Today’s result was brilliant, and almost makes up for Goodison Park – we rode our luck, though, and it could easily have been a draw or worse. Some of our defending was calamitous (I was one missed tap-in away from another Bassong-related rant), and the goal was no exception.
Thankfully, we’ve largely cut out the goals conceded from set pieces, but this is not good, and no doubt the players will be watching it back in training tomorrow. We set up to defend the corner with Modric on the near post, Bale the first screen, but nobody on the back post. Yakubu makes his intentions clear from the start, by positioning himself near to Gomes – who is marking him?
Arteta loops a corner in to the far post, where Rodwell has pulled away from Corluka.
It’s not great defending from Corluka, but in these situations it’s not always easy to get to the ball ahead of an attacker who perhaps knows what’s coming. Rodwell’s header is a decent one, but we are still relatively well set to defend it. Well, we would be were somebody marking Yakubu.
Pavlyuchenko, Dawson and Gomes – you’d be looking for one of them to deal with this ball before it can find a way to the unmarked player in the 6-yard box.
Alas, no. Pavluchenko reacts too late, and misses his kick. Dawson, presumably expects the goalkeeper to deal with it, and doesn’t react. Gomes… well, he just kind of falls over.
A better angle shows that Gomes has got himself into a poor position, and hasn’t got a great view. When he dives, therefore, he just misses the ball completely.
And Yakubu prods home, under limited pressure from Dawson and Modric.
A really, really disappointing goal to give away. But we were asking for it for much of the game – Gomes looked nervous on crosses, and had already fumbled a simple catch (fortunately Dawson rescued him with a superb block).
EDIT: After comments of a potential foul on Gomes, I’ve watched the highlights (5:30 in) many times, and still can’t see the supposed foul. Make your own mind up:
Massive result today, and a wonderful first half performance – possibly our best half of football in 2010.
At the heart of that was Modric – he has struggled to get back to his earlier form since returning from the broken leg inflicted by Lee Bowyer, but today he was magical at times. What I like about him most is that he seems to make the right decisions 90% of the time – whether it’s to pass early, to wriggle out of a tight situation, or to go on a mazy dribble.
And that goal. Wow. I think that was probably the only way that he could have scored from there, and he executed it perfectly.
One thing that will certainly help Modric get back to his best is Gareth Bale’s incredible form. I don’t think there’s another player in England that has his pace and power when pushing on from left-back, and his final ball is consistently dangerous. Modric and Bale are starting to form a great little partnership there – the one thing we need to watch, however, is who fills in at left-back when Modric is drifting, and Bale is caught upfield.
I was delighted to see Kaboul dropping in there on 91 minutes today, and making a vital challenge to win the ball. We need more of this type of responsibility from our regular midfield players.
All in all, we rode our luck today (the Donovan chance was a one in a hundred miss), but it makes up for the points that we were denied at Goodison Park.
I wrote yesterday regarding our mental strength, and I was pleased to see us fight back in the second half today – we could and should have actually won the game, but a draw wasn’t a bad result given the bullying Bolton gave us in the first half.
Kevin Davies’ goal starts with some neat midfield triangles – Defoe chases between Gardner and Muamba, but eventually Gardner feeds Elmander, who has dropped off, and dragged Dawson out of position. Elmander did this all game – his movement, close control and dribbling were consistently good (although his finishing was lacking). NB: our two central midfield players are watching this passage of play unfold – Palacios is nearest the referee.
Elmander turns and looks to drive in between our players, knowing that he has Lee for back-up.
He is able to play the one-two with the technical winger, Lee, knowing that the ball will be returned quickly, and will be well-weighted.
This move has carved us apart – Dawson and Bale may as well not have been there. Our defenders at this point, from left to right, are Corluka, King, Dawson, Bale, with Modric outside the box. King is well positioned to deal with the onrushing Taylor.
Once Elmander hits the by-line, Taylor has got ahead of King, and Davies has dropped off Corluka. Palacios and Huddlestone, remember, have watched this move unfold, and haven’t considered getting involved.
A very neat cut back from Elmander. It’s slightly behind Davies, but because Corluka is nowhere near tight enough, he has time to take a touch.
Note from this angle how far away Palacios is from the action. For me, it’s unacceptable for him not to have reacted. That Corluka has given so Davies so much space is suicidal.
A decent finish from Davies – it’s past Gomes before he can move.
Nice interplay from Bolton, but poor defending from Spurs. I am a big fan of Corluka, but this, coupled with the Birmingham goal, are certainly blots on his copybook. I am also really disappointed that Palacios didn’t anticipate the danger and try to effect play.
