Krul Irony as Lloris and Spurs Excel

Away season tickets – the must-have accessory for any self-respecting Spurs fan. Props to all who made the long and hazardous journey to Newcastle last night through the windswept Armageddon that is the British weather these days. Those of us who made do with a stream could hear you loud and clear and enjoyed one of the honeypot delicious performances of the season almost as much as you did.

Spurs have one of the best away records in the league and this was the best of the best. The better side for the vast majority of the match, a tight, unified team effort provided the platform for Adebayor to score twice and lead the line like a master, while Bentaleb’s calm dominance of midfield proved once more that he is a high class prospect. Dembele was strong in an unusual role on the right while the return of Younis Kaboul alongside Vertonghen was very welcome. Even Chadli scored for goodness sake.

For once there was plenty of competition for man of the match but Hugo Lloris streaked ahead at the end. Flinging himself to all four corners of his goal as Newcastle finally emerged from their self-induced torpor, he made sure there were none of the Typical Tottenham wobbles late on. That strong left-hand is becoming his trademark. For the third game running he plunged low to his left to push out two chances, then kept his best til last with a reaction left-handed tip-over. Underlying the showreel saves is a determination to cut out the mistakes that have bedevilled his game since his injury versus Everton.

There is a context for all this: Newcastle were dreadful. They signalled their intent right from the beginning when Santon got caught in the corner for Dembele to steamroller in. Manu’s shot was deflected just wide. Not to be deterred, Santon did it again. We pushed forward scenting blood.

In a hectic opening, there was poor defending at both ends, ours from a free-kick when we couldn’t sort out the marking. Cue Hugo’s first save although Cisse should have put the ball further from his body.

It was very open and entertaining but then settled into nondescript period with Spurs holding sway without getting anywhere. Both teams gave the ball away frequently. Then a fine piece of football from Bentaleb created our opening goal. He shepherded the ball out of danger, deep in our half, then drove on with that seemingly effortless running style that appears slow yet takes him away from defenders with pleasing regularity. He beat one with skill, held off another with strength then crossed from the left into the danger area at the edge of the 6 yard box. Krul, on fire in the home fixture before Christmas to secure the Barcodes’ victory, got his hand to the ball but only to obligingly place it onto Adebayor’s left foot.

We should have had more before half time. Lennon hit the post and Paulinho split the defence apart with a ball to Walker whose cross was scrambled off Azza’s toes in the nick of time. The half fizzled out, Spurs on top by not giving the ball away as often as the Geordies.

Paulinho looked more fluent yesterday evening – I thought he was stiff and glum on Sunday. Good rather than great but he has that ability to up the pace suddenly. In the second half our attacks had been one-paced. The Brazilian seized on an opportunity, initiated a quick one-two and was on hand to score as Krul again parried rather than cleared.

The goals emphasised Spurs’ control rather than establishing it. Newcastle played as if running through treacle and we took full advantage. Adebayor made it three, banging home a ball on the bounce. The Barcodes looked dangerous for the only time in the game. We sat back too deep and failed to stop the crosses coming in, a fault of our attacking formation and the unwillingness of the wide midfielders to cover as assiduously as they should have done. What the back four could not handle, Lloris welcomed. Chadli scored the fourth and final goal, the classic right-foot curler into the top far corner from out on the left, but he had more time to line it up than Tiger Woods with a five iron to the green.

12 years and counting into Levy’s chairmanship, £80m give or take spent in the summer and I did not expect to watch an inexperienced manager learning on the job. It’s alternately fascinating and frightening. Sherwood has not played the same formation for two games running since his first couple of 4-4-2 efforts. Yesterday he went 4-3-3 with Lennon wide left and Dembele wide right. Newcastle did not play wingers so this gave us numbers in the centre where we were strongest. Good tactics. supposedly he doesn’t like DMs yet our efforts rested on the foundation of Capoue sitting efficiently in front of the back four. Ungainly and sometimes wasteful, he nevertheless gave others freedom, notably Bentaleb, who could get forward, leftish, to prompt and harass.

