Tag Archives: Van Der Vaart

Ugly win keeps up challenge: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Fulham 0

Ugly wins are not things normally associated with Tottenham Hotspur but we got one yesterday and achieved 9 out of 9 points for the holiday season. Give credit to Fulham who more than played their part in the game, so much so for a lot of the second half we were hanging on under an onslaught of pressure as they fought valiantly to get back into the game.

In my prediction I suggested one goal and they would fall. It took 42 minutes to find and had Schwarzer not produced a decent save from Bale a minute later the floodgates could have opened. But Fulham got to half time, regrouped and came out in the same organised way in which they had started the first half. Had Michael Dawson and William Gallas not both had outstanding performances at the back Fulham would certainly achieved a draw and possibly a win.

Yet we had more chances to add to our lead. Bale skied a right foot shot over the bar from a corner and Lennon’s late shot was deflected over the bar by a Fulham defender only for a goal kick to ensue. Lennon should have passed to Jenas who was in space with sight on goal but by the time he saw him I think he had slipped into an offside position. Dawson also had an opportunity from a corner which he volleyed over the bar.

No mention of our strikers? Unfortunately Pav had another of his anonymous afternoons, one weak shot from well outside the box his sole effort upon goal. My biggest problem with him is that he finds it so difficult to get into the game and often his anticipation is non existent. Take for example the brilliant piece of skill that Van Der Vaart used to work on opening in the second half. Having beaten, against the odds, two defenders he played a cross that went right across the box with both Pav and Lennon rooted to the spot marvelling at his artistry. 

Arsenal recently beat Chelsea scoring two goals when their anticipation was first class and they caught their opponents napping. As a striker standing deep in the box and watching does nothing to create goals. This might appear harsh as the chance of Van Der Vaart wriggling through was probably low but if anyone could Rafa could.

That was probably Rafa’s best moment for overall he had a quiet game. This was the first time he has played over Christmas and the energy needed for three games was maybe a bridge too far. It was however his free kick that Bale got his head on to change its direction and leave Schwarzer flat footed as it sped past him into the net. At the ground it looked like Bale putting his head onto an errant Rafa shot but the Sky highlights showed them discussing tactics before the kick was taken. Whatever the planning the result was certainly needed.

For much of the game we struggled to get our rhythm going as we would have wanted mainly as a result of Fulham’s organisation. Hutton had to be replaced by Corluka as a consequence of injury and Charlie made an impressive return playing some delicate balls through to Lennon. Modric continued his vein of form and whilst not emulating his Newcastle performance was bright throughout. Ekotto linked well with Bale and Modric putting in the solid performance we are become accustomed to and forced Schwarzer into a good save from his rasping 35 yard shot and Palacios without being outstanding found white shirts on a regular basis.

In goal Gomes ended the game catching crosses after beginning in punching mode and after coming on Crouch gave him another outlet where before Bale had been his only target. Crouch’s introduction provided opportunity to others as he flicked headers towards Bale and involved Modric and the other midfielders. 

So not our best performance of the season but another three welcome points and a visit to Everton up next. If we could secure at least a point we will certainly be in a strong position when Manchester United visits the Lane.         

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Just win! Arsenal V Spurs preview

In preparation for this year’s game I looked back at last year’s preview and I could quite easily repeat some of them word for word;

16 hours to go and the tension has already set in. It’s the same every time we play – and has been for years – “can we please not be an embarrassment in this game.” Negative, probably but after some tame performances that have handed Arsenal easy home wins against us its easy to see why I feel like this before the game,” and; “Frankly, we’ve too many players out injured or suspended. Defoe, Lennon, Modric and Woodgate for sure, maybe King though I think he’ll start if at all possible;” and maybe even “Harry’s dilemma will be central midfield and who to partner Wilson with? Jenas may well get the nod as his performances against the Arsenal have been often his very best for the club.”

Once again too many injuries some same names others different though Defoe may be available from the bench and do we need someone to tackle in midfield after conceding late goals at home last week? It’s a repetitive record I’m afraid but when we’ve fallen down dead for so long away at Arsenal it’s difficult to be that positive about this match.

We can win it of that I have no doubt. We have the players and the skill. But can we match the knowhow and relentlessness of the top 3 sides away from home? The Premier years tell us we cannot.  One away win in 1993 is all we have to show for trips to Arsenal, a League Cup and 2 league wins in the 1980’s and three league wins in the 1970’s our last respectable decade.

To be a winning team that has to change we all know that and maybe that’s part of the Chairman’s plan to make it an East London derby rather than a North London one in an effort to secure the type of local bragging rights that Arsenal have enjoyed over the past three decades.  I’ve been told by neutrals that Spurs will win 2-1 tomorrow and I’ll take that result right now but too often I’ve been let down when we’ve had a chance.

