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All Action No Plot's Michael Lacquiere's Take On Things..
2 years ago
Newcastle 2-1 Spurs: That Familiar Gloomy Hue
Ah, gloomy hue of disappointment, how I’ve missed thee. After the dashed unfairness that was Chelski pilfering our Champions League spot with the final act of last season, a couple of months on and our heroes were straight back in the groove, slinking off home with nothing but empty hands and slightly hurt expressions, when they deserved to hold aloft the carcass of a freshly captured point.
Merrily, smatterings of cautious optimism can still be detected if one squints a little and tilts the head sideways. The 4-2-3-1 rather forces our heroes to trot hither and thither, and the end result seems to be a healthy degree of off-the-ball movement and various options for the man in possession. The midfield five (for want of a better collective noun) seemed pretty happy with life in their respective roles, and galling though both conceded goals were, we were hardly scythed to pieces by the Geordie mob. Indeed, a couple of minor adjustments of the radar might have had us wandering in a half-time with a two goal lead to throw away - although as my old man the venerable AANP senior is always quick to point out, they only deserve credit for hitting the woodwork if they were aiming for it (and that would betray a slightly rummy approach to the game, what?)
That said, there was of course plenty to satiate the doom-mongers in our party. Defoe fought the good fight jolly well, but six foot three and fourteen stone he most decidedly isn’t, which leaves Daniel Levy 11 days to thumb through his wallet or start intravenously injecting Defoe with spinach and oily fish to turn him into some sort of Drogba reboot.
Messrs Lennon and VDV made a solid joint effort for this season’s prestigious Softest, Most-Ill-Advised, Worst-Timed, Never-Going-To-Get-The-Ball tackle, although my Spurs supporting chum Ian later opined that their clumsy clanking had begun outside the area. All rather moot now, one might sniff.
AVB’s Choices of Personnel
Young AVB will presumably spit out his dummy and bawl for a lollipop unless AANP affords him some column inches, so I oblige by questioning a couple of selections – notably the choice of Gallas ahead of Vertonghen. His prerogative, and Gallas performed steadily enough - I would just be interested to hear the rationale.
Elsewhere, the omission from the entire matchday squad of Hudd bodes ill and leaves me awfully concerned. AVB has some history of ostracising folk, and given that our new formation allows for a ball-playing central midfielder or two it would be a dashed shame if a rope were tied around the significant frame of Hudd and three burly chaps from the nearest building site were tasked with slowly hauling him out of the doors and along the High Road before slapping a note on him that read “fao Martin Jol”.
Neither was Daws anywhere to be found. Injured, does anyone know? In truth, loveable and huggable though he may be, Daws has never quite been the very embodiment of reliability, but this was again, nevertheless, an eyebrow-raising call.
The Long Game
Rumour has it that Season 2012/13 will be, in common with every single one of its predecessors, a marathon rather than a sprint. This accords rather neatly with the AVB era, which does appear to be something of a long-term project. As such, issues such as supplementing the forward line and bundling Modders out of the exit will eventually be resolved, and the Top 4 may or may not be on the agenda this season, but in the longer term one can begin to see the blurry outline of a plan.
2 years ago
We will have to play them all twice each anyway, but the Dutch women’s hockey team might have been a preferable opener, and not just because they are a darned sight easier on the eye than that Geordie mob. While ‘tis difficult to know whether Newcastle will function with the same aplomb as last year, this is a testing old to-do with which to begin proceedings.
Inevitably, we will take to the battlefield still a work in progress, with young Harry Kane nervously clearing his throat in the absence of a you-know-what to lead the line. Serendipitously enough young Master Defoe has shown in national colours that he can still merrily belt the orb netwards, and this will have to suffice. The midfield does at least look well stocked, despite the recalcitrant Modders wandering the reserve training ground in solitude, and Messrs Vertonghen and Kaboul appear to be rather more than just amply-framed hat-racks guarding the lilywhite goal.
Grounds for cautious optimism, but in truth AANP has barely an inkling of what to expect. Away we go.
