Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | January 3, 2010

Leeds, Leeds, Leeds.

a nice bit of history repeating.

With Arsenal just about escaping the curse of the 3rd round intact; Manchester United’s loss at home to Leeds simply put was the icing on the cake on a great weekend of FA Cup football. Manchester United in our recent history have always managed to display our inadequacies in the most revealing and smug way possible. Especially when they decide to take us out of cup competitions. Still, Leeds did a number over them today that displayed the fact that, with a bit of metal and grit you can take a result at Old Trafford just as you can take a result anywhere else.

This doesn’t mean that Leeds will do the very same thing at WHL, as that isn’t a possibility, especially when you look at the way we’re playing at the moment. The difference between the way we win matches and United manage to won’t be any clearer than after we welcome Leeds to the lane.

We could do with learning a few lessons from Snodgrass et al though, specifically about shutting a game down through sheer force of will, and hopefully from the game itself we’ll learn how to open one up once the opposition decides shut up shop.

Still, it’s nice to see that the FA Cup is alive and well.

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | January 3, 2010

FA Cup Glory Returns to The Lane and A Few Other Bits.

what were they doing to this lad at pompy?

On a day that saw the majority of premier league clubs struggle to achieve a solid attendance for their FA Cup 3rd round ties. Whilst this is a bit of a damning indictment and a sign of the times we managed to turn the clock back a few decades for a sell out at the lane. The coverage on the other hand left a little to be desired. as despite being a high scoring and epic tie ITV managed to fail in terms of predicting the potential of the tie and whilst Liverpool would undoubtedly grab all the headlines for their inadequacies, we were limited to 45 seconds of highlights at the very end of the show.

I guess that’s lesson learnt now though; as watching Liverpool, (which I found myself doing for lack of anything better to do), was tantamount to self harm yesterday. Sooner or later the broadcasters will catch on to this, or at the very least send the smear campaign against Benitez into overdrive just to get him as far away from the club as possible.

Bentley was notable in his absence yesterday, as he failed to even find his way onto the bench. Before the match on 606 there was word that he was seen heading towards a train station in full club garb. Whilst this is almost certainly not true, the fact that he was unable to even make the bench today whilst also being locked out of the squad (arguably for good) by the stellar performances of Niko and Luka, it’s safe to say we’ve seen the last of him in my eyes.

This whole thing perplexes me a little as before the renowned Grays Athletic spat with Harry, Bentley was receiving plaudits for his positive attitude despite lack of appearance once Lennon came into form.

Niko and Luka were great though; seemingly in the shape of these two croatians we’ve found our Plan C, (Plan A obviously Lennon – Defoe, Plan B Dawson – Crouch). Niko for me has something that truly embodies the best of our club and is certainly a finished article, whereas Luka has seemingly unlimited potential, and certainly if he continues his rehabilitation, could potentially be as clinical in front of goal as his countryman.

What a turnaround to his fortunes too; with an unprecedented swoop Harry Redknapp brings what many Pompy fans suggested was a troublemaker to our club. A player in the mould of Arteta was something that I had always considered one of the missing pieces in our squad, especially with Jenas managing to display his inadequacies week in week out. I imagined Kranjcar, (who was in bad form at Pompy), would for the most part be a fairly good addition but due to his reported issues would certainly never match or eclipse Modric in his performances. As such it was genius to bring him to a club that can be said to match his philosophy of play, as well as allowing him the bonus to play alongside two of his settled countrymen. Moreover it has been suggested that Harry is aiming to consolidate this core within the club with moves for Dejan Lovren and Stipe Pletikosa mooted. This may well certainly be a move to cement Modric’s club status for the next few years; but it certainly adds a level of consistency at the club that arguably will underpin our future successes. (This further underlined by Harry’s suggestion that the Croatian players at our club he feels are the most professional, and best role models for the younger players coming through the academy).

The match itself, (despite only hearing it on radio) seemed to start off in a seasoned Spurs manner; with us making plenty of chances though finding ourselves unable to capitalize for the most part. But the score line speaks for itself, and Peterborough never really gave Gomes too much to worry about in all honesty. The goals came flowing by the end of the match leaving a healthy four goal deficit.

Last year we were looking for little runs like this to take ourselves into the more important games in the season; and we can be happy that we’re playing Liverpool next week I feel. Though it can be said that Rafa is looking to reinforce his squad as a matter of urgency and as such there may be a few surprises in the hat before the match comes to pass. A win next week would send me into raptures.

