Spurs preview

Sunderland – Spurs Preview: How Many Aaron Lennons Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

Just the one Aaron Lennon – he holds the bulb and the universe revolves around him, n’est ce pas? Not to cast aspersions on the young blighter’s character you understand, he seems a most charming young fish (now with added maturity – witness the disappearance of his go-faster diagonals in his eyebrows). The crux of the matter is of course the balance he adds to the progressive part of our team, not to mention the fact that he jolly well adds the final piece to a quite jaw-dropping six-part smorgasbord of attacking delights in lilywhite.

With two games in three days there is fairly slim chance of Lennon and his paper-thin hamstrings appearing – and then rapidly disappearing in a puff of dust and blur of heels – both today and on Monday, so there arises ‘Arry’s first conundrum, while the other usual decisions loom large – VDV or Saha, Ledley or Gallas (that this question even arises is reflective of these changing times), two or three in the centre et cetera. Whatever the options, the facts are that a lip-smacking, eminently winnable final eight games is now well upon us. Wins, wins and yet more wins will almost certainly propel us above that ‘orrible lot down the road (who this weekend are entertaining Man City). If ever there were a diem to be carped, this is it.

Spurs news

Chelsea – Spurs Preview: No Lennon, No Balance, No Hope

“He’s not available,” declared our glorious leader of One Aaron Lennon and his jazz-hands. “Other than that we’re not too bad”. Which is laudably upbeat I suppose, but a bit like Sigourney Weaver concluding that although she has looked on as the alien wiped out two entire crews, tormented her waking and sleeping thoughts, indirectly forced her to shave her head and then ruddy well gestated inside her – other than that she’s not too bad.I do of course overstate the case a tad. An orthodox four-man midfield – with Bale sticking to the left touchline and Walker manfully galloping the gallop of two man up and down the right – would probably offer the balance that we lack when Lennon sits things out, but nevertheless you get the gist. In the little man’s absence we have lacked shape, balance and a clear plan of how to outscore the opposition from minute 1 to 90.

Tough enough against Everton and Stoke, but faced with the prospect of a trip to a now officially resurgent Chelski, the denizens of AANP Towers have taken the unanimous, executive decision to shudder to our very cores. While genuinely upbeat that our final eight games really could bring us eight wins, the current trend of woe, brought about by a combination of Lennonlessness and opposition teams hitting tip-top form, looks for all the world like it will continue at Stamford Bridge.

Team News

Adebayor is also a likely absentee, but other than that the usual suspects will take to the field, start brightly, take the lead, then sit back and ultimately cave in to two late Chelski goals, at least one of which will be highly dubious. I would advise ‘Arry stops his blasted tinkering with the midfield and desperate shunting of square pegs into round holes, but nevertheless envisage him selecting Bale right, Modders left, with Parker and Sandro/Livermore in the centre (and VDV off Saha/Adebayor up the top). Delighted though I would be to gobble down double helpings of humble-pie come the final whistle, I approach this game with the same gloomy air of foreboding that accompanied a Sven-selected England team trotting out in a major tournament quarter-final. Grab what you can chaps, and then scarper.

Spurs news

Spurs 1-3 Man Utd: Tardy Musings on Proximity Minus Cigars

Apologies for the tardiness…

Speculating about what might have happened had Parker, Bale and/or VDV been fit is the very living, breathing embodiment of pointlessness (although it has not stopped yours truly moping on a near-daily basis about what might have been had Gazza tapped in against the Germans in Euro 96), but for the purposes of perspective following our SECOND CONSECUTIVE DEFEAT (gasp) it might be salutary to note that with the aforementioned gentlemen on board our lot probably would have prevailed. Having effected a mighty convincing impression of being the superior team in general, the addition of any of those three might also have impacted upon some of the crucial specifics of proceedings. Par example, ‘tis hard to imagine Parker or even Bale switching off to fiddle with their hair as Modders did for the second goal, while Parker again might have made a difference when Kaboul backed off for the third. Moreover, all our possession and dominance could feasibly have translated into something infinitely more satisfying than swooshy Sky Sports graphics had Bale or VDV been gambolling across the turf. Desperately frustrating to have to play a game of this magnitude missing such key personnel, but with human cloning technology still liable to misfire we simply have to accept such absences.

The Reshuffled Pack

Such is Parker’s unadulterated magnificence that it literally takes two men to replace him, but Sandro and Livermore performed admirably. Alas, this reshuffling meant that Modric’s myriad talents were not fully exploited, as he struggled to make sense of a job description loosely pertaining to activity on the left, but we nevertheless displayed various shades of wholesome attacking brio. Lennon’s final ball, as ever, lacks a certain refinement, but all the preceding scuttling tends to prompt the ringing of alarm bells and panicked swinging of legs amongst opposition ranks. With Adebayor and Saha again doing plenty to keep United occupied, at the apex of an old-fashioned 4-4-2, we were jolly close to hammering home our advantage.

