All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Everton 2-1 Spurs: “Don’t Panic” – The New “Audere Est Facere”

Hmmm. And flying forward in attack at every opportunity, in gung-ho and open manner, irrespective of who we were playing, where we playing and whether or not we were even in possession of the ball, had seemed like such a fool-proof plan. After all, if 2010 taught us anything it is surely that no matter how many we concede we will always score more? A plan of tactical genius, it could not possibly fail. Ever.Curses then upon those dastardly Everton rotters, who cunningly hit upon the idea of doing exactly the same thing to us, and making merry in the various yawning gaps we carelessly left strewn around Goodison Park.

Today’s Mantra

Still, Spurs fans the world over seem to have spent the day pointedly barking the mantra “No need to panic. You hear me? DON’T PANIC!” at anyone within earshot. We all seem to be agreed that there is no need to make wholesale personnel changes or sack anyone.  Actually, it appears that the instant reaction to defeat will be to sell Robbie Keane, but ‘unless ‘Arry is scarily impulsive I think it safe to assume that this is just circumstance. Perspective is being maintained. Give Gareth Bale a vigorous back-rub, maybe let a couple of them sit out the Cup game at the weekend and I suspect we will emerge from our 45-minute rut in tip-top form once more.

Nevertheless, having approached kick-off with the usual gleeful hand-rub of optimism this was mighty disappointing. The buoyancy of successive clean sheets was instantly destroyed as Gomes was caught staring in disbelief at Louis Saha’s quite astonishing hair, rather than focusing on the ball, during the opening exchanges. He can hardly be blamed, for everything about Saha’s mop defies the rules of normality, leaving him looking like someone has planted foliage atop his head, left it to wither and die and then produced some malevolent spell to turn it the most lurid orange.

However, there has not been any stage this season at which conceding a goal has been a cause for concern amongst our heroes, and sure enough we were level in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Part Two of the plan duly followed, when one of our lot went off injured, but Part Three (Winning Goal) bafflingly failed to materialise, as the steam just seemed to drain from their legs, with composure following swiftly from their heads.

Cause For Cheer: VDV

As ever, VDV gave us plenty about which to smile, but watching him attempt overhead volleys from 30 yards got me chewing over a chicken-and-egg style quandary of what came first: the Dutchman’s insistence that he will only score if it is spectacular, or Pav’s insistence that he will only score if it is spectacular. VDV spent much of the game seeking out new and ever more acrobatic means of peppering Everton’s goal, but alas when a fairly straightforward – if rather sharp – chance fell his way, from short range in the second half, he could do no better than stab it straight at Tim Howard. Oh that the chance had instead been presented to him at shoulder height, when he had his back to goal, somewhere near the halfway line. His disallowed goal was also eye-catching (naturally), but alas, being neither a Man Utd player nor Thierry Henry the benefit of the doubt was not forthcoming.

Perhaps Not Such A Great Cause For Cheer: Crouch

Meanwhile Crouch worked diligently to make our heads explode with another quandary, as we tried to decide whether he should have all his pointy limbs hacked off, dumped in a sack with a slab of concrete and thrown out to sea, as his punishment for plumbing new depths of ineptitude; or whether he should be cherished and adored for the rather specific but nevertheless valuable talent of setting up VDV with uncanny regularity. It ain’t pretty (a comment that could comfortably apply to Crouch’s every movement, ever, but which in this instance applies in particular to the thrashing of the orb heavenwards for Crouch to do his thing and VDV then to do his thing) but it is darned effective.

So cherish and adore him we did, briefly. And yet only moments earlier, towering buffon that he can be, he still managed to demonstrate that knack of aiming a fairly straightforward headed chance anywhere but the goal, before hurtling into an offside position for that late first-half chance. After which he tried to kick himself, but missed. And then grinned about it.

Elsewhere On (And Off) The Pitch

The selection of Jenas over Sergeant Wilson took me by surprise, particularly away from home, when a modicum of restraint might have been deemed reasonable, but it is easy to suggest these things in hindsight. In truth, alas, Jenas’ was one of several fairly anonymous performances, the roll of dishonour also including Lennon, BAE and Kranjcar.

The frustration of the evening was compounded by the opportunity missed, due to points dropped by our cursed rivals, as well as the realisation that the draw against Chelski a couple of weeks back probably constitutes two points lost, rather than one gained. Curses and rude words for sure, but it is hardly a season-destroying result, for who amongst you doubts that our heroes will return in a blaze of attacking glory?

