Isn’t it meant to be a cold, wet, Tuesday away

to Stoke that sorts the men from the boys?

Or is it a Wednesday? Anyway it ain’t supposed to be a Sunday, but this is the away day fixture that so many “pundits” state would show Barcelona up for what they are. Messi he couldn’t do it against the huge lumps at the Brittania.

Of course they may have a point, the likes of Shawcross and Huth on yesterday’s showing would certainly give Busquets something legitimate to roll around and cry about.

Well we all knew what Stoke would do, the Spurs players and management should have they’ve all been there before. It ain’t pretty, it ain’t really football and we may not understand why anyone would pay to see it on a regular basis but and this is the be all and end all for all involved at the club – it works. It got them back into the top flight in 2008 and has kept them there since, while also providing a Cup final and a run in the Europa League.

The home fans even revel in it as shown by their singing of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot“, cheering throw ins while booing when the ball was on the floor and used to play football. It’s ugly, it’s horrible and thankfully it isn’t as prevalent as it could be, I mean while Wigan play football they’ll probably go down like Blackpool last season as Stoke prepare for another season in the Premier League.

So as I said it shouldn’t have come as any surprise when they came out the blocks with intent and I suppose it should come as no surprise that Spurs loped out, with little intent and seemingly little interest. Classic we only just have to rock up and pick up three points mentality seemed to be in play. Full of the sloppiness we’ve seen in the last couple of away days wearing that purple kit. Was this gonna be another 3-1 smash and grab job in purple?

Straight from the off Stoke had a chance, from down their right they get a throw, no Delap, great, no, they’ve got Shotten a reasonable substitute with the long throws. His ball into the box is headed into a more dangerous area by Assou-Ekotto and Etherington’s shot is well saved by Friedel. A sign of things to come all round. Another attack down Spurs’ left – Benny was having a bit of a mare, just a bit too much LOL cat swagger. Shortly after another throw from almost exactly the same place and Shawcross misses a sitter with a swinger – well it’s not his game really is it.

Not long before that side provided the opener as this time, surprisingly, not from a throw but a cross from Shotten the ball loops off Benny eventually into the box, Gallas is again being out-muscled, flicked on by Walters and Crouch controls it with his hand – not the last thing the officials would get wrong – somehow he manages to get the ball from going for a goal kick, through Friedel’s legs to the waiting Etherington.

This wasn’t a game to be missing Ledley. His calmness and footballing brain would have made a hell of a difference. Some blame Friedel for not coming out the way Gomes does but then when the Brazilian does it so often results in him taking out himself and his own defenders and creating havoc. Friedel lets his defenders do the defending, or not as in this case.

Stoke had completely dominated the games opening, as Spurs could barely string one pass together never mind two or more. They then started to get a foothold and actually kept the ball but with Stoke’s 9 man red and white wall and Spurs lacking something there just didn’t look to be an equaliser coming.

Then just before the break Stoke were down that right again, Benny skinned again, another throw another shambles in the box and Parker just minces alongside Etherington as he get’s his second. Not the first time this season I’ve pointed out that the scorer was marked and let go by Parker. Some actually pointed out during yesterday that the Emperor might not have any clothes on in this game.

Unlike the last couple of games the break couldn’t come quick enough. But what would ‘Arry do, after all making changes would break his usual by the numbers routine. Add to that who to take off? So many deserving of 45 minutes on the bench. So changes he did make, both personnel and formation. Benny and Lennon getting the hook for Bassong and Defoe. Benny did deserve it, his worst outing for some time, he was having a torrid time. Lennon, well he’s been in form, scoring and creating but had been a bit anonymous, though van der Vaart was probably more deserving with a switch to 3-5-2 there was no natural position for him Lennon over the Dutchman with Walker and Bale as the wing-backs.

The changes worked, surprisingly Bassong looked quite good during the second half – in the shop window display – should have scored. The width from Bale and Walker was finally bringing some chances with dangerous crosses into the area. Of course those chances were being spurned. The formation changed things but the personnel didn’t as Defoe was probably as anonymous as Lennon while van der Vaart didn’t show up either.

Modric was now running things and it paid off when a lovely bit of jinking brought a foul by Whelan in the box. Nailed on penalty and the one decision the ref got right all day much to the chagrin of the Stoke fans as they showed by the booing of Modric thereafter. Though the more they booed the livelier Modric looked. Adebayor stuck away the penalty and the real onslaught began. As did the real officiating fuck ups.

From a corner – by Modric who wasn’t taking them earlier when two goals came from his corners last time out compared to nothing that seems to come from van der Vaart’s – Kaboul was hauled down by Shawcross. Foul and penalty, no doubt, except by Foy. Kaboul incensed has a go at the ref, with the old loop finger round eyes you need specs routine and gets a yellow card.

After a corner on the left Modric plays a beautiful ball with the outside of his right across the 6 yard box, Gallas is hauled down – foul, penalty – Kaboul then smashes the ball goal wards, Shawcross deflects the ball, intentionally, with his elbow – foul, penalty – ball is headed outside the box then comes straight back in to Adebayor who slides it into the net after a bit of a dither. When the ball is played he is on the halfway line side of the line marking the six yard box while the ‘keeper and one Stoke defender are on the goal side of the line, clearly onside but no the linesman has his flag up.

Refs and linesmen are human and they will always be susceptible to human error but one mistake, maybe even two over a game is human error to get things wrong repeatedly, especially three in such a short space of time goes beyond just simple human error. It’s human incompetence. Yes linesmen sometimes have an impossible job with offsides. A ball travels 70 yards, he has to keep an eye on when the ball is kicked and know where the player who received it was when this happens, you can understand getting it wrong every so often. When the ball has come about 10 yards and he has a white line as an indicator it becomes less defensible.

Then Foy tops it all by giving Kaboul a second yellow. Yes it was a slight foul but worthy of a yellow? No. Certainly not a yellow that would see him off. Especially when you see some of the clodhopping challenges from Stoke players that he didn’t even give a foul for.

Whinging? You bet but I also stated last week that Cahill shouldn’t have been given a straight red. Officials spoil so many games never mind whose side they seem to be on. It’s all right this respect campaign but how many of them actually deserve it and how many believe they should be the centre of attention. Refs cost people their jobs, from managers to players down to the little people at clubs. A team goes down and all sorts lose their jobs. At some point there’ll be a real backlash, it’ll head to court one of these days.

Said last time out that not scoring when a side was there for the taking, racking up the goal difference, could cost Spurs losing 1 or more likely 3 points with the battering that was going on in that second 45. The officials are somewhat to blame but so are the Spurs players and management – ‘Arry’s teams do seem unprepared for what is coming and it’s reactive not proactive management – for that first half display that let Stoke get the two goal lead.

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