However, the rather cruel lesson from all of this was that against the elite there is precious little margin for error. By somehow hanging on through the use of assorted fingernails and teethskins, and then taking advantage of the slightest lilywhite lapses, United fairly pointedly illustrated to our heroes what needs to be done to take the next step, from majestic Top Four glory-blazers to actual ruddy champions. The very best teams tend to do eke out such outcomes, having spent all game scrambling to survive. As the resident agriculturalists of AANP Towers have pointed out, thus is the wheat separated from the chaff.

That Cursed Horrible Wench, Lady Luck

That said, the gentlest soupcon of luck would not go amiss just once in a while for our lot. He being Adebayor and they being United it was thoroughly unsurprising that our first half “goal” was disallowed, but in a more lenient mood the ref may have noted that there was precious little means of avoiding a handling of the ball at full speed. (That said, had it been the other way round the howls of protest from AANP Towers would have lingered long in the air). Further ill luck was the decision by United’s part-time clown and resident 8 year-old goalkeeper De Gea to punctuate his season of general amateurishness with an absolutely blinding save from Livermore’s deflected shot in the second half. And while I’m having a whinge, how the dickens did a standard, fairy harmless foul by Sandro earn him a yellow card?

General grumpiness therefore pervades the air around these parts, but this whole sequence of frustrations ought not to derail the third-place push. Our football remains perky, we have outstanding players due to return and our remaining fixtures appear thoroughly winnable each and every one.

Spurs news

Spurs – Man Utd Preview: Over-Reaction Overload

A brief perusal of the comments section beneath in the aftermath of the l’Arse defeat rather gave the impression that our heroes are about to nose-dive to the oblivion of the Championship and beyond. Excuse me while I take cover in the battered old AANP bomb shelter, in anticipation of the apocalyptic levels of anguish, vitriol and over-reaction that will rain down if we take a beating from the current Premiership champions on Sunday.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, the principal conundrum here at AANP Towers is where to wager my weekly tuppence. The current lilywhite vintage have looked mighty darned snappy against all and sundry at the Lane this season, with thrashings dutifully distributed to Liverpool and Newcastle, and a pleasing array of other scalps that includes the ‘orrible lot from down the road. However, our labours against the rotters of Chelski rather hurt my eyes, and in general our traditional swash-and-buckle approach has been stymied somewhat by the Champions League-chasers, albeit typically away from home. Excuse therefore the brief lapse into rocket-science, but this home game against Man Utd could potentially go either way…

Alas, we will all simply have to cherish the memory of Scott Parker getting crunched by two Dutchmen and landing groin-first on a camera tripod during the England game last night, for his woefully-timed one-game suspension means that we will have to do without his generous input of heart, soul, sinew and every last drop of blood. No pressure on Sandro/Livermore then.

The Saha-Adebayor partnership has so far wobbled rather dramatically between wondrous and appalling, having sparked the rout of Newcastle at home, and prompted an ugly descent into deep defending and long-ballery last week. Time for ‘Arry to show the world he really knows his 4-4-2s from his 4-2-3-1s, what? Parker aside our heroes ought to be well primed and ready for battle. A difficult one to call frankly, both sides looking notably fallible. Fingers crossed for a lilywhite outcome.

Spurs news

L’Arse 5-2 Spurs: Sitting Deep and the Crouch Reboot

Awkward. Maybe we should begin at the beginning…

The Glorious First Five Minutes

Ah, ‘twas a pleasure to be a Tottenham fan. Our heroes produced some ovely stuff. Swift, slick passing; patient but pacey; sideways if necessary but probing forward whenever opportunity even threatened to knock. L’Arse struggled to focus upon the little leather orb, and the whole thing was crowned with a delightfully typical Tottenham goal, albeit aided by quite extraordinarily inept defending.

Alas, what followed was downright blasted awful.

The Crouch ApproachHaving spent all season passing the bejesus out of opponents, our heroes hit on the dubious tactic this afternoon of eschewing pretty passing for a slightly less refined approach of smacking the ball heavenwards towards Saha and Adebayor, and hoping that by hook, crook, chest or gangly limb the ball would somehow or other stick there. There was something eerily Crouch-esque about the whole thing, evoking painful memories of unpleasant hoicks that pybassed our midfield and ruled out any opportunity for us to play our natural passing game on the green stuff.


Further woe was to be had by the collective decision of the midfield to station themselves Alamo-style some 10-15 yards ahead of their own penalty area and wait for l’Arse to attack. The rationale was presumably to allow for counter-attack revelry, but the effect was instead to invite relentless pressure upon poor old Friedel and his worryingly popular net. Every time we cleared to halfway, l’Arse were able to amble forward at will into the final third, and catastrophe duly ensued.

More GrumblesCuriously, the sending-off of Parker in the dying embers was a darned sight harder to swallow here at AANP Towers than any of the unabated awfulness that had preceded it. United at home next week are beatable, but sans Parker it becomes a lot less likely. (On which note, Sandro looked every inch a man who hasn’t played in a month or two, all misplaced passes and niggly fouls.)


