Pump It Up

Spurs painted pretty pictures with their passing all afternoon. Creative and beguiling, the movement and understanding had me purring with pleasure. No goals, though, and as the sun went behind the clouds an edge born of frustration crept into proceedings. Then a fine strike to settle matters, a deserved win for Tottenham. After exhibition pass and move from both sides, it came from a defender at a set piece. Of course it did.

Lovely stuff, it’s the way to play. Dembele was prominent in the centre, boosted by Sandro’s power behind him. Dempsey frequently came in from the left to find space across the line and worked hard to get back to do his share of defending. Walker joined the attack when he could. Swansea see possession and passing as a virtue too but we turned possession into opportunities on a regular basis. Defoe missed the best one, taking an extra touch when set up by Dembele. Walker’s thunderbolt from 30 yards mesmerised the keeper so completely, he was unable to move his arms but the ball struck him on the chest so hard, I could feel the impact on the Shelf. The buzz of amazement that went round the ground spared Gallas’s blushes as he lobbed a weak header goalwards immediately afterwards when well placed.

Otherwise, the final pass let us down as Swansea blocked shots and crosses from all angles. It was one of those games when we had many shots but the keeper made few saves because his defenders did all the work. Our chances were stillborn. For once I wanted Lennon to hold onto the ball for a shot as he weaved through the defenders – his passes were being blocked. In a passing game, his runs with the ball at his feet stood out and he made more almosts but not quites than any other man on the field.

That’s the trouble with Spurs, there’s almost so much of everything. The second half began with more of the same but the impetus gradually subsided. We’re good at passing, better at passing at a decent tempo but now Swansea sucked the life from our attacks. Adebayor had been told to buck his ideas up but Dempsey faded. In particular we slowed down in the final third, although credit to our opponents for having such an organised defence. We had to pump up the pace and effort at this point. Siggy had the right idea when he came on. Our Andre saw that an injection of pace and bounce was required. Neat through ball for JD too. Impact sub status beckons.

Being pushed so far back meant Swansea seldom threatened our goal. Michu was cut off from his midfield and could not outwit our high defensive line. Lloris was ever alert as sweeper but I can’t recall him making a save.

A pleasure to watch, it nevertheless had the air of high tea on the lawn, with the crusts cut off the cucumber sandwiches to boot. It’s a sign of how the message has reached the modern football fan when Swansea supporters fans applaud the way their team keep the ball in their own half. The players’ voices were as audible as those of a Sunday league game in the park. I can however report that Superjan’s excellent English extends to fluent swearing.

In a game of precision and caution, the manner of the goal was out of character. A set piece, a defensive error and the failed headed clearance fell to Vertonghen, but then pure class – a first-time half-volley into the bottom corner with his wrong foot.

These days I expect JD to put the chances away but he missed, to raise anxiety levels as the board announced 5 minutes of injury time. It was as if the ‘concede in the last ten minutes’ stat had flashed up on both jumbotrons and for good measure announced over the PA. In the one moment of genuine danger, Lloris punched clear bravely from the edge of the box. The resulting mayhem over whether we should have stopped playing as Michu lay prone on the turf obscured the fact that this was a match-winning intervention from a player who had virtually nothing else to do all game.

Those of you watching on TV had a better view of the incident itself than I did, with action going on at both ends of the pitch. I’m not one to condone violence, oh no. But the way manager and players rushed to defend Townsend, who rightly was playing to the whistle, is further evidence of team-spirit and togetherness.

To end, I’m indebted to the Guardian for Villas-Boas’s reflections on the late goals problem:

The players were losing concentration late in matches so he tried “stimulating concentration in the last part of training”. How did he do it? “By increasing the complexity of the tasks the players have been doing at the end of training,” he said. “The more complex the exercise, the more concentration they need at the end.” They went from Connect Four to Jenga to Sudoku. Only joking. But they closed out a 1-0 win over Swansea.

It’s the details that count.

