Spurs match reports

Spurs 4-1 Burnely: Belated Four-Play

How must David Bentley feel this morning? Bless him, he can’t really be faulted for effort, but nothing he tried came off, whether a 5-yard pass, whipped in cross, fancy flick or long-range effort. Presumably when he got to the dressing-room at half-time for a swig of Lucozade he squirted it into his eye. He’s a right-winger playing on the left, and apparently he’s ill at the moment (begs the question of why he was played) but all the mitigating circumstances in the world can’t hide the fact that it’s just not happening for him at the moment, no matter what hairstyle he adopts.

While few at the Lane would agree with me, I see him coming good in the long-term. Dawson, Gomes and Lennon have each had their woeful spells in lilywhite, but all seem to be back on form (although Lennon’s perennial inability to deliver the final ball continues to frustrate), suggesting that these bad runs come and go. While Bentely’s not everyone’s particular brand of cognac, he has in previous seasons shown himself to be a very good performer at Premiership level. Poor form, yes; poor player, no.

However, he may be facing a spell on the subs bench after last night. After huffing and puffing to no avail for 45 mins, who knows what he said to his reflection as he gazed lovingly into a mirror at full-time, having witnessed his replacement, Three-Touch O’Hara, mastermind a four-goal salvo within just 20 minutes.
Seasoned all-action-no-plotters will know that young Three-Touch has never been a favourite of mine, due to the fact that he’s a bit heavy on graft and short on natural flair, but my goodness he injected exactly what was needed last night. Flair players won’t do much if they don’t have the ball, and at a time when no-one had the stomach for a fight, Three-Touch rose to the challenge of getting his hands dirty against the lower-league scrappers. His set-piece delivery was also spot on, and he even bagged himself a one-touch goal. Blinking heck.



So, as if by magic the soulless rabble, outfought and outpassed in the first 45 mins, banged in goals like they were going out of fashion in the second half. I’ll have whatever was in their half-time cuppa. To be honest, a foul-mouthed tirade from ‘Arry would not scare me anything like as much as one of those death stares from his assistant Joe Jordan, a man whose terrifying demeanour has “psycho-waiting-to-be-unleashed” etched all over it. The  performance won’t have Man Utd quaking in their boots, but it at least smoothes our passage to Wemberley. Job all but done.
More tactically… 

What the blazes has happened to Gareth Bale? The human-simian hybrid was our best player for the first few months of last season, but can’t defend to save his life at the moment. His distribution was woeful too. If the suspended Assou-Ekotto were capable of anything other than a blank stare of the undead, he would probably allow himself a smug smile in light of his replacement’s abysmal performances.

Merrily, the back-four looked nice and solid in the second half. Corluka deserves credit for ditching the alice-band, but needs to find a pace beyond lumbering and lumbering-more-animatedly if he he’s to be a genuine attacking option from right-back.The midfield certainly looked better for the presence and tenacity of Three-Touch in the second half. Much though I like 4-4-2 it remains to be seen whether a central midfield combo of Modric and Zokora can cut it at Premiership level – the pair were overrun in the first half.

Also notable was a much improved use of the ball in the second period. There were counteless aimless upfield punts in the first half, but the ball was treated far more lovingly in the second. Why they couldn’t play like that from the start I don’t know. 

And a word for Pav – that goal oozed class. They’re still glimpses, but every now and then he looks a £15 mil (or whatever it was) pound striker.

Spurs news, rants

I jest ye not – Jenas made the difference: Watford 1-2 Spurs

Hmm – I honestly think that we owed our win last night in large part to the presence of Jermaine Jenas.

Alright, alright – I’ve clearly gone mad. Too many booze-fuelled late nights, not enough sleep, not enough oxygen to the brain – these have all contributed to some severe form of dementia. I’m obviously crazy. I’m obviously talking the gibberish of a lunatic. No team on the planet can benefit from the presence in its ranks of Jermaine Jenas.

However, continuing the crazy-talk theme – I began to appreciate him once he was absent, injured. As mentioned previously on these pages, in his absence our central midfield comprised two deep-lying types, in Thudd and Zokora. Last night, Jenas was back and the midfield seemed to have a better balance. Unlike Thudd and Zokora, Jenas is happy to assume a position some 10-20 yards in advance of the halfway line, with his midfield partner sitting deeper. As such, whenever we won position we tended to have an attacking option in addition to the strikers, and this helped to drag the oppo around a bit.

Returning to sanity, Jenas’ return to the team did also remind us all of why he is so reviled by his own. Bless him, he works his socks off, makes lung-bursting runs, occasionally dribbles past midfielders, generally does the difficult part – and then always, always messes up the finish. This would also be why he doesn’t have his own song ( There was one notable jinking run in the first half yesterday which ended in a shot so tame you wanted to feed it berries from your hand. Then in the second half he caused panic in the oppo ranks by picking up the ball from 20 yards and determinedly burrowing towards goal – only to scuff his effort into a pathetic dribble that barely had sufficient momentum to make it into the arms of the goalkeeper. Honestly, to paraphrase from Bruce Willis’ wife in the first (and best) Die Hard, only Jermaine Jenas can make you that angry. Bizarrely, the only time he’s complemented the effort and determination of the build-up with a suitably successful end-product was away to l’arse earlier this season, when he scored an absolute peach. Any other time, that shot would have been so mis-hit and weak it would have stopped rolling out of embarrassment.

However, his presence and positioning improved the shape of the team. I assume that ‘Arry hastily read my last blog posting just prior to kick-off, because as well as addressing my concerns about the midfield balance he also addressed my point about resting key personnel, by picking a pretty darned strong starting XI.

They began with all the energy and verve of a moribund sloth, and the nightmare scenario of conceding early and away from home to a lower league team duly materialised. (The goal encapsulated our early sluggishness in a microcosm – Lennon beaten to the ball by a far hungrier opponent, Jenas and Woody wrong-footed and lumbering with the turning speed of a pleasure cruiser while the oppo striker swivelled and buried it). However, this had the pleasing side-effect of sparking us into life, and also prompted Watford to give us possession on halfway and sit back in their own half. We duly attacked, Lennon in particular looking good, O’ Hara not so, and the goals duly came. Pav, Bent, yadiyadayada, job done.