Revenge is a Dish Best Served Sexy | Spurs-Chelsea Preview

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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20 Responses to Revenge is a Dish Best Served Sexy | Spurs-Chelsea Preview

  1. avatar Longwell says:

    “Hell, Borini could score with this lot behind him.”

    I’ve been told by no less an authority than Sir Brendan Rodgers that Borini is 6’7″ in terms of footballing talent. SIX FOOT SEVEN, sir.

  2. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    Serbian FA president Tomislav Karadzic: “The Serbian people have never been, nor will be racist.”

    I guess the 1990’s are best forgotten

  3. avatar Aran says:

    Yesterday’s game, while disappointing in one regard – the result – held a lot of promise.

    The final score was misleading. There wasn’t much in it in terms of the balance of play. Chelsea were the better side in the first half while the second half was far more even. One or two chances taken or not by either side, good chances, and the end result could have been very different.

    But there we were, mixing it with the team currently the best in the premier league, put together at far greater expense than our side. No Bale, potentially our best player, but we were still going toe to toe with a very strong Chelsea side. Lennon was brilliant too, as was Defoe.

    AVB needs time to make this team exactly what he wants it to be, and we’ve seen plenty of evidence to suggest progress is being made and more rapidly than many feared. We sit fifth in the table, a handful of points away from challenging the top three. With a new manager, many new players still bedding in and some really tricky games under our belts, we can be happy with where we are right now.

    • avatar Longwell says:

      Agreed, although I thought Dembele was missed at least as much as Bale was yesterday.

      We’re in pretty great shape overall, especially if we’re finally nearing the point where everyone will stop beating around the bush and just give the No. 1 shirt to Lloris and get on with it.

      Contrast our station with, say, QPR. And then smile.

      • avatar Aran says:

        Yes, I’d completely missed that. Arguably our two best players were missing then. Dembele would have allowed us to close things down in the midfield far more effectively and Bale would have forced them to defend deeper in order to avoid leaving space for him to run in to. That would have made the game rather more balanced, especially in the first half.

  4. avatar Longwell says:

    Somewhere in Dorset, Harry Redknapp begins lessons with a dialect coach…

    “When I came here, they had two points from eight games!”

    “No, Harry! No. THREE points from eight games. Three points. Let’s try again.”

    “When I came here, they had twee points from eight games.”

    “Not quite, but that’s progress.”

    “That was my Woy Hodgson impression. Tell me it wasn’t triffic. Go on, tell me!”

    “Harry, please. Let’s try to focus here. Again: three. points. from. eight. games.”

    “Alright, then. Answer me this. Why they getting rid of Mark Hughes, anyhow? The man’s a top, top manager. Top class.”

    “That’s not what we’re here to…”

    “Honestly! Two points from eight games, that’s a disaster. But three? Three points you can build on. Why not give the lad a chance?”

    “Oh, you almost had it! Three points from eight games, Harry?”

    “Too right.”

  5. avatar Longwell says:

    As I said above, I think the big blow to Spurs was missing Dembele to injury. Bale is a super player, obviously, but we have other players who can “do a job” at his position. There’s no one else in the squad capable of performing Dembele’s role. Thud coming into the team changes everything, and while his selection was pretty much a no-brainer with Dembele out, dealing with the knock-on effects of this forced change was where I thought Villas-Boas fell down a bit tactically.

    Thud isn’t mobile or direct enough with the ball at his feet to be the link man through the middle of the park like Dembele is. And that’s fine; different players have different strengths. Thud’s is his range of passing and ability to distribute the ball to the wings during transitions. Given that, I felt playing Dempsey/Sigurdsson wide left was a mistake. Both those guys will tend to drift into the middle where they can influence the game more and get into scoring positions with late runs. That meant Thud just had Lennon as his sole outlet on the flanks, and it was easier for Chelsea to protect against that ball when they only had to worry about one side of the pitch.

    I would rather have seen one of the Dempsey/Sigurdsson pair start in the middle, behind Adebayor up top (also a better target than Defoe for Thud’s longer passes). Either Townsend or Defoe should have been on the left. I like Defoe in that spot because he has the pace to trouble the fullback, and playing outside forces him to get his head up (he played another terrific reverse ball to Sigurdsson after cutting in from the left – reminiscent of when he played Bale in, leading to Dempsey’s winner against United).

