Spurs news

WBA 1-1 Spurs: 3 Lilywhite Observations

1. Lloris Worth A Goal A Game

Once upon a time, in the big, cuddly teddy bear days of Martin Jol (blessed be his name), there ran a theory in AANP Towers that between them, Paul Robinson and Ledley King (even blesseder be his good name) were worth a goal to us every game, by virtue of their last-ditch heroics. Not a particularly watertight theory, you understand, no randomized control trial or pivot tables or anything like that, but certainly one spouted with the greatest seriousness in the watering-holes of North London by yours truly.

Fast forward a decade or so, and a similarly evidence-lite theory is beginning to surface around Monsieur Lloris. We come to take these things for granted now, in this halcyon era of unbeaten runs and all-action pressing and whatnot, but last week against Chelski and yesterday, quite remarkably, against West Brom, he pulled off saves of the absolute highest order. Both of which seem to have drifted a little past the public consciousness, ensconced as they were in the midst of a couple of draws that ranked slightly higher on the huff-and-puff scale than on the corresponding blow-your-skirt-up-with-non-stop-pulsating-action axis. But the point remains – Lloris has done the preventative equivalent of scoring a sensational goal, in both of the last couple of games.

2. Absence Makes The Heart Grow A Mite Fonder

Those of you cursed to have been within muttering distance of yours truly last weekend would have had to put up with assorted grumbles along the general line of young Mason’s energy and enthusiasm are all well and good for general Premiership fare, but the blighter has always seemed to lack that dose of je ne sais quoi that elevates a man to the higher echelons of these things in the crunch fixtures. He certainly puts in a shift – last week being a case in point – but in the biggest games of the season simply tearing around the place is not sufficient. As a replacement for Dele Alli, in a game against the champions, the decisive spark he failed to provide. Hardly a damning criticism, more just the genera way of things.

Yesterday however, with Mason trussed up in swathes of bandages somewhere off-stage, it dawned on me as the second half wore on that by golly we could use some of that energy, bite and young incandescence with life, with which he typically bounds in either headless or head-bearing fashion.  West Brom were beginning to win every loose ball, and when even Eric Dier’s trademark trundle was failing to win us the 50-50s, the thought occurred that maybe we might have benefited from removing one of the front four, who deal more in sparkle and fancy trickery, and bringing on a man like Mason, who has somewhat more about him of the canine straining at the leash. Just to wrest back control of the thing.

All academic of course, but funny how absence makes the heart grow stronger in these situations.

3. The Centre-Backs – Only Human

In a train of thought that veered rather dramatically off the rails, I ended up last night wondering what the opposite of ‘invincible’ might be. Just plain ‘vincible’ seemed to tick the boxes, except that it’s not really a word, which seemed a fairly critical stumbling block. All of which came about as I observed Messrs Vertonghen and Toby going about their gainful employment yesterday.

No doubt about it, this pair are as solid and reliable a centre-back combo as we have trotted out in many a long year, but this is not to suggest that they are entirely without flaws. Witness the moment when Vertonghen was outpaced and then rather easily barged aside by a thundering opponent in the first half yesterday, after the pair of them failed to deal with a fairly unceremonious punt down the middle. Exhibit B was Toby’s decision to leave to the gods of the six-yard box a ball he could easily have cleared in the closing stages, presenting a chance for a West Brom winner that had Kyle Walker scrambling to hack the thing clear.

‘Only human’, as the chap said to Keanu Reeves towards the end of The Matrix, when holding a gun to his head, and it captures the gist of the thing about Vertonghen and Aldeweireld. A fine pair they are, but such has been our solidity at the back this season that it has been easy to forget that their little Flemish axis will occasionally be breached.

And maybe that’s the nub of the thing – few sides are pootling along in quite such fine fettle as our lot this season, but they are only human, and jolly young humans at that, so mistakes will be made. Back in August few of us dared to hope for much more than a top-five finish, so it would be remiss to chide them for failing to meet heightened expectations. They’re getting there. It remains ill-defined precisely where ‘there’ is, but they most certainly are getting there.

Need a Christmas present for the Spurs fan in your life? AANP’s own book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, continues to retail at Amazon and Waterstones, hint hint.

Spurs match reports

Spurs 4-2 Sunderland: 4-4-2 or 4-5-1?