2 years ago
Spurs - Fulham Preview: One Final Hurrah
So it all comes down to a rather rummy type of Cup Final in which victory might not necessarily suffice. No need to remind anyone of all the permutations, with England managers and Bayern Munich and the alignment of the planets and so forth. Our heroes might be advised simply to concentrate on the glorious stretch of greenery that is White Hart Lane, and the 90-odd minutes that lie ahead. One suspects that at some point this evening the other necessary morsels of information will be made known.
Excitingly enough we have a bona fide selection dilemma to serve as a sub-plot. And not the usual “Adebayor-plus-who? ” question that isn’t really a question at all. Danny Rose is nowhere to be seen (huzzah!). ‘Arry therefore has a choice to make at left-back, and the quiet option would be to slide Ledley back into defence and moving Gallas/Kaboul to the left (my preference would be Kaboul at left-back, due to the fact that the very sight of him striding forward does get the blood pumping somewhat). However, ‘Arry has not exactly ground out a reputation as being one to take the simple option if a square peg can be hammered relentlessly at a round hole in a manner that would make the toddling AANP nephews and nieces blush, so do not be wholly surprised to see Bale at left-back, Lennon moved left, VDV right and Gomes up top.
The personnel and formation ought not to matter too greatly – at home this ought to be three points, and the rest is beyond our control. As ever, it’s the hope that kills me.
2 years ago
Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs: Shooting Boots, & The Walking Calamity That is Danny Rose
Opportunity lost, as I’m sure all my fellow geniuses have also noticed. Should make for a frightfully exciting final-day finale though, what? As it happens our lot gave a dashed competent showing at Villa, so no particular complaints there. Plenty of intent, flair, movement and opportunity amongst our heroes, with the Lennon-right-and-Bale-left gambit loosely (though not rigidly) employed, creating a pleasing balance, while VDV and Modders crafted their usual array of intelligent triangles, and Sandro had another of his magnificent Chuck Norris days. In recent weeks some of our performances have hardly deserved a point, but this one merited three.
From this particularly hungover armchair spectator, the principal criticism de jour was that sometimes those chaps in lilywhite seem dreadfully reluctant to shoot. For a man who just a few days ago scored a goal sprinkled with celestial dreaminess, Modders seemed bizarrely opposed to the notion of repeating the feat, despite receiving the ball in a few highly agreeable patches of greenery just a few inches outside the edge of the Villa area. “By jove, have a crack my good man, ” was the sentiment no doubt doing the rounds across the lilywhite spectrum, but mildly infuriatingly the little man seemed absolutely determined to jab the orb sideways to a chum. Rather than blast a small hole in the top corner. VDV showed a greater proclivity for a vicious swing of the boot, but those two in particular could take a leaf out of the Bible According to Young Kyle Walker and thwack the ruddy thing as soon as the opportunity sidles into view. The goal scored by Villa in the first half perhaps gave an indication of quite how fruitful such an approach can prove, if repeated with some gusto.
And while I’m grumbling, when the devil will our lot score from a corner? Modders’ goal at Bolton was very much the exception, I think our first from a corner in well over 100 attempts, and there were almost 20 more in vain on Sunday. Part of the problem appears to be that with Adebayor typically peeling off to the back post we rarely have anyone patrolling the six-yard box with shooting boots primed when VDV swings them in. Within all of this I feel almost obliged to mention the name Defoe, and let others do with it what they will. But I’m sure ‘Arry is well aware of this, which is a relief.
The Latest Instalment in the Danny Rose Catalogue of Outstandingness
Playing with Danny Rose in our number is not exactly a million miles away from playing with ten men anyway, and having narrowly escaped a red card as soon as he appeared on the pitch, for that most unsightly, wonky red Mohawk, I’m not sure his repeated protestations (“He pushed me”) really exonerated him from a merited red card. Sans Rose our lot did just as good a job at sniffing out a goal, our ten men swarming all over Villa non-stop for the final half hour. Frankly few at AANP Towers would don sackcloth, ashes, black armbands and the like should those flailing Rose limbs never again be seen in lilywhite, for the boy is just not good enough.
