Thursday, 3 May 2012

Back on Track?

Last night Spurs looked like they'd returned to something close to their best. The two goals scored in quick succession by van der Vaart and Adebayor had us thinking back to our pre-New Year form.

It could have been a different story last night though, as Bolton replied quickly after the break when Nigel Reo-Coker wasn't tracked by the otherwise majestic Luka Modric to level the scores after Modric himself had put Tottenham ahead in spectacular style.

Spurs had started the second half poorly, and even after their goal Bolton continued to look the more threatening. But then, Gareth Bale did something that I, as I'm sure every other Spurs fan watching the game, had been screaming at him to do. He knocked the ball past his marker, pinned his monkey-like ears back and headed for the touchline before cutting the ball back perfectly so van der Vaart didn't need to break stride to cushion the ball into the far bottom corner.

The third goal was a thing of beauty. Modric sent Aaron Lennon away down the right with an exquisite pass, the pace of one of our wingers again being used to devastating effect, and Lennon crossed for Adebayor to tap home before taking up his celebratory stance on the advertising hoarding behind the goal.

There was one more to come however, and one of Bale's frequent forays into the middle saw his pace take him away from a couple of would be tacklers before Adebayor broke the offside trap, received the pass, rounded Bogdan and slotted coolly into the empty net.

The pace and fluidity Tottenham played with after conceding last night was so refreshing after months of watching the team struggle to break teams down and look devoid of ideas.

Sandro, for a second game running, bossed the midfield and looked a lot more dangerous in possession than Scott Parker does when he breaks from midfield. He seems to be growing with every game, and while many may see the current England captain as his superior, I think our Brazilian is the perfect foil for Modric and would hope he will see a lot more game time next season.

Danny Rose grew into the game and, unsurprisingly, looked a much better player when we started playing at the tempo we did after our second goal when confidence was high. He received a lot of, in my opinion, unfair criticism both during and after the game.

He's not the same quality as Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but I think he's a very reliable back-up, and though his recent comments to the media might not have done him any favours with the management, I hope he's still at the club next season, and given proper game time, rotated with Benoit suitably, or sent out on loan if Harry sees Kyle Naughton as a more able deputy for Walker and Assou-Ekotto.

Spurs now have two games left, away to Aston Villa and at home to Martin Jol's Fulham, to consolidate fourth position, or hope Arsenal slip up and nab third to guarantee Champions League football next season.

Villa have been worse than awful of late, and could be dragged into a rather uncomfortable final day of the season should we take all three points from Villa Park. If our tails are up following our second half performance at the Reebok, we should be able to comfortably win, and possibly improve our goal difference a decent amount. But if Villa decide to turn up and our heads drop again, we could be in for a tricky afternoon.

Provided everyone is fit and ready, I would keep faith with the same XI that defeated Blackburn and Bolton comprehensively. I'm glad to see Harry giving the defence some continuity by playing Gallas and Kaboul in consecutive games. Ledley is/was a great player, but I'm fed up of him being dropped into the team when we should be keeping faith with those who are fit.

Modric and Sandro look good together, and Bale and Lennon, when they stayed wide, looked back to their devastating best. I also saw a stat on twitter that we had only lost one game in 22 (correct me if I'm wrong) when van der Vaart has started behind Adebayor. The game in question being our 2-1 'defeat' away to Stoke in December. And we all know what sort of day that was.

It was also announced today and Kyle Walker has signed another contract extension, to 2017, which is great news for everyone at the Club. After only signing his previous extension at the end of last season, I imagine his agent has wrangled the wage bump that his season probably merits

Walker still leaves something to be desired defensively, but can be breath taking when he overlaps down the right wing. I've questioned several times this season whether, long term, he could do a Gareth Bale and be moved further forward to play as a right winger. He's learning every game though from a defensive point of view and it would be great to see him bursting down the wing under the lights in the Champions League next season in his lilywhite shirt.

It is better to fail aiming high than succeeding aiming low. And we at Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory” Bill Nicholson.

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