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Spurs 3-0 Norwich: Four Tottenham Talking Points

1. Lucas

To say that Lucas got the ball rolling would be to understate things somewhat. Just as we had all settled into our seats for some of the more standard N17 fare – some pretty touches in the middle, all a bit toothless upfront – Lucas suddenly dinked, dinked again and then unleashed an absolute piledriver, which almost tore the net from its moorings and carried it off into the Paxton.

This was pleasing on multiple levels. Innately, it always settles the nerves around these parts, to score early against the lesser teams. Just simplifies the whole process, if you get my drift.

Moreover, there is a certain thrill in seeing a goal of such quality unravel in the flesh, a stone’s throw away. Obviously, we the long-suffering onlookers will take any sort of goal, even be it a comedy ricochet between defenders’ heads that leaves Ben Davies marching away with his hands aloft – but when the goal is something straight from the top drawer, complete with fancy wrapping and a neat presentation bow, the eyes do widen and the chatter becomes increasingly excited.

And on top of all this, I was particularly pleased that such magnificence, and all the associated acclaim that will follow, emanated from the size nines of Lucas Moura. After a start to his lilywhite career that experts would probably decree ‘Middling’, the honest chap started to emerge under Jose as one of the more important cogs in the attacking machine. Towards the end of the Jose era, Lucas was let loose in the Number 10 position, and the scales rather fell from our eyes, as we started to understand what the fuss had been about in the first place.

That Number 10 berth gave him a decent platform from which to display his box of Mazy Dribbling Tricks, and, crucially, he seemed to have embellished the general product by adding useful outputs – finding team-mates or spanking towards goal, rather than heading off down a dead-end and falling over.

Via Nuno and now Conte he has become a regular within the front three, but generally acknowledged as the support act, even though his performances have continued to impress the paying public and discombobulate retreating opponents in equal measure. He has generally lived in the shadow of Sonny and that rotter Harry Kane, over the last season.

So (and if you’ve got this far, well done you, because I’ve admittedly taken a roundabout route to get here – much like the Lucas of old) to score – and to score that particular goal – yesterday, felt like a neat celebration of just how far Lucas has come, and just what an important contribution he makes to the overall machinery.

2. Skipp

On the subject of machinery, young Skipp is fast becoming the most important cog in the whole damn contraption. Remove him, and the whole thing will collapse in on itself, in a cloud of mediocrity and half-heartedness.

Within the space of four days Skipp has treated the luminaries of first Brentford and now Norwich as if they were Champions League Final opponents, charging after every loose ball as if his life depended on it. There is something vaguely of the Master-and-Apprentice about the way in which he goes about his feverish scrapping under the watchful, approving eye of Hojbjerg, but on current form the Apprentice now seems vastly more important to our play.

I suppose one should caveat that these most recent opponents hardly amount to the toughest he’ll ever face, but it would be a bit rich to denigrate the chap’s performance on that basis. He was excellent in winning possession, and also pretty effective on the ball, in his own endearing manner going to great lengths to ensure he could keep things simple.

Norwich being his most recent former employer, young Skipp even ventured up into the final third, to try his luck in front of goal and really commemorate the day, which I thought was no bad thing. There is no harm, after all, in adding another string or two to the bow. But in the main, this was a triumph for doing the dirty work in midfield, and allowing the more glamorous cast members to get on with the headline roles.

3. Ben Davies

I don’t know about you, but frankly the recent transformation of Ben Davies has me wondering about the very fabric of the space-time continuum.

It’s not clear to me what has happened to the Ben Davies I used to know and groan at, head disappearing into my hands in despair. That iteration of Ben Davies was one who plied his trade as an orthodox left-back, and could be relied upon to swing nine out of ten of his crosses into the first defender, behind the gathering penalty area queue or off into orbit. On top of which he never seemed the most cognizant of his surroundings when defending, seeming to have a blind spot for whatever or whomever happened to be lurking over his shoulder.

In truth, that blind spot when defending has not magically disappeared, but being on the left of a back-three seems to suit him well enough defensively, giving him cover on both sides.

However, the real transformation has taken place on the front-foot. The switch to the back-free has given Davies permission to mingle with the cool kids in the final third, trotting forward in some sort of inside-left position to supplement numbers. And to general amazement, he’s actually doing a dashed good job of it. His work for Sonny’s goal yesterday was impressively slick, and hardly an isolated incident. For a fellow who has turned being bang average in possession into an art-form over the course of his Tottenham career, Ben Davies is remarkably composed when visiting the opposition penalty area.

