Category Archives: Match Reports

It was bad but we’ll learn

It was a bad result last night. City looked like world beaters while we looked like lower league opposition. Except had we been lower league then City would not have gone all out to annihilate us.

The opening exchanges were one way traffic, City glided through us with ease with our midfield being totally ineffective against the opposition. Misplaced passes and dallying on the ball being the biggest problems in our midfield along with City players easily finding space. The wide players simply didn’t have a chance to get involved.

The first goal from Aguero was a class finish – you can’t help but think that if Levy had succeeded with his audacious bid for him before City got him we would have somehow ruined him. Some are suggesting that Lloris should not have dashed out to meet him but that is Lloris’ game and probably works more often than fails.

Staying put on his line may have helped but Aguero would have simply smacked it rather than his delicate dink and Aguero has incredible power as his shot that hit the post testifies. Also once he is in that position there is very little defenders can do as they are flat footed and Aguero is sprinting.

After more City pressure and a ludicrous save from Lloris we started to edge more into the game. It was pleasing to see that the players did not let their heads drop and kept at it – even though for this game (or at least that half) they were not very good at ‘it’. Set pieces appeared to be our best bet as City looked suspect from them and a moment of controversy from one.

Dawson put the ball in from an Eriksen free kick but was ruled offside. BT Sport apparently asked the linesman what decision was given and the response was ‘Dawson offside’. What this didn’t address is whether it was directly from Erkisen’s free kick or from a flick from Ade. Now we know from replays that Ade did not touch it and that Dawson was not offside from the kick. It could be argued that Ade was interfering with play given he was directly in front of the keeper but if that was the case then most free kicks would result in an offside – plus the linesman explicitly said Dawson offside.

BT also showed a view from the linesman’s position (after the game) – don’t know how accurate that was but if they were using decent software then it should be pretty accurate. Dawson and Ade completely blocked his view of the City defender playing Dawson onside. We have got to be honest here and say that the linesman can only give based on what he can see. The decision was wrong and clearly a goal back would have changed the prospects of the game but to crucify the linesman for that decision is a little harsh.

Capoue coming on at half time was an obvious choice but perhaps it would have been Bentaleb had Dembele not picked up a niggle. Capoue quickly set about letting the opposition know that he was there the rough them up a bit and should have been booked early on. Spurs looked better and more composed at the beginning of the second half but then the second moment of controversy struck and it clearly had an effect on the game.

Rose tackled Dzeko in the area from behind, clipping the ball and Dzeko. Linesman (same as the offside decision) decided he had seen enough to give a penalty – the ref was unmoved by the challenge which is strange as from his position it would have been harder to see Rose’s touch on the ball. Rose was sent off for his efforts.

Now as a Spurs fan he got the ball therefore it was not a foul. Problem is football is not played that way now, the lino saw it as a tackle from behind (which is pretty much outlawed even if it is not reckless) in which Rose clipped Dzeko and was therefore a foul in his eyes. With my Spurs head on, it was a great challenge. My general football head says it was 50-50 and lady luck was elsewhere last night. What I really take offence with here was the red card, that was overkill and a penalty was punishment enough even though it was a little harsh. The red card decision however was totally the ref’s decision – just because a foul occurs in the area does not mean it was a red card.

After that there was only going to be one result. City got their third and eased off. Capoue, who run around like a nutter for the rest of the game and often the furthest forward, got one back from a corner. Fernandinho looked like he tried to block with his arm but missed, it would probably have made a better game had he blocked it with red card and penalty. However, some people suggest that the intent of an action is just as bad a carrying it out…

City are by far and away the best attacking team in the league and we can only thank Lloris for numerous saves preventing this from being a truly awful result. The players will learn from this (especially the younger ones) as will Sherwood. We just need to hope that they learn quick enough to ensure the rest of the season is a positive one.

The biggest fear is that if we miss out on Champions League football again then some of the players that have been here a few years may well leave, namely Jan and Hugo who both are pretty much irreplaceable. Three points though is nothing with 45 points still up for grabs.

I must also say that I am very surprised that none of the players returning from injury were on the bench last night, I can only assume that Tim is waiting for them to be fully fit and didn’t want to risk them in that game.

So what next

Well there are less than 48 hours left in the transfer window and while many of us predicted a quiet window for Spurs, the rumours are still flying around. Problem I see is if Levy does plan on moving Sherwood on in the summer then how can he possibly back him in the transfer market.

