Tottenham Hotspur’s spring tour of the lower regions of the Premier League finished in the Midlands on a frustrating note as we hammered away at Villa’s massed ranks for 90 minutes without scoring from open play. Going down to ten men early in the second made only a momentary difference to the pattern of a game where we had all the ball, plenty of shots, countless corners but were unable to find that single moment of finesse to create a golden chance. As it was, we bludgeoned away at the one place where our opponents were strong, the centre of their defence, with a predictable lack of success.
It’s set up a cataclysmic final day at the Lane this coming Sunday that epitomises the contradictory nature of being a fan: we could well do without it but are desperately compelled to be there. Last August, the promise of the chance to take third place would have been enticing. Now, it’s laced with fear and dread, a threatening reminder of the devastating emptiness of failure rather than the prospect of joyous glory just 6 days away.
This of all seasons, where we have at times played the best football in a Spurs generation, will generate more debate than any other. Look back for a turning point and there’s something in most of the last twenty-odd games, ranging from the whole tactical and motivational approach at the club through the capitulation at the Emirates, refereeing decisions at Stoke, the January window and the width of the lace of Defoe’s boot away at City.
Yesterday was no exception. This tour has not shown the best side of scenic England. At least Bolton were brave enough to play some football and take the game to us. If you want another turning point to add to the lengthy list, Boyata’s miss just before half-time tipped the balance of that match at least. Blackburn and Villa were both awful but whereas the former lacked motivation and resolve, Villa seemed hamstrung with nerves and fearful of their own lack of ability to create any sort of attack. By the finish, their manager was slumped in his seat sharing dark jokes with a coach, the result in the hands of fate. There was nothing more he could do as his eleven were swamped by our ten.
Yet by then they had managed to score from open play, something we conspicuously failed to do. Granted it was courtesy of a giant deflection – I don’t see how Friedel could have reached it – but it was another crucial moment. We should have closed down the scorer but by then had already established the pattern, pushing forward from all sides and angles. We should and could have more alert to the basics at the back.
You want turning points? As if that wasn’t enough for one match, how about an inexperienced full-back charging in for a loose ball in a relatively safe area with his foot off the ground? Rose was a little unfortunate – the ball was off the turf but he caught Hutton with his follow through. However, he had to go. Whilst I admire his commitment to go wholeheartedly for that ball, a calmer head would have shown the discretion that was required at that point. As it was, chasing the game and down to ten men.
Our panic was comical. Having totally dominated, we then madly kicked the ball backwards high towards the goal, fell over and generally went barmy. Soon it became apparent that it really didn’t make much difference. Villa had no idea what to do with the ball so allowed us to re-establish control. For the rest of the match we huffed and puffed, forcing our opponents back into their box as they threw the wagons into a circle for a last ditch rearguard action.
In the end, it was an old failing that did for us. Despite being gifted an opening when the otherwise inspiring Dunne fouled Sandro in the box, we failed to capitalise. Early in the season we could break down defences through movement, pace and patience. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost that ability. Once again we could not find a way through the massed ranks. Bolton win friends because they want to play but we ruthlessly exploited the gaps that they left behind. When Villa had no inclination or apparent understanding of how to keep the ball in our half of the field even though they had an extra man, it’s a very different matter.
I’m not inclined to be too harsh. If you had joined the game for the last 25 minutes, there was no way to tell we were a man down. However, although we kept plugging away, we could never produce the width or the extra man to make the breakthrough. In the first half, our moves broke down late on as we got near their box through lack of a decent final ball. Modric disappointingly never found his range, while Bale and Lennon came inside too frequently where the ponderous but stout Villa back four were ready for them. Not a great one for stats, nevertheless at half time my stream showed that only 6% of our attacks came down the left. With Bale and Rose, we needed more but the latter’s dismissal scuppered the half-time tactics talk to give us more width.
As it was, we repeated past patterns of failure. A stream of crosses into the box that the Villa centrebacks headed away. They did it extremely well, all credit to them, but as I’ve said before in these cyberpages, I’ve spotted that we only have one big striker, Spurs still haven’t picked that up. Villa wouldn’t budge and we did not demonstrate the patience or wit to hold onto the ball and try to shift them from their entrenched positions. Back to the ten men again, back to the might have beens.
Nobody played particularly badly. Rose’s positional play was dodgy again and Luka’s passing was way off. No one had an especially good game. Kaboul made some fine tackles but at other times was wayward and impetuous. Sandro was strong and mobile, Lennon was bright and Manu’s movement was decent. Redknapp dithered over substitutions but I’m feeling unduly sympathetic. I would have brought on Defoe and gone for the win – even allowing for the remote possibility of Villa scoring, a draw doesn’t do us much good. Parker on earlier and three at the back could have calmed us down but to be fair we were well on top and I can see the argument not to change anything. I did enjoy the moment when JD nearly came on. HR gave him an unusually long set of instructions whilst Defoe took not a blind bit of notice.