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Looking at league games only:
In the fourteen league games where we’ve scored the first goal, we have won eleven times, drawn twice (Everton A and Birmingham A), and lost once (Man Utd H).
In the nine league games where we haven’t scored the first goal, we have won only once (West Ham A), drawn twice (Bolton Wanderers A – where we were behind twice, and Aston Villa A), and lost six times.
This tells us quite a lot – in short, when we go ahead, we are likely to win. When we go behind, we struggle to get back into games. Not exactly rocket science.
Why is this the case?
When we go ahead, you can often see our players suddenly start to play flowing football with confidence, and we will often rattle up the goals – for example, against Hull, Burnley, Wigan, even Man City. We have a high number of “confidence” players, who shine when we’re doing well as a team.
A number of possible reasons why we don’t “come back” too often:
We don’t have many “older heads” in our team – players who have been there and done it, and have the drive and determination that others can see and replicate.
We don’t have many natural leaders – the few players that do the talking/organising on the pitch (Dawson, Keane, Jenas…) aren’t ideal captain material for various reasons (except arguably Dawson). Even the preferred captain, King, isn’t much of a talker or motivator – he tends to lead by example.
Teams go ahead and put men behind the ball; we don’t seem to be able to cope against teams like this. If you watch Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal – they tend to camp in opponents’ halves against these type of tactics, and pile on the pressure until something gives. We seem unable to do this. Instead, we usually resort to balls of little quality being drifted into the box from deep areas, which are then very hard to direct goal-wards. The key is often to get the full-backs involved higher up the pitch, and to try to get in behind teams.
Negative/limited tactics? Sometimes Redknapp has been known to bring on, for example, Hutton for Corluka when we’re searching for a goal. This is hardly a tactical masterstroke, is it? One positive from Ramos’ regime was that he would take off a centre back and put on a striker, and it would often work. Why not? Sometimes you have to force the issue and take a risk.
I would personally like to see us go for an experienced central midfielder in the summer – someone who knows what it’s like to win important games, and has the desire it takes. I realise there aren’t too many of these players around who would be available and would want to come to Spurs, but even if they aren’t a first team regular, they could be useful to have on the bench – even someone coming towards the end of their career (like Ballack or Scholes) could have the right mentality to pass on to other players.
I would also like us to sign a striker that can ruffle feathers; when you watch Rooney, Drogba, or even someone of lesser ability like Tevez, you can see why defenders hate playing against them. They will trouble defenders for 90 minutes – keep them on their toes, and keep pressing. We really lack this type of striker in my opinion. I remember seeing Ricardo Fuller, for example, cause our defence all sorts of problems at White Hart Lane earlier in the season – I’m not saying we should sign him, as we should clearly aim higher, but it’s important to have a player in the final third that can do this. I’ve always been impressed with Dieumerci Mbokani of Standard, and wonder whether he’s worth a gamble.
Currently we have the following players out on loan:
Sam Cox – Torquay United (one month or until the end of the season, depending on who you believe!) David Button – Shrewsbury Town (until 27th February 2010) Jon Obika – Millwall (until 11th March 2010) Adam Smith – Torquay United (until the end of the season) Adel Taarabt – QPR (until the end of the season) Ryan Mason – Yeovil Town (until the end of the season) Steven Caulker – Yeovil Town (until the end of the season) Mirko Ranieri – Ipswich Town (until the end of the season) Jake Livermore – Peterborough United (until the end of the season) Andros Townsend – MK Dons (until the end of the season) Giovani dos Santos – Galatasaray (until the end of the season) Jamie O’Hara – Portsmouth (until the end of the season) Kyle Naughton – Middlesborough (until the end of the season) Alan Hutton – Sunderland (until the end of the season) Robbie Keane – Celtic (until the end of the season)
Now returned from loan: Adam Smith – Wycombe Wanderers Ben Alnwick – Norwich City Lee Butcher – Grays Athletic Dean Parrett – Aldershot Town David Button – Crewe Alexandra Sam Cox – Cheltenham Town Danny Rose – Peterborough Lee Butcher – Leyton Orient Oscar Jansson – Exeter City Sam Cox – Histon Jake Livermore – Derby County Andros Townsend – Leyton Orient Calum Butcher – Barnet Jamie O’Hara – Portsmouth John Bostock – Brentford Troy Archibald-Henville – Exeter City (now joined Exeter permanently) Kyle Walker – Sheffield United
Plenty to say since my last update!
