Rafael Van der Vaart - Tottenham news

This was a fine victory, how can a ten man win away from home not be? But more than just the slick speedy breaks, great use of width, determination to win against the odds and mercurial touch of Van der Vaart, there were a couple of moments that really stood out to me in this game. Firstly the 5 minutes before half time when we kept possession and just toyed with the home team and secondly the not so subtle time wasting at the end when, for a change, we looked like a team who knew how to win a game. Gomes’s cramps, the single, sloooow, loooong substitutions and the chasing the ball down into the corners all took the sting out of Villa’s attempt to break through with the kitchen sink. Both these qualities are unrecognisable in traditional Spurs teams where keeping the ball with arrogance inevitably leads to disaster and the last few minutes of a game are only an exercise in discovering new ways to cause last minute heartbreak to the fans.

Talisman, inspiration, magician, call him what you will but Rafael Van der Vaart appears at the moment to be all of those things and a bit more. His ability to be in the right place at the right time and always apparently in space was in this match followed up by a use of technique more than good enough to inflict maximum damage. After only half a season in English football Aston Villa will already be sick of the sight of him. His brace at Villa Park followed on from the two goals that gave us victory at white Hart Lane in October.

Given all the good stuff in this game it seems churlish to point out a few negative points but it seems clear that neither Dawson nor Defoe is totally on top of their game yet. It’s only a matter with games with Dawson you feel but with Defoe it’s harder to tell. When Lennon put him through he allowed Friedel to smother and when VdV played him in, he didn’t get a decent shot away. Contrast that with the Dutchman, two chances, two goals. Maybe if he’d not been so harshly dismissed this would’ve been the game where he rediscovered a touch of his thunderbolt-laden swagger. It’s been a long time missing though and it’s slightly ironic that the rest of the team is playing with such confidence & expectation whilst he’s struggling.

Still no clean sheet since the start of the season, this time due to conceding another soft goal. It wasn’t an easy cross for Gomes to deal with especially after Kaboul had allowed Collins to get in behind him but he still should’ve done better than he did. Kaboul still has his moments but it’s a lot more comforting to see him in the back four than it used to be. If he, Gallas and Dawson can stay fit then we’ve a good core of central defenders to see us through the rest of the season, especially if you throw in the odd cameo from Ledley.

A fine victory, as I said at the beginning. The manner of it in particular though will make everyone take notice.


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