The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Spurs try on the glass slipper for size.

 You need to push a little bit harder love.
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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I'm still musing over the lessons and messages supplied by last season. The head says that we had a very good season  under a new young manager with plenty to prove. With a transitional squad in a transitional season we went to the very edge of success. 

In fact the very nearness to genuine success is what is causing the heart still to ache. Everyone knows that at the beginning of the season to finish a point outside the Top Four would have been gladly accepted by all but the most irrational fan.The trouble is that by its very nature football fandom is in itself irrational.

So after all the excitement of End of Season Ball we appreciate how the Ugly Sisters felt when the bloody glass slipper didn't quite fit. Always the bridesmaid never the bride as they say. That damn Wengerella steals the show again.

 But I'm over it all now, more or less.

 Here's the full season progress chart:

 With thanks to Statto graphics from the Football Filter website:

An impressive finish to the season, three losses in the final 26 games, with a sprinkling of just one too many draws. Out of the top five for only 8 of the 38 games.

Things that have actually happened as opposed to the rumours of things that probably won't happen though some of them might, possibly. ((New Feature)

The lads went to play Jamaica (of their own accord) in the Bahamas (edit)
There's an old joke in there but I won't trouble you with it in full. Good to see the lads on a jolly to lift them after the final disappointment of the season.

 More a bonding exercise and an opportunity for AVB; DL; and JL to discuss strategies for the season including the 'War Chest' available for new talent or to keep old talent. I hope they had a look inside just in case all it contained was an empty crisp packet and an IOU.

We drew 0-0 in a dire game apparently for which I can find no footage. If ever there was a chance for Spurs TV to be more than a PR exercise for players to trot out banalities then this was it. No such luck. Joe's yacht, 'Aviva' looked like a two striker outlay to me.

Andros Townsend.
Worrying time for Andros and the club. He has had to withdraw from the England Under-21 squad for this summer’s European Championship in Israel after betting 'irregularities' have been made public. Easy to dismiss this as a young man with too much money and too much time on his hands.

But he had been warned about gambling activity earlier and the club has a duty of care to all its players especially the youngsters. Being loaned out nine times in 3yrs cannot have had a stabilising effect on his career. Who exactly has been responsible for his welfare?

Disappointing too for 'Musings' who have talked up his chances of getting into the squad this year after his successful loan spell at QPR. Sorry Andros 'The Musings'  kiss of death clasps another young hopeful to its bosom.

We did the same to Harry Kane, Falque, that Mexican fellow and probably countless others. Never mind we'll get one right soon. Carroll perhaps. Doh! Sorry Tom.

Players that won't be coming to Spurs:
Moutinho, Neymar, Falcao, Suarez, Aguero, David Beckham and Leandro. ( I'm guessing on that last one)) Foolish boys, all  set for destinations other than WHL. or retiring or staying put.

More later as the swirling mists clear from the crystal ball.

Jimmy's Video Spot:
 Here's a 12 minute treat. All Gareth's 2012/2013 goals for club and country. Left foot; right foot; with his head; the whole nine yards as they say though no-one is quite sure why.. I'm only posting this because it looks as if he will be staying.
With thanks to Spurs Community where I first saw it.




Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Spurs still knocking on heaven's door

 Knock Knock. Who's there? Tottenham Hotspur.
 Not again. Clear off you're spoiling the party.

The JimmyG2 Column
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So how are you all feeling today? I was quite resigned to our situation straight after the game. 38 game season and the final league table doesn't lie. But today I woke up feeling more disgruntled and looking for someone to blame. Life is always someone's fault after all.

Levy's failure to sign a class striker over several windows makes him an obvious target. But he did sign Adebayor and can't be blamed for his poor performances. He also took a chance on AVB who has been an undoubted success.

 Defoe's recent decline came as a surprise to everyone.The club is sustainable and punching above its weight. Score draw there I think. We don't do 'hate' at Musings Blaming poor team and individual performances is a fruitless task.

