March 23, 2009
Spurs followed up last week’s fantastic away win at Aston Villa with an even more impressive victory against title-chasing Chelsea. In fact, Spurs looked more like the team trying to take advantage of Man Utd’s slip-up at Fulham.
Chelsea’s key players in the middle of the field, Lampard and Essien, were snuffed out, particularly by the tough-tackling Palacios - to the extent that Essien was taken off towards the end.
Up front, Nicolas Anelka kept dropping deeper and deeper in a vain attempt to see some of the ball, while a number of the other Chelsea players - most notably Ballack - seemed unable to summon up the requisite enthusiasm for a London derby that also presented an opportunity to rejoin the race for first place.
March 17, 2009
Spurs moved up to 11th - their highest league position so far this season - with an unexpected but thoroughly deserved victory at Villa Park. This was arguably the best team performance of the current campaign, exemplified by the fact that two key players, Modric and Palacios, were below par and yet Spurs were still able to put three points on the board. Thankfully Jenas for once took up some of the slack in midfield and also managed to get on the score sheet. While he still gave the ball away cheaply, he at least showed some industry. The same was true of Darren Bent, the scorer of the second and killer goal - albeit a "Sandra Redknapp " effort from less than six inches out.
March 9, 2009
If anyone had offered the Spurs fans seven points prior to the games against Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, chances are he would have had his hand bitten off. Although the team look jaded at the Stadium of Light - perhaps not unexpectedly, given that they were playing their sixth game in just over two weeks - they stuck to their task and a late Robbie Keane equalizer moved Spurs up one place to twelfth.
The league position does, however, belie the number of points accrued. A total of 32 at this stage of the season is the worst return for the club in more than a decade. More importantly, it is a mere five points above a spot in the relegation zone. The next two games are against top four sides, with one - Aston Villa - desperately needing a win after a downturn in their fortunes, and the other - Chelsea - starting to hit some form. It would not be a huge surprise, therefore, if Spurs remained on 32 points at the end of March.
March 3, 2009
Spurs failed to retain the Carling Cup, but it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort. Although under the cosh for much of the game, the defence held firm and Man. Utd’s keeper, Ben Foster, was forced into making a couple of very good saves, earning him the man of the match accolades. While he probably deserved it, there were also several eye-catching performances from men in white shirts.
With Bent and Pavlyuchenko disappointing up front, Spurs’ attacking threat was carried by two midfield players, Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric. The England manger, Fabio Capello, was looking on and he cannot fail to have been impressed by Lennon’s livewire contribution. Not only did Lennon give the accomplished Patrice Evra a chasing all afternoon, he also paid heed to his defensive duties. When Evra stole upfield late in extra time for a shot on goal, it was not a coincidence that Lennon – having run himself to a standstill – was by then off the field. His replacement was David Bentley, as usual not so much tireless as tiresome.