Last season’s home defensive record signalled that Spurs under Harry Redknapp were a tougher, tighter and less compromising proposition. With a sixth clean sheet in a row in the January draw with Hull, Tottenham now have the chance to grab a record seventh in a row at Anfield on Wednesday night.
The draw was frustrating for a team with Champions League aspirations, but Spurs fans should comfort themselves with the thought that since Harry Redknapp has been at the club progress has always been on the agenda. After last season’s record breaking rear-guard, where they topped the home defensive charts by conceding only 10 goals in 19 games, it would have been easy to have stuck with the status quo and left it at that.
Instead, Spurs have gone on to improve on that this season by taking that frugal form on their travels, resulting in them picking up more away points than ever in the Premier League era.
Redknapp owes a debt to ‘keeper Heurelho Gomes for this upturn in defensive fortunes as the Brazilian stopper has returned to the form which made him a fan’s favourite in the Netherlands with PSV. His improvements towards the end of last season – coinciding with Tony Parks joining the club – did enough to claw back some respect after a disastrous start, and this season he has cemented himself as a top-class no.1. This is a state of affairs Gomes recognises himself:
“When I am fit, I know I can play well and I had problems with my ribs, with my hands, problems with everything back then [at the start of last season]. People in Holland knew I was a good ‘keeper, but here in England they didn’t. I never felt I had to prove something to those people, but I needed to prove something to myself: that I was good enough to play in England. I feel I have done that now,” he said.
Boaz Myhill and Joe Lewis may have come to the Lane in recent weeks and put in impressive performances, but home fans have been spoilt with goalkeeping master-classes on a weekly basis from Gomes.
Basking in the protection afforded him by a back four which has grown in strength in the last couple of months, Gomes has been a reliable performer, giving the consistency that is essential from a ‘keeper. The days of regular howlers seem to be behind him, as he assuredly becomes a key part of Tottenham’s season.