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Entries in london derby (10)


I got Mila Kunis, but she's wearing a paper bag on her head

Chelsea 0 Spurs 0


From the match preview:

On our current form:

It's like a really crappy ground-hog day where you get stuck in the lift alone for hours on end with no means of escape rather than being stuck in the lift for hours on end with a flirty Mila Kunis.

What we seek:

The one repeated necessity that I've cited on a number of occasions during this spell of misery is that we need to somehow rediscover our fluency, our mojo. Be it from individualistic magic or a collective tenacity to dig out the result. Or alternatively, luck. Just a lucky break. Anything. It's not happened in the two games where we expected it to happen.


Sort of on the right track? Not exactly flirty seductive Mila Kunis. More Mila Kunis with a paper bag over her head. She's there, you know she's there you can see her and she can still do the type of things Mila can do but, well, the paper bag is getting in the way, masking her beauty. There needs to be more bite. Imagine seeing her bite her lips. Bite Mila, bite! If anything just bite your way through the paper bag. In conclusion, the paper bag needs to go.

We haven't quite recaptured our mojo but there was fluency, structure and some restored pride which are all welcomed returning ingredients that have ever so subtlety spiced up Spurs again. I'm pretty sure I also caught a glimpse of ye olde leadership.

A first half of containment and patience, although from a personal standpoint it felt a little risky even if Chelsea had no clear cut chances. There was still an element of uncertainty at the back for us. Going forward, we played to the smart counter but with no hefty impact. Until that is we were all  left staggered on the brink of half time wondering how we failed to score and go in at the break a goal up.

A full pelt uber-confident Spurs side would have pulled this Chelsea side apart but then that particular Spurs side is MIA. The current one dug deep and in the second half we added that extra bit of zest and urgency to our play. We had more possession and crafted more chances on goal. We even had a couple of half decent set-pieces. Towards the end of the game we not only looked more likely to score, we looked certain. That lucky break still deserting us for the moment meant it finished goalless.

I'm happy. I'm content with it. First half I was concerned about the ominous nature of the game, heavily congested midfield with not much down either flank. It was ugly, stuttery summed up with Redknapp barking orders to Sandro to sit rather than chase. Our set-up there to frustrate and stop Chelsea from functioning, so sure  the game was unspectacular for the most part but who cares about Sky Sports and the neutral viewer? Credit to Harry because in the second half the tempo was far better and also aided by the way the game slowly started to open up, which was an expected eventually after such a non-eventful start.

The manner in which our players grew with confidence was more than evident in the way we kept pushing forward. Adebayor worked hard, holding up the ball, doing everything a team player does and proving that he is of the ilk of forward that works in this system and works in a team that includes so many attack-minded players. Shame he scuffs his shots more often than not. When he rounded Cech, that should have been the 1-0. Second time I celebrated prematurely in the game (the first being when van der Vaart struck it with his opposite good peg in the first half). Story of our day along with the header from Bale striking the woodwork and the Gallas header from a decent set-piece (I didn't make that last bit up - a decent set-piece). Bale even had the audacity to get a dead ball kick on target, forcing a save.

Talking of Bale, this kid has not turned into a massive egotistical nutjob that thinks he's 'made it' and swans around disinterested and not bothering to do anything other than take on the world on his own. Thanks to our lack of depth on the flanks we can hardly rest him or attempt to rejuvenate which means he continues to play and perform on a half empty (not half full) tank. Probably not 100% physically either. When confident, you tend to be far more instinctive. He appears to not only spend too much time over-thinking but he's also making the mistake of over-compensating by doing too much when the simple ball is sometimes the best option. Get behind him, support him because he's not going to get dropped any time soon.

Having said all that, even a 60% Bale can be influential, and he was. Along with Modric who got better and more effective as the game got on. Gallas also a highlight (although one or two moments reminded me of the requirement to bolster the centre-pairing options for next season).

One step at a time and this is as good as any foundation to build on. Even if 0-0 doesn't look it and even though we shouldn't quite celebrate our full return to form just yet (remember, paper bag needs removing). Chelsea lucky on the day relying more on half-arsed penalty claims than anything else although Brad was beaten for the Mata free-kick (was that us getting lucky?).

There's life left in us for sure. But the games are now fast running out. We'd have taken fourth place at the start of the season. That is looking good what with further complacency unlikely after our three successive defeats/blip. No more margin for error. Been there done that, we now have to make sure we start winning at home (win all home games) and work as hard as we did today away. Third should still remain the target.

We're beginning to wake up from our slumber just in time for the up and coming frolics and twisty banter that will no doubt consume us up until May.



I want Mila Kunis


That's one point from four games. If we match that record in our next four games then we'll have two points from eight games. Has an endearing quality that. Feels like it belongs on a t-shirt. Can't quite put my finger on it though. I'm sure I've heard it somewhere before.

Okay, so hand on heart, I really can't be bothered to write a match report for the Chelsea game drowning in the same tactical must-haves and blah yadda ya because thanks to this non-productive run of games I'm having to repeat the same desires I lust for as a supporter from one aftermath to the next. We all know what it is we want from our team. What went missing at the Emirates is still missing four games on. It's sort of got better. Performance wise. Sort of. But the results have not. Not really. And the results are what remain paramount at this juncture of the season as we stare into the blank expression of the run-in. Nothing is quite set in stone yet. Time is still a commodity of worth. Only just.