 We won some games we might have expected to lose and lost some games we might have expected to win.
Pinpointing Walker's mistake against Liverpool as the turning point of the season, or the two extra time goals conceded against Everton, or the defeat by Fulham is to read too much into single events.

But in any case you weren't actually expecting us to overtake Arsenal and qualify for the Champions' League were you? No I thought not. It all went according to the plan that almost everyone had expected. Both teams duly won their final games. Hoping yes. Expecting no.

Arsenal's achievements under the stable Wenger regime are remarkable, 16 consecutive top four placements is no lucky streak and we would do well to learn the lessons of it. They made yet another successful top four challenge without their best player Wilshire recently and having sold Van Persie and never adequately replaced him.

Their team is decent, but certainly not better than ours, and yet they wiped out a 7 point deficit after the NLD and hung on grimly for fourth. Their run in was easier and their performance against other leading teams was poor. But they tended to thrash the weaker teams a trick we have not yet mastered.

We have been knocking on the door of the elite club for several seasons and are seen as a genuine threat to their status. Two years ago we slipped in unnoticed with a duplicate key and made hay with the free soap and the hair dryer in the executive toilets.

 Last year we got in but there was a mix up with our membership card and we were thrown out. This year we knocked louder than ever but they were making so much celebratory noise in there that no-one heard us.

We can't afford the tolls on the super highway, short cut to glory  but have chosen to travel the scenic route which takes longer but is much more satisfying and provides experiences that money can't buy.

The fact that we were denied at least one penalty; that poor old Gareth was booked for simulation after being clubbed to the ground with a blunt instrument and held prisoner by Larsson; that we hit the post and had shots cleared off the line; that Cuellar, the centre saved with his hand were all made irrelevant by another late Bale screamer.

And this was made irrelevant in its turn by the fact that Arsenal beat Newcastle 1-0 to conclude an even more impressive finish to their season than ours. We got our highest Premiership points total but it wasn't enough. We finished fifth 9 points clear of Everton but crucially one less than Arsenal.

Congratulations to the gelled haired youth in the Public Relations dept who came up with this diversionary statistic to give Andres something to crow about even as our dreams turned to dust. Dreams turning to dust is an essential part of our recent history and I've begun to look forward to it in a masochistic sort of way.

The game in some ways sums up our season: honest endeavour by almost everyone; too little creativity from the midfield and a very late Bale winner. Word on the street is that he is staying for another year on somewhere around £150,000 a week with a Modricesque promise that he can leave for £50 million next season.

The more unreliable sites, you know who you are, are reporting that Bale is demanding £200,000/week to stay which sounds most un-Gareth like and rather out of the blue. This one will almost certainly run and run.
He might be getting fed up with being persecuted by refs.

Most of the figures sound made up. The release fee is too low at this stage and the wage too high. It doesn't just break through our ceiling it completely demolishes it and breaks the pieces up fine enough to go through an egg timer.

However the crucial point is that we look like having him for another year and as with Modric we have to convince him by not only our finishing position, but by some essential signings; stability under AVB; emphasis on playing more progressive football; dedicated coat hooks in the changing rooms; free valeting in the car park or whatever.

Anyway I feel better for that and there will be more Musings through the summer. We will try to avoid excessive reaction to the rumour mill, or ITK as some prefer to call it. There will mutterings about 'dead wood', Huddlestone, Livermore and Parker prominent amongst them and possibly Defoe and Benny all of which are possible.

We think Dawson and Lennon will stay, Carroll will be upgraded, and Rose and Townsend will join the squad. Strikers will have to be bought in and another creative in mid-field. Moutinho is back in the frame apparently.

 None of our current crop of young strikers including Harry Kane are ready. A deal for Remy might emerge if AVB rates him, as we have a couple of players in the list above that Harry might like.

So lots of fun to be had in the coming months and we will, as always, try to keep an honest and open mind on events and back the boys, the manager and the club with a loving but not uncritical eye.

