First of all, Bennywatch. ‘Afro up, performance down’ say some keen observers of the odd booted one and his defensive display in this game will have given some credence to this modern day Spurs proverb. (Another one, ‘Roman in the team, a cup game will shortly be seen’ will have to be reworded or discarded).
Assou-Ekotto tweeted gleefully about his boot colour yesterday but didn’t let on that he was going to use his left one as a weapon of mass destruction. He has a habit of twisting slightly and turning his back as he makes a 50/50 challenge. It’s dangerous and he’s been sent off doing it before (The Hawthorns 2008); at least two of the Wigan players were treated to it yesterday. Luckily Lee Probert adopts the Howard Webb approach when it comes to keeping an eye on the game so BAE appears to have got away with it, ‘LOL’, this time. With all the talk of not having enough cover at right back now that Charlie’s gone Danny Rose’s recent showings haven’t filled one with confidence that we have enough at left back either. We were lucky with this one.
Back to the game. Completely comfortable in the first half, less so in the second. We started well and clinically picked them apart several times without taking full advantage until Modric produced a crossfield pass of Hoddle-esque proportions to pick out Bale at the far post. His athletic finish looked simple but was a superb example of technique and strength. Luka had a terrific game especially in the first half and his finish after the ball dropped to him kindly on the edge of the box calmed the nerves and seemed to kill the contest – except for the fact that after Van der Vaart left the game early we lost a bit of fizz. In Livermore and Parker we had midfielders who only wished to play the ball the way they were facing and in Kranjcar one who appeared mostly interested in sending it behind him. As usual we missed Lennon, or more accurately without him we rarely look balanced in our set up.
So a slow start to the second half let Wigan back into the game and they had more possession. Bale banged the final nail in the coffin just after the hour mark with an extraordinary shuffle, low backlift and bullet of a shot that was slightly against the run of play. Walker was removed due to a dodgy groin and we immediately looked less comfortable down the right hand side when Livermore took his place. They scored a flukey goal and nearly nabbed a second but we were never in proper danger of dropping any points.
The home crowd gave good support to Harry who often appears aloof and detached when asked to give a response but this time was whole hearted in his reaction with raised hands above his head applauding. He’ll be nervous about the next few days of course and I’m not talking about Anfield on Monday.
The points were more important than the performance and in the end we got both a bit of artistry and a bit of pragmatism as we played the second half in almost Mancini-esque style. This was mostly forced on us through personnel problems of course. Elsewhere Cameron Lancaster was tidy and lively, Bale used the space Wigan gave him and was unstoppable, Kaboul was once again ‘on fire’ but Modric was the star of the show, Hoddle-esque as I say.
Have something to tell us about this article?