As we drove to White Hart Lane for the QPR game our talk focused upon golf difference. For me we needed to put away Rangers in an effort to try and catch up United, City and Chelsea once we have played (and hopefully won) our game in hand against Everton. G on the other hand felt we should want to do the best we could in that department but winning the games was what it was all about.
G’s right, of course he is, but with Arsenal finding some form and Liverpool likely to have some decent wins at home we could find ourselves sweating a little if we don’t score sufficient goals when we are playing well. Then there is Newcastle who can’t seem to put a foot wrong at the moment and walk away with another +2 from Stoke.
We met my brother in law in Park Lane and he wanted to see a good performance from Gareth Bale. “It’s about time” he said “as he hasn’t done much recently”. We readily agreed. Despite Rangers improvement both in personnel and performance they had struggled to put away 9 men Chelsea so could they present us with any serious problems. We figured maybe not but following G’s logic they would be rightly ecstatic at that victory.
We all went home delighted, Bale scored two fabulous goals, our performance for most of the game was fabulous and another 3 points to the 3 we had won at Blackburn just deserves for those performances.
But was it enough? At this stage of the season it was but as we’ve come to expect we conceded a goal to give Rangers hope and ended the game clearing it off the line. Our first half was outstanding but as Harry rightly said we could have been 4 or 5 up. We shouldn’t complain – or should we?
When Martin Jol was starting to turn the cruiseliner that is Tottenham Hotspur around G and I often left the ground thinking “how did we win that?” These days we are much improved upon that but sometimes we don’t reap enough of what we’ve sown in the build up. Sunday was a prime example. Was Adebayor unlucky or wasteful? Certainly Van Der Vaart spent much of the second half trying to thread a pass through into space for him and had one come off he might have added to his tally. Elsewhere though he did miss a couple of sitters.
His quick thinking, however, robbed Paddy Kenny of the ball and allowed us to get it back in front of goal where Bale hit a blazing drive that produced an unbelievable save to keep it out. In essence he was not quite firing on all cylinders but his forward play assisted in producing the first goal and keeping Rangers stretched.
Kenny made other good saves. Two from Van Der Vaart prevented him opening the scoring in the first couple of minutes and again just after half time. Had one of those gone in the floodgates might have opened – as they might have done for Chelsea in the opening minutes against Arsenal – but it just wasn’t to be.
All our goals were well taken. Bales goals in particular were outstanding with Lennon working inside on both laying a super pass for the powerful cross shot and then making a triangle of short passes before Bale curled a powerful shot into the net. Brilliant goals indeed that sent the crowd into raptures and Van Der Vaart’s shot from Ledley’s deflected shot was also clinical in the extreme.
As we ate lunch before I left Mac Junior told me that a goal for Rafa would equal or break a record for goals scored in games on the trot. Between courses we identified it to be a Premiership record and a quick look in my (soon to be replaced) complete record 1882 to 1991 showed that a certain Mr Greaves scored in 10 on the trot in 1962-63. Others among you will be able to instantly tell me if that is in fact the record but it seems that the BBC are now following Sky and failing to accept football existed before the Premier League. On that basis Liverpool have hardly any history – mind games from Manchester perhaps but let’s get it right guys.
Biggest praise from the QPR game goes to Scott Parker who had an incredible afternoon particularly in the first half dominance. The guy was a colossus in midfield competing for every ball. Surely Luka is happy he stayed to play alongside him? As you probably recall I wasn’t that keen thinking about how it would effect Sandro’s position but I have to admit that the young Brazilian must be learning loads from Scott who also now seems to have nicked Pav’s song…
Previously at Blackburn we had picked up another valuable three points from a game which my computer wouldn’t feed me. I’ve talked about the luxury of having both Rafa and Luka in the side when we travel but Rafa once again showed his mettle with two tremendous efforts that demonstrate why Harry is right to play him.
Jermain Defoe must be disappointed to only get a run out alongside Pav in the Europa League games but you cant argue with the thought process behind it whilst we are winning. Once again we allowed Blackburn back into the game as we did at Newcastle but this time we were able to hold out. Will we be able to continue this trend at Fulham come Sunday?
Whilst we won at The Cottage last season it has been a stadium of disappointment and this year with Martin Jol at their helm there is a risk that he inspires them to a win and some vindication of his unacceptably handled sacking. Realistically on current form that shouldn’t be possible and whilst Fulham have no travel problems their first team have played a Europa game tonight whilst with the exception of maybe Gallas ours have not.
That means that it should be the right time to play them. These days we are better in such circumstance and have the players available to make it count. Our issue is whether we can get ahead sufficiently to close down the shop and go Sandro/Parker.
That seems to take us full circle to where I began; goal difference. G has a theory that we will get better at this part of the game as we get more experienced. The quality of the squad has not been this good for ever so maybe one good hiding will set us up for a period. It certainly helped Manchester City after their visit to the Lane.
After Newcastle the next six games all looked winnable. Two down, four to go and if we were to do it we would undoubtedly surprise ourselves but maybe for this team now is the time.