One, two, three times he came and they cut him down. They saw yellow, we saw fear in their eyes. Not dirty or cynical fouls these, merely desperate. Let him past and disaster lay ahead. The fans were spellbound, defenders mesmerised as Gareth Bale was unplayable for the final twenty minutes. No option but to stand off. He began a move in the centre circle, a few short passes set him up and created a little room to work up a head of steam. Switch it onto the left, from 25 yards the keeper cannot move save to allow his shoulders to slump in defeat. Top right hand corner, a matchwinner to surpass efforts that could not be bettered, or so we had thought.
This is crackpot crazy Boy’s Own stuff of dreams, a throwback to Brylcreem, toe-caps and dubbin. The star-man weaves through flailing, futile tackles to score the last gasp winner when all seemed lost. The celebrations turned to black and white jerky ungainly jumps, then a dutiful trot back to the centre circle, fade to sepia and gone.
Except what Bale did was to dash into the welcoming arms of his manager, to be joined by most of his team-mates. Remind me again about that players’ revolt so gleefully reported by the media in August. The bit about how Villas-Boas can’t communicate with his men, how does that go? Together and loyal, this is a proper team, and their stellar performer knows he is part of it, not just an individual.
There were other stars at Upton Park last night. Dawson is one of the grunts, unsung and unswerving in his dedication to the cause. With Andy Carroll up against him, under bombardment from crosses and those long, straight free-kicks that beg for the second ball to be gobbled up by an opponent’s boot, Dawson bent double in that familiar crouch of concentration, slapped his thighs and was ready for battle. He did not flinch for a moment.
Behind him, I fail to think of anything Hugo Lloris could have done better. Not a foot out of place, or a hair for that matter, he came to catch those crosses and snaffled every one. Two early decisive low saves, then one rush from the line in the second half when the defence dozed off for a second. Outstanding.
Oddly, as everyone was bouncing in the stands and I was bouncing off the walls in my living room, as the players left the field I felt a sudden moment of complete calm. I wanted to shake him by the hand, to say how we appreciate what he has brought to the club. It seems like he doesn’t do fuss, but he needs to know. This is the Age of Hugo.
Third in the table, playing our best football when the pressure was on. Opponents preyed on our vulnerability to late goals not so long ago. Now they fear the final ten minutes as we are never out of it. Think what we could do if we had a striker.
Parts of this game were very average, interspersed with periods of downright scratchiness. An early Bale goal, the other side of his shooting, from distance and left footed but slotted low into the corner. The great goalscorers always passed the ball into the net from inside the box. Bale does the same only from long range.
However, we allowed the whammers to get back into it. Parker, a player I admire, is fit but a fraction off the pace and that’s all it takes in that influential role in front of the back four. Some good things but wayward passes and, criminally for him, giving the ball away. A fraction of a fraction late at Carroll’s feet and it’s a penalty. He would have been better advised to stay on his feet. It feels as if last season, he would have.
And the ball kept on coming back because we could not keep it in their half. Abebayor was poor again all round. Last season the goals came regularly, this the lasting image is a miss when the keeper is lying on the floor. Another last night.
This became worse as the match went on. We had no respite, meekly conceding possession. Wham won every 50-50. Dembele was playing too deep, emasculated by an early booking for a petulant revenge foul, Holtby’s hustle and bustle wasted by being constantly moved out wide. He has to stay central to have an impact. There were times when I thought of Sandro. When he played, we only needed one defensive midfielder.
Cole scored for the Hammers, well-taken after Vertonghen had made a major error in stepping up for an offside that never was rather than simply tracking the attacker. It was a bad decision, created perhaps by a mind conditioned to play the trap. You sensed that was his instinctive first thought, whereas as a defender his gut should tell him to stick with his man.
Chasing goals and you bring on a midfielder without a Premier League start. No strikers on the bench is not good. But Tom Carroll and Sigurdsson both pepped up our efforts just as we began to droop. It looked like we may not need a striker as Caulker had three headers from corners all saved. He had so much time, Allardyce must have gone bananas. We should have scored from at least one of them.
Never mind thunderbolt and lightning, my pre-match dream of a tap-in came true. I find it reassuring that highly paid professionals can occasionally have absolutely no control over the football whatsoever. The ball pinged about in the box, defying all physical laws known to human kind, before it rested at Siggy’s feet, begging to be tucked home.
Caulker had a good game too alongside Dawson. Our Andre got the tactics right with Jan at full-back, another big man to combat the set-piece threat. Lennon was quiet. Parker was the DM furthest forward when it should have been Moussa, who delivered one cutting through ball to Bale to remind us of how decisive he can be.
Big Sam will no doubt spout post-match stats to reveal some hidden injustice but it shows how he relies on the percentage game whereas he might be better advised to make more of the talented players like Cole and Nolan rather than just kicking the ball over their heads. I imagine him muttering something about wishing Kevin Davies could be five years younger because he can’t do without him.
Arsenal to come, an intolerably significant potion of pride, history and league position makes this one of the most important derbies of recent years. We are ready.
19 thoughts on “Dawson and Lloris Unsung Heroes As Bale Surpasses Himself”
“Except what Bale did was to dash into the welcoming arms of his manager, to be joined by most of his team-mates. Remind me again about that players’ revolt so gleefully reported by the media in August. The bit about how Villas-Boas can’t communicate with his men, how does that go? Together and loyal, this is a proper team, and their stellar performer knows he is part of it, not just an individual”.
Absolutely spot on – it was great to see and why we haven’t lost in the league since the Everton loss. That’s what great managers do – learn the lessons and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
That’s a very good point, Barry, how Andre is constantly learning, developing the team and trying to not make the same mistake twice.
