All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
"AANP - nobody knows what it means, but it's provocative."

Blackpool – Spurs Preview: Nail-Biting Victory Would Suffice Tonight

Spurs fans born yesterday – or at least since around 2009 – may disagree, but following up victory at the San Siro with defeat at Blackpool would not be the most unlikely turn of events at for the heroes of N17. Mercifully the current vintage seem just as capable of digging out tricky away wins to lower-table scrappers as they are of churning out a never-to-be-forgotten glory night in one of Europe’s premier arenas – which ought to prove jolly handy tonight, as our walking wounded leave a blood-stained trail from N17 to Blackpool pier.It’s three consecutive league wins for our mob, wins that are strangely all the more gratifying for being so unglamorous and low-profile. A fourth tonight would have Man City spluttering into their corn flakes tomorrow morning at the realisation that third spot has been sneakily half-inched from their grubby mitts, at least on a temporary basis. Fingers crossed it all works out swimmingly tonight then, or if not swimmingly than at least according to our fairly well-established routine of nail-gnawingly tense late winners.

Team News

“Don’t you forget about me,” warbled eighties Scottish beat combo Simple Minds, a couple of years before we all forgot about them. Anyone loitering outside the Spurs training ground would be familiar with the song, it being plaintively repeated ad infinitum by Niko Kranjcar as he stays behind each day to hone further his already darned-near immaculate shooting technique. Tonight however, he may yet have good reason to whoop “woo-ha” or the nearest Croatian equivalent. Gareth Bale remains out of action, and while Pienaar was preferred on the left last week at Milan, on account of his defensive qualities, Kranjcar’s recent form could well earn him the nod tonight.

Elsewhere in midfield ‘Arry is unlikely to opt for the safety-first option of Sergeant Wilson and Sandro, given that Jenas and Modders are available once more. VDV, Corluka and are the principal casualties from last week, while Woodgate is also back in his natural habitat of the treatment room.

Some tinkering will therefore be necessary – Gallas at right-back, a rare start for Bassong, two in attack – but nevertheless, the remaining personnel capable of walking unaided ought to have sufficient quality to garner three more points. Any fewer would frankly be a massive disappointment.

 

AC Milan 0-1 Spurs: Good Grief. Who Saw That Coming?

Come now, really – did anyone in their wildest dreams expect that? Really? That was not just a victory away to AC Milan, it was an absolute ruddy masterclass in the much-vaunted but rarely achieved art of Navigating Fiendishly Difficult Away Legs in the Champions League. Novices? Fie upon the very suggestion. Our lot look like they were born to play in this competition.First whistle to last our heroes stuck to the drill with a discipline that had me reaching for the whisky in disbelief. Like some super-computer sucking up knowledge at a rate of knots, ‘Arry demonstrated that the lessons of San Siro visits past have been learned, the days of “Just f*ckin’ run about” a distant memory as he adopted the most unlikely role, for one night at least, of tactical genius. Accordingly, our heroes carefully put to one side the gung-ho all-action approach they have spent the past couple of years perfecting, and instead donned monocles and mortar boards for a display of quite astounding maturity and bloody-mindedness. Witness Woodgate, not a cobweb in sight, clearing from a prone position on the floor in the final seconds; Modders orchestrating keep-ball in the dying stages; Corluka bearing a blood-stained ice-pack around his mangled foot; all of which left the Milanese stomping around with angrier and angrier scowls, like over-sized nursery kids, until one felt they might tear off their own limbs and beat each other with them, which admittedly very few nursery kids do these days.

Roll of Honour

Ah the good folk of Tottenham Hotspur FC. Heroes the ruddy lot of them. Sandro and Sergeant Wilson charged around to the strains of 90s one-hit techno wonder Kicks Like A Mule, stomping up to Milanese attacking types and positively screeching into their faces “Your name’s not down, you’re not coming in!” Not only did those two patrol the centre like Robocop and his less frivolous twin brother, but they also showed quite remarkable discipline in restraining themselves from diving in at any point, and avoiding the concession of too many unnecessary fouls.

