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West Brom 0-1 Spurs: Four Tottenham Observations

1. Not The Abysmal Showing I’d Been Promised

A confession of sorts to begin with, as it’s generally best to air these things at the outset – I did not view the game live, so by the time the telly-box re-ran the binge in its entirety I was already well aware of the outcome.

The reports I received gave the impression that it was one of those catastrophic affairs, in which the undead roam the streets, cars and buildings are set alight and humanity is generally going to pot. I braced myself accordingly, poured a more generous than normal dram of the good stuff and settled in.

And was pleasantly surprised. I hesitate to say it, as one prefers not to incur the wrath of one’s public, but I thought we started fairly healthily. Admittedly every set-piece swung into our area caused absurd levels of panic, but those were pretty rare as we cunningly hogged possession. Moreover this was not one of those turgid affairs in which the ball is monotonously shuttled sideways, and all and sundry stick rigidly to their place of dwelling, offering no movement.

Au contraire, there was decent movement and the ball was accordingly shoved around pretty nippily, as well as the usual work-rate that ensured we tended to win back the ball before most of the dignitaries had registered that it had gone. Toby was back in the fold, and wasted little time in pinging his diagonals, while the back-three allowed both Vertonghen to sneak into midfield and the wing-backs to set up camp well over halfway.

We made some respectable chances too – both Kane and Lamela were clean through, and Wanyama’s effort drew a save. Frankly, had I not been oddly blessed with the benefit of hindsight I would have suggested that while no classic, we seemed to be peddling our wares in honest fashion.

2. Short Corners

I appreciate that our Glorious Leader would have taken one look at the opposition teamsheet and decided that the aerial route was strictly for extreme circumstances only, but nevertheless the relentless barrage of comically inept short-corner routines that we delivered throughout did rather make one scratch the head.

There was one glorious throwback to the Anderton-Sheringham era, when Eriksen swept in a low corner and Kane swung a boot at the near post.

That aside one received the impression that precisely nobody involved in these little scenes had remembered their lines. It was questionable whether any of them had been rehearsed at all, as nobody seemed quite sure what was supposed to happen, and between two or three men in lilywhite they contrived to oversee an elaborate process of funnelling the ball back towards halfway, or allowing the ball to trickle apologetically out of play. A little more training ground time appears in order.

3. Toby and Danny Rose

Why these two were suddenly included yesterday, having been pretty unsubtly sidelined for months, is anyone’s guess.

Maybe Poch is keen to remind potential suitors of their value? Maybe he would like to see them sharpen up ahead of the World Cup? Maybe he simply puts all the squad numbers in a hat and picks them out at random?

Whatever the rationale, it was nice to see the pair back in lilywhite. Toby slotted in like he had never been away, and seemed to inspire Davinson Sanchez to similarly great heights. That said, the caveat should be added that this serenity applied only to open play, for set-pieces were an entirely different kettle of fish, with none of our lot looking remotely comfortable when peering upwards at the West Brom aerial barrage.

Danny Rose had a marvellous joust with the West Brom right-back Nyom, winning some and losing some but competing throughout like his life depended on it, which is not something that has ever been said of Ben Davies in the entirety of human history.

Rose’s push-and-shove with Nyom, who stood around two feet taller and three stone heavier, was possibly the highlight of the entire game, and although by the letter of the law Rose might have seen red for raising hand to face, the delayed and dramatic dive that followed from Nyom was good, wholesome comedy.

As with Kyle Walker back in yesteryear, Rose seems to be the sort of bean who cares deeply about his personal duels, and has more than a sprinkling of robustness in his DNA. Not the sort of character upon whom Spurs has traditionally built its reputation, and we will be weaker for his likely departure. Even if he did make quite the pig’s ear of his attempted clearance for the West Brom goal.

4. Lucas Moura’s Cameo

One presumes that next season Lucas Moura will be upgraded from Special Guest Star to Main Cast, because glimpses of him have been pretty fleeting since his January arrival, but generally worth the wait.

Yesterday was no exception, as he put his head down and made a beeline straight for the heart of the West Brom defence every time he received possession, drawing fouls and generally prompting our hosts to run scurry around in a bit of a tizz.

While Son, Lamela and Dele all have quick, jinking feet, none have Lucas’ capacity to run with the ball at pace. It nearly did the trick yesterday, despite limited air-time, and it would be good to see the young egg play a more prominent role in things when next season rumbles around.