While left of a back-three is a position on which he has cut his teeth in international football, I’m not aware that his propensity to wander forward as an auxiliary left-midfielder has been quite so heavily promoted, so it may be that Our Glorious Leader deserves the credit for this astonishing transformation, but whatever its genesis long may it continue.

4. Sessegnon

Senor Reguilon’s unscheduled siesta yesterday gave us all an opportunity to drink in a good hour or so of the lesser-spotted Sessegnon.

The circumstance of his astonishingly block-headed Europa Conference red card does, of course, linger fairly fresh in the memory, so one might have forgiven him for displaying a nerve or two yesterday, but I think I adjudicate fairly enough when I say that the young egg put in a sprightly performance.

He was certainly a pretty enthusiastic soul, seemingly reading from the Oliver Skipp Playbook when it came to chasing down the foe and letting all and sundry know what he was about.

The reputation with which he came armed when first signed a few years back was that of an all-singing, all-dancing sort, armed with trickery, pace and an ability to deliver a good cross – one might say, a sort of anti-Ben Davies brand of left-back. Now in truth, not much of that was in evidence yesterday. I remember neither trickery, pace nor many particularly eye-catching crosses. He did, however, display enthusiasm by the bucketload, and engage in quite the set-two with his fellow whippersnapper on the opposing side (whose name escapes me).

As much as anything, it was heartening to see that the recent red card had not cowed him Sessegnon into a corner. A home game vs Norwich is probably as gentle a process of reintegration as one could wish for, admittedly, but with fixtures about to fly out from every available orifice it is useful to know that we have a Sessegnon primed and ready to step forward the next time Reguilon needs to book some annual leave.

Tweets here; AANP’s own book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, here, lest ye be thinking of Christmas gifts

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Norwich 2-2 Spurs: Five Tottenham Talking Points

1. Outfought in the First Half

Life being what it is, we rumbled into this game bereft of various midfield luminaries, so with one thing and another Jose settled on a line-up so forward-thinking I greeted it with all the excitement of a bulldog being presented with a slab of meat.

With Eriksen and Lo Celso adopting the posts normally occupied by more dour and workmanlike sorts, and the usual glitzy array of swingers and shakers in attack, one could not swing a cat without hitting some sort of attack-minded chump, and hands were gleefully rubbed in anticipation.

And although typically porous at the rear, proceedings began promisingly enough. Through a combination of our glut of forward-thinkers and Norwich’s own unique brand of defensive hospitality, we had ourselves enough presentable chances in the opening thrusts to suggest that we would rack up a handful.

Oh that life around these parts were so simple, what?

Naturally, our heroes took it upon themselves to steer well clear of any such method that would have carved out a fairly straightforward route to victory, and instead imploded with impressive promptness, gifting Norwich their opening goal.

This was frustrating enough – albeit far from surprising – but what really irked was the communal decision taken thereafter to wilt away from combat and allow Norwich to outfight us for the next forty-odd minutes. Our line-up boasted as much talent as one could waggle a stick at, yet none of them seemed interested in fighting for superiority. But for the most VAR-esque of VAR decisions we might well have been two down, and few words of complaint about such a situation would have passed muster.

2. Ndombele in Possession

Jose tweaked and tinkered at half-time, as much, one suspects, to shake our heroes out of their collective torpor as to facilitate any critical tactical alteration, and it worked to a degree, at least in so far as it arrested the slide.

An odd second half followed, in which we sporadically dominated Norwich without really hitting top gear. However, from start to finish, one man who, in possession at least, was faultless to an absolutely mesmerising level, was Ndombele.

It was the occasion of his 23rd birthday, so my spies inform me, and on this showing the chap has evidently been putting those two and a bit decades to excellent use, because he seemed to wander around the place with the ball positively glued to his person. The Ghost of Mousa Dembele Past was flouncing about the place like nobody’s business, as Ndombele made the very most of his meaty frame to ensure that all-comers simply bounced off him and possession remained unsullied.