Kaboul available, Kaboul straight back into the side to replace Dawson who until now has played every minute of every game. The shape of things to come. A big man, he looks overweight to me. However, his timing in the tackle was excellent and he had enough pace to repeatedly snuff out the rare moments that Newcastle looked dangerous. Lennon again did little. Out on the left, he kept on turning onto his right foot, and turning into tackles when he should have been running wild and free into the space that Capoue and Bentaleb gave him. Interesting that we had more space because Demebele and Paulinho did not get in each other’s way down the centre.

Inverted wingers. High defensive line. Dedicated DM. Sound familiar? Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, as Tim would never say. Let him take some credit here, though, for getting this to work better. Away from home, his personnel and tactics are shrewd and insightful. Add that to his motivational powers, enabling Adebayor to blossom like a teenager again, he did well last night. Not everything has worked so far but he’s learning fast. Only fair therefore to conclude with this stat courtesy of Four Four Two’s James Maw via twitter last night: I am not sure how it has happened but this is the closest Spurs have been to the top of the table at this stage of the season since the Premier League began.


16 thoughts on “Krul Irony as Lloris and Spurs Excel

  1. You may be right, Alan, re just 7 points off the top at present ..although, in terms of position, both 2011/12 and 2012/13 saw us much better placed after 26 games, ie 3rd (3 points more than now) and 4th (2 points less) respectively, than we currently are.
    In those two prior seasons 3rd and 4th looked likely, until a late dramatic and mini collapse (again respectively) cost us CL positions. This has certainly been a very weird season, and although 5th was looking likely to many (including me, until Ade’s goal on Sunday), will a late surge, rather than the normal last third of the season collapse, drag us up to 4th or even 3rd??
    Wouldn’t that be something Arsenal’s expense for a change! Still, when I think of the points that got away because of stubborn and mind boggling AVB decisions, and then delayed costly reactions mid game (almost all at home) I just don’t know if the final hurdle will still be too much. And yet …w7 d3 l2 would give us 74 points, another PL points record, and ..dare we believe ..4th or better?!


    • Love the optimism, Chris… I’m enjoying this little spurt but don’t think I’m watching a team consistently playing top four standard football. Have to say I’m surprised, pleased but surprised. Good qualities and signs for the future but versus Palace and Everton we were dire at times. Anyway, determined not to complain!

      Regards, Alan


  2. Great read as ever Alan. Love the plus ca change bit. We really did smash’em up though, as Tim would certainly say!
    Tottenham Hotspur…title contenders! Boy does that sound nice. After all, we’re close enough to the summit now to say that our destiny really is in our own hands now….Seriously though, now that fifth is secure again, we can focus on the Europa, right?
    As you allude to, I thought I had time travelled back to the Liverpool 0-5 at the Lane when I saw the line-up. Had AVB launched a counter-coup? But it all panned out ok in the end. Still don’t think Lennon should ever play on the left. And am still pissed off that we loaned Holtby out. Two minor gripes sums up the wave of optimism we are all riding today. Things appear to finally be gelling. Don’t they?


    • No question we played well against the poor Georgies, Harv, but some way to go before we gel, I reckon. Points not performance matter in the end, and all that sort of stuff. AVB reincarnate?!

      Cheers, Alan


  3. On the road today seeing customers. One company today in Tottenham Hale, there is a group of lads in the warehouse, in which they are Gooners (no spurs fans there 😦 ). Normally we have a banter, but today, oh no, they did not want me to disturb their moaning of not getting back to the top of the league. Normally when I’m up to sell, they stop me from going upstairs for a bit of banter, but today they blanked me totally, but I went upto them anyway, and reassured them that things will turn ok as soon as Bentdner is back, smiled and walked off.
    So pleased that Tim is weaving his magical tactics to good results. I did not see that result coming, but credit to him, we are now scoring goals, and the football is getting better.
    Keep up the good work Alan


  4. Yes, it was great to watch.
    I love seeing Kaboul back. He is a class act. Our Goalie is exceptional.
    There is plenty of attacking ability.
    Can we win the whole thing? It all depends on the away games against Chelsea and Liverpool and a home game against Arse. Get something from these games, maybe a win and two draws as we could win most of the rest as it quite an easy draw.
    Anything is possible. COYS


    • Kaboul has been a huge loss. He was just getting to his fearsome peak in my view. I feared we would never see him again. heart in mouth when he went down in the second half. And Lloris without the clangers – best in the league. he will always make some errors because of the way he does not play safe but rather that than caution. Massive influence.

