Welcome back, web-slingers. I hope the trauma of Please Don’t Get Broken week hasn’t withered your spirits too much. In the name of fun it might be handy for Tottenham if Swansea took the same casual, post-cup-winning attitude to the rest of the season as King, Jenas & Co. did back in 2008. That is: this football lark is all very well, chief, but it does rather get in the way of me tanking cava in an up-market discothèque while speculating whether flip-flips or sandals might be the way to go this summer. Not so much foot off the gas as parked up on the hard-shoulder and whipping out the egg sandwiches.
Indeed, Birmingham City took the whoopla a step further in 2011 and got themselves relegated- which is a bit over the top if you ask me.
Whether they’ve mentally signed off for the day or not- two losses out of three since Wembley- the Welsh have been magnificent this campaign. An imminently likeable bunch whose sharp-as-a-tack passing game has gained them many an admirer and steamrollered many an opponent. Heck, this blogger- perhaps hypnotized by the exotic Eurosexy charisma of Michael Laudrup- went as far as to suggest they could be regarded as Champions League contenders: before they inconveniently got pulverized by Liverpool and there the harebrained theory was taken out back and shot.
Good old fashioned winning is the name of the game for Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas this weekend. Chelsea and Arsenal are treated to a decent but beatable Southampton and a flat-lining Nigel Adkins’ side respectively- so anything but maximum points could see us slip into 5th before the day is through. The trick to beating this lot- something we’ve managed twice in three games since their promotion- is squeezing the blighters like John Goodman squeezes frogs. Allowing the Mighty Swans time on the ball is an explicit negatron and, as such, the line-up should reflect a willingness to close down and hassle the home side’s ball-hogging stars. Plenty of energy and legs, then. Lewis Holtby, a fresh Scott Parker, Sigurdsson perhaps even Tom Carroll should be chewed over and considered for selection. Here’s how I’d line the chaps up. But what say you?
A decidedly tricky encounter pencilled in this weekend as Spurs take on Michael Laudrup’s Swansea at the Lane.
You can’t help but be amazed by the League’s current foreign representatives. There’s something altogether decent about how they appear to operate as a football club and it doesn’t seem to have been hindered by the upshot of Dr. Brendan Rodgers roaring off to Merseyside in his black Porsche GX Lad. The foundations were in place well before he showed up and look strong enough to withstand any number of managerial or player departures. The cogs and sprockets are well-oiled from the bottom up.
The summer, for instance, after a campaign of largely regarded over-achievement, Swansea bid fare-thee-well to star performers Steven Caulker, Scott Sinclair, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Joe Allen to wealthier paymasters. (Admittedly two of those were loan deals expiring.) Yet somehow, this season under Laudrup, it’s possible they look an even better side. With more purpose and discipline. And goals. Football goals.
In that regard, buying Michu wasn’t the worst decision ever made. If nothing else the Spaniard has got himself a nice little niche as a pun-merchant (pleased to Michu) and Fantasy Footballist’s wet dream. The Welsh are probably quite keen too as he’s the League’s top scorer and cost less than a bag of pistachios. Tottenham won’t be the only ‘big’ club wondering whether there were more cost-effective purchases to have been made over the warmer months.
Andre Villas-Boas has the task of transforming frowns into their proverbial inverted states on Sunday, after a miserable encounter with Everton last week. As ever, it’s the hope that kills you as Spurs looked set to get away with one of the cheekiest smash and grab results of the season. Until the late, late jitters overcame us once again. If games lasted 80 minutes and if my bank balance was suffixed with a couple more zeroes. We’d all be happier. In the meanwhile, let’s see how the heroes of Lilywhite are looking in glorious one dimension:
Welcome one and all. Apologies for the dearth of excitement spilling from the pages of this site in recent days. If it’s any comfort I’ve returned to the keyboard only a shade darker of ghost-white and with a bank balance that I shall cautiously describe as uninspiring. Still, Barcelona is a splendid city and I can only imagine the locals were astounded by my capacity to burble dos cerveza, por favour like one of their own.
But enough about my pathetic attempts to blend in with the human race. The big news this weekend is that Tottenham Hotspur are back™. The encouraging impasse at the Bridge last week was far from a fiasco- neither, too, was progression to an F.A Cup semi- but points in multiples of thrice was the priority yesterday- and boy jiminy were the heroes in Lilywhite determined to get them.
Personnel-wise, the set-up was just about perfect. With Swansea resolved in the idea of not just dressing like Michels’ Dutch side of the seventies, Spurs were always going to be looking toward the triumvirate of Parker, Modric and Sandro to squeeze the space in which the Swans like to play their sex-brand of possession football. Blessed were we, then, that Scott Parker was an inexorable force of nature. Thundering into watertight challenges and generally giving the Welsh a horrid time of it. Sandro, too, was a giant. Full of smart, powerful running and iron-clad tackles. If he’s the future, then here’re my credit card details. I’m onboard.
Gareth Bale. Woof! A near-complete performance from the Cardiffian which lacked only a goal for himself. This was retrograde Bale; heaps of width, roasting full-backs like plump Sunday birds and the kind of delivery most strikers would be happy to receive once a month. With Lennon making a tentative but ultimately vital return this weekend, things could get a whole more awesomer in the weeks to come.
Back on the old Champions League chasing mule, then. The big-hitters are stoking the fires at just the right time and finding form when we need it most. Kaboul, Van der Vaart, Adebayor, Bale; even erstwhile sons have been chipping in for the cause. Disco Taarabt, better late than never, doing the business for Spurs at Loftus Road. Yes, it’s all getting a bit tasty at the top-ish. My advice, if I can offer any, is to try and avoid having a nervous breakdown between now and May. With seven games to go, however, and almost complete parity between ourselves and Arsenal- as well as a surmountable gap between 3rd and 5th- it appears the chances are very much on the thin side of slim.
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Tally-ho and merry new beginnings to you all! What grander way to spend those final few hours of the year 2011 than in unchartered, unfamiliar and altogether more foreign waters. Swan infested waters, you might say?
Oh alright, maybe not- but there’s no need to look at me like that. The important thing is that Spurs are nipping across the border tomorrow afternoon and, quite literally, anything could happen.
It’s Swansea away.
A rather interesting sub-plot to the game- aside from the necessity of landing three points and keeping the title push at full-tilt- is that the chaps in Lilywhite are a victory away from becoming the first club in history to win competitive away matches in all of the home nations in a single season. (Thank you, F365) Shamrock Rovers, Hearts and any one from Fulham, Blackburn, West Brom, Wigan or Wolves have each tumbled at the hands of the Mighty Hotspur this campaign – now just a representative from Wales is needed for the Grand Slam.
I don’t know about you, but I think some kind of trophy is in order. Something glittery to sit along side the 2005 Peace Cup. A plaque, at the very, very least.
Not to get ahead of ourselves, of course. Brendan Rogers’ outfit have been largely impressive this term. Not least of all because of their unerring proclivity for doing things The Right Way™. That is to say, they’re a team who prefer to keep the white round thing on the flat green stuff- as appose to optimistically battering said white round thing towards the other white round thing in the sky (ie, the moon) and praying it’ll return in a favourable position. In Ashley Williams they have a defender with an 84% pass completion rate- with an alarming, third best in the league 1,196 successful passes in total. Put that in your stat-pipe and smoke it. Oh, you can’t. It’s too creamy.
The question is: should these vagabonds from across the way be anything to fear? Or is it going to be a case of same old Tottenham, always winning? Your thoughts, if you’d be so kind. I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a tight one. Oo-er.