Search This Blog

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

One Problem We Took From Norwich.

What a fantastic victory. We've played more than a fair share of blinders this season but I'll stick to my guns and say that that was our best performance since the defeat of Liverpool a few months back. Triffic. A formation that is looking more finely balanced than Philippe Petit walking the high-wire between the two towers of Notre Dame back in the '70's. We're a joy to the eye.

I'm sure I'm not alone in crying out for weeks for a formation that consisted of a centre midfield of Sandro and Parker with Modric sitting in front. The holding midfield of Sandro and Parker sat comfortably whilst allowing Modric the freedom to strive forward and link up with Bale, Rafa and Ade. The team just oozed class. Even if it was a mid-table side, the performance last night would've given any side a good chase for their cash.

What I also noticed was how well the team worked as a unit in defence. On the rare occasions Norwich enjoyed some possession in our final third there was consistently 10 players behind the ball and this forced Norwich to shoot from 30 odd yards out. We'd press the space well, win the aerial challenges and start playing our football from the back 4. We're much better at keeping the ball this season. Every player wants to get involved and play football the right way, on the deck. What I love about Adebayor is that he's probably the only 'big forward' that prefers to have the ball at his feet than in the air. It suits our style of play down to a tee.

Adebayor. I've noted on here before that he can frustrate the bleeding life out of me. Although, he's probably the only forward that has such a poor shot on him but is still one of the first names on the team sheet. His work rate, his link up play and his movement is phenomenal. He could have a team and a half worth of players surrounding him and he'd manage to keep the ball and make space from it.

But one problem that has probably been pointed out before is that we could be one Adebayor injury away from being starved up front. I'd find it hard to believe I was the only one to have the old heart in the mouth when Ade pulled up clutching the hamstring in Norwich only to look across and see super Pav twiddling his thumbs wondering what to spend his wages on this week. With Defoe currently out and Pav just not fit to lead the line, a forward must be a priority this January.

We're enjoying a good run of form, playing the best we've played for 50 years and picking up points home and away. I might start to enjoy this.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Assault Continues.

On the back of a rather misfortunate and, in my opinion, a rather unexpected defeat at the hands of Foy, err Stoke rather, many would've looked to Sunderland as a mere light obstacle on the path to jumping back into third. This was the sort of game last year that Gallas proclaimed the players "thought they'd won it before even kicking a ball," and as the minutes ticked down it looked increasingly likely to be one of those games.

Thankfully Super Pav found a way to shed a rare glimpse of light on himself and propel us back above Chelsea prior to tomorrow's meet.

Tomorrow's game is massive for Chelsea. Yes, for Chelsea. AVB hasn't, as yet, underlined his sides authority or dominance on the Premier League. The win over Manchester City in their last home game toned down the pressure and gave the Portuguese boss a rare opportunity to claim that his current Chelsea side can win the Premier League. To date, their results against sides competing for the Premier League title and top 4 positions aren't title-worthy:

Man Utd 3-1 Chelsea
3-5 Arsenal
Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-1 Man. City.

So who are the boys that could cause us a bit of bovver tomorrow? For me, one of the key players who'd have to have an eye kept on him is Danny Sturridge. The young English forward has forced his way into the first team, and deservedly so, replacing a player that was once valued at £50 million. 50 million, bloody hell. I bet Roman still has nightmares about last January.

Often operating on the right side of a 4-3-3, Sturridge is almost given a free role in attack whilst given the freedom to come deep to pick up the ball and attack the full back. I expect 'Arry to tell Benny to stay deeper and to limit him going forward as much as he'd like. I'd also expect to see him shut down high up the pitch in the hope of limiting his influence in attack. Sturridge could've walked away with a hat trick and the match ball from Newcastle had his finishing been more clinical; Ryan Taylor guilty of giving him the freedom of the Sports Direct Stadium in which to play in.

Drogba is one other that can also cause problems in attack. On their day, I can't stand that phrase, King and Kaboul can have anyone in their pocket; just ask Suarez. It's fair to say they've had a fair few of those days this season; another one Thursday wouldn't go a miss. Chelsea like to play their football, Mata is fantastic with the ball at his feet and another real danger. Much like Sturridge, he's another that likes to pick up the ball early and attack inside, looking for key passes and getting involved as much as possible- much like Rafa but with pace.

On comparison with two fully fit sides, I'd fancy our chances. Although, football being as it is, this is not a priviledge we currently have at our disposal. With the expected absences of Bale, Lennon and Defoe I'd take a punt on an attacking 4-2-3-1.

An expected back four of: Walker, King, Kaboul, Benny
A Centre Midfield of: Scott and Sandro
A forward three of: Townsend, Modric, Vdv
And Adebayor up front.