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | January 2, 2010

The Road To Wembley… Peterborough

onwards and upwards

Though Wembley is overrated these days…

Plenty of quotes floating around today attributed to the good man Harry Redknapp which would seem to suggest that the FA Cup and all the antiquated glory that comes with winning it, isn’t really top of his wish list for 2010:

“The cup has always been a special thing and I’d love Tottenham to win it this year, it would be fantastic for us,” he said in The Mirror.

“But if we finish in the top four over the season that is probably a great achievement in all honesty, the way it is,” he continued.

“It’s so tough to do, whereas in the cup you can get the luck of the draws and make it [to the final]. Finishing in the top four over the season is difficult.”

He added: “When was the last time Tottenham won? It was 1991. But apart from Evertonno-one has been in that top four. No one else has broken in, that’s how hard it is and it’s going to be just as tough this year because there is real competition.

“Man City are going to be right in there, along with Aston Villa. Our fans would love to see us finish in the top four. The cup winners each year normally come out of that group. Portsmouth broke that mould one year but mostly it’s the same teams.”

It’s safe to say that getting into the top four nowadays has eclipsed the glory of winning the FA Cup; though the suggestion that it’s simply down to the difficulty of cracking into the highest echelon is maybe a little shortsighted. We’re all aware of how much money is suddenly made available to teams that find themselves playing in the Champions League, and more and more these days this is seen as the top prize.

So today you can expect a squad to come out with a few faces that we haven’t seen too much over recent weeks as Harry not only will want to take a look at the options he has available to him, but will also wish to appease a few people who seem to be getting a few ants in their Calvin Kleins. It’s quite strange how we seem to have the loudest squad players in the league; this could be indicative of the determination around the club or conversely a trend in signing the least professional players available to us. (If you’re getting paid to pay football you should really be looking to do the best for your employer, in whatever capacity the Manager wants you to contribute to the club). Eyes today will be on Modric and Bale who are both expected to play in the absence of Lennon and Benoit Assou-Ekotto and both will be looking to get back to full fitness.

We should walk it today really; but Peterborough happen to be one of the more determined and overachieving clubs in the Championship, so we should be cautious in assuming that we’ll walk it today. However the abundance of talent that we have in the squad should speak volumes today.

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | December 31, 2009

He’s Done One

azza gets the oppurtunity to finally crack on with his master league...

Unfortunate news seems to be leaking from the lane that our Aaron has done himself a bit of a mischief. The problem in question relates to his groin, which was allegedly damaged during the final minutes of the West Ham game. Word on the street is that he’ll probably be looking to be out for around a month which for the most part should put a smile on the face of the exile David Bentley.

This might be getting a bit ahead of himself as it has been suggested that despite the absence of our nippy yorkshireman Harry may be inclined to use this as an oppurtunity to see whether the Croatian contingent at the club, (who I’m sure he’s more inclined to keep happy) can weave their magic on both of the flanks simultaneously.

This might also signal a few appearances for the man Keane as it can be argued that Crouch whilst offering a plethora of talents isn’t the best when coming in deep for the ball, and searching passes between Kranjcar, Modric and Keano could just be the ‘plan b’ to get us though this month.

In other news Harry has reiterated today that we’re definitely, probably not bringing anyone in and that Pavlyuchenko will only leave if our valuation of the player is matched. A smart move on his part to say that, as I’m sure if someone becomes available who can truly improve the squad we’d make a move, otherwise it’s not really worth unsettling the squad by suggesting that Harry’s got his bargaining hat on.

Gives me a little bit more time to decide whether to change the name of the blog too… I think I’ll keep it though.

update: Lennon out for 2 weeks, with Benoit Assou-Ekotto out for 3 weeks.

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | December 30, 2009

The Lennon Catch Up Supplement

lennon leading the way

I feel a bit like the economically struggling stepdad who makes promises to his unfortunate son, only to find himself in the pub rather than the playground. The thing to do here I guess as some kind of consolation is to write a digest of all the action that I’ve managed to miss writing up and with the benefit of hindsight, and offer a little depth in the action of the past few weeks.

The first point to make is that despite have a great empathy I feel for the ice truckers (as seen on TV), who find themselves riding gung-ho over sheets of ice to deliver their cargo, its a strong (and often repeated) point, that if you’d have asked the majority of the fans whether they’d take a top four spot heading into 2010 chances are, most would scoff that the squad we had was full of individual talent, but were seemingly pieces of jigsaw puzzles that much to the chagrin of anyone seemed to be completely incompatible. Much faith was put into Modric seemingly the only player in a shape-shifting squad that displayed any particular consistency of note. Redknapp’s work since then has lit fires underneath players who had been seen to have major potential, but the inability to actually achieve dramatic progress over their years at the club. Specific players that can attribute their resurgence to Redknapp’s and the team’s coaching are; Daws, Benoit, the Hudd and Lennon. Whilst Dawson and Lennon had always provided certain elements of their ability, the other two had always been seen as simply stop-gaps between bringing in someone with real ability in these positions. Whether Redknapp is able to coax similar improvement out of Bale and the other notable youth prospects in the club is another challenge which you wouldn’t put past him. For this very reason Taarabt’s petulance and suspected departure could very well be his undoing, as he could potentially have a part to play on a greater stage than championship or the lower echelon spanish football he seems to crave.

