Varied fare at the Lane.
We played our best half of football this season champagne and caviare stuff, but the second half was more warm beer and a ploughman's. Everton inevitably came back at us from 2-0 down after half time. We just about had the strength to survive although in the end we were a little fortunate that they didn't take their chances.
We saw the best and worse of Gomes, sloppy handling and match saving efforts in an amusing little soufflé. Thankfully this is only an occasional 'special' on the bar menu rather then a daily choice.
We stuffed Everton like marrows in the first half and they nearly made gooseberry fools of us for afters. In the end the sticky toffee pudding was 'off' so we had the Victorious Sponge instead. We enjoyed the first course but the second gave us a touch of indigestion.
One talking point seems to be whether Defoe passed the ball for Pavlyuchenko's opener after 10 minutes or whether it was a mishit shot. Since Defoe has never in his life passed when in a shooting position the smart money is on the latter. Actually with Roman hidden behind two defenders as he ran in on goal it would have taken an incredibly accurate ball to set him up. Judging by Defoe's body shape and the speed of the ball it doesn't look like a pass. Not that it matters.
No dispute about the goal of the game and possibly the season. The ball disappeared for several minutes into the Croatian triangle. It re-appeared at the feet of Modric who contrived what Andy Murray would recognise as a whipped top-spin forehand shot from just inside the area. The ball ended up in the net off the underside of the bar. Almost game set and match to Spurs.
So its back up to fourth although with all our other rivals for top four winning it was a vital result. Huddlestone is possibly out for a month with an ankle injury and Kaboul came on in his place. He did OK and once he settles in could be a useful, versatile asset for the run in. He needs a tighter positional brief from Harry to curb his wanderlust. Let's not write him off prematurely, again.
Bale is so reliably good these days that he barely merits a mention. He was good defensively as well on Sunday. If I were him I would contact his Union rep. about getting an attacking supplement. With Bentley out with a groin strain the experiment of playing all three Croatians worked this time because Kranjcar made a skilful, pacy appearance and Modric a masterful return to his elusive best. Shouts of 'popustanje mene lopta' rang around the ground. That's 'Give me the ball' in Croatian for those that didn't keep up with their Croatian studies which you will remember I launched when we only had a pair of Croatians.
All four of our strikers were on the pitch at some time but not all at once obviously. Crouch fulfilled his real purpose by providing the long ball alternative as time ticked away but we won the game mainly on the floor. I'm with Cloughy on that one, there is no grass up in the sky. Eidur was a little aimless, unless he was trying to frighten the lives out of us, which he did with a cheeky, mazy little dribble on the edge of his own penalty box.
Injuries are piling up: Woodgate, King, Lennon, Jenas, Bentley and Huddlestone currently and we may well need a diving suit to survey our famed strength in depth. I said from the beginning that O'Hara should be retained and I think he should be recalled. Who knows we might get 'The Prince' back in a fire-sale at Portsmouth. If we could just re-sign Chimbonda from Sunderland 'Spurs Re-united' would be nearly complete.
It would nice to be able to say that we don't do things by halves but unfortunately we do. At least we turned it on for the first half which is better for my nerves. The once fashionable metatarsal injury has been replaced by problems of the groin which seems appropriate in the light of the recent scandals at Chelsea.
It's been an excellent week: three wins; 9 goals scored and only 1 conceded and still in the Champions' League places. Fulham in the heightened atmosphere of the cup is definitely on for us next weekend. We played out a 0-0 with them on Boxing day and a replay at the Lane is a possibility of course. Assuming that we can raise a squad for the game, with confidence high from the past week's performances we should be able to put this one away first time though again the margin is not likely to be great.
Pavlyuchenko and Defoe should start, with the Croatians; King could be back in for Bassong. In the absences of Huddlestone and Bentley then Ekotto might come in at full back and Bale play left mid field. However I wouldn't be surprised to see Kaboul join Palacios in the centre with Modric on the left and Kranjcar on the right. I might have to update this in the light of injuries, recoveries and availabilities later in the week.