Spurs match reports

(Back Catalogue) Spurs 2-1 Villa: Is VDV The New Berba or Asprilla?

Due to the horrors of the real world (new flat! new flat!), a near-lethal bout of man-flu and, most pertinently, a mightily ropey wi-fi connection, many of the AANP ramblings of recent weeks have been trapped, like the three evil types inside the glass prison in Superman 2, on a usb stick, unable to make it to the interweb. However, to ease the pain of the international break, this back-catalogue of previews and match reports will now finally see the light of day – which means that you lucky things will be able to relive all the hundred-miles-an-hour excitement of the past three weeks or so! Huzzah!


3/10/2010: While all and sundry are blurting out every superlative going, do forgive me if I go for something verging on the sacrilegious, but Van der Vaart actually reminds me of Dimitar Berbatov. Not for his sulky, dastardly personality you realise, nor physical appearance nor playing position; but in terms of being an addition to the ranks who is so clearly head and shoulders above his peers. Not since the days of Berba have we had a player whose technique is simply a class above, a player who does the outrageously difficult and makes it seem like second-nature. The sort of things you or I occasionally tried (and failed) in the park with our mates, when no-one was watching. VDV, like Berba before him, instinctively does those things in the middle of a high-octance, competitive game, and makes them look easy. As with the goal midweek against Twente, there was plenty of room for error with his second this afternoon – awkward height, awkward angle; but not a problem for a blinking football genius.


Another Bizarre VDV Comparison


Recall ye that season when Kevin Keegan went mad in a live TV interview? I may be mistaken, but I think that was the season Newcastle went about a thousand points clear at the top of the table by Christmas, but then rather embarrassingly frittered away their lead and ended up being pipped to the title by Man Utd, the poor loves. The reason? Well there were plenty I suppose, but one notable factor was the addition to the squad of Faustino Asprilla at Christmas. Personally I adored the chap, thought he was awesome, and one of the much worthier foreign additions to the Premiership in an era of Lars Bohinen and Anders Limpar, but adding him to an already mightily attacking mix rather skewed Newcastle’s tactics, and games they used to win they ended up blowing.


Fast-forward to N17 in 2010, and VDV is now adorned in lilywhite, and almost certainly better than any of his chums in the dressing-room. The problem is how the deuces to accommodate him. 4-4-2 worked fantastically for us last season. The central midfield of Modders and Hudd outplayed l’Arse, Chelski and Man City. The 4-4-2 worked, home and away. However, accommodate VDV we must, for the awesomeness seepeth from his every pore, and his natural abode appears to be a free role behind the centre forward/s.


But a 4-5-1-playing beast we are not, and there’s the rub. As well as lacking a genuine forward to play this role, there is also the problem of how to accommodate Defoe when he returns (and I personally am saddened that all this nudges Kranjcar towards the exit door, but c’est la vie). Bale, Modders and VDV into a 4-4-2 will not really go, unless the handsome young Welshman is shunted to left-back, which is rather a waste. VDV is no right winger, but we can’t play him and Modders as a central pairing in a 4-4-2, and… Well you get the point. Not that I’m about to solve it. That’s ‘Arry’s job, and in fairness it’s a dilemma about which he has being banging on fairly regularly.


Elsewhere on the Pitch


Back to the game. Still not a fan of lobbing high balls up to Crouch, but in the last two games his lay-offs and knock-downs have brought about goals and penalties and all sorts, so I simply have to grumble in silence on that point. Nice to see Aaron Lennon looking more like his former self; Alan Hutton continues to look the polar opposite of Corluka at right-back; Hudd grew into his role as ad hoc centre-back, but in an ideal world would still be below Ledley/Dawson/Gallas/Kaboul/Woodgate in the pecking order.


Emile Heskey: Scourge of Lightweight Spurs Centre-Backs


For all the talk of Van der Vaart the turning-point in this one was arguably the disappearance of Heskey, injured, in the first half. The ease with he muscled past Bassong evoked a Hollywood-style montage in my head of all those instances over the years on which a Spurs centre-back has been sent flying by a big brusing striker. In fact Heskey himself started it about ten years ago, in his Leicester days, when he powered past Stuart Nethercott or someone and thumped the ball in. Anyway, off he went, back we came and the all-important three points were ours. Pre-match I had hoped for three points above performance, injuries or anything else, and a win against a decent Villa side is a jolly good result.


Spurs – Villa Preview


1/10/2010: This old conundrum again. Whether two games per week is simply too much for their precious limbs, or they really do believe the hype and only mentally attune themselves for Champions League Wednesdays I know not; but for whatever reason our heroes are not coping well with the rigours of a Saturday-Wednesday-and-Saturday-again schedule.


It has been hard enough to cope with Wigan and West Ham; now we face a resurgent Villa side, and I don’t mind admitting I approach this game with a fair degree of trepidation. Generally I like our home performances served up with a healthy dose of swash and buckle, but in the interests of keeping pace with the top-four runners and riders, I will happily settle for all manner of scrappiness if it guarantees us another three points heading into the international break.


