Spurs v Arsenal. She Gets It

A few continuity gaps in the blog over the past couple of weeks. Work is the curse of the blogging classes. Not that the net has been humming with dismay and angst. Bobby Gee, we salute you.

Now the tenders are complete, the meeting over and the reports written, the important business of life has my full attention. During this barren spell, the ethos of TOMM has never been better evidenced. Evidenced, See, I’m still partly in work jargon mode. Evidenced isn’t really a word or at least it didn’t used to be. However in my world it has become a mantra. Everything must be proved, documented, show your working out. So evidenced it is.

Lost in the labyrinthine complexity of business plans, continuity assurances and probity safeguards, Tottenham was the guiding light. I can share with you, my friends, that I don’t know what the flip we are going to do if swine flu carries us all away but that’s not what we told the London Borough of Haringey.

Because through all this Tottenham really was always on my mind. My intense note taking in the parliament building? The Everton preview. The final tender? The red presentation folder rejected for a more appropriate shade of navy. Never red. After one meeting I was complimented on my prompt distribution of notes and the impassive authority of my little psion notebook on the desk has contributed to my status as meeting chair. Relief. Before sending, I had remembered to cut all the notes about the Arsenal game from the minutes.

And there was market research. In the pub following the most po-faced of debates, my good friend Adriana, who has been enormously encouraging of my efforts despite having visited this blog  as often as she would leave the house in Primark underwear, with characteristically delightful mischief described me as a writer to someone who is doing proper research for a proper book. With pages. Cringing, I was forced to describe my pony efforts to an enthusiastic young football innocent. A pause. ” Tottenham On My Mind’, she weighed the words carefully, out loud.  “What a great name. I suppose that’s how football is if you are a fan.” Doesn’t know her overlapping full backs from her catenatcio, she got it. Always on my mind.

Never more so than on the eve of the north London derby. I can remember the times, which to me do not seem so long ago, when the most repeated statistic about Spurs and Arsenal was that over the years the head to head record of wins and losses was almost symmetrical. Since then, they have pulled away, if not out of sight quite yet.  Now we have a team capable of challenging their dominance, or more accurately we have the players if not quite their teamwork. However, that resilience is more fragile than ever. Against West Ham last week they were fine when all was going well but crumbled as soon as a challenge was mounted. They could have easily lost after being well on top for two thirds of the game. We must keep playing, keep it tight, attack to pressure their back four and not fall apart if we go behind. We will have another chance.

Problem is, will we take them? This blog has concentrated on our defensive frailties but over the last two games, we have been so wasteful in front of goal. Keane missed so much on Tuesday and Pav was in another dimension. Or crap, whichever you prefer. In a match where we are likely to have few opportunities, we can’t be so profligate.

Bentley must play following his fine display against Everton. I was pleased for him. It was a pleasure to see the fear visibly evaporate as the game went on, although despite his warm words of praise, Harry could not have been pleased with the ball juggling  flash of the last ten minutes. Mark Hughes would not have tolerated that at Blackburn. Maybe Bentley needs that firm hand, but Crouch will prosper if those crosses arrive whipping and curling from the right.

Outwardly brash and cocky, Bentley’s mind has been on his business and music interests as much as on training. A round of media appearances shortly after his transfer signalled his agent’s plan to launch him as a celebrity player. At Spurs they call him ‘Becks’. However, this masks a psychological vulnerability that has left him unable to challenge Lennon’s domination of our right side. Used to being an automatic selection, he has not known how to react and as a result his attitude in training has been poor. He took his chance on Tuesday, admittedly without being pushed too hard by the opponents, so now maybe today and next Saturday to decide if he will remain a Spurs player.

Without Lennon, JD and Modric, we are deprived of the pace and creativity that are the key to victory. JJ will surely return as Hudd will be too slow for this one. Despite Keano’s form, two up front will maintain the pressure and cover Vermaelan’s forward runs.

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