Possession Is Nine Points of the Law

Yesterday there was a job to be done and Spurs did what they had to do. Not in a straightforward manner, of course, why break the habit of my lifetime? After conceding the most pathetic set-piece I have ever seen, which is an accolade in itself given our recent sorry history at corners, Tottenham applied themselves fully and properly. Spurs were well on top even before Adam obligingly got himself sent off, then eventually the pressure paid off.

In many ways this was an unremarkable win in a match where little of note took place. However, this is our Spurs and we don’t confront these must-win games very well. This time, we kept the ball, kept going and came home with a deserved victory.

Possession won this game. All the time we had the ball, Stoke were under pressure. Their regimented defence kept us at bay for a long time but we kept coming. Much of it was ordinary, a game played sideways as we shuttled back and forth across the field in search of an opening. The tempo could have been brighter but mostly it was played in Huddtime, where the clocks seem to run just that little bit slower than the rest of the universe.

But we kept going and the chances came our way. Bale came close two or three times, once from a delicious through-ball from the otherwise ineffective Parker, Dempsey’s reaction miss from a corner, then Vertonghen. In the end, patience found its virtue with Manu alone at the far post to touch in Dempsey’s low, late cross. The American had a good game. Ignore Adebayor’s silly rehearsed jig, as the ball hit the net Deuce turned and raced to our grateful fans in that corner. He has a feel for this club.

Another goal in the last ten minutes. Is that the seventh match running? Villas-Boas has passed on the message that you keep going until the end. They are certainly fit enough to do so. His substitutions were effective too, Dembele coming off the bench fresh when we had to keep up the pressure and pace a better sight than his sorry figure limping off, finished after an hour. That time when we were worried about conceding late on feels like a bygone age. Yesterday we played out the last ten minutes without incident.

Our Andre deserves the credit for this and other aspects of the performance, including Manu’s drifting into good positions from out wide and for standing dutifully in the pouring with a mac that may be smart but clearly isn’t waterproof. However, he hasn’t sorted out the set-pieces. Our pitiful record had Pulis salivating in anticipation. First free-kick, we went zonal in response. It worked. Everyone stayed dutifully within those zones, it was damned unfair of the Stoke players to actually move. We stood still, they didn’t and we were one down in a couple of minutes. It was irredeemably stupid, utterly pathetic defending. We can laugh about it now but at the time the dark clouds blotted out the sun above my house…. And let’s not forget Dempsey needlessly gave away the free-kick in the first place.

Dempsey however found redemption in our equalizer, sharply reacting to a poor clearance and lobbing the ball into an unguarded net from 35 yards.  An assist too, a good game indeed.

Charlie Adam helped the cause. Determined to carry on his record of maiming as many Spurs players as possible, he challenged Vertonghen with no hope of winning the ball then stretched too far after the restart and was gone, second bookable offence. He’s a man out of sorts with his game, capable of so much more. I’m not a bitter or vindictive man but had to chuckle at the indignant reaction of many Stoke fans to the referee’s performance, which the TV showed was spot on throughout. Stoke had a rota to foul Bale as he ran at them. Pulis must surely understand why most supporters of Premier League teams have little sympathy for his oft-repeated line that his team don’t get the breaks.

Finally, a reminder of who really runs the game. Last week we kicked off thirty minutes late because of traffic problems. Yesterday, train-loads of Spurs supporters were delayed in or near Rugby because of an incident that closed the line but the match is on Sky so kick-off goes ahead on time. It stinks.

33 thoughts on “Possession Is Nine Points of the Law

  1. I had us down to take 7 out the last 12 (a loss against the blue scum and a draw here), so well done to the team.

    I reckon the red scum will do Wigan but drop points up north (despite the gibberish from Pardew).

    We just might do it yet.

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    • Pardew not endearing himself to Spurs fans at present. So United go in weak with Chelsea and Newcastle can’t be arsed. But nothing we can do except win on Sunday.

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  2. Dempsey’s best game for Spurs. I really want to like Dempsey but he’s been a bit short of quality at the ‘top top level’ (as ‘Arry used to say) so it was nice to see him have a great game. Not a match that will live in the memory, but we were in control in a match that would have given us trouble 3-4 years ago.
    Stoke really are a disgraceful side. I fail to see what possible pleasure anyone can get watching them kick lumps out of other teams week in, week out? It’s such a shame that better footballing clubs are relegated each season while Stoke’s cynical foul play is ‘rewarded’ with mid table mediocrity.

