December 31, 2008
Even a pessimistic Spurs fans might have predicted that the fixtures over the festive period - away to Newcastle, home to Fulham and away to West Bromwich Albion - would have yielded at least five points. Newcastle have, after all, been in the lower reaches of the table all season, Fulham are much stronger at Craven Cottage, and West Brom were - and are - rooted to the bottom of the Premier League. Spurs contrived, however, to take a single point from these three games, scoring just once in the process. Entering the new year, they remain outside the relegation zone only by virtue of goal difference.
So what can be learned from these three performances, each one worse than the one preceding it? Most obviously, Spurs need a striker. Darren Bent is now back to displaying the "form" he showed under Juande Ramos, Pavlyuchenko has disappointed, and Campbell looks like a Championship player. West Ham have already turned down a bid for Craig Bellamy, whom Harry Redknapp describes as "a feisty little character" - a euphemistic description indeed for a player who has gone through seven clubs in eight years. Thankfully Bellamy scored twice on Boxing Day, which will no doubt increase the price on his head and thus price Spurs out of a deal. At least let's hope so. Man. City now looks a more realistic destination for Bellamy, assuming he can bear to tear himself away from his equally "feisty" and no less dislikeable teammates, Bower and Dyer.
December 13, 2008
It's a measure of how far Spurs have come under Harry Redknapp that Man. Utd. and Alex Ferguson left White Hart Lane well satisfied with a single point. Although Heurelho Gomes made a succession of fine saves - no doubt boosting his confidence in the process - Spurs had their chances too. Tellingly, though, the best efforts on goal came from Bentley, Lennon, Huddlestone and Modric. Roman Pavlyuchenko was ineffective once again, as was his replacement Daren Bent, who was given more than half an hour on the field to make his mark.
There is talk that Juande Ramos is interested in bringing Pavlyuchenko to Real Madrid, especially now that Ruud van Nistelrooy is sidelined with a long-term injury. Like the rumors surrounding Gomes - who is now being linked with a return to his old club, PSV - tales of the Russian striker's imminent departure must be regarded with some skepticism. It would certainly be unusual for a high-profile player to be brought in and then sold on so quickly, especially given the fact that he has clearly not had adequate time to adjust to the pace and rigours of the Premiership.
December 8, 2008
Another win for Spurs, all the more valuable for having been achieved against a team in the bottom half of the table. West Ham had not conceded in their last three games and it took a header from a player who had not scored in three years to break the deadlock. Ledley King's opener was followed by a great strike from O'Hara, which killed off the contest and moved Spurs up to 15th in the table.
Although the game was not the prettiest, there were many encouraging signs for the Spurs fans. They had the much-maligned Gomes to thank for a vital double save when the score was 1-0, and the players in front of him restricted West Ham to three shots on target, a statistic which would have dismayed the home crowd. Lennon continued his good run of form, while Modric bossed the game in midfield. All in all, a good team performance, admittedly against one of the poorest teams Spurs have faced so far this season.