Still a point better off than last year

Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 1 West Bromwich Albion - Premier League - August 25th, 2012

and the goal difference is an improvement.

OK technically it isn’t the same as last season with the first game back then being postponed and the first two games Spurs played being against the blue and red Mancs.

This could have been a Spurs game from any of the last half dozen or so seasons. A first half of total dominance without taking the deserved lead. I suppose that would be the only difference from before, not as many chances created as the West Brom ‘keeper, foster, had very little to actually do, it made a change from visiting ‘keeper have the game of his life.

There was all the build up and no end product, well we’ve seen that before, going it after handing out a first half battering just one up but there wasn’t even that here. Balls just not falling right, falling to the wrong player or falling to Defoe for him to hit the massed WBA legs in front of him when better options were available than aimless shots. Of course there was the customary goal chalked off for an offside later in proceedings.

As before the best stuff came from wide. When Bale was on the left and running at the fullback it created openings, when Lennon on the right had the correct service – that’s when he gets the ball on the run, not receiving it stationary facing his own goal – again the defence was in trouble. Just no one to finish it off. Oh for a striker bought early in the summer so he’s fit and assimilated into the team. Funny Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is playing on the radio as I type this.

Adebayor available not with no pre-season a dodgy start. Still don’t know about his signing, can he be bothered when there isn’t a contract to play for? History may suggest not. But with AVB statements it looks like he’s all we’ve got. At least when he came on he didn’t actually block a shot that would have otherwise scored.

And so the substitutions. So many saying you can’t criticise AVB but for the second game running his substitutions left some head scratching and here I’d say had a detrimental effect on the side. But it’s also the personnel the manager has at his disposal.

Van der Vaart had to start this one, after coming on against Newcastle he improved the ball playing of the team – while Gylfi Sigurdsson is meant to be a like-for-like player as vdV, he adds better set pieces but his all-round contribution isn’t the same. The Dutchman seems to be a 60 minute player, even before the pressing game of the manager was installed, bringing on Adebayor for him messed up the system’s set up. It crated more space in the middle of the park and it’s no coincidence WBA really came back into things with a more open game.

Gylfi for vdV would have worked better you feel but he was introduced for Sandro a little later. Again the Brazilian like the Dutchman appeared like he was struggling fitness wise, he looked cream crackered, but West Brom were now beginning to dominate the middle of the park, Sigurdsson isn’t the one to shore up that area really. But his introduction produced the opening goal, from his corner came Assou-Ekotto’s defelected shot. The left back had previously forced Foster into one of his few saves on the day with his own set piece.

Which all meant AVB with little left to shore up the defences as West Brom now behind had nothing to lose and so were going for it. Lukaka doing his best Drogba impersonation, from falling over when no one touched him – a slip, not a dive – and barging his way through the Spurs back-line. Livermore was on the end of the usual abuse. Doesn’t do anything! Yet passed it forward more in the one game than Parker probably did all last season. Tackled, passed and created openings, far more than and far better than a performance that would get them creaming themselves over Parker.

One up last few minutes and panic stations for those in white. Yup, we’ve seen that before. And at the centre of the panic the newly introduced Jenas, for Defoe. Pressure relieved until the ball finds it’s way to Jenas so he can kick it away, kick it anywhere, just away and the Baggies are back on the front foot, charging en masse into the Spurs area.

Brad Friedel had made some good saves before he started flapping about and never mind coming off his line standing behind it as Spurs dropped deeper and deeper. Had last minute equaliser written all over it. And it duly came. Faults all round, Friedel, Walker coming in for most of it. But it was a collective fuck up, plenty in white in that box to properly clear the ball out and see off the final few seconds. Irony of ironies what it called for was a good old fashioned Michael Dawson hump up the park.

Just enough time for Vertonghen to have a winner chalked off for Galls being offside. The Belgian new boy had a pretty decent game, showed good touch on the ball and going forward, a settled back pair is needed for him to really bed in, him and Kaboul being the best option, though wonder with the latter being out injured if Caulker is maybe a better option than Gallas.

A great crowd reaction from the crowd for the new boy’s predecessor Ledley King on the 26th minute.

So two down and two games where Spurs could have, probably should have come away with maximum points, after playing well and bossing the opposition. It just needs a little something to make it all work, the departure of Modric and a suitable creative replacement in the middle of the park, someone who can hold the ball and ping it around as well as dribble, and with all due respect to the manager another striker could just see things click.

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