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    • Stoke are the new Wimbledon, or even Millwall (Everyone hates us and we don’t care!).
      Really hoping Wigan can work their magic, but it’s a tough ask for them when so much is at stake for both teams. They may take confidence from the FA cup, and they may also have an emotional hangover from it too. Really difficult call.
      Come on you Latics!
      and of course COYS

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    • Right re Wimbledon and Stoke. Having seen them when they have been on the box recently, they look as if they have lost confidence in their own methods. In the past we’ve got sucked. After the opening, I thought the same would happen but apart from Manu falling for Shawcross’s wind-up sneaky push in the back, we played our game not theirs.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  3. Sorry Alan, but I have to disagree with you here. I felt that this was a truly remarkable win. In all of the years that I have been watching The Spurs (some 50years now) this was just the sort of game that we would usually make a complete cock up of. Facing a poor side, with very little left to play for at the end of the season, I felt my pessimistic thoughts for the game were going to come true after only 3 or 4 minutes of play and began to fear the worse. However, this is obviously NOT the Tottenham of years past. The players actually seemed to relish the battle to be fought and applied themselves to the task quite admirably. Slowly at first, but then picking up the pace without panicking and totally controling the game to such an extent that i was able to enjoy the last 10 minutes, convinced that we would not let another goal in. Am I starting to believe ? I think I might be !!!

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    • Steve, I agree, a great win. As I said, the sort of match we habitually fail to win. Optimism? Steady on man, what’s come over you?

      Regards,

      Al

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  4. Marvellous description of the Stoke goal Alan. It really did beggar belief. But as you say, it was comical and I can’t stop chuckling about it now. What a shame that Stoke City, one of the grand old clubs of English football, who I think many in this country had a soft spot for, have sunk so low. That their supporters relentlessly boo and heckle one of the finest players of his generation, all the while glorying in the anti-football, quasi-thuggery that their outfit churn out week in week out, says it all.
    I agree that Dempsey was excellent, arguably his best game in a Spurs shirt and don’t forget it was also Parker’s ball that induced the mix-up leading to Deuce’s goal. By the way, talking of things that give off a bad odor, Pardew’s pronouncement that he now doesn’t care if his team lose 4-0 to Arsenal, falls within that category. Or is he just toying with us..and that lot down the road for that matter?

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    • We can laugh about it now but won’t be chuckling on Sunday when Sunderland get anywhere near our box…. it was awful, honestly never seen anything like it.

      Regards,

      Al

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  5. Great article Alan,
    You managed to steal my thunder on virtually everything.
    I must say that Dempsey’s finish was real quality given the fact that he had to react so quickly whilst slightly off balance.
    His goals are proving timely and crucial and his many detractors should recognize that.
    As for Stoke, we all acknowledge that supporters become temporarily blind to reason during a match.
    Their true oppinions are expressed outside of the stadium and Stoke fans are not happy with their side and it’s kill football attitude.
    As for Shawcross and his thuggish behaviour toward Manu, well what do you expect from a backstreet doorman posing as a footballer, may I suggest that ” He knows what he is ” .
    Hudd is painful to watch now, Adam’s delivery of a dead ball was just so much better and made our man look amateurish.
    Surely a livelier player in the center of the park would benefit the team more next Sunday.
    Still the three points were everything and as our Swedish expert said after the game, ” take them and move on ”
    Nuff said, COYS!

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    • Good point re Hudd, whose dead ball delivery was terrible in the first half. I didn’t mention it in the article but I loved a moment in the second half where he of all people ran with the ball at his feet to almost open up the Stoke defence. They must have been amazed to see him coming, he nearly got through!

      As you say, take the points and move on. Regards, Alan

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  6. I thought the lads did EXCELLENTLY (after conceding a soft goal) to comeback and win yesterday, against a Stoke team looking like something approaching their robust best.
    The early concession of the goal, combined with the hostile environment and playing style of our opponents, meant the team had to overcome numerous obstacles to claim what could prove to be an invaluable 3 points.
    While it is easy to acknowledge Stokes goal as poor from a Spurs standpoint, what also HAS to be recognised is our teams response to that adversity, in what were difficult circumstances.

    ANYTIME you leave the Britannia Stadium with all 3 points, you know you have done at LEAST a few things right. Such as:

    1. Competed/matched the physical nature of Stokes game.
    2. Nullified Stokes direct style of play, and coped well with set-pieces (including throw-ins)
    3. Produce a display full of ,both, commitment and desire.