Everton – Spurs Preview: Time For Squad Rotation?

Around ten days ago I mused that I would have settled for eight points from our four Christmas-New Year games. Three games in and we already have nine, which means that the riotously good fun continues into 2011 – still not yet out of the title race, most definitely still in the Top Four race and looking down upon the rotters from Stamford Bridge, languishing beneath us. Glorious fun.Squad Rotation: Not Welcome At The Lane 

I do furrow my brow in contemplation of another possible side-effect, namely that playing the same blighters on a twice-weekly basis will imminently lead to the pinging of a hamstring, or some similarly vital body-part, of someone dashed important. I cannot remember the last time Bale was omitted, while Modders is another who seems to get 90 minutes every time. Admittedly it is not exactly a medical opinion, but I suspect that the practice of non-rotation might have been a contributory factor in Hutton’s injury last weekend, while there was a mild air of sluggishness about everyone in lilywhite during the Fulham win on Saturday.

However the rather compelling counter-argument to all this is that if the likes of Bale and Modric are fit we might as well reap the benefits. When key personnel do get injured/suspended (eg VDV, Hudd, Defoe, the massed ranks of centre-backs) the other chaps simply roll up their sleeves and cope, and moreover, there might be a mini-riot in the Park Lane if Bale were left out one week. ‘Arry seems to have stumbled upon the occasional right call during his time at the helm, so perhaps it would be best if I piped down at this point and left him to get on with things.

Team News 

Flabbergastingly enough we have a jolly good chance to record a third consecutive clean-sheet. While one must never discount the possibility that Gomes will briefly and without any warning completely lose the plot and go rugby-tackling the nearest opponent in the penalty area, the return of the marvellous Daws has stiffened up things no end at the back. On top of this Everton’s strikers are currently being investigated under the Trade Descriptions Act, and my Fantasy League dealings have alerted me to the fact that their principal goalscoring threat, Tim Cahill, is so embarrassed about his countrymen’s surrender of the Ashes that he has scarpered the country under the spurious claim of playing in something called the Asian Cup.

Everton away is traditionally a tricky one, but they appear to be having a rough time of things this season so presumably we will adopt our usual cagey away mentality and go all guns blazing for another three points.

Spurs – Fulham Preview: Form Temporary, Class Permanent

Another day, another game, and really this should be another three points. There is no such thing as an easy game in the Premiership apparently, but if there were Fulham at home would probably be it. While they have just won away, they did so at around the five hundredth time of asking, and on the back of two successive ten-man wins and a two-month unbeaten run our lot are in cracking form at the moment. 

Form is temporary and class permanent, according to the adage, and applying these principles it is fairly uncontroversial to place Messrs Bale, VDV and Modric in the “Class: Permanent” category.By contrast, “Temporarily Corking Form” would be a vastly more appropriate epithet to bestow upon some of the less celebrated, supporting cast members. BAE, for example, may still retain the unique capacity for producing near-catastrophic levels of casualness, but in recent weeks his left-backing performances have been near-impeccable, and delivered with more than a hint of swagger.

Others who seem to have raised their game recently include Sergeant Wilson and JJ, who between them have been manfully attempting to fill the sizeable void left in central midfield by the Hudd. Admittedly I would still rather gnaw off my own arm than add my signature to the petition that anyone in lilywhite passes to Palacios, but he seems to have rediscovered his appetite and general snap, while Jenas  appears comfortable enough when slotting into a midfield of various ball-playing magicians.

And so on. The sum of these various parts is a Tottenham team that at the very least is in cracking form, and, more optimistically, is now pointedly making a case for the permanent formation of a new Top Five and recognition as one of the big guns of the Premiership. Time shall tell – and should the coming year be as successful as the last we ought to have a few more things to cheer – but in order to meet this latter aim, Fulham at home must equate to three more points.

Aston Villa 1-2 Spurs: The Barcelona Five Minutes

Forget the goals, and the red card, and the slightly bonkers refereeing and whatnot – the entire game pales into insignificance besides that quite blisteringly good five minutes just before half-time. Away from home – and down to ten men – our heroes, as they had threatened to do from kick-off, indulged in a lengthy period of the most glorious keep-ball, borne of impeccable technique and worthy of Barcelona. Villa huffed and puffed and we just kept pinging the thing around, in a manner that would have been rather cruel had it not been so absolutely ruddy brilliant.

