Spurs preview

Arsenal – Spurs Preview: The Gallas Conspiracy Continueth

Seasoned visitors to these parts will now that on three occasions each year we simply cannot prophesy doom quickly enough. Away games at l’Arse, Chelski and Man Utd – absolutely positively guaranteed to find the famous “AANP Cheery Optimism Counter” stuck at zero for the duration of the weekend. It’s not just at AANP Towers either – I haven’t met a Spurs fan this week who gives us hope of any more than a draw. In fact, having watched the England match on Saturday I rather fancy I have glimpsed the future and already seen how Saturday’s game will pan out – lots of chaps in white shirts scurrying about with noses in air, trying desperately to get a sniff of the ball, as various French types exchange a few too many slick one-touch passes around our penalty area.The remaining 35 league games of the season I genuinely think we ought to win – all of them – but this is one of the unholy trinity, and I don’t see the pattern changing until I’m grey and old. One never knows though, and while as a fan of many years I have the prerogative to settle down into a grump ahead of this one, I expect nothing less that fire in the belly and passion stirring the souls of the eleven in lilywhite out on the pitch.



Opportunity Knocks In Absence of Hudd


Presumably Monsieur Wenger has hired a sniper, or my conspiracy-theorising, Spurs-supporting chum Ian is right, and William Gallas really is still on the l’Arse payroll with strict instructions to search and destroy, because the Hudd is now out of action too. Forever, from what I can glean.


If there is a silver lining to this, or indeed a straw at which to be groped with blind hope, it is the curious trait developing in ‘Arry’s reign for all manner of prodigal sons to come racing back into the fold, make themselves at home and transform into uber-beings of their former selves. This time last year Vedran Corluka was still waddling around the White Hart Lane turf, and Gareth Bale was about to shipped off to Nottingham Forest, while as recently as this summer just about 50% of Spurs fans had wiped Alan Hutton’s very existence from their memories. Since then Bale has become the white Pele and Hutton has established himself as the pick of our back-four, whilst possibly the last two chaps we ever thought would form our central defence have formed the bedrock of a win over Inter.


The point of this little warble is that Hudd’s absence will neatly open the door to some other lucky blighter, and history suggests that the next three months might therefore be the making of Jenas, Sergeant Wilson or Sandro. Indeed, whisper it, but Jamie O’Hara is still officially a Tottenham Hotspur employee. The mind boggles.


4-4-2 vs 4-5-1: The Defoe Edition


The merits and less meritorious facets of 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 were given a slightly lop-sided airing on these very pages last weekend, but the question now has a cunning twist, as the messenger pigeons come bearing news that Jermain Defoe has been sighted with jaws locked in a chomp around what is widely known as the bit. Marvellous news I’m sure you will agree, but how does this fit with the head-hurting permutations of 4-4-2 and 4-5-1.


Earlier this season on England duty Defoe played atop the formation, with Rooney in a VDV-esque position in the hole, and the entire thing turned into a neon-lit success – yet it seems rather unlikely that such a vertically-challenged type as Defoe will be asked to lead the line as lone striker in a 4-5-1.

A more feasible scenario would be Defoe trotting out with a bona fide striker alongside him, which would suggest Princess Pav or the wretched Crouch in a 4-4-2 (with VDV adopting that suspiciously central “right flank” role once more). Not tomorrow perhaps – away to l’Arse it seems almost certain that we will go with 4-5-1, and quite probably shunt Sergeant Wilson or Sandro into the midfield, in a desperate effort to get close to Fabregas and his chums as they triangle themselves to death -, but longer-term the return of Defoe gives us a fresh option, and a forward who is a darned sight better than Crouch when it comes to thumping the ball goalward when presented with a chance.


Defoe or not, there is doleful morbid pessimism around these parts, but by jove I hope that this defeatist stance proves wildly wrong come tomorrow afternoon.

Spurs match reports

Fulham 1-2 Spurs: Well-Deserved Despite The Controversy

That’s more like it. Six points from two tricky fixtures and we now sit level on points with l’Arse and Man Utd. Admittely ours has been a fairly gentle fixture-list to date, but given our struggles to juggle Premiership and Champions League I’m quite grateful for what he have.