Like what you read? AANP’s own book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes is pretty reasonably priced on Amazon…

Spurs 4-0 WBA: Four Lilywhite Observations

Enjoying Themselves

Have you ever seen a set of players just enjoying life as much our lot did yesterday? While the pre-match prognostications had naturally been cheery thoughts of how West Brom derailed us last year, and we rarely beat them, and wouldn’t it just be so very Tottenham to follow up a win over Chelsea with a pickle against WBA – our heroes sauntered onto the pitch as if they had been having the mother of all jollies in the changing room, and were determined that nothing as irrelevant as a referee’s whistle was going to interrupt their fun.

West Brom trotted out with miserable countenances and a 6-3-1 formation, rather like a chap who sits next to you at a dinner party and spends the night complaining that he loathes nothing more than being at dinner parties. Mercifully, our lot could not have given two hoots, and spent the afternoon running rings around them. Such was the merriment that Wanyama was bursting through the middle to create the opening for the first goal; Danny Rose was racing around in the right wing position to set up the second; and a pre-injury Jan Vertonghen was lapping up every opportunity to bound forward in search of whatever glory was going spare. It was an absolute riot.

West Brom, with their hangdog expressions, dutifully chased shadows, but I cannot remember seeing a team dominate possession quite as much as our heroes, in that first half in particular. Seasons changed and empires rose and fell before West Brom got a foot on the ball. In years gone by our heroes have struggled against brick walls and locked doors when faced with these defensive mobs, but yesterday it seemed they could carve out chances at will.

Eriksen

‘Derided’ is a strong old term, but the chap has certainly taken the odd verbal biff from these quarters, in months gone by, for not really turning his abundant talent into the full twenty-four carat once on the pitch and in the thick of battle. But by golly there were no such concerns yesterday. If there were a whiff of magic in the air, Eriksen was more often than not in the vicinity, wand in hand.

Admittedly charging down free-kicks in his capacity as a one-man wall was not really in the remit, but in so-doing the well-mannered young bean seemed to reinforce the view that pretty much everything he touched would turn to the bright stuff. There were tricks and flicks, scything diagonals, and generally puppet-mastery of the highest order.

And it has been thus for several weeks now. The chap does occasionally seem to stumble upon these purple patches, and for a couple of months makes the game look as easy as the nabbing of candy from a minor. Which is obviously marvellous stuff, and six wins in a row smacks of us making balefuls of hay while this particular sun has shone. The nub of the thing is that Eriksen keeps up this form. The whole system is working dreamily at the moment, and there are creative options a-plenty – as West Brom will wearily testify – but an on-song Eriksen does make the various bits and pieces tick in most pleasing manner.

Cracking Goals

When up against a six-man back-line – not to mention a goalkeeper who struts around with the air of a man who knows he has in fact been sired by one of the gods – that early opening goal is pretty dashed crucial. All that dominance might have become something of a millstone if we had trundled up to half-time without a breakthrough, and as such any old opening goal would have been gratefully received.

We were rather spoiled then by a selection of goals which may not necessarily live too long in the memory, but which were classy enough to be waved into clubs with strict dress codes nonetheless. The little pinged passes and precise finish for the opener were slick enough to be presented to visiting dignitaries.

Admittedly the second had as much luck about it as guile, as the persistence of Rose and Dembele were rounded off by the umpteen deflections, but if you ping 20 shots at the opposition goal, one would expect one of them to be coated in good fortune.

As for the third, I have already sent my application for membership to its very own fan club. The accuracy of the drilled Walker pass was bona fide eye of the needle stuff; and one would have to be a particularly curmudgeonly sort – a West Brom player perhaps – not to enjoy the acrobatic scissor-kick finish.

Then there was the scooped Dele Alli pass for the fourth. Frankly, there should be a law against such stuff.

Vertonghen Injury Repurcussions

Alas, there was a blot on this particular escutcheon, in the right-angled shape of Jan Vertonghen’s ankle. The beauty of this current all-conquering vintage is that the entire XI seem to play their roles to perfection and gel with one another absolutely dreamily. Remove one part, and… well. One rather wonders.