Jimmy's Video Spot:
The goal, what else. Which bit of 'Don't let him come inside on his left foot in the last minute' do you not understand? Obviously they didn't watch any Spurs videos as part of their pre-match preparation. Sherwood says he is 1000% (sorry 1 million %) sure he's staying so why no official announcement? I hope his knowledge of Spurs is better than his grasp of maths.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Wrong time, wrong place for Spurs players.

£5000 minimum spend but they take
 Luncheon Vouchers.
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The JimmyG2 Column
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I was surprised how sharp my reaction was to the Mirror story about four of our players and friends enjoying a night out at the 'Funky Buddha club in Mayfair this week. I usually manage to ignore such nonsense and write it off as gossip, hearsay and rumour. Or even pure invention and speculation

But somehow the details got to me: The confrontation with a One Direction member; £5000 pound minimum spend; Jeroboams of vodka; upsetting waitresses and so on. All this in the week before a crucial game at the climax of the season involving not young fringe members of the squad but experienced players who would all be starting or at least on the bench.

In an sudden flash of anger I thought, 'These people just don't give a toss; professional athletes my arse'. I said as much on a fansite, then irritably confronted another poster and felt obliged to apologise. Is it just me? Have I lost it completely. Have age and senility finally pushed me over the edge?

I some how felt betrayed that they didn't seem to care as much as the fans. Couldn't they have waited until next week. Or perhaps this is a regular event. After all they have money to burn earning more in a week than most earn in a year. Good luck to them I should be saying.

But then it feeds into another agenda; the gross inequality of the modern world. They are ridiculously overpaid for the talent they have and the efforts they put in. £5000 would be an essential lifeline to many people some of whom ironically may well be Tottenham supporters.

Johnny Haynes, a London boy, played at Fulham. He was the first £100/week player when the maximum wage of £20/week was abolished in 1961. As was quite common then he was a one club man. Haynes wages rocketed from the £1000 per year ( the average national wage in 1961) to £5000 at a stroke.

His Chairman, the comedian Tommy Trinder had joked in 1960 that he would have paid Haynes five times the maximum wage if he could. He didn't know that the following year the wage limit would be axed. He kept his pledge. Those were the days.

The average national yearly wage today is roughly what a Premiership player earns in a week. (around £25000). Some of our quartet will be on considerably more than than that of course. With the best will in the world I find it hard to say 'good luck' to them.

Many players lived in the local community, drank and socialised with their fans and travelled on the bus with them to the games. Tom Finney 'the Preston Plumber'  was another one club man. Like Haynes it wasn't for want of offers. He was born in the street next to the Preston ground. His father insisted he complete his apprenticeship as a plumber after signing professional forms with Preston in 1946.

If you will excuse the diversion this all feeds into my reaction about the Tottenham Four. If I start talking about loyalty and commitment in this age of mercenaries then I realise that I will be put in a box labelled
 ' Harmless but hopelessly out of touch. Best ignored'. But the recent Modric Melodrama which feeds into the current Bale Babble is all mixed up in this cocktail in a night club.

Don't we all like to imagine that our club is different despite all the evidence to the contrary? That there is a kind of family there? That winning the fair play league is an important marker? That it's not just about the money? Somehow having a night out in the week before a key game seemed disloyal. Even if training had been cancelled or it was Lennon's birthday, which it wasn't, or whatever.

Tottenham on the verge of Champions' League again; mercenaries and one club players; inflated wages and alienation from their fan base; expensive nightclubs and rising unemployment. It was a heady mix that just seemed to stick in my throat even if most of it was exaggerated or plain untrue as I must have realised even as I read it.

Times change clearly but not necessarily for the better. The standard of football has improved as have tactics and training. Foreign players have limited the opportunities for home grown players but have had a positive effect on skill levels. 

But for me some valuable aspects of the game have been lost and many of them seemed to be encapsulated in the report of the lads night out. I plaintively asked if any Spurs Community members witnessed the event. Not many obviously at £5000 a pop.

