Tottenham versus Chelsea. A fixture always prone to a Master versus Apprentice billing. Television expert David James said as much on one of those BT adverts, delivering his one line with all the studio charisma of Tommy Wiseau . It’s also perhaps worth noting that David James forecast a 16th place finish for Everton this season and a ruddy, bloody brave 8th for Tottenham. Expert.
No Love Lost etc..
You get the impression that until their attention is diverted by the spectacle of two decent sides doing some actual football, the potential subplots of tomorrow’s London derby are always going to be of more interest to the headline writers. One of those subplots being: are Mourinho and Villas-Boas going to have a fight?
It’s a valid question, of course. Both coaches have been quite bristly in their pressers this week and you feel that each has shown at least some level of restraint in not calling the other a tremendous bellend or saying anything unkind about their respective mothers. Journalists are hoping, reasonably, that one of them offs their gloves first.
While you can sense a whiff of animosity, it’s all been fairly tame so far. In one corner Villas-Boas has reiterated his stance that the two are no longer friends while Mourinho has claimed that he doesn’t care what AVB thinks, in the tone of someone who really does care in fact, and is possibly harbouring some deep-rooted sexual tension towards that person. You’re only human, José, you’re only human.
TO THE CHALKBOARD, BATMAN!
Wow, this is how Liverpool must feel.
Oh, Willian, we hardly knew ye. Just hours after slipping out of the hands of Spurs’ medical team with some questionable daywear and smiles aplenty, the Brazilian finished off his whistle-stop tour of the Capital by agreeing to sign for Chelsea. Which isn’t quite what we had in mind when telling him to go out and see the sights. But there you go. His antics shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, of course. This, remember, is a man who, at 24, chose the Russian Premier League as the best location for his footballing gifts to flourish. No doubt Chelsea have plenty of appeal (they make nice banners?) but let’s not pretend his motivations as a player aren’t centred acutely on the amount of zeroes pencilled into his contract.
Anyway WHO NEEDS WILLIAN? was the question posed on the internet machine last night after young Andros Townsend tore the Dinamo Tbilisi defence asunder with his remarkable cunning and fleet-footedness. And who needs Gareth Bale, too, for that matter? Gareth Who, huh? Who’s this Gareth Bale guy I’ve been hearing about? Nope, not buying it either, but it is nice to know Townsend’s career is moving in the right direction after a season at QPR. Maybe there’s hope for Danny Rose, too.
Swansea, then. Laudrup’s lot were also abroad in Eurofoot action last night but I’m not sure if South Wales really counts compared to the 2,000 miles to the heart of Georgia that Spurs were required to wind up for their tie. Still, I’m sure we can expect slightly altered line-ups from both coaches. Here’s how we might line-up. Feel free to post your thoughts below. Gadzooks!
Hello. We’ve been off your screens for a few days now. I would blame it on the chronic gambling addiction I’ve developed but everyone knows nothing ever bad came of gambling. In the small amount of time it takes you to wish we’d stayed away a bit longer, then, let’s have a look what’s been going in the world of Hotspur since we last spoke. Who knows, it might be fun.*
*There will be precisely no fun had by anyone.
When scientists eventually find a way to delete precise chunks from a person’s memory, this might be ninety-minutes I’ll do away with. Indeed, it’s not yet possible to un-watch something that’s already happened; perhaps this game will encourage governments of the world to increase funding and get that memory expunger built. Must-Win was the understanding before kick-off. Must Not Bore to Death would’ve been a start. On the bright side, Gylfi Sigurdsson scored. Which after much discussion has been confirmed a nice thing to happen. Good on him.
This, a third successive away win for Spurs in the League, which propelled Andre Villas-Boas’ team to a rather handsome fourth spot. If this truly is the End of Days for our dear club it’s a lot less fire and brimstone than I’d imagined.
The first half was one of virile domination from Tottenham, signalled rather handily by the two-goal lead we took into the break. Lennon was bright and bubbly for large parts. Walker, off the back of a disappointing day against Chelsea last week, looked pretty good too. Appreciative, I’m sure, of the vast expanses of green he was allowed to gallop into at his leisure. Meanwhile, enjoyer of ladies, Jermain Defoe, could well have taken the match ball home at half-time. Had he not spent much of the afternoon trying to catapult said ball into the Channel.
The second half, well. Thank heavens for Sandro’s face, I say.
Again, by the sounds of it, Spurs had their assertive paws on this one but allowed Norwich back into it after Bale’s opener. Two late goals conceded through varying degrees of defensive cow-pattery. Limping out of the Cup is never fun- especially as some of the other big teams appear to be having such a hoot in the COC this year- and neither is missing a penalty. It’s all relative, though. Clint Dempsey should thank himself lucky he’s not Roy of the Rovers. I found out the other day that the fictional kickballer was forced to retire after injuries from a helicopter crash required him to have his BLOODY FOOT AMPUTATED!? You certainly can’t rap your way out of a missing foot. Also, most seem to agree that Iago Falque had an excellent game, so it swings in round-a-bouts.