For his next trick Gomes will presumably travel through time and reappear two days ago, but at the San Siro he settled simply for defying the laws of physics, those two second half saves worthy of Banks and tantamount to goals.

VDV’s every touch was a thing of beauty, the very antithesis of the Neanderthalic buffoon in the opposite ranks, for whom the ball was but a secondary detail. Too easy it is to forget VDV’s disguised chip that floated an inch wide while just about everyone in the stadium and the watching world was looking towards the far post area into which most mortals would have aimed a cross.

Lennon’s destruction of the left-back was almost inhumane (although not in a Matthieu Flamini sort of way), while out on the left the remarkably similar-looking BAE and Pienaar beavered back and forth indefatigably.

The back-four barely put a foot wrong, Daws looking every inch an international, and when all-out assault forced the reshuffle Woodgate slotted in with minimal fuss, and the drill was resumed. The other substitutes did precisely what every good wholesome substitute ought to do, Modric lovingly stroking the thing around for the final ten minutes and Kranjcar poking little triangles, as the enraged Italians looked for something, anything, to kick.

The Goal 

And the finish. Good grief for one horrible moment it looked like Crouch’s legs had assumed minds of their own and were about to sabotage the blighter’s moment, but he avoided tripping over himself in an unholy tangle of limbs – just – and the day was ours.

(Epilogue)

And then it got better. Lest any further evidence be needed that his shaggy mane hides only a great big vacuum between his ears, Gattuso then ignored the likes of resident lightweights such as Pav, Modders and Gomes, and made a beeline for one J. Jordan Esquire. “Nobody wants to see that,” droned Stelling on Sky Sports, rather missing a trick, for Jordan vs Gattuso would be one of the fastest-selling pay-per-view events in television history, even if it would only be a matter of seconds before Jordan tore the little man apart with his bare hands and then chewed on him with what teeth he has left.

(Second Epilogue)

And then it got better still, when all-round good egg and renowned gentleman of the game, Graeme Souness, was swamped within his own bile during the post-match natter and spat out a description of Gattuso as “just a little dog”. Ooh, you could almost reach and touch the hatred.

O

ne or two colleagues have pointed out that the tie is far from over and other such guff, only to be confronted by that most wonderful riposte, The Grin of Delight. Frankly, right now, I don’t care what happens tomorrow, next week or any time hence. After the turgid dross and embarrassment of the 90s and 00s, the last 18 months have provided enough lilywhite glory nights to last me a lifetime. AC Milan 0 – 1 Spurs. Ding dong.

Sunderland – Spurs Preview: A Set-Piece Goal & Other Ludicrous Wishes

Ostensibly I suppose this has little to recommend it. Our lot are without the glamour boys Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart, and there is no Darren Bent sub-plot for added intrigue. It’s the sort of game for which Tony Gubba in the final slot on MoTD was invented – but fie upon the BBC schedulers. From a lilywhite perspective this game is darned well crucial. The eight-game run of winnable fixtures enters its third leg this afternoon, and with Man City the latest of the Top Four to have dropped points opportunity remains bright and gleaming in front of us to continue gnawing away, Champions League-obsessed beavers that we are.The Darren Anderton Award For Most Injured Blighter in Lilywhite is hotting up, with Jonathan Woodgate causing jaws to drop the length of the isle by completing a full 90 minutes in midweek without bits of him dropping off, and a place on the bench beckons accordingly. The absences of Hudd, Bale, VDV and Modders would be enough to reduce other teams to tears and white flags, but while perhaps impairing our quality slightly it does nevertheless give opportunity for various other attacking types to flex their muscles, and Jenas, Pienaar, Kranjcar and Pav could all feature accordingly.

Things it would warm the cockles to observe today include the usual fare, of three points and preferably a clean sheet. If I may be a tad indulgent a return to goalscoring form from Defoe would also be frightfully well received around these parts, and a goal from a set-piece would make a pleasant change too, but I appreciate that I am now veering wildly towards the realm of the absurd. Victory, preferably one not marred by any further injuries, would be just dandy, in continuing our furtive ascent towards the Top Four.