      Regards, Alan


  5. Hi Alan,
    Liverpool are said to be the most popular Premier League team over here in Sweden, Which rather unusally makes Man Utd the least popular.
    Much has been made of the resurgent Liverpool and their triple S attack force, laughing lustily as they gaze down the table at their beleaguered rivals. Great days indeed for the Scandiscousers.
    It is therefore slightly amusing to see their reaction when I point out that little Tottenham, with their gangling washed up centre forward, and part time cockney barrowboy manger, lie just three points behind.
    This statement is normally met with a look of bemusement, almost disbelief, and yet there it is in black and white, a league table that cannot lie.
    The truth is that I can scarcely believe it myself, and I shy away from giving reasons as to why two teams who are currently rated as being poles apart in ability, can have achieved such similar results, but there you go.
    One thing that I have learnt this season is that I am redundant when it comes to predictng the fortune of my beloved Spurs, right now ignorance is bliss.
    But what if we’re still snapping at the heels of those nailed on champions league sides with just a handful of games left? I dunno.
    What I do know is, that after listening to Arsenal fans jeering their team for only manging a point against last years champions, I’m glad that I support Tottenham.


    • I agree. Except that as a blogger, being redundant re predicting the club’s fortunes and and shying away from giving reasons why we are so close to Liverpool and the others makes for a series of very short articles! We have had a bit of luck (not yesterday though) and got away with some awful football. Still, Liverpool make mistakes at the back, that’s part of their stage of development under Rogers. if they attack that much, they leave gaps behind, same as we did when we went 4-4-2.

      Let’s just enjoy it! Cheers, Alan


  6. Excellent analysis Alan!
    Its quite unbelievable and out of the blue that Sherwood came back with this AVB looking strategy and yet we were more fluent than our AVB controlled games.
    Maybe AVB over managed,micro managed. It tightened them up so even the style was similar the players with Sherwood were allowed still to play with their instincts rather to the programmed model.of AVB.
    With Sherwood trying out different ideas,as long as he is gaining points,he has the currency to learn more and use these ideas against specific teams.
    I was not a believer and at best still a skeptic and as I did with AVB,I am asking Show me the Money.Sherwood is,AVB didnt


    • One difference is of course that we have a striker who leads the line and scores goals. Still bitter about the way AVB isolated him, anywhere near his current form and we would have had enough points to keep us right up there. And to keep AVB in a job…

      Regards, Alan


      • Alan it would seem that AVB’s major problem was/is not being able to listen to others views, now ade is not known for his diplomatic skills and it’s quite possible that the crossing of (s)words between them left AVB little room for maneuver , however their in lies the skill of management. I am still sorry he has left I believe that he had/has a very doable vision and even allowing for his tenderfoot management he was really stitched up transfer wise by Levy etc. As they failed to get any of the key players he wanted. As for the future I doubt that Tim be in charge come the end of july. After all he has still to get his pro- licence and I can’t see the premiership allowing spurs to break their rule.


  7. Great article. Wasn’t it a 4-1-4-1, with Capoue in front of the defence? I thought that putting Capoue there was key – playing a DM ironically set our attack free. Paulinho and Bentaleb played so much better without the weight of defensive responsibility on their shoulders and actually gave Ade some support. I hadn’t actually been a fan of Bentaleb before, but in this game I could see what all the fuss was about.

    I would maybe give Capoue man of the match just for enabling the others to play so well. I have looked at his stats on my blog and he was top for tackles, touches and interceptions.


    • Agree re Capoue – DMs don’t get the plaudits but hold it all together so the others can play. Formations are always flexible, easily could have been described as you say. Think the movement was important – Bentaleb mostly more advanced than he has been but able to drop back when required, Paulinho similarly.

      Regards, Alan


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