The facts say that Tottenham lost 2 – 0 on Saturday. Despite the defeat Spurs remain in the top six of what is a very tight Premier League. But what else did the game tell us?
Here are five things that we learnt about Tottenham after Saturday’s game:
The Hoodoo continues
Ok, this one should perhaps be in a ‘5 things we already knew about Tottenham’ list. Tottenham’s poor record against the top four away from home is well documented, so putting another dash in the defeat column shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. But let’s put things into perspective; Anfield, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and the Emirates are hard places to go, and away teams don’t often go to these stadia and win. However, Tottenham are a team threatening to cement their place as one of the best teams in the league and until they can take the points from one of these cursed away days then many will never see them as true contenders. Unfortunately, Saturday went to a similar script as many have done before, Manchester United were good for their win and Tottenham never truly threatened despite having a good share of possession.
Oh no Huerelho!
Huerelho Gomes is a fine goalkeeper and we’re all aware of the nature of his game, both good and bad. So Manchester United’s final goal on Saturday evening served as another reminder that however good he is, he is still prone to moments of eccentricity and absurdity. I have no sympathy for Gomes and his blunder – and whatever people think of Mark Clattenburg’s part in the goal, it was Gomes’ fault. You should play to the whistle, and while Nani obviously handled the ball, you don’t put the ball down in your own penalty area to take a free-kick if the referee hasn’t given one. Clattenburg gave no indication to Gomes that he’d awarded anything, so he should have played on. Gomes’ form towards the end of last season secured fourth spot, I don’t think anyone would disagree with that, but he remains as unpredictable as ever.
More questions than answers
Without a clean sheet since week one it has been Tottenham’s attacking players that have won them games, yet it is the attacking six that will give Harry Redknapp his biggest headache on Tuesday against Inter Milan. Short of providing answers, Saturday’s game has given Redknapp, and fans, even more to think about. The possible injury to Rafael van der Vaart is a huge blow. Since joining, he has been Spurs’ best player and it was obvious that he was missing when Spurs went to Milan two weeks ago. With Van der Vaart potentially missing, it means thst Jermaine Jenas or Wilson Palacios could come into the side, but neither have been playing well of late. So if Redknapp changes formation to a 4-4-2 in reponse to the Dutchman’s absence, who should play up-front? After all, none of Spurs’ strikers are on form and even though Robbie Keane started against United he was very ineffectual despite all of the running and effort he put in (though it should be considered that Keane’s game doesn’t lend itself well to being a lone front man). Gareth Bale’s league form hasn’t matched his Champions League form and on Saturday he was kept reasonably quiet. If Tom Huddlestone regains fitness and is ready for the game he will fill one of the midfield holes, but what Redknapp does with the rest remains to be seen.
Different season, same old controversy.
Over the last five years one thing that is certain is that you won’t get a dull game when Spurs go to Old Trafford. And as much as it’s beginning to sound terribly familiar, Tottenham always seem to be on the wrong end of refereeing controversy when they go to United. Remember in 2005 when Pedro Mendes’ lob went over the line? Of course you do. Then there was also 2007 when Berbatov’s shot was handled in the area, and two years ago when a penalty was awarded for Gomes’ fair challenge on Carrick when Spurs were 0 – 2 up. But Spurs’ ill-luck continued at the weekend and you can forgive fans for feeling a little irked. As I’ve said, Gomes could have averted this whole affair by being a little more switched on, but surely a slice of good fortune at the home of the Red Devils is a little overdue?
Will Niko Kranjcar ever get a game?
The talented Croat is yet to make a league appearance despite his fine form last season and goalscoring returns for Croatia in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Harry Redknapp has been saying all the right things to the media; that he’s a good lad, he’s been training well and that he won’t be sold in January – but fans, and I’m sure the player, must be getting frustrated. Saturday would have been the perfect time to reintroduce Kranjcar to league affairs as a replacement for Van der Vaart. Being 1- 0 and with nothing to lose, Kranjcar could have had 15 minutes to bring something a little different to the game and help snatch an equaliser. There would be no shortage of suitors for Kranjcar should he decide that he would rather play his football elsewhere and maybe it’s becoming clear that he is surplus to requirements at the Lane.