15 thoughts on “Pump It Up

  1. Pingback: Pump It Up - Unofficial Network

  2. I didn’t really enjoy that game. Keeping possession is OK but ultimately it needs an incisive pass to create some space or a well struck shot from distance. To be a Barcelona, you need to have an end product to tappy tappy football. We created few chances and the few we did were squandered yesterday by a rare Defoe off day. Having said all that, it was a win when on other days, we would have given away a point. Some times you take what’s given.


    • I enjoyed it but the frustration at not scoring and the thought of more wasted opportunities sours the game. Play like that in the future and the goals will come.




      • Swansea parked the bus – writing that feels harsh, but that’s what it did look like. They made no effort to push up to our centre-backs, and were happy to sit in their own half. It’s always going to be hard to score against a team like that. Add to that Defoe not being able to find the target and Bale out, we did well, kept the pressure on, and eventually got that goal.


  3. We don’t have anyone to make those creative passes. And when Bale is playing we are too direct (in terms of playing everything through him). Give it time, we’ll adapt. Will be far easier if we had a true playmaker in the middle (or pushed Dembele further forward which appears to be a popular hope currently).


    • I agree completely…though I wonder whether having Dembele further forward would be such a good idea. Dembele does best for us by calming things down, or carrying the ball forward with consideration, but he rarely plays “creative” passes…he’s a brilliant link between Sandro and a no.10, but his game isnt really suited to unlocking defences with single passes, in my opinion. Hopefully Levy can pull something out in January…if not, I think we can still do well this season, and push on with a good signing for the no.10 position in the summer.


    • At our best it’s about being flexible. So with the Beast behind him, Dembele can get forward more often, which he should. It’s about timing – I don’t want to see him hanging around waiting for the ball to reach him. We have been doing that better lately as Andre gets the message across – the passing allows players time to readjust their position. Push opponents back and Dembele and others can get forward, just need to pick their moment. Some players should have more flexibility than others and demebel is one of those. They have a position but also need to know what to do in different circumstances. We don’t over-commit these days but have improved on the problem I mentioned a short while back, the lack of players in the box when the ball comes in. Not so much of an issue in the last few games.

      I think Dembele is excellent at picking out a man with an incisive 10 or 15 yard ball. Sometimes he hits them hard! More please.

      Regards, Al


  4. Help please – I don’t carry ads on the site although I’m happy to recommend something that I think is decent. The site records that a few people click on an advert: ads.mopub.com – could anyone please tell me where that is on a site? Might be on a link. Can’t find it and it’s not supposed to be here.

    Thanks, Alan


    • Hi Alan neve seen any ad on here aprt from your thoughts main reason I like the site. Thanks. As for the specialised training for the end of matches I think a link to your source should go on twitter, as further proof that we now have a coach who knows how to coach. INAVBITRUST.


      • Thanks Mal, the ad is merely an irritant but if possible I don’t want annoying pop ups, which people may think is a virus.

        The training thing has been round twitter via the Guardian, it’s a measure of a manager who is committed to Spurs and to getting things right.

        Regards, Al


  5. I thought it was the best 90 min performance I’ve seen from Spurs this season. It was tough going at times and we found it hard to carve out clear chances, but haad enough of them to warrant the win. Not perfect, and we can improve in all areas (can’t everyone) but patient, strong, concentrated and aggressive and purposeful and creative by turns, I was enthused. We gave a good side next to nothing and were worthy winners.


    • I like the idea of the squad actually doing training for matches they’ll be playing. Hopefully this week they will be practicing defending long balls and closing down midfielders so they can’t get their heads up to deliver balls into the box. Oh and not giving away cheap free-kicks in our half.


  6. Is it me ? Or does AVB look more relaxed durng hia after match interviews. Maybe management and players are feeling more confident with one another which can only be good for the club. Hopefully a good xmas and new year awaits and we can get to the magical 40 points quickly which is when I can relax and start dreaming of finishing above c***ski and the gooners. Happy days !!! A merry xmas to all


    • Spot on re staff and players I reckon Andre has a grip on the task at the club and is moulding it in his image. Only time will tell if it works but he deserves that time.

      Regards, Al


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