Troy Archibald-Henville has moved to Exeter City permanently. I was quite surprised when he made the bench for us – I’d never been too impressed with him for the reserves. He had a year long loan at Norwich where he didn’t play once, and was sent back to Spurs after the first few months – allegedly Norwich had agreed to pay his wages for the full season, and so continued to do so! He then went to Exeter on loan last year – he was a mainstay in their defence, and the fans instantly took to him. This season he has been back there again, although for various reasons (form, injury, suspension) has been in and out of the team. Their fans seem pretty pleased with the signing, and I’m pleased too – he wasn’t going to make it at Spurs, but we’ve got a fee for him (supposedly £50k), which pretty much makes it all worthwhile. Good luck, Troy!
Kyle Walker has been recalled. Having impressed back on-loan at his previous club, Sheffield United, he has been brought back to cover right-back, after Naughton and Hutton were sent out on loan. A wise move IMO – bring back a player who is sharp from regular game-time, and send out two players who need to play.
Alan Hutton has moved to Sunderland on loan for the rest of the season, and impressed in his first game for them – the 1-1 home draw with Wigan. Sunderland Official Site report:
The hosts had the first chance of the game through top scorer Bent, who received a neat pass from Alan Hutton and warmed Chris Kirkland’s gloves with a low drive from an acute angle.
The impressive Hutton gave Henderson the angle to tee up a cross, and his delivery was dispatched clinically at the near post by Jones, leaving Kirkland with no chance.
With crowd and players alike boosted, Bent fired a Hutton feed wide, but Sunderland suffered a blow soon afterwards as Henderson crumpled after challenging for the ball and was stretchered for the field in some pain.
I can personally see Hutton moving permanently at the end of the season, and it could well be that this is a “try before you buy” type move.
Robbie Keane joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season on the last day of the transfer window. It was widely speculated that Spurs wanted rid, but Celtic’s name only came up late on, so I wonder if it was just an opportunistic swipe. He has so far been involved in three games for them, starting twice, and coming off the bench at half-time in the Scottish Cup. He was fairly involved in his first game, a 1-0 defeat at Kilmarnock. Celtic Official Site report:
Despite pressing for the equaliser, Tony Mowbray’s men couldn’t find the goals – with Keane being denied from point-blank range by Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell in the final minutes.
Hinkel was forced off through injury in 30 minutes as Paul Caddis entered the fray. Seconds later, McGeady skipped free on the wing and found Keane on the edge of the box. His low shot took a deflection as it slid wide.
The Irish striker tried his luck with a chip from 20 yards after a marauding run from Fortune. Keane then scampered clear of Simon Ford and raced into the box, but Bell pulled off a fine double save as the score stayed goalless at the break.
Boruc saved from Bryson as Kilmarnock hit on the break and almost grabbed a second in 86 minutes. Keane then found space in the box but Bell saved his low shot.
Then, in 67 minutes, came the moment the Celtic fans had been waiting for – Keane’s first goal for the club. He had been fouled in the box by Austin McCann as he was about to shoot and won a penalty.
There was only going to be one man taking the spot-kick and Keane made no mistake – sending Fleming the wrong way and then producing his trademark cartwheel celebration in front of the jubilant Celtic supporters.
That goal killed the game but Celtic still went in search of goals. McGeady, on for Kamara, twice chipped over the bar. Keane was also inches away from conveting a Rasmussen cross.
Last night he was involved again, missing plenty of chances. But it didn’t matter, as Celtic beat Hearts 2-0.
Kyle Naughton, signed in a double-deal with Walker, has moved to Middlesborough until the end of the season. He has played two games for them so far, and has seemingly impressed, judging by comments on this forum. I am quite pleased that we’ve sent Naughton out – letting him go a year without any regular football would have been a big mistake. Hopefully he will come back stronger and, if we’re in Europe next year, he should get plenty more game-time.
Jamie O’Hara moved back to Portsmouth on-loan, and had a superb match against Sunderland on Tuesday.
Jamie O’Hara played 90 minutes for Portsmouth in a 1-0 defeat at Fulham. Portsmouth Official Site report. He got a last minute assist, getting a last minute assist, and Portsmouth-Mad gave him 8/10. In his other two games since re-joining them, they marked him 7/10 against Fulham, and 5/10 against Manchester United.
Giovani dos Santos joined Galatasaray on-loan, and has so far played twice for them. Last night he was taken off at half time, with Rijkaard saying something which roughly translated has “he is not 100% yet and hasn’t fully integrated into the team”.
It’s quite hard to see where Giovani goes from here – he hasn’t made any impact when he has played for us, he allegedly likes a drink, and Redknapp himself criticised him for being continually late for training – perhaps we have found out why Barcelona weren’t keen to hang on to him. He has a lot of work to do to get back into favour. Like Hutton’s deal, this too could be a “try before you buy”.
