Tottenham Hotspur champions of England? A popular thought after Wednesday night’s win over Everton but an unlikely thought looking at the string of away games against the top sides. Of course we would like to win it and as it stood at 3 o’clock on Saturday we might never have a better chance but let’s make sure of Champions League qualification first and then look further.
As Spurs fans we are pretty realistic about our chances but once the whistle blows emotions take over and there was a fair amount of frustration at the Lane yesterday. In truth we were a little off with some of our passing and a returning Parker was certainly off the pace but is that a reason for some of criticism handed out?
In my predicted line up Livermore kept his place before giving way with the game won for Parker to get a run out for the last half hour. I thought he had deserved to after an excellent performance against Everton but Harry wanted his top line up so Jake gave way. No doubt gutted but with Parker having been our revelation player this season an understandable move to fit him in a game before the Etihad next week.
Dawson too looked a little uncomfortable after a strong return, maybe a little tired after a midweek game but on occasions some of our passes were a little under hit and put players under unnecessary pressure. The fact is you can’t play well in every game and when your opponents remain disciplined in their defending it is not easy.
West Brom had set out the example of what we should accept for the majority of January. A fixed formation of 10-1 that forced us to work hard to create the necessary opening for the victory. When it came courtesy of Jermain Defoe it looked an unlikely goal but a brilliant turn allowed him to guide the ball home with defenders all around.
Of the three league games Everton was by far the best performance with Rafa putting on a superb show for the whole 90 minutes. That may in some way be due to Everton contributing to a decent game and providing more ambition than both West Brom and Wolves.
Both these sides need points to escape relegation and trying to keep things tight provides them with a greater opportunity to do so. We will see more of this when Wigan arrive in town and they recall the consequences of not doing so when we ran them through 9-1.
Our job is to break down such resistance and yesterday we couldn’t do it. Once again we were not helped by the officials with a corner being wrongly awarded from which we conceded and then our equaliser being ruled out for offside – a decision which provoked much unfair criticism of Adebayor.
Lennon’s earlier absence had led to Rafa taking the right midfield berth and on top of that Bale adopting a greater free role. Whilst it provided an excellent goal away at Norwich since then it has drawn us to play in a narrower fashion that may make it easier to defend against us.
Bale has also taken it upon himself to shoot more often sometimes when everyone else is well placed for a cross. Yesterday provided an ideal example of this in the second half and the effort flew harmlessly over the bar. I’m not trying to do him down as the lad has it all but deciding when to use it might be that extra experience learnt this season.
Another thing that concerns me a little is Kaboul’s regular sojourns up the pitch. It was a trend of his first season and then he got caught out on occasions in his defensive duties, this term he has been excellent on the whole but the occasional lapse still exists. Early in the Everton game and the cross for the Wolves goal are maybe examples of this type of misunderstanding.
Personally I’d prefer to stick with Luka and Rafa having free roles and Bale and Lennon (if fit) to provide the width bringing Benny and Kyle Walker into the overlaps if needed. Both full backs have been putting in terrific performances with Walker showing how well he can defend and Benny getting up and back, decent crosses a fabulous cross field pass to Lennon for the first goal and a great strike for a well deserved goal against Everton.
The toughest task that we have between now and the season’s end is to work out how we begin to convert more of the chances we’ve been creating this season. I’m still impressed with Adebayor who is receiving much attention from defenders in the centre of the park. Yet he misses a hatful of opportunities.
Yesterday a number of shooting chances fell to Luka on the edge of the box. He took one, which maybe Hennessey should have saved, but I never fancy he will score and often his natural reaction is to control and put it wide. Rafa on the other hand is the most likely to put it away if he is able to get up front and have a little space to work with. Lennon might have scored a difficult chance yesterday where he was stretching and converted the first against Everton when it looked like he had overrun it and missed the chance.
Our dead ball situations might also need some improvement. From corners all too often we don’t deliver it to the right spot and when we do our central defenders lack a little potency. Free kicks present a range of opinions but all too often the net doesn’t ripple where it might for Man Utd or City and penalties always present opportunities for embarrassment.
So what do we need in the remainder of the window to put these things right? Samba might fix the attacking option but is he better at the back than who we have? I doubt it somehow otherwise Blackburn might not be struggling.
I do think a striker on our books who can win the ball in the air is a necessity to help cover should Adebayor move on elsewhere but don’t ask me who to get this January. My feeling is that a new player to the league is unlikely to put in the necessary immediate impact needed so maybe waiting would be better.
I’d like to see Pienaar and Pav move on to make room; it was a bit like finishing with 9 men on Wednesday. I cannot see them making the starting line up without a host of injuries and if that is the case what is the point of keeping them?
For now we need to keep creating the chances and hope that we can be a little more clinical. Against City we will be allowed to play so our opportunity to impress will exist and with YaYa Toure and Kompany being missing I fancy we can do better than our last game against City.
In honesty I’m not surprised by a draw coming along but I wouldn’t fault the efforts of the players on the day. We kept going for the whole game and whilst Wolves presented some danger their role was to reduce our threat, particularly in the second half. Having been behind at least we got a point and whilst yet again the officials have been a thorn in our side moaning about it is not going to change anything.
We are still playing some super football that continues to be a joy to watch so let’s enjoy that and hope that a strong performance in Manchester gives us at least a point.
Come On You Spurs