All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs: Shooting Boots, & The Walking Calamity That is Danny Rose

Opportunity lost, as I’m sure all my fellow geniuses have also noticed. Should make for a frightfully exciting final-day finale though, what? As it happens our lot gave a dashed competent showing at Villa, so no particular complaints there. Plenty of intent, flair, movement and opportunity amongst our heroes, with the Lennon-right-and-Bale-left gambit loosely (though not rigidly) employed, creating a pleasing balance, while VDV and Modders crafted their usual array of intelligent triangles, and Sandro had another of his magnificent Chuck Norris days. In recent weeks some of our performances have hardly deserved a point, but this one merited three.

From this particularly hungover armchair spectator, the principal criticism de jour was that sometimes those chaps in lilywhite seem dreadfully reluctant to shoot. For a man who just a few days ago scored a goal sprinkled with celestial dreaminess, Modders seemed bizarrely opposed to the notion of repeating the feat, despite receiving the ball in a few highly agreeable patches of greenery just a few inches outside the edge of the Villa area. “By jove, have a crack my good man,” was the sentiment no doubt doing the rounds across the lilywhite spectrum, but mildly infuriatingly the little man seemed absolutely determined to jab the orb sideways to a chum. rather than blast a small hole in the top corner. VDV showed a greater proclivity for a vicious swing of the boot, but those two in particular could take a leaf out of the Bible According to Young Kyle Walker and thwack the ruddy thing as soon as the opportunity sidles into view. The goal scored by Villa in the first half perhaps gave an indication of quite how fruitful such an approach can prove, if repeated with some gusto.

And while I’m grumbling, when the devil will our lot score from a corner? Modders’ goal at Bolton was very much the exception, I think our first from a corner in well over 100 attempts, and there were almost 20 more in vain on Sunday. Part of the problem appears to be that with Adebayor typically peeling off to the back post we rarely have anyone patrolling the six-yard box with shooting boots primed when VDV swings them in. Within all of this I feel almost obliged to mention the name Defoe, and let others do with it what they will. But I’m sure ‘Arry is well aware of this, which is a relief.

The Latest Instalment in the Danny Rose Catalogue of Outstandingness

Playing with Danny Rose in our number is not exactly a million miles away from playing with ten men anyway, and having narrowly escaped a red card as soon as he appeared on the pitch, for that most unsightly, wonky red Mohawk, I’m not sure his repeated protestations (“He pushed me”) really exonerated him from a merited red card. Sans Rose our lot did just as good a job at sniffing out a goal, our ten men swarming all over Villa non-stop for the final half hour. Frankly few at AANP Towers would don sackcloth, ashes, black armbands and the like should those flailing Rose limbs never again be seen in lilywhite, for the boy is just not good enough.

A darned shame, these dropped points, given the opportunity so comically thrown our way by l’Arse a day earlier, but one final opportunity remains. Play this way against Fulham next week and our lot ought to prevail; the rest is in the lap of the gods.

Bolton 1-4 Spurs, Plus A Timely Catch-Up On Recent Events…

Heavens above. AANP ought to have known better than to wave away the whisky for five minutes while real-life gubbins intervened, but since I last tapped at these keys there have been debacles against Chelski and Norwich, followed up by rather professional dismantlings of Blackburn and Bolton. What to make of it all? Charge your glasses and follow hither…

Spurs 1-5 Chelski

Cast your minds back to Wembley if you will. Lest ye need reminding, all sorts of indignation flowed around the streets of North London, and quite rightly so, given that Chelski seemed to be awarded a goal for the fairly innocuous achievement of having a shot charged down in the area; but such is life, and of more concern at AANP Towers was the ease with which Chelski took their other four goals.

Rarely have our heroes performed with such gusto as when racked with the injustice of life and the refereeing decisions it produces, but equally notable was the decision taken en masse to give up the whole bally thing as soon as we went 3-1 down. Naturally enough Scott Parker can be spared too much criticism, fighting the good fight all the way to the 90th minute and beyond, but to see the rest of them collectively slump shoulders and exhale with 10 minutes remaining and the situation by no means irretrievable was dashed bothersome.

QPR 1-0 SpursThe usual ills, with which we have become depressingly familiar in recent weeks, were paraded in all their glory against this rabble – plenty of possession but precious little invention; a complete and resolute absence of off-the-ball movement; the mind-boggling determination to stick Lennon on the left and Bale on the right – but when the ever-reliable Brad Friedel gets an attack of Gomes-itis it really is time to remove oneself quietly and go for a lie-down.

 

Spurs 2-0 BlackburnJolly well more like it, and not a moment too soon. A pedant – and they are hardly a dying breed here at AANP Towers – would continue the season-long grumble about our profligacy in front of goal, with a 2-0 scoreline hardly justifying near-100% possession and 19 shots on goal, but given the travails of recent weeks perhaps we should just quietly sacrifice a small rodent in gratitude to the gods of Champions League qualification, and be grateful for what we have.