Despite Holtby and Capoue both featuring last night, both are still being linked with moves away. I am not saying they will not happen but I find it strange that Spurs would risk injuring them if they wanted to ship them out.
Berbatov coming in also keeps hanging around. He is not the player we sold and I still don’t see how he would fit in to any system Sherwood has used so far. That being said we do need another striker with Defoe’s departure so the rumour of a straight loan swap with Holtby makes some sense. It would give Holtby the league exposure he may need and gives us another striker.

The most recent rumour, which may have more to do with another club being linked , is Konoplyanka – he scored against England once. He is apparently a left winger predominantly but you would think with Chadli, Townsend and Lamela all trying to make that position their own (I am assuming Lennon is nailed on the right) that another player really is surplus to requirements. It would be very Spurs though to sign another one.

I still personally think that nothing will happen this window…. Don’t bother heading to the stadium/training ground kids, let the Sky Sports News man report nothing in peace.

So what do you think? Linesman was wrong but decisions understandable? Any movements in or out?

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We are still Spurs after all…

I grew up in East London, this one hurts me a lot! It has been a while since we wrote anything, I have moved and currently still have no internet or TV and ChrisWadds has been on a couple of stag do’s (his own) so it is lucky he can still speak let alone write something.

So let us jump back in, plan A really didn’t work on Sunday but that is not entirely the teams/AVBs fault. WH’s 4-6-0 formation worked well is also a major factor. Is it anti football? Not really given the score line. I wrote an article a while back (here) about a plan B and came to the conclusion that our bench really can just be like for like. Is this AVB’s Achilles heel, not wanting to move from the 4-2-3-1 cum 4-3-3 formation?

The opposing formations meant that 11 of the 20 outfield players were all vying for the same third of the pitch, a problem exacerbated by playing inverted wingers. Unless you pass like Barcelona or have dribblers like Messi and Ronaldo, there were simply too many players there able to mark space as well as players. This is highlighted in FourFourTwo’s statszone (here), where four of our top five passing combinations were between defenders – the top two were between our centre backs. There were no options for them to move the ball forward due to overcrowding. Some will say they should have taken the ball forward themselves and that may well be true but they would have added yet another player to the already overcrowded space.

Without a target man we only have the option for short balls and WH knew this so packing the midfield prevented our natural game. Out of 502 passes attempted only 42 were long balls, I don’t want to see balls pinged about all the time but with such a congested midfield surely a few more were needed. Had they been good balls then WH would have had to start closing our centre backs down which in turn would have lead to more space in the middle. If a game ever needed a lanky striker in a lilywhite shirt then this was it!

When playing with a right footed left back I think it is a mistake to play with an inverted left winger, we needed width that was not forthcoming from either Naughton or Sigurdsson. This is something that needs addressing as clearly AVB wants inverted wingers, Rose was a big loss.

It was a crap result, we know that. This is the first game we have not matched or bettered last season’s corresponding fixture (assuming CP = QPR and Car = Wig) so look for positives – ok there are not any about this game, it hurts too much. We struggled to break teams down last season also but still came away with a record points haul though so chins up!

I have said previously that we are learning something new at the moment and there will be hiccups along the way, granted I was not predicting 3-0 home defeats but still bumps in the road. The squad is better than last years and will get better at breaking the opposition down. The reaction to the result itself is a positive, the media have jumped on it and that is because we are a better team now. I never knew I knew so many WH fans but they all crawled out of the woodwork at about 17:45 on Sunday.

This was AVB’s biggest home defeat but it wasn’t so long ago that defeats like this were far more likely to occur. We need to stay positive, support the team until the final whistle. Yes boo at the end if you want but during them 90 minutes, as long as they are wearing a lilywhite shirt then support them like your life depends on it!

Look on the bright side, there cannot be that many more international breaks to lose a game before during the rest of the season…

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Spurs 2 – 0 Norwich City: Eriksen hits the ground running

The biggest surprise with the starting line up for the visit of Norwich City was that Gylfi Sigurdsson was included in the eleven, replacing Nacer Chadli who was absent from the match day squad. We shouldn’t be surprised though as the vast majority of the squad are worthy of a starting berth. It proved a masterstroke by AVB as Sigurdsson grabbed himself a brace in our 2-0 win over the Canaries.

The expected debut was given to Christian Eriksen and he quickly showed that perhaps some of the hype around him is justified. Eriksen replaced Capoue who missed the game through injury resulting in a more attacking looking midfield given the lack of a defensive minded player. At home against teams like Norwich (no offense intended) we should be capable of playing with a more attack minded midfield.