A darned shame, these dropped points, given the opportunity so comically thrown our way by l’Arse a day earlier, but one final opportunity remains. Play this way against Fulham next week and our lot ought to prevail; the rest is in the lap of the gods.
2 years ago
Aston Villa - Spurs Preview: Dashed Complicated
Two games, one point, one goal, third place – it may sound like a convoluted ‘Arry’ catchphrase, but as we approach Important Finale Time that is the nutshell summary of our position, if you bend your neck and squint a bit. The usual hopes and concerns apply of course – a more clinical touch from Adebayor and VDV in front of goal; Bale and Lennon on their appropriate wings; Sandro to crunch anything that moves; and young Rose to retain possession at least once in every half-dozen touches.
However, this being Important Finale Time the plot becomes more labyrinthine than that Inception gubbins from a year or two back. As well as simply needing to deliver an almighty thwack to Villa (and then Fulham at home next week), we also need Norwich to muster a draw or more against l’Arse; could jolly well do with Man City doing something nasty to Newcastle; and while we’re at it we might want to bolster our goal difference with wins greater than anything l’Arse manage. On top of which we might as well invade Roy Hodgson’s dreams and have a 360 degree rotating fight with Chris Foy.
Hardly straightforward, and it does rather make me reflect wistfully on the blasted defeats to QPR and Norwich, and the points thrown away at the death against Swansea and Man City earlier in the season – but such is the existence of the Tottenham fan. Let us at least despatch Villa, and then reconvene for a fresh session of nail-chewing and permutation-grasping next weekend.
2 years ago
Bolton 1-4 Spurs, Plus A Timely Catch-Up On Recent Events…
Heavens above. AANP ought to have known better than to wave away the whisky for five minutes while real-life gubbins intervened, but since I last tapped at these keys there have been debacles against Chelski and Norwich, followed up by rather professional dismantlings of Blackburn and Bolton. What to make of it all? Charge your glasses and follow hither…
Spurs 1-5 Chelski
Cast your minds back to Wembley if you will. Lest ye need reminding, all sorts of indignation flowed around the streets of North London, and quite rightly so, given that Chelski seemed to be awarded a goal for the fairly innocuous achievement of having a shot charged down in the area; but such is life, and of more concern at AANP Towers was the ease with which Chelski took their other four goals.
Rarely have our heroes performed with such gusto as when racked with the injustice of life and the refereeing decisions it produces, but equally notable was the decision taken en masse to give up the whole bally thing as soon as we went 3-1 down. Naturally enough Scott Parker can be spared too much criticism, fighting the good fight all the way to the 90th minute and beyond, but to see the rest of them collectively slump shoulders and exhale with 10 minutes remaining and the situation by no means irretrievable was dashed bothersome.
Qpr 1-0 Spurs
The usual ills, with which we have become depressingly familiar in recent weeks, were paraded in all their glory against this rabble - plenty of possession but precious little invention; a complete and resolute absence of off-the-ball movement; the mind-boggling determination to stick Lennon on the left and Bale on the right – but when the ever-reliable Brad Friedel gets an attack of Gomes-itis it really is time to remove oneself quietly and go for a lie-down.
Spurs 2-0 Blackburn
Jolly well more like it, and not a moment too soon. A pedant – and they are hardly a dying breed here at AANP Towers – would continue the season-long grumble about our profligacy in front of goal, with a 2-0 scoreline hardly justifying near-100% possession and 19 shots on goal, but given the travails of recent weeks perhaps we should just quietly sacrifice a small rodent in gratitude to the gods of Champions League qualification, and be grateful for what we have.
Sandro generally comes across as a good egg. Perhaps bereft of a couple of well-tightened screws, and not necessarily a chap you would entrust to feed your goldfish, but certainly not lacking in enthusiasm and dedication. This has at times manifested itself in wildly mistimed tackles, but on Sunday he struck all the right notes – winning every tackle with a merry crunch, surging through half a dozen challenges and straight down the heart of the Blackburn defence and at one point almost snapping the crossbar. (On top of which he dealt with the potentially awkward scenario of on-field vomiting most adeptly, by simply taking a deep breath and continuing to stretch every sinew for the lilywhite cause.)