 

Sandro generally comes across as a good egg. Perhaps bereft of a couple of well-tightened screws, and not necessarily a chap you would entrust to feed your goldfish, but certainly not lacking in enthusiasm and dedication. This has at times manifested itself in wildly mistimed tackles, but on Sunday he struck all the right notes – winning every tackle with a merry crunch, surging through half a dozen challenges and straight down the heart of the Blackburn defence and at one point almost snapping the crossbar. (On top of which he dealt with the potentially awkward scenario of on-field vomiting most adeptly, by simply taking a deep breath and continuing to stretch every sinew for the lilywhite cause.)

Yes, ‘twas only Blackburn, but mediocrity of opponent has hardly prevented some insipid performances from our lot in recent weeks. In the absence of Parker, Sandro’s was a most useful contribution, and a most professional performance from our heroes as a collective.

Bolton 1-4 Spurs

What a difference an Aaron Lennon makes, particularly when the Brains Trust stumbles across the most novel idea of parking him on the right, winding him up and releasing him. From the off he was a blur of little legs and jazz hands, which provided a handy cue for the rest of our heroes to pile forward on top of their hosts and provide a few nostalgic reminders of that glorious era, Ye First Halfe of This Season.

And how right it all looked, with Bale galloping down the left, Modders yanking strings hither and thither in the centre and VDV always on hand to roll possession along. Lennon may not have necessarily been the outstanding performer, but his very presence on the right seems to provide stability to the fabric of the universe, and as a serendipitous side-effect it also gives our Starting XI a useful balance. Oh that ‘Arry had invested in a reserve right-winger in the January sales (or simply retained Master Pienaar).

Admittedly there was a wobbly 15 minutes at the start of the second half, when the incessant bombardment from the skies threatened the general serenity of things, but unlike against QPR and Norwich, our superior class and technique was translated into net-bulging. Witness Modders’ goal, and the weight of his pass for our third. Such moments deserve to win games, and the best Bolton could offer in return were the elbows of Davies.

If there is a point of concern from our two recent wins it appears to be Danny Rose’s continued ignorance of the basic tenets of playing left-back, playing football and the very principles of physics that govern the behaviour of a moving ball. By the start of the second half even his own team-mates seemed to think twice when he availed himself for a pass.

However, with two games left it is to the credit of our heroes that they have recovered from those self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the feet, and hauled themselves back to within a whisker of that ‘orrible lot down the road. Good grief, this might even come down to goal difference.

Spurs – Chelsea Preview: Cometh the Creaking-Limbed Combo

The lucky blighters of mid-80s Los Angeles had the A-Team, the ungrateful denizens of Gotham City had a giant man-bat with a handy penchant for pugilism, but when we have a problem with which no-one else can help the slightly alarming solution being wheeled out onto the Wembley turf is the creaking-limbed combo of Nelsen and Gallas. In fairness, Gallas has yet to let us down, and has generally raised his performance level in direct proportion to the occasion; while Nelsen- well he made a good tackle against Bolton. And played in the World Cup. And looks, ahem, experienced.The concern however is that neither could be quite guaranteed to outsprint Vedran Corluka over 10 yards, so how they will fare against the resurgent Chelski forward line is a worrying prospect. Rarely has the absence of human behemoth Younes Kaboul been so keenly felt. However, cometh the hour, cometh Messieurs Gallas and Nelsen. Immortality beckons if they play their cards right. (Well maybe not immortality, but a trip to Wembley. Again.)

 

Aside from defensive deficiencies the concern is a little broader, in that the whole ruddy lot of lilywhite heroes have developed chronic impotence when it comes to the delicate matter of outperforming opponents and trundling back to N17 with victory ballads ringing through the air. The return of Parker ought to help, and having awaited his return as if he were some sort of body-arted second Messiah, I think ‘tis fair to suggest that we are due a performance of scintillating ilk from Aaron Lennon. Where there is Modric, Adebayor, VDV and Bale there is hope, and, perhaps most pertinently, a couple of weeks ago we jolly well outdid Chelski in all areas bar net-rippling.

Poor form or not, in a one-off at Wembley this could prove quite the ruckus. Victory would not only place us within touching distance of the glittering jug, but it might also prove something of a stimulant for our Champions League push. The alternative is frankly too ominous to contemplate.

Spurs – Swansea Preview: Here Begins The Eight-Game Renaissance

Finally, tidings of genuine optimism and joy. Of our eight remaining games the highest-placed opponent is Sunderland, while l’Arse still have to face Man City, Chelski and Stoke (on top of their bonus defeat to Adel Taraabt and chums yesterday).