Key Events

From the off Spurs saw a huge amount of the ball with Eriksen in particular always eager to get on the ball. The main criticism from Spurs’ games so far this season (Soldado being isolated) appeared to be rectified, Eriksen frequently found himself ahead of Soldado in attack with Townsend and Sigurdsson never far from the striker. The debutant perhaps should have scored about 20 minutes in, after beating two defenders in the box, Eriksen hit a fairly tame shot straight at Ruddy. Ruddy only parried straight to Soldado, with his back to goal back heeled the ball against the post.

Spurs scored their first after some good direct approach play. Rose received the wide left and then fired a ball into Soldado who did well to control the ball on his chest. He then laid it off to Eriksen who then played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Sigurdsson. He controlled and then hit a curling shot passed Ruddy. Spurs deserved their lead.

Spurs continued to dominate the game but had Rose to thank for preventing a Norwich equaliser. Redmond got in down Tottenham’s right to put a cross into the box. Vertonghen would have cut the ball out easily but slipped resulting in the ball falling to van Wolfswinkel who was denied by a great tackle by Rose.

Spurs scored their second early in the second half. Eriksen picked up the ball just outside the area and played in Paulinho down the right. He played the ball across the 6 yard box and the onrushing Sigurdsson tapped in at the far post. Rose made another goal saving challenge from van Wolfswinkel. A corner was whipped in and Spurs were a little disorganised, the ball fell to the Norwich attacked but Rose flung himself at the ball to prevent the shot being taken.

Towards the end of the game, Lloris (perhaps a little bored) flew off the line to the edge of the area to punch a ball. He handled outside the box and clattered into the attacked. At first I was unsure as to whether he did handle it or whether the freekick was for flattening the attacker. He got a yellow as he did not prevent a goal scoring opportunity.

Ratings

Lloris – had very little to do. Perhaps a little rash flying out to punch the ball (outside the area) late in the game. 6
Walker – started a little shakily but improved as the game went on. 7
Vertonghen – like the defence in general had little to do. 7
Dawson – wasn’t troubled in behind so Norwich played to his strengths. Good game. 7
Rose – had a fantastic game, good defensively and was always an attacking option. 9
Paulinho – played well and got an assist, sometimes wants too much time on the ball. 7
Dembele – best game this season, controlled the midfield from deep but still perhaps holds onto the ball a split second too long in advanced positions. 8
Sigudsson – 2 goals for the Icelander who was a constant threat from the left. 9
Eriksen – always wanted the ball, always made sure he was able to receive the ball and got an assist. 9
Townsend – direct as always but chose to shoot too often when cutting inside. 7
Soldado – worked his socks off and had he not mis-controlled a Paulinho pass probably would have been on the scoresheet. 8

Subs:
Holtby (71 min) – came on for Eriksen with the game won, didn’t really get a chance to put his mark on the game.
Sandro (79 min) – usual breaking up play self, wasn’t really needed though but enabled Sigurdsson to get his standing ovation.
Lamela (83 min) – the fans wanted it and AVB delivered. Wanted the ball at every possibility but the rest of the teams heart was not in at the time. Dembele still subbed off each league game this season…

My Observations

Eriksen will be a great player who can make things happen on his own however we do not want the team to simply pass him the ball and expect something to happen, we have had that before with a certain Bale.

A lot of twitter criticism was directed at Townsend during the game because he kept shooting from range (the whole team did in reality). I cannot believe he shoots so often without it being the direction of the management team. Perhaps they don’t want him to shoot as often as he does but he must have that instruction otherwise he would get yanked off! What was encouraging was when he did go on his right and put a ball in, they were still dangerous balls rather than hit and hopes. I hope he does this more as it keeps the full back guessing. If there is one criticism I can make of Sigurdsson display it was that he only appeared to want to go down then line when he did not have the ball..

Rose (my MOTM) is quickly showing that he can be relied on. While today’s game was not his most intensive in a defensive manner, he still made two crucial last ditch challenges to prevent van Wolfswinkel a clear chance on goal. He does seem to have a right go at the ref when something doesn’t go his way, he will need to calm this down given left back is one area we perhaps do not have two first team players for.

Norwich did us a massive favour by playing four in midfield, had they played five then our midfield would have been hassled far more often. We were simply given too much time to control and pick a pass and the scoreline should have been even greater than it was.