As well as upper body strength in spades, Ndombele also rolled out what one suspects will quickly become a signature shoulder-drop-and-body-swerve routine, straight from the Mousa Dembele box of tricks, and having realised he had stumbled upon a good thing the first time, he did not stop flashing it at every opportunity thereafter.

The whole thing had the light of love in AANP’s eyes, make no mistake, and I honestly cannot recall a single occasion on which Ndombele actually lost possession. He simply wriggle and shimmied his way clear of opponents every time he touched the ball.

Alas, this sterling work was all conducted in a strip of earth around the centre circle, rarely more than about ten yards inside the Norwich half. So for all the aesthetic quality – and he had it by the bucketload – ultimately Ndombele’s labours amounted to precious little in terms of runs scored, if you get my drift.

He was not helped by teammates who seemed to have little appetite for using the ball to any productive ends once he had given it to them, but in general it seemed a dashed shame that having fairly effortlessly glided his way into space, Ndombele did not keep gliding until he found himself in or approaching the final third.

3. Eriksen – Man of the Match, According to the TV Bods

I had the pleasure of observing yesterday’s events through the medium of telly-box, and hearing it narrated by a couple of rather odd fish, who got it into their pickled little brains at around the mid-point that the star performer amidst the mediocrity and mistakes was one C. Eriksen Esquire.

And once they had landed upon this narrative, these commentators were not about to relinquish it. The fact that Ndombele was untouchable in his little central campsite was completely ignored. Eriksen – who, in the interests of fairness, did weight one glorious pass into the inside right channel – was identified as the star performer, and this was sufficient, irrespective of what he actually did.

The eagle-eyed amongst you might pause at this point, re-read the above paragraphs, and wonder to yourself if this particular scribe were not overly impressed by Eriksen’s contribution – and you would not be far wrong. The chap was not awful, but neither was he particularly outstanding. As with Lo Celso and various others who drifted through the midfield lanes, he hovered over the ball, hummed and hawed, and then tended to shove it elsewhere in fairly inoffensive fashion.

There were spells in the second half when collectively we produced some slick stuff, but it would be a stretch to say that Eriksen was front and centre of such purple patches. And while his free-kick hit the top corner, it did so via a deflection, and punctuated a string of corners that as often as not rolled apologetically to the first defender to clear.

Still, he – and presumably his agent – would have been as thrilled as the rest of us that his free-kick did ultimately find its way to goal. Something by which to remember the chap. Shame it did not quite change the momentum of the game as originally threatened.

4. Foyth Does What Foyth Does

However, any discussion of the merits of otherwise of Eriksen, Ndombele and whomever else rather flies into the background at a rate of knots when the catastrophic defensive mistakes are hauled into view and subjected to inspection.

As is traditional, Foyth was a central figure in the calamity. We enlightened types are all for the next generation coming through, and learning from mistakes and so and so forth – but the narrative comes crashing down when the young beans in question keep making the same dashed mistake every time.

It seems that having done the basics (which itself is not necessarily guaranteed, but I’ll buzz over that for now) Foyth takes the reasonable step of advancing with the ball, at which point the voices in his head take over and trouble kicks in. These voices seem to whisper that he is on a good thing, that bringing out the ball will put hair on his chest, that he is possessed of the technique and vision that can alter a game – and while these voices are in full swing and have his complete attention, some bounder from the shadows steals in to dispossess the chap, and all hell breaks loose.

If we’ve seen it happen once we’ve seen it happen every time Foyth takes to the pitch. The collective decision by those around him to back off the Norwich chap hardly remedied the situation, nor did Gazzaniga cover himself in glory by flapping a limp hand at the ball – but the problem had its genesis at Foyth, as happens so frequently.

5. Aurier Chips In His Contribution to the Calamitous

And while on the subject of eye-wateringly catastrophic defensives lapses, it would be remiss not to parade Serge Aurier, a chap whose name may well translate into English as “Defensive Calamity”.

Oddly enough, in this specific instance I have a degree of sympathy for the young fool, as I often do in matters of The Own Goal. My take on these is generally that, unless lamped into one’s own net flush on the volley, these things tend to be pretty unavoidable acts of physics, in which the ball whizzes towards a defender at such a rate of knots that he barely has time to register the turn of events, let alone recalibrate the mechanics and remove himself from the situation.

