Spurs match reports

Spurs 3-0 Werder Bremen: Have You Ever Seen Anything Like It?

How surreal. If there were a worry prior to kick-off it was that following the euphoria of Saturday our heroes might be a little too complacent, and simply stroll through this one. And in truth, they were indeed a tad complacent and most certainly did stroll through – yet it was of little consequence. Can anyone remember a match of such magnitude being so mind-bogglingly easy for Spurs?Bremen: Awful 

It made no sense, but then very little did last night. To see Spurs cruising through in such untroubled fashion was almost ineffably peculiar, and the attitude of the Germans simply added to the confusion. Only if the heavens had opened and the players been soaked to the skin could Bremen have looked more forlorn and less motivated. (Although that blonde attacking chap did a good Modric impression throughout.)

A strange old evening for sure. There have not been too many occasions on which I have lamented the fact that Jenas has been forced to depart early, yet he has been in relatively steady form in recent weeks and made an eye-catchingly positive start last night, so I rather felt for the chap when he limped off. Moreover, with Hudd off radar for a few months we can ill-afford to lose another central midfielder for any length of time.

That said, this was one of the best days Sergeant Wilson has had in months. Every tackle seemed perfectly-executed, and (almost) every pass distributed simply and accurately. Further curiosity was to be had in the serenading of William Gallas with the strains of “Yiddo! Yiddo!”, as he effortlessly outmuscled the German mob. In so many respect things are a-changing at the Lane these days.

The Cream of a Mighty Impressive Crop 

That said, it was the usual scintillating stuff from young Master Bale, who added a Cruyff-turn to his super-human repertoire. Personally I am convinced that he was actually aiming for the cross-bar with that second-half free-kick, for the very best players set themselves those sorts of challenges, and as for the penalty – well, like forearm tattoos and the pre-match huddle, missing from the spot is just a trend amongst the current crop of heroes in lilywhite. It will pass.

Crouch’s Grinning Visage 

And while I’m grumbling, perhaps this is a good opportunity to draw attention to the manner in which my heart-rate quickens whenever Benny Assou-Ekotto goes near the ball. He is not a particularly bad player, simply maddeningly lackadaisical about just about everything he does. I’m not sure there has ever been another Spurs player at whom I so constantly want to bellow “CONCENTRATE, you loon,” as he attempts shoulder-dinks and the like on the edge of his own penalty area, whilst working assiduously to pick out opposition players with every pass.

Strange Times at White Hart Lane

All things considered however this was probably as serene a Tottenham victory as I can remember. It may not prove the most thrilling of our commemorative DVDs, but it is probably worth purchasing simply for the variety of rare bonus features thrown in – a clean sheet, a sprightly Aaron Lennon, a Kranjcar cameo and, taken in its entirety, a Tottenham performance that was just about the epitome of professionalism. Admittedly Bremen were woeful, but we threw away a two-goal lead against them before, and conceding at any point until we scored our third (the 80th minute) would have made for a nervy finish. Instead we were dominant and efficient from start to finish – I frankly cannot remember the last time I ever saw that from Spurs. Whatever next?

Spurs preview

Spurs – Werder Bremen Preview: Last Ever Champions League Night at the Lane?