His insistence to leave is seemingly a remnant of the old ways that in my eyes are exactly that. If we can get Tom Huddlestone playing in England form, then surely it’s only a matter of time before Taarabt would learn when to pass the ball offering that dimension to his game that he sorely lacked in his impressive but fleeting cameo appearances.

Nonetheless we seem to be on a fulcrum of sorts; there are many who would seem to suggest that our forth spot is merely a result of circumstances that were out of our control falling into place, (such as the sploradic form of Aston Villa, the ‘groundhog day ‘draws for Manchester City and Liverpool’s less than fortunate start to the season). However there seems to be a feeling around the club that would suggest that the players are sensing that improvement will continue over the end season and results permitting lead us to a place in the top four; moreover not necessarily the fourth spot. As a fan who’s seen every game this season and last, a continual improvement in performance will have to be seen to be believed, (as with everything as a spurs fan!) But there are clues that would seem to suggest that we’re heading that way. The first of which is notably that we’re 3rd in the scoring ranks this season, only behind the Arsenal and Chelsea. The second and more recently apparent element would be that following last season’s defensive record being smashed, the back four and  Gomes have managed to get back into good habits by keeping 3 clean sheets in a row thus far. In recent matches watching Dawson has been something like watching a tightrope walker, throwing himself into 50/50 tackles with full commitment and leading the line. The thing is he seems to be converting these 50/50s into 100%ers with dramatic style, and notably has been championed by his mentor Ledley for a wild card as a world cup selection. I certainly know who I would rather trust out of John Terry and Dawson in a world cup semi-final. Unequivocal trust in JT at the world cup to me seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Behind the apparent scenes of player improvement and the grinding of positive (but unfortunate) results at Aston Villa, Fulham and even the capitulation at Everton (a draw at Goodison Park is as good as anyone in the league, even with the notable absences of key players), behind the scenes the club has seemingly gone into overdrive, especially regarding the new stadium project which in a climate of failing development bids is seemingly the only development that is looking likely to go forward. Along with this the club has developed strong commercial links with Internacional in Brazil, (a massive hub of talent), South China and notably are now rumored to be seeking a partnership with Dinamo Zagreb, which would certainly solidify the position of our strong Croatian contingent within the side. This is something that I feel has brought a lot of the balance to the side, and with moves mooted for Stipe Pletikosa and Dejan Lovren, (along with the possibility of Sandro), on the cards it can be said that the long term future of the club is seemingly the priority despite the high expectations of our squad this season.

All of this seems to make the Wolves result disappear from the collective consciousness of the spurs fan. It’s great to know that in a climate of clubs that seemingly find themselves at grips with debt and simply surviving on a year by year basis by financing their loans that we’re a club with the ability to plan ahead in such a way; a move that can only really end in more successes for the club. I for one prefer this approach to the sharp injections that have reanimated Manchester City this season into the league’s Frankenstein’s monster; which ultimately is as fruitless as a cheating on Football Manager. This can be seen in Chelsea today who’s fans are either old guard who find themselves surrounded with a fan base made up entirely of opportunists  or those who have been enticed by the flashy image that is offered through the knock-on effect of turning a football club into a billionaire’s game of Subbuteo.

In a way we can thank Joe Lewis’ hands of approach for maintaining a sense of history at the club along with Daniel Levy’s current run of form as a chairman par excellence.

On the whole I’ve always wondered whether champions league success this season would ultimately be healthy for the club; as we’ve all seen what happened with Everton upon qualifying. It’s at that point where the true challenge begins after all. The increased capital and exposure that the club would receive would only really benefit the club in the long term as behind the scenes we find ourselves growing stronger by the year; and with other clubs really feeling the pinch at the moment now is the time to capitalize in order to solidify the future plans that are currently in action.

An FA Cup win this year too wouldn’t be too bad either…

Speaking of which, next up we’ve got Peterborough and with recent comments attributed to Ledley King suggesting that we’ve got two squads that are capable of making headway in the competitions that we face; we could be seeing a few not so familiar faces at the weekend in what is now seen as a game that the idea of losing is preposterous at best.