Ben Davies performend the role commendably enough during the Euros, and the alternative would presumably be Kevin Wimmer, whose performances so far this season have not quite matched the impressive heights of last season. I rather hope that the last cab on this particular rank is reversion to a flat back four, because unless Vertonghen and Alderweireld are at its helm this is not a structure exactly oozing infallibility from its every pore. One for the Brains Trust to ponder over.

The injury to Vertonghen does also direct a little attention towards what is, if not exactly an elephant, then certainly a mammal of relatively conspicuous proportions. This starting XI has an all-singing, all-dancing and frankly all-conquering feel about it. However, once the reserves are called upon – and the Europa League soirees kick off once more – I fear that cracks might appear in this thing. Worries for another day perhaps. This was arguably our finest, and most enjoyable performance of the season.

WBA 1-1 Spurs: 3 Lilywhite Observations

1. Lloris Worth A Goal A Game

Once upon a time, in the big, cuddly teddy bear days of Martin Jol (blessed be his name), there ran a theory in AANP Towers that between them, Paul Robinson and Ledley King (even blesseder be his good name) were worth a goal to us every game, by virtue of their last-ditch heroics. Not a particularly watertight theory, you understand, no randomized control trial or pivot tables or anything like that, but certainly one spouted with the greatest seriousness in the watering-holes of North London by yours truly.

Fast forward a decade or so, and a similarly evidence-lite theory is beginning to surface around Monsieur Lloris. We come to take these things for granted now, in this halcyon era of unbeaten runs and all-action pressing and whatnot, but last week against Chelski and yesterday, quite remarkably, against West Brom, he pulled off saves of the absolute highest order. Both of which seem to have drifted a little past the public consciousness, ensconced as they were in the midst of a couple of draws that ranked slightly higher on the huff-and-puff scale than on the corresponding blow-your-skirt-up-with-non-stop-pulsating-action axis. But the point remains – Lloris has done the preventative equivalent of scoring a sensational goal, in both of the last couple of games.

2. Absence Makes The Heart Grow A Mite Fonder

Those of you cursed to have been within muttering distance of yours truly last weekend would have had to put up with assorted grumbles along the general line of young Mason’s energy and enthusiasm are all well and good for general Premiership fare, but the blighter has always seemed to lack that dose of je ne sais quoi that elevates a man to the higher echelons of these things in the crunch fixtures. He certainly puts in a shift – last week being a case in point – but in the biggest games of the season simply tearing around the place is not sufficient. As a replacement for Dele Alli, in a game against the champions, the decisive spark he failed to provide. Hardly a damning criticism, more just the genera way of things.

Yesterday however, with Mason trussed up in swathes of bandages somewhere off-stage, it dawned on me as the second half wore on that by golly we could use some of that energy, bite and young incandescence with life, with which he typically bounds in either headless or head-bearing fashion.  West Brom were beginning to win every loose ball, and when even Eric Dier’s trademark trundle was failing to win us the 50-50s, the thought occurred that maybe we might have benefited from removing one of the front four, who deal more in sparkle and fancy trickery, and bringing on a man like Mason, who has somewhat more about him of the canine straining at the leash. Just to wrest back control of the thing.

All academic of course, but funny how absence makes the heart grow stronger in these situations.

3. The Centre-Backs – Only Human

In a train of thought that veered rather dramatically off the rails, I ended up last night wondering what the opposite of ‘invincible’ might be. Just plain ‘vincible’ seemed to tick the boxes, except that it’s not really a word, which seemed a fairly critical stumbling block. All of which came about as I observed Messrs Vertonghen and Toby going about their gainful employment yesterday.

No doubt about it, this pair are as solid and reliable a centre-back combo as we have trotted out in many a long year, but this is not to suggest that they are entirely without flaws. Witness the moment when Vertonghen was outpaced and then rather easily barged aside by a thundering opponent in the first half yesterday, after the pair of them failed to deal with a fairly unceremonious punt down the middle. Exhibit B was Toby’s decision to leave to the gods of the six-yard box a ball he could easily have cleared in the closing stages, presenting a chance for a West Brom winner that had Kyle Walker scrambling to hack the thing clear.

‘Only human’, as the chap said to Keanu Reeves towards the end of The Matrix, when holding a gun to his head, and it captures the gist of the thing about Vertonghen and Aldeweireld. A fine pair they are, but such has been our solidity at the back this season that it has been easy to forget that their little Flemish axis will occasionally be breached.