Footballers are part of the celebrity culture now, separated from those who ultimately pay their wages and hang on their every move. There's no going back whatever the Fair Play rules intend but shouldn't a few of the old values survive?

 OK I'm getting back in my box now. An occasional pat on the head, the odd Jeroboam and a packet of crisps will suffice.

'You lucky people' (Tommy Trinder's catch phrase).

 Storm in a cocktail glass? 

Mirror story.

Liam Payne's bust up with four Tottenham Hotspur players in nightclub sees him squaring up to Aaron Lennon
The One Direction heart-throb, and West Brom fan, was involved in a nightclub bust-up with four Spurs players after he felt they were teasing a waitress a little too much.

The girl had been serving Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore with jeroboams of vodka on a VIP table - where the minimum spend is £5,000 a night - at Mayfair's Funky Buddha club.
The boisterous group were laughing and joking with her but 19-year-old Liam, sitting nearby, felt she looked increasingly uncomfortable.

Eventually, the chivalrous, newly single singer couldn't take any more and marched over to their table, shouting: "What the **** is going on!?"

As Liam, an avid boxing fan, squared up to them, Aaron Lennon led a spirited defence and questioned why he had a problem with them. Friends tried to calm things down until Liam returned to his table.

The bizarre exchange happened at around 2am yesterday morning and just five days before Spurs' biggest game of the season.

A friend of Liam's says: "The footballers were with four other guys and two girls, and had vodka and various mixers on their table. Liam was with friends a few tables away.

"Out of nowhere were there was a commotion, Liam looked over and thought the players were giving the waitress a hard time. He went straight over to sort it out.
"You've got to admire him for wanting to help the lady."

The players told revellers they were out after manager Andre Villas-Boas gave them yesterday morning off training.
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Jimmy's Video Spot:
Open training session with Steffan and Andre. Just to give the other side of the story. It's not all Jeroboams and cocktail waitresses. Feel the love boys. 5000 spectators just for a training session. Hmmm.... 5000 that rings a bell.



Originally written as a column for Spurs Community in response
 to the Mirror article

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

First game as important as the last.


More stable than we've been for years.
But it will be even better when we get the new stadium.


The JimmyG2 Column
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 So, as everyone and his best four legged friend predicted, it's going down to the wire. Whether we can climb over it, or scramble under it, or cut our way through it remains to be seen but we're still on course. Arsenal now have two opportunities to cock it up and we have only one. Clearly advantage to Spurs.

It was the usual Tottenham stuff: late winner; gritty performance; stupid foul and a goal down in under five minutes from a set piece; Adebayor and Dempsey were our best players. No, wait! Adebayor and Dempsey? Wake me up someone I must be dreaming. Best stay asleep Jimmy it's a lot less stressful.

We are unbeaten in seven and defeated only twice in the last 14 games. The last five games have been won or drawn with late goals. And I mean late. Adebayor in the 83rd minute against Stoke to win; Siggy in the 80th minute for the draw at Chelsea; Bale in the 86th minute for the win against Southampton.

Then there was the 90th minute own goal for the draw against Wigan; three goals in 7minutes starting in the 75th minute for the win against City.; Siggy's 87 minute equaliser at home to Everton.. We have won or salvaged games more often this season than we have conceded them late on.

This is a change in attitude from previous seasons and I attribute this to a growing belief in each other and confidence in the manager and by the manager. Belief, confidence and momentum. Add in the magic ingredient Bale and you have a recipe for continuing success.

Even the fans have finally picked up on this. The away support on Sunday was tremendous. I could almost taste it and I'm 1000 miles away at the moment. Since the start of the year we are unbeaten by any of the current top six and have beaten Arsenal and Man. City. In the last 20 games we have averaged 2 points per game.

This was a performance shaped in the deeper recesses of the tactical mind of AVB where only the brave are inclined to wander. It was calm, measured, methodical and controlled. The fans may have been panicking but the players certainly weren't. We played as if we had read the final script in advance.