Moreover, the chap whose misfortune it is to deflect the ball in is quite often the only poor sap who has bothered to haul his frame back into a relevant defensive position. As such, I give him credit for being in the right place, and sympathy for being there at the wrong time. (And yes, there is a reason why my sympathy for purveyors of own goals is quite so strong.)

However, while potentially exonerating the chap in this specific instance, the well of sympathy is not endless, and the sooner we can elbow him off the scene the better.

The Jose Tactics Board seems to dictate that in any given situation, Aurier is our spare attacking outlet, and while this generally minimises the damage he can do towards his own goal, it creates a rather charmed life for a man whose wing-back play is good but hardly magnificent.

But more to the point he is a defensive liability and every soul around, be they friend or foe, knows it. Opponents target him; we lilywhites hold our breath whenever his defensive services are required; and one suspects his own teammates rather hope he will not be called into action.

The sale of Kieran Trippier looks more absurd with each passing game – as absence will make the heart grow fonder – and given the travails of Juan Foyth, and the fact that he is resident right-back for his national team, one wonders whether he might be given a stab at the gig. The notion of Serge Aurier being a fixture on the teamsheet is, after all, a pretty damning indictment on the calamitous state of our defence.

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Spurs 3-0 Norwich: Three Lilywhite Observations

1. Kane

Naturally enough much is made of young Master Kane, but on this particular corner of the interweb we tend not to focus so much on the chap’s bread-and-butter of thrashing the little thing into the net and jogging off to general acclaim. His link-up play, his strength, his work-rate – all pored over at various times within the dank four walls of AANP Towers, but his goalscoring I tend to take for granted.

It’s a wrong that ought to be righted, and yesterday’s second goal seems as good a prompt as anyway. When Dele Alli rolled him the ball there was a definite whiff in the air of something promising, but nobody in their right mind would suggest that chance of any description had been slapped on a plate and slid his way. There was plenty of work to be done, and plenty of opportunity for things to go awry.

All credit to the chap then, for plucking from thin air half a yard of space, by virtue of a little shift in balance and some nifty feet, and before either Norwich defender or goalkeeper had set themselves he had lashed the thing inside the post. Mighty impressive, in various respects. Hardly goal of the season, but a cracking self-made effort, which practically screamed “I’m a striker in form and feeling pretty perky about life, what?”

2. Set-Piece Routines

Our much-loved lilywhites are famed for many things, virtually bursting at the seams with tradition and all stuff of traditional ilk, but in one aspect we have been fairly painfully and conspicuously negligent over the years. I speak of the fad for set-piece delivery, and more specifically, for goals gotten by virtue of set-piece wizardry that is plucked straight from the training ground and imitated, just about verbatim, in the stadium itself during show-time. In years of watching our lot the only time I can remember this whole concept bearing any fruit was the Anderton-Sheringham two-step of a couple of decades back.

Well you can consider the 2015/16 vintage to be negligent no longer, for the Set-Piece Routine is emerging as a most pleasing additional shoulder-cannon in the armoury. Admittedly there was no such goal scored yesterday (I’m not sure that purists would consider a penalty to be a bona fide member of the set-piece club), but we came within about nostril hair’s breadth of one in the first half. And the eye-catching thing was that it was straight from the conveyor belt. Definitely a song-and-dance that I had clocked before. You probably know the one yourself by now – Eriksen whips in a corner with an extra dollop of venom, and one of Dier or Alderweireld gets the bit between their teeth and positively roars their way towards the front post to biff one from forehead towards netting before the opposition know what has hit them.

It seems to have brought about a good half-dozen freebie goals already this season, on top of which there have been a number of incidents such as that which occurred fairly early in proceedings yesterday, whereby the Eriksen-Alderweireld combo is rattled off but concludes only with a save of the smartest order from the opposition ‘keeper.

A moot point on all this, is how the devil we get away with it on a weekly basis. Every team in the Premiership seems to cart around at least a dozen supporting staff, and the TV coverage alone appears to record just about every conceivable statistic and angle, from the direction in which the striker parts his hair to the number of times the reserve full-back surreptitiously picks his nose while on the bench. It is beyond me therefore as to how on earth no opponent to date has either spotted or come up with a reasonable counter-measure to our devastatingly effective yet fairly straightforward corner routine. Not that I’m complaining mind, but it seems an odd one.

