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Feb 072011

How about this last week? Quite a wild ride innit? From the embarrassing loss to the Cottagers, to the disappointment of transfer day, then to the joy of a hard-fought win in Lancashire and finally, a last-minute winner from the magical boot of fan-favorite Niko Krancjar. If someone ever asks me what being a football fan is all about, I shall refer them to this week.

The ups and downs that make this game so wonderful, yet also make us pull our hair out. From the depths of despair after a match performance that could be best described as “bad”,  to the jubilation of two fine wins over stubborn opposition, this is why the beautiful game is not for the weak of heart. And we, the football fan, to make matters worse, must over-analyze everything related to our club, which usually leads to ridiculous conclusions. But again, this is the fun of being a football fan. So, for the analyst in all of us, let’s dive right in to the two latest twists in this season, shall we?

Spurs over Blackburn-Gritty, grinding, ugly, yet beautiful. Watching every Rover attack break down in the final third like waves on the beach, was nerve-racking, yet thrilling in the same breath. Seeing 2 Meter Peter rise up over Samba to meet Rafa’s pin-point cross was like watching a painter make the final stroke of his brush to complete a masterpiece. Absolute brilliance. Then the painter felt like going back and mess with the piece for the next 85 minutes only to realize that everything was already perfect. Fun times the trip to Lancashire. Fun times, indeed.

Spurs played like a wounded animal backed into a corner, which is exactly how tough teams should play on the road. Angry, tough and hard to break. That is how one has to play against the teams from the Northeast. Organized and disciplined. Take the chance when the opposition seems to have you where they want you, backed into a corner. And we all know what happens when a wounded animal is backed into a corner, it jumps out and goes straight for the jugular. Which is what Tottenham did. No one will remember it as Blackburn controlling the match, or their 15 odd shots to our few, or their numerous missed chances. Instead, one will only look back and see a scoreline of 0-1 to Spurs and 3 points in the bag.

Bolton at the Lane-We all know how well Spurs play at home, plus when the line-ups were announced it was a welcome sight to see a 4-4-2 being used. I am not knocking our system when everyone is healthy, but at the moment, the 4-4-2 is the way to go. Unfortunately, we again had to deal with Jermain “Couldn’t hit the water if I fell out of a boat” Defoe up front while Super Pav continued to ride the pine. To explain this, I must assume that Harry must be smoking some really crazy stuff which must make Pav look like a marshmallow and Defoe the second coming of Ronaldo. Anyway, Rafa gets us going with an early penalty conversion followed by a ridiculous rule enforcement by Mr. Zebra. Seriously, how many times has Encroachment been called? Maybe the ref was thinking this was American Football. So Rafa has to take the second, rightly earned, penalty again, which led to him missing it by a matter of inches. Another question: Why did you go to the exact same spot on all three penalties? I figured for the re-take, Rafa would go to the right. Meh, no biggie. We were bossing play and looked likely to grab a second as Azza, BAE, Rafa, Charlie and even JJ played well enough, only for Defoe to mess up in the end. Shocking, I know.  Otherwise, a fine first half.

The second half picked up where the first ended. Again, Spurs on the attack. Rafa tweaked his hammy so he was withdrawn for Pienaar, who did alright, but he’s no Rafa. As the game wore on, Bolton started getting a foothold in the match and caught us on the break. With some help from Gomes, loanee Daniel Sturridge equalizes against the run of play. Don’t get me wrong, Gomes saved our skins on numerous occasions at Blackburn and during other matches, but seriously, how does he screw that one up? So far, I have counted a few big-time mistakes (like the Chelsea one) which may cost us later.  Back to the match, Bolton were unlucky not to have a penalty of their own as Pienaar clearly tripped Gary Cahill in the box, but as karma is quick, Mark Clattenburg booked Cahill for simulation. Who says things don’t equal out in the end? Not this guy. Later, JJ hammered a shot against the wood that saw the post lucky not to be completely destroyed. Then, after some nice team build-up, Pienaar was released on the left side of the box and with only the keeper to beat, he messes that chance up. It seems the inability to finish at close range has rubbed off onto more than just our strikers. At this point, Harry made some subs, and the two forgotten men, Pav and Niko are introduced. Pav for Crouch (should’ve been Defoe coming off) and Niko for Wilson, which meant Harry was going for it. Hooray!