Win against Fulham, that’s fourth and then see what happens at the Hawthorns. Rest well this week then give it everything. If we do, we will win. The stomach-churning, gut-wrenching nausea is already making me giddy and weak. Yesterday I made the mistake of eating lunch at half-time. I nearly threw up later as the tension cranked up to ridiculous levels. Goodness what Sunday will be like but the prospect of redemption will lift me to the heights. I trust the team feel similarly inspired.
29 thoughts on “Spurs Are A’Coming! Circle The Wagons!”
It has been a great journey this year. We should have been 3rd by now but wasn’t to be. Hope we win and Arsenal draw. COYS. This has been a great season and hopefully we can strengthen for next year.
You’re wrong about a draw not doing us much good.
It means that a win for us and a draw for Arsenal next week would put us 3rd.
If we’d lost, the same combination would leave us level on points; we’re 1 behind the goons on goal difference, so if we beat Fulham that would at least be level. But they’ve scored more than us, so we’d have to beat Fulham by 2 goals, to finish ahead of them.
Only a slight difference, but could be important.
It also means that if we draw and they lose by 2, we’ll finish ahead of them (though maybe not Newcastle or Chelsea).
How were we going to lose when Villa were happy to hold on for a draw?
Sure; but I was just saying that the single point may actually turn out to be useful.
Thanks Daniel, indeed potentially significant that escaped my emotional response as the game came to an end.
Too kind to Harry. The game screamed for Defoe to be brought on. Villa looked as if they could not score in a 1000 years so what was to lose by goingfor it. The big Spurs weakness thus far is they do not play a real striker who can snap up a half chance. Defoe is one of the few that can do that. I have no idea why Parker was brought on so late in the game, we were not in danger we needed someone to put a nail in their coffin.
Meh, maybe you’re right. Thinking about it after I read your comment, Parker earlier to change the pace and pattern – hold it and play not give Villa heading practice – could have been the change. Defoe for Rafa. Oh well
Once we had settled down with ten men, the game was in our hands. For Harry to dither about bringing on either Parker or Defoe for about 15 minutes, and then only bring Parker on for the last 5 mins, was actually quite a worrying sight.
What scares me is comparing how Arsenal played on Saturday. They did not give up especially at 3-3 and plugged away. Whereas we just pass the ball aimlessles and slowly around the box. For sure we cant bloody score like that when there are 11 behind the ball.
I think this has been our problem in the later half of the season, teams have realised that if they get enough players behind the ball, Spurs cant break them down. Bolton were naive and were punished for it. Most teams, however, have worked it out. Unfortunately we do not have a player who is willing / able to cause mayhem in the box and so we have become rather predictable.
Now when we are on the counter, that is a different story……………………………
Let’s hope for many counter attacks on Sunday 😉
Spurs, why do you always do this to me?
Thanks. Many reasons why the end of our season has not been good but one is that teams have sussed us out. Not sure Fulham will play that way but they also have two good goalscorers and we always make a few defensive errors.
Bring on Sunday – put us out of our misery one way or another.
This makes me think Harry is off the rivals Chelski has director of Football with Dematio has manager. The reason i say this is Aby was singing is praises before his England snub. We lost ten points lead during his love affair with England .I said points would be very had to get after Januay with Desperation looming every week and so its proved Qpr Nowich Aston Villa Sunderland Everton have all taken points of us with energised performances identical to each other. This work rate is footballs hidden shame and one the FA and Ukad have lost and more and more illness and off the field antics will keep happening while the FA have a softly softly approach to dug offenders i no 100 percent work rate is being upped by drugs once the scourge of Rugby league and Union and with no relegation for three years its less prevalent in Rugby League but is still happening in both codes.The FA should look at not having relegation for three years this will stop what’s happened to Pompy and give the FA and Ukad a chance too stop desperate teams using desperate methods too win points. Harry got is tactics wrong but Mceliesh got a big help from his energised team and if you no what too look for its easy to spot .