PS: To stave off the threat of inactivity in the future I may decide to post more short succinct entries during the week to keep things ticking over and to let you guys know all the insider information at the time. Keep an eye on the Spurs Community ITK feed on the right hand side of the page for some good transfer gossip from people brave enough to suggest that they are ‘In The Know’, (whilst keeping in mind that the majority of this tittle tattle is more or less as reliable as what you’ll read on yesterday’s chip paper). Still, it’s not a transfer window without us being linked to 10 people or more is it?

PPS: Get Lennon a plush new contract before someone makes us an offer we can’t refuse!

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | December 12, 2009

Wolves at the Door

hello... is it me you're looking for?

So turns out the we’re heading for a ruck with Wolves on the back of a nasty little run of form. Draws to Villa and Everton have always left a dirty taste in the back of my mouth; like waking up after a particularly hedonistic night out with a lady of ill repute. Fact is though; (and something that many of my peers would ague) is that despite the lowering of standards over the last couple of weeks, we’ve put in a ‘good effort’, and because of this we shouldn’t be too aggrieved at the state of play.

As in my last post; the best thing about our club I find is that we’re so ambitious, to the point that when we become what we have expected the club to be all along, we expect that there will be no hesitations and certainly no regressions into the ‘spurs of old’, something that has become archaic only within the last two years of disappointment.

Wolves come to White Hart Lane 17th in the form table; and somewhat lacking in ideas in the creative department. With the return of Modric, (who may take a little time to get back to his best, but is supported unilaterally by Harry and fans alike for good reason). His return on the back of a ‘must win’ fixture should provide an entertaining spectacle; at the very least for the neutrals who find themselves a little bit more interested in how we do things nowadays.

Luckily; Wilson’s damage at the end of the last game also seems less than serious; and he may be more than likely up for selection tomorrow. On the return of Luka losing such an important player would have been the kind of event that if on the Football Manager game would have called for resetting the game for a mulligan.

The long and short of it; is that if we’re looking at the fixture from our new qualified perspective of a non-periphery club, we should flat-out win tomorrow. There’s also a fair amount of speculation that we’ll be looking to take all the ‘W’ teams in the league this season by a margin of 8 goals, (notable multiplying this by the power of 1.6 for West Ham who would seem to deem themselves a worthy opposition to us despite their complete lack of intrinsic quality.) Whilst this for the most part, won’t be a sound bet tomorrow afternoon; we should be looking to take the game in a manner that is more assertive than our (dare I say) lazy two goal lead at Everton, which despite, I reiterate, being away from home led us to become slothful and careless in letting a two goal deficit turn into something that essentially felt like defeat.

Should we get to the point where at 6:00pm that i come to the point where I am reluctant to post about the misgivings of a side that contains so much potential, we may come to the agreement that our side has a certain terminal velocity this season that can only be accelerated in the next. This would be a bit of a shame as; let’s be honest, despite being typically over ambitious as spurs fans in the contemporary era, instant success on such a respectable level would be something we strive for, before we look at the  developments that will have to occur before we look to maintain and build upon our status as a potentially amazing team once again. So if we don’t win, expect a caustic review.

In other news that I thought as speculatory and thus probably something that I should save for an post script rather than a separate post; Bentley supposedly had a to-do with Harry at the training match in which young Luka returned to play. At the point in which this happened, is has been said that Harry made the threat to David that he would sell him in January as a punishment for his inability to take a reserve friendly game against Grey’s Athletic in a serious manner. Since then Harry has played down any suggestion of a rift, saying that any interaction was simply a manager telling a player where he stands. Noting that Bentley has a place in the squad should he put in the effort to put himself in front of a infallible Aaron Lennon, (who in my eyes should be tied down to a new contact as soon as humanly possible). This particularly on the back of recent form that has allowed him to take the limelight in such a way that has drawn realistic speculation of bids from Manchester United and Chelsea in the region of amounts that we would be willing to allow him to leave for.

What this means essentially, and especially since Mr. Levy has released a statement yesterday that he himself and Harry agrees that no players would be brought in unless others had been sold; is that, whilst Pavlyuchenko would be 50/1 to stay at this point. and thankfully most likely will be sold for as close to the value which we had bought him for, if it comes to the point where we need a little bit extra to fund a few incomings Bentley on a caution would in all probability be the most likely to leave in the winter window.

The posited arrival  of Sandro coming in suggests an outlay of 7-16 million, as has been quoted in the press. So Harry’s question to David is simply; ‘Do you feel like lucky punk?, well do you?’