18-year old left winger, Andros Townsend has been seriously impressing at MK Dons (where Paul Ince is manager).
“From the first moment the on-loan Spurs teenager touched the ball, the Dons fans were swooning – in raptures at the pace with which he carried the ball, fearless in his quest to embarrass defenders.
So when the 18-year-old carved through Shaleum Logan and Paul McLaren on the left flank to set up the opening goal just six minutes in, the Cowshed must have been expecting a field day.
It was the game’s outstanding moment – Logan and McLaren left standing as Townsend burst between them, before cutting back the most inviting of drilled crosses. Pinged back at shin-height, it was a gift for any player with the technique to finish it and Puncheon, with the deft touch of Roger Federer proportions, sweetly swept it home on the half-volley.
Townsend fired just past the post after exchanging passes with Jermaine Easter in the 24th minute, but the visitors, who had consolidated admirably, went close with a long-range John Welsh effort.
Townsend went close to a debut goal with 15 minutes to go when he curled onto the roof of the net after good work from substitute Jude Stirling, on to replace the injured Danny Woodards in the first half.
And some lovely comments from Paul Ince:
Townsend’s impact was considerable on the stadiummk faithful, who rose to their feet time and again to applaud his dynamic wing play.
And Ince said the teenager set an example for his established players with his approach in the first half.
He added: “He was the only one in the first half, along with (Mathias) Doumbe, who looked like they wanted to be out there.
“It’s not right for me to go in at half-time and tell my players that the only one out there is an 18-year-old kid.
“That’s a lesson to us, but he exceptional, not just going forward but defensively as well. He’s slotted in superbly.”
He has now made four starts, and one sub appearance for them, and got his first goal last week: Andros Townsend’s goal.
David Button has been keeping plenty of clean sheets for Shrewsbury Town – five now in twelve appearances, which is pretty impressive at any level. He’s worth keeping an eye on.
Jake Livermore has now played six times for Peterborough United, scoring once. Many thanks to PeterboroughYids on COYS for getting some interesting opinions from Posh fans:
“So far he’s ranged from totally ineffective to bloody brilliant for Posh.
I reckon there’s a real player in there and when he adjusts to regular football in a settled midfield, he’ll be a bloody good player.
I know it’s tallest dwarf syndrome, but out of all of our current midfield choices, his name would be first on my team sheet.”
“he will be a great player , would take him in part exchange in the lewis deal”
“Easy for ‘most’ people to see his class.
Control generally better than most, sees a pass quicker than most and is not shy at ‘putting it in’ that is effort and his foot. His tackling isn’t his stromgest quality it is fair to say”
“Livermore has a great engine, he seems to pop up all over the field and has a composure (at times) that stands out. His passing can be a bit sporadic but that will improve with experience. Think he has the potential to be a good player, wouldn’t say he’d be good enough for Spurs though.”
“I saw him play for the first time yesterday, and was impressed with his workrate, and for a youngster, the way he was always vocal, positoning players when defending set pieces and so on.”
“Very good player,we have no chance of signing him,will be a regular CCC player or bit part prem player in the future,neither of which we will be,unfortunately.”
“Overall I’m very impressed (at this level at least) and I hope we can keep him longer term.
Yes, there have been spells in some games when he’s been poor, but it’s a new team (for him) and a whole new set-up. It always takes time to adjust. I’m amazed that some Posh fans can’t see his quality and potential.
He’s comfortable on the ball, he doesn’t ever just hoof it forwards (misjudged long balls are a different thing altogether) and he makes himself available for passes, controls it well, isn’t shy of tackling…
I’m not so sure he’ll ever make it as a first choice in Spurs’ midfield though – different level altogether – but he’s deffo the first name down on my Posh team-list, along with Boyd and Lewis.”
“I wish we could keep him, he is awesome, but he wont stay. One for the future”
“I haven’t been anywhere near as impressed with him as most people on here. Mentally, he is too slow on the ball for my liking, but he obviously has potential and if it turns out that he thinks this club is worth committing himself to, then I think he is as good as anybody we could possibly get at the present time”
“He’s head and shoulders above the rest of the team in terms of reading the game and anticipation.
He spots passes so much quicker than the rest, that often he’s looking like he’s given it away when in fact it’s others not being on the same wavelength.
It never ceases to amaze me how little most posh fans understand the game. Again on Saturday there were fans around me moaning because we were trying to keep the ball instead of lumping it forward.”
He even has a song:
“Jake Livermore – more! You’ve got the power to score, We’ve all seen you do it before, You’re indestructable, Always believe in… Jake Livermore.”