Final Word

This was a good team performance that showed that the team is starting to understand each other. Sigurdsson and Eriksen will get all the headlines (and Rose a few in the fan environment) but the whole team played well, everyone wanted the ball and no one shirked the task at hand. Harder tests are to come but this is an encouraging start.

What were the positives and negatives for you? Want Lamela on earlier? Was Sandro needed?

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Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 0 Swansea City

Another Soldado goal, another penalty, another clean sheet and another 3 points. We played well against a good Swansea team and again had the unbelievable Hugo Lloris pulling off a couple of stunning saves to ensure he kept another clean sheet.

Swansea had their moments but when called upon Lloris was ready and willing to stop them from spoiling the curtain raiser at White Hart Lane. The former Spur Routledge and Chico Flores both stung the palms of the French Number 1 but apart from those two chances it was all Tottenham.

We took the lead from the penalty spot after Townsend went down from a challenge from Jonjo Shelvey. The challenge was soft and Townsend went down easily (what player doesn’t these days?) but it was karma after we had a stone wall penalty involving the same two players judged to be outside the box and only resulting in a freekick.

We almost took the lead earlier in the game when Dawson released Walker down the right whose cross was deflected onto the post by Ashley Williams. The combination of Williams and Vorm managed to stop Paulinho from netting from the rebound.

Paulinho will feel rather unlucky not to have opened his Premier League account for us having a handful of chances spurned throughout the game.

Swansea improved once they brought on their record signing Wilfried Bony, but ultimately Spurs held on to record another victory.

Sundays win gives us our third win in all competitions and another clean sheet. It was another good win and performance from a team that is still gelling with 4 new signings and two other players that didn’t feature at all last season in its starting XI. Townsend for me was a breath of fresh air, seeming to have the potential to become the complete Winger. I hope that AVB sticks with him while he is in such good form and I also hope that he continues to improve. I for one am feeling very good about this season and can’t wait to see us firing on all cylinders.

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Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Roberto Soldado confidently slotted home from the penalty spot to ensure the 3 points came back to White Hart Lane.

In the first half we looked in complete control, but wasn’t able to create a clear cut chance with the Palace defence forcing us to shoot from distance. Dembele struck a shot inches over from 25 yards and Sigurdsson had an effort from a similar distance saved well by Speroni in the Palace goal. Our best chance of the half came right on the stroke of half time, when debutant Chadli headed over from a Lennon cross.

We didn’t have to wait long for our opening goal of the game and season when Lennon’s cross struck Dean Moxey’s hand inside the area. Soldado stepped up and never looked like missing, slotting the ball inside the keepers right hand post sending Speroni the wrong way.

Palace reacted in typical Holloway fashion bringing on 3 subs at the same time, with Williams, Chamakh and the evergreen Phillips coming on.

We should have killed the game off twice with Sigurdsson and Defoe (on as a substitute) both missed when they should have buried their chances.

Those squandered chances almost cost us the three points, but for the brilliance of Hugo Lloris making several world class saves.

All in all I am a happy fan. 3 points away from home, a clean sheet and our record signing getting off the mark. Not bad when you think about it. Not bad at all. The new signings seemed to take to the Premier League like ducks to water, with Capoue being my pick of the bunch. Let me just say I’m looking forward to seeing much more of him in a Spurs shirt.

Rose and Walker impressed for me as well, with Rose looking solid both attacking and defending. But my MOTM has to be Lloris. If it wasn’t for the French number 1 we could have left without the 3 points.

Good start to the season and onto the next game on Thursday!

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Spurs 2 – 2 Everton – not as bad as everyone else thought it would be

Again 2-2 is not the worse result we could have got against Everton. As I said in my preview Everton are a bit of a bogey team for us so to only draw is ok.

We started off brilliantly my taking the lead within 33 seconds when Vertonghen put an inch perfect cross in for Adebayor to toe the ball through Howard’s legs.

We almost gifted Everton a way back in when Dawson’s poor pass was intercepted by Osman whose curling shot went narrowly wide of Lloris’ upright. Everton didn’t have much longer to wait to strike level when Baines whipped in a corner that was met by Jagielka’s head which somehow found its way into the back of the net through many lilywhite shirts.

We took back the initiative after they levelled but we could not create any clear cut chances to threaten the Everton goal.

Everton started the second half brightly and took the lead after 52 minutes through a good solo goal that Caulker and Parker could and should have done better with.

We almost hit back straight away when Dembele’s shot was deflected of a defender, then off Howard’s outstretched arm onto the crossbar. We got back into the game in the 88th minute when Sigurdsson converted the rebound after Adebayor’s shot came back off the post.

