Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Reparation Begins

There was a muted atmosphere at White Hart Lane last night coming as it did so soon after the appalling North London Derby. The first half did little to help the mood of the crowd, as Boro came for a point with a 5-4-1 formation and Spurs seemed to be clueless as to how to break them down. There were some who booed the team off at half time, and BMJ also must have let his feelings known as Spurs started the second period in much better form. Another lovely goal from Berbatov to add to his growing collection came almost right away, but it looked like Spurs might be made to pay for Defoe’s profligacy in front of goal when Boro went very close and then finally equalised with ten minutes left after a goalmouth scramble.

It would have been harsh on Spurs to have left with only a point, as despite not playing very well they had the majority of the possession and created a fair few chances, particularly in the second half. Once Huth’s equaliser went in people began to head for the exits toward the late night trains, but those who stayed were rewarded with a fine finish from Robbie Keane. It was quick thinking from the increasingly impressive Huddlestone, who tapped a free kick to Robbie who then simply lashed it in from twenty yards. Robbie Keane is often best when he doesn’t have to think about what to do in those situations, and this was one where his instinct was to simply belt it, and thankfully it paid off.

Spurs were doing their now usual sit back, defend the lead and counter attack for most of the second half, and once again it nearly backfired as the second goal just didn’t seem to want to come. Boro defended well, and Schwartzer pulled off some excellent saves to deny Defoe in particular. But once Keane came on Spurs had the impetus back and the goal came within minutes of Boro’s equaliser. Its simple really – attack and you’ll score, defend and you’re less likely to. One day Jol will have an epiphany and realise this, and it can’t come soon enough for the paying faithful.

The downer to the evening was the red card handed out to Zokora which didn’t look too good on the Sky Sports replays later on, but he was only trying to defend little Aaron Lennon and shouldn’t be judged too harshly. Robbie Keane went off with a hobble shortly after scoring and hopefully hasn’t done any damage as we’d be low on strikers with Mido currently out. From the game on Saturday to Pompey away on Jan 1st, Spurs are playing ten games in thirty days, and will need fit strikers. That said, Defoe looks like he needs a run of games to work himself into some form. There were signs of some nice link-up play with him and Berbatov last night, and the chances are starting to be created, they just aren’t going in, yet. Jol should go with the same two against Charlton regardless of the fitness of Keane and Mido, and let them see whether there is something worth working at. Robbie is effective from the bench and can also play deeper or wider, so gives BMJ more options than Defoe, who simply needs to be scoring to do his job for the team.

Half of this week’s reparation work has been completed, now three more points on Saturday and safe passage secured atop our UEFA Cup group next week, and the memories of the derby defeat will start to fade. The players and the fans have not fully made up yet, but by the end of the evening the icy barrier had thawed somewhat, and cordial relations at least had resumed. Two wins out of the next two games and we’ll all be bosom buddies again.

The Waddler.