League Cup, ahoy!
With the squad we’ve now assembled, it’s not in the ambit of wibbling lunacy to suggest that we might challenge on more than one front this season. We could even win something. No, hear me out.
Rightly or wrongly, Champions League qualification takes precedence over much else for Modern Spurs these days (unless you count *ahem* a title challenge) but with strength and quality in numbers at White Hart Lane, there’s every reason to think a Shiny Old Tin Pot would be just lovely, too. If you’re not convinced: imagine Lewis Holtby’s little face if we were to lift a trophy.
Don’t you want Lewis to be happy?!
Villa are likely to be without former Spurs striker Christian Benteke this evening. He’s suffering from a dicky-hip which you wouldn’t blame Lambert for not risking. Libor Kozak will probably feature in his stead.
Here’s how I’d line Tottenham up, by the medium of Champs Manager 01/02:
Last season, Spurs finally discovered the antidote for defensively resilient outfits like Cardiff City: it was called Give the Ball to Gareth Bale and Wait For the Fireworks. A high-risk, perhaps one-dimensional strategy at times, but by golly, more often than not, it worked.
Before the Welshman’s propulsion into the realms of Last Action Superherodom, Tottenham had a fine tradition in dominating the lower-rung sides with no end result; gluttonous amounts possession, shots raining in from all angles and ranges- usually to be met betwixt the posts by a reincarnated Lev Yashin, in no mood to be undone. Stoke, Wolves, Hull. You name them, we’ve made a bungled job of beating them.
Without a Gareth Bale even in the same time-zone on Sunday, then, Tottenham eventually managed to breakdown a dogged Cardiff side with keeper, David Marshall, in the form of his life. Twenty-nine shots we attempted, including those blocked or hammered out of the stadium by Andros Townsend, who continues to impress and frustrate in equal quantities.
For most of the afternoon, Mackay’s men were pegged back and dragged apart by Spurs’ velvet-brand passing machine- Dembélé, Eriksen and Sigurdsson at the heart of everything good. Crucially, though, despite the Icelander thumping one against the crossbar and Soldado going close on a number of occasions, Marshall’s net remained unruffled and that way you could imagine it staying. Just one of those days, you’d reason with a lukewarm despondency.
Until that is, glory be, the 93rd minute. Reminiscent of Del Piero’s consolation goal in the ’97 Champions League Final, Paulinho tears into the box to back-heel the winner and save the day. Impacting substitutes Lamela and Holtby combined well down the right and the Brazilian showed great resolve to meet the cutback. Cue elation, relief and an A Grade bundle. Three deserved points.
Here’re some more arbitrary player ratings, this time as represented by varying forms of cheese.
Hugo Lloris: Camembert de Normandie. With added crackers. IN the box.
Kyle Walker: Maturing Cheddar.
Kyle Naughton: Dairylea Dunkers.
Jan Vertonghen: Boursin.
Michael Dawson: Pineapple and Cheese on a Stick. Hard to beat.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: Cheese Flavoured Moments. Popular with (cross)bars.
Moussa Dembélé: Very Gouda. Sorry. Again.
Paulinho: Stinking Bishop. Overpowering.
Andros Townsend: Emmental. Holes.
Christian Eriksen: Danish (in) Blue.
Roberto Soldado: Parmigiano-Reggiano. Hard cheese.
Afternoon, girls and boys. A full Technicolor Europa ding-dong in the offing later tonight, against Tromsø of Norway.
Our Scandinavian brothers aren’t strangers to the virtues of foggy London Town. Back in November 1997 they visited Stamford Bridge and got themselves done-busted by Ruud Gullit’s Chelsea at a rate of 7 (seven) goals to 1. Gianluca Vialli scored a hat-trick that evening and the pre-Russian Blues went on to win the Cup Winners’ Cup.
Meanwhile Spurs were employing Christian Gross and flirting with the idea of getting relegated.
Back here on earth and Andre Villas-Boas has been talking to the press this week about our upcoming schedule. Which, you could say, is a touch busy:
“After this game (against Tromso) we have not only the Sunday game but the Tuesday game, which I found as an incredible surprise,” he said.
