A very average affair I thought despite the efforts of the Sky commentary team to hype it up.
I watched this one in a local pub in London’s sunny East End, only marginally further away from the pitch than the vocal Spurs contingent in the ground who, despite being high enough to fix one of the broadcaster’s satellites should there be a break in service were still loud enough throughout to be picked up by the mikes down at sea level.
Van der Vaart’s penalty after Taylor’s late challenge on Adebayor and a quality effort from Defoe helped disguise some pretty poor attacking and possession play I thought. Both our goals came slightly against the run of play. Van der Vaart played too deep leaving Adebayor isolated; Bale was ineffectual and profligate when with the ball whilst Modric was too peripheral which was a shame as his seemed the boots most likely to bring a cultured bearing to the game if given the chance. Parker and Livermore were disciplined in defence but mostly unadventurous in their distribution. Of the full backs Assou-Ekotto got into a couple of good positions early on, but he and Walker were mostly occupied by events in their own half during the ninety minutes.
The back four was hindered by the inevitable King groin strain that we’ve been waiting 5 games for but Bassong came on and did okay. Kaboul was superb throughout. Walker too suffered a knock but it was before he was injured that Gutierrez skipped past him to supply the cross for Ba to equalise for the first time. Very late on Ameobi belted a pinpoint left foot drive for their second equaliser after it seemed that he should’ve been closed down quicker. Both goals came down the right hand side where Modric was being played was out of position. Bale started on that flank but was switched over after half an hour or so.
Defoe’s fine left foot thump for our second was the meat in the sandwich of two should’ve done better efforts, the second of which was at point blank range when smacking it straight at Krul from ten yards wasn’t the best decision he made all day.
We were workmanlike against the Arse and also here but have picked up good points in both games. Newcastle bore the air of plucky fighters just waiting to have their bubble burst. Cabaye wasn’t nearly as good as had been reported but Tiote was sensational, a superb display of running that was nearly capped by a fine goal when he forced Friedel into the most athletic save of the day. Aside from him there was little to worry about until Ben Arfa came on late on and found space.
Having done so well with Adebayor and Defoe at the top of a 4-4-2 Harry felt the need to tinker, apparently just to fit Van der Vaart into the team. I’m a big fan of VdV, he gets a lot of goals in big games but we looked stodgy today until Defoe came on, mostly due to Adebayor being left on his own for long periods.
Taking the bigger picture, in the battle for fourth, of the people we expect to be up there and challenging, the Arse gained two points on us whilst we matched Liverpool. Another away game next up, Ewood Park and Blackburn, and another opportunity to gain ground on those above us, but we’ll need to up our game from today.
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