 

Although we only drew 2-2 there were plenty of positives to take from our performance. Everybody was writing us off saying that we wouldn’t be able to cope with out Bale (kind of feel sorry for Lennon that he doesn’t get the praise he deserves from the media) but it only took us 33 seconds to show that we can cope just fine and that we are not a one man team. We attacked with pace and worked as a team. The game also marked the return to form for both Kyle Walker and Adebayor. I had Walker as our Man of the Match.

Unfortunately even though there was much to be happy about both of their goals were soft on our part:

Their first came from a good corner that was whipped in by Baines, but our defending was terrible. First of all Jagielka should not have been able to rise above Vertonghen. Secondly both Lloris and Caulker should have done more on the line then they did, with Lloris letting the ball through his legs when he did a weird star jump and Caulker standing there watching rather than acting. On another note – if we had a player on the post that shot would never have gone in.

Their second should have been dealt with before it even had a chance to happen. I noticed this the first time I saw it but if you watch it back Parker bottles it where Sandro would have won the ball and most probably have took out their player. Parker’s indecision allowed the ball to be passed onto Mirallas who weaved his way to the edge of the box to fire into the bottom corner. Caulker made the fatal mistake of turning his back when he should have stood his man up and put a challenge in.

 

With harder test to come in the coming weeks we will have to take our chances better and not have the momentary lack of concentration that happened for both of Everton’s goals.

I don’t believe this result will hurt our overall pursuit of Champions League football as long as we win convincingly against Basel on Thursday. If we win and book our place in the Semi Finals of the Europa League I can see our squad brimming with confidence for the game against Man City the following week. I would like to see AVB go with our strongest possible team as we have a weekend off as Chelsea will be at Wembley to face Man City in the Semi Final of the FA Cup.

On a side note I can see Chelsea beating Man City to book another final appearance in May. This can only help us as it will dent City’s confidence for our game and their moral would be at an all-time low with nothing to play for. It also means Chelsea have to play another game before the season end.

With everything still to play for and a moral lifting performance against Everton I still have complete confidence in our teams ability to bring Champions League football back to the Lane and bring the bonus of a bit of silverware to put in the trophy cabinet.

Keep the faith and Come on you Spurs!!

Spurs 2-2 FC Basel a Match report and a look forward to the Everton game

2-2 is not the worse result that could have come out of last night’s game. We were outplayed in every area by a team that we seemed to think we would walk over. That was mistake number 1. FC Basel are a good CHAMPIONS LEAGUE team and we saw last season that they wouldn’t be a push over when they knocked Manchester United to the kerb.

Our second mistake was playing a Goalkeeper and Centre Back with the combined age of 76. Friedel is still a good keeper but his weakness is his ability to rush out and play the “sweeper-keeper” role that Lloris does so well. These weaknesses would have been well hidden if we had played a younger faster Centre Back in the form of Steven Caulker who, along with Jan Vertonghen would have been able to deal with Basel’s pacey forwards a damn site better than Gallas.

FC Basel came out the blocks like Usain Bolt and didn’t give our players any time to think. They pressed and hounded every pass and every mistake was taken advantage off. The writing had been on the wall for a while when they eventually broke the deadlock after 30 minutes. Hitting us with a beautiful counter attack while tying our defence in knots, Stocker was the Basel icing on the cake when he knocked in from the edge of the 6 yard box after the first shot had rebounded off the upright. This seemed to stun our players for roughly 5 minutes, and it was only 5 minutes that Basel needed to double their lead when Frei got away from Naughton and slotted his header past Friedel.

It was only after going 2 down that we saw a more attacking assured Spurs and it only took us 5 minutes to get ourselves back into the game with the goal coming from an unlikely, but much needed source . Bale had switch to the right putting a cross in that the awaiting Adebayor almost wasted when his first attempt ended up an air shot that would be worth of those novelty blooper DVDs your Nan gets you at Christmas. Thankfully for him Parker was there to put the ball back in the danger zone where Adebayor had no problem acrobatically volleying home.

We should have been level before the break but it wasn’t to be as Scott Parkers shot deflected off Holtby’s studs to roll agonisingly wide.

The second half carried on as the first finished, with us pushing for an equaliser and Basel trying to extend their lead on the break. Kyle Naughton almost made up for his poor defending for Basels second when he was denied what would have been a “Worldy” by some good solid keeping from Sommer.

Our pressure paid off eventually when substitute Sigurdsson, on for the injured Lennon, saw his shot take a telling deflection into the back of the net, leaving Sommer routed to the spot powerless to do anything about it.