3. Showboating

Our heroes did a commendable job yesterday of first weathering an early jab or two from Norwich, and then turning the screw with two goals before half-time. The visitors could hardly be said to have run riot in the opening exchanges, but they certainly did wave their arms around and cause a spot of unrest, and concession of the opening goal would have complicated matters. Credit then to our lot for keeping the sheets clean in the first place, and thereafter not throwing away the lead, as has happened before.

Nevertheless, the curmudgeonly old crank in me still baulked a little at the sight of the fancy flicks and tricks being wheeled out when the beast still had more than a breath of life in it. Two-nil is not really the time at which to be slipping on a posh frock and playing for the cameras. Lamela’s latest rabona was actually excusable, as it made sense for a heavily left-footed type to twist himself accordingly, but the general gist of the thing was to party like it was 1999 and as if we were 5-0 up and cantering. I would much rather they collectively put their heads down and focused upon strangling the life out of things, dash it, by going four or five ahead, before breaking open the party bags.

But maybe that’s just me.

The usual suspects each earned their weekly honourable mention – young Alli once again linked the middle end to the front end with cunning and energy, and his natty combos with Kane seem to improve by the week (although one of these days he will get himself sent off for picking a pointless fight); and Lloris made a couple more blink-and-miss reaction stops. All told, it was a mighty satisfactory bottle of eggs. The pessimist within still mumbles about squad rotation and wonders if Eriksen could turn things up just a smidgeon, but these are worries for another day. A fine piece of work, and the Top Four remains eminently doable.

Shameless Plug Alert – AANP’s own book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, continues to retail at Amazon and Waterstones, hint hint.

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Norwich 1-0 Spurs: Midfield Anonymity, Defensive Comedy & Soldado

Confusing I know, and I realise that if the attention wanders for a day or two one loses track completely, but just so everyone is clear – this week the dial is being flicked over to “CRISIS”.

Midfield

Not that that seemed to register with our heroes. Bless them, they had to play twice this week don’t you know, and chug through passport control and squat into their Easyjet seats and whatnot, so it was unsurprising that a few of them looked like they were just biding time until they received a leg massage. The central midfield mob looked anything but razor-sharp, with Paulinho ambling around like a passenger on the tube who sticks his earphones in, opens his Kindle and resolutely avoids eye-contact with anyone in the hope that the blasted journey might finish a bit faster if nobody notices him. Meanwhile Bentaleb did a pretty smart job of studiously avoiding any meaningful contribution – and as if by magic our heroes had reduced the contribution of three central midfielders to two, and at times just the one. A nifty piece of legerdemain, which can have observers rubbing their eyes and scratching their heads in bewilderment.

Defence

More entertainment was to be had behind them, as Messrs Rose, Dawson and Naughton tootled around like little wind-up cars that had been released across the carpet. ‘Twas a good day for all Dawson Bingo enthusiasts, as he over-committed and sold himself nice and early, made some of those heroic full-stretch blocks, won a few meaty headers and found time for a caution, all in all a fine advert for the centre-backery of Monsieur Kaboul. The sooner his latest malady is remedied the better for all mankind.

Attack

What on earth goes on in poor Soldado’s head is anyone’s guess, but the young wretch seems physically unable to score. Rather like the chap in the new Robocop film, his programming simply forbids him to do it, which is a dashed shame because as well as looking the dickens of a imbecile whenever he blasts the ball wide, had he taken the chance that was presented to him on a salver, with gleaming cutlery and a glass of vintage red, we would have been well set for all three points.

One might bemoan that wit and ingenuity were nowhere to be seen, but such protestation would be quibbled by the pedants amongst us, for there it was, huddled up on the subs bench watching life tick by. Maddening stuff, as our mob by and large just ambled through the motions, apart from the late, token attempt to batter their way through in the closing stages when Townsend came on to liven things up.

So the drill now is that the thumping of Newcastle is a thing of the past, and crisis time is upon us again because the Top Four are disappearing over the hills. Until next week presumably. Mean time we can all plunge our knives Sherwood-wards, and lament and howl and look longingly at the gap above us.

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Norwich – Spurs Preview: Have We Turned A Corner?