Yes, ‘twas only Blackburn, but mediocrity of opponent has hardly prevented some insipid performances from our lot in recent weeks. In the absence of Parker, Sandro’s was a most useful contribution, and a most professional performance from our heroes as a collective.
Bolton 1-4 Spurs
What a difference an Aaron Lennon makes, particularly when the Brains Trust stumbles across the most novel idea of parking him on the right, winding him up and releasing him. From the off he was a blur of little legs and jazz hands, which provided a handy cue for the rest of our heroes to pile forward on top of their hosts and provide a few nostalgic reminders of that glorious era, Ye First Halfe of This Season.
And how right it all looked, with Bale galloping down the left, Modders yanking strings hither and thither in the centre and VDV always on hand to roll possession along. Lennon may not have necessarily been the outstanding performer, but his very presence on the right seems to provide stability to the fabric of the universe, and as a serendipitous side-effect it also gives our Starting XI a useful balance. Oh that ‘Arry had invested in a reserve right-winger in the January sales (or simply retained Master Pienaar).
Admittedly there was a wobbly 15 minutes at the start of the second half, when the incessant bombardment from the skies threatened the general serenity of things, but unlike against QPR and Norwich, our superior class and technique was translated into net-bulging. Witness Modders’ goal, and the weight of his pass for our third. Such moments deserve to win games, and the best Bolton could offer in return were the elbows of Davies.
If there is a point of concern from our two recent wins it appears to be Danny Rose’s continued ignorance of the basic tenets of playing left-back, playing football and the very principles of physics that govern the behaviour of a moving ball. By the start of the second half even his own team-mates seemed to think twice when he availed himself for a pass.
However, with two games left it is to the credit of our heroes that they have recovered from those self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the feet, and hauled themselves back to within a whisker of that ‘orrible lot down the road. Good grief, this might even come down to goal difference.
2 years ago
Spurs - Chelsea Preview: Cometh the Creaking-Limbed Combo
The lucky blighters of mid-80s Los Angeles had the A-Team, the ungrateful denizens of Gotham City had a giant man-bat with a handy penchant for pugilism, but when we have a problem with which no-one else can help the slightly alarming solution being wheeled out onto the Wembley turf is the creaking-limbed combo of Nelsen and Gallas. In fairness, Gallas has yet to let us down, and has generally raised his performance level in direct proportion to the occasion; while Nelsen- well he made a good tackle against Bolton. And played in the World Cup. And looks, ahem, experienced.
The concern however is that neither could be quite guaranteed to outsprint Vedran Corluka over 10 yards, so how they will fare against the resurgent Chelski forward line is a worrying prospect. Rarely has the absence of human behemoth Younes Kaboul been so keenly felt. However, cometh the hour, cometh Messieurs Gallas and Nelsen. Immortality beckons if they play their cards right. (Well maybe not immortality, but a trip to Wembley. Again.)
Aside from defensive deficiencies the concern is a little broader, in that the whole ruddy lot of lilywhite heroes have developed chronic impotence when it comes to the delicate matter of outperforming opponents and trundling back to N17 with victory ballads ringing through the air. The return of Parker ought to help, and having awaited his return as if he were some sort of body-arted second Messiah, I think ‘tis fair to suggest that we are due a performance of scintillating ilk from Aaron Lennon. Where there is Modric, Adebayor, VDV and Bale there is hope, and, perhaps most pertinently, a couple of weeks ago we jolly well outdid Chelski in all areas bar net-rippling.
Poor form or not, in a one-off at Wembley this could prove quite the ruckus. Victory would not only place us within touching distance of the glittering jug, but it might also prove something of a stimulant for our Champions League push. The alternative is frankly too ominous to contemplate.
2 years ago
Spurs 1-2 Norwich: Tardy Musings on the Latest Debacle
(With apologies for the now customary tardiness – who knew saving the world and getting the girl would leave so little time for the finer things in life?)