We ended the game with 9 men after Gallas walked off complaining of a calf strain (suspected tear) and Bale being stretchered off after falling awkwardly on his right ankle.

 

With Bale and Lennon both missing for the upcoming visit of Everton I would like to see AVB try a different system and play a 5-3-2 formation, using our last outlets of natural width in BAE and Walker to our advantage. Lloris should return between the sticks and my back three would be Caulker Vertonghen and Dawson. BAE and Walker would fill the wing back roles naturally and comfortably as there would be less emphasis on defending and more on attacking than normal.

My midfield three would be Dembele Parker and Holtby, with Parker holding out of the three. I was impressed with Holtby against Basel, he was the only one of our players who seemed to start off the blocks at the same pace as they did, and he was unlucky not to score just before Parker was even unluckier.

I would then play Sigurdsson in the “Bale” role just off the lone striker. Gylfi is in form and his confidence seems to be growing with every passing game so I would have him starting over Dempsey.

As our only senior striker Adebayor picks himself for Sunday’s game but let’s not forget, he did score on Thursday at a vital point in the game. Let’s hope it’s the turning point of his season and he finishes strong.

Playing this formation would give us natural width where otherwise we would be lacking if AVB sticks with his preferred 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 formation. It would also see Dembele, Holtby and Sigurdsson play in their natural roles and this should get them performing to the best of their abilities.

This is quite an adventurous formation and one that I don’t think Spurs have played since Hoddles reign just over 10 years ago. BUT I think it would work and we would get the best out of the players we have available.

Everton, who beat us in quite dramatic style in December, will be without the suspended duo of Fellaini and Pienaar but come into the game having won their last three games in the League, including a brilliant 2-0 over Manchester City. Everton have become somewhat of a bogey team for us in recent years, we have only won 3 of our last 13 games against them. David Moyes has a good squad who know how to play good football, and they possess arguably the best left back England has on offer at the moment. Everton is never an easy game and I don’t expect it to be on Sunday

My line up for Everton is:

vsEverton

Prediction: 1-0 win with Sigurdsson scoring the winner

I have just read on the Tottenham Hotspur website that Bale and Lennon’s scans went well today and the club are hopeful that they will be back for the Manchester City game (AAAAND RELAX!)

 

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Well that wasn’t in the script was it? Spurs 0 – 1 Fulham

Well that wasn’t in the script was it? Fulham obviously didn’t get their copy in the post. It had them laying down, not having a backbone and definitely not having a keeper willing to deny us at the depth.

Credit where credits due Martin Jol sent his boys onto the White Hart Lane pitch with a game plan and it paid off. They soaked up our tired pressure until they had the opportunity to strike. And when they did it came in the familiar shape of Dimitar Berbatov putting the ball into the back of the net.

There wasn’t much Hugo Lloris could do about the goal but when I saw it in full flow (my stream was as jumpy as a kangaroo on speed) I couldn’t help but think that a fully energised Tottenham Hotspur would have dealt with that counter attack with minimal fuss. The goal came from a tame Bale shot that Schwarzer waisted little time getting a swift counter attack on the go down the Fulham right wing. After some good work from Riether and what seemed to be a lot of confusion in the Spurs defence Berbatov did well to slot in under pressure from Naughton.

I for one believe that Naughton showed his inexperience letting Berbatov get goal side of him. But as a player who possesses quite a bit of speed he should have also been able to get back in position and at least block the shot from Berbatov, who is not known for his blistering pace.

We had our own chances: Bale having a header cleared off the line, Parkers attempt of a worldy and the two cracking chances that fell to Defoe. We were unlucky that none of them resulted in a goal and on another day they all could have, which would have resulted in what would have seemed a comfortable win. But in the end it wasn’t to be our day.

In the long run I don’t see this being the beginning of the wheels falling off our season. We looked jaded and in need of a rest. And a rest they shall get. The International break has come just at the right time for our squad and it will be a blessing that Lennon and Dawson have had to pull out of the England squad as it gives two of our more influential players get back to full fitness for our tough run in (let’s hope Bale pulls out of the Wales squad eh?).

 

I still have faith that we will finish in the Champions League positions and have a good crack at the Europa League (who knows, we could win it). This past week in just a small bump in the road to our goals, it’s not a slump. And hey, we’re Tottenham Hotspur, it wouldn’t be us if we did it the simple way.