And maybe that’s the nub of the thing – few sides are pootling along in quite such fine fettle as our lot this season, but they are only human, and jolly young humans at that, so mistakes will be made. Back in August few of us dared to hope for much more than a top-five finish, so it would be remiss to chide them for failing to meet heightened expectations. They’re getting there. It remains ill-defined precisely where ‘there’ is, but they most certainly are getting there.

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West Brom 0-1 Spurs: Man-Love For Holtby

Has the good ship Hotspur ever enjoyed such a serene voyage? From the moment that angry lad spat and walked this eased into an absolute stroll – one-way traffic throughout the second half, and even though the lead was but one goal there was none of the usual frenzied panic that accompanies the final five minutes. Most odd. Topping, but odd.

He Plays On The Left…

AANP will graciously leave the superlatives to others for now, but chin-stroking a-plenty in these parts after seeing the impact of our handsome young Welshman over the last week, when unleashed and allowed to gallop wherever he jolly well pleased. I suspect there is nary a lilywhite in the land who has not at some point grumbled that Bale plays on the left and on the left he should stay – but by golly when the urge grabs him he certainly knows how to leave a trail of destruction down the centre, what?

The young blighter is capable of spontaneously laying match-winning eggs from any position, but 90-minute match-bossing is a dish best served from the centre, and frankly just about anything at which it was worth tipping one’s cap on Sunday emanated from Bale’s careering frame. On top of which, this whole can of worms rather gets inverted and painted an odd shade of green when one considers our general paucity of strikers. The mind boggles.

A New Man-Crush

But never mind Bale – old news, and the lad will be off in a year or two. The future is Herr Holtby. Those boy-band looks are actually quite irritating to one growing old as grumpily as AANP, but the work-rate of Parker, coupled with the delightful attacking awareness and defence-bisecting first-time passes of some sort of VDV-Sheringham hybrid, most certainly strike the right note. With Dempsey putting every ounce of effort into assuming the Jenas position of Most Infuriating Lilywhite On The Payroll, the arrival of Holtby goes a long way to putting the ‘ahoy-hoy’ in ‘geronimo’, if you know what I mean. A Bale-Holtby-Lennon triumvirate merrily interchanging the night away behind Defoe/Adebayor suddenly turns the evening drink from one of fretful concern to blithe inebriation. And huzzah to that.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

Other points of note were distracting rather than particularly important. The first half West Brom aerial bombardment may have contained about as much subtlety as a spade to the back of the head, but it still had me yearning for Kaboul (and also prompted a bit of wondering around these parts as to what the future might hold for the overly-vowelled Lukaku).

Back in that era when our back-four were still being posed problems – an era referred to in the annals as ‘The First Half’ – there was a suspicion that Messrs Walker and Assou-Ekotto had but one brain cell between them, and were not using it particularly wisely, as they repeatedly made a mess of the offside trap and short passes and basic goal-side marking. No real harm done however.

Naturally enough, the Defoe injury was greeted by the sound of about a million exasperated Spurs fans slapping palms to foreheads and muttering in no particular order the phrases “Transfer window… strikers… injuries… Levy… Bother”. Mercifully, the all-singing, all-dancing virtuoso display from Bale, coupled with the charming start offered by Holtby and Togo’s ANC elimination, suggests that this may be a bullet dodged. All a tad precarious though.

However, all things considered (two away games, striker shortage, Sandro injury) this could reasonably go down as the footballing equivalent of a chap jauntily going about his business, with his lips emitting a cheery whistle no less. Toodle-pip for now.

West Brom – Spurs Preview: A Useful Mantra Ignored

Here at AANP Towers we love a good mantra, as many an unimpressed would-be paramour can presumably confirm. “Never turn down a free drink,” has often been trumpeted, and then slurred, and then sobbed, and then snored in a cab on the shoulder of a long-suffering and impressively loyal chum. “They mostly come out at night… mostly,” is well worth remembering, lest ye ever find yourself sans one working spaceship on a foreign planet whilst being emphatically blitzed by hordes of less benign salivating types; but back in early January the official AANP line of choice was, loosely, “Bag ourselves a top striker and the Top Four is surely ours”. The sort of line that really deserved to be appended by a scarily evil laugh, it may have been impossible to verify but it made a solid enough point. With the big lad on a different continent, the wee man nursing a sore pelvis and Dempsey and Sigurdsson being – now, how can one put this delicately – NOT ACTUAL FORWARDS, it seemed straightforward enough. All areas could in theory be strengthened, but from 1 Jan there seemed to be an element of urgency about the forward line. In case, for example, just plucking a random scenario from the air, one striker toddled off to a different continent and another had a sore pelvis.

