Sat 4th – Birmingham 1 Spurs 1
We totally dominated the first half at St Andrews but had only Sebastien Bassong’s goal to show for it. It was no surprise that the home team came back at us after the break and all eyes turned skyward when Zigic was brought on after an hour. Low flying aircraft escaped unharmed but not our defence as the big man’s knock back across the area after 81 minutes was headed home by Gardner. After the recent good results it was annoying not to come away with a win but we were finally starting to put pressure on the top four.
Tues 7th – FC Twente 3 Spurs 3
Our last game of the group stages encapsulated in many ways our frantic Champions League season so far. Six goals including a comedy effort to open from the home team, a twice taken penalty (again for Twente) and a brace from a sharp looking Defoe. On a freezing night in Holland, Redknapp played the hokey cokey in the middle with Jenas, Palacios and Kranjcar all starting. Jenas went off after half an hour and because it takes such an age for a sub to get ready to come on these days (especially when they’re dressed for Arctic conditions) he was told to piss about for ages on the pitch until Lennon was stripped for action. The ref took umbrage and gave JJ a second yellow meaning he’d miss the first game of the knockout stages through no fault of his own. More comedy.
Somewhat surprisingly Werder Bremen saw off Inter 3-0 in Germany meaning that the draw was good enough for us to claim top place in the group. Well done us.
Sun 12th – Spurs 1 Chelsea 1
Michael Dawson made his comeback from injury in this game. It was a good time to play those lovable mugs from West London as they were very out of sorts indeed. We made all the running early on, with Pavlyuchenko finishing beautifully after making space with his first touch on the edge of the box. Though the game evened up after that we looked good for three points until half time sub Drogba fired one straight at Gomes and he let it through his hands. Things could’ve got worse when the keeper clattered into Ramires in the six yard box late on but he redeemed himself by pawing the Ivorian’s penalty aside. Phew. Given the hoodoo that Chelsea have held over us for much of the last 20 years it’s a sign of how much things have changed that we were disappointed at this result against last season’s double winners.
Sun 26th – Aston Villa 1 Spurs 2
We were given a bit of a rest between fixtures due to Blackpool’s inability to cope with the cold snap. Still, Boxing Day in Birmingham, who could ask for more? Certainly not Rafael Van der Vaart who scored two splendid goals, the second totally soaked in class, to give us an excellent win. Modric, Palacios, Bale and Lennon were all superb as we coped admirably with being down to ten men for the last hour of the game. At 1-0 to us Defoe was given a very soft red card for sticking an elbow up in an aerial challenge with the totally unharmed Collins. We looked the better team though despite being down on numbers and when a typical Bale run ended with VdV steering the ball home from the edge of the box with twenty minutes left it was what we deserved. There were a few scares at the end after a hopeful Villa free-kick was allowed into the net untouched but we held on for a fine three points.
Tues 28th – Spurs 2 Newcastle 0
2010 came to an end with a bitty and scrappy encounter against a Geordie team who’d recently replaced Chris Hughton with Alan Pardew. Barton, Smith and Carroll led the away team’s assault on White Hart Lane almost quite literally. It was a game of few chances. Aaron Lennon put us ahead after an hour firing across Krul from an angle. Kaboul’s patience with the away team’s tactics wore through a few minutes later and he saw red after reacting to Tiote’s challenge. In fact injury meant that he didn’t return from his abrupt departure from this game until April. Yet again we more than held our own despite being down to ten men. Gareth Bale scored with ten minutes to go to give us some breathing space and we held on comfortably. Our third win so far this season after losing a player to a sending off. Given the impending transfer window it was interesting to eyeball Andy Carroll in person. Once the ref had spoken him to with regards to his roughhouse tactics he did nothing in the game, certainly not enough to make one think that, for instance, £35 million would be value for money.
Premier League table as at 31st December
P W D L Pts
1. Man Utd 18 10 8 0 38
2. Man City 20 11 5 4 38
3. Arsenal 19 11 3 5 36
4. Chelsea 19 10 4 5 34
5. Spurs 19 9 6 4 33
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