RVP: A Depressed Crab?

Oooh, Betty. This is a big one.

A Sunday lunchtime soirée across town with 4th place Arsenal- or, for those of you who get a buzz out of acronyms, the NLD. Round two.

And this time, it’s personal.

Well, you know. It’s kind of personal. Is it personal? I’ll have to check that.

Anyway, it’s fair to say our North London cohabiters haven’t been enjoying a great time of it recently- by their own standards- illustrated rather concisely by their last two outings in knock-out competition. Thunder-punted to the Champions League curb by an efficient but by-no-means-brilliant Milan team last Wednesday; before losing their get-out-of-jail-with-a-trophy card at the Stadium of Light seven days ago tomorrow. Nope, it never rains at Arsenal. Just hammers down with sh*t. Season all but terminated. Double lolerz.

So how should we approach this one, then? Beware the wounded dog, is my immediate thought. Particularly one who seems to just lollop about the place looking forlorn, waiting for the vet to come over and administer the sweet, sweet relief. Because he might just bite.

These days, Robin Van Persie might cut the shape of an utterly depressed crab, but he, much like Arsenal, are not ones to be underestimated. Gervinho, RVP, even Theo Walcott are all potential match-winners on their day.

The good news is that the chaps of Hotspur are in splendid form. If we quickly (quicker) forget the horrid display at Stevenage last weekend and remember what might be the best opening half of football I’ve seen from a Tottenham side in the last two decades- fluid, p*ss-whippet quick, clinical- there’s every hope that we can turn the sex on against a team apparently in the cack. In all honesty, we should fancy ourselves taking the lot here.

Now’s the time to be ruthless, then. We need to keep piling on the hurt for the pocket-wrung supporters of Woolwich, who’re in desperate need of an emotional breather. For them, a win against the old enemy would be just the over-priced ticket; just the vehicle to get their season up on its legs again and forget all the despair that went before. It’s Spurs’ duty to resist. Our duty to prolong the misery.

In short, we need to crush them.*





I think you’re ready for my Twitter jelly.


*Or, you know, a draw. A draw would be okay.

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25 Responses to RVP: A Depressed Crab?

  1. avatar Ronnie says:

    Great article.

    I really don’t want them to win. Its all they have left…a possible win against us to save them from the most depressing of seasons ever! You are right, its our duty to resist and crash them once and for all.

    We definitely have the better team. And as long as Dawson doesn’t play, we should be able to cope with their -only- threat.

    For all Spurs fans in Geneva….the after-win celebrations will be at Pickwick 🙂

  2. avatar kennyid says:

    We have the players to do the job. We must have the desire and the ‘nouse’, northern term meaning ‘nouse’. A 0-1 win would be fine. We’ve got a job to do and need to set our sights on being the best team in the Premiership. Simples.

  3. avatar Epic says:

    Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur motor along the Seven Sisters Road on Sunday to reapply their boot to Arsenal’s neck.-Paul Hayward ,Telegraph. This is exactly what we should do….and then apply pressure.

  4. avatar Paul says:

    Lets just get the 3 points and celebrate our new holiday sooner St Arserings day,the day when weve finished above them hopefully next month.

  5. avatar Beano111 says:

    We can do it as long as Defoe isn’t on the pitch

  6. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    By any measure we should have them, but the cliche is true: it’s a derby, so anything can happen. If the boys are not complacent, we’ll do em 1-2 again.

    Cannot wait! Early bedtime on a Saturday due to the 0530 start in SeaTown.

  7. avatar Day of the Triffics says:

    St. Arseholes Day!

  8. avatar Longwell says:

    Been a fair few goals in this fixture since Harry took over, and I can see this one being more of the same. Arsenal really need to win this to keep pace with Chelsea for that all important top four. I think this one means more to them than it does to us for a change. Hopefully that means Arsenal will get frustrated if they don’t open up and early lead, and then Spurs can start picking ’em off on the counter.

    They’ll be all sorts of up for it, but we’re better. I’ll go for a blood and thunder 2-2 draw.

