Maybe I should just copy and paste most of last weeks match report.
Yet again I went into the game in the mind set that I would happily have taken a draw and yet again I left feeling disappointed at a draw because of a late goal conceded.
It is such a shame that we did not learn anything from the week before.
The departure of Wayne Routledge earlier in the week added to the injuries and suspensions left us short of options which is what made the overall performance so pleasing. If Nolan had not managed to overcome his virus we would literally have struggled to name 4 in midfield. I am not Routledge's biggest fan but having him in the squad is better than having no one.
In fact he could have been a useful inclusion - early in the game Gareth Bale hobbled off with a back injury and was replaced by (booed on) Sebastian Bassong.
Bassong is not the most mobile player and playing out of position it was something we could
Theory was that Wayne's departure must have meant Pardew was ready to bring in a replacement with Sean Wright-Phillips mooted, but I can't see us making a move for anyone anytime soon.
On the injuries - are these a result of a different training regime or is it just because of the busy Christmas period? There haven't been too many games in the past couple of weeks which does make you wonder. Our age old bad habit of rushing players back too early is something that we need to stop - I was dismayed to hear that Dan Gosling's knee problem may have flared up and that is why he was missing.
Anyway, back to the game!
Spurs had an awful lot of possession but rarely looked at all threatening. That description also applies to the performance of their hero Luka Modric.
Six weeks ago some Spurs fans had Gareth Bale as 'the best player in the world'. Now-a-days he is only the 2nd best player at Tottenham. One Spurs fan called a national radio station after their game vs Man United claiming that Modric "Has the best first touch I've seen since Zidane" and "He is sure to win the Ballon D'or at some point within the next couple of years." And they like to accuse us of being delusional!
Their manager also reflects their delusions - he claimed at full time on Saturday that they were still in the title race despite being the same distance from top of the league as they were from Blackburn in 12th.
Don't get me wrong, Jimmy Macelroy look-alike Modric is a fine player but Ballon D'or? Give it a rest. The ball seems glued to his foot and he rarely loses it. His passing is also very neat but this season he has ONE goal and ONE assist in TWENTY games (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/player/_/id/76762/luka-modric?cc=5739). He is not a ball winning holding midfielder so surely he needs to be contributing more than that to be considered good let alone great? Is he just a glorified Scott Parker?
The visitors may have been more effective had another of the 'world beaters' Rafael van der Vaart concentrated on playing the game rather than theatrically tumbling to the floor every five minutes. Some of his dives were embarrassing. Credit to referee Mark Halsey for waving play on time and time again. He then showed his petulance by hacking at Joey Barton and to think that Spurs fans like to brand the Newcastle side as 'cloggers'..... Also worth pointing out that we haven't seen a red card in either game against them this season.
The first half was a very poor spectacle. It was possibly the most boring first half that we have seen at SJP this season and the crowd were flat too.
Leon Best hit the bar on 27 and was played in by Barton on 37 - he looked like he had never seen a football before and the ball trickled out for a goal kick.
Guthrie wasted possession a few times with poor distribution but we did not look under any real threat.
At halftime the Legendary Faustino 'Tino' Asprilla made an appearance. The pitchside announcer asked him a long drawn out question to which he responded "thank you". He then stepped up to take on the crossbar challenge from about 30 yards. Hilariously he ended up on his back after his first effort - slipping as he connected with the ball. Not to be put off the Magician got on his feet and floated his second effort right on to the Gallowgate End goal frame - beautiful. I would have brought him on for the second half.
The second period was far better. The tempo increased, both sides had a go and the 51,010 strong crowd responded by upping the atmosphere.
13 minutes into the half Newcastle United Cult Hero Fabricio Coloccini scored a brilliant goal. Chest control at the back post, step outside and a lash into the far corner - pure class. His goal celebrations are phenomenal, there are few players as passionate as Colo. He is in top form right now and one of our star players this season.
From the kick off Spurs launched an attack, Newcastle intercepted and broke 3 on 3 with Guthrie carrying the ball out. Unfortunately Guthrie looked like a rabbit in the headlights and as soon as he reached the halfway line he did not know what to do, panicked and miscued the ball straight through to Cudicini. Such a waste. Guthrie has not been too bad in this past 2 games but time and time again he reminds us that he is not Premier League class.
8 minutes later (68") and Lovenkrands was played through. He reached the ball before Cudicini but placed his shot straight at the keeper. Another awful missed opportunity.
On 70 Shola almost scored what would have been the goal of his career - his left foot curler was heading towards the top corner before Cudicini got his fingers to it. The resulting corner gifted him another fabulous chance but his header was shocking. Andy Carroll would have burst the net. The more chances that we failed to put away, the more nervous the players seemed to get.
Our squad weakness was highlighted spectacularly when Guthrie went down injured and was replaced by midfield dynamo James Perch. Perch made a blistering jog down the right only to mis-control the ball in comedy fashion and give away the goal kick. Is he really a footballer?
Modric very nearly equalised on 75. Barton gave the ball away with a horrendous uncharacteristic pass and Modric's shot smashed off the bar.
Play continued to go from end to end. I have no idea what message Pardew was trying to get over to the team. On Spurs set pieces we had all 11 men in the box - an ultra defensive approach looking to see the game out but actually inviting more pressure on as every clearance is guaranteed to fall to a Tottenham player and then in the next breath we are piling forward with centre back's popping up in the Spurs area!
Ranger forged himself a great chance. He made Dawson (England's finest centre half according to many Spurs fans) look like a mug skinning him at the touchline. Unfortunately his rash nature displayed itself once again as he tried to score rather than pulling back to the wide open James Perch, though he may well have looked up and thought "Nee chance am I passing to the donkey".
Either way, the 'plan' to close out the game failed. Lennon, switched to the left because he was in Jose Enrique's pocket on the right, cut in from wide and netted - that despite the fact that we had 2 right backs on the park. Harper and Coloccini absolutely lost it with Danny Simpson as he was largely responsible. A shame because before that point it was one of Simpson's best performances in a black and white shirt.
Another injury time throw away. I hope that this is not a feature of Pardew's career! He was once winning an FA Cup Final in injury time....
We had one more break - Lovenkrands again played through but he saw the challenge coming and did not really fancy it so that was that. 1 v 1.
In his post match interview, for the 3rd game in a row Pardew blamed tiredness. I'm not having that as an excuse every time - they are in the Champions League and have played far more games. Yes they have a far bigger squad, but Pardew keeps telling us that bringing players in is far less important than tying existing players down to longer deals so you can't have it all ways. Then again, as Ashley's mate he is always likely to be spinning the company line.
That makes Pardew's record L,L,W,W,L,D,D with a lot of positives and some areas to work on. Lets just hope that he learns from this and we don't see any more injury time cave ins.
Star men: Colo, Jonas, Barton, Enrique
In the build up to the game I answered a few questions for the Spurs Fan Site http://whatafantasticrun.com/?p=553 - those boys are convinced Andy Carroll is heading their way (not going to happen!)
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