Even when Adams was sent off we made sure that we controlled the game and didn't over commit or force the pace. Adams was arguably harshly booked for the first but it makes up for all the times he should have been and wasn't. He has a nasty streak that he doesn't bother to hide.

The steadiness of Vertonghen was preferred to the more exotic talents of Ekotto and the unfocused enthusiam of Holby was not required for this one. Everyone except Defoe contributed as the clock ran down and we plotted our way through the eighteen man defensive wall.
 
It succeeded in blocking out Bale for much of the time but with Vertonghen, Walker and occasionally Lennon giving us width we had alternatives. Dempsey contrived an instinctive finish after confusion in the Stoke defence following a penetrating through ball by Parker and an assist for Adebayor's late goal.

Away from home we had 54% possession; 23 shots to their 6; 15 on target to their 3; we had 11 corners to their 2 . The only thing they beat us on was fouls. They had four booked and one sent off. Stats don't always tell the full story but these give a good indication of the shape of the game.

Fans will point to poor performances against Fulham and Wigan and the late goals conceded against Everton and City as the reason for our failure to qualify for CL. if that indeed is how it turns out. But just as crucial were the late goals conceded in the first three games of the season. The first game is no less crucial than the last.

You could argue that this was a good time to play us before we had settled. Newcastle won the opening game with a late Ben Arfa penalty; West Brom got a last minute equaliser in the second game and Norwich got an 85th minute equaliser in the third game.

If you're looking for lost points that's 7 right there. But even apart from the last 5 games we have scored at least 3 other late goals to take points: Dempsey at Old Trafford and Bale against Norwich and at W.Ham.

So it all adds up to a successful and encouraging season whatever happens next weekend. We are a more dogged and a more organised outfit and though the football isn't quite as exciting or cavalier this is a firm basis on which to build. We are more stable than we have been for years.

City, Chelsea and United will all have new managers next season and may find that as unsettling as we have in the past. We should beat Sunderland especially as their best player is back at Spurs for surgery on his wrist.

I think Pardew's tactless remarks about not caring if they lost 4-0 to Arsenal, since retracted, were more a sign of relief at securing Premiership status than a serious indication of a game plan..

But I will be at the head of a very long column of Spurs supporters wending its way to the Houses of Parliament from every corner of the known Universe if Newcastle do not show up properly for their last game of the season.

Match in brief.
Lloris should have saved their goal; Dempsey's early foul was very silly; Lennon came good just in time to be subbed; Ade worked hard again and scored; Dempsey atoned for his foul; Caulker was quietly almost unoticeably efficient; Bale was given little space but like Dawson never gave up.

Parker was better than of late releasing the ball more quickly, but Dembele was still an upgrade; Walker was decent again; Huddlestone was at the centre of everything, presumably by design. His passing was good and his dead ball kicking not. I like to see  Spurs play at a higher pace but AVB clearly knows best.

Back in the driving seat?
Can Wigan do us a favour and put us back in control? I'm not holding my breath but stranger things have happened. Waiting for kick off as we speak. It would be still all down to the last game whatever happens.

Jimmy's Video Spot:
Let's hear it for AVB the architect of much that has happened at Spurs this season. Resisted all the pressure on several fronts to recover from a distinctly moderate start to the verge of CL. qualification.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

More questions than answers for Adebayor and Spurs.

Ah. Emmanuel Adebayor I presume.
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The Greg Meyer Column.

 Cup Day 2013.


The Adebayor Conspiracy.

He's back to his Arsenal best. But for how long. And for whom next season. There are more questions than answers but his display against Chelsea was in the words of that Spurs master Clive Allen " a first class forward display ".
 
Indeed he was hugely responsible for a warm glow enveloping our pub audience at 67 minutes in. Yes 2-1 at that stage but we did start to play with crispness and confidence. Siggy ( whole name an Icelandic mouthful ) had just come on 5 minutes earlier for Lennon. He showed real touch, energy and a desire to push forward in the harder areas. Little did we know of the events of 80 minutes in.