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | December 7, 2009

Away Draw At Everton Shocker…. I’m Serious.

let's not all get on top of defoe; we're not katie price after all.

let's not all get on top of him, we're not katie price after all.

It did feel like a loss; and this just goes to show how much the bar has been raised this year in terms of ambition. I personally think the whole thing allows us to see the true nature of being a spurs fan. Firstly we generally find ourselves frustrated at the fact that until recently and during that one season when Martin Jol forced the article, we’ve always found ourselves looking at the prospect of finishing mid-table with a chance of flexing our muscles in the UEFA cup. Most of the time this usually results in a kind of autonomous twitch in spurs fans along with the denial that we are consigned to such a fate. It comes as no surprise to me that when we find ourselves nestling at the higher echelons on the table and finally in the realm where we feel at home, our ambition and expectations are almost automatically that of a club that deserves to be there. I for one would certainly never deny us this and I feel that this hunger for success in our club is what ultimately separates us from the likes of Aston Villa and indeed Everton who find themselves negotiating their success in a moderate way.

To react as the majority of us have to an away draw at Goodison Park is brilliant; because it simply goes to show that as fans we’re looking to consign the kind of capitulating performances of the past to where they belong, in the ‘dark ages’ of a club that is finding it’s head rather rapidly appearing above the clouds. Though as they say, anything can happen in football, and for that matter it would be better to make sure that we’re getting there sooner rather than later.

The game itself was a very aggressive affair, especially in the first half where several yellow cards were picked up by either side, Bale had to come on for Assou-Ekotto for this and also a fair bit of haphazard defending which I think we all could feel may have ended with us a man down. This may have been due to Kranjcar’s insistence of playing quite a fluid role that left Benoit and later Gareth exposed. Whilst shirking his defensive responsibilities somewhat Niko was fairly cool working with an improving Palacios to seek out opportunities for our front men. Who unfortunately lacked a certain sharpness today.

The two goals came relatively early in the second half and seemingly would have killed of the game if it weren’t for the lack of discipline that allowed Everton to commit the majority of their determined players into attacks in our final third every 3 or so minutes. Note that our two goals were relatively well taken in comparison, Dawson with a diving header moving off a defender, and Defoe exploiting his new found hook-up with Aaron Lennon providing a driven low cross to smash past Tim Howard.

So it came to pass that they managed to score firstly from Yakubu with about 15 minutes of the match to go which brought on the blitz resulting in an equalizer from Cahill; both goals a product of a saturation of Everton players in our 6 yard box. At this point is can be said that the majority of the fans would have been aggrieved as it was certainly the capitulating spurs of the past that we had seen, rather than the world beaters of Wigan fame.

Then came the penalty which as we all know now was missed by Defoe. I was one of the people who knew before it was taken in some kind of weird voodoo moment; and later questioned why someone who has such a strange record with spot-kicks would have been chosen to take it especially considering Tim Howard’s pedigree in relation to stopping them. It’s fair to say that should Defoe have scored, the confidence given to him through doing so would have given him more than enough rocket fuel for Wolves next week, so discussion on this is a bit of a moot point to be honest.

Wilson seemed to have done some damage in winning the penalty for us; but the good news is that he seemed to have gone to hospital as a precaution rather than an inevitability, and may be in contention for next week’s game against Wolves.

The point that is something we should take to heart is that if we were to look at our ranking now and discuss whether we would be happy with it at the start of the season, I’m not sure that we’d find a single fan who would be as unsettled as we are now, at least not in jest anyway. It just goes to show that we’re a supportership that’s reflecting the transition that the club is in too. With the fixtures we have coming up, (the Manchester City game the main issue in hand until around February), we should really be looking to take the issue now by the scruff of it’s neck and move onwards, as we’re looking at a tricky triple header of Chelsea, United and Arsenal in the later months of the league, three games that will really test our credentials.

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | December 6, 2009

If You Haven’t Got Anything Nice to Say.

ssshhhh

Apologies to my loyal readers for the radio silence up until this point; simply put I found it pretty difficult to bring myself to writing a post about the league cup game that would have done justice to the shambles that occurred. Whilst it is now a distraction we won’t have to worry about as we focus on consolidating a good position in the league, losing in such a feeble manner was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. Nevertheless we must be sure to forget about what happened and focus on the task in hand.

Everton are a sicknote, one which hasn’t been seen since the likes of Darren Anderton graced our pitch, (intermittently) and as such many of us will assume that due to this, specifically with comparative the strength of our squad we should be looking to rip them apart like a Christmas leftovers on Boxing Day. I’ve the feeling it won’t be so easy though as David Moyes, whilst depleted of options is very good at making sure that his squads perform well as more than the sum of their parts.