Blessed relief. With the 4-4-2 formation, flowing pass-and-move stuff and hatful of chances throughout this was vaguely akin to the glory glory days of way back in season 2009-10. Seeing Paul Robinson look on forlornly as the ball crashed repeatedly into the net really did give the afternoon a retro feel, but after our recent run of form the priority was three points in any manner possible, and they have accordingly been lapped up most gleefully around these parts.


4-4-2 or 4-5-1?


For all the doom and gloom of poor form and lengthy injury-lists in the build-up to this one, I was thrilled to bits to see our heroes trot out in good old-fashioned 4-4-2 formation. It served us jolly well last season, both at the Lane and on our travels, but the kids these days are all peddling some variant of 4-5-1, and with VDV blazing magnificence in every direction we have duly adopted it ourselves. It is understandable enough away from home on big European nights, but at home to Blackburn ‘Arry quite rightly decided to revert to the more attacking set-up of yore.


It all worked fine and dandy. Jenas and Modders took turns at loitering deep, but by and large all four across the middle merrily wore their attacking hats; and with two bona fide strikers on the pitch we did not face the difficulties of previous weeks, of lacking presence in attack. Here at AANP Towers we whisper snide remarks and begin malicious hate-campaigns against one-man attacks, and stomp our feet in rage when that one-man attack consists entirely of Peter Crouch, but conversely, nothing soothes the savage beast around these parts quite like a two-pronged forward-line, and so it proved yesterday.


Of course, the flip-side of a 4-4-2 is that it leaves VDV homeless. Presumably he was the nominal right winger on the teamsheet, but by and large his contribution to the right flank amounted to little more than an occasional glance in its direction, as he took up residence further infield near familiar chums like Modders and Bale. By accident or design VDV’s general neglect of the right flank proved not to be a problem, as Alan Hutton seemed quite happy to do the job of two men, bombing up the flank and sprinting back to defend faster than you could say “Vedran Corluka”.


I can grudgingly admit that there is indeed a time and a place for 4-5-1, but not at home to colourless mid-table fare of the ilk of Blackburn. Given that we beat l’Arse, Chelski, Man City and Liverpool at the Lane last season with 4-4-2, I quietly hope that more often than not at the Lane (that is, in matches in which our heroes amble out onto the pitch as favourites) we retain this approach, and find a way to accommodate VDV accordingly.


Odd Stuff From Pav


On the subject of our two forwards, what a curious old bean our resident Russian is. He seems dashed determined not to score unless the finish involves high levels of complexity and a jolly good hammering of the laws of physics. As such straightforward penalties and one-on-ones do not interest our Pav, but the less-than-entirely-straightforward chance presented yesterday was positively gobbled up with minimal fuss. All told it was a good lively showing from the Russia, moaning and fussing about the nasty Blackburn rotters ‘tis true, but also demonstrating a laudable willingness to scurry to all four corners of the lush green turf.


The same could hardly be said of the gangly one, who for a 6’ 7” striker remains infuriatingly poor at shooting and heading. While he earns polite applause for his goal, in general his greatest value seemed to come in the aid he kindly offered the back-four, from set-pieces and the like. (And on the subject of his defending, it is curious to note that the exact challenges for which he is routinely penalised when attacking (arms splayed all over the torso of an opponent) go unpunished when used by the gangly one while defending.)


Modders and Jenas – A Startlingly Effective Central Midfield Combo


I would like to think that long after the game has finished and fans have departed, Modders remains out on the White Hart Lane turf simply for love of the game, continuing to control the ball immaculately, dip his shoulder and look for a pass. Not as headline-grabbing as some of his peers, but a joy to behold and currently looking like a man thoroughly enjoying life.


As for his central midfield partner – lo and behold. No doubt the entire global membership of The Society of All Things Sideways and Backwards watched on aghast yesterday, as their leading proponent repeatedly broke the habit of a lifetime. Jermaine Jenas has generally edged the better side of average on his appearances this season, and it was most pleasing to observe yesterday that every time he received possession he seemed determined to push forward in search of glitz and glamour. He is hardly in the same class as Messrs Modric and VDV when it comes to caressing the ball as if it were a svelte brunette in a revealing dress, but his energy and attacking intent were most impressive, and he helped give our midfield fairly healthy balance – quite a feat considering that we were without either a genuine right-sided outlet or deep-lying holding type.


Further Progress in Construction of The Ultimate Footballer


Having already proved himself adept at dribbling, crossing, shooting, as well as boasting the ability to hurl in a throw-in like a man possessed, young Master Bale has now ticked “Scoring With Head” off the list of attributes required by a bionic footballer. His questionable fashion sense remains however, the man who once sported a hair-clip pin thing (to give it its technical name) in his mop yesterday opting for bright pink tape across his thighs. Still, whatever works for him.