Yes our pub were well aware of Champs League hopes looking darker but was it the same for you. Spurs were playing good football , Spurs were in the big time that is the top five and that belief engendered by a 34 year old Portuguese managerial maestro was evident.


How had we got here. Well the Togo enigma had scored a goal of the season contender but much more looked up, sharp and combative from the off.  Lo and behold a creative pass from Benny, a spectacular back heel from Emmanuel and Siggy bangs it in.

 

What was more surprising was the warm glow approached a veritable furnace at our backwoods bar. Spurs were on for the win. Unfortunately our Welsh wonder ran out of magic at the death.
 

Still for a man who has started but 16 times in the League and now has the grand total of 4 league goals ... what if. The conspiracy theories came from all sides at our pub. Injuries have been a problem, travels away at the AFC and more so the reluctant belated travel home have been a factor.

 Surely having signed a contract proper  motivation went out the window. Our lawyer points to similar occurrences at Arsenal and City. Whatever if he is true to his word and performs for the final two then its down to Wigan or Newcastle to get us across the CL line.

 Before We Go What Took Our Fancy At Chelsea.

Surely the Gary Cahill header was a shot on goal. If it had been accurate then Hughod Lloris would have grasped it comfortably. As well caused great debate about two men on the posts. Old school here at the pub says yes  cover both posts.

Vertonghen to Ade on 36 minutes was delicious. A shooting diagonal which missed by the merest 6 inches. The distance between Ade's foot and the shin that made imprecise contact rather than a blinder into the Chelsea onion bag. Fine margins indeed.
David Luiz was certainly a worried man about the 62 minute mark. Andre Boas was passing precise instructions to Lewis Holtby pitchside with Luiz immediately adjacent. Did a Brazilian understand AVB English. Whatever as they walked away Lewis smiled broadly and knowingly gave David a condescending pat on the shoulder. Looked like Lewis was starting to believe. David was getting worried.

And So At A Kent Pub.
So proud of our Tottenham Hotspurs and all who sail with her. Away supporters singing was fantastic.


Earlier this year our pub produced a piece about the anti football club that play at Britannia. That particular day we had viewed the match from the Park Lane Lower.

 

Just hope that the grass roots of the support that day is carried through by our players tomorrow. Vertonghen to start at left back with Caulker in. The Stoke height issue at set pieces. Besides Verts was at his magisterial best against Chelsea in the second half. It was his bringing the ball out in assured fashion which contributed to our success.

 No more Dawson Exocet's. Michael is better at intercepting them. The Mata shot anyone?

Crucial match and surely the new Spurs take it to the last day of the season.

 Cheers ... Andres Iniesta has a birthday today ... would be useful at Stoke... Greg Meyer.    coys.
Jimmy's Video Spot .
We make no apology for showing the second goal. Hud. to Benny: Benny to Ade: (offside but hey it's out turn fellas). Ade backheel to Siggy, who slots it home: 2-2. Four characters in search of a starting spot.

Missing person file closed at Spurs..

 Missing Persons
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OK Sarge cross him off. A Portuguese bloke phoned  in.
He's been found wandering around Stamford Bridge
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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Let's hear it for the boys. Three cheers for Adebayor; two for AVB; one for Walker and hugs, kisses and slaps on the back for all the rest. After all it's a team game and if you're on the pitch in a crucial match you must be doing something right even if it's only occasionally.

A battling, gritty, performance, coming from behind twice in a must win game which we almost won. We deserved a draw although we were second best in almost every department except spirit . Only a win would have put us in the driving seat and we now have to accept a back seat role.

The difference on this occasion was Adebayor who for some reason woke up from his recent deep sleep to change the game. A man that has had difficulty scoring at all let alone from 25yds put us on level terms at 1-1.

He ran from the edge of our area to the edge of their's with the ball as the Chelsea defence backed off. They knew from the training videos that he couldn't score from outside the box so in his distinctly unique way he did. Musings had backed his selection ahead of Defoe and the bet came good.

