary note echoes around the walls of AANP Towers for sure, as there remains a strong chance that we will finish the season not only empty-handed but also trapped in the arid and unforgiving wasteland that is the Europa League. As such, the policy around these parts is not to speculate too wildly about how the world might look come May 2011, but simply to wring every last drop of enjoyment from the present moment.

The abacus has been dusted down, and all manner of rigorous arithmetic drills undertaken, the upshot of which is that AANP can confirm that in all competitions it is now three wins and counting for our lot – and in a spirit of bonny, blithe and gay optimism I am rather inclined to think we will have our fourth come Sunday evening. The danger after a good Champions League win is that the next pre-match huddle actually consists of the players patting one another on the backs for a midweek job well done, rather than spitting, snarling and straining at the leash in preparation for the forthcoming 90 minutes. No such danger this Sunday I would hazard. The time for complacency was probably Wednesday night, with the memory of the Emirates still fresh, but Liverpool at home represents a bigger kettle of fish, the importance of which is unlikely to be underestimated.

Team News

VDV may again miss out, and the list of other absentees remains longer than a gangly limb of Peter Crouch, but there is positive news in both the return to fitness of young Master Defoe, and the sparkling efforts of Aaron Lennon on Wednesday night. If both he and Bale could hit top form simultaneously cracks would probably appear in the High Road N17 as Mother Earth struggles to cope with the thrill of it all. The bubble will burst eventually, but I have faith in our heroes to maintain the winning habit for at least one further week.

Spurs – Liverpool Preview: In Conversation With A Top Liverpool Blog

Ahoy-hoy! Still in triumphant spirits I hope? Floating hither and thither about your business aboard Cloud Nine? Excellent stuff.A more rigorous examination of the potential pitfalls and glories of Sunday’s encounter is imminent on this very corner of the interweb, but until then do pour yourself a cheeky little something from your finest bottle of bourbon, and have a look yonder. The Liverpool Offside is to football blogs on the red half of Merseyside what Mrs Van der Vaart is to footballing WAGs the world over. With Spurs – Liverpool on the horizon, The Liverpool Offside and All Action, No Plot settled down to chew the fat, and if you click right here can indulge in the entire ruddy conversation!

If that doesn’t whet your appetite then the first exchange probably won’t either, but here it is anyway:

The Liverpool Offside: I have it on good authority that Gareth Bale is in fact more powerful than seven Super Messis and that his merest glance can destroy worlds, or at the very least Brazilan fullbacks, a species of footballer we find ourselves in possession of. I have also been lead to believe that he will be sold to Guangzhou FC in January. Is there any truth to this? 

AANP: ‘Tis well known around the lilywhite half of North London that Gareth Bale’s curious appearance is due to the fact that, like most deities, in his natural form he exists as beams of light radiating in all directions. In order to fit in amongst the mere mortals of the Premiership he has adopted an outer shell that in truth only partially resembles your average human. Young Master Bale really is in quite humdinging form, his every touch currently meriting inclusion on a highlights reel. As he is yet to be infected by The Curse Of The WAG, I suspect he will hang around these parts for at least one more season, but thereafter the bidding could well begin in earnest, alas.Read the rest, here

Liverpool 2-0 Spurs: The Tottenham Way

Well on the bright side they all looked like they wanted to play The Tottenham Way. Sugar and spice and all things nice, with pretty passing and a minimum of three dainty touches in possession. Delightful stuff. Unfortunately this was an occasion which demanded urgency, a determination to win at all costs, a bloody-minded refusal to accept defeat and generally all those other clichéd attributes which Spurs perennially lack, but which are prerequisites for top-four qualification. I guess the absence of these attributes is a further trademark of The Tottenham Way. The other lot decided to roll up their sleeves and scrap for it; our heroes duly looked horrified, appearing close to tears each time a swarm of those uncouth Liverpool rotters descended on them like a pack of dogs.It was all rounded off, and neatly summed up, by possibly the worst attempt ever recorded in the history of the game at throwing-everything-at-the-opposition-in-the-final-ten-minutes. Instead of being camped in their penalty area we somehow contrived to allow Liverpool half a dozen point-blank chances inside ours, repeatedly insisting that they try and try again, as well as standing back to let them indulge in a spot of keep-ball whenever they got the urge.

Should I ever get the opportunity to storm into the Tottenham dressing-room and damn well scream at the players to fight, tooth and nail and ‘til the bitter end, in search of victory, I imagine the players would simply look quizzically at each other, trying to wrap their precious minds around the baffling concepts of which I speak, before retiring to the training-ground to engage in some delightfully pretty and gently-paced passing routines. In some parallel universe where tackling is completely banned from the game, our lot are absolutely awesome.