How have we come to stand on the edge that might lead to either despair or glory?

1) Capitulation. Deserved defeat. Lost.
2) Played well, plenty of possession. Got taught a lesson in how to mug a team. Lost.
3) Disorganised but 'battered' them second half. Lost.
4) Statistically 'battered' them without really ever looking like overwhelming them and actually scoring. Managed to claw back a point from the jaws of defeat. Drew.

It's like a really crappy ground-hog day where you get stuck in the lift alone for hours on end with no means of escape rather than being stuck in the lift for hours on end with a flirty Mila Kunis.

The one repeated necessity that I've cited on a number of occasions during this spell of misery is that we need to somehow rediscover our fluency, our mojo. Be it from individualistic magic or a collective tenacity to dig out the result. Or alternatively, luck. Just a lucky break. Anything. It's not happened in the two games where we expected it to happen. Chelsea away is hardly the best place to hope it will perhaps make a surprise appearance. Because winning there (not as daunting an objective as any of the previous 22 years of mugged off visits) would switch confidence back on and we'll all marvel at how one result can change it all. We'll all scratch our heads as we witness the mentally fragile suddenly reclaim the required guile to once more go forth and conquer. Twenty-two years since we last won there. I know we don't pick our fixture list but sometimes it feels like we do.


If I shut my eyes real tight, I can see her


I'm under no illusions. Even a below par Chelsea side can cause a below par Spurs side on field headaches. The best cliché that suits this game is 'the team that wants it more will win it'. A draw would be a fine result. A win would be the important result.

Do you feel that? That eerie been here before feeling? I said I couldn't be bothered with a match report and I'm being dragged down by one.

Beyond this game, it's going to the wire, no matter the result on Saturday. Your soul has suffered aplenty in the past few weeks and it will continue to do so for a while yet.

From somewhere deep within, Tottenham Hotspur have to wake the **** up and start playing the way we know they can. The way they know they can. Lose the apologetic shrugs. I don't buy into  all this rhetoric about burn out and egos and losing focus. It's the same group of players. Pound for pound the best midfield in the country? Prove it then. Make the season counts for something. Start treating the situation with the type hunger and spirit it deserves.

Christ sake, there I go again. I'm turning into the same match preview for the fifth time in succession. I'm back in the lift. Stuck between floors. The emergency alarm doesn't work. It's ground-hog day and the inevitable conclusion to it will no doubt be waiting for me when the lift plummets down several floors to the basement and I'm left wondering why I ever walked into it in the first place.

This is not a good place to be. There is no Mila Kunis to keep me company. Even if by some miracle she did appear she'd probably morph into Meg from Family Guy. But hold up, I'm not alone any more. It's Harry. Harry Redknapp is in the corner. He's giving an interview about the England job to the lifts broken intercom.

Someone please help me. I need help.




Want it

Writing a match preview can be a tricky most of the time because you simply look to share an opinion on team selection and tactics and then dress it all up with statistics about recent form in the league and history against the opposition then wrap it up with a concluding expectancy of how the game will (hopefully) pan out. I prefer to delve into the analysis mostly in the match review post-result and stick to a battle cry in the lead up to it. Today is no different.

We are currently uncertain of the staring first eleven that will take to the pitch against Chelsea.

No Lennon, Defoe, King, Bale, Adebayor = bare bones, backs to wall, mission improbable. Any team would struggle if you remove that many key players.

Lennon is a non-starter for certain. Defoe, rumoured to be missing too. Then we have the usual kidology and ambiguity concerning King, Bale and Adebayor. We all know it takes several days for Ledley’s knee to return to normal (as normal gets) but can’t imagine us playing him against Sunderland and thus risking him for tonight’s game. Adebayor will also play. Mainly because I refuse to believe the footballing Gods would be so cruel as to unbalance what should be a good solid tight game by depleting us and handing over advantage before the whistle is blown. As for Bale. It’s just a hunch, but I think he’ll start too.

If I’m wrong on Gareth, then the second half against Sunderland is the reminder we need to look back on as to avoid playing so narrow and allow both Luka and Rafa to drift into central positions to be effective. We need to be astute tactically with covering space left open by such marauding and push from full backs to wings. Goes without say that the industry we have to display in the middle of the park, in the war zone, has to be relentless. Parker hasn’t been completely on top form recently but then his level of performance was bound to dip ever so slightly. Sandro might have a role to play.

I wouldn’t scoff at a more traditional 442, knowing full well that this will mean van der Vaart playing alongside Adebayor which means he’ll play behind him, which then means he’ll drop deep and wander meaning it will turn back to a 4411. Discipline is what will take precedence, or at least it’s what should take precedence. Discipline and focus. We need to get at them and retain concentration at the back (Sturridge for me is key to them having any success in advanced positions).

Fact is simply this. We can’t play our trademark game if we don’t have the pace down the flanks. So we have to adapt and do so with minimal sacrifice in terms of style and more importantly ambition. We have to look to win this game. Go for their jugular.

