Spurs 1 Chelsea 0 - It’s so quiet, it’s so quiet, it’s so quiet....over there
When I heard the game was delayed because of a suspect vehicle in the Park Lane, I thought maybe Harry had parked a bus. Typical that our first 3pm Saturday kick-off since forever didn’t take place till 3:30pm. But who cares anyway? Sun was shining. And the delay allowed me to tuck into a cheeky burger pre-match.
Excellent performance. I don’t care that Chelsea were sloppy at times. We competed and created and deserved the points. What we have at Spurs is a team. One that works hard and one that has players in the right positions with a complete understanding of what their responsibilities are, individually and as part of a unit. It’s taken some time to get here, and there is no doubt it can improve further. Just makes a mockery of some of the concerns we had in recent months. Confidence breeds more confidence which leads to self-belief and good form. Form that reflects the quality we do possess rather than a shadow of it which saw as falter so pathetically early in the season.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a team of square pegs slotted into square holes. Rejoice at the simplicity.
And it’s no surprise that it's coincided with the arrival of Wilson Palacios. Lost to Bolton on his debut, but since then we’ve remained unbeaten. Sure, his distribution wasn’t great today and it’s definitely an area that requires improvement, but Wilson’s work ethic is quite simply outstanding. His positional sense and strength in shielding the ball allows other players to go about their business knowing that the Panther is primed for attack if any of our forward play breaks down. Modric is the obvious benefactor of our new midfield enforcer.
And as for Luka, yet again we find ourselves with a brilliant player, one that’s imperative to any sustained progress we plan to make from now into the start of next season. Juventus and his agent can go take a running jump.
First half saw us have a couple of chances, both from Robbie Keane, both efforts well saved by Cech. Chelsea’s efforts equally dealt with at the other end. It's plain to see this is not the unstoppable, unbeatable Chelsea crafted by Jose. It’s a great feeling to know at half-time that there’s every chance we can beat them. One league win in thirty-eight games (that’s nineteen miserable years) and it’s Chelsea who don't quite look to have the better of Tottenham.
Second half, with Chelsea knowing about Utd’s loss away to Fulham, most would have expected a storming start from them. One with intent and purpose.
Instead, Bosingwa decides to play his way out of the penalty area rather than allow the ball to go out for a goal-kick. Messy passage of play sees it cleared, but only as far as Woodgate's head. Seems Football First and MotD both over-looked the (under-stated) header to Lennon, who dinked and crossed superbly for Modric to strike a cracking ball beyond the reach of Cech into the corner. Great play from Woody. Great play from Aaron. Great play from Luka.
His performance deserved that moment. Could have added a second when Lennon again crossed for again for him, this time Luka hitting the shot into the ground allowing Cech to collect with ease.
As expected, Chelsea far more forceful in possession after going 1-0 down and there was a moment when I almost conceded that we would need a second goal to win this because surely Chelsea would equalize. Almost did too. Staggering Gomes saved from John Terry. Match-winning stuff from the Brazilian. Then we countered, breaking with Lennon released out on the wing, only to then see him balloon the ball into the crowd. Had he zipped in a composed cross Bent or Jenas would have it 2-0. Heart still in mouth.
Chelsea continued their pressure in the 4 minutes of injury time. Plenty of nervous incident.
Anelka effort saved Lampard corner, Alex heads it into the ground, oh no no no, off the bar, phew, Gomes flicks it away Ball out of play,
Keane tells the fans to hold onto the ball Malouda effort,
another corner, Ballack turns and shoots, blocked off the line
Still unbeaten against the ‘Top 4’. Our defensive record this season remains impressive (compared to last season’s antics). Unbeaten in six games. Three points from a European place. Nine points from the bottom three. Highest league position since August 2007, which is actually depressing coming off two successive 5th spot places, but it wouldn’t be Tottenham if there wasn’t a transitional period slotted in every couple of years. And just in case you’ve forgotten, we only had two points from eight games when Harry took over.
Surely this warrants a DVD release-party on an open-bus, paraded on Tottenham High Road?
