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…
Good morning, people of Earth.
First and foremost, just splendid to hear that young Fabrice Muamba’s condition has improved significantly over the last 48 hours. As Owen Coyle quite rightly insisted, it’s still very much early days for the 23-year old midfielder, but hugely encouraging nonetheless. The bright green shoots of recovery:
“It is a great sign but I must stress that this is still very early in the process. The doctors have stressed that point so that we all know what is involved.
“Fabrice has still got a long way to go but it is encouraging signs and whilst that is the case it is very positive and we move forward from that point.”
Keep fighting the good fight, Fabrice. Keep on fighting the good fight.
Getting Back on The Bike
Redknapp talked of a buoyed atmosphere in the camp yesterday- after news had filtered through of Muamba’s steady progress. You needn’t be a body-language expert to see that the players of both sides were profoundly distressed by the events of Saturday night; Van der Vaart called it the lowest point of his career and I’m certain that would be the case for most of those players in attendance. It’s not the sort of thing you can just brush off with a strong cup of tea and a good night’s sleep. As ‘Arry said, you can’t get the lad out of your mind.
As tricky and as trivial it sounds, then, that’s the task ahead for the chaps of Hotspur tonight. It’s just silly old football in the grand scheme of things- not life or death- but the World doth turn perpetually and Stoke will be in residence.
Let’s not downplay the events of the last few days, of course, but it would thaw the soul somewhat if the atmosphere at The Lane tonight was on the good side of lively. Two sets of fans getting behind two sets of teams, playing football the right(ish) way. I’ve been there when Stoke’ve been in town and they’re certainly a vociferous bunch. Oh and three points would be just dandy. Rock and roll.
For many a tortured soul, Peter Crouch’s exit from Tottenham was as good as a new signing. A two-season career which peaked in Manchester on that famous evening- briefly spiking into the green with a Young Boys beating hat-trick and the heroics in Lombardy- withered somewhat terminally in its final months. By all accounts a lovely chap off the pitch; an embodiment of frustration and blundering ineptitude on it. If the goal at Eastlands was a defining moment in his time at Spurs, the other goal in Eastlands was, equally.
Not to mention that spazzy red card at the Bernabéu. Or the way he always used to laugh every time a feebly rolled effort would be gulped down the keeper’s neck when scoring looked a whole lot easier. Or for making Spurs fans young and old want to jam their hand in their George Foreman each time his name appeared on a team-sheet. Or for… well, you get the idea.
Nope. There’s no doubt a about it, the love rather petered out for our Peter in his last days at the club, and if someone was willing to pay anything to get him off our books- let alone ten chuffing million- then it would’ve been a case of taking the money and not just running; but running straight to the nearest airport and flying to the Seychelles to start a new life as King of the Daylight Swindle.
And so to Stoke, Crouch’s new home. Despite the excellent Phillippe Auclair’s statistically accurate claim that the Potters’ ‘fortress’ at the Britannia hasn’t exactly been impenetrable over the last year or so- at least, not as tough a place to get points as you might assume- they have managed home draws against Chelsea and United this term, as well as a victory over Liverpool. An admirable jaunt in the Europa League has weighed heavy on their shoulders at times (they should try not giving a sh*t) but they appear to be balancing the fixtures quite nicely of late and are beginning to chisel out the results. Two wins on the bounce and they’re settled comfortably in the League’s midriff.
What Spurs will make of them, I couldn’t guess. The smart money is on a grizzly 1-2 victory with perhaps Crouch getting one for them and one for us. Like the good old days. I’ll be delighted with a win which ever manner it lands on our table. But what say you?
Let’s get one thing straight, and this may shock you: Stoke are no Real Madrid. Honest. I’ve got diagrams to prove it. Apart from the painstakingly obvious, the man on the touchline is the biggest giveaway. Tony Pulis looks less a top-flight football manager than a P.E teacher who uses the school’s lost property as his personal wardrobe. Didn’t he used to wear a whistle? Hmm. Maybe I imagined it.
Anyway, despite all that, Spurs looked ruddy decent in patches on Saturday. Didn’t they? The patches, of course, in which Stoke weren’t scoring or we weren’t clinging on with the intensity one might adopt if they found themselves saddled to a rhinoceros. Most of the second half, then, in plain speak. Would have been nicer without the constant arse-clenching fear, so said Aran on here soon afterward. Hard to disagree.
Huddlestone and Younes Kaboul both made winning returns. Big Tom could well have just nipped to the shops for a morning paper such was the ease in which he slinked back into the action. Four months out and it’s like he’d never been away. Buttery passing, confident in possession. Business as usual. A yard or three of the pace for Etherington’s goal? Almost certainly. But I’ll forgive him because he looks like a man who could pull an arm clean off at the shoulder without too much bother. Or at least petulantly stamp on my leg. As for Kaboul. I’m not sure what the exact science is, but with him in the team, we look, er, better.
That’s some Zonal Marking s**t, right there.
I’ll leave you with Modric’s goal.