It’s rather a sign of the times that our once Cup-specialised bunch of ragtag disco-lovers now shrug scornfully at the prospect of this knock-out fare, and instead focus their energies on maintaining consistent League form. Quite the reverse of those spirit-crushing 90s, when our heroes resolutely avoided finishing in either the top or bottom 6, season after season, and pinned everything on Chas’n’Dave’n’Sinton. Now the very antithesis of a ‘Cup-side’, the lilywhite mob exude nous, professionalism and knowing winks as they grind out away victories and get their paws dirty in scavenging last-minute equalisers against Man Utd. A corner, it would appear, has been turned.

Mind you, this theory will fall apart somewhat if we make a mess of things tonight. Meekly folding in a Cup tie at Leeds is all well and good as long as they bally well slam down on the throttle once more when Premiership matters restart tonight, and thrash the whatnot out of Norwich.

AVB: Doing His Damnedest To Get Us A New Striker

While he may present himself as coolly gravel-voiced and demure in his press conferences, nonchalantly dismissing the kooky concept of employing strikers when we have midfielders and full-backs and goalkeepers who can effortlessly adapt to life as a forward, I fervently hope that behind closed doors AVB assumes a maniacal grin and chases Daniel Levy across the south-east, flecks of spittle flying from his mouth and wielded axe swinging violently as he shrilly demands that the money-man buy us another all-singing, all-dancing, top-rate striker before the blasted window closes tomorrow night.

Team News

One can only hope. Before his nocturnal alter ego is unleashed AVB will have to make do with the ludicrous square-pegging of Dempsey/Sig again tonight, if Defoe is still unfit. Heaven help us. Still, the Dembele juices will presumably flow again tonight, following the near-scandalous admission that he could not really be bothered in the Cup, and our handsome young Welshman has good history against this lot.

Aside from Defoe’s health there is a concern in this corner of the interweb that all the Lucozade in the world won’t have replenished Scott Parker, after he had to be scraped off the Elland Road turf at full-time on Sunday, having given every ounce of energy he has ever possessed. All of which means that an appearance of some sort from sprightly young Herr Holtby might be on the cards.

If we really are now a top(ish) league team, rather than sporadic Cup mercenary, now might be the time to show it. Just a thought chaps (and that includes you, Dembele).

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Lilywhite Grumblings Post-Norwich & Pre-Wigan

The table continues to suggest that life is actually tickety-boo, but the brow furroweth with fresh earnestness around these parts, because hanging on for a narrow victory/draw, in games that ought to have been stopped after an hour for sheer cruelty to the opposition, now sits alongside inane twitterings and naughty-business-with-good-looking-but-vacuous-reality-TV-models on the list of favoured past-times of our heroes, with Maribor, Southampton and now Norwich providing recent evidence of this dubious trend.

This recurring business of taking the lead and then embarrassedly retreating and practically rolling out a red carpet for the opposition to wander back into the game, whether they want to or not, is frightfully sporting, but does have the dubious side-effect of leaving the army of lilywhite support wrenching out their hair and boiling their own heads in sheer, unabated frustration.What the dickens goes in their empty heads when they finally take the lead is quite beyond my ken, but for those perusing the interweb pre kick-off today – and I’m sure most of them do indulge in a spot of AANP while they go about their pre-match rituals – for goodness sake chaps, next time you have a mediocre bunch of rag-tag overweights and amateurs down on the ground, kindly whip out your medical encyclopaedia app, locate the blasted jugular, grab hold of the nearest weapon or stabbing implement and thrust repeatedly until blood spurts all over your garish green boots and the opposition are nothing but a twitching, bloodied, defeated mess.

 

And Don’t Think You’re Escaping Without Blame Young Man

Our glorious leader hardly covers himself in glory either, for his enterprising tactical approach of bringing on extra defenders when our opponents are ready to crumble, just to make sure that everyone realises the official party line is ‘We’re-One-Goal-Ahead-Of-A-Weak-Team-So-Rather-Than-Take-The-Game-By-Its-Neck-Scruff-And-Deliver-A-Thrashing-Let’s-Barricade-Ourselves-In-And-DEFEND-FOR-OUR-LIVES’. Which is not really the Butch and Sundance modus operandi. Just telling the troops to keep going and score again would probably do the trick, instead of this bizarre reversion to skin-of-the-teeth mode every time.