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.

(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.

         

Sunderland – Spurs Preview: Will Another 12 Points Be Enough?

Not exactly sure what the lyrics are to the Champions League anthem (the telly-box at AANP Towers can only ever pick up unspecifiable high-pitched warbling, until that final chorus of “The Chaaaaaampions”) but while watching this midweek’s shenanigans, AANP dreamt the dream – the dream that next season I would not just try to fathom the lyrics from the comfort of my living-room, but actually at the Lane. Just imagine hearing that music blare out in our own little corner of North London. Imagine looking on with pride as our lot are torn to shreds by the cream of Europe. Admittedly we would need to negotiate Shakhtar or someone in the August qualifying round first, but the dream remains – a couple of months hence, it really could be us…12 Points?

‘Arry’s walking wounded have seven games left, and even AANP has entered into the fun and games of calculating potential points totals for the season’s end. Although the specifics are up for debate, my complex scientific methodology – involving the fingers and thumbs of both hands – estimates that around another 12-13 points ought to be enough.

Us (58 points)
Sunderland (a)
Arse (h)
Chelski (h)
Man Utd (a)
Bolton (h)
Citeh (a)
Burnley (a)

Citeh (56 points)
Burnley (a)
Birmingham (h)
Man Utd (h)
l’Arse (a)
Villa (h)
Us (h)
West Ham (a)

Liverpool (54 points)
Birmingham (a)
Fulham (h)
West Ham (h)
Burnley (a)
Chelski (h)
Hull (a)

Realistically, we should take six points from Bolton and Burnley; one more (at least) from City away; goodness only knows what the l’Arse-Chelksi-Utd triple-whammy will produce – but could we grab three more tomorrow?

In theory a win at Sunderland seems a manageable task, if a little tricky, but with the absentee list now including (deep breath) Dawson, Corluka, King, Woodgate, Lennon, Hudd, Jenas and quite possibly Palacios, AANP will personally hand a medal to somebody somewhere if we toddle back from the Stadium of Light with a nice shiny victory to our name.

Team News 

The midfield, potentially comprising Bale, Modders, Kranjcar and Bentley, ought to possess just enough technique and trickery to hold on to possession for the entire 90 minutes – handy, as there is not a ball-winner in sight. Fingers crossed that Sergeant Wilson’s abductor strain clears up by 3pm, but the prognosis, apparently, is not particularly rosy. If any of that midfield four knows how to tackle, tomorrow would be a marvellous time to give a few demonstrations.

All cobbled together rather hastily then, but in attack at least our cup runneth over, with Defoe now fit to join his three chums. AANP wonders if ‘Arry might be tempted to compensate for the lack of a midfield ball-winner by including Gudjohnsen in the starting line-up, to allow us to switch to 4-5-1 as necessary.

No time to feel sorry four ourselves about the injury-list – or indeed to congratulate ourselves on five successive wins. Tomorrow will not make or break the season, but the menality here at AANP Towers is that a team of Champions League standard ought to gain a draw at least from a trip to Sunderland. 

Gary Mabbutt Book Signing – Saturday 3rd April, 12pm, Waterstones Hemel Hempstead

Self-explanatory really – Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of

Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses this Saturday, from 12 noon, at Waterstones Hemel Hempstead. 

(If you can’t make this, fret ye not – further signings by Mabbutt will take place:Waterstones Leadenhall Market, City of London – Thursday 8 April 12.30pm;
Waterstones Stevenage – Saturday 24 April, 12 noon;
Waterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm)

  

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).  

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Stoke – Spurs Preview: There’s A Storm Coming

Boy: Viene la tormenta
Sarah Connor: What did he just say?
Attendant: He said there’s a storm coming.
Sarah Connor: I know.