Our best chance of winning this game is putting Chelsea on the back foot and playing our own game. By playing high up the pitch and keeping it tight, this restricts the opportunity for the likes of Mata and Sturridge to get on the ball and attack. Townsend would be a gamble, no doubt, but throwing a young English player into the deep end may motivate him to make sure he takes his chance with both hands. He's also a similar sort of player to Bale and looks confident with the ball at his feet, operating off of either flank. A Centre midfield partnership of Parker and Sandro frees up the likes of Luka and Rafa to operate in a free role just behind Adebayor without having to look over their shoulder every two minutes.

It's these sort of games that can really underpin our belief that the sky is the limit. Although I'd snap your hands off for fourth, there's no reason we can't form an assault on third or higher and Chelsea are one club that, at times, look there for the taking.

Considering the key players we could have missing for Thursday, I'd take a point. Had we been at full strength then I'd feel a win would've looked very promising. I'll go 1-1.

Our assault on the top 4 continues.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Whip Round Badly Needed!

I would begin by saying that this seems a fairly premature start for the usual 'silly season' but, to be honest, it's like insomnia- it never sleeps. I guess, to a rather short extent, it does bring a quick rush of excitement should the story appear to have some substance and a stable platform to stand on, as rare as it is.

Tevez. Carlos Ididn'trefusetoplayIjustrefusedtowarmup Tevez. It was these sort of rumours, back in the old 'Ibra to Spurs' days when it would bring joy to the eyes. It appeared to bring light to a usually below par season. Yes, it brought hope. Of course, they rarely came off. The only one for me was Rafa coming in last year. So upon reading "Tevez to Tottenham," I couldn't help but brush this aside with the old dustpan and brush. I'll be brave, stick the old neck on the line for not the first- and incredibly unlikely to be the last- time and say that this move is about as likely as Modric leaving in january. It. Ain't. 'Appenin'.

"But why, why couldn't we bring this fella into play for Spurs?"

First and most importantly, for Carlos anyway, I read somewhere that his wages are probably just a few quid over our wage limit. Not many folks are lucky enough to earn around £250k a week. £1m a month. £12m a year. This is of course an estimate, I'm not the blokes bloody accountant but I can't envisage his actual figure being far from this sum. I'm all for a whip round though.

My second issue would be to query why he'd join us. We are possibly looking at our best side since the double winning side of '61. We are having a good season. We are approaching Christmas and only 7 points of the league leaders with a game in hand. But I'd still find it hard to see Tevez itching to join a side that is not in the Champions League and, in all honesty, where he may not be guaranteed a start every week.

£20m? I can't see City letting him go for that sort of price. This guy has a market value of around £35m-£40m, possibly more. City are hardly short of a few quid and so can afford to hang on until they receive the right price for him. It would also raise an Ancelotti-style eyebrow if Citeh would allow Tevez to leave to a PL club, especially at a price under what he is valued at.

I'm sure it made pleasant reading. I'm sure it brightened the day up ever so slightly. It would be a very good signing, no doubt, but in all honesty the chances of this move going through are about as likely Arsenal are to win the treble. Sorry kids.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

"F*** me what have I done there today?"

I found myself sitting here almost writing in mere disbelief. The trip back from Stoke almost flew by like the 95 minutes today. So many incidents that needed little discussion but caused huge debate; Chris Foy finding himself in the centre of, well, everything. Heard Foy's recently gone into hiding?

Let's begin. We seem to have this 20 minute start away from home where we find we just can't get started. We know what Stoke are all about. In the last few years I felt we'd dealt with Stoke's aerial threat. Their fans celebrate being awarded throw ins like we do penalties. The problem in the first half was that Kaboul and Gallas failed to stamp any authority on to Crouch and Walters. They failed to bully them like Premier League centre halves should. Shawcross proved this; if he wanted Kaboul's shirt so desperately I'm sure something could've been sorted after the game.

Crouch did handball in the build up to the first goal. The linesman should've picked up on this but, even so, the defending was shambolic. After Etherington miss-hit his second and we found ourselves 2 down at half time, Redknapp gave the players the biggest wake-up call they'd have had all season. Reverting to 3-5-2 was brave but a smart move and one that needed to be done. Stoke were always likely to sit and try to protect everything they had, parking more than the bus in front of Sorensen.

The second half reminded me of my old Sunday league. If we were ever playing away from home it was always one of the parents of the home side refereeing. This left the chances of decisions going your way about as likely as Arsenal are to win the league. No chance. Foy's performance reminisced this, well, the refereeing wasn't even fit for the amateur Sunday leagues.

