We entered the new year in good shape following four clean sheets in a row and in the lead in the battle for fourth place, though Man City were showing signs of life under Mancini and had a game in hand. Redknapp and Levy played down any possibility of much transfer activity though it was widely anticipated that Bentley and the invisible Pav might well be on their way, neither of which occurred of course. By the end of the month we’d welcomed Younes Kaboul and Kyle Walker but not before both were FA Cup tied. Gudjohnsen arrived on loan whilst Hutton, Giovani, Naughton and club captain Robbie Keane (less than a year after being re-signed for Â£12m) were sent out to get first team experience/form elsewhere. Asmir Begovic never actually signed, five months later though, Portsmouth still owe us money for him…
Spurs 4 Peterborough 0 (FA Cup 3rd Round)
We played well in this one but took a while to break through. Joe Lewis (presumably just taking the opportunity of a brief and very close up inspection of his investments whilst in from the Bahamas) made a number of fine saves before Niko Kranjcar curled a lovely shot in off a post just prior to half time. The player who was to dominate in many ways the remainder of our season used this game to put his marker down. Due to an injury to Assou-Ekotto, Gareth Bale started a run of matches as first choice left back and in the second half here, both Kranjcar and Defoe poked home cut backs from the Welshman after he’d made runs to the Posh byeline. Robbie Keane’s tenth and final Spurs goal of the season came from a last minute penalty.
Spurs 0 Hull City 0
We had a weekend off before this game as the slippy surfaces around Anfield had put paid to the widely anticipated showdown with Liverpool. Energised by the rest we battered Hull but couldn’t break through. The Tigers never mustered a meaningful shot all game and only went away with a point due to a top class display from Boaz Myhill in goal. Defoe, Modric, Crouch and most notably Keane were all denied by the wizard keeper and we ended up with the first White Hart Lane draw of the season. Six consecutive clean sheets now but not a result to take into the biggest game of the season so far.
Liverpool 2 Spurs 0
A really disappointing display that had me at least writing off the rest of the season. If we weren’t good enough to get a point at least at Anfield then I thought we weren’t good enough full stop. Liverpool had been poor ever since we’d seen them off on the opening day whilst we’d been playing for a lot of the time with real quality. But minus Gerrard and Torres the home team deservedly took the points and moved back into the top four race that they’d been trying so desperately to swerve. It was the early goal that did for us. We’d been struggling to create chances consistently since mid December and once Dirk Kuyt put us behind it allowed the home team to ‘put in a shift’ with nothing else required and we were always in trouble. ‘Sub not used: Pavlyuchenko’ appeared at the bottom of the match reports for the thirteenth time thus far.
Spurs 2 Leeds United 2 (FA Cup 4th Round)
Another Spurs home game, another inspired keeper. This time it was Casper Ankergren who was taken over by the spirit of Lev Yashin as he hurled himself around stopping shots from all angles. When he turned away Defoe’s penalty the Jumbotron might as well have flashed up ‘It’s One Of Those Days’. To be fair though Leeds tactic of outnumbering us in midfield and relying on Beckford to seize on anything that fell his way caused us more than a few problems. Beckford it was who equalised twice after first Crouch and then supersub Pavlyuchenko (in what was the start of a stunning run of scoring for him) had put us in front. The Leeds forward’s injury time penalty to make it two each was a model of coolness and decisiveness.
Spurs 2 Fulham 0
Fulham away are a far different animal to when they play at the Cottage and they were seen off comfortably in this game. Luka Modric made the first by showing intelligence and awareness in stealing the ball off Riise who thought he was shepherding it out of play. Peter Crouch turned in Luka’s flick across the six yard box. David Bentley’s second half free kick deflected off the very same Riise for our second. Nights like this where only a few hundred of their fans could be bothered to make the trip up the Victoria Line are brought out as evidence (by me anyway) as to why it’s no great shame that Fulham didn’t end the season with the Europa League trophy in their cabinet; their fans just don’t deserve it.
Birmingham City 1 Spurs 1
A tough away game against a team who had recently come to the end of a long unbeaten run was all but won when a lapse of concentration (if you take one view) or a tactical cock-up by Redknapp (if you take another) allowed Blues a last minute equaliser. Following an even first half we were dominant in the second and after Defoe put us in front (from yet another Bale assist) with twenty minutes left that should’ve been that. To waste time presumably, Harry made a couple of needless substitutions and in the consequent added time we let two points slip. Very disappointing. A couple of notable details about the team selection – Ledley played his second game in five days despite his well publicised knee issues and when he came on for Defoe, Robbie Keane made what may be his last appearance in a Spurs shirt.
The top sixÂ at 31st January 2010Â –
PÂ Â WÂ Â Â Â DÂ Â LÂ Pts
1.Â ChelseaÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 23Â 17Â Â Â 3Â Â Â 3Â Â 54
2.Â Man UtdÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 24Â 17Â Â Â 2Â Â Â 5Â Â 53
3.Â ArsenalÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 24Â 15Â Â Â 4Â Â Â 5Â Â 49
4.Â TottenhamÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 24Â 12Â Â Â 6Â Â Â 6Â Â 42
5.Â LiverpoolÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 24Â 12Â Â Â 5Â Â Â 7Â Â 41
6.Â Man CityÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 22Â 11Â Â Â 8Â Â Â 3Â Â 41
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