 

She wasn’t wrong either. There’s a storm coming alright – no less than L’Arse, Chelski and Man Utd, as well as Man City away in the final week of the season. Our heroes won’t quite have to go galloping around town on the run from an indestructible shape-changing policeman with ruddy great big knives for hands, but the task awaiting them next month is still mighty daunting. Even the greatest optimists amongst us might concede that a point or two could be dropped in that run-in. (The upbeat AANP projection is that we’ll actually take seven points from those four games – but that’s a story for another day).So if there is a time to be amassing points, it is the next eight days or so: up at Stoke tomorrow, and at home to Pompey a week hence. We have taken nine points from our last nine, and could feasibly extend this to 15 from 15, which would amount to jolly handy preparation for the forthcoming tormenta. First things first however, and Stoke away will be testing– we imploded there last year (two red cards and a near-death experience for Corluka) and were frustratingly snuffed out by them at the Lane earlier in the season, when they stuck every man and his dog behind the ball, launched a few long throws and mugged us in the final few minutes. However, where there is Bale there is hope…

Defoe Crocked

Well the good news is that nobody in the treatment room will be feeling lonely. Lennon, Ledley, Bentley, Jenas, Woodgate, Cudicini and Hudd have some new company, as Defoe has pulled a muscle, while the boy Rose and Kyle Walker also amongst the walking-wounded. Crouch will presumably line up alongside Pav, while Gudjohnsen will be on high alert and we might even resort to dragging back Keane, kicking and screaming – and pointing – from his latest boyhood idols.

All a bit threadbare then, although our starting eleven still looks strong enough. However, one more sprained ankle or chipped fingernail and we will be turning to Younes Kaboul to carry the midfield through the final few crunch games of the season.

Hudd Contracted

He may not be available tomorrow, but Hudd has been in the news this week, having inked a brand spanking new deal to keep him at the club for a few more years, the lucky devil. Footballers’ contracts do not seem to be worth much these days, and if (hypothetically) Man Utd came sniffing in a year or two it seems a mite unlikely that the big man would resolutely refuse to listen to their overtures, and insist that he honour the remaining few years of his deal at the Lane. Still, even as a fully-qualified cynic I can appreciate that a new contract represents a more positive scrap of paper than a transfer request.

Other tittle-tattle suggests that that Sandro lad is on his way in, while Adel Taraabt may well have talked his way out. In a couple of months, these and other more pressing concerns will have been concluded. ‘Arry reckons another 16 points will do the trick this season. I cannot be bothered to check the veracity of this claim, but given his “Two-points-eight-games” mantra I will assume he knows his numbers. A point tomorrow would not be bad, but if we want to make the Champions League we ought to target three.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).All are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Fulham 0-0 Spurs: Gomes, Dawson & Bassong Beomce Proud Parents

Not a bad result, and certainly no catastrophe, but as Mark Hughes has found to his detriment, the value of a draw seems only to become clear at the conclusion of the following game. Failure to win our next game, at home to West Ham tomorrow, would cast this point at Craven Cottage in the rather gloomy light of one/two points from six; while victory over the Hammers would equate to a haul of ten points from twelve. Sharpened knives therefore sit next to balloons and streamers, as we prepare to laud or castigate our troops as appropriate, for their festive efforts.Taken in isolation, a point away to an in-form Fulham, while not ideal, is not bad; in the same sort of way as vouchers are not a bad Christmas present – unspectacular and undoubtedly anti-climactic, but ultimately of some use in the long-run.

It was the sort of game for which our heroes deserve polite applause rather than that eager over-reaction which we all prefer. The gay abandon with which we have ripped previous opponents to shreds was replaced by some diligent pottering from Kranjcar, Lennon and Keane. All creditable enough, but diligent pottering is not historically the sort of fare to sweep a girl from her feet and have her throwing her underwear on stage.