    I do love Arsene’s entry for the Ministry of Silly Walks, by the way. Top drawer.

  9. avatar ruetheday says:

    Kranky instead of Lezza – counter attacks will be very left sided today. I’m hoping Ade and Saha work on dragging them over to the other side, giving Bale room to charge into. Should be a good battle, whatever happens, but Harry seems to be going for the jugular with a very attacking 442. Hope Kaboom, King and Parker keep the crab quiet.

  10. avatar Trembly says:

    oh deary me. 5-2 to l’arse on 65 mins. how did we get so outnumbered in midfield??? we should be strolling this after the 2-0 lead.

    • avatar Aran says:

      Yep, it’s pretty poor. We beat them at Spurs which is all I’m holding on to at this point. A win a piece. Still, this is a bad performance. You don’t win titles throwing away two goal leads.

      • avatar ruetheday says:

        No indeed. I think we believed our own hype, tried to play total football. Modric was more or less inert, Parker lost his head after his first booking, and Bale displayed all the intelligence of a piece of plasterboard. Ledley’s inability to run saw him found out more than once, and Benoit’s cool head in sticky situations was for once far less preferable than a good old fashioned hoofer.

        The half time subs seemed a bit strange – was Harry belatedly recognising that the Arse weren’t so bad that a 442 would walk all over them? Their 90mins of pressing destroyed our faith in our passing game, and the suicidally deep and flat twin banks of four in the first half gave way to a disorganised sort of 22231. Sandro and VDV looked keen but mental, and Ade lost heart as he wasn’t getting the service.

        All in all then, tactically, we were pisspoor. On the bright side, that’s probably deflated Harry’s stock quite a bit. Bad day at the office. Normal service to be resumed shortly. COYS.

  11. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    I’m not saying this caused the loss–horrific defending did that– but I’ve had it with Bale roaming to the center. We have one of the world’s best wingers but we take that strength away from our own team. Bale and Lennon wide would have ripped them apart. Terrible tactics.

  12. avatar Longwell says:

    Originally Posted By- ruethedayAll in all then, tactically, we were pisspoor. On the bright side, that’s probably deflated Harry’s stock quite a bit.

    Thereby increasing our chances of hanging on to…a tactically pisspoor manager? Yay!

    Harry is usually a bit more savvy than he gets credit for, but he got served a nice big plate of roasted pwntatoes by Wenger today. Starting with 4-4-2 vs 4-3-3 was naive, and his halftime fixes didn’t seem to know what the hell they were doing. Completely inept from the top on down.

    • avatar ruetheday says:


      1) as you say, Harry’s usually not quite so inept with the chalkboard.
      2) he’s still a damn fine wheeler dealer, and excellent at building the confidence of individuals and teams.

      So I do rather hope we hang on to him. He can be an utter berk, serves no one more than himself, and talks far too much to the press for my liking, but he’s still better than most of the castoffs whoring their wares in punditry gigs, and unless the special one wins everything in Spain this season, that’s what we’ll be lumbered with if Harry takes the England job.

      Have to say I’m surprised we didn’t see that 3412 he’s mucked around with this season. I know Arse don’t have a lot going on in the air (first goal aside), but Milan slapped them with three at the back, and I honestly thought Stevenage’s bore-fest was a way of trialling the back three ahead of the big showdown.

      And yes, SSG, Bale in the free role is daft. By all means give him some freedom, but he can’t have spent more than five minutes total on the left all match. That’s just daft. When he decided to cover for Walker at right back (I think it was still 2-0, or maybe 2-1) I lost my temper. If your left winger is at right back, and you’re not Ajax circa 1972, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

  13. avatar Longwell says:

    Originally Posted By- ruetheday

    So I do rather hope we hang on to him. He can be an utter berk, serves no one more than himself, and talks far too much to the press for my liking, but he’s still better than most of the castoffs whoring their wares in punditry gigs, and unless the special one wins everything in Spain this season, that’s what we’ll be lumbered with if Harry takes the England job.

