No Pete Sixsmith at White Hart Lane. The early starts for the Durham branch bus, the cost of a pint in London and the limited prospects of seeing Sunderland raise their game have done for him and trips to most matches in the capital. Monsieur Salut – ticket for WHL burning a hole in his wallet after work intervened – has learned not to count on the excellent but lesser spotted Bob Chapman, which almost certainly means we’ll see a report from him, too, this time. A place awaits you, Bob! Step forward our one-word ratings man Rob Hutchison, who worried about the 3-5-2 system, feared the worst as Spurs gobbled up possession and peppered our goal with efforts and ended up disappointed we hadn’t taken gilt-edged chances that nevertheless came our way. But he’s happy with Jermain Defoe’s arrival…
It was all done and dusted within 72 hours. No drawn out #boriniwatch; Congerton and Poyet between them signed us a striker that could solve so many of our problems.
Done in just one fell swoop for not a penny, cent, nickel or dime, and with the goal machine that is Jozy Altidore leaving the building as well. Cap well and truly doffed.
So now Gus needed to decide just how to maximise what we have and deliver. His first train of thought was to return to that beast that is the 3-5-2 formation that served us so, er, well at Spurs last season. Seeing the lineup on Saturday brought out a fair amount of trepidation and optimism in just about equal measure across social media.
Something needed to change after last week’s horror show against Liverpool, and I’m all for two up provided we can keep the gate shut at the back. And therein lies the problem.
Spurs’ 24 attempts on goal (yes 24) exposed our frailties in playing this system. Granted Cattermole and Bridcutt were missing, but we still completely failed to deal with their attacking threat.
Acres of space down both flanks meant Rose and his compatriot on the other side had a free pass to attack at will and fire in crosses.
Vergini’s clearance for the opener was shambolic although the deflection off O’Shea rather unfortunate, Tottenham seemed to have found us out within the first 20 minutes when we barely got out of our half with the exception of Defoe’s penalty shout.
The midfield failed to provide any defensive protection. PVA and Jones were perpetually caught with no wingers in front of them for security, they were frequently out of position or napping or both, and for me (but what do I know?) it was a car crash waiting to happen.
PVA’s pace going forward seems to be negated by his struggle with defensive duties on occasions and while Poyet says people need time to learn the systems, time is not something we have in abundance right now.
Again in the second half it was no better, probably worse as we defended deeper and deeper and backed off as the midfield failed to cope as Spurs surged forward. The winner was deserved by them although the fact that we’d somehow managed to hold out until the 89th minute meant it left a bitter taste.
There were positives however. Defoe has to clear the cobwebs out, but he showed more for me in the opening half than the rest of our strikers have mustered all season and given the service he’ll score a hatful of goals.
He tired quite quickly and was blowing out of his backside by 70 minutes but match fitness will come with game time, and Fulham next week should prove an excellent opportunity to sharpen up.
The other strikers clearly benefited from having a partner, and both showed signs of improvement in patches which brings us to the ghost of Christmas past, namely Danny Graham.
Coming on late, he had two wonderful opportunities to secure an unlikely point, but wasted both with poor Jozyesque finishes, one limp shot from a rebound, and the other virtually straight at Lloris from 14 yards out after neatly penetrating the Spurs backline.
The chants of “One Danny Graham” somewhat bemused me, and had he scored, half of them would have surely been “on the pitch”.
We won’t play the quality of Spurs every week, and our season will be defined by putting away those teams around us, which is exactly what we hope Defoe will deliver, but what system to play in order for him to do that will surely be the talking point for the rest of the campaign.
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