A couple of changes from ‘Arry, each of which were understandable enough, but while he did not do anything wrong Robbie Keane cannot be said to have made a compelling case for his inclusion again tomorrow against West Ham. Alongside him meanwhile, Crouch offered a few pointed reminders to team-mates that he is more than just a totem-pole at whom head-high long-balls are to be shunted. Some nifty footwork from the lanky one, who went mighty close to registering a couple of goal-of-the-month contenders. Ultimately however, we were on the back-foot as often as the front, and the name in neon lights at full-time duly reflected this.

Having returned to the scene of his career nadir, Heurelho Gomes might have been forgiven for suffering some sort of Sol Campbell-style breakdown as he trotted out of the Craven Cottage tunnel, and about-turning straight back into the changing-rooms to curl into a ball and gibber away to himself. Top marks to the chap therefore. Barely recognisable from the blundering, fumbling calamity of last season, he produced a couple of saves that were worth goals. Now may also be an appropriate time to reflect on the fact that while this time last year I could barely bring myself to watch the horror unfold whenever we conceded a free-kick or corner, Gomes these days tends to gobble up crosses with minimal fuss.

Gomes, Daws and Bassong now find themselves the proud parents of three consecutive clean-sheets, which I doubt anyone foresaw when Woodgate first limped off to join Ledley in the treatment room. Mind-boggling stuff, but a most welcome addition to the Tottenham family. With the best will in the world I venture that it is unlikely we’ll have too many more of these over the course of the season – it’s just not the Tottenham way – so we might as well revel in the moment while we can. With Modders and Ledley being eased back into the fold, and Defoe primed to return to the starting line-up, the glass seems half-full rather than half-empty at the moment, but such status remains subject to change pending tomorrow’s result.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here – or pre-order the ruddy thing here. Cripes! 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here

Everton – Spurs Preview: ‘Arry’s Cunning Plan

The defeat to Man Utd prompted great ear-piercing shrieks of anguish from the faithful this week, much to the bemusement of AANP Towers, where the game had been filed philosophically under “Disappointing” rather than “Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth”.However, with our glorious leader and his trusty coiffeured lieutenant foremost amongst the critics, I have my suspicions that the slightly disproportionate backlash was all just a cunning ploy to keep the players on their toes. If this is indeed the case, I raise a glass to ‘Arry,, an evil genius in the making. Each of the players has presumably been politely asked to up their respective games or suffer a Pavluychenko-esque banishment into obscurity, which hopefully means that the wrath of N17 will now be unleashed upon Everton this afternoon. Admittedly wrath-unleashing has never exactly been a forte of Spurs teams over the years, but if ‘Arry did indeed give them a verbal lashing after the Man Utd game one would hope that they will bound out today with fire in their bellies and something approaching frenzy in their eyes. Resuming where they left off against Villa would go down nicely.

More Of The Same – But This Time With Three Points 

I suspect we would all welcome a similar performance today, but anything less than a win would be disappointing, at least in this corner of the interweb. While it is perhaps a mark of the progress we have made that failure to win away to Everton would be greeted with disappointment, it also reflects the fact that David Moyes’ side have hardly been blowing up any skirts so far this season. We for our part need to show that after the wins against Sunderland and Wigan, and draw at Villa, we can produce some consistency by continuing our unbeaten run. Like wrath, consistency has hardly been a trademark of modern Spurs sides, but Champions League qualification will require it to some extent.

Our rivals have picked up their points this weekend, which adds pressure, although this can hardly be a cause for complaint. If we are to make fourth it will have to be on merit; that our competitors will regularly collect wins is to be expected. The ball remains in our court.

Team News 

After another underwhelming performance in midweek, Robbie Keane can consider himself mighty fortunate if he starts today. White Hart Lane may reverberate each week to lusty choruses of “There’s Only One Keano”, but such refrains only seem to punctuate the grumblings amongst fans about his performances.

On a brighter note, Niko Kranjcar has been in sparkling form on the left in recent weeks, and with Lennon’s crossing from the other flank having noticeably improved there ought to be good reason to sit up and take note whenever we win possession.