Our remaining games won’t win themselves, and in recent weeks the absence of Lennon coupled with central deployment of Bale has hardly helped matters. However, against weaker teams, the formation appears to matter a little less – witness how Bolton were passed to death in midweek by the combo of Bale, Modders and VDV behind Adebayor. Our heroes are beginning to purr once more, and as luck would have it, are due to face a whole phalanx of opponents with track-records of helplessness in the face of purring.

Swansea to be fair are one of the most attractive teams in the division (their manager, that Rogers chap, the next-but-one Spurs manager in my mind), but with home advantage our lot ought to outpass and outscore them. One game at a time and all that gubbins, but the Excitement Dial at AANP Towers has been rotated up a whole notch and a half – third place is back on the radar.

Tardy Musings on Spurs vs Chelski, Bolton…

Chelski 0 – 0 Spurs

Awfully puzzling game this one, as you no doubt recall. The first half of dedicated non-aggression was followed by Chelski probably edging things, only for our lot to carve out enough clear-cut chances to hand out a right thrashing. Alas, the conclusion to draw was that our lot to a man need to spend a full week engaged in nothing but shooting practice (or they could just stick Defoe on the pitch, and watch as some of those chances miraculously cause the net to bulge). Still, ‘twas another fairly encouraging performance – and in truth the standard of performance has rarely been a problem during our recent slump (the game at l’Arse excepted).

One other point of note from last weekend was neatly made by Neville on the tellybox – namely that when we counter-attacked in the second half at Chelski, the only man making a charge upfield in support of Adebayor was young Kyle Walker, belting up the pitch like his latest piece of body-art depended on it. Contrast to just about any game in the first half of the season, when such counter-attacks would have just about every man and his dog in lilywhite pouring forward. We are, it appears, beginning to pay the price for a lack of squad-rotation.

Spurs 3-1 Bolton

A return to the good old days – which, curiously enough, turned out to be just as frustrating as the decidedly more average new days. As at the start of the season, we gave the opposition an absolute battering, but watching as shot after shot was repelled by the Bolton goalkeeper sent the blood pressure at AANP Towers soaring to levels not previously witnessed in a featherless biped.

A doff of the AANP cap was made towards young Master Livermore, who supplemented his usual output of energy and tackling with a couple of quite sumptuous passes. However, the need for both he and Parker in central midfield quickly became utterly redundant. Adebayor, Bale, Modders and VDV tore Bolton to shreds, but again there were too many occasions when Adebayor received precious little support when crosses were flung his way. All this while Parker did no more than spectate around the halfway line, and Defoe spectated from the substitutes’ bench.

Still, the job was eventually done, and with the aplomb of old. It bodes well.

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 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.

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.

Arsenal – Spurs Preview: Like Playing Stevenage Again

Times a-changing? Keep up – they’ve already a-changed. ‘Tis now generally agreed, either publicly or otherwise, that Tottenham are the best team in North London; the “St Tottingham’s Day” bet with my Arse-supporting chum Hawthy is fast becoming redundant; and following the weekly toasting of our own latest bravura successes we lilywhites as a regular side-note are also able to amuse ourselves by sniggering at the ongoing and quite spectacular implosion of that ‘orrible lot down the road.

What this means is that by any measure one cares to use (with the exception of “having that Van Persie chap loitering in our colours up the top of the pitch”), our lot have the upper hand. Which seems to lead smoothly to the conclusion “Huzzah! We shall triumph!”

Their Cup Final

Alas, this is not necessarily guaranteed, as is evidenced by the last time we travelled to a side so patently inferior. (Moi? Inflammatory? Never!) It happened relatively recently – just last weekend in fact – as our heroes dutifully trotted out onto the ill-disguised bobble-fest that was Stevenage’s local park, and encountered a team of honest, average, jolly hard-working blighters who understandably enough treated it as their Cup Final and consequently kept us bay. A further gaggle of distinctly average types awaits on Sunday, as l’Arse ready themselves for what is now their Cup Final. Bless.

A struggle awaits then, be ye in no doubt, for as with Stevenage last week so this lot will strain evey sinew for the privilege of presenting themselves as our equals, if only for an afternoon. More pertinently, away days against Top Four(ish) teams tend not to bring out the best in the glorious heroes of N17, as has been evident from the slightly meek display at Anfield a few weeks back, and countless under-performances at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and indeed the Emirates/Highbury over the years. A mentality more akin to our usual blitzkrieg modus operandi would therefore be welcome on Sunday.

In terms of personnel the news can be loosely qualified as “spiffing”, with Adebayor, BAE, VDV and Modders all available again, following their various ailments and maladies. Presuming that Ledley and Kaboul are also niggle-free and fighting fit that ought to give us just about our first-choice, pick-themselves XI. A trip to l’Arse is never straightforward, but their current vintage are liable to collapse faster than Robert Pires in the vicinity of an outstretched leg, so frankly the pre-match scenario could scarcely suit our heroes better. Your adoring public awaits chaps.

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 – LessonHighway.com 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.

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