Spurs: 'top 4' side, top 4 decisions
Fulham 1 Spurs 2
I've had pockets of time since the final whistle on Saturday afternoon to attempt to write up a structured match report of our splendid away win (and second successive three point come from behind reward), but alas, no such luck. I'm still sick. Epically tired and somewhat detached from creativity, but still I'm managed to muster up some tweets today whilst laying across the sofa watching the continued demise of Liverpool FC and then Man City trying to do their best impersonation of the Jose version of Chelsea by spending the vast majority of their game against Blackpool boring the very essence of my soul from my fever stricken body. I still don't rate them. Yes, they are lucky, yes, they don't lose often, but something about them just screams out 'CHOKE'. I guess with Man Utd doing their very best to tread the line of ordinary, this season could see a further shake-up to the one we introduced last time round. So perhaps discounting the billionaires from Eastlands would be a tad dangerous.
Okay, so Fulham v Spurs, I'm going to free-style it. Then just hit the publish button.
Saturday and Fortress Fulham. In yer face Mark Hughes. And Lily Allen. In the context of the game, we deserved to win. Some of our defending at times was not best and against better players (Eto'o) we might be left scratching our heads. But that's out of context. Which is not a concern, not until Wednesday.
First half, opening exchanges, thought we played very well. Slowly and obviously, Fulham got themselves back into the possession game. Sandro put himself about. Bit too eager, I guess he still has to get to grips with the pace of the game and the fact that clumsy challenging won't warrant too much other than a yellow card.
Was very content with Harry's selection. Strongest side, be it with one or two minor tweaks, but this games was vital in terms of needing to win - whereas the CL game on Wed isn't. Because we get to play Inter again, at the Lane. Which will be important. I'll talk more about the CL game in a later blog.
Fulham took the lead, Kamara scoring. Bit of a mess from all concerned in terms of positioning for this one. It's easy to point and shout at Gallas who showed a lack of awareness of where the Fulham forward was (behind you!) but you could also lay scorn on Hutton who run into a central position, practically clashing with Kings space and the cross/ball going through the both of them into the path of Kamara who tapped it home.
Did Gallas think someone (in Spurs colours) was tracking the forward? No matter, organisation here was left wanting. All too easy. Needs to be worked on in training. School-boy mistake tbh.
But this is brand new Spurs, feasting on Dutch cake, of the Amsterdam variety. Relaxed and giddy, as you were. We go down the other end and equalise. From the kick-off. Brilliant skill from vdV to turn and chip onto the bar, ball falling down to Pav who had a simple tap in, but made sure he pointed out his name on the back of his shirt just in case anyone was in doubt of the clinical polished ball-pushing over the line touch off his boot.
Have to say, I'm still lol'ing at the Fulham fans (bless 'em) who didn't even had enough time to finish their rendition of 'you're not singing any more'. So the Spurs away support did the polite thing and finished the song off for them.
Other mentions. Gomes pulled off a save or two. King went off injured, Bassong replaced him. I know that with Ledders, I sort of half expected him not to play and be rested for Inter, in what many expected him to play a damage limitation role. I'm glad Harry started him, it's a shame he limped off and won't be available for the Everton game next weekend (as well as no Italian away day). But it's a statement made. We didn't take the game for granted or displayed signs of looking ahead to mid-week.
It's part and parcel of the risk we take with King. Get well soon. Once more, we re-visit the age old conundrum of the centre-back pairing and what we need to be doing in terms of looking ahead for the future. Once Dawson is back, we might place said conundrum back onto the back-burner again. Which isn't ideal, what with us still not knowing for sure if Woody is going to be 100% again.
Second half, Sandro off. Subbed, not sent off, which he might have been not out of malicious play but from untidy tackling. Azza replacing him before the kick-off. Lennon was good. Again. Off the bench appears to have given him a gentle kick up the bum in terms of desire to impress. Cracking
movement with BAE finding Pav who played the ball inside to Lennon - weak shot, but good to see all round. He seems to have direction rather than losing himself cutting into central midfield positions or running out of steam down the flanks.
More assured second half from start to finish I thought from us. Not perfect, Kamara spoiling chances which I was happy to see spurned. Wasn't so much about individuals today, but more about the unit. vdV, Bale, Modric...all relatively quiet. vdV had his moment with the first goal. Moddle is still slightly off the pace, his touch not Lukaesque just yet, but he's made it clear he knows he's struggling a little. He'll get there. Bale was definitely quiet compared to the beastly performances he usually produces. Did pulsate forward creating a vdV chance. But as a unit, the lads did enough, which was worthy of three points. So no shrugs of despondency from me.
Other bits and pieces off the top of my head. Hutton and Gomes getting in each others way, a Hutton effort on goal, Crouch on for Pav. Oh yeah, almost forgot. The goal for 2-1.
First time in history I've ever agreed with Alan Shearer (with his MotD assessment). Hansen obviously disagreeing with him and baiting Lineker. So very very bitter. Always let you down the Spurs don't you know.
If you want to start playing the game by the letter of the law - at the time of the Hudd shot, their keeper was in sight of the ball leaving the boot. Gallas, offside position, not interfering with play. Ball takes a deflection, still not interfering. Gallas tries his best to put any doubt in the refs mind about disallowing a potential goal by attempting to kick the ball, still not interfering because he didn't touch the ball.
Ball crosses the line. 1-2 Tottenham.
Lino however decides to flag, so good on Hudd for making sure the ref took note of the journey taken by the ball into the Fulham goal. Mike Dean, giving us the decision. I'm sure I would have complained about it if it was the other way round, but deep down, even though you could argue it is interfering because the player was trying to become active - he wasn't active because he didn't change anything (i.e. the ball was still on course with going in after the deflection, so Gallas could have stripped naked and slapped a haddock on his backside, it would not have made a blind bit of difference - although no doubt it might have made it onto Soccer AM's third eye).
Active, not active...ambiguous, no? The authorities would not have it any other way.
Good performance. We're 5th. 14 points. A few off the top, and obviously regretful of the points dropped against a couple of sides this season which might have had has even higher. But this season will be more open and closer than the last, so it's a case of staying in amongst it again - and aiming for bigger scalps in the way of our 'Top 4' opposition and doing something about the lack of wins away to them in 60+ games. Also feel we need to start to destroy sides at the Lane again.
Mentality should be about maximising our potential against the supposed weaker sides at home and continuing to dig deep away. Stick the pressure on the other contenders by pulling away. At the minute, everyone appears to be very evenly matched (there's four or so tiers in the Prem itself).
Momentum = confidence = belief = success.
Simply put, get through to the Jan window in a top 5 position. Then consolidate the f**k out of it.
Back to bed I go.