    If there’s some reason Adebayor still can’t go a full 90, then Defoe up top and Townsend wide left would have been my preference. You could see the Chelsea defense collectively wet themselves every time Lennon picked up the ball and was able to run at them. Townsend’s pace and ability to beat a man off the dribble would have provided a similar threat from the other flank and played to Thud’s strengths by giving the big fella a second reliable target for diagonal balls from deep. He’s also good on the right and would have been able to swap sides with Lennon to keep Chelsea off balance.

    • avatar ruetheday says:

      That, sir, is a superb bit of analysis. Hat off, standing ovation. Total concurrence.

      Thudd certainly has a lot to offer, but if we don’t play to his strengths he’s a spare part. Siggy was anonymous for much of the game simply because Clint was the one picking up the stray prods into the middle, and Sig lacked the pace to get in behind, so spent most of the match watching from just inside the touchline. As you say, stick Defoe or Townsend out there and suddenly we have an outlet for Thudd’s passing (which wasn’t too hot on the day, anyway, but then the boy’s still working his way back to full fitness and form).

      I thought the move to replace Thudd with Livermore was shocking – even before Mata’s leveller it was a negative sub, looking to hang on to a one goal lead and essentially resigning our front four players to feeding off scraps for twenty five minutes or so. Once that equaliser went in, AVB still made the change, even though it ought to have been clear that we’d be unlikely to create anything with two rather destructive holders – mistakes are easy to make, and easier to criticise, but I hope the man learns from that one that neutering your team’s transitionary abilities, just when you’ve lost all momentum in a comeback, isn’t the way to steady the ship. Had he managed to make the sub before Mata’s goal, perhaps it would’ve looked less silly (perhaps the goal wouldn’t have been conceded, though I doubt it) and been easier to defend, but as it was it looked like a fairly bad piece of judgement. Still, live and learn, onwards and upwards.

      In a previous thread, you mentioned slipping Vertonghen into one of the holding berths, perhaps alongside Dembele, a la King for Sven’s England. Not a bad idea, in my book (if Caulker and Kaboul/Gallas/Dawson are playing well enough to keep him out, and BAE’s fit) – he’s obviously best played where he belongs, at CB, and I’m not sure his first touch is fully suited to a midfield role, but I’d like to see it, since he’d clearly have the brains to make something good happen. One thing that seemed clear to me at the weekend, though – for all our plaudits surrounding the way he’s made the transition to LB so well, I feel he’s getting more than a little fatigued by all that chargin up and down the wing. We need Benny back to give poor Jan a rest.

  6. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    It’s time for Hugo to pick up the gloves from Brad. He’s done well but his lack of mobility was exposed and punished Saturday, especially for their 3rd goal—and yes; I know Walker and Gallas did him no favors there. I think Lloris prevents that goal and we’d have at least got a point. Actually, for making the transition to Lloris, Saturday’s result gives AVB some cover. Now he can say “Brad conceded four goals last time, so we will make a change” and not get slaughtered (much) by the media.

    • avatar Longwell says:

      Yeah, it’s hard to say Friedel was particularly poor against Chelsea, but he didn’t really bring anything to the table either. I can’t blame him for Cahill’s goal, but I did wonder if a younger man might’ve gotten a hand on it.

      Overall, I just find it odd that Villas-Boas has been so deferential to Friedel. He apparently had no problem telling Dawson that Steven Caulker is the future and the future is now, so why is he treading on eggshells when it comes to the keeper situation?

      • avatar seattlespursguy says:

        I was more forgiving of Cahill’s goal as Brad seemed unsighted and there was a bit of a deflection, but maybe Hugo gets to that as well. The bottom line for me is I believe Lloris would have prevented at least one of those goal s. And then it isn’t 2-3 late and Kyle maybe isn’t pressing to try and make something happen with the disasterous results.

  7. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    I’m not going to go overboard on Walker and start shouting “over-rated” and “get rid” but he is clearly out of form and his ridiculous giveaway for their 4th goal (and the abuse he took on Twitter) won’t help his confidence. If Naughton or Smith can go against Maribor and Southampton it may be best to give Walker a couple of games off.

    • avatar Longwell says:

      Agreed. He’s been pretty uniformly poor this season.

      Gallas has shown that he can bounce back from a poor game. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s been pretty awful in about 20-30% of the games he’s played. For a guy who’s in there for his leadership and experience, he made entirely too many rookie mistakes on Saturday. Love the passion, but that’s just not nearly good enough.

      Walker needs a benching. Comes off as a smart kid in interviews, but he is playing some unspeakably stupid football this year. And unlike Gallas, he’s not shown any ability to come back and play better the next time.

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