It’s vital we get it right through the middle and overlap to mix it up a little. Width is how we damage, how we counter. If Bale plays, we retain some of that style. If he doesn’t, we have to up the work ethic and aim for fluidity as a unit (players playing for each other).

Chelsea, unbelievably, are probably the ones tagged with the underdog label. Plucky and resourceful, they’ve pulled a few results out of the bag when one or two were expecting more implosions. They still slip up (as seen at Wigan). But they have more than enough quality to hurt anyone. This being the game that it is – a derby and one that comes with a possible festive divide within the top four, there is no way of ignoring that it’s going to be defined with more than just team selection and formations.

This game is worth several points in the mental strength stakes. The three points are what matter but equally so does the statement made when acquiring them.

All eyes on Terry (if he starts). He doesn't mind this ilk of game, he tends to thrive on it such is his self-importance and arrogance. All eyes on Luka too. A chance to dictate tempo and control the game, a gentle nod towards the opposition. You can look but you can't touch. I'll only consider the irony of a Spurs win post-game and what opinion his agent might have of it.

Our record against them lot at the Lane remains impressive in recent years. Our home support is more than capable of being the 12th man (as long as Howard Webb doesn’t take that mantle at any given moment in the game).

That buzz you’re feeling, tingling in your bones. It’s the type of buzz I want to be feeling week in week out from now until the end of the season. Points ratio suggests we’ll be in amongst it and if we keep up our strong home record then we’re going to be anchored to the very top tier. This game gives us another opportunity to show that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Upright blue ones included.

Guile, tenacity and decisive quality please Tottenham. This won’t be easy. Sing your hearts out. As ever, aim high.

Love the shirt.


NLD journal #3

I've had an epiphany. We always get dicked at the swamp. Actually, that's hardly an epiphany is it? Just fact. We never turn up and we always roll over and to rub it in they're always up for it. Our lot let us down. Every time. Stage fright. Well mostly every time.

The 4-4 the only anomaly and that was probably down to the fact they spent so much time French kissing each other during their celebrations they lost enough concentration and composure allowing the comeback of all comebacks. That and we had JJ on the pitch. And one season we lost 2-1 (I think, seem to remember a wonderful Berba goal and a missed pen from Keane and the worlds best striker scoring with this first touch). Otherwise, two 3-0 losses.

Why can we never give them a game like we do at home? It's gutless. Talking of which.

Rather than destroy my gut with frenzied butterfly's eating away at my insides pre-game Saturday morning, I've opted to expect nothing from the game. That way, anything more than nothing will be something.

Not being defeatist. Just don't think a massive battle cry post listing everything we need to do is relevant because history tells me we always suffer a wardrobe malfunction. Tits on show.

If you want me to dwell for a second on positives, then I'll mention the return (hopefully) of Lennon on the right, to aid Bale on the left with his mere presence, meaning doubling up on either one will allow the other to run down the flanks with a touch more freedom. But then Arsenal are unlikely to double up on anyone. So there's hope there.

Tactically, we could sit back and watch them pass the ball to death, much like we did in our 2-1 win at the Lane. Sit back, watch them hit the brick wall of Spurs players in the final third. It's not the Lane so it's doubtful we'll hold till the 80th minute before they find a way through. So at the swamp, I'd like to see us soak it up and hit them on the counter. Let's not allow them wide open spaces near the pen box. Take the game to them but not with unintelligent wreckless play.

Controlled composure Tottenham.


What? Hey, why are you laughing? What did I say?


Okay, so, we have no King, Dawson, Huddlestone. Defoe is in the squad, might come off the bench. Lennon might well start (both apparently looked good in training). We've lacked any type of consistency with selection and our league form has been erratic.

Jenas, vdV, Modric - all key. Christ knows how the defence will hold up, and I can only pray that Gallas doesn't go mental at any point in the game.

442 will do. Pav up top. At the very least. If JD is fit to start...triffic. Play Rafa behind the front man.

It's one of those games where you can see the scum doing what they always do to us and we just collapse and surrender and shrug despondently with yet another wasted 90 minutes. You could also see us playing quite well but then losing to a cheap goal or penalty. Because luck is something we fail to conjure up in our favour.

Hence the epiphany. Not only do we always under-perform there but this season, we've under-performed. So the odds on us winning, the chances of us breaking the mould? Long shot.

And how I wouldn't mind to see a long shot hit the back of their net once or twice.

I guess it will come down to whether we want it. We've never shown that essential quality of desire when playing them away (other than the 1-1 CC semi-final first leg). And the 4-4. But they hardly consitute redemption for our woeful record.

So, whatever. Show me your b*llocks Tottenham. I'm f*cking bored of the same tired script.

Let's have something left-field please.

You know what. F*ck it. Just go for their jugular and be done with it.



Another derby, another win, another DVD 

The month of April. Legend has it that it was birthed in the very depths of hell. A fixture list carved out into the back of a damned soul with the blood of virgins inked into the finger nails of Satan.

Man Utd.

Two played. Six points. We never beat the big teams. We always bottle it. Stick it up your bollix. Again.