But alas, after the last-minute attempt to lure Leandro Damaio went the way of all flesh AVB sagaciously noted that the deal would probably have been secured if only we had had more time. Would a month have sufficed, Andre?

Still, not all doom and gloom. Far from it. Jenas is no more for goodness sake – someone slaughter a fattened calf! On top of which, despite the recent stutters in Cup and League we remain handily placed, the boy Holtby showed a few touches of panache during his cameo, and up in third spot the rotters from Chelski continued their ongoing implosion. Opportunity knocks for sure. West Brom have hit some high notes this season, but Top Four qualifications were built upon wins in games such as this.

In terms of personnel, the usual card-shuffle can be expected at the back, but the more interesting conundrum is in attack, where AVB may be tempted to start with Holtby and give Dempsey a furtive elbow in the ribs as he takes his seat on the bench, for Services to Ineffective Half-Midfield-Half-Attack Meandering. Fingers crossed that Defoe is match-fit.

Spurs – West Brom Preview: An Interruption of Transfer Scheming

At times this week AANP has been reminded of those halcyon days studying for a Philosophy degree through the medium of countless hours (days? weeks?) on Football Manager, when occasionally the inconvenience of a match would interrupt the hours (days? weeks?) spent on the fine art of transfer dealing. Thus have events in the real world transpired, for the respective sagas of Modders, Daws, Hudd, Bassong, Adebayor, VDV, Defoe, Willian, Leandro and various others must now be interrupted for 90-odd minutes, during which our will heroes struggle to break down a resolute nine-man West Brom defence before being suckered by a scrappy poke from a set-piece.A second debut awaits for Adebayor, and although AVB’s nose did appear to grow as he insisted in yesterday’s press conference that Defoe remains part of his plans, our glorious leader nevertheless hinted that he might one day play Defoe behind Adebayor. This would seem to turn his 4-2-3-1 into a straightforward 4-2-4, but let’s not worry about the minutiae for now.

One of the failings of the ‘Arry era was the inability to break down nine-man defensive units. While AVB’s glossy, new, up-tempo formation had some joy against a an attack-minded Newcastle on their own turf, it remains to be seen how penetrative it will be against a band of merry man content to play from first minute to last for a nil-nil. Given the context, a scrappy, single-goal home win would be fairly gratefully received in this quarter.

West Brom 1-3 Spurs: One Of Our Best – M.H.E.P.L.G.W.T.S.

Desperately sad news about Gary Speed – RIP

Within a day or two it will inevitably be swallowed within the black hole of wondrous statistics about just how darned good the current crop are (best start to a season since the ’61 Double-winners, since you ask), but the win at West Brom has muscled its way into AANP’s exalted list of Most Hard-Earned and Pleasing Little Gaggle of Wins This Season, or “MHEPLGWTS” as we like to call it for ease of reference.

To win 3-1 away is one thing, but to do so having gone behind and been largely out-played and out-muscled in the first half, by something resembling a team of Scott Parkers, is quite another. Moreover, in the absences of both Modders and VDV this whole bally thing was achieved in the absence of half of the heartbeat of our team, if you excuse the invocation of a tenuous and frankly impossible medical metaphor. A quite sterling effort, rewarded not only by three points but also by the dropping of points by Man Utd, Newcastle and l’Arse. A fine weekend’s work indeed.

First Half Struggles

As noted, our vanquished opponents deserve some credit or making life quite so awkward. Rather than kick and hack their way through proceedings, or lasso all eleven back to the edge of their own area, they had quite a pop at our heroes in the first 45, pinning us back and making life jolly uncomfortable. ‘Twas noted with a raised eyebrow at AANP Towers that Ledley looked a little less than his usual stately self at the back, and the defence in general seemed to exude more than just a whiff of general panic in the first half. Mind you, the struggles of Ledley were suitably expiated for by the performance of Kaboul, fast maturing from reckless man-child with weirdly sculpted eyebrows into full-blown colossus, and not just because he can head the ball further than I can kick it. The odd mistake still creeps in – ball-watching, needless fouls – but these days he waves that “Thou Shalt Not Pass, You Swine” placard in convincing manner.

