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Tottenham Hotspur
Posted by Colin McCullough on 05/12/2009

Saturday’s game and the good point won at Goodison have, unfortunately, been overshadowed by events off the field. The tragic death of Palacios’ brother, a matter of days after the fatal attack on Defoe’s half-brother, was followed by the arrest of Ledley King. Perhaps the less said about this latest nightclub "incident" the better, but certainly the television images of Spurs’ club captain were not to his credit.

One image that will, however, stay long in the mind is that of poor Wilson Palacios, sitting in the lobby of the team hotel on the morning of the match. Having known for six hours that the body of his kidnapped brother had been found, the young Honduran waited, conscious of not wanting to rouse the manager too early to pass on the dreadful news. As Harry Redknapp himself observed,

"He sat around the hotel lobby with his case packed until 7am because he didn’t want to wake me. I’m amazed with him. But we organised for him to be driven back to London so he could get a flight home. You couldn’t wish for a more calm and likeable lad, football is not really that important after this."

At the end of a week when the petulance of Drogba, Ballack and Ronaldo was on full show, Palacios, in the most difficult of circumstances, still managed to show some character – a quality all too often lacking among his Premier League compatriots.

The absence of Palacios and injuries to others meant that Spurs made changes not only to the team but also to the usual formation. Whether it was a 3-5-2 or a 5-3-2 is open to question, but whatever it was, it worked for the first 40 minutes. Woodgate, King and Corluka formed a solid three-man unit across the back, with Bale and Hutton operating as wing-backs. Without neglecting their defensive duties, these two played so high up the pitch that Everton – at least in the first half – were at a loss as to how to cope with them. Bale in particular was outstanding for the whole 90 minutes, with only Woodgate coming close to challenging him as Spurs’ man of the match. Given Bale’s disappointing performances in the past, it was great to see him displaying the form of which everyone knows he is capable.

For all their first half dominance, Spurs never really troubled Tim Howard in the Everton goal, and it was a very different story in the second. Pienaar (who scored the winner in the reverse fixture earlier in the season) and Baines began to test the obviously tiring Hutton, who is perhaps still getting back to full fitness after his return from injury. Modric, Jenas and Huddlestone were also being overrun in midfield and a change was clearly required.

Admittedly the Spurs bench was a little thin. Against a combative Everton, the game called for the likes of the injured Jamie O’Hara. Redknapp did have Bentley at his disposal but, yet again, the £15 million man did not get on – surely a further indication, if one were needed, that he will be gone in the summer. Bizarrely, Redknapp decided instead to introduce Pavlyuchenko with less than ten minutes to go. In that short time, the striker’s only accomplishment was to get himself booked for a series of niggly fouls.

Stranger still was the manger’s decision to leave Keane on the pitch, dropping him into midfield to replace the substituted Modric. Why the out of form Keane even started the game in preference to Palvyluchenko is a mystery – unless, of course, the Russian international is another player who does not figure in Harry Redknapp’s plans for next season.


Posted by Daniel on 05/12/2009

Colin, I was thinking along the sames lines as you regarding Hutton in the 2nd half-- until he builds up his match fitness to be able to complete the full 90 minutes, he's probably going to need to be substituted at some point for the remainder of any games he plays yet this season. I thought it curious that Bentley continued on the bench while Hutton tired, as I thought it a foregone conclusion that Harry would make the swap, move Corluka to right-back, and finish out with a traditional 4-4-2.

Bale was excellent, which was HIGHLY encouraging-- it's easy to forget that the lad is only just 19 years old. I was a big fan of the 3-5-2 formation at the start (although Pavy should have started!), but your analysis is the game went on and Everton countered, it became more of a 5-3-2 and the Toffees went on to control the midfield.

Much like the season-long Modric question about his best position, this raises a new question-- what is Spurs' ideal formation?

Posted by Weston on 05/12/2009

I think that working with two-wing backs can have potential, as Bale and Hutton are very effective when they get up the pitch. The the problem they have at the moment is that they don't have the central midfield to support it.

Jenas and Hudd rarely seem to be on the same page as Modric, and when you cannot work through the middle of the pitch, you turn into Aston Villa and rely on dribbling to the corner and whipping in a cross every time.

Posted by AJ on 05/13/2009

I have to agree with Colin, Pavy does not play enough. The persistance of playing Keane all the time is not doing the team any good. I have huge respect for Robbie, but let's face it, he's not the player he was last season, and i don't think he will ever get back to what he was. Pavy is an excellent forward with great ability. A Pavy - Defoe partnership with Modric playing just behind them is the perfect set up. I agree that lot of payers should leave in the summer, but not Bentley, he should be given another chance. Players i'm looking forward to see them go are Chimbonda, Jenas, Bent, & Gomes (great keeper one game, awful keeper the next - can't have that!)

Posted by Pierre on 05/15/2009

Great work, Colin. Keep it up.

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