It doesn’t take a genius to work out that there were two turning points in this game. The first was Clint Dempsey’s adroit and instinctive finish after Begovic’s poor clearance, this brought us quickly back into a game that was threatening to get away after a slow start and another poor concession from a restart. The second was referee Kevin Friend’s reaction to Charlie Adam’s second over aggressive lunge of the game at Jan Vertonghen.
Following the equaliser we’d already looked the more likely team but the dismissal of the spiteful Scot threw everything into our favour. We did the right things by playing with width and making the home team work but still didn’t make it look easy of course (when have we his season? West Ham at home and Villa away but not many others) and Adebayor’s late side foot home after good and composed work by Dempsey came with relief as much as anything.
A few games ago when Stoke were in the middle of a shocking run that briefly put them in the relegation frame I heard several people randomly speak of how much they’d like to see them go down. This performance was yet another reminder of how little they provide that’s not quantified in terms of height and strength. When you see someone like Adam, whose free-kicks and cultured passing were so effective in Ian Holloway’s Blackpool team (and yes, I do know that he was in tangerine when he first knacked Bale) have to resort to putting himself about to justify his place in the side you can only wonder how it’s come to this. The thought of Tom Huddlestone, who was apparently only a fitness test away from going to the Potteries, trying to do the same fills one with horror. Talking of the big fella, he didn’t do himself many favours with regards to returning to AVB’s long term plans in this one. His lack of manoeuvrability is tolerated due to his passing and dead ball striking but his free-kicks and corners especially were shocking.
This team’s resilience and ability to respond after a setback is a constant revelation and a great joy to those of us who have struggled to argue with people who over the years accuse Spurs of having a soft underbelly. Some of the statistics this year – 23 points gained from losing positions, only Man Utd have won more and they’re also the only team to win more away games. Only 2 defeats in the last 21 games, 2 or more goals in the last 6 Premier League games and only QPR have stopped us scoring away, all traditionally un-Tottenham like stats.
The win puts the pressure back on the Gooners when they play the FA Cup winners on Tuesday. All we can do is hope for Wigan to repeat last year’s result at the Emirates.