Life Without Modders and VDV

Things perked up after the break. Scott Parker continues to charge around as if playing each game in the knowledge that his parents are watching him for the very first time; while Sandro displays an infectiously boyish enthusiasm for things (albeit an enthusiasm that very nearly earned him a second booking). Sandro has a bit more to offer in terms of moving forward, and the pair generally seemed to take it in turns to supplement attack, with Parker even eschewing the safety-first sideways/backwards keep-ball approach that usually constitutes his ball-playing diet in its entirety. However, despite the best efforts of these two we did lack the je ne sais quoi that Modders and VDV typically offer.

In the absence of these two particular talisman, our heroes made hay through the aesthetically sublime approach of moving the ball quickly. It may have lacked a little of the cutting-edge provided by Modders/VDV, but by pinging the ball around quickly we got ourselves back into the game, patiently it hither and thither until the spaces appeared, and the little legs of Walker, Lennon, Bale and Defoe sped blurrily into the great big swathes of greenery in front of them. It is a credit to the on-ball technique and off-the-ball movement of our lot that the man in possession always has a couple of options.

Cutting-Edge in Attack

Ultimately however, the difference was probably that, as against Blackburn, QPR and Fulham in recent weeks, our attacking types have that little bit more quality than the opposition. Whereas previously it has been VDV, Bale or Lennon, yesterday it was the finishing of Defoe that was a class above. Where West Brom were profligate, we were clinical. As has been discussed ad nauseam, he has his critics, of whom AANP is not one, but no matter how selfish, one-dimensional or ignorant of the offside law one considers him to be, he is one heck of a finisher. (Curiously for one who has now scored four goals in a week, I still think that Adebayor needs to work on his finishing, but his overall contribution remains immense.)

And so it continues. There remain a good two third of the season left to play – but who amongst us would not have taken this situation back in August, when City were thumping their fifth past us?

West Brom – Spurs Preivew: Let Not The Bubble Burst Today

Anyone else reached the slightly absurd conclusion that we should really win all but two of our remaining 27 fixtures? The bubble will presumably burst at some point, but if the earth continues its merry rotation around the sun in the time-honoured fashion of a few thousand years there is little reason to expect anything other than the standard, slightly tortuous three-point haul.

However, while on paper, or indeed the interweb, our lot should outdo West Brom , anyone who fails to recall our frustrations against West Ham, Wigan et al last season need only refer to England’s recent one-shot-on-target victory against El Spanish a couple of weeks back. Note ye well, oh lilywhite heroes, this may prove a struggle, despite our player-for-player superiority. In particular, the concern around these parts centres upon our ability – or lack thereof – to defend set-pieces.

Wholesale team changes are somewhat unlikely, but some murmurings suggest that VDV might be a doubt, in which case ‘Arry must decide whether to employ Defoe within a 4-4-2, or something a little more circumspect, possibly involving Sandro. One would be inclined to slap a proportion of the weekly earnings upon “Away Win”, and another Villa-esque stroll would be quite ripping, but one suspects this could be slightly harder work.

West Brom 1-1 Spurs: The Glorious New Era Begins

 With apologies for the tardiness – this missive is penned from a NYC-to-DC coach, as the all-action holiday in America continues.

Thus began the glorious new era. Designed with a view to travelling to the San Siro and such places, and chastened by the Young Boys plastic pitch experience, ‘Arry  unveiled his brand spanking new and eagerly-awaited  4-4-1-1 away formation, and I found myself anticipating it in the same excited manner with which I used to look forward to the launch of a new away kit, as a nipper.

Back in 1991 it was a yellow Umbro number with jagged blue flashes on one shoulder and the shorts. In September 2010 it was 4-4-1-1, with Rafael van der Vaart in the hole behind the front-man; Modders and Bale working the left; Lennon wide right; and Sergeant Wilson and Hudd providing a central buffer for the defence. On paper it looks awesome, in Championship Manager it probably would work a treat, and for 20 minutes or so on Saturday it seemed a grand idea, but by the full-time whistle our heroes were hanging on in far from convincing manner, and it was apparent that this wondrous innovation required some tweaking.

