After another disappointing performance and outcome for Tottenham Hotspur Ciaran Griggs steps up to give THFC1882 his report and thoughts.
Sigh. We can’t go on like this.
Spurs continued their alarming run of form with a dismal 1-0 defeat to QPR. Coming into the match, Spurs were expected to arrest their slide against one of the Premier League’s new boys. QPR haven’t always found life in the PL easy but were coming into the match on the back of some very solid home form, having beaten top 4 sides at their ground this season. On the other hand, Spurs are yet to win away in 2012, a shocking record given the talent available to Harry.
The omens weren’t good for Spurs when the pre-match team news came out. Nelsen was injured, along with Saha and Adebayor, both of whom failed late fitness tests. That means that Spurs entered the match with King and Gallas at centre-half, with Bongani Khumalo on the bench. At least there was cover in that position though. Defoe was named up front and there was no recognised cover on the bench – we ARE a side challenging for the top 4, right? There is a danger that, with such a lack of options in the team, that the players try to force the game and become tense. Playing, knowing that there is no alternative for you must give you tired legs before the whistle has even blown.
So the full-team as it lined up;
Walker – King – Gallas – Assou-Ekotto
van der Vaart – Parker – Modric – Sandro – Bale
Looking at the rest of the team, we again played our first choice full-backs, who’ve had little or no rest this season. To counteract QPR’s more combative style, Harry selected 2 defensive midfielders, the idea being that Parker and Sandro could both destroy and hold whilst Modric sought to release Bale, van der Vaart and Defoe.
As the game started, Spurs were initially on the upper foot, with our midfield controlling the game. The pattern continued for much of the first half, with QPR having sporadic attacks. Of the opposing team, Mackie looked the brightest talent, with a couple of foraging runs down the right wing. Taarabt was disciplined, tracking back which helped QPR to keep their shape. Our main threat came in the shape of a Bale header from a corner which was tapped over by Kenny. Not long after that, Kenny was again called into action as a van der Vaart drive flew at the QPR goal.
In keeping with current Spurs patterns however, QPR took the load towards the end of the first half. Sandro went into a 50-50 challenge and as the two players went down, his hand inadvertently brushed the ball. Referee Clattenburg (Yes, we remember Mendes) gave a free-kick from a middle distance. Friedel setup his wall but despite that, Taarabt dinked an effort over it into the corner, as we watched poor positioning from our goalkeeper and poor jumping from our wall. Friedel has saved us far more times than let them down this season though, so we can forgive him that one. Half-time came at 1-0, the home side far the happier.
At half-time, Harry made a rare early substitution, swapping the largely ineffective van der Vaart for the more attack-minded Lennon. Unfortunately for Spurs however, the change yielded little benefit as Lennon and Bale spent the entire second half trying to fill in the van der Vaart role and tightening Spurs up completely. Our lack of width goes completely against the joyful, attacking Spurs of late 2011. Spurs enjoyed the majority of the possession in the second half, but failed to find any type of penetration against a resolute QPR side. QPR were determined to win this, Spurs were fatigued, bereft of ideas and bereft of options. Taarabt even did his maverick best to assist his old club by picking up a thoughtless second yellow card for kicking the ball away, with a little over 10 minutes remaining of the match.
The match drew to a close at 1-0. QPR celebrated, Spurs trudged off the pitch. Memories of 3rd place are now long gone and Spurs face a desparate fight for 4th place, with Chelsea and Newcastle both hitting their stride. Spurs lack of investment in strikers, and centre-halves, along with the asset stripping that occurred to our squad in January, have led to a threadbare squad, demoralised and tired.
Where do we go from here? 5 wins in the last 6 became 4 wins in the last 5. 4 wins in the last 5 has become 4 from 4. All the time, our manager is “100% confident” that we can achieve it. Title challengers to Europe league hopefuls in the space of 3 months…Is it all over? Not quite, I say. The fat lady is dressed and she’s back stage waiting for Ant and Dec to beckon her on. IF Kaboul and Adebayor can return to fitness and IF Bale and Lennon can re-discover their ability to stay wide,we can still do it!
Ciaran (@LordFIMM on Twitter)
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