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Spurs 1-1 Everton: Would We Have Won Had We Not Played Midweek?

Sages the breadth of Christendom have been popping up all over the media this season to opine knowingly that our heroes would struggle to cope with the rigours of Champions League and the Premiership each week. As such I was jolly well hoping that we would emphatically destroy Everton with a loud roar of triumph (or at the very least fashion another 2-1 win) to prove the blighters wrong – but in truth we looked every inch a team jaded from the madcap doings of Wednesday night.

 

Lofting Crosses Into Orbit: The Tottenham Way?

 

The first task of the day was to negotiate the first 13 minutes without going 3-0 down. While this was successfully achieved the effort evidently took its toll, as just moments later we conceded. Still, coming from behind is very much the vogue for our heroes these days, and it was the old Crouch-VDV combo yet again.

 

This time the goal was hardly the prettiest thing we have witnessed at the Lane all season – with Tim Howard attempting to swat a passing wasp rather than bothering with the incoming cross; Crouch doing his best to let the ball roll off his stomach; and VDV seemingly convinced that if he snapped the net from its moorings he would actually be awarded two goals. It is difficult to complain about the tactic of launching balls into orbit from the flanks for the gangly one to set up VDV, as it bears fruit every week. However, here at AANP Towers we would prefer the ball to be kept on the green stuff, at least until the alarm bells clang to inform us that desperate measures are called for.

 

Aside from the goal nothing really clicked, which is always rather a shame. Last season, free from midweek exertions, I suspect we would have found a way to eke out three points; this time our lot looked a tad flat, and by the final whistle, absolutely shattered.

 

Bale and VDV: Possibly Mere Mortals After All

 

Unsurprisingly, every time the ball went anywhere near Bale Everton players swarmed all over him. He still wriggled free occasionally, but his wonderfulness was generally stymied, while VDV was also well-marshalled. (Although it is nice to see that he cares so much for the cause that he is willing to give the advertising hoarding a good kicking. Good lad.)

 

As a result of the focus upon Bale and VDV, young Modders became our default string-puller. He seemed rather to enjoy himself, in his own shy little way, but with no inclination to burst into the Everton area and scare the bejesus out of its guardians, his impact was ultimately a tad limited.

 

Right-Flank Version 2.0: Lennon and Hutton

 

Not sure if ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums have ever actually sat down and explained the concept to Alan Hutton, but he jolly well retains the look of a man who simply does not believe that he is a defender.

 

As he seems convinced that victory will be achieved if he sprints to the opposite by-line at a rate of knots, his interplay with Lennon on the right wing is vastly different from that of Corluka and Lennon. Back in the day the lumbering Croat would hang back and play cute little diagonal balls as Lennon whizzed forward, jazz-hands merrily a-waving; now it seems the trick is for Lennon to jink inside, while Hutton overlaps on the right. A fledgling manoeuvre, but one that in time may bear fruit.

 

Elsewhere on the Pitch

 

Kaboul was a fairly reassuring presence at the back; Palacios was decent enough without rediscovering the form of his early days in lilywhite; and right across the pitch similar adjectives of gentle-but-by-no-means-rip-roaring-praise could be dished out. Decent but unspectacular, we did not really do enough to merit a win. A draw at home to an in-form Everton is not a bad result, but is nevertheless the sort of thing that will leave us short of the top-four come May. Curses.

Spurs 2-0 Everton: Squad Depth & The Benny Hill Penalty

We’re great when we’re winning. Opponents are forced to push forward, and we duly pick them off on the break, with the clinical precision of a trained sniper (until Keane starts stumbling over his own feet). We have the players, including those on the fringes of the squad, to counter with pace and inventiveness, on top of which it makes for a cracking spectacle.It doesn’t really solve the problem thrown up on Saturday, of what to do when the opposition sits deep and the opening goal is impossible to come by; but that’s for another day. Most neutrals would verify – when we score first, we’re a great team. It was honours even in the opening exchanges last night; but once we had our goal, Everton pushed forward and we look ever more potent on the break.

Personified By Hudd 

It all worked out swimmingly, with even Assou-Ekotto indulging in some party tricks by the end of the game. Although we were well worth a two-goal victory, Everton had their chances, but, pleasingly, Gomes was equal to all of them. Dawson, again was immense at the back, while Sergeant Wilson snarled and harried like any good guard dog should.

Plenty in Reserve 

Bentley: Imagine how good Bentley and his hair gel would be under a manager who loved him and in a team which made him their focal point. No-one doubts his technique and skill, but rarely has it been put to particularly good use in lilywhite. Yesterday however, while a little hit-and-miss in the early stages, he ended up turning a performance I am tempted to label “virtuoso”.

The control was immaculate, stepovers effective, crosses generally dangerous and work-rate exemplary. Different sort of player from Aaron Lennon, but with the ickle one unavailable for Saturday, it’s nice to know that we have ourselves a Bentley in good form. He may perhaps have got a little carried away with all the party tricks but the ability to beat a man is quite a weapon to have. On those frustrating occasions when a defence needs unlocking, he at least carries the potential to jink past a defender and make some space (a quality that could hardly be attributed to Hudd). On another day, as we are all well aware, those constant Maradonna impressions will come to nothing and he will be maddening to watch, but last night it worked.

Bale: Good to see Bale looking up to speed as well, particularly in a midfield position which I think suits him better than full-back. The memories of his first few matches in lilywhite, under Martin Jol (blessed be his name), linger long in the AANP memory, so it is with pleasure that I note he turned in a good performance. A genuine left-footer on the left of midfield gave us a nice shape, and it’s a handy alternative to Kranjcar.

Pav: Poor old Pav. Not his night, was it? Suspicion, bordering on certainty, remains that we’ll be bidding him “?? ????????” come January.

Hutton: When God made Corluka, it appears that he out of curiosity he took all the ingredients and reversed them, to see what the polar opposite would look like. The result was Alan Hutton – a quick, bald, attack-minded right-back who, one suspects, does not give an awful lot of thought to defending. He did well enough, and the combo with Bentley worked well.

Would Have Been So Much Simpler If Keane Had Blasted It Into A Corner

By golly, when Hudd gets them right his shots look likely to tear the net from its moorings, yesterday being a case in point. Couldn’t help but note that his expression on scoring was that of a man who felt he had been copping unfair flak from AANP the previous day…

As for the penalty – what a glorious throwback to the days of manic playground football, when the next-goal-wins rule comes into play and all hell breaks loose amidst a ruck of bodies and two jumpers. From spot-kick to net-bulger there were six efforts on goal. Crikey. All that was missing was the Benny Hill theme tune. Poor old Tim Howard is entitled to feel a little aggrieved, after making more saves in ten seconds than your average Premiership ‘keeper will make in two full games against Stoke, and credit is due to Keane for some nifty technique in finally scoring; but that does not excuse various other moments of profligacy on his part. For the love of God, sharpen up man, before the visit to l’Arse.

Happy days then – a convincing win, clean sheet, back-slaps all round. Chelski, l’Arse and Man Utd remain in the Carling Cup, but another trip to Wembley is conceivable.

 

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: Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here 

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