How to deal with the spoiling tactics of little teams

with little talent.

It’s something Spurs have struggled with over the last few seasons and something they’ve seen more and more of at The Lane. Small team with small team mentality of coming to kick ’em and hang on for something.

Much like the Boxing Day game a the Villa they were up against a side without much guile and ingenuity on the day, Newcastle yesterday, unlike the Villa, were more intent on the kicking off the park style of things, as indicated from the off with a line up consisting of Barton, Smith and Tiote, the latter two just came to kick players rather than footballs. Of course in the good old irony stakes it was Spurs who ended up with ten men, when Kaboul was sent off for a stupid nudge with his head on the latter.

It was an indication of the frustration Spurs were feeling following the previous 65 minutes, even with them being one up at the time. It was also an indication of the ineptness of the officials on the day, much like the previous game over Chrimbo, yes Kaboul shouldn’t have reacted in the way he did but if the ref had done his job the situation wouldn’t have arisen, Tiote wouldn’t have been on the park. Already on one booking he committed foul after foul without any punishment, punishment you knew that would have been handed out if it didn’t mean he’d be off. One lunge on van der Vaart should have seen him go but then a trip on Modric who was about to start a good looking breakaway was met with a trip, not as dangerous as the previous attack on the Dutchman but still cynical enough to warrant a yellow, especially as it was right in front of the ref.

It was obvious from the start how things would pan out refereeing wise and that it would be a minor miracle that both teams would finish with their full compliment of players. But whereas Defoe’s inadvertent elbow in the previous game was deemed a straight red, Andy Carroll’s deliberate elbows on the Spurs’ central pair only generally elicited a free kick for himself. Dawson and Kaboul did an excellent job under the circumstances and it’s a shame the Frenchman will now be missing for 3 games, what with the numbers being a bit thin back there.

And especially for his part in the opening goal, yes it was a real hash made of the clearance but he didn’t just sit back and admire his handiwork, after a bit more scrappy play he was half way in the Toon half when he played a delightful ball through to Lennon for the winger to run into the box with and bang it past the ‘keeper, with a slight deflection, into the far corner of the net. Hopefully Gallas will be back soon. Who thought they’d ever hear those words?

At half time with Palacios not exactly repeating his heroics from Boxing Day and being booked he was replaced by ‘Arry with Jenas. Christ on a crutch just when you thought things couldn’t get worse. And amid all the back passes, the dithering, the losing the ball with ease, the hiding he did actually produce on two occasions. Firstly when he ran through the middle and made for a shot which he dummied into a pas to Lennon. The winger should have finished it there with his second.

Secondly when he put in a brilliant challenge on Carroll on the edge of the Spurs’ box, a great run by Modric followed and what followed that was another piece of Bale magic, monkey magic. Twisting his defender in knots and then banging it in the bottom of the far corner of the net. Justice.

Now don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t changed my view on Jenas, my view was summed up in that second half when Modric had the ball on the left wing, he had players all round him, Bale further up the wing was well marked and Jenas was all on his lonesome in the middle of the park, waving his arms and screaming for the ball. The pass was on and probably the most sensible option but Modric just didn’t want to give him the ball, probably thought Spurs would lose possession anyway, would definitely lose momentum, might as well try the trickier option.

And who could blame him, after all Modric was the man on the day. Another great performance by the little Croat, epitomised by the fact that with Newcastle crowding the midfield Modric had more time and space than Dr. Who. It was a master-class. Thank god the likes of Chelski, Bolton etc. etc. looked on him as being too small and lightweight in that typical English football fashion – luxury players, never mind the quality feel the width – well we’ve got quality and the luxury of watching him running games in the Premier League.

All that and a clean sheet to boot…

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