Other Points of Note


A bird? A plane? For those scratching their heads in utter bewilderment I can confirm that it was indeed a Tottenham goal from a corner. My oh my, whatever next?


We threatened to throw away a 4-0 lead, but 15 minutes proved not quite long enough for the Kaboul-Gallas comedy routine to hit top gear (I should retract that actually, as both made cracking goal-line clearances), and in truth we ought to have won by far more than a two-goal margin. With l’Arse, Liverpool and Chelski all rapidly approaching on the horizon, a win yesterday was an absolute necessity, so give yourselves a round of applause chaps. The league remains such that the current occupants of the top four positions have been dropping points with gay and fairly frequent abandon, so fret not at our current state, behind Bolton and Sunderland. Despite the mishaps of recent weeks our heroes are by no means out of the running just yet.

Spurs preview

Spurs – Blackburn Preview: Five Things I’d Like To See From Tottenham This Weekend

Strangely nervous ahead of this one, precisely because we are such overwhelming favourites. We at AANP Towers would happily trade all of the following for three points, in any way or form, but as I idle away the final minutes of the day-job, the following notions float to mind…A Dull Home Win

The list of Games-To-Rue-Come-May is far too long already; let’s not add to it, eh chaps? Just a standard, by-the-numbers, mundane home win will do just fine thank you. You know the sort – a goal from Kranjcar in the first 15 minutes; a good hour of dominance; a slightly nervy feel that we ought to turn said dominance into goals; and finally a Defoe goal in the last ten minutes to kill the game off. The sort of regular home win that gets shunted well done the Match of the Day running order. No alarms and no surprises, as Radiohead might venture.

A nice stress-free win is all the more appealing given that our fixture-list begins to take a few turns for the worse in coming weeks. Admittedly Pompey at home should just about be negotiable, but Stoke away could be a tad tricky; Man City away could be crucial; and we also have games against the top three to come. Three points are being dangled White Hart Lane-wards, and it might be an idea to stock up now, before such resources become scarce in April.

No Caution For Palacios

One more yellow and Sergeant Wilson misses two games. Bad enough at the best of times, the current injury crisis means that one more mishap might see Kaboul or Corluka shoved into midfield, as part of a tactical re-jig best defined as Close-Your-Eyes-And-Hope. The chances of Palacios lasting the final ten Premiership (plus Cup) games without a booking are nil, but if he could just hold out until the likes of Hudd and Bentley return that would soften the blow somewhat.

Destruction of All That Sam Allardyce Stands For

Sam Allardyce might be quite the philanthropist – on a personal level I cannot comment – but as a manager I despise him and his ways. ‘Arry has gone the diplomatic route ahead of this game (“

Everyone plays how they play, they have their own style…Whatever Sam does, he has been one of the most successful managers”) but I fervently hope that we subject Allardyce’s charges to a masterclass of one-touch, olé football, and pass them to death. Although I’ll settle for a mundane home win of course.None of That Hollywood-Ball Gubbins From Daws

Daws’ defensive form has been pretty darned impressive, barring the occasional rush of blood to the head, but I do wish he would stop the Beckenbauer impressions. Just be a good boy and knock the ball short to Modders or someone, rather than trying to launch it sixty yards to one of the attacking midgets.

Robbo Circa 2008 Onwards

Once upon a time Paul Robinson was awesome. A few years back, when we were last challenging for the top four, it seemed that between him and Ledley a certain goal would be prevented every game, and I duly worshipped his balding pate. However, ever since that missed kick against Croatia it has been nigh on impossible to think of him without seeing the grinning face of Borat heralding another slapstick mishap, poor blighter. More of the same tomorrow please. Let’s see him flap at a 30-yard Kranjcar effort, or flap at a set-piece and end up chucking the ball into his own net.

Up the other end, Gomes has barely made a mistake all season, and this juxtaposition alone ought to be enough to seal the three points.

The teamsheet will presumably be fairly similar to that posted against Fulham last week – BAE at left-back; Bale left midfield; Modders in the centre – although Defoe can be expected to return to the starting line-up alongside Pav. The early kick-off gives us a chance to put a bit of pressure on the other challengers for fourth, and watch them stew in their own juices over the course of the weekend – and there are few preferable activities around these parts of a Saturday afternoon.


AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).All are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here