To go off for a moment, it is really nice to see a manager who isn’t afraid of going for it in the closing stages. Yes, we could have been caught on the break as our holding MF was withdrawn but as our club motto is “To dare is to do”, might as well have a pop.

To the final moments of the match, buoyed by the notification that Arsenal blew a 4-0 lead at Newcastle, White Hart Lane started rocking. Pav played some nice football and after good hold-up play, lays the ball to Niko, who takes a touch, fakes with the right and unleashes a wicked swerving shot into the back of the net. The Lane erupts!

Madness, shear madness in the blue half of North London. 3 points to Tottenham. And well deserved. To make the result even more sweeter, with the exception of Man City, all of the clubs in front of us dropped points. Now we sit in joint 4th, tied with Chelsea on points, positioned very well for the rest of the campaign.

We have to use this momentum and take it back to the Northeast for this weekends trip to the Stadium of Light. Gotta bag all three points. Keep all that positive energy flowing.

Sunderland and Milan, we got you both in our sights and we are locked in.

Here’s to Tottenham and their mini-revival after a dark period. Here is to belief in that, though adversity, resiliency is forged. Here is to unsung heroes playing their part. And here is a Spurs side that continues to amaze and impress.

Thanks for reading everyone. Have a lilywhite day everyone!

Feb 072011

Harry Redknapp is expecting Gareth Bale to play against Sunderland at the weekend after his latest injury. It comes at a great time for the Spurs boss after suffering injuries to Luka Modric and most recently Van der Vaart picking up an injury in the Bolton game at the weekend.

Bale limped off against Newcastle a few weeks ago with a bad back and has been out ever since but last week started training with the first team again. The Bolton game came too soon for Harry to consider Bale in the team and will instead look to the clash at the Stadium Of Light as Bale’s return fixture. With other players out injured, Harry will need to make the decision whether to gamble and include Bale from the start of to put him on the bench.

Niko Kranjcar who scored the winning goal at the weekend would have probably been in contention for a place in the team but it won’t be on the left if Bale is back. Bale is however sitting out the midweek game for Wales against the Republic Of Ireland, Harry didn’t want him involved in an international so soon and the decision was made not to include Bale.

Feb 062011

Niko Kranjcar, a player we all love to watch on his day, he is comfortable on the ball, has good vision, can pick out a decent pas, chips in with his share of goals and assists and seems to posses more ability to win us a game than some of our other players but yet is well down the pecking order in the eyes of Harry Redknapp but is it the same for the fans? I think not!

Fair enough when our midfield is fit and we have Bale,Modric,Hudd,Lennon and even Van der Vaart then maybe Niko should be on the bench. For me though when one of these guys is injured he should be the next player called upon, sure he has his quiet games but tell me one player that doesn’t.

Niko scored 7 goals for us last season, I can’t understand when he can be a threat why he hardly gets a game. Pav is starting to get frustrated that he can’t get a look in when the other strikers ain’t scoring goals and he does, it’s not long before Niko says the same and wants out. Niko came on yesterday and won us the game, he done more in his time on the pitch than Pienaar did, so why is Pienaar now ahead of Kranjcar? Pienaar is only ever going to get 2 or 3 goals a season.

Other clubs have picked up on the possibility that Kranjcar would be available, most notably Liverpool and whoever gets him in the summer will grab a real bargain. He scored the winner yesterday with a stunning goal but will probably find himself on the bench next time again because thats the way Harry operates, just ask Pavlyuchenko.

Is Kranjcar being harshly treated? does he deserve more first team action?