What we need to do is make sure that Lennon offers more threat down the left hand side; and that the play through the middle is sturdy and creative; as we are all aware of what the man mountain Marouane Fellaini can do the the centre midfield line. He has the distinct ability to compress the play almost singlehandedly; and one of the main threats we’ll receive from Everton will be if we’re forced to play a compressed game in our half of the pitch.

In terms of team selection there are two positions of interest that might find different players starting in my eyes. Firstly Palacios’ recent form has been a bit suspect, and whilst Jenas is surely no better if he has still been underperforming in training we could see Harry play with that element. Secondly, Bale’s performance against Manchester United going forward seemed to be reminiscent of the young nipper we bought from Southampton a few years back; and it can be said that with a bit of luck and some defensive work he could be pushing for Assou-Ekotto’s place in the near future, especially for more attacking tactics. These are both outside bets in my eyes though as it is fair to say that Harry will be sure to make sure that his selection for league games are simply put, the best squad he can field at any given time.

Also; Gio’s fit again, and now under the impression that Harry rates him highly, (no January move for this lad), expect him to make a few appearances from the bench now and again from now on.

With Arsenal’s win yesterday though; and City now looking to get their head above 4th place we really need to make a statement today at the next few games are a very busy period where the status quo has the potential to change nearly instantly; and irreversibly. We should definitely be looking to be in and around it come Boxing day, a result today would reinforce that nicely; against an unlucky team with similar ambitions to ours.

PS: If we lose today in a shameless manner, I promise I’ll write up every grisly detail.

Potential Team:

Gomes, Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Dawson, Corluka, Kranjcar, Palacios, Huddlestone, Lennon, Defoe, Crouch.

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | December 1, 2009

Manchester United; Keano’s Time to Shine, (Again)

keano's influence tonight will be in the spotlight.

With Pavlyuchenko out of the picture and probably the first player moving this winter transfer window, eyes now move away from his input in our cup campaign; (which notably last season, included a spectacular finish against Manchester United). What this does mean however, is that the ever-prodigal son Robbie Keane is looking to state his claim on a starting berth despite certain critics suggesting pseudo-jovially that his contract prevented him from starting on the bench. Whilst the pairing of Defoe and Crouch in the last two games, (as well as the introduction of Kranjcar on the left) definitely payed dividends, Harry is a man who knows seemingly knows the recipe, and his insistance that Robbie should play the majority of the season thus far despite to the uneducated lacking the pinasche of his peers is an intelligence that shouldn’t be discounted.

What Robbie does offer; and many fans can testify to, is the winning mentality, (look above for evidence), and is notably one of the great characters in our dressing room. It can be said that he will never be the same Robbie that partnered Berbatov, and many fans are aggrieved by this very cold fact. But the truth is that it is not that he has left his heart in the cold corridors of Anfield; it is simply that without the aforementioned Bulgarian, (who’s form at Manchester is also indicative of this riddle), he’s missing the telepathic foil that led to his most memorable moves. Whilst after the fallout of the move-back it can now be said that Robbie’s heart is in generally back in the right place; (would you begrudge yourself a move to Spurs from Bolton if offered?) It is notable that he is now in the position where Spurs have the ability to achieve what Liverpool under the shifty guidance of Benitez will most probably fail to achieve this season, (save for massive economic restructuring or intervention). Hopefully this will buoy Robbie and allow him to become the player he always saw himself being; even if it is in a white shirt rather than a red one.

Notably; headlines seem to indicate that Redknapp is happy to state a claim that we’re aiming for a top four spot this season rather than success in cup competitions which over recent years seem to have provided a nice distraction from failures in the league. Whilst this is the best route for the club in terms of the economic growth and consolidation of assets, the fans might find coming short of that spot in the league a little disconcerting. However it does seem that at the helm of the club we have a great progressive figurehead in relation to Daniel Levy, who despite claims that he’s building up the club simply to sell it on is definitely taking the club forward in front of our very eyes. So at once the cups become a different beast entirely; once a sanctum of sorts for ‘our’ style of classic football competition without the over ruling presence of economies of scale and the shifty politics that come with it. Now it is a bit of a distraction from the commitments we have in the league; along with neverending issue of pleasing a squad that’s depth is nearly unparalleled in the rest of the league. Oh how things change and in such a short time.

Tonight’s match as such is seemingly underlined by both manager’s indifference to the competition. Redknapp whilst aware of the rewards of cup glory; especially for an underachieving club such as ours has his eyes set on another prize; whereas Fergie would only really consider a win in the final as a multiplier to beef up the accolades from more economically rewarding competitions. It has all the makings of being a great match.