It has been so much fun watching l’Arse fall apart at the seams over the last few days that I had almost forgotten we have our latest Biggest Game In Recent Memory tonight. Victory tonight would guarantee qualification to the knock-out stage of all things, and another chance for ‘Arry to shoehorn a mention of “Two-Points-Eight-Games” into his post-match press rounds. Of course in theory if things go awry on the pitch tonight – and off-pitch in the coming months – it could actually be White Hart Lane’s last ever Champions League night, which is a slightly gloomy thought. That really is a worst-case scenario however, for it seems far likelier that one way or t’other we will be reconvening in the spring for more of this floodlit revelry.These continue to be heady times for the Band-Aid manufacturers of N17, as Bale, VDV and Kranjcar are the latest injury doubts. In fact the curse of wearing a Spurs shirt and promptly collapsing in a bloodied, mangled heap has even reached AANP Towers (broken foot in Monday’s 5-a-side, since you ask). As it happens, on paper at least our team retains a look of some adequacy, for 12 months ago we would have fancied our chances with Lennon – Jenas – Palacios – Modric lining up across the midfeld. Moreover Defoe is back, looking sharp and sprightly, and now having added Aerial Bohemoth to his list of attributes, judging by his performance on Saturday. This being the Champions League, and they being foreign opposition, tonight ought also to see the transformation once again of Peter Crouch from gangly halfwit whose only value is in assisting defensively at set-pieces, to unplayable goalscoring machine who leaves opposition defenders gibbering in awe, unable to fathom which limb they should approach first.

Apparently Bremen’s recent form has been of the variety to leave their fans rushing for the nearest high ledge off which to hurl themselves, but if they are in the Champions League they can pack a punch, and in the second half in Germany they made us all sweat. No doubt they will come armed with some sort of stifling, hard-working game-plan, and if we really are minus both Bale and VDV, as well as Hudd, our attacking prowess might be a little more laboured than that to which we are accustomed.

Nevertheless, Champions League nights at the Lane have so far tended to result in goals a-plenty, at least one dodgy penalty and a handsome victory, so I anticipate that it will be a cheery mob crowding the White Hart Lane train platform come 10pm tonight.

Spurs match reports

Werder Bremen 2-2 Spurs: Backing ‘Arry’s All-Action Approach

Take that, Champions League. Cagey away teams? Ten men behind the ball? Sheer gubbins, cried the merry men of White Hart Lane. We did it the Tottenham way, and while some will probably berate ‘Arry for not adopting a more conservative approach, particularly when two goals ahead, I revelled almost drunkenly in our insistence upon flying forward at every given opportunity. Some – nay, many – will lambast our approach as naive, but I was chuffed to my core to witness a Tottenham side deciding against sitting upon an early lead, and instead looking to stretch further and further ahead, playing some absolutely coruscating one-touch football in the process. Our lot looked more psyched than they have done since – well, since the last Champions League game, and were ruddy well worth a two-gola first half lead.

Point of note: we were actually cruising until we actually conceded. Our advantage was by no means reduced because of capitulation to opposition pressure – in fact Carlo Cudicini barely needed to break sweat, beyond thumping the odd back-pass upfield. Trouble only reared its head when Benny Assou-Ekotto delivered a clearance so wild, needless and bizarrely backward that it prompted the chap sitting next to me to proclaim that it was part of a betting scam. From a situation of no danger whatsoever we conceded a throw, from which Bremen scored, and about 43 minutes of cracking first half work was instantly undone. Curses.

Van der Vaart: AANP Favourite

But what cracking first half work it was. Blinking heck. In our first ever official Champions League game Rafael van der Vaart demonstrated all his top-level nous, and played like a man possessed, without any of the rabid insanity. All composed passing and intelligent vision, the mildly cross-eyed Dutch genius coolly bossed the game. And we absolutely rocked. Aaron Lennon was again strangely subdued, despite going eyeball-to-eyeball with the deeply old and slow Mikael Silvestre, but everyone else with an attacking bent handily brought along their A-game.

Par example: it always pains me to say it, but – in the first half at least – Jermaine Jenas was mightily impressive. In fact, I even made a note of the first time I noticed him play a backwards pass: 62 mins, 51 seconds. Until then he buzzed with positive intent and first-time distribution, and his volley to create the second goal was particularly impressive. The Hudd provided a good deep-lying outlet; Kaboul played with aggressive intent at the back; everything was chugging along just tickety-boo. The concession of goals and removal of VDV ruined things, but the first half provided plenty of cause for encouragement, and had me musing that the additions of Modders, Gomes, Daws and Defoe would turn us into a cracking little CL outfit.