To dare is to f*cking do and we're f*cking doing it. Did I expect it to be this convincing? Or course not. My pre-match concerns bottled into a single assumption which was thinking today would be a little like last Wednesday. Back to the walls, pressure and pressing and counter attacking the ingredients for survival. We'll run out of steam, we all said. No Wilson again? We'll be ruined in midfield. Er. Not quite.

Instead today was altogether a completely different ilk of game. One of swaggering style, sexy and slick, covered in a glossing of grit. A performance of supreme confidence and belief. Absolutely magnificent.

Chelsea have hiccuped away from home a few times this season, and perhaps the pressure got to them today. That's up for debate, no doubt something their fans can talk about. What is beyond debate is that Tottenham got to them.

I f*cking love this club for keeping me eternally entertained.

Wednesday, we beat the pretenders, dicking Arsenal and ending their season. Saturday we beat the real deal, continuing our resurgence against Chelsea by damaging theirs. Three point Lane? Bogey team no more. It's so quiet, it's so quiet, it's so quiet over there.

City lose to a 93rd minute Utd winner and 4th spot twists back into our favour.

Injury and selection issues? Lack of true depth in squad? Fallacies. Heart and desire, intent and control. Tempo made in N17. We've had it all season long, disappointed at times, but in the past two games - when it mattered the most we brought it to the table. Just hope we can do the same against the likes of Bolton and Burnley.

Bale was awesome. Just awesome. What. A. Player. Brilliant goal. Dawson immense. In front of Fabio. Modric in the middle. He  can't play there, can he? Hehe.

Terry red-carded, a delight. Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke. 2-1 was - and I'm pinching myself - not a justifiable scoreline. Should have scored more. Would have been done and dusted long before Lampard’s consolation. Roman guilty of a sitter. Bale and Defoe had efforts.  Bentley's brilliant lob sublime.

Talking of JD. Glad he's got it (penalty) out of his system.

Spurs. Title contenders? Of course not. Title influencers? Aye. Champions League front runners? This week. Yes. Makes you wonder. Had we won through into the Cup final, would the hunger and focus in the league have been this great? Whatever Harry is doing I applaud. The players also deserve the utmost credit for the way we've gone from slipping all over the Wembley pitch to flying amongst the clouds.

We were fantastic. On and off the pitch. Top class. Can't wait to listen to Hansen on MotD tonight. Spurs will always let you down, won't they Alan?


Only one team in London. Four days. Two DVDs.

More later when I've stopped dancing on the rooftops.


Huddlestone or Jenas? I've changed my mind...

Chelsea v Spurs Preview

Is anyone giving us half a chance to get something out of Sundays derby game? I think most, pundits and neutrals, can't see past anything other than a Chelsea win. Whether its comfortably achieved or points are stolen in the dying minutes. They are at their efficient best at the minute. Not in anyway sexy or free-flowing. Just determined, resourceful, strong, organised and lucky. The latter being something you earn from sheer hard work. You can't be critical of any team that churns out results in the manner they do. In what looks like a season where the likes of Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal will suffer more defeats than usual, all eyes are on Chelsea. If their performances thus far have been scoring 70% or so then its ominous what they'll be able to do at full pelt. That is if there is a full pelt. Maybe the way they're playing is as good as it will get. Doubtful. Hopeful.

It really depends how we line-up and just how we go about our business tactically. We got it completely wrong against Man Utd. But Harry had limits to what he could do, with Niko possibly not quite match-fit for a start and Keane ok on the left but leaving Huddlestone with no support in the middle. Far too many hoofs and not enough clever disguised passes. But then with Modric sidelined, it was always going to be tricky re-working the balance and structure of the side. Having Utd was not a gentle test for our first re-think. Chelsea away is equally annoying as Harry tries to compensate for the Luka loss.

Earlier this week I blogged about the possible tactical re-shuffle that we will need to undertake. Click here to re-visit this or if you missed it first time round.

I discussed the obvious. Stick Keane back up front with Defoe because we'll need him to drop deep and help out a midfield while Jenas (starting) plays alongside Palacios. JJ's role will be to run his socks off and aid us in the battle against being over-run in the centre. In addition, we need to try to stretch the Chelsea midfield so Jenas might have to work it a little on the flanks too with Niko (who would start on the left) possibly looking to cut in a little. And yet more responsibilities for Jenas as he also makes sure that BAE isn't over-run by Chelsea's attacking full-back(s).

However. I've had a sudden change of heart. I have no logical explanation for it. Although I do believe that Harry will go with Jenas over Huddlestone (gut feeling) I've decided that even though this is a derby match and relatively important for confidence (imagine what a win there would do for us and the Premier League?) - I think Harry should stick with Huddlestone. We've already had one major trauma to the team, no need to induce another. We know Jenas can work with Wilson. But he's also let us down countless of times. He's also performed admirably on occasions. But Huddlestone being dropped serves us and the player no good in the long run. If Tommy is going to be this big bad quarter-back of a player then if he can't do it against Chelsea then there's no real point in placing faith in his future as a Spurs central midfielder.

He did a job on the Liverpool midfield. The United game was unimpressive for many of our players so singling him out for an average performance is not warranted.