This Week’s VDV Magic


Having bossed games in recent weeks this was a relatively mundane showing from Van der Vaart, but when you hail from Amazingville then even your mundane showings are sprinkled with magnificence, and so it was that VDV’s quiet day still brought about the game’s best piece of skill and a game-changing moment. One-on-one with the ‘keeper from 12 yards out, most mere mortals would have closed their eyes and thumped the thing towards the corner. VDV, naturally, instead took the option marked “Genius” with a chip so impertinent it ought not to have been legal. Pav was a touch shameless in celebrating the goal that was all of VDV’s making, but credit to the Russian for being on his toes while the Fulham defenders were standing around picking their noses.


William Gallas – Not Bad For A Human


The Spurs-supporting chums with whom I watched the game spent much of the game earnestly peddling the theory that William Gallas has been sent here to destroy us, possibly by Arsene Wenger. Pointing to the fact that Gallas previously threatened to score an own-goal if Chelksi did not sell him, they now reckon that this if this mercenary with evil eyes ever does score for us he’ll rip off his Tottenham shirt to reveal an Arsenal one underneath. Grist to their mill was provided by Gallas’ decidedly average defending for the Fulham goal – diligently deciding to park himself in the middle of no-man’s land, leaving Kamara with an open goal from about six inches out. He then did his best to sabotage our winning goal too, but despite his best efforts the officials decided it would be more fun to allow it.He is actually doing a fine and dandy job for us, but my attitude towards him remains akin to that of Ripley towards Bishop in Aliens. Only when Gallas is ripped in half and then saves my life with his mangled torso will I be won round and my suspicion dissipate.



Alas, Poor Ledley


The price to pay for this week’s three points was the latest Ledley breakdown. It is tempting to chastise ‘Arry for selecting Ledley (personally I would have kept him aside for the Inter game) but it is hardly the fault of our glorious leader. Our captain’s groin is likely to twang every time he takes to the pitch, given that the poor blighter never trains. If it had not happened yesterday it might have happened in the opening minutes of Wednesday night instead.


Elsewhere On The Pitch


It is easy to forget that in the opening exchanges we almost scored one of the best goals ever. The move in question saw Hudd cheekily dink the ball into Bale, who first-time volleyed into the path of Pav, who took it on his chest and fired wide. Six inches from being a thing of majesty, it was instead a mere goal-kick. Shame that.



There were a couple of photogenic saves from Gomes; a couple of curiously inept touches from Modders; and a lively debut from Sandro. BAE’s hair looks stranger by the week, while it was lovely to see Aaron Lennon rediscovering his joie de vivre, suggesting that he may have an important role to play against Inter this week, even be it only as impact sub.For all the controversy of the winning goal, on balance of play we merited this win, 2-1 a result that reflected the balance of play. Problems remain – not least 4-5-1 without a striker who fits the system – but this was a fine afternoon’s work from our heroes.

Rants on the Beautiful Game

The games played by Wenger, Ferguson and East 17

Within the last 24 hours there have been bizarre rants from both Wenger and Ferguson, seemingly unprovoked, angry digs at imaginary deviants who have been laying into their innocent, virtuous, maltreated players. No-one takes these seriously, and the few who can be bothered to react do so by laughing at their blinkeredness (nb, surely there’s a better word?).

I guess I’ll never know with certainty what they’re thinking, but I’m pretty convinced that this – and indeed, every absurd whinge they’ve had over the past decade and more – is all part of a masterplan. As with East 17’s finest numbers, I trust that they’re not taking themselves seriously, and that what ostensibly appears to be sheer lunacy (ski hats as tall as top hats?) is just an ironic façade, designed to elicit mild hysteria amongst gormless punters who will take the bait and plaster them over the newspapers. Behind closed doors, I’m convinced that Arsene, Sir Alex and East 17 are all sniggering to themselves, whilst giving themselves pats on the back for the straight-faced manner in which they repeatedly deliver these performances.

In the cases of both Wenger and Ferguson, I can only presume that the repeated refusals to accept publicly that their own team and players are to blame for any setbacks are part of their winning mentality. In football it seems that nice guys come last. Wenger and Ferguson only want to win, and that typically means engendering a them-against-us mentality, attempting to pressurise officials and shielding their players from any external negativity. Within the privacy of the dressing-room I doubt that Wenger shrugged off the defeat against Stoke by advising his players that the naughty ruffians were being nasty. He probably went mad at them. Ferguson has probably had stern words with Rooney and possibly given him a slap just to reinforce the point that he’d damn well better not lose it with the refs any more. But in public, they trot out their whinges and rants, deflecting attention from the shortcomings of the players, all in the name of winning, winning, winning.

Mind you, if this isn’t the case, and Wenger, Ferguson and East 17 truly believe in the balderdash they spout, then I despair.