The implosion continues apace, which I suppose if nothing else provides a degree of comforting familiarity for us long-term lilywhite sufferers. After the anomalous blip that was the over-powering of Swansea, we are back on the more familiar territory of stutter and mishap, at least in terms of outcome. In truth I thought that while far from our best we did enough going forward to have outscored Norwich – a tad more composure, determination or just plain luck would have brought goals for Bale and BAE notably.
Mind you, if a little slipshod in attack, we were blinking well awful in defence. Ledley, Ledley, Ledley, what are we to do with you now? For years I would vehemently protest that even if only fit for 10 games a season, they were worth near enough 10 clean sheets. These days however, something has gone awry. Maybe it’s his age catching up on him – or indeed all those boozy nights on the town, the little scamp – or maybe it’s the cumulative effect of an awful lot of 90-minute appearances this season. Frankly, speaking as someone whose progressing years leaves me just wanting to don the slippers and stay in of a night, Ledley has my sympathy.
But then again, my job doesn’t involve propelling the mighty Hotspur back into the Champions League, and our esteemed club captain is displaying worrying fallibility when it comes to the old raison d’etre. Once the quickest of the back four he is now the slowest (at least until Nelsen comes waddling along), and that fabled ability to read the game and anticipate danger before it has begun to gestate is a little redundant when he is left hauling to the floor decidedly average opposing forwards. Moreover, last weekend his penchant for calamity seemed to have infected those around him. A sorry state of affairs.
The absence of Parker did not help Ledley and chums either. Young Livermore is a midfield enforcer in the making no doubt, but the heir apparent could still do with a few lessons in the noble art of Scott Parkery. The retreat that preceded Norwich’s winner provided the most glaring indication that the indefatigable gusto of Parker was sadly absent.
So it’s woe and gloom, alas and alack. By jove, somebody somewhere jolly well needs to do something, but until then we switch our despondent gazes Cupwards, for all the joys that will bring.
2 years ago
Spurs - Norwich Preview: Five Things I’d Ruddy Well Like to See From Spurs Today
If there is a crumb of consolation to be neatly divided out between the thousands of frustrated lilywhites worldwide, it is that we do at least have our Tottenham back. When ten points clear in third, it would have been far too straightforward simply to have wrapped things up with neat efficiency and weeks to spare. Instead, doing it in heart-stopping fashion, and quite possibly facing up to final-day disappointment of some sort – is so quintessentially Spurs it almost makes the chest swell with pride, albeit in between the howls of frustration and vituperations of unholy fury.
Norwich are being led our way this afternoon, and it would be jolly pleasing if the aforementioned frustration and fury could be unleashed upon them like a pack of ravenous alien queens, coming out the walls, impregnating them via the mouth and bursting out from their yellow shirts to run amok. Such a scene would be quite the panacea after the frustration of Sunderland away. And while on the subject, a variety of other remedial measures spring to mind. Goodness me, this is starting to feel suspiciously like a list of Things I’d Ruddy Well Like To See This Afternoon…
1. An Early Goal
We all know the drill – Norwich sit back and soak it up, as our lot send the possession levels rocketing towards triple figures, and Messrs Parker and Friedel are near-redundant throughout. All this could be avoided if we score early, forcing the visiting blighters to abandon the Defend, Defend and Defend Some More approach. Score early and I would happily wager we’ll be at least two up by the break, such are the joys of picking off a team that actually bothers to venture forward.
2. Or Late A Late Goal
Birds do it. Bees do it. L’Arse, Chelski, Utd and City do it, so can our lot please learn the slightly devious art of sneaking a late, late goal when we need it most.
3. Play Defoe
As opposed to having both Sandro and Parker picking their noses and watching from afar while we camp around the opposition area.
4. Make A Change
Ideal though it would be for ‘Arry simply to get it right from kick-off, things that are broke do indeed need fixing, and quite frankly the sooner the better. 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes – but giving Defoe eight minutes against Sunderland was most infuriating.