    That’s exactly what Spurs did, after the early set-back, and for me, (‘The ineffective’) Scott Parker was an ESSENTIAL part in that!
    In my opinion, Parker deserves credit in a match where he returned to his ‘give and go’ best! Driving the team forward, as usual, Scott displayed a nice variation to his passes mixing neat, short, sharp one-two’s, with expansive, long (ish), raking contributions.
    At 34, and having only just recently returning from a LONG lay-off, many of the Spurs faithful have decided to write Scott off as ‘hindrance’ rather than a help. But if any proof were needed that Parker still has plenty to offer this side, than yesterdays ALL ACTION display certainly offered it!
    Fierce in the tackle, quick of thought (and deed) in possession and relentless in his will to win, SP was immense yesterday and although I can understand his withdrawal midway through the second half due to our numerical advantage (and scoreline at the time), I think he can consider himself a little unlucky given the quality of his overall performance.

    The jury is very much still out as far as Clint Dempsey is concerned, for me. The master of the sideways/backwards pass Dempsey’s OVERALL performances have declined, in terms of influence (over the course of 90 mins) in recent times. Although, he has chipped in with some very important goals, I STILL don’t believe we have seen the best of the American hitman.
    On current form, despite his improved display yesterday, I still believe Gyfil Sigurdsson would over the team FAR more in terms of creativity, work-rate and incision.

    The Icelandic internationals ability to maintain possession, and use the ball EFFECTIVELY in ADVANCED areas of the field will/can contribute to the teams style of play, fluidity and cohesion. While in my mind he is EQUALLY as likely to pop up with a goal.
    Sigurdsson has been one of our best players in recent months, and I genuinely find myself at a loss to explain his recent omission from the team, At 21/22, Gyfil has plenty of time on his hands to show the enormous talent I believe that he possesses, and I am in NO doubt that he will prove my point, and his worth, in the coming seasons, should he get the opportunities to do so!

    Anyway,it was a HUGE 3 points, yesterday and a good team display…. Bring on Sunderland!!!!

    HOLD YOUR FAITH AND KEEP YOUR NERVE!!!!

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    • Thanks. Siggy is actually 23 but you are right, he is still learning and we should give him time. He’s seldom played in his rightful position of attacking centre midfield. Out wide he can’t beat a man so has to learn to use his good touch to keep the ball moving. Lately he’s linking well with his team-mates, which led to his goal versus Chelsea.

      Parker has disappointed me this season, I’m afraid. His game is to break up attacks and pass it on. Instead, he’s wasted the ball more often than a man of his ability and experience should. He should stay back more and shield the back four, that’s his game.

      Regards,

      Al

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      • Do you not remember the Scott Parker that played for Charlton all those years ago! Dynamic, marauding and decisive, Parker is MORE than simply a ‘win it and give it’ type of player, although that seems to be the characteristics he has chosen to adopt since his move to Chelsea. The reason, in my mind, that Parker has attempted to play more of a creative role for Spurs this season is due to the absence of Luka Modric, who we will/can ALL acknowledge is more of a inventive/ imaginative force, with the ball, than all of our current midfield options.

        Parkers return from injury coincided with Dembele’s loss of dynamism, something I put down to Mossa NOT being 100% fit, and therefore Scott has taken it upon himself to TRY AND MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, despite maybe not being as sharp as he needs to be to effectively execute these manoeuvres.
        I agree that Scott is at his best when he simply passes (quickly/simply) and moves, but you cannot knock a man for trying, and under the circumstances I have felt he is perfectly within his right, and level of ability, to do so.
        Parker proved at West Ham he is more than capable of providing a threat in forward areas of the field, and just because it hasn’t always come off (after his lengthy absence, due to injury, where rustiness is bound to occur) his offensive talent/ skill set shouldn’t be dismissed.
        Scott has a good level of technique, and the fact that he works his socks off for the team in other departments should mean he is able to express himself, should he choose, without undue criticism.

        As far as Sigurdsson goes, I feel we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of his ability, in a Spurs shirt, and this is MORE down to the irregularity of his starting births/opportunities rather than the position he is playing. While taking on his direct opponent may not be his greatest strength, I have found he is more than capable of doing so, and his ability to use his left foot means he does no always feel the need to cut back onto his right to deliver.

        After a slow start to his Spurs career, I have seem Sigurdsson blossom in recent months to become one of our best/most influential players, leaving e in NO DOUBT, that given the opportunities, his (overall) contribution to the side will/would be FAR greater than of Clint Dempsey’s despite his display over the weekend.