Stick with Huddlestone. Allow Palacios to bite at their knees. Keane dropping deep will allow Hudd a little time to pick out a pass. When he isn't in possession he is more than capable of some hustle and bustle. The midfield will probably be congested at times. So mobility might not be required criteria. Pressure on the opposition in the middle will be. And he's big enough to handle himself there.

Niko on the left. Lennon on the right. Spread the ball out to them. It's all easier said than done, and on the day its going to come down to us wanting it and believing we can win. The type of reassurance that the likes of Chelsea possess so well. Which is why they don't except anything less than three points.

I do not want to see a single Spurs player go out there with an apologetic manner like they've got sand in their minge. Get up them. Be fearless. We haven't done too badly against them in recent games. So psychologically there's a slight edge there. Ever so slight.

Defeat won't be the end of the world. But losing is a shit feeling that leaves you with what you started with a second before the kick-off. Nothing. Enough hype, show intent.



Another day, another win

300 days in charge of Tottenham has seen Harry Redknapp claim a (over) 50% win record. Add to it our best start to a season since 1960 and you begin to wonder what Sky Sports News will do next. My money's on an interview with a Spurs fan who's had plastic surgery to their face, including the addition of sagging cheeks, to look like 'arry. Looking at the table this early in the season is completely redundant. But that doesn't mean we can't smile about our perfect start. Just hold off having any work done to your face.

Yet another win against West Ham United (we always beat them) made it three out of three. Not the most sexy of games, was it? There was me predicting a pretty game of football with plenty of free flowing play and triangular movements and instead it was far more physical with Zola's men direct and in our faces from the start.

Was it a good performance? Under the circumstances, yes. We didn't play as well as we could. Determination was there but the usual fluid movement and passing was laboured at times. Third game in around eight days, hot summers day…can we use these as excuses? Sometimes you don't quite get out of the starting blocks with pace and you have to adapt to an opposition who may lack the same type of quality you possess but stick in enough effort and guts to cause problems.

Keane dropped deep which meant we shaped up 4-5-1, leaving JD up on his own. Not sure if this was intentional (or a consequence), but it did allow us plenty of wing-play when mounting attacks, although we didn't quite make the most of this with Lennon not receiving the ball as often as he should have. Defoe was a little subdued, Modric not the threat he can be and wasteful with passes and a couple of efforts on goal (one of which he should have scored). But this was probably more to do with the lack of sustained support from the midfield. Hudd and Wilson not moving as freely as the two previous games. Tommy lacking his usual quarter-back qualities. No pinging balls. Didn't quite control the tempo.

BAE was caught out a couple of times, as well as Corluka. Bassong did well alongside King - who misplaced a pass or two and was worked hard by Cole, but again showed his undeniable class. Wasn't an easy afternoon.

Regardless of the fragmented performance, it's important to highlight something we are not blessed with too often watching Spurs. Not at our best, we still restricted them and pressed hard and towards the end of the game we played sensible controlled football rather than attempting anything stupid i.e. giving the ball away needlessly. We worked our socks off to get the ball back when we were not in possession. Tired as out, but we had a little bit left in the tank (whereas WH seemed to be spent by the end) - but it was job done. Grafting out hard fought wins like this are as pleasing as wining 5-1 away.

As for the game details, we had the best of the chances. Moddle should have scored after some great play from Aaron. King hit the post. All a bit frantic in the first half, plenty of long balls to Cole who managed to bully King and Bassong, keeping them constantly busy. Keane playing very deep and Huddlestone and Palacios with a lot of work to do defensively. West Ham mixing it up, kicking us all over the pitch and hitting us on the counter. Second half starts and they go 1-0 up. Goal out of nothing, brilliantly taken turn and shot from Cole. And then it's 1-1, a goal out of nothing. Cole brilliantly assisting by finding JD who smacked the ball past Green. Oops. As the game progressed, we got more of a stranglehold on it and Lennon made it 2-1 with a cut inside (aided by a fall from Spector) to unleash a cracking left-footed shot. Green beaten again. Saw out the rest of the game professionally.

Should mention the referee. Have I missed something with Clattenberg? I thought he was balding? Anyway, two penalty decisions (handball and a pull on Bassong) ignored as well as failing to dish out a second yellow for a WH penalty shout that looked like a dive and also turned a blind eye to one or two tasty tackles. Seriously, where did that hair come from? I must have him mixed up with someone else.

Untidy, frantic, messy, disjointed. And still three points to take back home with us. Daniel Levy, wet boxer shorts in the post for you. The pessimistic amongst you might highlight that we beat the same three teams in the corresponding fixtures last season. We did. But not in the same fashion. It's a rejuvenated Spurs side with a far clearer structure and strategy. What a difference to the depression we faced this time last year.

Brummies at home next. We are bound to get unstuck soon. Hopefully not in this game. We've got Utd and Chelsea to follow so we'll know a lot about ourselves after September ends. If we get through it with damage limitation to the max, we might be in a very good position to push ourselves into contention, much like Villa did last year. I'm still realistic. We are good enough for 6th and possibly 5th (depending on how City progress). What may help is an addition or two to the squad. Be it before the window shuts shop or in January. Something extra, just in case. Hate to say it, but lose Wilson or Luka and we might struggle. But enough of the what if's. At the moment it's all about the in the bag.