Fittingly enough, our two goals were jolly special too. I’m sure all Brummies present last night will agree that Modders deserves to have a bronze bust constructed of his diminutive frame outside the gates of Villa Park, solely in honour of the scything 60-yard diagonal pass for Hutton, for the first goal, bisecting half the Villa team. We were then treated to the archetypal counter-attack goal, featuring all manner of lovely touches and awareness from VDV, Bale and Lennon, and all was right with the world.

Not that this was an impeccable performance. Our heroes demonstrated one rather enduring flaw, with what one might term a 90-minute bout of Assou-Ekottitis. Everyone who touched the ball in or around their own penalty area seemed determined to dribble or dink or back-heel their way out of danger. Admittedly when BAE himself executed one-such back-heel at the end of the first half we might as well have stopped the game and enjoyed a full five minute standing ovation, because it really was that good, but the team in general (and, curiously, Modders in particular) took the principles of the beautiful game to a charming but slightly dangerous extreme, with their insistence upon glorious little triangles, no matter how limited the confines and pressing the danger.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

The renaissance of Sergeant Wilson continued; while, most curiously, Gareth Bale stumbled upon the opposite of alchemy, with the result that almost every time he touched the ball in the first hour things went quite awry. Kaboul again gave a performance to suggest that he will become quite the colossus at centre-back; Daws was again near-flawless; Gomes made some good saves and poor judgements.

Those Great Big Officiating Calls In The First Half

Moaning about the ref is not really the modus operandi here at AANP Towers, so the big calls of the first half will be awarded only the most cursory analysis.

Gomes-Heskey Pealty Shout: Thought Gomes got a fist on the ball myself, but if you want objectivity you most certainly have stumbled into the wrong corner of the interweb.

Kaboul Goal: Whole of the ball crossed the whole of the line? Did not appear thus from the comfort of the armchair. The ball was kept in, and the goal should have stood. An incident notable for being possibly the first time in history that anyone in their right mind has ever wished those pointless fifth officials were present.

Defoe Red: Bit daft of the wee man to go flailing his forearms thus, and by the letter of the law the ref will not have lost any sleep, but it was hardly a chainsaw massacre.

And let these incidents never be spoken of again. Instead let us talk forever and a day about the quite wonderful pre-half-time five minutes, the glory of our two goals and the truth, which should by now be universally acknowledged: present us with a powder-puff midfield and we will pass you to death. (Evil laugh, fade out)

We clung on in the final few minutes, but deserved the three points for the deific masterclass of the first 80 minutes. In fact it was so good I thought we deserved four points. No Spurs fans particularly  mind Villa but we all hate Robert Pires, so hopefully Joe Jordan battered the daylights out of him during the post-match formalities.

A fine evening’s work, setting us up nicely for a productive festive fixture-list. What a merry Christmas this has been.

 

Spurs 1-1 Chelsea: Make Sense of That If You Will

Dashed confusing from start to finish. Two points lost or one point gained? What the devil is Gomes playing at? And what the dickens inspired BAE to perform thus?First Things First: Two Lost or One Gained? 

Gomes: Return to the Bad Old Days? 

Time for ‘Arry, and indeed Tony Parks, to earn their corn. We do have a pretty able deputy in Signor Cudicini, but dropping Gomes would probably be a tad over-reactionary. In his defence shot-stopping is generally the strong part of his game, and the mistakes today (and indeed so far this season) have not been due to ineptitude, but rather spasms of mental meltdown. One suspects it would now be in his interests as much as anyone else’s to go through the Christmas period in nice, low-key manner, rushes of blood to the head locked well out of reach for a few weeks.

Daws and Palacios: Returns to the Good Old Days?

On a brighter note however, there were some most encouraging offerings from various others of our clan. Michael Dawson was absolutely ruddy awesome throughout, barely a hint of rust on his broad shoulders. (AANP is quite happy to add its name to the petition to exonerate him from blame for the Chelski goal, on the grounds that he was outwitted by a rogue Ivorian arm.)

