The Blog that's not always wrong.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Stats show that Spurs are in Pole Position


That Picture Editor will have to go.
Although on second thoughts.
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The JimmyG2 column. 

As I dip the quill we are third and have the best goal difference in the Premiership. It's a long while since that last happened at this stage of the season. If we can maintain it, this could be a crucial factor come May.

With a 0-0 stalemate between and Man. City and Leicester on Tuesday we maintain our goal difference status but drop back to 4th. four points ahead of Crystal Palace.

An encouraging gap is opening up between the top four and the rest. The team with the best goal difference at the half way stage has won the league in nine out of the last ten seasons so I am reliably informed.*

I'm looking forward to every game now though I'm pleased the Watford slog is over. Three consecutive wins over Christmas; seven scored and only one conceded. 

We were undoubtedly lucky at Watford. An inch from losing it and a fortuitous winner by Son who was offside in the build up but not flagged. In the pre goal-line technology days the Watford goal would certainly have been given.

The whole ball and nothing but the whole ball, so help our lucky stars. If I were a Watford fan I would be mightily miffed.

But you make your own luck by dint of effort and application. As Gary Player once said when accused of being a lucky golfer: 'the more I practice, the luckier I seem to get'.

A new formation by Mauricio showing unacustomed tactical flexibility with Dier in a back three which released the full backs and Trippier certainly made good use of it. If Danny Rose could cross like Kieran he'd be Marcelo and playing for Brazil.

But there are fine lines in football just as there are in life. Had he taken his chance against Norwich and put in just one good cross all would be forgiven. But still not bad for the scapegoat before last.

Ironically it was Dier who failed to stop Ighalo from turning and poking the ball past a hesitant Lloris. But any of the central three could have been beaten by the awkward bounce.

The pitch certainly suited their style rather than ours. I thought that preparing  a special surface to suit the home team was a purely cricketing phenomenon. Is it the pitch  producing the approach or the approach requiring the pitch?

Another previous hate figure, Erik Lamela scored the opener and vied with Trippier for MOM. A deceptively languid run and a clever disguised finish just as you thought he was going to get caught in possession.

30 million probably not but then the price tag is not his fault and he has come good consistently this season. He was top assister last year too.

Dembele another revived figure went off injured at  half time to be replaced by Eriksen another player under the spotlight. Tom Carroll started and at Central Casting is filed with Christian rather than Moussa.

 Tom as usual was effective in a controlled way, consistently positive wherever possible and Eriksen's class shows in everything except his tackling. Both these players have their doubters but I'm not one of them.

Lamela's goal came as a result of the Pochettino inspired pack hunting mentality of Deli Alli and Carroll who pressured Watford in their own half and released Lamela. 16 minutes in and one up.What can possibly go wrong.

They scored just before half time and on the hour Ake got a straight red card for a high studs up tackle into the middle of Erik Lamela. This seemed to unsettle us and we let the game drift against ten men who dug in.

The latter stages were a bit topsy turvy and I went from confidence that we would win, to relief that in fact we didn't lose, to elation when we got the goal and the three points from a difficult game.

(* From SIMB via parklanerob on ftl.)

Jimmy's Video Spot. Latest on Erik Lamela
Skill, vision, determination, a rabona, the eyes. Pochettino's representative on the pitch. It's taken a while to settle and recover from injury but those who doubted he was the real deal will just have to think again.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Spurs young lion's pride.


 
 On the fourth place at Xmas Mauricio sent to me;
 a young team full of energy.*

Top four at Xmas. Thank you Santa, I'll never deny your existence again. Give my regards to Mrs Christmas, Rudolph and the Elves. With Man.Utd faltering  and our vastly improved goal difference we sneak into the Yuletide Champions' league places.

Now we have to knuckle down and stay there. We began against Southampton where we left off last week against Newcastle: under the cosh. But we survived their early pressure and slowly but surely took command.

Actually 'command' is a bit strong but two goals in three minutes just before half time was not only the turning point but gave us a clear view of the route to the finishing post.

With a two goal cushion which we never looked likely to relinquish our younger fitter side took over. We managed the second half well and the word 'professional'  springs to mind.

Davies, in for the unwell, Rose grew into the game and the back four repelled all-comers. In fact with Dembele playing like a man reborn, 'Pochettinodised' is the technical term, it was a case of Belgians' Rule.

Tadic and Pelle looked strong early on and Mane was a nuisance from time to time but their defending especially for the goals will give Ronald Koeman nightmares for weeks to come.

It all began with a proper striker's goal by Harry Kane set up by the persistence of  Erik Lamela; the determination of Deli Alli and some comical defending.