Some thoughts on Wigan in due course. Just have to make a quick phone call.
Sometimes I do Twitters, too.
There’s no shame in losing to the Champions of Europe: that seems to be the party line to tow after last weekend’s anarchic ninety-minutes with Chelsea. You can pick through the carcass of the team selection, the individual errors, even Tom Huddlestone’s seriously-bro-this-isn’t-working afro: but when you boil down the football sauce until it’s a thick, gelatinous slew of football guck, an under-strength Spurs were bested by the League leaders who possess a staggeringly decent set of players. We feel bad for a bit; we move on.
And what better way to run away from our problems move on than fly a thousand miles to Eastern Europe to play some good ol’ timey Europa League kickball. No better way, is the correct answer.
Being a Professional Football Blogger ® (you heard) I can of course detail lots about our opponents tonight, from memory. For example, did you know that Nogometni Klub Maribor, commonly referred to as NK Maribor or simply Maribor, is a professional association football club based in the city of Maribor, Slovenia? It may also surprise you to learn that, founded on 12 December, 1960, Maribor is one of only three football clubs in the country who have never been relegated from Slovenian top flight. They are regarded as a symbol of Slovenian football, particularly in their home region of Styria in north-eastern Slovenia.
And there’s plenty more where that came from. On Wikipedia.
The big stories coming from our camp today are of who’s been left behind. New dad Gareth Bale hasn’t flown. Presumably he’s up to his eyeballs in vomit and talcum powder and decided the fun’s not about to stop anytime soon. Also among the grounded is one Emmanuel Adebayor, who perhaps has an inkling that if he were to exert himself too much in Slovenia, the chances of facing the Saints on Sunday will be even more remote than they are already. A well-timed niggle, you might say. Dembele’s hip injury has not been risked either, which appears very much a wise decision.
Spurs, then, in keeping with this whole ‘taking the Europa League seriously’ shtick, are in must-win territory. And win they must. COYS.
Last season’s sixth highest placed team, Chelsea, come to North London tomorrow lunchtime; the family-run club who gave Andre Villas-Boas the bum’s rush after eight months for the heinous crime of naming Frank Lampard as a substitute. And, much worse than that: daring to say ‘I’m not sure that’s appropriate, John’ when Ol’ Lion Heart asked to do the team-talk.
If anything, AVB’s biggest wrongdoing was his naivety; unaware of how things worked at top organisations like the Chelsea, UNICEF or the United Colours of Benneton. Thankfully, now there’s now a simple adage that the young Portuguese coach (ney, all of us) can remember, should he/we ever be in doubt again. One which, in a stroke of serendipity, came to light at the recent Terry/Ferdinand race trial. Whatever the circumstance, whoever you are: you can’t talk to JT like that.
Of course, all this is just a sideshow. A curious plot-point to the whole sweeping narrative that is our season. While it would be certifiably ace for AVB to get one over on his maniac of a former-chairman and the players who were so evidently resistant to the ideas he was trying put across, the context is a much farther flung net:
“This game is not going to decide the future of both teams in the Premier League – after this game there will be 30 more games to play and both teams will have decisive matches in front of them.
“It counts as three points. It doesn’t win us a trophy.”
Quite so. And to the game.
The most significant threat coming from this Chelsea side is three-fold. Or as they’re often named: Mata, Hazard and Oscar. All this talk of Fernando Torres being rejuvenated his pure hokum- he’s as slow and ponderous as ever. Instead he appears to be the rather fortunate benefactor of a ridiculous midfield trio which could make Fred West look a halfway decent striker. Hell, Borini could score with this lot behind him. No word of lie, Borini.
The key is pressing. One of those words that is often put into sentences when talking about Villas-Boas and his sides. He likes his teams to press. He’s a presser. Pressing is his thing. Juventus and Arsenal notwithstanding, Chelsea have been afforded a pretty generous time of it so far, in that the opposition have all but stepped aside and given them the run of the show. Even Wenger’s lot were quite charitable for large spells. Norwich, in early-October, allowed the Blue’s midfield so much time and space, they could’ve thrown down a yoga mat.
Spurs, in contrast, then, need to be work their 97% nylon, latest-in-performance-technology socks off, and not give Chelsea’s creative talents room for any witch-craftery or hoodoo. The less time they have on the ball, or indeed are without the ball, very much the better (cheers, Captain Obvious). Midfield uber-athletes Sandro, Bale and Dembele have got the lungs for this one; they’re capable remaining tactically disciplined when Chelsea are in possession- pressing, harrying and whatnot- and terrifyingly effective when we’ve got the thing. Particularly this Bale chap they’ve been talking about on the radiogram. One to watch, they say.
A few hours in second place is the prize for a win. Blimey.
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