I know I ought to let it go, but with each passing week I stare at the Premiership table and ruefully recall the three points dropped at home to Stoke. A win away to Everton would go some way to healing that particular wound.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs: A Better Result For Tottenham Than Last Week?

A better result than last week? Well, no, in a word. As a result, a draw away to Villa is ok on paper, but no reason to go popping corks and lighting Cubans. However, the performance, particularly in the second half, was without doubt one to warm the cockles. If last week was an all guns blazing Terminator 2, this was a well-constructed The Usual Suspects – different genre, but mightily impressive in its own right. 

The nine-goal fest against thoroughly clueless opponents was a fun day out, but there was a nagging worry all week that we’d struggle against a team who did not politely stand aside and usher us through. Such fears appeared to transpire in the first half hour or so, when we were second-best to too many balls – as typified by the Villa goal.Typical Spurs, No Spine, No Fight…

Those who have Spurs down as a soft touch sat back and waited expectantly – only to be stunned by, of all things, a bloody-minded refusal to accept defeat. Towards half-time, and every moment thereafter, we displayed a character which I had not dared think the players had in them. There before our very disbelieving eyes, sleeves were rolled up and hands dirtied, as our lot hammered away until they got a goal. Then they carried on hammering for good measure, in search of a winner. And all this, recall, not against one of the division’s less potent spoilers, but against our closest challengers for fourth. Crikey.

Feet ought to remain grounded – we did not win, after all, and Villa were curiously negative – but that glorious refusal to go down without a fight ought really to have been played out to a stirring Thomas Arne soundtrack. Fittingly enough Michael Dawson was the hero, thumping in our equaliser before presumably riding home on horseback and in full armour, with a sword in one hand and the severed head of a barbarian in the other.

Kranjcar Fast Becoming An AANP Favourite

 

Kranjcar again was superb, making a mockery of those pointless efforts to shoe-horn Robbie Keane into the left-side role. In the first half the Croat seemed to be at the hub of all that was good, raising the notion that a few weeks down the line, ‘Arry might even be tempted to dabble in a Kranjcar-Modric-Palacios-Lennon midfield. I drool in anticipation. The energy Kranjcar injected gradually spread across the team, and before you could say “We-may-be-one-down-at-Vila-Park-after-half-an-hour-but-by-golly-I-think-we’re getting-on-top-here” they were all at it – movement, patient build-up and the occasional half-chance, hinting at what was to come.I had a rant yesterday about the common Away-Team mentality of sitting back and adopting a safety-first defend-and-nullify mindset. Happily however, anyone in Tottenham ranks who suggested this yesterday was taken out the back and shot, while on the pitch we seized the initiative and pounded relentlessly at the Villa door. Another brownie point can be distributed as appropriate for the fact that there was no panicked resort to a procession of long-balls, despite the presence of Crouch up top. Yes, we did occasionally take the aerial route from deep, but this was mixed up with crosses from the flanks, attempts to pass our way in and thumping long shots.

Encouraging Stuff From Hudd 

Elsewhere on the Pitch 

Lennon was generally shackled by two men throughout, only finding any space in the closing stages – but even when not producing the goods, his presence caused panic in opposition ranks.

Bold Substitutions 

Jenas, to his credit (yes, you read correctly) entered the fray with exactly the right attitude. Previously a man maligned for his willingness to pass backwards if his life depended on going forward, he showed attacking intent every time he received the ball, looking to press forward, either via a pass or dribble, at every opportunity.

In the aftermath of the goal celebrations, ‘Arry resisted any urge to alter the planned substitution, instead ploughing on with the replacement of Kranjcar by Keane, when others may well have paused and thrown on a more defensive player instead. It reminded me of a substitution made by Martin Jol (blessed be his name) many moons back, possibly in his first game in charge in fact, when having trailed 2-0 away to Charlton, we got back to 2-2, before Jol threw on another striker and was rewarded with three points. No three-point haul today, but immense credit to all involved, for the positive mentality adopted.

 

If you like what you’ve read you can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

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