Gomes – 8.8 – Has come back to reclaim the number one jersey, and has done so with some solid performances. Yeah, we know what he is prone to doing (spilling the ball, missing punches) but he’s cleaned up the calamity and is pretty solid between the sticks. His save from Terry was fantastical. He blocked almost everything else, apart from the Alex header, but even lady luck flirted with the Brazilian today. Lovely.
BAE – 8.6 - The perfect illustration of a player coming back from injury, playing through the hard times and continued to be selected allowing him to find consistently good form. Not the greatest defender or attacking fullback, but bloody reliable and dare I say.....good. He's come along way from the liability tag most bestowed on him.
Corluka – 8.6 – Man City sold this player...why? Looks half-asleep, but plays like a lucid dream: Always in control. Defended well, attacked even better when supporting Lennon. Anyway back for Hutton?
King – 9 – Can only play one game per week. Anyone who has any doubts about him should be declared clinically insane. A colossus at the back for us. Quite content with his one game every seven days if Dawson can cover with the type of form he has shown recently.
Woodgate – 8.8 – When you have a rock playing alongside a colossus, its happy days. King and Woody are an exceptional pairing at the back. Reads the game superbly. Touch wood (oh the pun, the pun) he has escaped major injury concerns and has also been a model professional for us. Something that some people said he'd fail to do when he made his move from Boro to London.
Jenas – 8 – Frustrating at times. Makes you wonder why the generosity with the 8/10. Misplaced passing aside, he worked his socks off. Looks to play the forward ball and was mentally on the level required, rather than sitting by a corner pin rocking backwards and forwards very slowly. He can thank Wilson for the new founded spirit. When JJ puts in this type of shift, it's easy to see why some might under-rate his effort but if you watch the game, he doesn't stop running. And in games like this, anything less is unacceptable.
Palacios – 8 – Distribution nowhere near perfect, but the man has adamantium in his bones. Completely unbreakable. And this is Wilson on about 75% of what he can do. Against top tier opposition you need someone who not only has grit but excels physically. He didn’t look out of place up against Essien (a far more complete midfielder), Ballack and Lampard. Fantastic buy, and I no longer shrug with disapproval at the hefty price tag.
Lennon – 7.9 – Quiet(er) performance today, but you can’t help but believe something good is going to happen when he runs with the ball. As seen with his assist to Luka for the goal. Having signed a two-year extension that will keep him in Lilywhite till 2014, I’m hoping Levy understands the importance of a ‘just say no’ policy to the likely bid(s) from Liverpool or whoever else in the summer. He's agreed to an extension. He has publicly stated he is happy at Spurs. It’s impossible for him to leave the club. I just feel the need to state this out loud via words in a blog article. He can not leave the club.
Modric – 9.2 – Playmaker, creative midfielder, magician. Cracking goal, cracking performance. We have ourselves a brilliant midfielder who will get better as the team continues to improve. Dictates the tempo for us. It’s ridiculous that some believed he was too lightweight for the Premiership. Hoping to see a lot more goals from the little man next season.
Keane – 7.9 – Worked hard and as Harry pointed out, came deep (we all know how good he is at that) to support the midfield and link up play. Not his day in front of goal, but did exactly what was required, just without the polished touch.
Bent – 7.9 – Played very well. Effort was stupendous. Might have lacked a touch here and there and sometimes displayed weak decision making, but hassled the Chelsea defence relentlessly. When he plays like this, you can’t fault him too much. And I’m not going to be critical just because I don’t see him at the club next season. He is not right, from game to game, as a first choice forward, IMO. But he can do a job. It's just that for the fee we signed him for, he should be first choice. Which is why I expect us to cash in on him cometh the summertime.
Redknapp – 9.5 – Balanced side, no unnecessary tinkering going into the game. Got the players up for this and tactically was spot on.
If we continue to improve, then I hope to see us boss the minutes after we go up a goal - against any opposition. When we're under pressure, we sometimes don't make it easier on ourselves by putting our foot on the ball and slowing the pace down to suit us. But this is a general observation. Chelsea are not exactly going to make any game comfortable for the opposing team.
It's just gone 2am, and it's pitch dark outside. Sun is still shining though. COYS.