We needed to get that goal. We needed it early and keep Stoke on the back foot. I felt Modric was fortunate to get the penalty as, despite it being a clumsy challenge on the Croat, he went down rather late; but still, it was given and back into the game we found ourselves. What proceeded from then on almost pushed me to giving up on the sport completely- well for a few heated seconds anyway.

Issue 1: Kaboul finds himself booked for appealing a decision that even Shawcross was blushing at the decision to not award us a second penalty.

Issue 2: Shawcross elbows Kaboul's goal bound shot off the line but Foy, *insert Specsavers-based insult,* fails to spot this. I've been reassured that he is a professional referee.

Issue 3: Defoe found his shot just outside the 6 yard box blocked with hands. Although this was a much harder incident to pick out, the Stoke player in question proceeded to intentionally use his hands to block Defoe's shot.

Issue 4: Kaboul's sending off. I fail to see the difference between the foul on Modric and Kaboul's challenge on Walters, yet our centre half finds himself picking up a second booking. This is without even mentioning that Walter's was offside in the build up.

Issue 5: From the 1st minute Stoke ensured that time was not of an essence; do their fans enjoy seeing a ball dried over and over again? 60 minutes or so in I noticed that Shotten took, on average, around 18-20 seconds to take a throw in. Yes, I did count. Does that make me sad? Yes, a little.

Issue 6: Adebayor's disallowed goal. It was picked up by a few of us that this particular assistant referee was quick to change his decisions just as fast as he made them. Giving corners then reverting to goal kicks and incorrect decisions in terms of throw ins and fouls. How he's given Adebayor offside for his equaliser is still beyond me. Were the flood lights not bright enough? Was he thinking of what to have dinner that evening? Was he also thinking back to the catalogue of errors from his good mate Chris? I doubt it was the latter. But whatever it was, it's another decision that's cost us; and left a lot of us £36.50 down without the result we deserve.

Issue 7: The 'smaller' decisions- the simpler decisions- the decisions that, even standing a good 100 yards away, looked as routine as they come for a professional referee. But not for Foy, he made the day difficult for himself, he made it difficult for us. It wasn't the odd one or two incorrect decisions, this was 95 minutes of the most diabolical refereeing since United away a few years back. Eat your heart out Webb, Foy's topped you today.

Tottenham turning up proved about as pointless as Stoke's midfield; The drunk fella standing behind me would've done a better job. I was almost getting neck pains from raising my head up so much as the ball was lofted time and time again into the air. The boys gave everything in the second half, we got our tactics right but were robbed of a fair game; Foy leaving any little respect and dignity in Stoke.

Redknapp gave the Mail a much more honest view of Chris:

'We've come away with nothing because there was a blatant handball on the line and Adebayor is two yards onside when the ball is played to him,' said Redknapp

'That's why we've come away with nothing, two decisions have been completely and utterly wrong. I spoke to the referee after the game. I never go and speak to referees after the game, I accept defeat and have never complained about refereeing decisions in 30 years of managing. Never.

'But today he got some badly wrong. When he goes home tonight and sees them he'll know he's made a couple of terrible decisions.

'The linesman, he'll watch it tonight, when his wife's making him a bacon sandwich and he'll think: 'F*** me what have I done there today?'

'I thought Younes' second yellow was harsh and the first one he got was for telling the referee it was handball, for something he has missed,' said Redknapp.

'What's he supposed to do, not say anything when someone gets something wrong? Do you just accept it? I don't think so.'

He added: 'From the start I felt he wasn't going to give us an awful lot here today. That was the feeling I had.

'I just felt he was quite enjoying not giving us anything. It was one of those days.'

Kaboul's face upon seeing the red card emerge summed up the game. Disbelief. Disgusted. Robbed. I'd like my £36.50 refunded from Chris, I doubt I'd get it. I'd never stayed behind with a good few thousand others to give Foy a few thoughts and comments. His quick look up at the Spurs fans proceeded by his head dropping told the whole story. He knows he was abysmal. He knows he'd cost us atleast a point. There's the rant I'm used to.

Eff You Chris, Eff you.


Monday, 5 December 2011

How'd they pick that one out?

2 weeks into the 2011/2012 season and, although the sun was out in its full, it failed to gaze down over N17 as our season kicked off to a rather dim start; dim being the understatement of 2011 so far. I pictured Mancini seated in a large leather chair slowly running his fingers through the fur of a tabby cat, which was perched rather snug on his lap, as he oversaw the investment of millions being splashed out on the world's greatest talents.

As the start of our season was delayed due to kids deciding to wreak havoc on our beloved community; we found ourselves on the end of rather large defeats away at Yanited (atleast it wasn't 8) and at home to Citeh. Any pre-match optimisms were quickly dashed in Spurs-esque typical fashions as we began to think the worst with minimal transfer activity and one player that appeared willing to give his left arm to leave the club.

