Spurs preview

Spurs – Inter Preview: Five Reasons Why This Will Be A Glory Glory Night

As the great man said, it’s a funny old game. Prior to a trip to a slightly below-par Man Utd I could not for the life of me envisage a three-point haul; and yet ahead of the visit of European Champs Inter I bound around AANP Towers all bonny, blithe and gaily optimistic that this will be one of the most famous nights in our history. Never mind a DVD, this will be turned into a surround-sound, home cinema, 3-D, HD, blu-ray. Pourquoi, you ask? Come hither, and discover the five reasons why…


1. The Lane Under Floodlights


To suggest that in these evening kick-offs White Hart Lane becomes a fortress would be to stretch the truth fairly outrageously, but nevertheless the stadium does have absolutely crackle on nights such as these. And the current crop of players have shown that they duly rise to these occasions – note just last season the floodlit wins at home to Man City and l’Arse, and the rip-roaring start against Young Boys this season. The wins over Chelski (admittedly by natural rather than artificial light) and l’Arse last season have convinced me that when everything clicks at home we can beat the best in Europe. Produce our best tonight and we’ll be nattering away about it when we’re grey and old.


2. The San Siro Comeback


Another five minutes and goodness how things would have panned out back in Milan. The Bale hat-trick certainly papered over a few defensive cracks and general all-round timidity, but we at least have conclusive proof that Inter are vulnerable. As Arnold Schwarzenegger so sagely opined in Predator, “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” So let’s go for the jugular, and make Arnie proud.


3. Hudd and VDV – Fully Fit and Raring To Go


This is crucial. I was not so much crestfallen as crestplummeting when VDV hobbled off at the weekend, and the prospect loomed of taking on Inter with a midfield bereft of both him and the Hudd – a midfield which would therefore presumably comprise Jenas and Palacios, with Modric in the hole. Joy upon joy then, that VDV is actually a bit of a drama queen when it comes to niggles and strains. It seems that the suspected hamstrung twang was no such thing, and with Hudd back in training too we will be able to field a midfield high on technique and vision. Bale-Modders-VDV-Hudd-Lennon might not exactly offer the back-four much protection, but if we are going to beat this lot we will have to play to our strengths, which means high-tempo madcap attacking from the off.


4. The Ref


I don’t know who he is, but as he is almost certainly not Mark Clattenberg in a mask, the chances are that if he decides to play advantage at any point he will signal that he is doing so by stretching out both arm ahead of him, in ye olde recognized fashion of a robot newly-freed from a straitjacket, thereby making quite clear to all the good folk watching and partaking exactly what the deuces is going on. Marvellous.


5. “Sammways Ahead… And Lineker Uses Him By Not Using Him…”


Naturally enough we’ll all be looking impatiently at Gareth Bale to go motoring past the Inter team every time he touches the ball, but the chances are that Rafa will have instructed all eleven of his mob to swarm all over Bale every time he even sniffs in the direction of the ball. Given the treatment meted out by Everton and Man Utd since his San Siro hat-trick, in pointedly directing him infield onto his right foot, it is just possible that his impact may be a little muted tonight.


So be it, but this need not be to our detriment. Harking back to the glory of St Hotspur’s Day, in the Wembley sunshine of April 1991, Gary Lineker gave an unlikely masterclass in the virtues of exploiting the space created by a team-mate whose presence was distracting bewildered opponents. Should Inter decide to focus on Bale, opportunity will knock for Modders, VDV and even Benny Assou-Ekotto to make merry in the space vacated.


By golly this is exciting stuff. White Hart Lane will rock tonight, and if things go well they’ll hear us all over the country. Inter Milan at White Hart Lane – bring it on.

Spurs match reports

Man Utd 2-0 Spurs: In Defence Of Mark Clattenberg

First things first – in the sprit of Mark Clattenberg’s fairly liberal definition of the term “advantage” I thought it apt to mislead the public by using the phrase “In Defence of Mark Clattenberg” when really there is no such thing. Should anyone look towards me for clarification I shall merely shrug, in an exasperating and ever so slightly arrogant manner, which really clarifies nothing for anyone. Play on!The Preceding 83 Minutes

Rather a shame that our lot collectively drifted off for the free-kick that brought about the opening goal, for that aside we traded blows fairly evenly – no mean feat at Old Trafford. Various theories have been bandied around regarding whether the blame lay with Kaboul or BAE, or whether we marked zonally or man-for-man. Whatever the conclusions, this moment, rather than the Clattenberg farce, was the crucial moment.

The Van Der Vaart Conundrum

In the first half in particular Modders and VDV were afforded more space than was entirely wise by the United mob, who came within a post’s width of paying, but life became a darned sight trickier in the second as United tightened up. The disappointing truth is that when we needed to increase our urgency levels we were simply unable to, and while we defended well enough on the whole it is difficult to remember our forward line ever actually penetrating the sacred environs of the United penalty  area. The deployment of VDV in a 4-5-1 certainly gives our midfield a healthy glow, but brings with it the problem of a lack of presence in attack, and it hardly a personal criticism of Robbie Keane to note that he is not the man for a 4-5-1.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

Lennon started fairly brightly, but diligently pinged his final ball straight into the first man in red time and time again, and retreated back into his shell thereafter. Out on the left Bale was shackled fairly effectively, although a frisson of excitement did work its magic on yours truly when the Welsh demi-god went storming forward on his right foot rather than his left, in the second half. If it turns out that the lad is actually two-footed I may just pop from the sheer excitement of it all. The counter-balance to any excitement engendered by Bale is the feeling somewhere in between apathy and rage generated by Jenas, who seemingly deployed in a holding role, was his usual fairly anonymous self.


It was of course all overshadowed by the farce of the final few minutes, but for all the incredulity and expletives I would much rather we receive that sort of decision away to Man Utd, in a fixture from which we never really expect much anyway, than from a fixture against rivals for fourth spot.