5. Three Points
A draw away to Sunderland could vaguely be excused on paper and whatnot – failure to beat Norwich at home would require someone’s head on a plate. Beat them, chaps.
2 years ago
Sunderland 0-0 Spurs: “Death to Football”, & Hitting the Byline
On an introductory note, I would first like to take the opportunity to shake my head and indeed c**k a snook at M. O’Neill Esq. supposedly one of the brightest middle-aged things British football management, but who today lent his signature to the Petition for Death to Football. Defend, defend, defend and try to score from set-pieces – and all in front of their home fans? For shame, Mr O’Neill, for shame.
For their part, our lilywhite (or luridly purple pyjamaed) heroes tried the short passing game, but with barely an inch of room amongst the ten-man Sunderland defence it was all rather futile and frustrating. The situation might have been helped by more off-the-ball movement, as too often our lot rather dwelt in possession for want of options (although according to the Sky Sports commentators the grass was too long for a good wholesome passing game – not one for which I can vouch, but so be it).
In such circumstances as these, and the nights of a thousand relegation strugglers sitting deep at the Lane, an option that pops into the otherwise vacuous AANP cranium is for someone to sprint to the byline and pull back the ball. With Sunderland’s defence happy enough to face forwards and head clear, it would at least have been an interesting socio-demographic experiment to see how they fared when turned towards their own goal by someone bursting to the byline. Just a thought.
In the end Lennon appeared, we enjoyed a full 8 minutes (gasp!) of two upfront and the poor, deprived Sunderland fans worked themselves into a state of hysteria every time their lot passed the halfway line.
Other Points of Note
Not sure I’ve ever seen so many passes misplaced in a Premiership game (a product of the long grass?); Kaboul’s ongoing crusade to become the hardest man alive by sheer strength of heading continued apace; Sandro’s abundant enthusiasm just about expiated for a complete absence of finesse; and Brad Friedel will rarely have had less busy afternoons away from home.
Immensely frustrating then, but from now on the opponents become weaker – statistically at least – and while this may well herald more ten-man defences it ought also to bring about some three-point hauls. Have yourselves a good Easter, we meet clink glasses again on Monday.
2 years ago
Sunderland - Spurs Preview: How Many Aaron Lennons Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?
Just the one Aaron Lennon – he holds the bulb and the universe revolves around him, n’est ce pas? Not to cast aspersions on the young blighter’s character you understand, he seems a most charming young fish (now with added maturity – witness the disappearance of his go-faster diagonals in his eyebrows). The crux of the matter is of course the balance he adds to the progressive part of our team, not to mention the fact that he jolly well adds the final piece to a quite jaw-dropping six-part smorgasbord of attacking delights in lilywhite.
With two games in three days there is fairly slim chance of Lennon and his paper-thin hamstrings appearing – and then rapidly disappearing in a puff of dust and blur of heels – both today and on Monday, so there arises ‘Arry’s first conundrum, while the other usual decisions loom large – VDV or Saha, Ledley or Gallas (that this question even arises is reflective of these changing times), two or three in the centre et cetera. Whatever the options, the facts are that a lip-smacking, eminently winnable final eight games is now well upon us. Wins, wins and yet more wins will almost certainly propel us above that ‘orrible lot down the road (who this weekend are entertaining Man City). If ever there were a diem to be carped, this is it.
2 years ago
Spurs 3-1 Swansea: Tactical Successes All Round
Thank you, thank you - AANP is happy to take the credit for this long-awaited upturn in fortunes, having all week told anyone within earshot of a cunning Eight-Stage Plan to guarantee we finish fourth. As it happens, the first stage – Win The Next Game – is identical to the following seven stages, but it was nevertheless with some pride that yours truly watched our heroes effect the plan to perfection. Perfection, I tell ye.