 

Man of the March: Mark Schwarzer. Why is it playing against us brings out the best in Keepers?

Match Report: Arsenal 5 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Well that wasn’t fun was it? Maybe for about 15 minutes it was but the rest of the game was hard to watch. Here is the brave Kenny Palmer with his report of the game.

Andre Villas-Boas Spurs suffered a resounding 5-2 defeat in the Portuguese managers first North London Derby in a game defined by the sending off of Togolese international Emmanuel Adebayor.

A conservative and cautious manager by nature in his short tenure at Spurs, Villas-Boas sprung a surprise on everyone by picking a positive and attacking line-up pairing the team’s top scorer Jermain Defoe with Adebayor for the first time in the league. Nobody can fault the manager’s attacking team selection on this occasion or the attitude of players in the early stages of the game, where Spurs played on the front foot and took the game to Arsenal. The positive approach paid off as Spurs deservedly took the lead through Adebayor and shortly afterwards Aaron Lennon could have extended the lead flashing a shot wide.

Spurs were in the ascendancy and the dominant team unfortunately the game turned on its head in a moment of sheer madness and unprofessionalism from Adebayor when he lunged for the ball but caught Santi Carzorla on the foot producing a deserved straight red card.

Spurs have been brittle defensively this season with the fifth worst defensive record in the Premier League, shipping in  21 goals, so there was an inevitability that the team would crumble defensively once down to ten men. Without Scott Parker or Michael Dawson in the team there was no leader on the pitch to regroup the team to get them to half time with the score level, William Gallas may wear the armband but he’s certainly no leader! Its not a given a team down to ten men has to collapse. It’s a shame Spurs didn’t have the defensive spirit as Rennes who on the same day managed to beat the expensively assembled PSG despite having two men sent off!

Arsenal went into the half time break ahead with their tails up with even the most optimistic Spurs fan expecting the team to go into the second half deflated with their heads down and expecting to be on the end of a hammering! But full credit must be given to Villas-Boas who removed the two Kyle’s at full backs introducing Michael Dawson and Clint Dempsey and going three at the back. Far from being cowed the team had the bravery to attack Arsenal with Gareth Bale cutting the score to 4-2 and missing an opportunity to take the score 4-3. The Welshman’s overall performance where he took the fight to Arsenal, literally in the case when he faced up to Jack Wilshere in the first half in the melee when Adebayor was sent off gesturing to the diminutive midfielder he was a “shortarse”, confirmed even though he is still only 23, he is now one of the leaders of the team. Perversely although Spurs went on to lose the game 5-2 Villas-Boas can take many positives from the performance.

Such as the performance of Tom Carroll who came on for the disappointing Tom Huddlestone midway through the second half and didn’t look out of place. In his short reign at Spurs Villas-Boas has an adopted meritocratic approach to team selection which has seen youngsters like Steven Caulker break into the first team, dispensing with the previous regimes policy of favourites and being in thrall of the big names. Selection is based on what you do in training and on matchday. On ability and current form alone Carroll warrants a place in the team ahead of Huddlestone, Dempsey and Sigurdsson. There is nothing better for supporters than watching a player coming through the youth ranks and making an impact in the first team.

Spurs are coming into a pivotal run of games starting on Thursday when they face Lazio in the Europa League; a victory will more or less secure their passage into the knock out phase of the competition. Thursday s game is followed by a London Derby with an improving West Ham team on Sunday in the first of back to back home games in the league. Its important Spurs register a win to arrest a dreadful run of four defeats in five in the league losing the last three on the spin. Ultimately it’s a results business and Villas-Boas will be judged on the teams’ results in the league which has been largely unimpressive with the same amount of defeats (five) as wins, which aside from the win against Manchester United have been against the teams currently occupying the bottom four places in the Premier league. Performances have to improve as well as Spurs have still to put in a solid ninety minute performance in the league. Good news is on the horizon though with the imminent return of senior members of the squad Mousa Dembele and Scott Parker. Dembele’s physical therapist tweeted on Tuesday morning:

“On my way to deliver @mousadembele injuryfree to his club @SpursOfficial

It was also announced that Scott Parker is back in light training.

COYS

Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )

Match Report: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Wigan Athletic 1

A bad week got a lot worse as Spurs put in an awful team display to lose at home to Wigan after they were knocked out of the Capital Cup by Norwich earlier in the week. Kenny Palmer looks at where we went wrong and how external factors aren’t helping the club at present.