Harry Kane's post match tweet says a lot about his attitude to the club. (31 goals in 2015)
Harry Kane tweet


An attitude seemingly shared by most of the squad. The camaraderie in this emerging force and delight in each others performance is heart warming. You're an old romantic Jimmy.

Harry himself seems to have shaken off all doubts and doubters and in 'I can do this 'mode with plenty to do after the ball breaks to him slotted home one on one with Bazinga. One season wonder, I think not.

They tried to hack all three players in the move down but we kept our heads and feet and completed in style. Pretty it wasn't but this is the new Spurs.

Within minutes Kyle Walker from out wide somehow found Alli on the edge of the six yard box in a crowded area and this time he controlled and finished with an embarrassing amount of ease and time.

Now we were on cruise control and keeping what we had. Lloris back to normal made two very good saves; Dier too was more his previous self and Kyle Walker is now in 'sensible' mode and all the better for it.

Plaudits go mainly to our Belgian triplets and Hugo though Deli Alli the media favourite got MOM in the press. Now I love the boy; he has edge and presence but I thought that was more than generous.

Mauricio's pride in his young charges was evident after the game and once again with an average age of 24 we were the youngest fielded in the Premiership over the weekend again.

Trusting youth was evident again in his substitution of  Carroll for Alli. Clearly unlike many Spurs fans Tom doesn't get the blame from the Head Coach for last week's capitulation to Newcastle. Well we were winning when he went off.

But let's not let facts obscure a good scapegoat. After all Walker has shaped up; Rose and Lamela,   are now two of our better players, Andros can't get in the squad and Jenas is long gone. But don't fret Tom, Mauricio and me have got your back.

With Pritchard close to return, Onomah already bloodied and Harry Winks on the bench this week the Academy dream lives on.

So the Turkey and stuffing and even the sprouts will taste better than usual and I will be whistling while I load the dishwasher. Then I will collapse in front of the TV and dream of Champions' League.

Mourinho. Yes or no.
Not that it is even likely but just asking.
Thumping 'no' from me. Building nicely under Pochettino. Jose is a fine manager and a winner given a top team and a couple of  hundred million to spend.

 But he doesn't favour young players and his ego is bigger than our new 61,000+ Stadium and would inhibit our boys' development. Horrible person anyway.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Picture quality is poor I'm afraid. Doesn't show Captain Hugo berating his team obviously fearing another Newcastle. Well it worked. Two fine saves are shown, the goals and good defending by Alderweireld. Even better by Vertonghen later but he doesn't feature.

Happy Xmas to all our readers and a Spurstastic New Year. COYS.

(*Working on a complete 12 days version but it won't be ready until next year at the earliest. All suggestions welcome)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Spurs make costly mistake.


 
A lot easier than stopping Newcastle winning
 at White Hart Lane.
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 The JimmyG2 Column
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And it was all going so well. Quite well anyway. My two grandsons who play in the local Madrid league (Alevin section*) were thrashed 5-0 on Saturday and even Lloris would have saved most of them.

My other team, Real Madrid, were beaten on Sunday evening by a single goal by ex Spur Soldado watched admiringly by ex Spur Dos Santos despite the best efforts of ex Spurs Modric and Bale.

White Hart Lane centre of universe claims proven.

In the main event Spurs dazzled by the sun glinting off the gleaming domes of football Mecca, the Champions' League places, allowed a Newcastle side to come back from the dead and snatch victory with an injury time goal.

Those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them (originally Santana but many others have arrived at the same conclusion.) It was a re-run of the score and scorer of last year

Either the Spurs History coach has taken Xmas leave early or they have neglected to appoint one. Newcastle clearly paid strict attention to theirs, took copious notes, learned the lessons and passed the exam.

And we began the game on such a high after beating an experienced Monaco side in the Europa on Thursday to maintain our unbeaten run and top our group.Thank the Lord that 'unbeaten' monkey is off our back.

Carroll started in the Europa fixture and scored a delightful goal and such was Pochettino's confidence in the boy that he started his first Premiership game two days later. Perhaps a selection too soon and too far.

He will get most of the blame for the defeat as Lamela the previous whipping boy/scapegoat who scored a hat-trick on Thursday is now on course to join the select band of Argentinian 'Yids'.

In fact against Newcastle only Lamela put in a full shift before being mysteriously subbed for Son who was lively but ineffective again. Chadli also got a late run out and looked as startled as I was when he came on.

Carroll was as good as most of his colleagues and better than some. Dier having scored a header from an Eriksen corner retired to his tent and was caught on the ball several times.

 JimmyG2 resists the rare opportunity to crack the 'Dier was dire in the second' half joke.

Deli Alli's poor touch let him down twice early on as we pressed and played some decent football. After that he was too casual. Eriksen, assist apart, sleep-walked through most of the game.

But Lloris must take his share of the blame: two fumbles leading to goals is unexpected, out of character but even so unacceptable.