Swansea – Eminently Likeable
However, before basking in the glory of my tactical masterplan, it seems only right to heap all manner of praise upon our vanquished foes. Employing their ‘keeper virtually as an eleventh outfield player, as a sweeper under strict instructions not to go long at any point, Swansea resolutely passed and passed and passed, even when under pressure in defence. The way the game is meant to be played dagnabbit (note ye well Tony Pulis and any Stoke fans in the wrong part of town). Admittedly Swansea’s almost religious dedication to the passing game landed them in a lot more trouble than it was worth, as they repeatedly lost possession in their own half, but nevertheless, today football was the winner. Actually, Spurs were the winners, but as long as l’Arse lose out I don’t think anyone is grumbling.
‘Arry’s Tactical Success
Having executed a roll of the eyes so grandiose the little orbs almost tumbled out into the hinterland, on hearing of the selection of both Sandro and Parker in midfield, AANP is content to admit an error, for ‘Arry’s selection worked a dream in the first half. With our front men treading dangerously close to arrest for harassment of the Swansea back-line, the midfield selection gave Parker the licence to push up and press whomever was next in possession for our guests. Many times and oft therefore, did we pickpocket the Swansea midfield and merrily lay siege to their goal, and by half-time the lark had joined Bale on the wing and all was right with the world.
Then in the second half, when the scores were levelled and a tad more urgency was needed, ‘Arry gambled successfully again, removing Sandro, bringing on Lennon and switching to 4-4-2. Ah, is there a sweeter sight in Christendom than Lennon scampering down the right wing, jazz-hands dementedly a-whirring, while just over the horizon our handsome young Welshman lingers on t’other flank, eyes up his full-back and lets out a meaty laugh of doom?
Lennon’s contribution may have been brief, but it was time enough for a couple of darts, a crucial assist and a glimpse of the future. A glorious future, in which our children run freely, the lion sleeps with the lamb and the remaining seven stages of our march to 3rd place are successfully completed by virtue of having Bale on one flank and Lennon on the other for the rest of the season. Onwards! Thirdwards!
2 years ago
Spurs - Swansea Preview: Here Begins The Eight-Game Renaissance
Finally, tidings of genuine optimism and joy. Of our eight remaining games the highest-placed opponent is Sunderland, while l’Arse still have to face Man City, Chelski and Stoke (on top of their bonus defeat to Adel Taraabt and chums yesterday).
Our remaining games won’t win themselves, and in recent weeks the absence of Lennon coupled with central deployment of Bale has hardly helped matters. However, against weaker teams, the formation appears to matter a little less – witness how Bolton were passed to death in midweek by the combo of Bale, Modders and VDV behind Adebayor. Our heroes are beginning to purr once more, and as luck would have it, are due to face a whole phalanx of opponents with track-records of helplessness in the face of purring.
Swansea to be fair are one of the most attractive teams in the division (their manager, that Rogers chap, the next-but-one Spurs manager in my mind), but with home advantage our lot ought to outpass and outscore them. One game at a time and all that gubbins, but the Excitement Dial at AANP Towers has been rotated up a whole notch and a half – third place is back on the radar.
3 years ago
Chelsea - Spurs Preview: No Lennon, No Balance, No Hope
“He’s not available, ” declared our glorious leader of One Aaron Lennon and his jazz-hands. “Other than that we’re not too bad”. Which is laudably upbeat I suppose, but a bit like Sigourney Weaver concluding that although she has looked on as the alien wiped out two entire crews, tormented her waking and sleeping thoughts, indirectly forced her to shave her head and then ruddy well gestated inside her – other than that she’s not too bad.
I do of course overstate the case a tad. An orthodox four-man midfield - with Bale sticking to the left touchline and Walker manfully galloping the gallop of two man up and down the right - would probably offer the balance that we lack when Lennon sits things out, but nevertheless you get the gist. In the little man’s absence we have lacked shape, balance and a clear plan of how to outscore the opposition from minute 1 to 90.
Tough enough against Everton and Stoke, but faced with the prospect of a trip to a now officially resurgent Chelski, the denizens of AANP Towers have taken the unanimous, executive decision to shudder to our very cores. While genuinely upbeat that our final eight games really could bring us eight wins, the current trend of woe, brought about by a combination of Lennonlessness and opposition teams hitting tip-top form, looks for all the world like it will continue at Stamford Bridge.
