Not Another Typical Spurs Defeat

The case for the prosecution: another negative set of substitutions in the final quarter by Villas-Boas presented the initiative to Everton at the very point when their efforts to equalise were floundering. Anyway, Spurs always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Part of the DNA.

The case for the defence: the substitutions gave us fresh legs in midfield. One change was unavoidable – the excellent Dembele, arguably our best player on the day, had a leg injury and had to come off. Sigurdsson’s arrival gave extra protection against Everton’s dynamic left-side duo of Pienaar and Baines. Anyway, the time Everton looked least like scoring was in the final 15 minutes.

The jury’s out, although put it to the popular vote on twitter and the boards and the prosecution not only proved their case beyond reasonable doubt, they could have called for the black cap. For me, this was not quite the usual Spurs capitulation that sadly is all too familiar, because in the final quarter we were defending well. I genuinely did not think Everton would score. Not like me at all. I can spot danger in the twitch of the opposing goalkeeper’s nose, never mind when they actually get hold of the ball in our half. That will teach me.

For much of the game, this was a contest between systems. Two well-drilled teams fought for supremacy. Both like to counter-attack so there were periods where nothing of significance took place as they waited for the other to take the initiative before decided how to counter punch. Everton had the best chances but as time passed, we held our shape better and gradually got on top, albeit without posing a concerted threat to their goal.

Everton’s attacks were met with clusters of defenders. The imbalance on our left caused by Bale’s absence created a few problems, but late in the first half, cue first Dempsey then Defoe dashing deep to defend. Come the second, we were able to release Demps from his defensive duties. He popped up in central areas on several occasions, most notably when his good shot caught a deflection and sailed over Howard’s head.

Suddenly our approach looked even better. Needlessly we gave the ball away – Tom Hud I’m looking at you – but otherwise we looked assured. We kept our shape, worked hard, blocked passionately. In the last ten minutes Siggy hit the bar and Vertonghen could not quite deliver a final ball with the same quality to match the move that set him up, a superb passage of play where the ball flowed from our box to theirs. Siggy sprinted from right midfield to the left edge of their box, then hurtled back again before Howard could clear.

The defence calls David Moyes to the stand: “We had tried everything,” said Moyes. “We put Baines out wide, Pienaar through the middle and those final 10 minutes were probably the poorest part of our play.”

To me, that augers well for the future. Well-organised under pressure is a sentence that I have seldom typed in the 4 years of this blog, at least in respect of Spurs. As for the substitutions, I’m not keen on too much tinkering when we are ahead but Dembele had a knock and Siggy played well. Falque is an attacking player so we tried to maintain the initiative rather than sit back. However, the prosecution points out that Hud is a master at sitting back and I would have removed Adebayor, who had a poor game, rather than Defoe and Lennon.

Never mind the systems and tactics. In the end we were undone by human error. Lloris called for an innocuous ball into the box so loudly that even my crackly stream picked it up. The only person who didn’t hear was the one who mattered most. For the second time in three weeks, Caulker chose to disobey.

He’s been well-taught. I suspect he’s paid attention to defender’s rule number one – when in doubt, kick it out. The fact he takes responsibility will serve him well in the future but it was this individual error rather than a catastrophic collapse that turned the game.  It gave Everton possession, we failed to track Pienaar’s run and were left to ponder ruefully on about how much Villas-Boas could have brought out of Redknapp’s reject. Another ball, played in front of our centre-half so he could not challenge without risk of a penalty, a fortunate touch on and a well-taken winner.

Everton had the best of the opening quarter but the only stream I could find made everything look slow and uncoordinated. Or perhaps it was fine and that was just when Tom Hud came on. Anyway, the radio was excitedly extolling Everton’s virtues. For those of you who saw that bit, fill in your own paragraph:


Found something good after about 20 minutes, although as it buffered I thought I must be watching a replay from past glories  – Spurs in white shirts and navy blue shorts. The radio commentators were right. Everton finished the half on top but we held out under intense pressure, partly thanks to sterling blocking by Sandro and Caulker but also partly because Osman’s aim was skeewhiff on the day. Lloris’ “tackle” at the edge of the box was masterly.