Come September 1st and even the most optimistic Spurs fans- the few of you that exist- could have hardly envisaged the formidable run that were to occur across the following 11 Premier League games. For sure the arrivals of Parker, now known simply as 'Super Scott,' and Adebayor were always going to fill the gaping holes torn in our side with the seemingly long term injury to Sandro and the finishing from last year that only resembled a forward line of the late Sergei Rebrov and Helder Postiga.

Through my own eyes, all I could see for the next two months was a treacherous road. A road that would feel like driving up the Alps during snow season. With the following game a usually tricky trip away at the Molineux and with fixtures against Liverpool, Arsenal and away at Newcastle to come within the next few weeks I remember telling myself that, come Christmas, if we stood comfortably in sixth then we'd have done well. We're typically a club always in the chase, and rarely find ourselves being the one chased.

Come December 5th and never has one glance at the league table brightened up such a typically cold and wet Monday. We're third. This isn't 4 games gone sitting third with 10th place just 3 points behind. This is third approaching (almost, kind of) the half way point of the season. With Scott Parker giving a new definition to the phrase 'hitting the ground running' and with the same lines of 'How've we gone so many blaady years without the boy?' a question being asked almost weekly, I can't help but think we've got a whole team of players that would be worthy for the player of the month award.

I was sceptical at the initial signing of Friedel. One of my close mates is a Villa fan and I remember him saying that he 'parrys' the ball out far to much for comfort. But what Brad has done is brought with him not only a wealth of experience but also the reliability needed to give the back four confidence. Gomes was no doubt a good shot stopper but his rather rash and unexpected ways always gave the impression that the 4 boys sitting in front of him lacked serious confidence in the man between the sticks. This lead to stupid mistakes and leaving games with a point instead of three.

Kyle Walker has been almost a fresh signing for Spurs. In the modern day game full backs are just as much wingers as they are defenders. They're expected to get forward to support in attacks but also aim to keep the opposition winger quiet. As good as Charlie was at defending, he lacked the pace to fit in with a modern day full back. It'll be a shame, but I expect him to find a decent club in January and probably prove to be a good coup for them. Kaboul was also one that has shown a vast amount of maturity since the summer. With Scotteh and Manu taking many of the plaudits, Kaboul's exploits and the extensive improvement in his defending has largely only gone noticed by us (and Juve); he reminds me of Benny, he'll give you a consistent game 9 times out of 10 but would never pop up on the radar as a stand out candidate to other clubs or the media; this I've no complaints with.

I think Luka was always going to be an interesting one, but in true Croat fashion he's wholeheartedly got on with it and I think that maybe, possibly, he might just be quietly happy again- but it's hardly like I'm best mates with the bloke. Levy's chains have remained untouched since the summer and his firm stance on the club concerning our magician are paying off, on and off the pitch. Bale looks to be reproducing his form of 2010 and even Lennon is looking the player that we all jump on our feet to watch. Defoe's barely had the sniff of first team action he'd expect but is still sticking the chances away and what a player we have to call upon.

Ade, although I still find he can frustrate the living daylights out of me at times with his shooting, he continues to find the net and links play fantastically. He's a rare breed of forward in that he's a lanky forward but his work rate is second to none. He's a different type of forward and one that we've missed; he constantly looks to bring others into play and this can be shown through his movement all over the pitch below.

I think this sums up Ade's work rate for the club. Considering this is the 'big' forward brought to lead our line, he's simply everywhere. This is Ade's attempted passes against Wolves, his first game for the club:

Considering this was his first game, to an extent, you expect a forward of his class to want to show his class and work rate for the team from day one. This was his attempted passes against Bolton, the latest game he played in. Notice how he consistently looks to start off plays even dropping to half way at times:

Ade is one that has been key to our recent success and we can only hope that he can continue this form throughout the whole season.

Rafa needs no mention. I think I've exhausted all the words that can be used to describe this bloke so instead he gets his own paragraph. He's world class. We can't ever moan that he brings problems with where he'd fit in because, if anything, we should adopt our formation to make him fit in. He scores goals, he makes goals and is entertaining on the ball. £8 million? Levy you hero.

We're touching the start of December. In truth, the vast majority of our side could've been awarded player of the month. Scotty is more than a worthy winner. We're playing with confidence and it brings great satisfaction seeing Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all over our shoulder. For me, January is key. I fully expect serious money to be spent if the scenario hasn't changed in terms of league position. Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal do have the resources to spend and the wages to match. I expect little activity from us. Possibly a short-term replacement for Pav and Gomes, but no major activity to take place.

If the King's knees can stay intact. If Adebayor continues to play with his heart on show. If Modric and Parker continue the frightening form they're in. We might just take 3rd.