Then in a moment of inspiration he set up substitute Sigurdsson for a well taken goal to make it 2-2. Was Ade offside? Possibly but don't fret, just drop it in the hitherto empty file marked 'It all evens itself up over the season' and move on. Ours not to reason why and analysis of Ade is beyond my pay grade and area of expertise.

Dawson typified our performance. Not particularly good but strong and never say die he was often in the wrong place at the wrong time and occasionally in the right place at the right time. You could say the same for Parker and Huddlestone who struggled with the pace and inventiveness of the Chelsea midfield.

 Parker lost his man for the first from yet another corner. No man on the back post again. I rest my case on that one. Dawson and Vertonghen failed to get to grips with Ramires for the toe-poked second. Another swift counter attack from a harmless looking throw in on the half way line with half the team asleep.

Huddlestone was disappointing ( He's the latest of my long lost love children. Sorry JJ. You moved on and so have I to yet another hopeless case apparently ) He was crowded out in midfield and rarely found the time or space to show his passing ability.

 Like Dawson he wasn't exactly bad but never exactly good.Opinion is hardening though in the light of some recent goal analysis especially on set pieces that Vertonghen should share a lot of the blame. But he's so much better on the ball. He might have to face the fact that he would make abetter defensive midfielder.

This was a draw that felt like a win but even if we win both our remaining fixtures we need Arsenal and/or Chelsea to slip up to make top four. My Arsenal voodoo doll is on the desk as we speak and when I finish this the steel needles are coming out. We might just have given ourselves the confidence and momentum to succeed in our part of the equation.

I was especially pleased for AVB, able to leave Chelsea with his renewed reputation intact. Other honourable mentions got to Walker who once again kept his head when all around him others were losing theirs; to  Lloris who made some good stops later on and Sigurdsson who should probably start ahead of Holtby.

Chelsea haven't been out of the top four all season and like us are unbeaten in six but had 8 games unbeaten at  Stamford Bridge before we arrived and we had chances to snatch at the  end. So this was no mean performance at such a crucial moment. We certainly didn't bottle this one.

And Siggy's goal on 8o minutes was yet another late comeback goal. Another ten minutes and we might even have won it. Mental strength? We bag it up and spread it on the training ground. I know, I know, I'm pushing my luck. Let's hope the boys feel the same.

Arsenal are a mere Johnny-Come-Lately to the top five. We've been there since the 14th game of the season. They arrived on game 26 but they do have momentum. But after Chelsea so do we.Whatever happens this has been a fine first season for AVB and augers well for the next.

By all reports Gareth is staying anyway and with Adebayor having found his mojo I'm looking forward to it with my usual cagey enthusiasm. Come on guys make my year. A small amount of my money is on Arsenal to crack and for us to win our last two.

Stoke: 
A draw is no good now so we have to play with the same spirit and never say dietism as we did on Wednesday. Stoke are not much of a side and have nothing to play for except beating one of the top teams That's us by the way. Who knows. Spurs 3-0 with an Adebayor hat trick perhaps.

The Adebayor goal.
 Good off the ball run by Lennon and a finish from 25yds that he makes look deceptively easy. Why doesn't he play like this more often? Answers on a postcard please.

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Bridge too far.


Ten minutes to go Andre.
Time to wake Gareth up and get him on.
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The JimmyG2 Column
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 Fortunately in this funny old world you don't always get what you deserve. If you did we would have got exactly nothing from the game against Southampton. We got the three points thanks to 30 seconds of quality in the 86th minute by our triple award winning star.

The performance until then had been poor. Not quite dire but lacklustre in the extreme and but for a superb save by Lloris from a Lambert free kick we might have been dead and buried. His handling and alertness were once again exemplary. Apart from one wild miss-kick moment which he got away with and which I won't even mention. 

Lloris kept us in the game and Bale finished it off in the nick of time. If you were looking for quality football then as Michael Jagger says, you don't always get what you want. But if points at this stage of the season are your only priority then we certainly got what we need.