Even aside from the generally lacklustre attitude, we might have fared better if we had dispensed with the multiple-touch approach and just zipped the ball around first time, to leave the scousers chasing shadows (incidentally, even in absentia, this ball-dwelling is a misdemeanour of which Hudd is too frequently guilty). The one time we actually managed a one-touch move this we created our clearest chance of the match. By and large however, Modric and Kranjcar looked like foreigners of excellent technique who just could not cope with the pace and feistiness of a high-octane Premiership game. Jenas gave the definitive Jenas performance – backwards; sideways; earnest; energetic; ineffective.

The Refereeing Decisions

The most generous interpretation that could be given is that this whole business of the offside rule and its “phases of play” is sufficiently obscure to be entirely subjective. At the whim of the officials, Defoe was ruled against, possibly for having strayed offside back on Saturday against Hull. AANP’s latest watertight theory is that God supports l’Arse, and His will be done.

As for the elongated one’s penalty shout – less of a complaint, given that pens are so rarely awarded for the countless little misdeeds at set-pieces. That said, I don’t know what the opposite of a force-field is, but Crouch has one around him at all times, ensuring that whatever the occasion and whatever he does, if he is in the opposition penalty area he will be penalised. It’s the law.

However, the creases across the AANP brow this morning were caused by the performances of those in lilywhite rather than black. Creative though the refereeing decisions may have been, it does not disguise the fact that we were mightily disappointing, in such a crunch game. Points lost against weakened rivals is galling enough, but seeing points surrendered quite so meekly is vaguely soul-destroying. As for the buoyant optimism and spring in the step of just 24 hours ago, we denizens of AANP Towers have been given a most severe reprimand for such wild and thoughtless misjudgements.

I Kid Ye Not – We’re Still Fourth

And yet, come May we may very well make fourth. Everyone around us seems to have a gun pointed at their own foot and an itchy trigger-finger, so it could yet happen. Easy to forget we still are fourth actually. No extra points are lost for a display of complete impotence, or for an attempt to fashion a team around Jermaine Jenas; nor would we have gained any more points for beating Liverpool away than we will do if we turn over Fulham at home next week. Bad day at the office, but there are plenty of points left to be gathered.

 

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

Liverpool – Spurs Preview: Rightly or Wrongly It’s Sunny Optimism Round These Parts…

‘Arry has been banging on about the triffic opportunity tonight’s game presents, and he has a point – for without Gerrard and Torres that lot suffer from a lack of both confidence and quality; while clean sheets a-plenty have underpinned some pretty decent recent performances from our heroes. Off the top of my head I can’t actually remember the last time we ever won in the League at Anfield, but having caught snatches of their game against Reading in the Cup last week the place looks more like a wendy-house than a fortress at the moment. As a cautionary note, it is worth bearing in mind that while they are supposedly enduring a nightmare season, they are still only four points behind us. Unfortunately then it is unlikely that they will roll over and let us tickle their tummies (quite a mental image) but a spirit of blisteringly sunny optimism has nevertheless made itself at home in AANP Towers ahead of this one.All sorts of wholesome goodness would flow from a win today. Beating the “top four” teams (admittedly it’s debatable whether the definition of this term still includes Liverpool) is rare enough for our heroes; beating them on their own patch has been, as far as I’m aware, strictly beyond the laws of science. Turning over Liverpool at Anfield would give us renewed belief that we can make the Champs League spots – in much the same way as the opening-day win did in fact. Straying slightly from the point, many of the best chants of the season seem to have been directed at Liverpool, from “You’re supposed to be in jail”, to “You’re just a fat Spanish waiter.” And in more pragmatic terms, a win tonight would open up a seven-point gap over Liverpool, as well as three points over City and five over Villa. Game in hand for our rivals? The way this season has panned out I’d much rather have points on the board.

Strangely, after the frustrations of Hull at home on Saturday I’m even more convinced that we can win tonight. Liverpool, particularly at home, are not going to stick every man and his dog behind the ball and defend for their lives, a hilarious fall from grace though that would be. They will push forward, and leave gaps behind them. A shame then that Lennon is injured, and to a lesser extent a shame that Hudd too is possibly crocked, but the match pattern ought still to suit us relatively well. The absence of Hudd will be an interesting one – in this neck of the woods we’re quite partial to a good old-fashioned whinge about the lad and his immobility, but absence often makes the heart grow fonder, so I’m intrigued to see whether we are obviously weakened (or indeed strengthened) without him. This could be a rare start for Jenas, or possibly even O’ Hara, while a mischievous rumour doing the rounds suggests that tonight might be Ledley’s monthly appearance in lilywhite. Whatever the line-up, it’s an upbeat AANP marching into battle tonight.

 

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

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