Jon Obika today moved to Millwall on loan for a month. He has been with Yeovil since the beginning of the season but, despite scoring seven times, has struggled to hold down a regular place in their side recently. Hopefully a new environment, and playing for a side at the other end of the table, will help him re-discover his form.
Still at Yeovil is Ryan Mason. He has missed a couple of games through injury, but has actually had a dip in form – although he did score at the end of January (Ryan Mason’s goal).
Some fan comments about him from the end of Jan:
“Welsh needs to start – why’s he warming Mason’s place on the bench?”
“you on a wind up welsh whos end product is non existant should be in instead of mason.
Now im not saying welsh shouldnt start to give balance but welsh to start over mason or have i read this wrong? “
“Mason’s place on the bench? Won us a penalty, scored in the previous two games. IMO, the most gifted player at the club “
“Yes, i agree. Mason a very gifted player, not helped by certain players lumping the ball aimlessly high at what seemed every opportunity. There seemed to be no shape to our team today, little movement off the ball. The simple given things like ensuring triangles are always available or made were not there. You can’t expect Mason to shine in a side like that.”
“Hmm, must thank him for making it 2-1 against Tranmere with a penalty in injury time. Today was a soft penalty from behind the goal. Very soft. He certainly wasn’t getting to the ball if hadn’t fallen over.
His goal against Exeter was class. But, in this League we can’t carry his brilliance for 85 minutes.
You can see Kalala thinking ‘where’s Mason’ when he’s stopped the ball in the middle. I rarely see him too, and it’s often a better view from back here.
“you do have to remember he’s only 18. he’s shown moments of class this season, and he’s a potential matchwinner. we’re not exactly blessed with them and you can see why skivo picks him. although if its a toss up between him and having wingers i’d go with wingers, but mason’s best form was when he was in alongside someone in central mid with wide players “
“And i agree by far to most gifted player for a long time seen in a yeovil shirt it’s not his fault he being played out of position”
“why play an out of form mason (who has been brilliant before new year but lost form) instead of tomlin who for me has changed our season since the MK away fixture…
im a massive fan of mason but maybe this niggling groin injury has knocked hom off form a little bit… perhaps skiv needs to rest him for a week or two…”
Steven Caulker is also still at Yeovil Town and, despite playing in a side that has leaked a fair few goals, he’s seemingly still doing OK. He has started 30 games for them this year, which must be doing him the world of good. The author of Taff’s Gloversblog is a big fan – this report is typical:
5. Steven Caulker: 7/10 – Lost track of Adam Stansfield once which led to Exeter’s goal. Aside from that didn’t give the Grecians a sniff. He seems to be trying to get forward with the ball on occasion, a little like Mark Shail used to, for those with long memories.
Sam Cox started his first game for Torquay United at the weekend, having made two appearances from the bench. A couple of fan comments:
“And although cox did o.k, I think he represents the weakest link at the back (it was his wild slice that led to the corner from which they scored I think) and seeing as we have plenty of cover I’d like to see Rowe-turner given a go next week.”
“Cox too inexperienced and lightweight”
It was announced today, though, that Cox would be returning to Spurs. Paul Buckle, the Torquay manager, had this to say on their official site:
“Sam has been recalled by Spurs and it was always the understanding that Sam would come in and fill a gap for us but we are sorry to lose him. We are having to shuffle the pack, it has been that sort of season and hopefully with Mo coming in a gap will be filled and give us some stability in the left back position. We will definitely be keeping an eye on Sam in the future, we tried to sign him on a permanent deal but Tottenham weren’t quite ready to do that which is understandable and we have been talking to Spurs all the time with regard to Sam and Adam (Smith) who is staying with us. We will go in to Saturday’s game stronger than we were last week at Hereford.”
Adam Smith is very popular with the Torquay United fans. They see him as an attacking force, despite him playing as a full-back. Having initially played at left-back for them, with Cox in the side, he has been able to move to his preferred right-back position. It will be interesting to see whether Smith can get some game-time at a higher level next season, either for Spurs or on loan again. He has now played thirteen matches for Torquay.
Mirko Ranieri has been a regular for Ipswich Town U18s, although has been on the end of some real thrashings. However, there are a lot more goals in Academy football, so it’s difficult to criticise too much.
And finally Adel Taarabt at QPR. In and out of the side – he has started 22 times, and has been a sub 11 times – he seems to struggle to find a rhythm. He has a good game followed by a poor game. This week has been an interesting one for him – he was left out against Peterborough, as they picked 5 other loan players, which is the maximum. He then came off the bench in the 1-2 defeat to Ipswich, although didn’t shine. MO Taarabt’s problem is that he doesn’t put in a defensive shift, so it’s tricky to shoe-horn him into a side.