Friday, September 15, 2006

Job done in Prague

“It was the perfect result for us” so says Big Martin Jol, and you can’t help but agree with him. Whilst the performance wasn’t exactly the high octane, tub thumping return to European football that the fans may have wanted to see, it was as good a European away day as we could have hoped for.

Spurs started the game quite slowly, and took at least 10 minutes to get into their stride but were never really threatened by an average Slavia team. Once they did get going, the ball started to be moved around and Spurs took control. Didier Zokora looked immense all night, that boy has some energy levels, and loves a tackle too. It was he that set up Jenas for the only goal of the game, and really dragged Spurs up a gear. It was a nice strike by JJ but he did little else worthy of mention, and his set piece delivery certainly needs some fine tuning.

With Lennon not making the game after all, Spurs fielded a sort of 4-2-2-2 formation with Huddlestone and Zokora the holding midfielders, and Tainio and JJ playing ahead of them in what you could describe as narrow wide roles. Both TT and JJ were quiet though, and didn’t really get forward to join Mido and Defoe. Chimbonda & BAE certainly did their bit adding the width, and with a little more practice, Spurs may have found a way of playing to use until Lennon and Malbranque emerge from the treatment room. Big Tom Huddlestone deserves a mention for what was his first competitive start in a Spurs shirt. He certainly has presence, his range of passing is very nice indeed, and he’s not afraid to get stuck in either. The only concern is his lack of mobility, he needs time to dwell on the ball and to get to where he needs to be, and you don’t tend to get that time in the Premiership. Perhaps that’s why BMJ is trying him out in Europe. You can’t help but feel he may make a good centre back. Maybe it’s just because he was playing next to Zokora who seemed to be everywhere at once, zipping around the field like there were three of him on the pitch – most players would look pedestrian next to the “Maestro”.

Aside from a spell towards the end of the game, Spurs didn’t look under pressure and if Robbie Keane could score in a 1 on 1 situation, it could have been 2-0 and goodnight Prague. It must be a mental thing with Robbie, because you would expect a player of his skill to put those away, even relish the duel with the keeper, but he always contrives to mess it up somehow. It keeps the second leg interesting though, and should ensure Spurs don’t go into the game in a blasé manner.

With West Ham losing at home and Blackburn only managing a draw against Red Bull someone, it shows that it could have been worse for Spurs, and this result should do them the world of good in terms of confidence too. Roll on the second leg.

The Waddler.