    Have to say I’m surprised we didn’t see that 3412 he’s mucked around with this season. I know Arse don’t have a lot going on in the air (first goal aside), but Milan slapped them with three at the back, and I honestly thought Stevenage’s bore-fest was a way of trialling the back three ahead of the big showdown.

    I agree with your assessment of Harry. Overall, he is definitely a net positive for the club. This should not stop us from grousing about his negatives when they bite us in the ass, though.

    I don’t see Mourinho coming to Tottenham if the gig is available this summer. The existing squad is a reasonably good fit for his style, but he wouldn’t be able to just go and get whoever he wants to round it out. The only confluence of events that might make it happen are if Real wins La Liga and the Champions League and Mourinho decides he wants the challenge of taking a second tier European power to the promised land. I think that’s unlikely, but never say never I guess.

    Rafa Benitez would be my choice to take over if Harry jumps ship for England. I know I’ll get slagged off for that, but there you go.

    I think three at the back would have been a mistake. I know Milan did well, but Arsenal just plain sucked in that game. That sort of stinker generally trumps tactics, much like our capitulation could not have been righted by any formation Harry cared to throw out there. Anyway, three at the back leaves you with two spare defenders when you’re only dealing with one central forward (RVP). Napoli also did this against Chelsea and Drogba, but their defenders are better passers than ours (except for Ledley) from what I’ve seen. For us, I’d rather have just the one spare man in defense and build from the back via the likes of Modric and Parker rather than Kaboul, for example.

    Seems pretty clear to me that 4-2-3-1 is our best formation at the moment. Modric and Parker/Sandro sitting in front of the back four and dictating play from deep. VDV to link play with the forward line. Bale and Lennon providing the width and pace to get in behind. Adebayor the pivot man.

    When we play two strikers, I really prefer Defoe in there with Ade. He’s a lot better at dropping off to mark and press the opposition’s deepest midfielder when we are playing with two central midfielders against three for the bad guys.

  14. avatar Trembly says:

    Bale on the Left. Azza on the right.

    How many times were we caught out on our left. Benny was far too forward for most of the time, leaving sooooo much space for them to run into. We’ve lost our shape in recent games, and have moved far too much into a free for all attacking side. Just a few games back, we had it spot on with the attack defend balance.

    Then again it was an NLD, so to an extent you could forgive them for getting caught up in the emotion. But not so much for the utter way we dropped our heads and went gung ho after they scored their first.

    • avatar Longwell says:

      The moment that summed it up for me was right after Rosicky scored their third. Ledley and Friedel were sitting there dumfounded, just looking at each other. And then Ledley sort of shrugs. No anger, no fire, no recriminations, no bawling out the defense to get their collective shit together. Just meh. “Would you look at that. The little sonofabitch just pulled our pants down. Oh well. What ya gonna do?”

      • avatar Trembly says:

        Yup – that was it. With all the debate about who should be England capt. we needed that anger and determination. I hate to say it, but Dawson and Kaboul may have made a better pairing for this match. One thing Daws does have is a pair of lungs on him.

  15. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    I think having Harry at Spurs is a positive overall. I also think he is overly slated for not doing tactics. I think his disdain for tactics is a bit of a put-on, part of his image as Affable ‘Ol ‘Arry, who just gets the lads to run about. He has shown he can put an effective plan together to get results.

    That said, I think Harry out clevers himself at times in his desire to seen as more than a man-manager type. This “Bale in a free role” is a case in point that has been grinding my gears for a while. It worked against Norwich, but please, it was Norwich and we always had the players to get over on them. Tactics are not so important against Norwich.

    Not so against the likes of Arsenal or ManU, teams with talented players. Without team balance and defined roles, even a team as talented as we have can get horribly exposed. Look at the set-up: two strikers but no width or shape, with Krank drifting central (as was VDV later) and Bale doing as he pleased. Add in Benny bombing forward, this gave Walnut the freedom of the left flank, which even a show pony like him can use to find the net. It was a horrible set-up and the subs did not address the obvious problems.