He has plenty of credit in the bank to offset these lapses but Elliot in goal for them made the difference, saving well twice from Lamela. Last week it was Hugo at W.Brom saving us point and it usually is.

Rose played well but should have scored by taking a touch and passing into a half empty net but he blasted it across goal and wide. Walker made an early first time cross but frightened himself and never tried it again.

'Composure' is today's word boys as it should have been on Sunday. We bossed it completely for the first half but didn't make it safe. 'Complacent' is the word for the second half.

Whatever Mauricio said to them at half time clearly didn't work. They should have bugged the visitors dressing room and eavesdropped on Steve McClaren. .

Our substitutions were as misguided as McClaren's were inspired: both his subs scored within minutes of coming on. Bentaleb for Carroll would have made more sense although we were winning 1-0 when Tommy went off.

Newcastle were destined to win this game and you can't stem the tide of history or as Canute demonstrated you can't stem the tide. You must score when you are on top to make the game safe or you get your feet and possibly your crown wet.

That's King Canute by the way not Frederic Oumar  Kanoute who played over 200 games for Sevilla after he left us and scored at just under a goal every two games.  Shurly some mistake there.

Our  excellent record of scoring from set pieces this season is not quite as good as our record for conceding  from them. Our Belgian centre halves are playing well but defending high balls into the box is not a strength.

So black marks to Hugo and Mauricio  who both have plenty of goodwill and achievements to offset these recent lapses and the Head coach has to decide how to deal with his wayward charges.

No doubt the usual rockets up fundaments and extra press-ups are on the agenda but I would give them a few days off, take them to see the Xmas lights up Oxford St. and perhaps Santa in Hamleys and make them all feel really uneasily guilty.

It might be more effective than unleashing the Pochettino wrath and allow them to think that they've taken their punishment and all is sorted. 'Forgive but never forget´ another Musings motto

I'm not as cheerful as I sound but there are still 22 matches to go. Some are talking as if we have blown, bottled and funked it completely. Arsenal briefly being top doesn't help but we can learn and move on.

The top four nonsense, or even winning the league must stop, one or two players need to calm down, concentrate and graft, Deli Alli especially. We are progressing nicely and ahead of the curve.

One loss doesn't make a winter of discontent so lets not throw the baby, or the Head Coach, out with the bathwater. (Bit of a mixed metaphor there Jim. Editor).

*Alevin section (10/12 yr. olds)...An Alevin is a newly hatched salmon or trout hence why I call them 'my little fishes' Cute eh? Well it's just a little something to take your mind off the grown up football for now.

Headline: Fuente al Saz Alevins make cheeky bid for Hugo Lloris.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
You didn't really want to see the highlights did you. Actually I don't think we featured much.

Always best to chill and relax after a set-back, then go again refreshed.

We could have done with some of this energy and movement in the second half on Sunday. Resembles an aerial view of Junior football. The ball is in there somewhere.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Vital decision facing Spurs.


 And Tottenham Hotspur will play Leicester City.
Might have been worse: away at the King Power stadium
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The JimmyG2 Column
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Poor conditions, poor refereeing, poor performance at W. Brom but 'No excuses' Pochettino' won't use the first two to explain the third.  Away from home we managed to sustain our unbeaten run but it should have been all three points.

Ahead early and in control we allowed W.Brom. to bully their way, under a lenient ref. back into the game and showed little of our new found steel to stop them.

In truth only Lloris turned up  and whilst others, Alli, Rose, Dembele and Lamela, had their moments this was not football apart from the first 15 minutes as we have come to understand and expect it.

Dier, Alderweireld and Vertonghen were all below par, unsettled by the wind, Rondon and each other's uncertainty. Harry was lost in a forest of defenders, Eriksen's flame flickered and went out; Dembele huffed and was eventually puffed..

Alderweireld found Alli ironically with a long ball which caught the W Brom defence in three minds and we were one up and coasting. Which might just have be part of the problem.

Let's enjoy our current Premiership Champions hype but don't start believing in it. Every point has to be hard earned and as we know to our cost at times there are no easy games in the Premiership.

Strugglers Newcastle beat another over-hyped Premiership outfit Liverpool; Chelsea lost at home to Bournemouth; Man.City were beaten by Stoke. The doors to the Premiership trophy cabinet have been left wide open.

Top of the league are Leicester who we play in the third round of the FA Cup. Perhaps we would both be happy concentrate on the league. This one can't ultimately end in a draw though and at least we start at home.

Which brings us neatly to our unbeaten league run. Our current twelve games overtakes the same achievement from over 30 years ago. Next up is the 22 game sequence from 1949.

Let's hope that beating that statistic doesn't become a priority or an obsession. Unbeaten runs may well give the boys that Invincibles feeling but winning is the habit we need to foster.