‘Twas noted by an onlooker after my last witterings that a hidden agenda lurks within the corridors of AANP, to unroot AVB, hurl him from the top floor and reinstall ‘Arry. To reiterate my response, the assorted denizens of AANP Towers tend not to roll thusly. ‘Give AVB a few years’ is very much the mantra being hummed morning, noon and night around these parts, after which we can assess if his range of party tricks extends beyond looking uncannily like a stubbly Vertonghen.

A troubling observation of the early days of his reign is undoubtedly that the fare peddled by our heroes these days has all the gung-ho action-packed content of a dreary black and white arty French film with subtitles, which strays somewhat from the blitz of attacking excitement to which we have been treated in recent years – but one imagines that this will be righted soon enough, particularly when Dembele returns and Adebayor is available again. The trade-off of VDV for Dempsey/Sigurdsson continues to look like shoddy business however, and I will take some convincing otherwise.

So Wigan roll into town today, and top of the wish-list at AANP Towers is that once our lot finally take the lead, they jolly well knuckle down and look for more. The frantic final 10 minutes plus injury time is not big and not clever.

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Spurs 1-2 Norwich: Tardy Musings on the Latest Debacle

(With apologies for the now customary tardiness – who knew saving the world and getting the girl would leave so little time for the finer things in life?)The implosion continues apace, which I suppose if nothing else provides a degree of comforting familiarity for us long-term lilywhite sufferers. After the anomalous blip that was the over-powering of Swansea, we are back on the more familiar territory of stutter and mishap, at least in terms of outcome. In truth I thought that while far from our best we did enough going forward to have outscored Norwich – a tad more composure, determination or just plain luck would have brought goals for Bale and BAE notably.

 

Mind you, if a little slipshod in attack, we were blinking well awful in defence. Ledley, Ledley, Ledley, what are we to do with you now? For years I would vehemently protest that even if only fit for 10 games a season, they were worth near enough 10 clean sheets. These days however, something has gone awry. Maybe it’s his age catching up on him – or indeed all those boozy nights on the town, the little scamp – or maybe it’s the cumulative effect of an awful lot of 90-minute appearances this season. Frankly, speaking as someone whose progressing years leaves me just wanting to don the slippers and stay in of a night, Ledley has my sympathy.

But then again, my job doesn’t involve propelling the mighty Hotspur back into the Champions League, and our esteemed club captain is displaying worrying fallibility when it comes to the old raison d’etre. Once the quickest of the back four he is now the slowest (at least until Nelsen comes waddling along), and that fabled ability to read the game and anticipate danger before it has begun to gestate is a little redundant when he is left hauling to the floor decidedly average opposing forwards. Moreover, last weekend his penchant for calamity seemed to have infected those around him. A sorry state of affairs.

The absence of Parker did not help Ledley and chums either. Young Livermore is a midfield enforcer in the making no doubt, but the heir apparent could still do with a few lessons in the noble art of Scott Parkery. The retreat that preceded Norwich’s winner provided the most glaring indication that the indefatigable gusto of Parker was sadly absent.

So it’s woe and gloom, alas and alack. By jove, somebody somewhere jolly well needs to do something, but until then we switch our despondent gazes Cupwards, for all the joys that will bring.
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Spurs – Norwich Preview: Five Things I’d Ruddy Well Like to See From Spurs Today

If there is a crumb of consolation to be neatly divided out between the thousands of frustrated lilywhites worldwide, it is that we do at least have our Tottenham back. When ten points clear in third, it would have been far too straightforward simply to have wrapped things up with neat efficiency and weeks to spare. Instead, doing it in heart-stopping fashion, and quite possibly facing up to final-day disappointment of some sort – is so quintessentially Spurs it almost makes the chest swell with pride, albeit in between the howls of frustration and vituperations of unholy fury.

Norwich are being led our way this afternoon, and it would be jolly pleasing if the aforementioned frustration and fury could be unleashed upon them like a pack of ravenous alien queens, coming out the walls, impregnating them via the mouth and bursting out from their yellow shirts to run amok. Such a scene would be quite the panacea after the frustration of Sunderland away. And while on the subject, a variety of other remedial measures spring to mind. Goodness me, this is starting to feel suspiciously like a list of Things I’d Ruddy Well Like To See This Afternoon…

1. An Early Goal

We all know the drill – Norwich sit back and soak it up, as our lot send the possession levels rocketing towards triple figures, and Messrs Parker and Friedel are near-redundant throughout. All this could be avoided if we score early, forcing the visiting blighters to abandon the Defend, Defend and Defend Some More approach. Score early and I would happily wager we’ll be at least two up by the break, such are the joys of picking off a team that actually bothers to venture forward.