Adebayor is also a likely absentee, but other than that the usual suspects will take to the field, start brightly, take the lead, then sit back and ultimately cave in to two late Chelski goals, at least one of which will be highly dubious. I would advise ‘Arry stops his blasted tinkering with the midfield and desperate shunting of square pegs into round holes, but nevertheless envisage him selecting Bale right, Modders left, with Parker and Sandro/Livermore in the centre (and VDV off Saha/Adebayor up the top). Delighted though I would be to gobble down double helpings of humble-pie come the final whistle, I approach this game with the same gloomy air of foreboding that accompanied a Sven-selected England team trotting out in a major tournament quarter-final. Grab what you can chaps, and then scarper.
3 years ago
Spurs 1-1 Stoke: The Pointless Meandering of Bale, & Other Grumbles
Full-blown, undiluted apoplexy does not translate particularly smoothly into the written word, so ‘tis perhaps just as well that after a good night’s sleep and couple of early morning whiskies AANP is now in slightly more philosophical mood than at the final whistle last night, when the denizens of the South Stand took time out from making rude gestures at the Stoke fans to stare in horror and cover the ears of the nearest small child while I emitted an unmistakeable, loud tut. Accompanied, I’ll have you know, by a shake of the head that had been brewing from nigh on the first whistle of the evening.
Mercifully, a degree of perspective has settled upon me in the alcohol-fuelled haze. I recall now that on perusing the fixture list a few weeks back, Stoke at home and Chelski away appeared the trickiest of the remaining engagements. With the ilk of Norwich, QPR et al to come thereafter, a slightly cheerier sequence of results beckons – to which end a point against Stoke might not be so bad in the final analysis.
By Golly Last Night’s Proceedings Did Make The Blood Boil Nevertheless
Still smarting from their ludicrous victory over us earlier in the season, my expectations for our esteemed guests were lower than the belly of a particularly depressed rattlesnake, and sure enough their goalkeeper began his time-wasting routine over goal-kicks in the very first minute. After which, they adopted an admittedly well-drilled 9-0-1 formation and bedded in, adding nothing of value to the lives of anyone in the stadium, and pausing only to catapult the ball Crouch-wards. Little wonder that their unfortunate fans include a rugby song in their repertoire.
As for our lot, the usual concerns wearily paraded themselves. Despite creating our last two goals from the left wing, and generally looking like he had the beating of their right-back whenever it took his fancy, Bale was again allowed to spend his time meandering fairly pointlessly wherever the dickens he liked, as long as it posed minimal attacking threat. The memory of his burst through the centre against Norwich several months back has faded; his urges to go central should now be the exception rather than the rule.
On t’other flank the absence of Lennon continues to have ‘Arry et al scratching their heads and staring blankly at the teamsheet. Niko Kranjcar was the beneficiary of the pre-game coin toss to decide who begins on the right, but appeared to be labouring under the burden of an invisible elephant strapped to his back throughout his 45 minutes. Slower and less interested by the game, he seems hell-bent on bidding us “Doviđenja” come the season’s end, and has now even slipped behind Ms AANP on my list of favourite Croats. The ignominy.
‘Arry’s England Credentials To The Fore Once Again
The inevitable half-time switch of Defoe for Kranjcar, with VDV moving wide-ish, at least made it feel like we had 11 men on the pitch, but the general air communicated by our heroes was that they lacked width, shape or any sort of fool-proof masterplan. For this our glorious leader ought to take some responsibility, instead of yet again inciting the chagrin of the great and good of AANP Towers by offering the unparalleled post-match insight that “It’s difficult to put your finger on”.
Inspired by this cunning tactical nous, our lot invested oodles of huffing, puffing, corners that failed to clear the first man and ultimately a general mentality of frenzied panic, the combination of which at least rescued a point. However, with possession apparently in excess of 70%, and the usual two dozen attempts on goal, it ought to have been more. Most frustrating, and now that blasted lot from down the road are crowing once again. Time for another whisky methinks.
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