You’ve seen the stats: Spurs have conceded 10 goals this season in the final 15 minutes of matches, and if matches finished at 80 minutes, we’d be top of the table. There’s a problem there. Could be tiredness – in my last piece I felt that overall, the Europa League has been a help not a hinderance because it’s assisted team-building but it could be a factor, as Essexian has pointed out. Without minimising the problem, this wasn’t a typical defeat. Keep our shape like that and we will succeed more often than we fail. Sequences are significant, not individual results. Between now and New Year’s Day we play Swansea, Stoke and Reading at home, Villa and Sunderland away. Let’s see what this frustrating defeat means in that context. I read another (unconfirmed) stat on twitter that said we had the same number of points at this stage last year. If that’s true, who knows – we could be ahead of ourselves come 2013.

26 thoughts on “Not Another Typical Spurs Defeat

  1. I said at the PAOK game that I’d settle for a point at Everton. They’re a good team showing the benefits of stability in management. Moyes’ teams know what they’re doing. The end result was a bit unfortunate but wasn’t the usual capitulation.
    I am slightly worried by the 80mins comments. I had a flashback to the St Francis of Excuses era. Gerry would have been proud of that one.
    We’re not in a bad position given I think we have a weaker ‘first 11’ than last year. We need to make the most of this next run of games and get BAE, Kaboul and Parker back in so we can provide a more solid 2nd half to the season than last year.


  2. I am just soooooo angry that we lost that game, although Everton had most of the game they never looked like scoring particularly in the last 15mins and i was convinced Spurs would hold on for a 1-0 win, what a team, oh if only!!!!!!


  3. Once we have B.A.E at left back and Vertongen(playing CENTREback) with Kaboul. Parker instead of Hudd the slug. We are laughing. Listen, spitting distance off top 3, Bale to come back, Full squad at our disposal. Then we can evaluate on our ginger leader fully. For now I’m satisfied, but eventually I want Defoe replaced. Not because he isn’t performing but because he is an flippant angry little squirt whose petulent arm waving at white teammates who try something and miss but mysteriously doesn’t happen when a black colleague has a go. He is bad for morale and would like a bid for Sturridge or Remi made to replace Jermiane dedick


    • umm, are you suggesting Defoe is a racist? I first read that as a teammate IN white… I don’t think he’s a racist, mate. And I think it’s sad that you would suggest he could be.

      Defoe’s a goal scorer – he’d be upset if a teammate was about to roll the ball over the goal line and didn’t pass to him.


      • Defoe is a moody racist who should be shipped out for the TEAMS sake. good player mind. No one raises their arms when he skies effoets over or is offside SO MANY TIMES.


        • That’s the most bizarre thing I’ve heard on here since the guy who said Beckham was overrated for free kicks and much more unpleasant. I couldn’t disagree more.


  4. While gah! was about the only word I could muster in the last few mins of the game and the first hour afterwards, I’m pretty sanguine about the defeat today. I thought we came back into the game well and looked sound. I thought the substitutions were working, and agree that individual errors, and the bounce of the ball, fine late run and header from Pienaar and sweet finish from Jelavic making the most of some fortune, undid us. We had a little luck with our goal, too, that’s the way it goes. A draw would have been a fair and good result, but not to be.


  5. We’re 9 points off what we were after 16 games last season. A solid 3rd last Xmas with 34 points from 16 games, and only 6 points behind the leaders, not 13! We were flowing then (and maintained that until late Feb/early March) ..but we’re slightly stuttering now. Good game here, mediocre game there, more individual errors, the fear of holding desperately onto 1 goal leads, no midfield consistency and so on. We have the squad to compensate to a degree for the slightly weakened 1st eleven (compared with last season) but unless we buy a good creative midfielder and top striker in the window, we could well wave bye bye to top four …and that would be yet another waste of a good solid squad (over the past 3 to 4 years) with Bale probably leaving, thus setting us back even more. Hudd? ..I was your biggest fan until you got injured at the start of last season (or was it the end of the previous season?), but something’s happened to you. I always thought you had it in you to be the next Hoddle.