3 games, 8 days. 9 points, 3 games.

The DVD will be great.


Hammer time for Spurs

Looking forward to this. I like Zola, I like him a lot. Wouldn't rub his back in a hot tub with a James Morrison cd playing and scented candles burning, but I do hope he succeeds as a manager. Although there's a good chance he might be a future Chelsea boss, so I guess I should change my tact and just say I hope he has success anywhere other than with them lot. Ironically never thought he had the look of a manager when he started out and it may well be Steve Clarke who has aided him (and West Ham) but regardless, good bloke, the honest kind and obviously likes football to be played the right way. Probably lacking the right amount of quality players at the minute to push on further, but showed enough intent last season that WH might just compete thanks to this dear old Prem league being as open as Katie Price on any given weekend.

And regardless of all the usual 'it's your cup final/we aint your rivals/pikeys/yids' banter nonsense that plights this London derby between us and the Hammers - one thing we do share common ground with is our rich tradition for flair players and playing football the way it's meant to be played - on the deck, attractive, swashbuckling and bloody gorgeous to watch. At least we try.

Not certain of what’s happening behind the scenes at Upton Park relating to the board and the apparent stories about pressure on Zola to accept he has to part with some of his star players. It’s been denied. But there’s trouble brewing as the stories just won’t go away. Regardless of that, they aint too shabby on their day – as Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool have found out in the past. They do like beating the big clubs. They just struggle a little with the medium-big clubs like us. I'm just messing people. Big is in the eye of the beholder, and apparently (so they say) it's not the size that matters, it's what you do with it. And recently we've been dicking them. Still, doesn't mean it's a given. Mainly because something usually has to give way.

I reckon the game will be won tactically tomorrow. King of the understatements I am. What I mean is, if we go at each other and play football we’ll edge it. Just think we have that much more to offer – pound for pound. But if Zola and Clarke work out a way to nullify Huddlestone which may well leave Palacios isolated – we might just come unstuck. And if we do this will serve us, in a twisted ironic way, going forward as it will highlight a weakess that other teams may well take advantage of. Not saying Hudd is the weak link, but he's obviously a player we are all looking at and hoping he can continue to impress.

I’ll guarantee this – it won’t be as poor of a game as the last visit (2-0 win) to Upton park.

Dismantling Hull is one thing, but coming up against a far better side in WH is altogether a different kettle of fish. If we flop and they win comfortable, then that old question about ‘mentality’ will rear its ugly head. If we lose a ding-dong game full of drama and excitement, all you can do is shrug and churn out a philosophical excuse about how it was not meant to be. What we need to do is come away with all three points, even if we mug them in the final minute or brush them aside across ninety breaktaking minutes.

This isn’t about the Top 4 and striving to be part of it. No delusions. Just another step towards banishing all the issues we've had that have remained constant through-out the past decade (apart from those two great Jol years, the first year especially, when things ticked wonderfully well). And all this isn't just about passing a test at Upton Park. What I'm refering to counts for every other game that follows until it all levels out and we can see exactly how well we will do across the season. I guess after 15 games we'll know.

It’s about consistency. Brummies at home after this one, so potentially we could be looking at four straight wins. Consistency = confidence. The teams progress results in growth of statue rather than a apologetic whimper and blaming tiredness or bad luck or whatever. Winning mentalities are birthed from accepting that defeats are unacceptable. Losing should hurt and hurt badly and the want to win should be above and beyond anything else. We've sat in a comfort zone for so long that it's no surprise that prior managers have come in and made assumptions relating to players and ambitions. Drunk on hype is a common occurance, however the majority of fans in the stands wised up to this years and years back. Glad Levy finally has to, and Redknapps appointment is proving to be a clever one even if all he's doing is the obvious - which is something that's been criminally overlooked for a long time.

There are some teams out there have have given a ton more effort than some previous Spurs sides have given, but the reason they don't compete over a season is because they don't have quality players or depth in squad. They have the organisation and work ethic, but can't out play 'better' teams who match them and then play them off the park. The frustrations with our team(s) has been that the players have been present but the committment has been lacking, along with a key player or two missing.

Finally, there is some form of balance. Way off being perfect, but it's there. As for the Sunday game:

King back in defence, Corulka out to the right-hand side. Cudicini in for the injured Gomes. I guess the question is, will Keano partner Defoe again. At a guess, probably. Unless Harry decides to implement a little squad rotation and bench Keane and stick Crouch up front. Personally, I wouldn’t change it. Keane and Defoe works. Both in form. Why break it up now? Wait for Birmingham at the Lane to perhaps rest one of them. As for Modric – let’s make sure he’s in the game and has plenty of the ball.

Do hope it’s an open game. All eyes on Cole and Noble for them, who can definitely hurt us. So that brand spanking new work ethic has to continue so that there is further evidence that times are changing. And by changing I mean more Mars bar than Milky Way.


Spurs 1 West Ham 0 - 'Tottenham Relegation Party' officially binned

For a London Derby this was more drib-drab than ding-dong. Pretty football in places, but otherwise no real intensity or tempo to the game. It was 'Safe from relegation' v 'Happy with a point'. Was actually bored an hour into it. Still, deserved to win on the basis of having more shots on goal. Apart from a tame second-half Di Michele shot (more composure and he would have scored), and couple of efforts in the first half...there wasn't much in the way of a threat from Zola's men.

