Another game live on the box. The potential for more televised heartache and heartbreak. A trilogy of defeats would turn a blip into a psychological mess. A good team doesn't turn to mush over night. But a good team can suffer if they begin to believe that the Gods are turning against them. The first defeat was a capitulation and deserved. The second we played well but naivety and incompetence buried us under a three goal mugging. Everton away is hardly the best place to go to seeking redemption but is probably the best game for redemption to be found. What better way to brush off the negatives and reboot the faith required to get us up off the floor and fighting again.
Moyes men are a unit that are fully aware of their strengths and weakness and play to contain and frustrate. They will be physical and tactically astute (our fullbacks have been made to suffer in the past). There is no disputing that any weakness we plan to mistakenly flaunt because we're too busy losing discipline or lacking in patience will be jumped on and duly punished.
That's not to say we can't give them something to worry about. Everton are hardly made of the sexy stuff. And if we compare quality, flair and trickery pound for pound we have it in abundance so we need to be ruthless when applying it. If they defend deep then we must hold onto the ball. Don't let them dictate the games pace, look to take advantage of it. Whether that's a defence splitting pass or disguised ball or a counter-attack. We've got so much creativity and vision, it's enough to make you blush. Blush when we put it to good use, blush when we fail to use it at all.
We've let ourselves down by losing some of that cohesiveness that played such a pivotal role in our long standing run of good form. We must defend set pieces better. Play our possession football. Just keep it simple Tottenham, embrace the back to basics mantra. It doesn't have to be over complicated. Strongest players in their strongest positions. Player instructions are key and it's an area where most (watching and micro-analysing) start screaming for Bale to remain wide and why hasn't he been instructed to do so and so on. Vital that we look the team and play like a unit. That starts with the gaffer. It leads with the captain. An executed by the players.
Personally, I'd have Adebayor upfront (he might not be as sharp as Defoe at the moment but he's a far superior team player) with a trio consisting of Bale, Modric and van der Vaart with Sandro and Parker holding behind them. Parker fetches and carries. Modric recycles. If van der Vaart journeys inwards then Sandro builds a wall behind him. Same with Bale. Ideally our left winger will stretch Everton by dragging players out to the flank meaning more opportunities to dink the ball through the middle, something Luka will relish. Player instructions simply need to outline player responsibilities, covering and protecting each other. I'm the king of the obvious. Harry will probably go with 442, we'll win 3-0 and I won't post tactical musings again.
I've always gone with some wild prediction in recent weeks with my preview that we'll re-invent push and run and demolish our opponents because we have to reclaim authority and grasp destiny back from the clutches of evil and other colourful metaphors concerning war and pride and desire. I'll be content with us playing rubbish and winning 1-0 with a deflected goal in our only attack in the game. I'd prefer the former to the latter but a win this Saturday, that's the most important thing and I'm happy to contradict my usual necessity to play the Tottenham Way. There's no doubt every time we run out onto the pitch we attempt to play the Tottenham Way. It just doesn't always happen. And if it doesn't happen then nick it, steal it, mug it off. Just like Utd did to us. It's what the big teams do, right? We've had our fair share of average performances this season, games where we've come away with all the points (Fulham away anyone?) so we have more than just the one dimension to our play.
We need to prove it.
We asked for a good reaction to the NLD loss and in some cruel twisted way got it (in part) but had nothing to show for it. Forget style for the moment, let's take the substance of three meaty points on the table. Then that blip doesn't turn into a crisis of confidence which can spread like the plague. It stalls the pressure. The pressure from others but more importantly the pressure from within. That pressure then turns back into belief and onwards we march.
Not taking enough points off the other big sides will only prove costly if we don't wake the **** up and take them off the remaining teams.