And how refreshing to see three homegrown players on the pitch at the end of the match. Massive respect to AVB for not bottling it and protecting the youth
If they are good enough, they are old enough. Think he wanted someone to do a particular job and Carroll was the man, AVB asked him to play to his strengths and it worked.
Despite conceding two, I thought we looked solid in defence. Dawson and Caulker highly effective and the Vertonghen switch was clever thinking, although I’m a huge fan of BAE. Parker looks off his game to me. I think he put so much into last season and the European Championships and it shows. Poor challenge for the penalty. If Sandro was playing, I’d say we’d have midfield pretty much nailed with the arrival of Holby. Adebayor at least looked interested last night and had a much better game. Bale was unplayable for those two goals. The defence was well organised and still they couldn’t stop him.
I’m really hoping we can beat Arsenal on Sunday. I think it’s vital that they don’t start to put a run together and a convincing win might finish them off mentally. However it’s Spurs we’re talking about here so anything can happen.
Yep, so many false dawns, I dare not dream…and yet I am, as are you, Pete.
It was great. We know our deficiencies of a lack of a striker and a creative mid fielder but I am sick of the knockers. The team spirit is amazing. The Manager has passion which reflects in the team.I loved that group hug.
If the results go our way and we beat City at the Lane we could actually finish 2nd. Lets enjoy and maybe next year with a couple of additions we could win !!!
It’s amazing that a team without a striker worthy of the name, or the shirt, and a midfield, Bale excluded, so goal shy, is where it is. The squad seem harmonised and happy. Long may it continue. Better the devil you know, eh?
Some day this has been up at 4 am to cook breakfast, tis now 3.15 Pacific Time and still I am buzzing about what I witnessed over 24hrs ago. 61 yrs old and it suddenly feels like we got our NEW SPURS back, no more rolling over at the end of games, no more berrating refs for their blind inconsitant performances, just a glow of ‘pride’ (a Word I am very wary of) and satisfaction that we have a squad capable of beating anybody.
Hugo Lloris ; Is immense, compact and has an outfielders perception of the game.
Kyle Walker; Never gives up even when it is not working for him.
Micheal Dawson; Can anything be added about his attitude? No thought not, should be given a life- long contract now.
Steven Caulker; What!! how can have such calm composure and still work afteer three saves from headers in one match.
Jan Vertonghan; One mistake yet still enough belief to carry on and try to win.
Arron Lennon; Despite getting better still playing in Bales shadow, for some, yet not for him tireless effort.
Scott Parker; Lost pace through Achillies injury? Possible but still worth his weight and determination.
Mousa Dembele; Outstanding in his ability to take on differing role from same position that many mistake for not up to his standard.
Lewis Holtby; Down to earth with a soft landing and maybe not for the ‘KICK IT!’ games.
Gareth Bale; Great heart to keep trying those ‘free’-kicks. How about a right foot? hahaha
Emmanuel Adebayor; Lazy, listless, mercinary, possibly but I think he started the game very brightly andif he gets the ‘goal’, may well sort out the end of the season.
Gylfi Sigurdsson; Has been threatening for a few weeks to score changed tempo and got his ‘goal’
Tom Carroll; Receive, touch, pass, receive, pass, win ball, touch, recieve, pass, Job done!
Jake Livermore; We need to score? I know put the armband on Jake for 10, 7, 5, 3 mins and enough said? Not quite, if for any reason scotty gets injured he’ll be ready.
And then we have-
Wiiliam Gallas; Didn’t want ex gooner/ che£ski, but he is the consumate professional, always giving his best.
Kyle Naughton; Would walk into most English teams good enough squaddie.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto; Not just a twitter legend but a very good left back and human being.
Tom Huddlestone; Best passer in the club, needs to score to get the weight of his charity off his mind?
Clint Dempsey; 2nd best American in the squad and better than it looks sometimes.
Brad Friedel; Best American, will this be his last year??
Jermains Defoe; Top scorer out of the strikers.
Sandro; Hmmmm Brazillian martial arts darts playing guitarist!! Oh and he owns the midfield!!
Andre Villas-Boas; a Head Coach who knows what he is doing and can communicate to the players what he wants from them, in such a way that they clearly admire him.
Steffen Feund; Assistant Leaps like a salmon and he loves Spurs.
Luis Martins; Obviously knows what he is doing.
Jose Mario Rocha; Fitness Coach; definately the full 90, hopefully 120, minute man.
Daniel Sousa; Head of Opposition Scouting; simply intregal!
Nuff Said ?? I think so!!
Nice run-through, summed up by that word ‘pride’. We have pride in them because they have pride in themselves. Not arrogance but a real pride in their performance and their club.
Alan how do I Myoyu.mal stop being anonymus, please see above!
oh how did that happen??
Ahhh, I see now sorry just getting me coat. BYE!
Baler and Hugo do play the beautiful game!
That goal, eh Ashley? You must have felt the good vibes from 6000 miles away…
Yes, lots of good performances and we look like a good side with a special player at the mo.
Very pleased for AVB as a Spurs supporter but also on a human level.
Me too. You feel the guy is genuine.
AVB and his blue & white army !!! Was good to see the team trying to win the game in the last few minutes and not settling for a draw as we have done in the recent past. Never thought i’d say this but AVB is actually starting to grow on me and i’m enjoying the teams positive attitude. However, I shall still approach the game with the gooners in my usual pessimistic way expecting nothing better than 0 – 0 draw but would love to see the game ending with Mr Whinger chucking his water bottle around again. COYS
Well, worse things than a draw, but we are hoping for more. This particular derby is highly significant, over and above 3 points and bragging rights. Looking forward to it with a mixture of fear and excitement, which is just as it should be.