And up until the Pav for Bent substitution we didn't really carve out much ourselves. No Palacios, and if there was ever a better advert that Spurs need to fork out for a young understudy with the same type of DM qualities, then this was it. Jenas appeared to be exposed, with no Wilson by the side of him. Almost like a young lad at the fairground having lost his father in the crowd. He seemed uncertain where and what to do without assured protection and confidence. No rollercoaster ride for Jermaine today.

What also lacked in abundance was dictation of tempo. Huddlestone started the game in the middle of the park. I should have guessed he'd be preferred to Zokora after Harry's comments to the press, complimenting Hudds 'quarterback' qualities. This was an opportunity for Tom to shine. Or if you're more cynical, the perfect 'shop window/increase value' showcase with the summer edging that little bit closer.

It was no Superbowl performance. But it wasn’t a bad effort. Tom's superb passing was evident as always along with his sweet strike of the ball. And he got forward more in the second half after Zokora replaced Jenas. Zoko's work rate allowed Huddlestone to roam a little more. Not sure if this was a tactical decision or one forced by injury to JJ, but either way - it worked a treat.

Hudd wasn't that shabby himself with defensive duties either and although it was no masterclass he showed enough to warrant a start alongside Palacios. He'll never cover more ground than Jenas does, but with Wilson protecting him he might find himself with far more time to ping balls and disguise passes to his heart’s content. We’ll have to wait and see if he gets the opportunity.

Bent, having performed admirable in recent games was back to his comfort zone, touching the ball once every twenty minutes. He came close with a header, but did little else. But that’s his game. Don’t get involved, but have a chance or two and sometimes score.

Lennon was also ineffective. Loads of running but no final ball and should have scored late on. It’s difficult to assess this. Has he been found out again? Much like two seasons back when he was tightly marked out of games? Or has his form simply dipped a little? Which happens, which is why I refuse to go all knee-jerky and suggest his England performance has gone to his head or that he’s been ‘found out’. He got himself into decent positions yesterday, maybe didn’t turn and run into space for Corluka to play him in as often as previous games but on an afternoon when the skies were grey and dark – so were one or two performances down on the pitch.

Keane spent most of the match deeper than Linda Lovelace. He was poor. And there was no moneyshot forthcoming.

The two obvious positive stand-outs were Gomes and Modric. No surprise with the latter - he oozes class. By no means a vintage performance, and took a while to settle in what was an untidy game early on. Created, always involved and hardly wasteful. Also set the goal up for Roman. Gomes was assured and confident. And didn’t falter when coming for crosses.

Prior to the introduction of Pav, I had this unnerving feeling that we would not score. ‘Just one of those afternoons’. And the longer the game goes on the more ominous it begins to feel. Then on came our Russian forward and the difference in class between him and Bent was evident almost immediately. Thanks to Guss for his kind midweek words.

Just a little touch of class was needed and it come with a wonderful finish. He actually looked good holding up the ball and linked well with the midfield. He got involved. Which is what you want from your forwards to do. It was a committed performance and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t start next weekend against Newcastle.

Even though the game was drib-drab in parts and lacked the usual blood and thunder of games of this ilk, I can’t complain about Harry’s tactics and selection or the performance as a whole. We were not bang on it by any stretch of the imagination, but you never felt West Ham (apart from one or two moments) ever had the capacity to brush us aside. Pretty passing, but also clumsy at times. Was impressed with Collins at the back and Noble in midfield. They were however, very much missing the touch of Carlton Cole up front (who would believe that sentence would ever make an appearance in a match analysis?).

Zola and Clarke should be applauded for the job they’ve done at Upton Park. Considering the players sold, they’ve not done too bad with the players they’ve been left with. As for Europe, Man City probably have the best chance to finish 7th based on the fixture list. We have to win our remaining home games, as the away days left are just a tad daunting. How would West Ham cope with the Prem and Europe if they managed to sneak it depends on how much money they have to spend on players in the summer. It could be too much for them. As for us, I wouldn’t say no to Europe, but then will probably change my mind again tomorrow. Would like the Prem to be a priority next season. Would be nice to spend it in 6-5th place from the start rather than struggle with another mess like this one.

Before the game kicked-off I told the chap next to me that I expected us to win. He agreed. When you have multi-million pound players in your starting line-up against a side that has to field a loanee and a Bosman with an academy player coming off the bench, you have to fancy your chances.

The day was complete when Redknapp reminded everyone about Two Points, Eight Games© in the post-match interview. Delighted. Our home record has been rather outstanding. Sure we haven't quite hit the giddy heights of last seasons ridiculous goal frenzy, but we are not conceding many at the Lane. Fortress WHL? We can only hope.