“How can the game be scheduled after two days? This is putting the players’ career at risk and the risk of injuries.
“I can understand the reasons why our game against Aston Villa for the Capital One Cup was chosen to be on Tuesday, bearing in mind the other fixtures, but I find it absolutely incredible that we have to risk injuries to our players in a game we play on that Tuesday.”
While it does represent some serious fixture congestion, it sounds like the Big Football Computer has its cold, inanimate hands tied on this one, with Swansea and Arsenal in COC action on the Wednesday. What’s more, unless I’m mistaken, Spurs have themselves a bit of a squad these days. So I’m sure we’ll cope.
Expect plenty of changes tonight:
In the warmest possible terms, Spurs have found Norwich to be a maddening bunch of sh*ts since their return to the Premier League in 2011. Their list of offences include two draws, a League Cup exit and, in the final throes of ‘Arry Redknapp’s doomed stewardship, a home defeat so depressingly gut-socking, it made me wonder if my heart had been replaced with an old turnip, incapable of feeling love ever again.
It was with some joy, then, that this weekend’s triumph over Norfolk’s finest purveyors of Big League Kickball, coincided with our best performance of the campaign by some distance. An afternoon of total dominance and control from the chaps of Hotspur, littered with an array of fine individual displays.
Chief among those star performers was debutant Christian Eriksen, who had a wonderful game. With the sheer volume of new recruits this summer it would’ve been easy to get blasé when Tottenham announced the £11m-or-so capture of the Danish wonderkid, the third signing of that day, no-less. Another young, gifted midfielder, you say? Just chuck him on the pile with the rest of ‘em. It wasn’t until you saw the man in our colours- darting about the pitch, finding space, zipping passes- that you realised, hang on, Spurs have got Christian Bloody Eriksen!
Elsewhere, Danny Rose was excellent. One vital block and a last-ditch interception highlighted his skills as a defender as well as his knack for getting fizzy on the left-wing. There’s the argument that anything ‘last-ditch’ is a sign of incorrect positioning yadda-yadda, but let’s not get too finicky about what was, in the main, a superb outing.
Here’re some arbitrary player ratings as represented by varying forms of egg.
Hugo Lloris: Eggs Florentine. Upmarket.
Kyle Walker: Egg and soldiers please, mummy.
Danny Rose: Raw/Solid. Paradox.
Jan Vertonghen: Eggs Benedict. Had time to make his own Hollandaise.
Michael Dawson: Fried. Yorshireman’s favourite.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: Double-yoker. Lovely stuff.
Christian Eriksen: Eggs and (Danish) Bacon. First-rate.
Moussa Dembélé: Egg-cellent. Sorry.
Paulinho: Perfectly poached.
Roberto Soldado: Spanish Omelette. With (back-heeled) chips.
Andros Townsend: Soft-boiled. Runny.
You’ll have to excuse the dearth of posting on here in the next few weeks, as this old site wanders lonely as a cloud in search of a new home. Wheels are in motion, pixels are being re-jiggered and we should be back at full-strength next month…
In the meantime let’s look ahead to Gameweek 4 of this white-knuckle-ride of a Premier League season and, in particular, Tottenham’s home encounter with Norwich City on Saturday afternoon. Woo! Yeah! Football!
With young Gareth having vamoosed to the Spanish capital in exchange for the contents of Walter White’s storage unit, the burden now is on his former teammates to avoid slipping into any kind of post-Bale funk. 1-0, 1-0, 0-1 mightn’t sound like a string of results that should trigger unnecessary alarm- except with binary enthusiasts- it is somewhat of a concern that we’ve not scored from open play yet and Roberto Soldado has looked ominously unserviced.
Fear not, however. The outrageous triple-signing Daniel Levy coordinated at the end of last month included two players for whom creativity is very much their bag. Having looked robust enough but unimaginative in the final-third at the Emirates, the introduction of Lamela and Eriksen against Norwich should bear some chance-creating fruit for Soldado to feast upon and a charge up the table ought to follow. Lamela is doubtful to start after a demanding international schedule with Argentina but Eriksen could well feature from the off. Elsewhere Vlad Chiriches is work permit-less so won’t be involved.
Here’s how we might line-up…