No seriously; it should be good. Especially seeing as in our recent history Manchester United seem to have always been there causing heartbreak; and with the suggestion that Manchester United’s squad tonight will be somewhat a young muted side; we should be looking to take the game in a convincing and entertaining manner, as is our original style, (and not Arsenal’s might I add.)

Other notable appearances tonight should include Alan Hutton, Gareth Bale, Jermaine Jenas and David Bentley. All of which in my eyes are players of great potential with the ability to produce top performances. Bring on Macheda and Welbeck.

Posted by: Martin Douglas Hendry | November 28, 2009

Awesome Dawson Saves the Day at Villa

 

god bless you sir.

 

 

Here’s the team; unchanged despite Woodgate from the other week despite Harry’s insistance! Perhaps a mind game to alter the Villa setup. Kick-off at 5:30.

STARTING XI: Gomes; Corluka, Bassong, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios, Kranjcar; Crouch, Defoe. SUBSTITUTES: Alnwick, Bale, Hutton, Bentley, Jenas, Rose, Keane.

0- Good to see Rose making an appearance on the bench; it would seem that our kids are impressing more and more these days, pushing themselves into Harry’s thinking.

1- Gomes kicks the ball into the hand of Carew; Aston Villa have us playing slightly deep with their closing down. Plenty of space to move into though. The game is looking to settle a little but before we know exactly how things are going to work.

3- Dawson does well to win the ball in midfield starts a move that sends Aaron Lennon down the right; though the ball was perhaps a little too ambitious.

4- Excellent move started by Krancjar sets off Benoit down the left, leads to a powerful shot dealt with by Friedel. We’re looking hungry today.

7- A couple of sloppy passes from Palacios lead to a Villa corner, steered over for another by Crouch. Palacios looking slightly nervy today perhaps. We need him on form if we’re going to boss this game, that’s for sure.

9- GOAL- VILLA- Headed corner by Cuellar leads to a lose ball that is capitalized on by Agbonlahor. Maybe a bit of a defensive mixup leading to a failed clearance. Not unexpected on the way we’re playing, but we shouldn’t be playing this poorly.

12 – Weakness in possession in the centre of the field seems to be limiting our play a bit. The goal has also galvanized Villa who are looking very spritely at the moment. Without effective service Lennon and Defoe won’t be able to stamp much on this game.

17- Things are looking more interesting now as Kranjcar is taking the game into his own hands; Palacios still looks shaky worryingly but Lennon on the ball looks like he has something to prove with a cross that strays.

19- Nigel Reo-Coker takes a bite out of Kranjcar giving us a freekick at about 35 yards. Huddlestone smashes a shot that offers two opportunities firstly from Defoe then Dawson. Cleared off the line. Tentative play fizzles out.

21- James Milner with some great play leads to a chance wasted by Agbonlahor. The next goal will be crucial. Lennon doesn’t seem to be receiving much which is a bit of a worry at this stage; as this time in the match last week he had already caused Edman all sorts of problems. Another corner for Villa,  cleared.

25- The central midfield issue is causing us alot of issue; they’re managing to set their play up centrally that gives them far more options than we should allow. Palacios and Huddlestone really need to up their game if we’re looking to get any sense of control before half time.

27- Nice bit of play coming from the right hand side, results in a deflected shot from Huddlestone. Defoe follows on from the corner with a volley that finds it’s way just over the bar.

30- Dawson wastes possession with a thumping long ball for Defoe. Really seems like we’re short of ideas at this point. Though we know that we always seem to come up with ideas on the break.

31- Same story from Benoit. Gomes clears a back pass from Corluka for a throw. If there’s anything we do know, is that this could potentially be a game of two halves. Maybe not in as much as it was last week. Kranjcar runs Habib Beye into the ground showing his tenacity, which is nice as many view him as a lazy player. He has been tireless for the cause today.

38- Corner number 7 for Villa; is exemplary of how they’re pushing forward. We seem to be playing in our own half for the most part as their ability to throw their players forward seems to be stifling our play a fair bit. Half time will be welcome for regrouping

40- We’re having a good spell of possession at the moment. Kranjcar wins another freekick from 35 yards. A rerun of the last would be enough to buoy the fans for halftime. A goal would be a godsend.

41- Kranjcar blasts the ball straight into the wall, then slightly redeems himself by running for the rebound which is a fair shot but doesn’t trouble Friedel as he takes the ball with ease.

45- Interesting to see the majority of our play this half going down the left hand side with Kranjcar; with Lennon being the flashpoint that everyone seems to mention he hasn’t seen too much of the play this half. 1 minute added on and a rest for the lads to think about what to do next.

