Sat 11th – West Brom 1 Spurs 1
After the arrival of Gallas, Levy waved his chequebook twice more before transfer window time ran out. Stipe Pletikosa was added to supply goalkeeping cover and keep Ben Alnwick as far away from the first team as possible. More surprisingly and excitingly Rafael Van der Vaart was signed from Real Madrid so late that the window had been painted shut behind him before the transfer was ratified. But the Gods of football rarely give with one hand without taking away with the other. During the international break following the Wigan game, Defoe and Dawson suffered injuries that would keep them out for ten and fourteen weeks respectively and with the CL group games just around the corner that wasn’t good news.
Gallas (who played alongside Kaboul in the middle with Bale at left back and Assou-Ekotto on the bench) and VdV both made their debuts at the Hawthorns and both looked unfit and short of match practice even though the Dutchman had a hand in Modric’s opener. Luka went off shortly afterwards. Brunt equalised for West Brom and in the end it was the home team who had the momentum and nearly forced a winner. So another addition to the ‘D’ column. A pattern was setting in already.
Tues 14th – Werder Bremen 2 Spurs 2
Our debut in the Moneybags League proper. Bale and Crouch continued where they left off against Young Boys and we were two up in twenty minutes and totally dominant. The shell-shocked Germans fought back though and eventually equalised through the small but very impressive Marko Marin. We withstood something of a barrage in the second half but could’ve scored again on the break, Peter Crouch the guilty party. Once more without Gomes and Modric, this was a better than adequate start that gave cause for optimism.
Sat 18th – Spurs 3 Wolves 1
Dancing with Wolves wasn’t much fun last season and at one nil down with a quarter of an hour left in this we looked to be doing the Mick McCarthy waltz once again. Still, as someone once said, “cometh the hour, cometh the man”. The big surprise was that that man was Alan Hutton. Coming on for Kaboul at half time he was making his first appearance of the season. After 73 minutes he was felled in the box giving Van der Vaart the opportunity to score his first Spurs goal. (Had we finally found a reliable penalty taker?) The relief was palpable and under following constant pressure Wolves wilted to allow Pav to side foot in and Hutton to claim a comedy third after a clearance rebounded off him and into the net. Three welcome points. This game gave signs that fitting in Van der Vaart might end up proving something of a conundrum. Lennon was sacrificed with VdV nominally taking his place on the right. Robbie and Crouch started up front.
Tues 21st – Spurs 1 Arsenal 4 (Carling Cup 3rd Rnd)
Our involvement in the Champions League group stages meant that the Carling Cup took a large tumble down the priority list. Pletikosa, Steven Caulker, David Bentley, Jake Livermore, Kyle Naughton, Giovani and Sandro all made their first starts of the season. The Fawlty Professor took a different view however and played a strong team. Unsurprisingly as a result, in general we were outplayed. But we kept going and Robbie scored our equaliser just after half time when Flappyhandski lived up to his name. Lennon had a great chance for 2-1 before the tie went to extra time. Two quick penalties at the start of the first period led to an embarrassing exodus from the home stands but those who left didn’t miss much. The Carling Cup had gone, almost before it arrived.
Sat 25th – West Ham 1 Spurs 0
Luka Modric returned to the side but there were problems at the back with Gomes still missing and Corluka and Bassong being asked to form an unlikely partnership in the middle, a combination that Harry mentioned later in the season as one he would pointedly avoid from now on. In an open game we looked like we could concede or score at any time. Piquionne headed home from a corner when his only challengers were two other Hamsters. We threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the home side but couldn’t force an equaliser. Van der Vaart and Modric were denied by some spectacular Robert Green goalkeeping and Huddlestone shinned an open goal over the bar after he’d done the hard work of rounding the keeper. Not good. It was enough to make a man develop a twitch.
Giovani may have impressed Redknapp in preseason but his substitute appearance here was his last of the season. Clearly full of talent, he was too often on the periphery of things for Harry’s liking.
Weds 29th – Spurs 4 FC Twente 1
Our first CL home of the group stage was full of drama and excitement. In the end we put away a lively Twente side but it was a long way from as straightforward as the scoreline suggests. The returning Gomes made some good saves to keep us level as we started slowly. In the space of twenty minutes Van der Vaart then missed a penalty, scored from a Crouch knockdown, saw Pav score from the spot, Twente get one back and then get himself sent off. The Dutch side were the better team at this point but another Pav penalty took the stuffing out of them and Bale scored on the break at the end to give the scoreline an emphatic but slightly false air. Van der Vaart’s barrel chested attitude and quality was making him popular with the fans and important to the side. His sending off here would make him unavailable for the trip to Inter Milan in the San Siro and he would undoubtedly be missed.
Premier League table as at 30th September –
P W D L Pts
1. Chelsea 6 5 0 1 15
2. Man Utd 6 3 3 0 12
3. Arsenal 6 3 2 1 11
4. Man City 6 3 0 1 11
5. Aston Villa 6 3 1 2 10
6. West Brom 6 3 1 2 10
7. Fulham 6 1 5 0 8
8. Spurs 6 2 2 2 8
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