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Spurs – Arsenal Preview: Plenty in Reserve?

A good bourbon. Terminator 2 with surround sound. Scantily clad nubile young women prancing around AANP Towers. Just a selection of some of the finer things in life, which get the juices flowing here at AANP Towers, and to this exalted list can be added an evening kick-off at home to l’Arse. Some of the sheen of the occasion may be spoilt a little if the two managers, understandably, decide to mix and match with their team selections, but a rip-roaring atmosphere ought nevertheless to whip up beneath the floodlights.


Rare Opportunities Knock


I neither know nor care particularly who Wenger picks, but amongst our lot there could be a couple of eye-catching selections. Amidst all the drooling over the arrival of VDV, poor old Niko Kranjcar has been left to fiddle with his alice-band from the sidelines. I feel mighty sorry for the blighter, as he is a cracking little player, about whom I suspect all and sundry might rave were he English. A bargain at £2 million not so long ago, his days may be numbered if his path to first-team football continues to be obscured by a couple of Modric and VDV-shaped obstacles, but tomorrow he has a chance to go out and impress.


The morrow will also signal a debut for young Sandro and his sensational beard. High hopes around these parts, not least because of the gradual decline of Palacios, who looks more rookie foot-solider than Sergeant these days, but who will nevertheless also be on show.


Elsewhere, injuries mean that Hutton is likely to start at right-back, while I imagine that l’Arse will be spared torture at the hands of Bale. ‘Arry has already suggested that the worryingly unfit Gallas will not reacquaint himself with former chums, while Ledley will be up in the stands somewhere, firmly ensconced in cotton wool.


Cudicini; Hutton, Bassong, Hudd, BAE; Giovani, Palacios, Sandro, Kranjcar; Pav, Keane.I guess that the starting XI may look vaguely like this, but whoever the personnel I jolly well expect that they go at the other lot hammer and tongs.



RIP Bobby Smith


Tomorrow night should also give us an opportunity to pay our respects to Bobby Smith. Presumably I am not alone in being too young to have seen him in action, but any member of our Double-winning team deserves to be regarded as a hero, and Smith was an integral member of the class of 61. Many a time and oft my old man, AANP Senior, has lamented the absence within the Spurs team of “a great big striker, like Bobby Smith”, and his 200 plus goals for the club merit the highest adulation.

Spurs match reports

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…

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Spurs – Wigan Preview: Same Again?


And so, slightly dizzying, we head straight back to the Premiership. It seems like it was only yesterday we gathered around the wireless to listen to the Champions League draw, with the breathless excitement of children on Christmas morn. From Inter to Wigan in the blink of an eye. ‘Tis a lifestyle to which we will have to become accustomed fairly rapidly.

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There was something vaguely memorable about Wigan’s last trip to the Lane, and memories of that heady November evening, combined with two early-season thrashings, suggest that our visitors may approach this fixture with a fair degree of trepidation. However, I would quite happily settle for a 1-0 win this time, our heroes having put an awful lot into their midweek jaunt.

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Time for all and sundry to murmur knowingly about “squad depth” again, and opportunity therefore potentially knocks for the likes of Kaboul, Bassong, Jenas, Kranjcar, Gio, Pav and Keane, while beady eyes will presumably need to be cast over the fitness of Gomes and Modders. Saturday also heralds a potential debut for William Gallas, and having already offered my tuppence worth on his signing last week I am now quite curious as to what sort of reception he receives at the Lane.

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Alas, I will need to be informed of this and all other developments via furtive text messages while I nod and smile appropriately in church, as AANP is donning its suit to head to a wedding this weekend. Do keep me posted won’t you?

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Stoke – Spurs Preview, Plus William Gallas Musings

After the glamour of Tuesday night’s European jaunt, it’s the seedier side of this Champions League lark today, with our travel-weary heroes heading up north for a fixture that is not quite ideal. Still, if we are to progress in Europe we will need to get used to this business of returning to Premiership fare with a trip to less than entirely salubrious locations.


The fall-out from Tuesday suggests that our lot have just returned from Afghanistan rather than Berne. Defoe, Keane, Pav, Modders and Giovani all apparently ended up amongst the bodies strewn across the Astroturf, and as a result the gangly one will plough a lone furrow up top today.The injuries in attack suggest that ‘Arry may now be forced into adopting some variant of 4-5-1, having occasionally dabbled in it in pre-season. I must confess to feeling ever so slightly baffled at the level of apoplexy that adherence to 4-4-2 seems to generate these days. The hip kids apparently play 4-2-3-1, with plenty of it on show during the World Cup, while a 4-3-3 is the modus operandi for the great and good on their Champions League away days. Thus, in the wake of the Young Boys debacle ‘Arry copped a fair amount of flak for loading up with ammo, removing the safety-catches and going out all guns blazing with 4-4-2. However, the 4-4-2 served us remarkably well in the Premiership, notably in the victories over l’Arse and Chelski, as well as away to Man City, and everything seemed tickety-boo last week at home to City too. I can’ t help thinking that the personnel gets overlooked for formation sometimes, but nevertheless, a 4-5-1/4-3-3 beckons this afternoon.