Something else that should not go without a mention was the penalty shout in the first half from the home support when it looked like a Claret and Blue defender handled in the area. Cries of handball rang out around the Lane and the West Ham fans lapped it up, shouting ‘Handball!’ every time a player touched the ball (something that began at Man City). It's the type of cheek you can’t help but smile at, even if it’s coming from the Green St lot. If it wasn’t enough that we went 1-0 up, the footballing Gods decided to stick a cherry on top and late on when there was a similar incident in the Spurs area and West Ham fans screamed ‘Handball!’ in desperation – a cue for us to spend the remainder of the game dishing it back at every given opportunity. There were still shouts after the game, in the streets outside and on the train’s home.



We're all going on a mid-table tour...

Seven games left. We are now deep into the business end of the season. Alas squeaky bum time is not part of our agenda. There is still however a possibility of a European push to add some extra spark to the fixture list, but looking at the games ahead and then looking back at the miserable start to the season and the various hiccups and mis-guided moments of alleged clarity (we're going down, we're going down) we've had along the way, it's safe to say...thank God we are safe. And we are safe. We are right? Of course we are. Couple more points here and there should see us finish top half. I'm looking forward to the nosebleed. As for's akin to an injection of botox to a thirty-year old face. Completely unnecessary.

But still, plenty of potential shenanigans left in the season (West Ham at home, relegating Newcastle, City and Utd, Everton away....etc) so no need to throw your season ticket towards the directors box just yet. 630 minutes of Tottenham left to go.

Regardless of all this, it still won't stop some people from thinking about the summer months that lay ahead of us.

Which means having to brace yourselves for plenty of Lennon and Modric transfer stories, even though one has signed a contract extension and the other only signed for us last summer. And after the Berbatov and Keane epics, you'd hope our chairman doesn't allow for the usual gut-wrenching acceptance of departure of key players. Expect Liverpool to be linked to our little Aaron anyway. And Levy - JUST SAY NO. The Tottenham Foundation is rich enough from donations, thank you very much.

Also brace yourselves for all the ITK and club insiders, that will surely be crawling out of the woodwork soon to tell us about potentially someone being signed but it's only 87% done so might or might not happen yet. I said I'd ignore them so that I could avoid another shitstorm like the one that took place during the last window. Remember the jihad directed my way? Happy days.

What might or might not happen with David Bentley is something that will also take up plenty of tabloid space between now and the summer and through out June and July. Did Harry whisper the other day that we are not going to sell any of our star players? Guess that means David has already cleared out his locker and is hitch-hiking his way back up North. Personally, I don't think he should go but as I've discussed a few times already this season - where can he play if he can't play right-wing? Can't see Lennon being dropped any time soon. Unless his form dips or he gets injured. If David is having personal problems, then fair enough, let him be. Let him sort himself out. When you set yourself such a high standard, it can sometimes be a struggle to reach it consistently. Those star-jumps were ace, and we've not seen the likes of them since.

But this is something we can all revisit in a couple of months. For now, I'd much prefer to enjoy what we have left of the season and hope the players strive for improvement rather than have one eye on how they plan to spend the summer months. We need to remain competitive at all times. Even when we are mathematically safe. None of this oh so typical switching off lark we experienced ponderously after last years Cup final and all the way to the death of the season and into the beginning of this season.

Palacios will be suspended for Saturday, which is a great shame. But a test to the depth of the squad, as we fall back onto the past. Yes, it's flux capacitor time with Zokora and Jenas pairing up in the middle. If West Ham win this, then expect a week long party in Green Street. If we lose, then I can imagine a vast majority of Spurs fans burning their season tickets and claiming celibacy from football forever. Such is the magnitude of this encounter.

Naaaaa, just fucking with you. West Ham fans might see this as a game of importance as they aim to surge ahead of some truly God awful sides below them to stake a claim for 7th spot, in a season where being average is enough to claim a ticket to Europe. And I don't blame them. They've had plenty of their own turmoil and quietly, in the midst of everything happening down at the bottom and right at the top, Zola and Clarke have got them ticking over fairly well in the middle section of the table. They've done enough to get them into a position that might event warrant the words 'successful season'.

I just want us to dick 'em cause it's fun, innit? Also because I'm still haunted by that 4-1 Easter defeat several years back. Put me right off my Creme Eggs.

Apologies for the textbook 'Spurs fans don't care about lickle West Ham as much as they care about us but by stating this it must mean that I do care otherwise I wouldn't bang on about it' preview of the Easter weekend game. I guess it's all down to one particular fan who sends me never ending texts that are meant to pass for 'banter' but appear to be of a more stalkerish nature in tone. Early in the season I was told it was 'do or die' at Upton Park for the both of us. And to think they call Spurs fans drama queens. I'm now being told this return fixture is a Cup final for European qualification. Some Cup final when we've gone from being almost season long relegation fodder to within a whisker of European qualification.

Best league in the world, innit? While West Ham have been picking up points and improving steadily, we've spent most of it being shit and yet we're what...4 or 5 points adrift of them? Shame we didn't beat Rovers. That would actually have made Saturday a potentially hilarious and ironic turnaround to our season and a rather fitting illustration of just how gash everyone below 6th is.

So step up, Didier Zokora and JJ. Dominate and boss the midfield with urgency, composure and menace. Let's brush the claret and blue aside and reveal in the glory bestowed upon the winners of a ding-dong derby match!



Jesus Christ, we're fucking doomed.