Thursday, 21 April 2011
The joy of six
In honour of a quite astonishing game (and in keeping with the assumption that you'll have seen it yourselves and read plenty of linear reports elsewhere) here are six paras, one for each goal.
As with last night, they follow no particular pattern - and will probably leave you feeling strangely disappointed.
Oh, and apologies if they get slightly worse towards the end, I wrote some words at the weekend and it took a real toll on me. This blogging fixture list is so, so unfair...
1) If Luka Modric could finish he'd be the best player in the world. And we'd probably have won 4-3. His flakiness in front of goal is quite inexplicable. Everywhere else he's so assured, so complete... yet seven yards out when a good contact = a goal, he scuffs it. Maybe the Gods burdened him with this flaw to pull him back from the brink of perfection, to give him at least one frailty to overcome. Perhaps we'll find that the WHL crowd is actually a Greek chorus as part of an epic quest. Or, knowing Spurs, a tragedy. That said, whilst on the night I thought his chance was easiest, watching the TV highlights later I thought Crouch should have done much, much better with his header from a perfect ball by BAE
2) Like many Spurs fans, I had a schizophrenic reaction to the result. When you're 3-1 down against an Arsenal team playing some pretty decent stuff, you wouldn't just take a draw, you'd adopt it, buy it a pony and change your will just to make it stay. But last night it felt a bit anti-climactic. Once we'd equalised, Spurs of old - fans and players - would immediately have turned their attention to hanging on. We'd have reached the zenith of our ambition. Last night it seemed more like a stepping stone to a win. We pressed on, believed we could get it and even looked like we would get it. It's not important that it didn't come (I'm lying, it is), what's really important is that it seemed totally natural to go for it - and to feel something akin to disappointment at the final whistle. Sea change. Possibly.
3) Fabregas' attempts at leadership seemed more like showmanship to me. When Szczesny (astonishing paucity of vowels, there) clattered Bale (two out of four letters!) and they'd just gone 3-1 up, he high-fived the keeper (questionable in itself as our man lay prone and clearly in a lot of pain) then went from player to player, geeing them up, clapping his hands together, gesticulating towards their fans. That's the easy bit, Cesc. Thing is, when it went 3-2 and then 3-3, you weren't quite as much to the fore, were you? Not quite so vocal and also a bit depleted on the high-five front. Easy to 'lead' a team that's steaming forward anyway. Harder to galvanise a side on the ropes.
4) Dear Alan Hansen, please give us your analysis of Benoit Assou-Ekotto's performance. That is all.
5) I have previously questioned the worth of Van der Vaart in a team context. I think he has a disproportionate effect on our shape and tactics. I also think he's unfit. Last night, however, was a virtuoso performance. His first goal was a tremendous strike and I wouldn't have wanted anyone but him to take that pen. Long-term, I still think his assimilation into our line-up and style needs working on, but on a big night, against quality opposition, when he feels the spotlight on him, the boy sure can play.
6) When Arsenal came out for the second half, they'd clearly been told by Wenger that this time would be different. This time they would re-emerge and dominate by being physical, imposing themselves and generally standing up to the challenge. Bully us, maybe. Djourou and Song, confused by these warrior words, interpreted them as an instruction to make crude tackles on Luka Modric and get themselves booked - nullifying their own effectiveness for the rest of the game and giving away free kicks in dangerous positions in the process. And that was the end of that. Arsenal knew what they wanted to do, they'd seen other teams do it. But it's just not in them. And when they try it, it just looks phony. They've got an abundance of other qualities, but, with their current personnel and philosophy, this isn't one of them. Thank goodness.