If we had lost to Chelsea and won at W:Brom in our last two games we would have been a point better off. You could go a whole season unbeaten and still get relegated. Just saying.

Ten points covers the top half of the table: six points the top five including us. It is close, very close and we must not miss out by timidity and failing to turn draws into wins

 So let's not start parking the bus for fear of losing our unbeaten record. Lets not get defensive cautious or distracted To Dare etc.....You win nothing with best run statistics. It's points we need and what do points mean? Exactly.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
We haven't featured captain Hugo Lloris for a while So here is the latest video of his best saves. Get top four and he is almost certain to stay. Fail by even a single point and he will have plenty of offers.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Pochettino and Machiavelli in agreement

 Nothing ahead to trouble us Mr. Hardy.
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The Jimmy G2 Column.
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Even with London derbies at either end and a 5000 mile round trip in the middle we still managed to emerge undefeated from another challenging week. But signs of fatigue and stress are beginning to show.

If the Europa fixture against Qarabag had actually been in the middle it might not have been so bad but a Thursday night at the extreme edge of Europe and a midday fixture on Sunday against a semi resurgent Chelsea was not what the doctor ordered.

Don't they have people somewhere to check these things. But if TV companies, who are paying the piper, say 'Jump' I suppose they meekly inquire 'how high?' These days  football is too often about the money.

Anyway All's Well that Doesn't End As Badly As It Might Have although but for a Lloris wonder save from Hazard we might all be in full conspiracy, misery mode. Infamy, infamy, why have they all got it infamy. ( Edit Courtesy Kenneth Williams  Estate)

We now sail into what looks like calmer waters before Xmas and into the New Year. With our new found steel and determination under the gaze of Mauricio 'no excuses' Pochettino we might just extract good value.

With West Brom, Newcastle, Southampton, Norwich, and Watford to play in December we should find ourselves handily placed for the challenges of 2016. 15 points is not impossible though unlikely. 11 seems more realistic.

And with our telescopes fixed firmly to our blind eyes, that is mine and Horatio's firm prediction.

We are not a team these days that gets complacent under the Head Coach's steely eye. We can top our Europa group with a home point against Monaco  having already qualified with the win at Qarabag for the next stage.

But beware the reefs that lie just below the surface in seemingly placid waters. After all the Titanic was unsinkable. And it wouldn't be the first time. But that was then.

The Qarabag game featured most of the first team squad and with little recovery time we looked to be flagging against Chelsea as a result.

 Perhaps we will see more of the back up squad against Monaco although Mauricio's priority may be topping the group.

His game plan seems to be to take one game at a time and trust to the fitness and resilience of the squad. The future starts now and let tomorrow take care of itself when we get there.

Tommy Carroll played a lively 20 minutes in Outer Europe, Onomah never looks out of place and I would like to seem them both start in our final game of the group stage.

We set out to prove that we can be as dour and un-entertaining as the next man and did so without breaking sweat. Our build up was painfully slow but Pochettino, clearly a student of Machiavelli, will claim that the end justifies the means and a win is a win.

The Chelsea game was 90 minutes too far for some and I wouldn't have taken Kane or Dier on the trip. However as Harry scored you might argue that I got that wrong too. Armchair Manager left standing shock.

Mourinho claimed that this was Chelsea's best performance so far this season. Even so Begovich was the busier keeper and whilst they didn't exactly park the bus it seemed to have run out of petrol in a very inconvenient place

Dembele showed early but faded after a knock; Lamela made a late impression and Alderweireld played well; we missed Pundits Pet Alli but he'll be back.

Mason was lively and positive until he hobbled off but Lloris probably shades MOM for his one outstanding save, a couple of alert dashes to forestall trouble and some good punched clearances from crosses.

Such was the quality of the game that Diego Costa stole the headlines by throwing his toys out of the pram and his bib at Mourinho when dropped to the bench and not even sent on as a sub after eventually warming up..

So our record breaking unbeaten run continues. We peer over the very Rim of Achievement; knocking at the door of the ante-room to Football's Heavenly Treasures; waiting in the Express Lift to the Penthouse, on the cusp........

(Editor: Enough already Jimmy. That's more than enough to jinx us for the next decade. Jeeesus)

OK Chief but don't say I didn't foretell the impact of the Academy Boys under Mauricio. We just need to see it through now starting with the run into the New Year.

I will be very disappointed if we are not in the top four by the start of 2016. And you can quote me on that.

And remember you are tuned in to Spurs Musings. The blog that's not always wrong.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Cesc Fabregas stars in this short video of his best moments in the Spurs v Chelsea game.
Whacking the ball into Willian's face from close up is my favourite bit though his free kick runs it close.