2. Or Late A Late Goal

Birds do it. Bees do it. L’Arse, Chelski, Utd and City do it, so can our lot please learn the slightly devious art of sneaking a late, late goal when we need it most.

3. Play Defoe

As opposed to having both Sandro and Parker picking their noses and watching from afar while we camp around the opposition area.

4. Make A Change

Ideal though it would be for ‘Arry simply to get it right from kick-off, things that are broke do indeed need fixing, and quite frankly the sooner the better. 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes – but giving Defoe eight minutes against Sunderland was most infuriating.

5. Three Points

A draw away to Sunderland could vaguely be excused on paper and whatnot – failure to beat Norwich at home would require someone’s head on a plate. Beat them, chaps.

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Norwich 0-2 Spurs: Introducing Our Newest Centre-Forward…?

Many a time and oft my Spurs-supporting chum Ian has peddled the theory that Gareth Bale should be shoved right up the top, through the middle, and play as an out-and-out centre-forward. Outlandish it may be, but last night actually provided a glimpse of how the world would be run if Ian were King.

The Lennon Right-Wing Problem was solved by the novel solution of asking Kyle Walker to do the jobs of two men, and pretending it was not a problem at all – a solution that proved spookily effective, and left us at AANP Towers wondering how many more roles Walker could simultaneously adopt for the good of the team.

Meanwhile, VDV, Bale and Modders did whatever they jolly well pleased – which meant that Bale got to treat us to his Cristiano Ronaldo impression. He’s certainly got the attributes of a central attacking type – pace, power, control (if you pardon the lapse into Alan Hansenisms), as well as heading and shooting. For now it seems one best kept for special occasions, but a delightful little sub-plot may have been born.

Adebayor’s Phantom InjuryAdebayor’s quick feet in setting up Bale left me wondering how we ever tolerated all those interminable years of Crouch. There then followed a most curious medical phenomenon, as the hearts of just about every lilywhite in Christendom simultaneously skipped a beat at around 9pm GMT when Adebayor appeared to twang his hamstring and be out for the season. Oh how the walls of AANP Towers resounded with wails of despair. The denizens of this abode formed an orderly queue by the fifteenth floor window and prepared to hurl themselves out in despair, rather than face a second half the season minus the grinning Togolese – only for Adebayor mysteriously to un-twang himself and carry on just tickety-boo. Mighty queer.

 

Elsewhere On The PitchThe usual roll-call of excellence applies, with gold stars liberally distributed throughout the team. Sandro and Parker snuffed out every first hint of a Norwich attack, while Modders and VDV passed their midfield to death.

 

Kaboul

Bad-ass.

The Good Time Just Keep RollingThird place, and jolly well merited too. Keep playing this way and chances will continue to flow, wins will continue to accumulate. The occasional anomalous result will occur when the fates conspire against us, as at Stoke, but at the halfway stage a Top Four finish is ours to throw away.

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Norwich – Spurs Preview: Taking Advantage of Festive Gifts

Just when I had considered giving up on Father Christmas altogether, he fills my stocking with dropped points by all of Chelski, l’Arse, Liverpool and even Man City. And – and – he even un-twinges VDV’s hamstring. I’m not sure there has ever been a Christmas quite like it.

No reason not to expect another high-class performance, missed chances a-plenty and ultimately three more points tonight. Of course one can never really account for refereeing idiocy, opposition goalkeepers being possessed by the ghost of Lev Yashin past, or the general workings of Heurelho Gomes’ brain, but aside from such phenomena as wildly unpredictable and utterly impossible to prepare for, the Tottenham of the last dozen or so games ought to outscore Delia’s lot tonight.

Apart from VDV’s dainty upper legs, we may have  a central defence crisis on our hands, with Ledley surely unable to churn out another 90 minutes so soon, and Kaboul apparently also tight of the hammie. All of which points towards the Close-Your-Eyes-And-Clasp-Your-Hands option that is Bassong. Defoe is also out, and quite how we deal with the Lennon absence tonight is anyone’s guess, but otherwise it’s the usual mob. It should be enough, which means that daylight between us and the chasing pack tantalisingly beckons.