Rather spiffing stuff too from Sergeant Wilson, whose performance was a wonderful throwback to those giddying days of early 2009, when he stormed into the Lane and went about mauling any opponent who toyed with the idea of crossing the halfway line in search of our net. With barely a misplaced pass and crunching tackles a-plenty, in conjunction with Gomes’ aberrations, it was like a charming sepia-tinged memory from yesteryear.

As if Sergeant Wilson’s brief renaissance was not sufficiently mind-boggling for one afternoon, further treats were in store behind his left shoulder. Having spent the best part of the season ranting at BAE for his unparalleled capacity for creating trouble where there be none, as he bestowed upon us all the gift of going completely mentally AWOL at the least appropriate moments, I could scarce believe my beady eyes yesterday afternoon, as he delivered a veritable masterclass in left-backery. Heaven knows what got into him, but I would not mind a swig before tonight’s 5-a-side. As with Sergeant Wilson, fingers are firmly crossed that every last details of this performance can be carefully memorised, then transferred identically to next week, and every week thereafter until the end of days. Or at least May 2011.

Pav: Good Day and Bad Day All In One Neat Package

One eye-catching piece of news emanating from the Lane this week indicated that the sinister agent of Pav has been keen to invite Tottenham representatives into his office for vodka shots and contract discussions, regarding his employer. Should any such new deal be inked, I presume that one clause certain to be retained would be the stipulation that Pav is only allowed to score spectacular goals. No tap-ins. No penalties. In addition to scoring spectacular goals it seems he is also permitted to whinge about being bundled over, but nothing else. As such, anyone wondering why he rocked on his heels rather than galloping forward in the second half, when Crouch flicked a header into his path, presumably  needs to be directed to his contract and the stipulations contained therein.

All in all a slightly mixed bag, but I suppose we should be grateful for the point, and concentrate on thrashing Blackpool next week. The unbeaten run is now half a dozen league games, which is far from shabby, considering that they have been juggled with midweek commitments. Moreover, with Daws and Defoe fit again, and various others presumably likely to amble gingerly back into contention, the outlook this Christmas is quite merry.

 

“Spurs’ Cult Heroes”- A Christmas Stocking-Filler

With the Christmas season upon us this seems as good a time as any to reminder ye good folk that AANP’s first book, “Spurs’ Cult Heroes” is on sale now – on Tottenhamhotspur.com, Amazon, Play and WHSmith, as well as in Waterstones and the Spurs shop.

As well as cheerily reminiscing over the Tottenham careers of 20 of the club’s most popular fans’ favourites (Greaves, Blanchflower, Hoddle, Gazza, Klinsmann and the like) the book also covers some of the most fabled traditions etched into Spurs’ history: big European nights, magic Wembley moments, exotic foreign arrivals, questionable musical offerings, dodgy mullets etc. Quite the stocking-filler for the fellow lilywhite in your life.

Birmingham 1-1 Spurs: How to Lose Two Points in 45 Minutes

Curses. There has been some debate across various corners of the interweb, but here at AANP Towers we had rather been enjoying the exalted status of title dark-horses, and accordingly mark this down as two points lost. No catastrophe, but if we can win at the Emirates we should be able to win just about anywhere, especially after giving the opposition a one-goal first-half thrashing, if such a thing there be.Everything looked fairly tickety-boo in the first half. While Birmingham occasionally reminded us that they were taking part, flapping around in their own area and occasionally placing half a foot on the little round thing, we generally bossed proceedings. The usual suspects were summoned and duly earned their corn. Modders dictated matters in between nervous flicks of his mop; Lennon occasionally surfaced to race past his man, before racing just as quickly out of the limelight; and Bale continued his search for new and exciting ways to escape the ever-growing army of deviants sent to contain him.

One-way traffic, which ought to have been reflected by a half-time scoreline greater than one-nil, but such are the hazards of operating with Crouch in attack. He seemed hell-bent on getting all his limbs under control before attempting to shoot. Reasonable enough I suppose, but it made for typically infuriating viewing at times, when the ball itself seemed to beg him to be thumped into the net.

In our official capacity as Kings of the Second Half Comeback we really ought to have known better than to wither away and gently die after the break, but that we did. Irony abounded in fact, for not only were we this time on the receiving end of a late fightback, but Birmingham even used against us that very Plan B to which we assumed we had exclusive rights. On came their giant striker, the aerial bombardment began, the goal arrived. The introduction of Birmingham’s very own slightly inept beanpole as we defended a one-goal lead with ten minutes remaining might have been the cue for ‘Arry to reinforce things with the introduction of Michael Dawson, but such a call is easy to make after the event, and as caution is not exactly in the Tottenham DNA the only substitution ‘Arry plumped for was Princess Pav for Defoe.