HALF TIME THOUGHTS – Their goal was really only scrappy, and we seem to be running the game a lot better towards the end of the last half so I expect that Harry will ask the lads to calm it down a bit and play patiently, as we seem to be gifting them opportunities through lost possession and rash decisions. I’ve a feeling that this one isn’t quite over yet. Crouch was looking a bit pokey, as he looks far better when the ball is flying in from the touchline, some might say the introduction of Keane’s influence would be beneficial.

45- Players come out, no subs by the look of it, Villa to kick off. Villa still look to try to hold the game, despite our apparent continual appetite for goal.

47- Still passing the ball around tentatively; it will have to take a special break for us to change our fortunes now. We do seem far more happy to commit players forward; they seem just as happy to compress their play though.

51 – Villa break towards us as Cuellar makes the best of the overlap. Luckily the play fizzles out through a bad finish. We’ll have to take some risks to score though so I guess we can expect more of this. Similar break follows which fizzles out again thankfully.

54- Great cross from Corluka looks to find the head of Crouch dips just before though. Corner goes for a goal kick despite coming off the glove of Friedel. Good play from Spurs. Not enough to warrant a goal quite yet though.

58 – Aston Villa seem to always have a player where they need him to be. Shows great structure and discipline to their play. Aaron Lennon cuts inside and puts the ball at Crouch’s feet.  Ball bobbles to Kranjcar whos shot is blocked. We now hold the ball in their final third and are exerting pressure. Freekick given for some over zealous challenging on the part of Milner. Bad freekick Dawson picks up the pieces with an inch perfect tackle.

63 – Scrappy play results in the ball falling to Defoe for a shot outside the area; deflected into Friedel’s hands as Jenas makes his way off the bench. Recently Tim Serwood has said that advice given to Jenas suggested that he should run with the ball more. If he does this today, it could make a difference.  He comes on for Palacios who despite making some good tackles hasn’t looked too lively today with his passing.

66- Nice classic build up sees the ball being played across the box with short passing. Left sided shot from Kranjcar across the goal finds itself wide. A good oppurtunity.

68- Reo-Coker’s shot forces Gomes to dive despite it being deflected, rebound falls to Milner whilst Gomes is on the floor. Wasted thankfully. Keane seen warming up on the touchline. Lennon searches for Crouch once again at the back post. Nothing seems to be coming off quite how we want it to. Sidwell comes on for Nigel Reo-Coker.

71 – Kranjcar breaks from midfield and cuts in, takes a shot from 35 yards which would have been far more productive if it were a pass down the flank. Play breaks down outside our box and Sidwell takes a speculative shot. Closer than Kranjcar’s but still very wide

72- GOAL DISALLOWED SPURS – Huddlestone’s shot deflects off Friedel and finds the hand of Defoe. Could have done with that one going in. Huddlestone perhaps should have found the corner with his initial shot.

75-  Heskey on for Carew. Huddlestone looks like he wants to find his way forward far more this match. Takes the corner lands for Defoe. Play builds up…

GOAL- TOTTENHAM – Lands for Dawson who chests it down and volleys it strongly into the net. Robbie Keane comes on for Kranjcar. 4-3-3, and pushing for the win.

79- Lennon looks like Ronaldo running at the Villa centre backs. Wins us a corner which finds it’s way over the bar via the forehead of Bassong. Nice build up play wasted by Huddlestone who goes for a lukewarm long range effort.

83- Huddlestone gets another striker chance from a Lennon heavy build up. Results in a corner. Corner is cleared and play breaks down. We’re looking like we’re going for the win; though the absence of Kranjcar and introduction of Keane’s attacking element is an interesting switch.

85 – Lennon’s pressure on Luke Young gives us a throw deep in their half. Jenas plays the ball to Corluka who cannot find a spurs player. Who’d have thought Jenas for Palacios would be the sub of the day. Lennon whips a cross in beats Friedel though defensive clearance takes the danger away. Spurs can smell the winner; though Villa are still looking dangerous on the break.

89 – Jenas does look dangerous running forward with the ball. Sets up Crouch who finds Cuellar fall at his feet for a free kick. Into added time now. A goal would be the nectar of the gods.

92- Ashley Young holds the ball well before finding Heskey telepathically with a cross that is flicked just over the bar. Defoe shoots from outside the area but is denied by a whisker.

Final Score 1-1

Thoughts.

Could have done with the win; especially as for the most part we did field a full strength side. Thankfully we did not lose though and as long as we’re getting points and keeping our competition then I guess we shouldn’t mind too much about not winning 9-1 every week.

 

 

 

 

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