Dempsey and Defoe didn't amount to a can of beans between them and Adebayor did more in his 30  minutes than they did between them in an hour or more. Huddlestone went missing for much of the time; Lennon didn't even turn up at all; Dembele went off injured again and Benny was all over the place. I suspect he neither impressed AVB nor added to his transfer value.

The constant slow motion passing across the back four is beginning to do my head in. If it's designed to allow movement ahead of it clearly most of our players failed to attend the second part of the lecture entitled, ' Part 1: Passing. Part 2: Moving'.

The back four coped reasonably well in their various idiosyncratic ways but there was too much speculative punting upfield and Vertonghen could have made more of his ability to bring the ball out of defence. Holtby, on for the injured Dembele, buzzed but failed to sting though he did make a good run off Bale to create space for the goal.

By the end of the game our three first choice midfielders were all missing injured so you could argue that we did well to salvage three points from such unpromising material. If Southampton go down it will be a gross injustice. They were the better team on the day, but lost. Tell us about it.

Bale started in the middle, drifted to the left and then when Lennon went off took up station on the right to devastating effect eventually. Our very own Scarlet Pimpernel. 'They seek him here; they seek him there'.

Walker slipped him the ball as he did last week and stood back in admiration as  Gareth became our first 20 goal a season man since Klinsmann. That was our first shot on target that I can recall in the whole game although the stats say we had 7 shots on goal. I must have dropped off for the other 6.

Shaw in particular  ignored the instruction in the sealed envelope distributed by Pochettino at the start of the game which simply said,' Don't give Bale any room on his left foot'.

He should have reminded them at half time as it is statistically proven that the average footballer's attention span is about 45 minutes. Or was it seconds. I forget. If we play like that on Wednesday night we will get slaughtered but we probably neither will happen..

AVB once again got the starting line-up wrong (Dempsey with Defoe: Huddleston with an unfit Dembele) but switched it around and we won, so he must be doing something right. The season is beginning to take its toll on the players' minds and bodies and we need some fresh legs and thinking.

Adebayor vastly improves the side even when he doesn't score and should start against Chelsea. I would try and find some room for Holtby and Siggy.  If Parker, Lennon and Dembele are not 100% then it looks like Sandro needs to start even if he is still on crutches. 

At the hour mark on Saturday I started to plan for next year and think about my assessment for this season. But that's all been put back in the bureau drawer for now. Three more games. Are we just prolonging the agony or can we really do it. Don't look at me I've no more idea than you.

Chelsea have a better and deeper squad. How many of their squad on current form would get into the Spurs team? Five or six probably. (Ba, Torres, Oscar, Hazard, Mata and at least one full-back). How many of ours would make theirs? (Bale Bale Bale spam spam spam spam, Lloris spam spam....).

Arsenal have the easier run in and the dreaded 'momentum'. So is it damage limitation at Stamford Bridge or given the complex club and personal situation between us and Chelsea will we go for it.
A cagey draw will not do us any good but might just suit Chelsea.

They are not unbeatable and left it late in a humdrum match against Man.Utd. Not that we can complain about that. But they have more dangerous players than we do at the moment and may overrun our midfield if Dembele and Parker are not fully fit.

 We might have to put our ambitions on hold until next season as beating Chelsea on current form would appear to be a bridge too far. I hope we have a go. It would be a good time to extract 'The Revenge of AVB'.

Statistics that could mean something or nothing: (Like most statistics)
Walcott and Bale both scored the only goal of their respective games in their 200th league appearances for their teams to make it 20 Premiership goals for their season. Both of them. Weird or what?

Szczesny: Talks too much especially for a  man whose consonants outnumber his vowels by such a huge margin. Shut up or I'll send Nigel Farage round. You wouldn't want that believe me.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Lewis Holtby, one of our great hopes for the future. Hasn't quite lived up to expectations yet. Here at Musings we like him and think he will be a crucial part of our midfield next year. Seems like a nice boy too.