Some thoughts, stats etc...
White Hart Lane
6 league wins on the trot, 8 in all competitions. Only 12 goals conceded at home all season (Prem). The Stoke, Hull and Wolves games particularly frustrating. Those aside, only Manchester United this season have visited and left with more than a goal to their name. You have go back 36 times since we lost by more than one. Staggering feat. Not quite the finished fortress, but only a few more bricks required and a coat of paint. We've made it difficult at times by not taking guilt-edged chances, so I would expect us to push onwards next season and consolidate home possession by doing what we did to the likes of Wigan and Burnley more often. Could have had a decent DVD out of the Chelsea game had we shown definitive cutting edge.
But there is no major complaint. We have restored pride, the team are confident and impose themselves with style. Our home form is superb.
It's a tricky one this. Did we make things difficult for ourselves by not taking our chances? Perhaps. But I thought Bolton (credit to them) turned up with those party pooper hats on doing their utmost to ruin our day. Which makes the win and three points even better. Sure, we were not quite at our best and yes, it took a wonder-goal from Huddlestone, but that's how things work out sometimes. You dig deep, survive, and lap up those moments of genius. We had to win, no matter the performance. And we did, and that's all that matters. Credit to Gomes, King and Dawson for their defending. Warriors. Although at times it was full-on heart-in-mouth desperation. Gomes groin problem, surely a consequence of sleeping with the vast majority of the Park Lane WAGS. Talking of defending, I haven't forgotten...
Some say, he stood 8 foot tall, as wide as a truck with eyes made of fire with the strength of a hundred men. He was here, there and everywhere. A force of nature so strong that no mere mortal dared to approach. Seriously, wtf? Where did this performance came from? Nice one. Good work fella.
Other stuff from the Bolton game
Defoe and offsides. I honestly think this is a lost cause now. He just doesn't grasp the concept of standing level.
Lennon. Lovely. Nice to have him back. Please please please torment City on Wednesday.
Goal-scoring. Lack of. We seem to have a squad of players who can all score but strikers who make the art of scoring look as difficult as standing on your own feet for more than 10 seconds at a time if your name is Drogba. They (Pav, JD and Crouch...and EG too) have to get it together. One chance - one goal. Let's leave the Andy Coles behind for the final two games.
Bale. Still a beast when played on the left-wing. Let him be.
Hands up if you think he'll be playing on Wed too? Has it happened before this season? King playing in a Saturday game and then a mid-week game? I'm sure it has, at least I'm not alone in thinking this, although I (we) might be wrong. Any stattos out there willing to confirm or debunk?* On the subject of Wednesday and selection - it's a massive one for Harry. Does he stick or twist?
I say stick.
*Last season he played against Udinese on the Thursday and then Bolton on the Sunday which was Redknapp's first game. Still uncertain if he achieved a similar feat in the Prem.
Match of the Day
Lineker winding up Hansen. Excellent.
Cup final. £30M+ Champions League play-off. Epic game, one which we find ourselves in because we deserve to be in it. We have survived the initial hype early season, we survived the spankings dished out by three of the top four, we survived the hiccups and disappointments, and each time we hit a brick wall, we took a step back then leaped over it. We are sitting in 4th place because we are currently the 4th best team in the country. Two more games, the one at Eastlands in particular, will define our season and conslidate the hard work and graft.
Sure, yes, few expected deep down, to find ourselves in this position because we sort of half-believed that cracking the Top 4 was impossible. But Liverpool have imploded and we along with others have closed the gap. So to be in this position now - hand on heart - I don't want to be standing in front of you all on Thursday morning saying, 'Jolly good show, there's always next season'. And yes, next season we'll be challenging for the Top 4 again, I have no doubt in that. But to be this close, it will be too hard a pill to swallow to miss out.
The challenge (next season) can be improved tenfold further by claiming 4th this season and entering the big boys playground for the first time. City will no doubt want this as much as us. They know CL next season will short cut their efforts in challenging for the title, bringing that realisation sooner to them. Which is another reason why we have to cut short their dream and see ours out.
Let's no forget. The pressure we are under is equally felt by Manchester City.
It's time for redemption. 2006. Bury it once and for all.
The Amazing Life of Morris Keston - Win the book, click here.