Can we get DavSpurs back onto his meds, and get him to use spell check? Just kidding Dave! We love your mad conspiracy theories. BTW, I’ve got a contact to Mel Gibson over here in LA that I could pass onto you. Anyway, all to play for. After tomorrow’s Pool vs Cheatski game, say the Blues lose or even draw, that means they can’t reach 4th. Well, does that mean teams sussed out Pool (no CL), Chelsea (possible no CL if lose to Bayern), L’Arse (another year without a cup), and ManU (who gave up an 8-point lead and no cup)??? And, Alan, we’re going to finish in top-6 (at least) for 3 consecutive seasons for the first time in PL, and probably finish above Blues & Pool, and have played some of the most exciting football of the season. In fact, Arry’s boys have given us generally exciting football for the last 3 seasons. The season’s end isn’t putting me out of my misery, ’cause I’m not miserable, mate! Methinks thou does protest way too much, sir! It’s hardly all that bad! It makes me laugh a little but truth is there are a number of DQs on this blog. COYS!
Ashley, I think this has been a fine season and the misery comment contains more than a touch of irony but there’s no doubt that I and many Spurs fans are wound tighter than a drum. Because we’ve played so well, because we have the chance to eclipse our London rivals, I desperately want some reward for that.
Or to put it another way, I’m far too worked up over a bloody football team than a calm, sane individual such as myself should be.
Alan, sir, you said it yourself, why get so worked up — many posters here are way too melodramatic, and drama queenish! Pals like TMWNN up the DQ ante even more on other sites I peruse! Saw enough queens on the Sunset Strip last night, don’t need ’em here! We’ve finished above the Blues and Pool, when was the last time we did that? In review, ManU (and thus by reference the great Sir Alex) bottled it by losing 8-point lead. Arse bottled it by not winning a cup again. Pool with all their monies bottled it by not qualifying for CL. Chelsea, if they lose to Bayern, and we’re all in agreement in hoping for that, will have bottled it. Hey, even Barca bottled it after not winning La Liga and CL. So they all bottled it! What a bunch sad sacks, eh? So let’s fire all the managers! And make the knowledgeable fans here manager by consensus! You’re having me on, ladies! 🙂 🙂
Ashley, if everyone was as sensible as you, pal, I’d fall asleep reading some of these blogs 🙂
I could not believe it when Harry never put on Defoe – always rated him you boys might do it yet if Albion can win.
Why does everyone say a draw (rather than a defeat) doesn’t do us much good? A draw means that we still have a chance of third place. Defeat would have meant that if Arsenal draw on the last day we would be 4th even if we beat Fulham.
fair enough, Shannon, my emotions taking over again. Part of harry’s dilemma.
Totally true, Shannon, I noted that fans on various sites were missing the point. Arry knew we could not afford to lose (that’s probably why he didn’t put on another scorer after our equalizer — although calling JD a stone cold scorer is a stretch), attacking with 10 men & leaving ourselves open to counter attack and a loss was suicidal. That 1P gives us more options regarding Arse and Chelsea (we also have big GD over Toon). Sure we wanted to win but we couldn’t lose, especially with 10 men. A lot of drama queens disguised as Spurs fans, methinks! Just kidding, ladies! COYS!
It’s another big opportunity missed, one too many, I fear, unless the Act of God that is Chelsea’s CL campaign is halted.
Off the point, but what happens on Sunday if Spurs draw and Arsenal lose by a goal?
We will have the same points and same goal difference.
Anyone? Imagine it will go to the number of matches won.
Can anyone verify this?
It means Arsenal would finish above us.
They have won 20 to our 19!!!!!
Skin of the teeth stuff this is!!!!
Come on Odemwingie get fit quick!!
I think its decided on goals scored if the goal difference is the same.
Oh well that is not good either Arsenal have 63 to our 60 goals.
**************** So the conclusion is:
Spurs must win and Arsenal must do anything but win.
I am feeling sick already!!!
My fellow Spurs fan — “sick?” — get a life! 🙂
Do you not have that quesy feeling already??!! Please dont say that you have given up.
At last I have my answer……………………………………
“The Premier League website states: ‘If two or more teams are equal on points, the winner is then determined by goal difference and then, if necessary, by the number of goals scored. Where teams are equal on points, the number of goals scored and goal difference”
This is the full entertaining paragraph:
* Here’s something to leave you with. There’s still a possibility of a playoff to decide the title. The Premier League website states: ‘If two or more teams are equal on points, the winner is then determined by goal difference and then, if necessary, by the number of goals scored. Where teams are equal on points, the number of goals scored and goal difference, there will be a play-off to determine the winner.’ Of course, for both teams to finish level on goal difference and goals scored, it would require United to beat Sunderland 9-0, and City to beat QPR 7-6. What? It could happen…
Over here in the US, Fox and its phalanx of networks (Fox Soccer, Fox Soccer Plus, Fuel, Fox West, Foxsoccer.com, etc) are apparently airing all 10 games on Sunday. All of them. We’re spoiled over here with our football coverage, I believe I’ve seen just about every Spurs game this season, wow! Enjoy the game Israel Boy and COYS! 🙂
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