Spurs fan Paul Hawksbee made the point on his Talksport radio show that whilst we’re all aware of the great progress we’ve made in the last few years, first under Jol and now under Redknapp, the ability to win at somewhere like the Reebok after a night like the one we had last Tuesday would be a sign that another level had perhaps been reached.

We all knew it was going to be tough and perhaps weren’t very optimistic, but I think how badly we ended up playing caught us all by surprise. Of the four Champions League teams in action during the week, three lost at the weekend and Man United were below par apparently even though they won. This illustrates the potentiality for a flat performance and might provide the players with an excuse but to be so sloppy at the back from the opening minute and not get a shot on target until nearly ten minutes from the end raises questions about those who played, particularly the midfield. It wasn’t our first choice obviously, but it was full of players who should be aiming to be in that group. There have been some over the top comments and I don’t want to get carried away, but it wasn’t good.

Hawksbee’s got a point, and another test of the players mettle will be the next two home games. Two wins and six points out of Sunderland on Tuesday and Blackburn on Saturday and we’ll be back amongst the scramble at the top and looking forward to a trip to Woolwich. Anything less and we’ll be bobbing around somewhere in midtable with people screaming for Crouch’s head and doubting Gallas’s commitment.

To achieve two wins we’re going to have to 1) stop shipping goals and 2) start scoring. The fact that Gallas picked up a knock on Saturday hinders 1) and the news that Van der Vaart is still a fitness doubt is a blow to 2). Lennon is also out which will be a massive blow to him given his recent return to form.

Sunderland had a good start to the season showing up well defensively especially, until their last away game when they got hammered at Newcastle. As we know Darren Bent is good for goals (if not much else) and has been helping himself as usual. The resumption of his personal battle with Gomes (four penalties last season, three saved and only one scored) may not happen as Bent was out at the weekend with a hamstring injury. New (and expensive) signing Asamoah Gyan took over and notched twice against Stoke. Ahmed El Mohamady is one to watch down the right apparently; Benny will have to be alert against him. The popular Steed Malbranque will no doubt have his normal world beating first twenty minutes before disappearing from view.

For us it’s likely that we’ll revert back to 4-4-2 with Pav and Crouch up front. Hopefully big Tom and Modric will be in the middle with perhaps Jenas on the right. Whatever the formation they need to raise it from the weekend. If we can start with a bit of tempo, confidence and swagger and if ref Howard Webb looks after Bale (unlike Foy on Saturday) and if for once we take the lead first then we should be in a for a good night. Lots of ifs there.


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