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Chelsea – Spurs Preview: No Lennon, No Balance, No Hope

“He’s not available,” declared our glorious leader of One Aaron Lennon and his jazz-hands. “Other than that we’re not too bad”. Which is laudably upbeat I suppose, but a bit like Sigourney Weaver concluding that although she has looked on as the alien wiped out two entire crews, tormented her waking and sleeping thoughts, indirectly forced her to shave her head and then ruddy well gestated inside her – other than that she’s not too bad.I do of course overstate the case a tad. An orthodox four-man midfield – with Bale sticking to the left touchline and Walker manfully galloping the gallop of two man up and down the right – would probably offer the balance that we lack when Lennon sits things out, but nevertheless you get the gist. In the little man’s absence we have lacked shape, balance and a clear plan of how to outscore the opposition from minute 1 to 90.

Tough enough against Everton and Stoke, but faced with the prospect of a trip to a now officially resurgent Chelski, the denizens of AANP Towers have taken the unanimous, executive decision to shudder to our very cores. While genuinely upbeat that our final eight games really could bring us eight wins, the current trend of woe, brought about by a combination of Lennonlessness and opposition teams hitting tip-top form, looks for all the world like it will continue at Stamford Bridge.

Team News

Adebayor is also a likely absentee, but other than that the usual suspects will take to the field, start brightly, take the lead, then sit back and ultimately cave in to two late Chelski goals, at least one of which will be highly dubious. I would advise ‘Arry stops his blasted tinkering with the midfield and desperate shunting of square pegs into round holes, but nevertheless envisage him selecting Bale right, Modders left, with Parker and Sandro/Livermore in the centre (and VDV off Saha/Adebayor up the top). Delighted though I would be to gobble down double helpings of humble-pie come the final whistle, I approach this game with the same gloomy air of foreboding that accompanied a Sven-selected England team trotting out in a major tournament quarter-final. Grab what you can chaps, and then scarper.

Stoke 1 – 2 Spurs: We Like The Look Of That

It could still all go horribly wrong, but for the moment at least our lot continue to make all the right moves. The threatened second half implosion did not materialise, and instead, after a fourth consecutive League win, we now have to come to terms with the fact that our glorious heroes have discovered some consistency, of all things.BAE vs Corluka

It was hardly Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed, but Messrs Corluka and Assou-Ekotto were notably unimpressed with each other’s conduct in the second half. Apparently Charlie lumbered over to deliver a pointed critique of Benny’s positioning at a corner; the braided one appeared to suggest in reply that he go forth and multiply. Given BAE’s permanently glazed expression of a hired assassin, this was quite possibly a moment for which he had been waiting his whole life (although in a fist-fight to the death I think I would back the Croat). Excitingly, there was even a level of push-and-shove that would have had Didier Drogba hurtling to the turf and screaming like a baby, but our two heroes both walked away unscathed.

Much ado about nothing ultimately, but truth be told we at AANP Towers are secretly rather pleased by all this. Tottenham players have typically seemed a little too precious and delicate in recent years, rather than ready to roll up their sleeves and fight for the cause, often giving the impression that they care more about their next haircut or tattoo than the cockerel. The sight of juices flowing and blood boiling out there on the pitch therefore elicits a silent nod of approval. We like the look of that around these parts.

As an epilogue, ‘Arry’s comments on Benny make frankly hilarious reading, although I do rather wonder about the lad:

Benoit is a strange boy. He’s a bit highly strung and hardly speaks English. If you say something to him he’s hard work. He hasn’t improved his English in the couple of years he’s been here.”
[Asked why the player had walked off on his own, Redknapp replied:] “He didn’t know the result! He probably thought we’d drawn. He’ll turn up Wednesday and play great, but he won’t know we’re playing Fulham until someone tells him. That’s how he is. He’s unreal. He walks off and he’s thinking about the music he’s going to play when he puts his headphones on.”
 

It was a risky move, but resting Palacios and bringing in Younes Kaboul ultimately paid dividends. With Sergeant Wilson one booking away from suspension and Kaboul cup-tied, the latter took to the pitch yesterday, to ensure that Palacios will be available for the FA Cup game on Wednesday (keep up). The proof of the pudding was ultimately the result, and whatever the misgivings from various quarters about Kaboul’s ability as a midfielder, ‘Arry need not say a word, but can simply wave three points at all of us by way of justification.

Fourth Striker

In Gudjohnsen we may have the perfect fourth striker. Unlike, say, a younger tyro of the Darren Bent ilk, one gets the impression that Gudjohnsen is a darned sight more philosophical about starting regularly on the bench, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, back in the day. Not that this attitude would count for much of course, if he were complete bobbins once on the pitch, but as he demonstrated on Saturday he certainly seems to know his way around.

We at AANP Towers have been fond of likening him to Sheringham, but the strength he showed for his goal, in holding off the challenge of Faye (I think), followed by the clinical, powerful finish, was more akin to Shearer. He adds much-needed experience to a young squad, which suggests that he probably has something to contribute on the training-ground as well as the pitch, and on the evidence of the weekend can still be relied upon to produce the goods when called upon. If anything, yesterday’s performance suggested that he may merit elevation up the ladder to something higher than fourth-choice striker, but if remains the man to whom we turn in an emergency we can’t be doing too badly.

Another Week, Another Injury

This time Pav hobbled off stage left. All vaguely reminiscent of one of those action/horror films in which the cast are killed off one by one, in various gruesome ways, until Sigourney Weaver is left to sort things out in the final scene. That we have kept churning out wins with personnel dropping like flies is mightily impressive, and to do so on Saturday without King, Palacios, Lennon or Defoe, as well as various supporting cast-members, really is thigh-slappingly good. With a bit of luck the situation might soon ease, as Bentley is supposed to be nearing fitness, while Hudd is also reportedly progressing well. This gearing up to be one heck of a season finale.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). But never mind all that – the new trailer for Predators is now out, and it looks awesome. Have a butcher’s here.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 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

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