So, like a pair of butcher’s sausages, the resplendent fortune-hunters of Hotspur have managed to string together two wins against teams who’ve spent a good portion of their season encamped in the bottom three. In Sunderland’s case, one so long stationed in the relegation zone, they might soon be required to pay rent.
While it’s doubtful beating Fulham and the League’s absolute worst will convince the cynics (or fans of Glenn Hoddle: Football Manager) that the ship is at least facing the right way; it does count as some kind of start. By the power of almighty greyskull, it’s a start.
The arse of Twitter came awfully close to falling through in the minutes before kick-off on Saturday, as many Tottenham fans looked upon AVB’s line-up and decided it was bad. He’s gone insane, was the cry. Throw him in the river, said others. This all before remembering that, as well as having to countenance one or two key injuries, the Spurs coach was in the helpful position of having seen his players in training all week and perhaps the savvier judge.
Hey, I’m not going to sit here and say that I glanced at that team selection and thought wow, we are looking sharp tonight, Matthew but I don’t get to choose. And that, demonstrably, is a good thing.
Elsewhere some shoestring outfit called Arsenal were drawn in the F.A Cup third round.
By the time the single-term Champions arrive at The Lane tomorrow it’ll have been a whole ten days since our semi-tragic parp-parp-whoops exit from the Europa League. In that period, Arsenal and Everton will have played thrice and Chelsea and City on two occasions. These things rarely boil down to the machinations of a diary, of course, but with just five points betwixt 6th and 3rd even the smallest scheduling advantage could be crucial for the teams involved. It’s all about the little things, as I’m often told by the good lady- with no regard for my self-esteem whatsoever.
As well as giving a rest to the world-weary lambs who were put through the extra-time ringer in Switzerland last week, the enforced sabbatical has allowed a sizable hunk of downtime for the recuperating trio of Defoe, Lennon and multi-award nominee, Gareth Bale. While risking all three from the start would be a dick move in the extreme, the noise from the camps is that all are in contention. Here’s some of that noise now, in the form of words:
“All of them are in with a chance of making selection.”
“Gazza has been training for the last two days with the team and on his own since the beginning of the week.”
“He has made good progress from the beginning of the week to training with the team, so definitely will be up for selection.”
“We recognise the impact he has had for us. With the run that he is on it can have that factor.
“It is good having key players around and players who have been decisive, especially in this last part of the season is always inspirational for everyone. It’s good to have him back”
Phew! Well this team picks itself:
Ho, ho and indeed ho. Tottenham are up against footballing Renaissance men Stoke this afternoon; a team who if they were represented by the medium of architectural design, would be a pile of breeze blocks thrown into a dirty skip.
Tony Pulis. Man’s man; man’s manager; manager’s manager. Man. Great worth does the Newportian place in safeguarding the values of the game we call soccerball. Doing things, in a manner of speaking, the right way. Which approximately translates as: them perfume PONCE foreigners go down too easily and there’s no amount of stamping, shirt pulling or wallops about the brainbox that a firm handshake couldn’t resolve between men.
To recap: bone-shuddering two-footed challenge followed by a dusting off and a sturdy meeting of paws= good. Unhindered tumbles (unless performed by Charlie Adam) = very much bad.
Meanwhile for Spurs, that injury list which threatened to run longer than Methuselah’s beard is beginning to recoil. Parker last week, Disco Benjamin with every chance of making a return this. A lad name Gareth Bale, still riding high on the buzz of reaching 200k Twitter followers this week, is also in contention for a start. Which’ll go down well with the locals.
Hamstring pending, this is could be a game for Michael Dawson to savour, like a hog frolicking in his own swill. Call it team selection of the putting tab B into slot B variety (Stoke like twonking into the mixer, Dawson is adept at propelling it out) but you can’t help but feel this would be just his kind of afternoon. I’d also fancy bunging Parker AND Sandro in midfield today, if only to see how the Brazilian operates when his defensive chores are reduced. There’s more to his game than grinding adversaries to bone-marrow: he’s a joy to watch going forward, too. As for the rest of ‘em…
West Ham walloped, then. You’d have forgiven Spurs for approaching this with some degree of caution. Having lost four of the last five in the league and facing that dangerous animal of a newly promoted side buoyed by good form and travelling support stricken with Cup Final Fever- amongst other, less savoury afflictions- this could’ve easily turned into one of those afternoons where things didn’t quite click into place. With the WHL inmates becoming increasingly tetchy with every goal-free minute.
Instead it was reassuring to have them get behind the team as they went merrily about the business of out-scoring the hapless Hammers and the 10th Most Expensive Player of All Time . All very nice indeed.
Defoe’s finest goal in Lilywhite? Not many can I think of which exhibited so many of his attributes in one go. Speed, power, tricky feet and a shot like a goddamn champion. The thwack against Arsenal in the 5-4er of a few years ago was rather fabulous, but I’d wager this one surpassed it. Ker-plunk!
Is that the Hugo/Brad debate put to rest, then? Preferably nailed shut in an air-tight casket and buried under thick concrete. Friedel has done little wrong in his time at the club, other than be closer to an expiry date than the competition. It’s no conspiracy, just a bit of forward planning. The circle of life and whatnot.
And it’s some keeper Lloris appears to be. A confident pair of hands who can snuffle out the air of potential threat much quicker than the average bear. He races from his line, flinging himself on danger like a war hero smothering a grenade. One of West Ham’s best moves, a two-on-one breakaway in the second half, was dealt with before anyone realised it was a thing.
Praise be, Clint Dempsey had a game. Far from the ponderous lunk we’d somewhat resigned ourselves to seeing each week, this was a performance of great encouragement. Decisive on the ball, tidy in possession and a recurrent goal-threat. This was retrograde Dempsey. Old School, to use a more fitting vernacular for a man of his talents. More please.
Liverpuddles tomorrow. Philosophy FC. If you’re terribly unlucky I might be live-blogging it.
Pray for Mojo.
Well, apart from all the reports of hate-filled violence, racism and excessive amounts of Alan Shearer, it’s been a rather enjoyable affair so far, I would say. In the entertainment stakes, the Italians were certainly good value on Sunday. With Cassano and Di Natale up yonder, the Azzurri couldn’t hope for a more talented or likeable front pair. And Gianluigi Buffon; that commander of cool was wearing a stylish little hairclip in the Gdansk sun yesterday; the type of which I usually find in the hoover bag after the good lady’s been to visit. Those crazy Italians!
Meanwhile, the ongoing dual between Balotelli and Torres- as to who’s the most dysfunctional striker- was eagerly watched. I would think Mario just about edged it this time around, with the fitful punch-combo on thin air; as well as that bizarre moment in which I can only assume he thought someone had slowed down time for him, (a reasonable request for a man of his talent) enough to walk the ball in the net unheeded. The Chelsea frontman on the other hand. Well, sometimes the laughter stops and it just becomes uncomfortable, doesn’t it? No-one even had the heart to be angry with him, for fear of snapping his fragile spirit like melba toast.
If the man’s lacking in confidence, one fellow whom never seems to be short of the stuff- despite being told he’s either too lazy or too fat by his national team manager- is erstwhile Spurs favourite, Super Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Russian ripsnorted this delicious effort in Wraclow on Friday, to the delight of many.
Sign him up, Harry!
So now it’s over to those Brave Lions, England. Mediocre, technically lacking and extremely difficult to love. If it weren’t for J-Dizzly and Parker, you’d seriously consider backing the French. I am warming to the idea of seeing Scotty bulldoze Samir Nasri, mind.
And they say patriotism is dead.
Twitter is where ma’ dogs at.