So how can we win today?

Firstly by not being stupid – as were at Manchester United or The Emirates last season.  We cannot hand them a goal on a plate. They must have to outplay us to score from open play.

Secondly by not conceding silly free kicks that offer set piece opportunities to Arsenal as we have at Old Trafford and again last weekend when Benny was nudging in the back.

Thirdly, by defending in numbers and from the midfield and not allowing them to run at us and gather momentum as the game develops and,

Fourthly by hitting them on the break and making it count. At Old Trafford we competed well in the first half went in a goal down and, in my opinion, never looked like scoring after half time.

If I were to play 4-4-2 you would have to stick with Pav and Crouch as we scored four at home. But can we afford to take them on with only four midfielders? I cannot be convinced by that. I think we need both JJ and Wilson in the middle to throw bodies into the fray whilst allowing Van Der Vaart to get forward when needed to support a lone striker.  Rafa joined for the Champions League matches and thrill of the Premiership. He’s going to find out how our local derby feels today and I hope he enjoys the experience. If he scores I’m sure he will.

If it were Pav he must stay up front and not drop back into midfield, if it were Crouch we need to look at other options than just launching it away in the air. I expect Defoe to come on at some point and this might be just the spark we need but we still need to be in the game at this point.

Young Mac thinks Gallas will score, celebrate with our fans and become a folk hero overnight. I’m not sure of that but again I’ll take it as he scored a number for Arsenal. He’ll take some stick but is a seasoned professional and should cope. My team for the day would be:

                                     Gomes

 Hutton             Gallas           Kaboul         Ekotto

                       Jenas           Palacios       

     Van Der Vaart               Modric             Bale

                                          Crouch

Result? Arsenal have proved to be vulnerable at home this season and we have the weapons to take advantage. Let’s play with our sensible heads on, look to attack on the counter  get on the score sheet and see what happens. I’ll be delighted with a draw but a win pushes us back into the mix again so let’s see the 2-1 I was offered.

Come on you Spurs.

No more heroes anymore? Tottenham V Blackburn preview

Three points is all the difference between 6th and 16th place so today’s game has it all to play for. This comes on the back of a bad tempered end to Tuesdays fixture against Sunderland, firstly from the supporters and then Harry in his post match response.

Unfortunately we should remember that tantrums will not build the required confidence into the squad to do the business come Saturday against a competitive Blackburn Rovers team. They’ve done nothing for the team for as long as I can remember and I’m not sure why we think that may change now.

But frustration is a powerful thing. It makes you respond in a way you don’t like later on. Having qualified for the Champions League we thought we’d got it made. Typically we were getting carried away having been starved of a good side for far too long. But this is a good side and it’s close to getting things right. Our only trouble is having serious injury concerns in the all important positions. Upfront and at centre back.

We miss Michael Dawson. He makes mistakes but he’s a big hearted lad and gives everything when he is on the pitch. But before Harry arrived he was playing poorly and getting the bird for ambitious passing. We miss Jermaine Defoe. He’s not good in the air but has pace and can hit a shot. But before Harry arrived he was sold because he couldn’t get into the team.

Both players would make a difference if they played tomorrow but they can’t so there nothing we can do about it apart from support those who are taking their place.

Crouchy has been struggling for goals but he might be our only fit striker so he might have to play. If he does Van Der Vaart will be delighted to receive another assist but his hamstrings are tight so he might not last the game.

At the back Gallas and Kaboul will no doubt continue. We’d prefer Ledley and Daws but we cannot have that so we need to support the shirt numbers playing so that they are not nervous in possession or indecisive.

I have a feeling that if we get it right someone is going to get a good hiding. Hopefully it is going to be Blackburn tomorrow and if that happens we’ll do our goal difference a world of good. The trouble is Blackburn will have prepared to avoid this and they will be a tough side to get the better of no doubt offering the traditional amount of Allardyce flair.

What sort of team we can get on the field may dictate what we can offer. Bale needs to have a decent game after a couple of quiet affairs but will undoubtedly be double teamed. Therefore we need to stretch play and offer an alternative on the right. Bentley may be unfit so Niko may come in. If he does the touchline needs to be his friend to allow Tommy to play long passes and make it difficult for Blackburn to defend against us.

I would go with the following players if fit for this game:

                                          Gomes

  Hutton                    Gallas      Kaboul                        Ekotto

       Bentley       Huddlestone           Modric            Bale

                                       Van Der Vaart

                                                Crouch

And hope that Crouch meets Bentley’s crosses for a 3-1 win