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  7. Just a quick note on the Bale booing situation from a Stoke fan. The majority of Stoke fans i spoke to were going down to the Brit to watch Bale and a very good Spurs side. Having already got the points needed for safety, i was really looking forward to watching Bale play and wasn’t too bothered if Spurs won as i want to see them in the Champions league next year! Then it happenened after about 20 mins!! Bale went down with a yelp, REALLY IN PAIN! Then i think it was Dempsey who asked Bale if he needed the ball kicking out of play? With Stoke players now stopped, Bale then jumps up and recieves the ball off Dempsey and goes on to get a shot in!! He really has no need to get up to these antics, and i hope he loses them for next year! I still wouldn’t have booed such a class player but did feel a gutted he needed to do what he did! Anyways, all the very best for Sunday

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    • Terry, I appreciate your dropping in and taking the time to explain from someone who was there. On TV the reaction of the crowd bore little relation to what we were seeing via replays etc.

      All Spurs fans know that Bale goes down in pain and sometimes makes too much of it. Where I sit, people moan at him for doing so. I don’t like it because he’s good enough to not have to do that. However, we also know that he is kicked merclessly, either to put him off or out of his game, or simply because he’s too fast for desperate defenders. We’ve also seen him suspended for 5 bookings where at least three of them were clear fouls not dives, one of which was a penalty that was denyed us. He was simply too quick for the defenders, yet he ends up with a card. He’s booed everywhere now because of a so-called reputation that is undeserved.

      I’m glad that you were looking forward to seeing him play. He’s a top-class player and you saw the best of him. It was not a stunning matchwinning performance but he worked hard to make space and played for the team.

      Regards for next season, Alan

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  8. Thanks to Terry for a good balanced comment and to Alan for a good article….but Alan….it’s “nine tenths” of the law not “points”!

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    • It’s a feeble attempt at linking ‘possession’ to ‘points’, fatally undermined by the fact that we won three rather than 9 points…bang goes my sub-editing career option…!

      Regards, Al

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  9. OK Alan ..you were right about the defense and set pieces. Three Stoke men queuing up to head the opener and not a Spurs defender in sight. Yet we still outscored them in the Spurs way. A little irony intended there, although at least we go once more to the ‘final destiny’ game of the season! Perhaps Arsenal will get food poisoning in an M1 Motorway cafe on the way to Newcastle, or that ostensibly weak man Pardew will actually motivate his players to finish as high as possible to satisfy some of the best fans in the game, if not himself. Somehow unlikely, after his ‘jest’ about 4-0, but I hope the Geordie fans and Newcastle hierarchy noted the comment (and hopefully the players will respond too).
    However, the cup winning mentality (or survival) side of Wigan may turn up at the Emirates this Tuesday. Would a draw suit us more? Perhaps ,,because then Sunderland won’t be fighting for their lives. However, I want to see Wigan survive and if their unlikely victory brings a frightened Sunderland to the Lane, we should still be able to seal 4th.
    Ah, that’s just my heart ..because I think Arsenal will hammer them. Two great games in 3 days will be too much for this gallant club (who seem to play better in black for some strange reason) and we’ll just have to rely on Geordie pride getting us home.
    Er ..assuming we win! Well, at least we don’t have the further worry of an English team winning the CL and taking 4th away again.

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  10. Hi Alan, as always enjoyed your thoughts.

    I wonder if we could manage to find one of the best centre-half’s of his generation , on only one leg, and offer him the job of defensive coach at dead ball situations.

    After all there must be one somewhere in london or would said person require uefa certification?? Maybe it could be part of the course for achieving said certification.

    Know anyone who might fit mate??

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    • heh, think our Ledley doesn’t want the aggro and anguish of being a coach at this level. In Daws and superjan we have more than enough experience to lead the back four. This should not be happening.

      Regards, Al

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      • Agreed mate but somehow we are letting in soft goals from set pieces, mind you we often did the same with ledley at the back. I guess this is where the return of a fully functioning Kaboul will be of benefit!! long time out though??

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  11. what a bunch of delusional fools, 5th again, another kick in the nuts, that stringbean striker ade plays 2-3 good games a year, and they are at seasons end, what a waste of space he is, when was the last time you mugs finished above arsenal keep dreaming you tuggers

    You are a one man team BALE is all you got..what saps hahahaha losersssssssssssss

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    • There will always be a place in The Beautiful Game for teams like Arsenal, even Man U, who play safe, percentage football — and that place is on the editing floor before the public ever gets to see it. Let the Arses come up against quality foreign opposition like Inter or Milan FC, and what will happen…

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