    When Harry came to us, he simplified things and put players in their proper roles, but it works when you have an organized team and when you mostly have better players than the opposition. I hope this “Harry for England” isn’t making him use Spurs to show off his “tactical” powers in some misguided demonstration for the FA.

  16. avatar Longwell says:

    Bale being given the freedom to come off the left wing has worked in far, far more games than Norwich away. He’s been swapping flanks with Lennon since late last season and getting plenty of touches in the center since about September/October 2011.

    I think the problem lately has been not so much what Bale is or is not doing, it’s been the lack of Lennon to balance him out and provide the outlet out wide on the opposite side of the field from wherever Bale is. Also, when the two of them combine on the same flank to overload the defense there, that’s produced some nice results too. We need Azza back in the team for his pace and, as was brutally exposed yesterday, his consistently fine defensive work.

    • avatar seattlespursguy says:

      I’m not sold on the free role for Bale and I think letting him drift centrally means (among other things) he isn’t helping BAE, which left us exposed. But I absolutely agree that Lennon needed to be in there for balance and his tracking back.

  17. avatar Longwell says:

    We may be overcomplicating this somewhat too. I think what a lot of it boils down to is that we struggle against sides who are as good or better than us at keeping the ball.

    Our worst losses have been inflicted by United, City, and Arsenal. All of them can definitely hang with us in terms of retaining possession, especially when we’re on their patch. I don’t think the painful results are a coincidence. The fact that we normally dominate possession against everyone else tends to mask the fact that we are actually not all that hot defensively, despite a pretty solid goals conceded record. I am definitely a disciple of “the best defense is a good offense” and “the other lot can’t hurt you if they don’t have the ball”, but there are times when that doesn’t work. Look at what happens to Arsenal pretty much every time they play Barca, for example.

  18. avatar ruetheday says:

    Long well, I’ve drafted four different replies. They’re all too long. In short then:
    1) yes, Harry’s great, yes he makes mistakes, and yes we’re entitled to moan, hence tactically pisspoor, but good if that means he doesn’t get the England call up.
    2) yes, Mourinho will only come if he wins everything. That’s not impossible, and if Harry gets us Champions League football before he sods off, and Mou shows any interest at all, Levy will slacken the purse strings somewhat to allow at least a couple of marquee signings.
    3) Benitez? Not for me. Too many jobs left in acrimony over lack of spending power, and when he’s been given free reign to spend, he’s signed donkeys. Not a good fit with Levy. Plus, I’ve read his blog, and if we must have a blogging manager, can it at least be one with a good blog?
    4) three at the back needn’t mean two spare men, though it often does. Our current system (when we remember what we’re supposed to be doing) has the centre backs spreading to the touchline when we’re in possession; a third centre back simply covers against attacks down the middle. Plus if one steps up, we have a six man midfield, meaning we’d be much harder to press. It does leave space for wingers to run into, so the wing backs would need to remain defensively aware, and perhaps the two defensive midfielders would have to close down the wingers too, which could be a problem given their lack of acceleration. I’m not saying its perfect, or even that it would’ve been the right system on the day, just that I thought Harry might’ve been using it at Stevenage to prep for the main event.

    On the wider debate:
    1) utterly agree Lennon balances out Bale. Also agree that Bale and Lennon swapping wings has worked very well on plenty of occasions, and that Bale having licence to drift in from the wing gives the opposition a problem, while solving our question of what to do when a full back does a job on him. But still agree with SSG that giving Bale a fully fledged free role is barmy – he doesn’t have the range of passing or the creativity to really be worth the risk. And he shouldn’t ever end up at right back.
    2) don’t agree that it’s about ability to retain the ball. From about 2mins in, they woke up and started pressing, and didn’t stop for the rest of the game. We tried to press from our standoffish zonal banks of four on a handful of occasions, and either won the ball and scared them enough to enjoy a few minutes of playing against the nervous, confidence-shot bunch of chancers we’d been told to expect, or else dragged ourselves out of shape and allowed them to waltz through us. We’re not smart enough to play a mix of sitting deep and pressing, and neither Parker nor Modric are pacey enough to make that system work, even if we were. Against a team like Arsenal, you need to either press or man mark, or else have a bloody well organised zonal system that knows exactly what it’s doing – we had none of those things. They pressed us so hard we couldn’t get out of our half for long periods, and (while Bale and many other factors were infuriating) that’s what separated the two teams.

