Spurs 0 West Ham 0
It would be easy to tag our attack with the label clearly stating ‘limp’ in big bold capitals. I’d rather not be that obvious. In this instance, I’d prefer to compare Spurs with a male porn star filming on set in LA (or Florida if you prefer) able to sustain wood for a prolonged period even with the countless stoppages and artistic direction. At no point faltering and no flaccid moments to bring filming to a stop. Limp? Hardly, much like Spurs, especially in terms of our effortless movement and offensive intent.
Now the analogy has to be stretched here a little.
The porn star scores several times during the duration of production. But there is only the one money shot. In Tottenham’s case, for all our hard work and poking around it’s not half as fun for us if we get to the end and there’s no shuddering climax. It would be akin to the porn star failing to deliver the most important act of his working day. It would deem everything that built up to that moment as a rather redundant and pointless exercise, for him personally. It will cause on set friction of a different kind.
On Saturday, Spurs resembled that hassled, overly eager and ultimately despairing porn star unable to fulfil and complete the work he's been paid to do. Plenty of swagger and winks to the camera. But no closure. No lingering camera shot and fade out. At White Hart Lane it felt like a session with the fluffer post lights camera action rather than on-set sweating under the lights. It lacked the required relief and that outpouring sigh of ecstasy.
Now if this was a porn movie, someone else would walk onto set and take the role of delivering said money shot, in the knowledge that expert editing in the studio later that day will make it all look seamless. Sadly there is no such cameo to facilitate into this disturbing analysis at this point of the match review. Equally so, if you’re going to ask who West Ham would be in this fantasy, I’d probably opt for Belladonna. Not particularly good looking and usually resembling a complete mess by the end of it, on this occasion frustrating the leading man and the viewers that prefer not to witness a sadistic fetish involving no penetration.
0-0. No money shot. And no satisfaction when the credits roll.
I recently said we could not afford to drop any more home points. Oops. We lost our buffer when losing to Blackpool and drawing at Wolves – meaning that when we play the likes of Chelsea and City and Arsenal (Liverpool too) – these will be must win games. If you look at the table, City are not that far ahead of us (closer thanks to their loss at Stamford Bridge). It’s not impossible, just that we’ve lost plenty of points that would have gone a long way in aiding the fight for fourth. But alas, our way remains the hardest way. As per usual.
There were plenty of positives along with one or two moments of despondent shrugs and waving of hands in disbelief. The perfect illustration of so near and yet so far. It almost resembled the template of game we experienced at the start of the campaign against City. A massive dollop of possession and some guilt edged chances along with unwanted appearances from the woodwork and in-form opposition keeper.
What went wrong this time?
We lined up with a formation that was hardly necessary considering this was at the Lane and against West Ham United (with no disrespect to the East Londoners). No need to over complicate matters with one up top when two would have worked fine. Not that we struggled to get into goal scoring positions. Even with van der Vaart deeper than Linda Lovelace*. Unless you believe that was part of the strategy to dominate the midfield.
*yes, I’ve done that joke before, but felt it relevant enough to spit out once more
For all our wonderful to look at passing and possession, shifting play from left to right, attacking the channels and playing through the middle – it was balanced out with heads turning away in disbelief. Thirty one attempted shots at goal. That’s a lot of head turning.
Defoe was unlucky today. I felt that he only needed a further forty-seven shots on goal himself before finding the net. Two things here, condolences for his very recent loss. It’s a tricky one to gauge with regards to his concentration and composure being completely in synch with the game and not disturbed (even ever so slightly) with off field matters. He had no problem wearing his ‘100’ t-shirt underneath his Lilywhite colours which will need a spin wash before the next game. I'd hazard a guess that his head was in the game. His feet however were not. I won’t dwell on this too much longer other than to say: he should have scored. The Lennon effort off the woodwork the prominent miss. His other goal-sight fluffs seemed to lack the belief of his brace at Wolves.
Modric was his usual class act self. Covers so much ground and is practically involved in everything. His passing is majestic and his movement irresistible. Scott Parker was West Ham’s bright spark, a Jermaine Jenas with a sat nav. Bale still requires another game or two before he’s back at full pelt. Let’s hope International Break does not strike him down. van der Vaart should not have played. He’s not fit and as cited, this was a game that could have done with a more traditional set-up in formation. Rafa seemed to morph into a dizzy Robbie Keane, lost in the midst of midfield with no apparent link-up play with the single forward. The mechanics here needed oiling. The engineer out to lunch.
I was happy with the rest. Gomes alert and Sandro bruising and brilliant. Although Corluka seemed to struggle with a nosebleed the further up the field he travelled which saw some dizzying mis-placed passes.
Lack of cutting ruthless edge in front of goal our bane once more. In a season where most of the top sides are struggling with their demons, it’s worth highlighting that we’re not doing that much wrong. Other than perhaps making it far more difficult for ourselves in the long term by not pulling that trigger against opposition that we should be beating. Nobody in terms of assured quality from the back to the front is taking the league by the scruff of the neck. Hopefully we don’t come off fifth best in this wacky race.
Dawson, Lennon, Defoe, Bale, couple of Modric shots – all efforts that left you scratching your head mumbling ‘one of those days’ a cliché you just knew would rear its head in the post-match interviews. Harry made some fundamental mistakes in selection. But regardless, he can hardly remote control the players once they're out on the pitch.
It was still a cracking game, for the neutral. And City fans. And even easy on the eye for us, mostly. And let’s not pretend that West Ham didn’t have a chance to steal it. That’s a West Ham team that would have gladly taken a point at the start of play. That's how they set themselves up. They held it together, rode their luck, failed to take their chances but never allowed themselves to be over-run. They retained discipline. Relegation fodder? Not on this form. We'll never know how they'd have reacted if we managed to score. Shame we didn't win, what with City losing on Sunday. A point gained then?
Let’s conclude with a positive. Our football has rediscovered it's free-flowing form and we’re looking creative again. Bad luck and bad finishing the spoiler. That’s a negative, isn’t it? I’ve actually finished on a negative. Sorry. I did try not to.
I will therefore end on the porn star analogy that began this match report. What with us failing to deliver the money shot, we could have facilitated and edited things a little by introducing a smouldering cameo Croatian from the watching flank for that final necessary jolt and essential conclusion to the story arc rather than sticking with pizza delivery boys who forgot the mayo. Sadly, the director ignored this possible saving grace and will probably need to add CGI to make amends. Don’t expect to find the DVD on any top shelf any time soon.