Homework for This Week

The return of the walking wounded, coupled with improved fitness amongst the newbies, will probably improve matters, but neither manager nor players ought to be short of things to practise in the coming days. Messrs VDV and Gallas would probably benefit from a few shuttle runs and a bleep test, but the former at least showed, sporadically, that he will be a rather tasty addition to the White Hart Lane cast list. Our glorious leader has been licking his lips at the prospect of VDV and Modders getting better acquainted, and it is not difficult to see why, but that particular best-laid plan went fairly swiftly agley on Saturday. As Modders hit the deck and departed stage left, the signal was given and the Bell of Doom duly rung at AANP Towers. Mercifully however the prognosis is not too serious.

Modric’s departure did not help, but in general the midfield made dashed hard work of things. When a greying, pot-bellied Hudd gathers around the grandchildren several decades hence and tells them tales of his glory days in the Tottenham midfield, the September 2010 game away to West Brom is unlikely to figure too prominently in his rich tapestry. With all around him eagerly charging forward he seemed a little uncomfortable with his role alongside the Sergeant, of buffering the back-four.Palacios meanwhile is diligently continuing his fall from grace, with another performance of questionable quality. His arrival some 18 months ago, and the six months of glorious tenacity that followed, seemed a lifetime away on Saturday. Grumblings of discontent will presumably be increasing in volume around the streets of N17, and the name of Sandro more frequently thrown into conversation. Disappointing stuff too from young Aaron Lennon, while the new-look defence will also need to rehearse their lines a little better and poor old Pav beavered away without much joy in the lone striker role.

 

Must Do Better Chaps…

A draw away to West Brom is not quite disastrous, but if this is the prototype for Champions League away days then by golly our heroes need to sharpen up their act. One point from two eminently winnable games suggests that much elbow-grease will be required (not to mention a striker capable of leading the line on his own in a 4-5-1) if the glories of last season are to be replicated.

Sincere thanks to SiberiaSpur for providing the info that enabled me to watch the soccer out here…

West Brom – Spurs Preview: Treatment Table Tales

After the mind-numbing inactivity of the summer, this international break brought us more excitement than we could shake a stick at. All initial joy at seeing Michael Dawson march out in the England starting line-up was pretty swiftly tempered by the sight of his knee and ankle turning in about eight different directions as he hit the turf. After his Cup Semi-Final slip last year, the poor blighter must be sitting in his hospital bed plotting how best to burn Wembley to the ground. On the bright side, it is a relief to know that an injury that looked potentially season-wrecking, to the admittedly untrained eye, will only bring about an absence of eight weeks or so.Further up the pitch, there was a dark lining to what had initially seemed a pretty silver cloud in Jermain Defoe world. His England hat-trick charmingly highlighted all that we love most about him – that insistence upon hitting the target hard and low – and, rather startlingly, he also added all manner of extra tricks to his repertoire, holding up the ball, bringing others into play and generally acting like a goalscoring version of Emile Heskey. Quite bizarre. However, it ended with an ankle knock that some dark sources suggest will keep him out for several weeks. The disclaimer to bear in mind here is that a couple of weeks ago he supposedly needed groin surgery, before deciding that actually he was fine and dandy.

Transfer Gubbins

After three months of frustration we can now sink our teeth into some shiny new signings. We finally have a face to apply to the name Sandro, and although he may require five minutes or so to bed into the North London way of things, hopes are high that he will prove to be essentially an improved model of Sergeant Wilson. I also look forward to seeing more of his magnificent goatee.

AANP Towers also throws open its doors to welcome into town Rafael van der Vaart and his delectable wife. Not entirely sure how ‘Arry plans to shunt his new recruit, Modders, Kranjcar, Hudd, Sergeant Wilson and Sandro into central midfield, and furthermore the transfer hardly solves the problem of our lack of a hulking big centre-forward to lead the line,  but I have no problem with the addition of quality personnel.

 

Three Points RequiredAmidst all the excitement it is easy to forget the little matter of a trip to West Brom on Saturday. No matter the distractions of our midweek Champions League jamboree, three points are fairly blinking important after the Wigan debacle last time out. ‘Arry has displayed something of a reluctance to rotate his squad unless forced to by injuries, but with games coming thick and fast this autumn he may opt for some pick-and-mixing in the coming weeks.AANP on Holiday

Parish noticeboard – AANP has taken off to the land of Kasey Keller for a couple of weeks, so match reports might be at a premium.

 

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