Spurs 0 Stoke 1
Ironic that my previous blog article spoke about how we need to be beating the lesser teams and how defeat should cause a reaction of hatred, forcing a positive reaction. Didn’t quite expect us to be tested on the latter quite so soon.
Expectation and the added pressure that comes with wanting more than just the norm makes this type of defeat a painful one. I expected us to tear Stoke a new one. We’re not the ones meant to be dropping the points.
Famous last words.
I’m going to spare you the torture of a comprehensive match report. You’ll know the story by now. And to be honest I’m currently lacking the motivation to re-live a blow by blow account of what turned out to be a very poor afternoon in N17. I must not be the only Spurs fan who decided not to watch Match of the Day.
I’ll summarise instead.
We had chances. One of which was miraculously cleared off the line. Woodgate left the field of play early thanks to a heroic clearance of his own, and late on Lennon ‘substituted’ himself leaving us with 10 men (all of our subs had been made prior to Aaron’s injury). Disjointed day at the office. We started slowly, found a rhythm that was more Jo Wood than Ricky Whittle. We then applied some pressure but nothing stamped with our trademark free-flowing confident play and soon it went completley off the boil and we lost fluidity and eventually got mugged by a plucky Stoke side (Fuller getting past BAE with ease, setting up Whelan who finished confidently). Lady Luck was not evident at WHL today. Had she blown a kiss our way then Crouch would have had a brace to his name. Niko hit the post. Might have been a penalty in there for us too.
Instead, we lost at home. No grand performance in memory of Sir Bill Nicholson (the 5th anniversary of his passing was on the 23rd of this month). It’s disappointing. It’s unnerving. It’s not meant to happen right? Well wrong. It happens. It’s gutting because three points would have kept us right up there. But today will not be the only upset of the season I’m sure. The Prem has already been full of surprises, so expect more. Hopefully not at our expense.
Some Spurs fans will say the 0-1 loss serves as a reminder we should take nothing for granted. Others will cite it as evidence that we are not good enough to mount a serious challenge for a Top 4 place. You’ll have some claims that it’s been a gradual yet ever so subtle devolution since Modric’s injury that is now beginning to have a clear detrimental effect on the team aided when other key players (Defoe) are also missing.
Yet this time last week I heard a dozen people say that the win at Pompey was proof how strong we are in comparison to the softer and better known versions we’ve come to bemoan in past seasons. Don’t get me wrong, this defeat grates me more than losing to Chelsea or Utd. Possibly because it’s so unexpected. But more so because it serves nothing in the way of justifiable evidence as to whether this was just a fluke loss or a clue to something deeper. Had we played brilliantly and still lost the post-match analysis would have been the same. Had we won it you would have probably found yourself saying something like ‘that’s the sign of a top club’. To win and claim all three points having played poorly.
Stoke were hardly ever in it, apart from the odd chance and shot wide and that early effort that could have stuck'em ahead. Credit to them. But we were not out played. We were just below par. And that’s something for Harry to fix because it’s a complete waste of an afternoon. We defeated ourselves. How's that for another cliché?
I’m not going to dissect the performance and criticise anyone individually. If we lose the next 2/3 games then we can have an inquisition. For the moment, I’m going to tag this with a ‘one of those days’ label and hope that the defeat stings some urgency back into the players and we don’t have to revisit this for a long time.
Everton on Tuesday. Pride restoration the priority.
Arsenal up next in the Prem.
Hold onto your...