The “winning” of the penalty by Bale was also disappointing. If ultra slow-mo, zoomed in replays prove there was contact I’ll happily retract – but to this disgruntled viewer it appeared that Bale took a dive, which would be cheating, and not for the first time. Not at this club, please. Bale in particular is comfortably good enough to excel by fair means rather than foul. On a brighter note, the handsome young Welshman’s turn of pace in the first place was outstanding, matching the excellence of the pass from Modric.

Returning however to the grisly business of head-shaking and repeated tutting, the initial team selection seemed at the time a tad curious, and in hindsight fairly ill-judged. Saha upfront instead of VDV was a bold call, particularly away from home, but was understandable to a degree, in terms of giving the centre-backs all manner of complexities (and a goal within five minutes provided a degree of vindication). The selection of Kranjcar ahead of Lennon will require a little more explanation in order to placate the teeth-gnashers of AANP Towers, particularly if the plan really was to play swiftly on the counter-attack.

Punters Across The Nation Stare Quizzically At Their “’Arry for England” PlacardsSilver lining? A 0-0 against Stevenage followed by a thrashing in our local derby – from 2-0 up, and despite two significant half-time managerial changes – have probably done as much to slow down ‘Arry’s charge towards England management as anything else will all season. In truth however, this is no sort of positive at all (and nor is it likely to make the slightest difference to the summer’s managerial moves).


Despite all this, there is no particular need to panic. Play this way every week and I’ll happily send out the memo that the time is ripe for every man and his dog in the N17 area to scuttle around like headless chickens. However, resume normal service next week, and continue until the end of the season, and this whole episode could have attached to it a post-it note marked “Blip”. An unsightly mess for sure, but this lot can and do perform a whole lot better each week.

Spurs match reports

Spurs 5-0 Newcastle: Disco Benny, & The Return of the VDV Conundrum

Casual lobotomy is one of my less typical weekend pursuits, but I’m willing to hazard that were one to pluck out the respective brains of BAE and Scott Parker, the two would be as dissimilar as medically possible. At one point in the second half yesterday I’m fairly sure Benny executed a scorpion kick, seemingly just to pass the time. Thus does he roll. Mercifully, the little patch of cerebral matter that enables a man to ping a football at a designated mark was fully functional yesterday, and I give BAE more credit than has generally been ushered his way for his finish. An open goal it may officially have been, but at that angle and pace, and with defenders scrambling back, it would have been dashed easy to have missed the target. Moreover, victory yesterday was achieved by that first half blitz – had we not taken those early chances a very good team might have given us a very tough game. Credit to Benny for taking his chance and starting the disco.Do pardon me while I plug a service from a Spurs-supporting chum – is a free tuition and learning website to bring together private tutors and students. Teachers can advertise their services for free on the site; students can browse the lessons offered and click on a link to send an automated email to the teacher

Credit too, humungous lashings of the stuff, to Adebayor, for playing like his life depended on it. Goodness knows what inspired the chap, but he tore around like a man possessed, barely recognisable from the lackadaisical figure who half-heartedly ambled around Anfield a week ago. One suspects it is not simply coincidence that Adebayor’s new-found frivolity occurred with Louis Saha elevated to the status of chief support act, the Togolese smile machine tripping over himself to interact at every opportunity with his new best chum. Thought-provoking stuff, given that the usual contribution of VDV occurs a good 15-20 yards deeper. Within a more traditional 4-4-2 (as opposed to the VDV-driven 4-4-1-1) Adebayor’s was arguably his best performance of the season. Moreover, few would suggest that VDV would have eaten up the yards to score our second (Saha’s first) – ‘twas the goal of an out-and-out striker. Whisper it, but the VDV conundrum may be edging back into view. Commons sense dictates the Dutchman waltzes straight back in, but nevertheless it’s rather a cheery dilemma upon which ‘Arry can chew in the coming days.

While Ade and Saha set out to become best friends forever, and every man in lilywhite looked to get in on the act in that rampant first half, as ever I felt a tug of sympathy for poor old Jermain Defoe. He trotted on with half an hour to go, evidently straining at the leash to partake in the goalscoring fun and torment the Newcastle defence further, only to find that everybody else in lilywhite had had enough and was content to indulge in lengthy bouts of keep-ball around halfway.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

Top marks all round. Friedel had little to do, but did it splendidly nonetheless. Niko Kranjcar is unlikely to keep Lennon out of the team any longer than is necessary, but he still took time out from looking dreamy to top off a decent contribution with a rare goal. We were even afforded the luxury of giving letting Bale and Ledley have an early finish.

A minor gripe is that with more urgency in the second half we could definitely have made more chances and probably, therefore, have scored a few more – but it is the most incidental of observations. Royally thrashing one of the best teams in the country – and whilst still missing several key faces (Kaboul, Hudd, VDV, Lennon) – is a testament to just how blinking marvellous our lot have become. On nights like yesterday one wonders why ‘Arry (or indeed Modders, or Bale etc) would ever want to leave the Lane.

This particular run of fixtures remains imposing, but our heroes have done a sterling job so far. Grit last Monday, aplomb last night – l’Arse and United, one imagines, will be shifiting a little uneasily in their seats at the prospect of facing our lot in the coming weeks. Not for the first time gents, it’s bravo from AANP Towers.