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Spurs 3-1 Inter: Practically Perfect In Every Way

Well this Champions League business is turning out to be cracking fun. Never mind the tube strike, I think most of us floated home aboard Cloud 9 last night.

 

White Hart Lane’s finest hour? Those who watched Danny Blanchflower lift the League title back in the spring of ‘61 might beg to differ, and by all accounts the UEFA Cup Final win of ’84 was one heck of a night, but the denizens of AANP Towers have been up all night carefully weaving a blow-by-blow account of last night’s fun into the tapestry of The Most Blinking Marvellous Tottenham Moments of All Time.

 

If Spurs were the Predator, White Hart Lane would be our home planet, Gareth Bale would probably be that three-red-dot missile thing on the left shoulder, and our collection of skinned victims hanging upside-down with their skulls ripped out would now look mightily impressive. Having accounted for Liverpool, Man City, Chelski and l’Arse last season, we have now raised the bar just about as far as it can go, with arguably the biggest skull of them all – the European Champions. No two ways about it – we must now fancy our chances against just about anyone at the Lane. Heaven knows where it will all end.

 

ATTACK!!!

 

Eschewing traditional Champions League caginess for an approach based primarily on copious amounts of swash and buckle, our lot went at it hammer and tongs from the off. ‘Arry could have been forgiven for exercising a modicum of caution at the prospect of a visit from our illustrious opponents, given the contents of their trophy cabinet and the memory of that four-goal blitz in the San Siro. Instead, our glorious leader reasoned that soaking up the pressure is just too dull and boring, and squashed as much attacking talent as was physically possible into an eleven man outfit. Inter, one suspects, did not quite believe our temerity in adopting a formation that at times resembled 2-1-7, as Hudd stayed within shouting distance of the centre-backs, and everyone else bombed forward as often as they could.

 

Taxi For Maicon

 

Frankly there is not much I can add about Gareth Bale’s performance that has not already been spluttered in awe by someone else. (Other than to wonder what the deuces are those black tape things he sticks to his thighs.) His pace has been showcased many a time and oft; but wasn’t it heart-warming to see him whip in crosses so vicious they would make small children cry?

 

Elsewhere On The Pitch…

 

Naturally enough the handsome young Welshman takes the plaudits, but to a man those in lilywhite played to the peak of their powers. Even pre kick-off the sight of BAE finally having sorted out his hair gave a signal of quite how seriously our heroes were treating this. The philosophy of throwing absolutely everything we had at Inter from the very first whistle may have lacked a little subtlety, but it was a masterstroke from ‘Arry, and impeccably executed the players.

 

Curiously underestimating our attacking threat, Inter were ravaged from all angles. There were puffs of smoke on the flanks, where our two wingers merrily zipped back and forth, aided and abetted by the wonderfully enthusiastic two full-backs. In addition, the central midfield triumvirate gave an absolute masterclass in control, technique and creativity – all gloriously crystallised in that utterly sumptuous first goal. If VDV, Modders and Hudd can play any better as a collective unit I fear the universe will simply give up and collapse under the weight of footballing magnificence.

…And Off The Ball

Moreover, when not in possession our lot beavered away like men demented – the forwards pressing and harrying, and everyone else diligently scampering back to protect Cudicini like their lives depended on it. Inter had their moments, but with every Tottenham man and his dog working their socks off, by and large our esteemed guests could do little better than peer wishfully at our penalty area from afar

 

Even when Jenas replaced VDV – all things considered quite probably the worst substitution it is possible to make in any sport, not just football – it did not disrupt our mentality, the Lord of All Things Sideways and Backwards at least working hard to help retain the initiative. ‘Twas that sort of performance, practically perfect in every way.

 

So huzzah, huzzah and thrice I say huzzah. Goodness knows where we go from here, but rather than concern myself with the future I resolve to enjoy the present, for this quite simply was the greatest result of my Spurs-supporting life.

 

 

 

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 2-0 West Ham: Football So Good It Made Me Steal From A Baby

Liquid football. Honourable mentions to the back-four and ‘keeper, a fourth successive clean-sheet leaving me not so much applauding as looking around suspiciously to wonder what the devil is going on. However, the day belonged to those at the other end. While it made for anxious viewing as the second half wore on, the brand of football purveyed was of the sort I could have watched non-stop for hours, slick little one-touch passes lifted straight from that pre-match six-a-side drill the players undertake up by the halfway line. My two-month old niece has duly been given her Spurs-embroidered bibs, caring uncle that I am, but on this occasion I snatched the bib from her, fastened it around my own neck and drooled.Modders’ Magic Second Touch 

Hudd Earns A Mince-Pie, Sergeant Wilson Eyes Up Hollywood 

As it turned out, Hudd delivered the textback definition of “Silencing the Critics”. His passing can often have us purring in appreciation, but his decision-making today, in picking the right pass – short or long as necessary – and upper-body strength were particularly impressive, and earn him a mince-pie.

Alongside him Sergeant Wilson looked more like his old self. AANP Towers has been buzzing with excitement in recent weeks at the news that a new sequel to Predator is apparently being made – Predators, which will pointedly ignore the previous, lamentable sequels, and be set on the predators’ home-planet, featuring amongst other creations, predator-dogs if you please. The template for such creatures is presumably Wilson Palacios of 28 December 2009, because if there was an ankle at which to be snapped he was there, every inch a growling, frenzied canine with the DNA of an indestructible alien warrior. Too early to claim we’ve got our Wilson back, but this is the standard he exhibited when he first joined.

Criticism. Sort Of.

The one grumble I suppose is that we ought to be turning such dominance into a bucketload of goals, à la Wigan; but the 70-minute inability to score was not for want of trying. Sometimes we sit back and indulge in fancy tricks ahead of a demented pursuit of the jugular; this time we knocked it around with purpose, always looking for the second goal.

There endeth the pseudo-criticism. Defensive clearances were not hurried, but typically measured, with a view to picking out a team-mate. Lennon’s performance demanded that new and ever more wondrous superlatives be created post-haste. Such was the general verve throughout our ranks that even Sergeant Wilson, BAE and Corluka could be spotted galloping towards goal. Harsh luck on West Ham to lose a couple of men early on to injury, but at times it seemed that they had not bothered to replace them, as we appeared to have an extra player on the pitch, lilywhite movement everywhere. The injuries excuse will only go so far; for our lofty current perch is due in large part to the strength of our reserves. Bassong injured? In comes Ledley. Modders needs a breather? Bring on Kranjcar.

West Ham may not have been the toughest nut to crack, but that should not detract from a performance which oozed wonderfulness from every pore. Happy new year indeed.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here – or pre-order the ruddy thing here. Cripes! 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book 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

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