After effectively dropping two points last week, a win would be particularly welcome today, and come the end of the season, if we are to challenge for fourth again, Stoke away is one from which we would really need three points.

Musings On William Gallas Of All People

By the pricking of my thumbs William Gallas this way comes.

Well first things first: on the credit side, the car-crash that was the first half hour against Young Boys suggests that we would benefit from a central defender with the experience to marshal troops, organise bodies and generally steady the ship whenever it stops violently a-rocking. Gallas also ticks off one of the criteria on AANP’s pre-season wish-list, for an older head to come into the squad and provide a spot of off-the-pitch guidance as well as on-pitch nous, à la Naybet and Davids in years gone by. Moreover, Gallas knows the ins and outs of the English game as well as any defender around.

However, to put it rather euphemistically, the signing has been granted with full-blown wariness at AANP Towers. The blighter has something of a history of upsetting his colleagues and lobbing his toys from the pram, so it remains to be seen quite how positive an influence he has on the squad. As well as this, when we secured fourth at the end of last season, and rubbed our hands in Champions League-inspired glee, Gallas’ was not amongst the list of stellar names anyone had in mind for our summer shopping.

Moreover, I suspect I’m not alone in feeling downright unclean at the prospect of pilfering someone from that ‘orrible lot down the road. I’ve spent much of my adult life loathing William Gallas, and occasionally even expressing the sentiment through the medium of words. From now on I suppose he will receive some polite encouragement from this quarter I suppose, but with the illogical approach fairly unique to a football fan I just don’t like the idea of buying a player from our rivals. If ‘Arry wanted an experienced centre-back to shore things up, I would have thought there were others around to whom he could have turned. Off the top of my head, for example, that Mexican lad Marquez went from Barca to the MLS this summer (I think, may be wrong). He may not necessarily be the chap for us, but just as an example it suggests that there are other players of the required ilk out there, and if ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums had banged their heads together for a couple of hours, they’d have sore heads and quite possibly a list of likely candidates, without having to resort to shopping at the Emirates.

Still, every time I have doubted ‘Arry (from the comfort of my armchair) he has proved me wrong, so I’ll back him on this one too. Through gritted teeth I proclaim: William Gallas, AANP Towers welcomes thee to White Hart Lane.

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Spurs – Man City Preview: Ten Point Wish-List For Season 2010/11

Cripes, it’s upon us. No longer a blurry speck in the distance, the new campaign approacheth sharpish – and as such a wish-list for season 2010/11 is, if nothing else, rather timely…1. Finish Fourth 

2. Gareth Bale to Keep Eating His Greens 

3. Some Top-Class Signings 

4. Bring In An Older Head

I was moved to stand and applaud when Eidur Gudjohnsen was signed in January, not only because of my borderline-unhealthy obsession of the Sheringham role in any given football team anywhere, but also because an older, experienced head seemed like a jolly good idea as we approached a season’s conclusion in which retaining-possession-in-the-dying-stages and general nerve-holding became increasingly important. Ours is not the most boisterous gaggle of young men, and an older head like Gudjohnsen, or indeed Davids and Naybet before him, could potentially prove a handy investment, imparting the odd morsel of wisdom on the training-pitch and in the changing-room, and adding a touch of nous on the pitch. (nb No idea what has happened on the Gudjohnsen front, but I presume, alas, that he won’t be returning to the Lane).

5. Rediscover Sergeant Wilson’s Sparkle 

6. Continued Improvement From Daws (And Hudd) 

7. Be More Clinical In The Crunch Games 

8. More 5-1s and 9-1s 

9. Nurture At Least One Of The Kids 

10. Hit The Ground Running 

First up it’s the paupers of Man City. Strictly speaking it is only three points, but hark back to 16 August 2009, and victory over Liverpool was the perfect start to the season, immediately sprinkling around liberal quantities of belief that we were capable of challenging the Top Four, as well as injecting a most pleasant sense of bonhomie around N17, upon which we toddled off and sat atop the table for a few weeks. Something similar tomorrow against another key rival would be tickety-boo.

I half expect that if City’s owners find out that I write a football blog they’ll make a bid for me too, as their spending spree is verging on the ludicrous, but to be honest if some billionaire foreign sort offered to swan into White Hart Lane and invest several hundred million on new players I’m not sure too many South Stand punters would object. However, for all City’s spending they can only stick 11 on the pitch at any given time, and mano e mano our heroes are certainly capable of three points. Here we go again then…