    • I too thought Hudd could make it to the very top. Such a sweet passer of the ball over long range. But he doesn’t see openings early enough. As I’ve said before, in great players the first yard is in the head and with Tom it stays there.




  6. As regards to Caulker,too many are expecting a veteran in an old codgers uniform. He’s still a kid learning his trade, and to develop he needs to have games like this to reflect on. He’ll learn nothing if he didn’t make the odd cock-up.
    I’m more concerned about Dawson and Kaboul to be honest, as when either take a knock, it seems to result in a long term absence-which then makes me wonder if in light of Gallas’ impending retirement-Should we be looking for a young prospect?
    I thought the elevation of Lloris to demi-God and the 2nd Messiah more than a little premature and I still feel he was a purchase we didn’t need to make as there were more area’s of concern, like creativity, defenders and goal-scoring to name but three; we should’ve addressed before buying him and creating a problem for ourselves.
    Still, we’re still WIP and we’ll probably go all out for the Europless League and finish 6th, just so we can qualify for it all over again, at the expense of next season mixing it with the elite clubs!!!


    • Prediction: We’ll win the Europa league and the day after UEFA will announce that the winner of the Europa league will get a Champions League spot… starting from 2014. We’ll be 6-10th in the league.


    • I have been guilty of deifying Lloris even though I know he’s not that good. We have four international centre halves, plus Gallas who although he remains a decent player, and he is, would be my fifth choice. No more for the time being. Spend the time finding and nurturing the right pair.

      Regards, Al


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  8. We have not a cat in hell’s chance of winning the Europa League, or being in the top four. The squad is far weaker this year than last. Dempsey and Sigerson for Modric and VDV…… do me a favour!


      • I agree Dembele’s a good footballer, but look what happens when he gets taken off. Dempsey and Sigerson are average premier league players, not champions league and Huddlestone is half the player he was. Adebeyor is a waste of space. His first touch is like a sunday league player. I was at the game yesterday and every time the ball was played into him it bounced off him.
        We have more Goal keepers than strikers.
        Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool will all strengthen in January, do you think Levy will….not a chance. At best it will be someone on the cheap.


        • Si, we have to cut our cloth accordingly. We are not a big club and don’t have silly money to waste of players, so I can’t get my head around this antipathy toward Levy. He can only do so much, and what he’s done with what he’s got is nothing short of miraculous in comparison to our rivals who’ve had billionaire benefactors and donkey’s years of Eurocash to play with.


          • I cannot believe you do not think we are a big club. Being a big club is about history and tradition. As for wasting silly money, we just have on Sigerson, Dempsey and Adebeyor. That quality of player will only ensure we continue to look on at those eating at the big table and benefit from the Eurocash!
            On the subject of billionaire owners we have the seventh richest man in England in the Absentee Joe Lewis who lives in the Bahamas and very rarely comes to WHL. We have been on the threshold for the past half a dozen years and it would only have taken some reasonable investment to gain access to the champions league and all that it attracts.
            Next year if we are not in the Champions league we will lose Gareth Bale and you and I will never see the likes of him playing for a spurs team again.


            • Oh dear, another one who thinks Lewis is actually bankrolling the club-he’s nothing to do with Spurs-and use your own eyes to determine what constitutes a big club-and if history can buy you a Tevez, please let me know where I can exchange my degree in it for a Porshe


              • Your dead right there..he’s not bankrolling the club. But he owns 35% of it through his company – ENIC. You are also right about history not buying you a ‘Tevez’ only hard cash and Champions league football will do that.


                • SJ,Honestly I get a little peeved when supporters go on about Lewis-the bloke isn’t remotely interested in football-it’s a get out clause used by the media to justify their dislike of all things Levy. If they actually acknowledged what the blokes done for us-then they’d be made to look a little silly to say the least.
                  Joe Lewis is chair of ENIC and I can tell you here and now-if a decent offer came in for the club-he’d cash in, because that’s what ENIC investment company-not a philanthropic charity. THFC are a football club who have live within their means-and if supporters can’t accept that then they’ve backed the wrong horse, it’s really that simple


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