Tottenham deservedly slumped to their second home defeat in the league, in the process suffering  back to back home defeats in the league for the first time  since 2008,  while also failing to score for the  first time in thirty home league games in by far our worst performance of the season to a Wigan side that were superior in every department.

The Latics will not face more accommodating opposition this season as they did against Spurs on Saturday, who put in a truly abject performance.

Before the game Spurs found themselves somewhat incongruously sitting fourth in the league looking to consolidate a Champions League spot. In reality the position was somewhat flattering as four of the five wins Spurs have registered so for have been against teams currently occupying the bottom four in the Barclays Premier league, the forthcoming games against Manchester City and Arsenal will give a truer reflection where Spurs are at as a team.

Tottenham started the first half in similar undistinguished fashion to the previous home games; laboured and pedestrian in possession with no tempo in their play. Shorn of the injured Mousa Dembele once again and Gareth Bale having a quiet game Spurs were distinctly ordinary with the better quality football coming from Roberto Martinez’s Wigan. In a very short space of time Dembele has now become one of Spurs most important players. In the four games Spurs have started with the Belgium International they have won all four, in the six without him starting they have won only one, drawing two and losing three and one of those draws secured by his goal on his debut.

Losing Luka Modric to Real Madrid has left a big creative void as he was the heartbeat of the team with everything going through him! Tom Huddlestone who partnered Sandro in central midfield had a disappointing game playing for too deep with no urgency to his play. The midfield was further weakened when the Brazilian international went off injured and was replaced by the unconvincing Gylfi Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson was signed with the reputation of being a goal scoring midfielder but has so far failed to live up to that billing.

Villas- Boas’s three principal summer targets were Oscar, Mountinho and Willian, Daniel Levy signed none of  them, any of the three would have filled the creative void missing from Spurs and it’s up to debate whether Clint Dempsey or Sigurdsson where even actually Villa-Boas signings!

Tottenham should have gone into the half time break two down with Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney both missing glorious opportunities to put the Latics ahead as Brad Friedel pulled off two impressive saves. The half time whistle was greeted, depressingly, with the now all too familiar boos but in fairness to the crowd there was more wit, invention and imagination displayed by the fan who proposed to his girlfriend at the interval than anything displayed by the team.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Wigan inevitably taking the lead after some unconvincing goalkeeping from Friedel.

As Tottenham toiled without any real conviction to get back into the game, Villas-Boas incurred the wrath of the crowd, in what may be prove to be a watershed moment for the young Portuguese manager, with his bizarre decision to take off the team’s top scorer and only real goal threat Jermain Defoe and replace him with Emmanuel Adebayor, when the disappointing Clint Dempsey was the obvious candidate to hook.

Last season Harry Redknapp received pelters from fans when in a pivotal game in the chase for a top four place against Aston Villa when he took off Rafael Van Der Vaart and replaced him with Scott Parker leaving Defoe on the bench when the team needed to score. The Portuguese’s decision to replace the diminutive striker was just as puzzling and received a hostile and angry reaction from the crowd.

Up to now it’s fair to say a sizeable number of the White Hart Lane faithful have been ambivalent towards Villas Boas and have been prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt but that substitution has certainly opened up the first fissures in his relationship with the crowd.

With no real quality from the Spurs bench to affect the game Wigan closed out the game comfortably, the final whistle being greeted by more boos!

Ten league games under the stewardship of Villas Boas Tottenham are struggling for a defined identity when playing at home. The swashbuckling team of last season where the team had the courage to get on the ball and play some of the most attractive expansive football in the league has disappeared and morphed into a team characterised by conservativeness and timidity in their play. The team has evolved from a possession based team to a team more suited to playing on the counter attack reflected in the fact that in the majority of the games the Lilywhites have played this term they have had less possession than the opposition even against the likes of basement dwellers QPR!

The players have an immediate opportunity to produce a reaction to the abysmal Wigan performance as they host Maribor on Thursday in a crucial Europa League game. Anything less than a win and its highly unlikely Spurs will progress past the group stage of the competition.

The game is a perfect opportunity for the disgruntled Emmanuel Adebayor to start his first game for Spurs this season. Fully committed the Togolese international can make a big contribution to the team.

The Maribor game is also an opportunity for the home fans to produce a positive reaction towards the players. The support at the Lane has got progressively worse as the season has unfolded with the players picking up on the negativity.

I’ll leave the last word on the subject with Benoit AssouEkotto who tweeted after the game:

Bad result today, But the season is not finish lol !all we need is to hear U! SUPPORT US IN GAME LOL”

COYS

Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )