Monday, December 17, 2012

Fear and loathing in North London

On eighty minutes, a fan spontaneously combusted in front of me. Another doused himself with a canister of petrol and waved a match provocatively before he was wrestled to the ground by a posse of frenzied stewards. A female fan offered round a hip flask of Rohypnol. Everyone had their own solution. Any excuse to sidestep another mad Tottenham finale.

The late substitution of Mousa Dembele was met with dumbfoundment and derision by those around me as Spurs clung on to a slim 1-0 advantage over a desperate Swansea. Andre Villas-Boas’ negative substitutions in winning positions have been a contributing factor to the glut of late goals conceded in recent months and the removal of our midfield talisman only increased the likelihood of a late Swansea equaliser. We had been here before.

A sporting encounter peppered with easy-on-the-eye passing swiftly degenerated. The fear of what might happen overshadowed events on the pitch. The sound of jangling nerves was audible in the stands. Swansea, who failed to register a shot on target, found encouragement and fed on the prevailing air of uncertainty.

Suddenly, all hell broke loose. Hugo Lloris raced out to punch away a late Swansea punt and poleaxed Michu with the follow through. Referee Mike Dean played advantage and Spurs broke away seeking a second, game-killing goal on the counter only for impressive sub Andros Townsend to be foiled by Swans’ keeper Gerhard Tremmel.

The away side furiously objected to Townsend playing to the whistle and, as tempers flared, a tracksuited Jake Livermore sprang from the bench like a geezer at a bus stop to defend his friend and teammate (receiving a booking for his troubles). When the whistle blew, a stopwatch-defying eight minutes into injury time, fans punched the air and greeted the clean sheet like a minor miracle.

Late tensions aside, there was much to be admired in the home display. Spurs pressed Swansea relentlessly all over the pitch and, but for the profligacy of the off-key Jermain Defoe, might have sealed the points earlier and saved the home support from their injury time travails.

William Gallas was an old rock in defence while Kyle Naughton showed pleasing assurance at left-back and made a terrific, chance denying interception in the second half. The criminally underrated Aaron Lennon fizzed around the field like a runaway Christmas toy and the late introduction of Townsend offered Spurs another jet-heeled outlet in the absence of healing superstar Gareth Bale.

Jan Vertonghen’s lightning reactions from Kyle Walker’s free-kick delivered the crucial goal but fellow Belgian Dembele was, again, the star turn and driving force between defence and attack. Rarely has a £15 million fee appeared such a bargain. Spurs have yet to lose while the Belgian has been on the field of play, ever more reason to keep him on it.


Tottenblog said...

"The late substitution of Mousa Dembele was met with dumbfoundment and derision by those around me"

We're the people around you not paying attention? 5 minutes prior to his substitution, Dembele had been lying on the ground after a knock to his dodgy hip. He was hobbling around for a few minutes after that and was giving the ball away unable to keep up with the pace of the game any more. It was a forced substitution.

IKnowAlanGilzean said...

I think that might be our best 90 min performance of the season? I was verily pleased as we stopped them playing in dangerous areas, plated some nice stuff (patient and mature when needed but enought quick release and move stuff to warm the heart) ourselves and created some good chances.

The crowds sounded in much better humour and voice for the most part and we did well.

I thought AVB got things mostly spot on, as Moussa was clearly hobbling. I wouldn't have played Ade and Defoe up top vs Swansea but it worked.

Anonymous said...

Good blog, I enjoyed the read.

Anonymous said...

Mousa played against Everton, and we lost there.

Anonymous said...

He was off the field when we conceded the two goals though

James said...

Also worth bearing in mind he had been given a yellow card and had committed a couple of fouls subsequent to that - with him tiring and the game stretched, taking him off to avoid a second yellow seemed a fairly sensible choice.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers Tottenblog. From our vantage point in the stands, a serious Dembele injury wasn't apparent. The blog merely reflected the mood around me. It was incredibly close to the end and AVB's late defensive substitions 'protecting' a lead are a genuine concern. However, it was a good win and I am happy with the season so far, especially given the defensive injuries.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks as always,IKAG. I thought we played some lovely stuff and the formation worked. Naughton has laboured at left-back but stepped up admirably.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks Anon #1, appreciated. Anon#2, as Anon#3 has said, Dembele was off the field when we conceded the late goals against Everton.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers James. That's an excellent point. I accept sensible subs when a key player is on a yellow. But didn't Dembele enter the field of player with Livermore during the late melee? Could that have constituted his second yellow, given that Livermore was booked for the infringement?

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. The Livermore analogy had me in stitches. So spot on.

In fairness Dembélé looks completely spent at the end of games and I'm still not convinced his "old man hip" will not come haunting our road to glory.


'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers Jax. Appreciated. I have come to the conclusion that we need to clone Dembele. Dembele can then replace Dembele on 65 minutes. Cue Premier League title.

Anonymous said...

Haha! Cloning, not a bad idea that. I remember when Dolly the sheep had been cloned. The next day some papers had the angle: -But what if someone were to clone Hitler? Maybe they phoned Redknapp to get his take on it?

Maybe a Matrix-style electrode induced skills reprogramming of Jenas could be an option?

All the best,


'Lust Doctor' said...

Jax, I am convinced Harry Redknapp has already been cloned. This can be the only explanation for his 24-hours-a-day media availability. I bet Sandra cooks for all of them.

Anonymous said...

Haha! I bet she's a top top chef.

(His quotes on Taarabt after this weekend has been Redknapp gold. I realise I've missed that part a little bit.)