Elsewhere On The Pitch… 

Gallas continued to lead by example, and Sergeant Wilson’s ongoing malaise does not really show much sign of abating, but one of the most eye-catching aspect of proceedings was on the bench rather than the pitch. Egads – two substitute ‘keepers! This injury business really is veering wildly out of hand, and with those marvellous FA suits deciding that squads this season are limited to 25 we are only a couple more groin strains from the sight of Cudicini showing Palacios how it’s done in midfield, or even an appearance from Niko Kranjcar.

Elsewhere Off The Pitch… 

Monsieur Bassong has also hinted at a move over the weekend, on the not unreasonable basis that he wants first-team football. He certainly does a handy job as sixth-choice centre-back, but presuming Daws and Kaboul return to fitness (Ledley and Woodgate represent a different kettle of fish) young Bassong’s chances will remain limited, and “adieu” it may well be.

Back to the game. An unfortunate weekend to drop points, with l’Arse and Man City both winning, but it hardly signals the end of our season, and there will be weeks when we profit and others slip up. Six points off top-spot – and on a four-game unbeaten run – represents fairly healthy going, particularly with a decimated squad, so I urge ye to pause before creating those “’Arry Out” placards. Victory against Chelski next week – and we can jolly well fancy our chances – would put us right back in the thick of things and banish the memory of the two points lost here. Silver lining? That our progress is such that we now consider a draw at Birmingham two points lost, while looking forward with confidence to the visit of Chelski.

“Spurs’ Cult Heroes”- A Christmas Stocking-Filler 

 

As well as cheerily reminiscing over the Tottenham careers of 20 of the club’s most popular fans’ favourites (Greaves, Blanchflower, Hoddle, Gazza, Klinsmann and the like) the book also covers some of the most fabled traditions etched into Spurs’ history: big European nights, magic Wembley moments, exotic foreign arrivals, questionable musical offerings, dodgy mullets etc. Quite the stocking-filler for the fellow lilywhite in your life.

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 – 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.

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 – Blackburn Preview: Bloodied Limbs As Far As The Eye Can See

Heavens above, have you seen our injury list? What the blazes are they doing to the players in between match days – wrestling with tigers? Jumping through fiery hoops?  Just standing in a big circle thrashing each other with great big iron bars? Whatever the training drills, something has gone horribly wrong, as Bentley, Hudd, Lennon, Keane, Giovani, Daws, Ledders and O’ Hara are all out, and whinging Princess Pav is a doubt (although I am willing to wager that he’ll be tickety-boo come Saturday afternoon).

 

No further injuries amongst the back-four, which I suppose is a good thing, although given the madness of recent games I’m not entirely sure how to greet the news that Gallas and Kaboul will be strolling out shoulder to shoulder on Saturday.

 

Scavenging amongst the bloodied limbs at the training ground, ‘Arry and chums have actually managed to rescue a midfield that retains a rather exciting look, which is a pleasant surprise. Bale, Modders and VDV have all been cocooned in cotton wool, and will be carefully unwrapped and delicately placed out on the pitch. They ought to be joined by Niko Kranjcar, who has been quietly shuffling towards the exit door in recent weeks. The chap’s grumblings of discontent are understandable, but it was unfortunate that he performed quite so anonymously when granted his neon-lit chance at Bolton last week. I fervently hope he excels tomorrow, because although it is difficult to accommodate him within the current starting XI he did enough last season to indicate that he is a quality player, and one very much carved in the Tottenham mould.

 

Three Points! Three Points!

 

One way or another we really ruddy well absolutely have to pick up three points tomorrow. Concerns about our striking deficiencies, the startling regression of Sergeant Wilson and the cracks in our back-four can probably wait for another day. The eleven who take to the pitch are likely to be the only ones not covered in bandages and supported by crutches, so we will jolly well have to accept and support them. The suspicion here at AANP Towers is that l’Arse and Man City will keep dropping points every now and then, but it won’t matter a jot if we grind to a halt at home to the likes of Blackburn each week. Three points, I beseech ye, three points.

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