Elsewhere On The Pitch…

The AANP theory on Peter Crouch is that the novelty has worn off domestically, so that every Premiership defence feels relatively at ease in formulating a plan to deal with him; but continental opposition, either at club or country level, are inclined to defecate in their shorts at the sight of him, all pointy and long, stumbling towards them like a gargantuan grasshopper. Whatever the reason, Bremen struggled to get to grips with the blighter and he led the line jolly well, holding it up, laying it off as appropriate and taking his goal well. (Didn’t stop me cursing his entire family when he messed up that late chance though.)

I have begun to speculate that everything positive that occurs in the universe is prompted by Gareth Bale, and this near-faultless notion was corroborated by his performance, with the cross for the first goal demonstrating the value of whipping a cross into a dangerous area, rather than trying to pick out a particular chum. Aaron Lennon take note. By contrast, too many bad things happen when BAE gets hold of the ball, and he and Corluka look too much like the weak links in our line-up.

The goals either side of the interval damn well knocked the wind from our sails, and the absence of Mr VDV certainly did not aid matters, as the ball morphed from cuddly pet cherished by all to hot potato feared by every man and his dog, but in the final analysis a point away from home is no mean feat in the Champions League. I don’t doubt that many will demand the rolling of heads, and insist that a more conservative approach is required on European away days, but around these parts the cockles are warmed by the sight of a Tottenham team gamely taking every opportunity to attack, and pinging the ball around in confident one-touch style. I considered that in the first half, even though the away team, we did the right thing in taking the game to Bremen, and had we made it to half-time with a clean sheet we might have returned with three points rather than one. I for one would be a mite disappointed if we abandoned this attack-minded philosophy in favour of defending for a nil-nil, counter-attacking style from first minute to last – but to each their own.

Spurs preview

Werder Bremen – Spurs Preview: An Awesome 5-A-Side Team

Even observing from across the Atlantic, AANP is well aware of the worrying signs that, for all the cheer and merriment created by our Champions League qualification, our heroes are doing a dashed good impression of a pack of mutts who have bitten off more than they can chew. I’m not quite sure how tiredness can be a factor so early in the season, particularly as many of the players had an international break, but there has been a sluggishness to our recent league form, and the forthcoming glut of CL games is unlikely to freshen up any of our heroes.

Still, we can worry about all that on Saturday. Playing in the Champions League cures all known ills, and there is probably no better way to drag the players out of their stupor than to parade them in the front of the cameras to the soundtrack of the CL theme tune and 36,000 braying lilywhites in the stands.

4-4-1-1 Again. Huzzah!

“Da more I interact with humans, da more I learn.”

So drawled Arnie in Terminator 2, undoubtedly the greatest film ever to grace the AANP Towers cinema reel, and our very own glorious leader is demonstrating a similar capacity to modify his behaviour in reaction to external circumstances. In such a manner was the 4-4-1-1 birthed, and as our heroes will be gambolling across foreign soil today, the designated away formation will be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world once again. After Saturday’s periodically abysmal draw at West Brom confidence will be sky high amongst ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums that 4-4-1-1 will make us kings of Europe, and providing that Werder Bremen are no better than the WBA we should be absolutely fine.

Alas, our absentee list would make quite some 5-a-side team, with Gomes, Daws, Defoe and potentially Modders all staring forlornly from the sidelines, but the prospect of Ledley returning to the fold always soothes the savage beasts here at AANP Towers.

The addition of van der Vaart to our ranks reinforces the notion that our side is positively teeming with potential match-winners, and between them I fancy Bale, Kranjcar, Lennon, VDV, Hudd , Pav et al to grab a goal or two. However, this is no ordinary club competition, this is the Champions League – and with such power comes great responsibility, particularly at the back, where dubious defensive lapses will be magnified and punished. A point would represent a fine night’s work – on present form dare we hope for even more?