One win down, 3 to go. Do we have our Tottenham Hotspur back? Kenny Palmer reviews Sunday’s game.
A restorative performance and win against an abject Blackburn lifted Tottenham back to the coveted 4th place in the league.
Tottenham welcomed back Younes Kaboul and Emmanuel Adebayor from injury while Sandro came in for the injured Scott Parker as Harry Redknapp setup the team in the favoured 4-4-1-1 formation which has produced Spurs best displays this season.
Sandro’s prodigious midfield performance was the catalyst to the victory, putting in one of the best central midfield displays seen at White Hart Lane this season. The Brazilian international won 11 tackles the most by a premier league player since Mascherano against Wigan in March 2010.
After being humiliated in the FA Cup Semi Final and putting in another dismal display against QPR it was important for the team to put in a performance for the fans.
The team duly obliged with the best performance since the victory against Swansea. Spurs started brightly with Aaron Lennon unlucky not to connect cleanly from a Modric cross in the opening minutes.
The diminutive winger started the game well and was the instigator of some of Spurs best moves early on.
Sandro who played like a man possessed was at the centre of a lot of Spurs good play. A surging run from midfield finished with a pile driver which didn’t trouble Pau Robinson.
Gareth Bale was having one of his ineffectual games and the first chants of “Gareth Bale he plays on the left” emanated around the 13 minute mark from the South Stand.
The Lilywhites were unlucky not to take the lead on 15 minutes when Lennon broke through onto goal from the left but his effort was a shot come cross.
The breakthrough came on 22 minutes Gareth Bale headed onto the bar and Rafael Van Der Vaart dispatched the rebound into the net. The referee having to consult with the linesman before giving the goal.
Lennon was unfortunate not to extend the lead after an excellent run from deep on 22 minutes shooting wide.
The first half closed with Friedel not having to make a single save with Spurs totally dominant in possession.
Spurs started the 2nd half like the first with a crunching tackle by Sandro greeted by voluble cheers from theWhite Hart Lane faithful.
For a side fighting for their premiership survival Blackburn showed little commitment and determination to get back into the game. The pattern of play followed the first half with Spurs dominating possession with it being a matter of time before the Lilywhites added to their lead.
The identity of the scorer of Tottenham’s second was somewhat surprising. Spurs got a free kick 35 yards out from Paul Robinson’s goal. The usual taker Van Der Vaart acceded to Kyle Walkers request to take it. The PFA’s young player of the year produced a stunning curler around the wall leaving Robinson stranded. Just reward for the young full back who put in another excellent performance defensively and going forward.
Lennon who was excellent hobbled off with an injury late in the game Redknapp inexplicably delaying substituting him despite the wingers request to be replaced.
With 85 minutes on the clock Sandro went off to a standing ovation, equally good defensively as well as in possession going forward. Even if Scott Parker recovers from injury Sandro has to retain his place in the team against Bolton.
Blackburn ended the game with the unique distinction of not having a single shot on goal. A consummate team performance from the Lilywhites notable for Kabouls dominant performance in defence, the effervesce of Kyle Walker at fullback, Sandro superb in midfield and Lennon back to his best on the wing.
A footnote to Sunday game was the breaking news that Roy Hodgson is to be the new England manager the FA snubbing Redknapp who was championed for the position by the press. How he responds from what he may perceive as a slight as he was not even interviewed for the position may impact the remaining games of the season. He now has to focus solely on the job admitting that being linked with England may have been a distraction even showing some humility and admitting managing Spurs is a great job. What now seems likely is that minimum requirement for Redknapp to keep his job managing Spurs is to finish in the top four and that may not be enough!
Wednesday’s game againstBoltongives Spurs the opportunity to close the gap on Arsenal in third to one point. All to play for with three games remaining!
Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )