If we had lost the game against FC.Twente on Wednesday that would have been three defeats in eight days in three different competitions. Such is the fine line between Cheshire cat grinning and Tabby cat kicking in our household. So following on from the Van de Vaart Variety Show in midweek we had the Rafael Recovery Roadshow against Villa.
I am thinking of changing this blog's title from 'Spurs Musings' to 'Homage to Dutchman from Real Madrid' as a tribute site. For the second time this season we came back from a goal down to win in the Premiership and won in midweek with ten men in the Champions' League. Back in fifth having displaced one of our rivals and gained the coveted first position on Match of the Day which reflected the standard of the game.
Even Hanson remarked 'How far can they go?' Our league and cup runneth over. Match of the Day hosts are to football neutrality what Adolph Eichmann was to the Third Reich. Only obeying orders my arse. Everyone agreed that this was a great game for the neutrals. However it's only in hindsight that I can appreciate this. We can however contemplate the International break secure in the knowledge that almost all our Internationals have already been injured serving their country and that only Crouchy is at risk. Capello was there so perhaps Huddlestone will be called up at centre- half.
Van de Vaart, here we go again, is even beginning to make Crouch look like a proper footballer. Three assists and three goals this week for the duo and at least a couple of misses. It's not just luck that he he is in the right place at the right time. His second goal was a gem, selling Dunne an inspired dummy and finishing in style. All those years sitting with his finger in the dyke have given him strength as well as skill. Going Dutch? There's no other way to go. He's certainly injected some Dutch courage into our play. (Ed. I think that's enough silly 'Dutch' jokes Jimbo)
The Recycling Centre has given us back Bale and now Jenas and Hutton. Even Lennon seems to be awakening from his slumbers and again as 'impact' sub made, well, an impact with the cross for the second goal and one or two more confident runs. Jenas' cross-field ball in the build up to the first goal was positively Huddlestonesque. Pavlyuchenko crossed to Crouch for the first goal from a shrewd first time pass from Huddlestone. Pavlyuchenko and Crouch combine shock horror.
There is a danger that Modric will be downgraded in the Van de Vaart fest that we are currently engaged in. There is no need for this as Modric is a more subtle talent and has never enjoyed the kind of goal-scoring record that the Dutchman has.They play in different roles and we are lucky to have two such quality footballers in our midst. The two of them with Jenas combined well in the middle to exert increasing pressure on Aston Villa after a hesitant start.
We may also start to fret about Rafael getting injured as we did with Modric last season. We survived that and Rafael's sending off against FC Twente.We came fourth without him remember. He has raised our game and the effect will last even when he isn't there. A curious case of 'amputated limb syndrome'
Huddlestone at centre-back was a good call from Harry in preference to Corluka and although we conceded the early goal we didn't sulk, let our heads down, or blame our injury list as we might have done in the past, but set about retrieving the situation. The confidence spilling over from last season, our performances in Europe and the stern eye of Van de Vaart enabled us to collectively say 'We can do this' and we did. Bassong wasn't thrown by his earlier error of getting the wrong side of Heskey and being muscled off the ball. It wasn't a fault free or smooth performance in defence by any means but in the end it did the job.
Call it confidence, determination, or last years buzz words, 'mental strength' whatever you like but we are playing good attacking football under the banner of, ' No more soft touch Spurs'. And importantly to me we are well down the foul play league, Wolves are at the top and interestingly Chelsea at the bottom. I know it's only early doors but the bottom five contains W.Ham, Liverpool and Everton and the top five has a reassuringly Hotspur look about it.
Harry took Pavlyuchenko off yesterday with kinder and softer words than usual. We finished the game with Palacios and his understudy and rival Sandro both on the pitch. Bringing on Lennon gave us a better balance in the second half and with Villa having to double on both Lennon and Bale they soon started to run out of players..
So all is sweetness and light at the Lane and we can relax for a while. Level on points with Arsenal and, er, W.Brom. There is nothing worse than going into a two week break on the back of a loss or a poor performance. This week's performances have replaced the worried frown caused by our slow start, though perhaps only in comparison with last year, with a broad and somewhat self satisfied smile.At this early stage of the race we are 'handily placed' as they say in racing circles;seven points off the top and six off the bottom.
So pass the raw herring and advocaat 'mijn vriend' and let's celebrate all things Dutch. You never know big Uncle Martin might just want to rejoin us when Harry gets the England job, or retires, whichever is the sooner. Van de Vaart will be hoping that his performances for Spurs will maintain his International career resulting in more Dutch Caps. (Sorry Ed.)