Monday, October 16, 2006

Angel Gives Spurs Wings

Tottenham Hotspur still haven’t scored an away goal themselves this season, but the corner they are turning, ever so slowly, continued to be turned at Villa Park on Saturday. To come away with a draw was all that could be realistically hoped for pre match, given the form of the two respective sides, but if it wasn’t for some wayward shooting and a dodgy red card and penalty against Davenport, it could have been even better.

The first half was dominated by Spurs, and little Jermain Defoe was proving a real handful, putting in one of his best performances for a long time in a Spurs shirt. Maybe it was playing two games on the trot, or maybe it was because he has been linked heavily with a move to Aston Villa, who knows, but he was back to his old twisting, turning and dribbling self, albeit with the shooting radar still off target. He had many if not all of Spurs’ best chances during the game, and although for one he should have squared the ball to Berbatov, most were fairly close to finding the net. He needs a run of games, and a goal or two, and we could see him back to his best. Aside from JD, there were good performances from Zokora again, and Murphy on the left who seems to be benefiting from being picked every week, not just subjected to bit part roles. BAE and Chimbonda were again good, especially the latter who had to fill in at centre back when Dawson went off injured early in the second half.

The pre match loss of Ledley King was a cruel blow, as the Dawson and Davenport partnership looks very shaky in comparison with the Dawson-King combination. That said Davenport’s second half sending off was very harsh, as on the replays it looked like the precociously named Gabriel Agbonlahor miss-kicked the ball and fell on his backside. So it was very kind of Juan Pablo Angel to miss the penalty to compensate for the travesty of justice that had just been served. He took the generosity a little too far 60 seconds later though, when he headed Defoe’s woeful corner into his own net. That was manner from heaven for Spurs who now had something to defend for the last 20 minutes with 10 men. It only lasted 5 though as Villa upped the tempo and Gareth Barry unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top right of the net. There was nothing that Robbo could have done, and in fact was he excellent all game, putting his England troubles, and the moronic taunts of the Villa fans, well and truly behind him. In fact, according to Martin Jol, it was the sheer presence of Robinson that made Angel fire his penalty wide:
“Paul made him nervous because he knew exactly what he was going to do. He
always prepares 100 per cent and told me before the game that he knew what he'd done in the past and what he would do."
To come away with a draw, despite the loss of King before the game, Dawson half way through, and then Davenport with 20 minutes to go really showed some mettle from Spurs and is certainly a positive to take away. Another positive was the surprise return of Aaron Lennon who came on as a second half substitute for Hossam Ghaly. He looked a little short of match sharpness which is fair enough, but another couple of sub appearances should be all he needs to get back to his wing wizardry, and Spurs will be all the better for it.

Spurs have a busy week ahead, with a trip to Turkey in the UEFA Cup before playing little brother West Ham on Sunday, who will presumably be at home watching Eastenders on Thursday night. Hopefully Ledley’s fluid would have drained sufficiently to return for the Besiktas game, and that Dawson’s headache also disappears. Ghaly has done his hamstring, and Davenport also broke his nose to add injury to insult, so the Spurs physios will be earning their corn again this week.

Things are looking up.

The Waddler.