Spurs moved up into fifth place with a win over Blackburn Rovers that was somewhat harder fought than it should have been. Harry Redknapp admitted that "in the end we were hanging out there as they put us under severe pressure". The expression the manager was looking for was probably "hanging on" or perhaps even "hanging in", although in truth he might have inadvertently hit upon an apposite phrase. Many of the Spurs team did appear to be "hanging out", producing a somewhat flat display which was only just good enough to earn maximum points against opponents who had won three of their previous 23 Premier League games.
There are members of the side - perhaps most notably Bale and Lennon - whose contribution can fluctuate wildly from week to week, but at Ewood Park a number of the more consistent performers were also below par: Scott Parker was - deservedly - handed the captain's armband but it appeared, on this occasion at least, to inhibit rather than inspire him; Brad Friedel made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes against his former club; and Luka Modric failed to exert his customary influence in the middle of the field.
It was also noticeable that Kaboul and Bassong were given an uncomfortable afternoon by Samba, Roberts, and Yakubu. Whatever their other limitations, the expectation is that both Spurs central defenders will deal with any of the physical challenges the opposition can bring to bear, but it proved tough going for both of them. After the game, Redknapp was quick to acknowledge the problems that Blackburn had caused:
"They never gave up, they're so strong at set pieces. All I said was don't give free-kicks away, big Samba comes up and heads every ball in the air, they really worked hard and the players have given everything for the manager."
Fortunately it seems that Ledley King's injury is not as bad as was first feared. His calming presence cannot return to the heart of the Spurs defence quickly enough.
The one Spurs player who lived up to his billing was Rafael van der Vaart, who displayed plenty of zip and scored two fine goals. That takes his tally to five in the last four league games and, with Defoe also in good form, Spurs are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting a striking partner for Adebayor.
There should be plenty of opportunity for goals next time out at home against a QPR side that struggled badly against the nine men of Chelsea at the weekend. In fact, a convincing win might be just enough to take Spurs into the Champions League places on goal difference, since Newcastle have a tricky away game at Stoke on the following day. Third placed Chelsea face a potentially difficult fixture themselves, against a rejuvenated Arsenal. And it should not be forgotten that Spurs still have a game in hand over those around them. Even when they don't play particularly well, the team seems to have acquired the happy knack of still getting results and moving up the table. The early defeats against the Manchester clubs are starting to recede into the distant past.