    Incidentally, I revisited the first half this evening (might do the second half in a few days – pick at the scab) and the only thing that really struck me (besides the fact that, even when we were supposedly dominating the game, you could see all the cracks in the veneer with the power of hindsight) was Walker’s run for the opener – he started the counter, blazed up through the middle and then peeled off to the left channel, dragging three Gooners with him. Had we not scored, he’d have been as far out of position as its possible to be (in fairness he started tracking back before Saha even took his first touch) and knackered from a blistering sprint, but instead he looked like a genius – the brilliant architect of a hilariously simple goal.

    Kudos must also go to Gary Neville for his flagging up of Sagna’s ‘amazing’ run to win the header that put them back in it: it looked to me for all the world like the yellow haired gooner had simply stood around enjoying the space afforded him by Bale, before allowing the ball to bounce off his bonce, but then, I’m not paid silly money to be Sky’s voice of tactical insight. Good thing too, I’d probably still be rambling on about Modric’s sloppy first touch, or Parker’s reluctance to get touch tight on van Persie after his booking.

    Oh god, this was supposed to be the short version. Sod it.

    • avatar Longwell says:

      1) Agreed.

      2) Agreed, but I think it’s unlikely even if Real wins the double that a) Mourinho would be interested in taking over Spurs right now *and* b) Levy would give him a blank checkbook.

      3) I like the blogging Benitez! He is an interesting cat. Not many men in football will offer the sort of analysis he does on his blog for free. I give him credit for that.

      As for his record at the Pool, it was mixed. Sure, he signed some real dogs (but not John Terry – wahey!). He also signed four of the five best players they had when they were excellent: Reina, Alonso, Mascherano, and Torres (when he still had his mojo). And you could argue that, since Torres has completely lost his mojo after he and the festively plump Spaniard parted company, maybe ol’ Rafa has a little of that Man Management pixie dust about him too.

      4) Yes yes. But if you accept that two of our main tactical objectives were (or should have been) to keep RVP quiet and to be able to build attacks from the back, then I say it’s more efficient to do that with two CBs responsible for RVP and an extra midfielder who in theory can pass it better than an extra defender. I don’t think Stevenage was a test drive for anything other than Stevenage. Harry wanted more height in the team and wanted to rest certain players while mixing in the likes of Nelsen, Rose, and Livermore. Presto!

      Bale is not a trequartista, no. Deploying him as the principal creative force against Stevenage should have driven home that point, as I repeatedly raged if not here then at some other Spurs related site on the intertubes. I do, however, think he is at his best when allowed to come off the wing and occasionally play through the middle and off the right. If we break up the pitch into left/center/right thirds, I’d say he should ideally be getting his touches distributed somewhere between 50/25/25% and 34/33/33%.

      You say it’s not about keeping the ball, but then you described several reasons why we didn’t keep the ball: Arsenal pressing, lack of shape, lack of clear plan (we tried to push up, but didn’t press because our players were out of position after broken down attacks), etc. I would add: we were outnumbered in midfield, and the ball was not sticking to outlets up front because both Adebayor and Saha, despite scoring, generally played like crap. I am disappointed that Harry waited until Arsenal had seized the initiative and equalized before taking action. Not quite the right action as it turned out (was Azza trapped under something heavy?), but at least he recognized that the very thing he’d said he feared would happen (we’d get overrun in midfield) had, amazingly, happened.

      Or, as your lovely press might put it:


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