Hanging on in quiet desperation

is the English way.

If you tuned into Spurs’ Boxing Day game at the Villa for the last 10 minutes or so you might think that’s what they’d been doing ever since Defoe was sent off just before the half hour mark. With Crouch as a third centre-back and the ball barely getting much past the Spurs 18 yard box.

Though if you tuned into the five minutes before half-time and you’d have thought it was the Villa down to ten men as Spurs were playing the ole football and not giving the Brummies a look in.

And that was the main difference between the two sides, while yes Villa more of the ball, that was only down to the ridiculous sending off of Defoe – not the only crap decision b the officials on the day – they did very little with it that would make you drool over the play.

Compare that with those ten minutes along with the 23rd and 67th minutes. The latter two of course being van der Vaart’s two goals.

The first started with an absolutely gorgeous cross field ball from Modric to Hutton, as the rest of the Spurs side dragged their counterparts all to the left and nice inviting channel was created between the little Croat and his Scottish team-mate. Hutton’s first time cross was behind what you’d think was the intended target, Defoe, but luckily vdV has a very handy knack of being in the box when these things need finishing off, a poke with his left and it was a much deserved one nil.

This of course should have been the second goal, as Kaboul had scored earlier but for it to be ruled out as the official claimed the ball had crossed the line before Hutton had played it back for the Frenchman. The fact that the ball seemed to drop down from Hutton’s leg onto the line suggests that the whole of the ball did not cross the whole of the line. Before that Villa had screamed for a penalty, it was denied in one of the few things the ref got right, Gomes punching the ball away from the falling lump Heskey.

Defoe’s sending off for an elbow, which wasn’t in any way aimed at the player, just a few minutes after the opener you felt could be the turning point. But thankfully ‘Arry didn’t decide to change anything. A fear fell over me of van der Vaart coming off and Crouch heading on meaning it would more than likely be an hour’s rearguard action with Spurs only contribution being high balls humped up to the big fella, who would be all on his lonesome and more than likely lose the ball.

But Spurs style and skill was all pervading as Palacios set of on a run up the centre of the park, a lovely bit of skill to bypass one Villa player, a cracking one-two with vdV and at that point you’re screaming why is it Sgt. Wilson and not Modric or Bale or vdV or anybody else. To be fair the ‘keeper had to make a save, though of course this was so unbelievable that it resulted in a goal kick being given not a corner. The Honduran was having an outstanding game, he’s had a few decent ones of late, getting back to the form we saw just after his arrival but this was the best of the lot. Yes the odd misplaced pass and dodgy tackle but this was the enforcer we need.

Bale had been a bit quiet, nicely guarded by the Villa fullback, Lichaj, but on the 67th minute when he took a a great little flick on from vdV and charged down the field, Lichaj was one thing but once he was up against the useless lump that is Cuellar you knew there was only one winner. Onto Lennon in the box, he just over ran it, did that cause the hesitation or did he just decide vdV was better placed to side foot it into the back of the net? Counter attacking at it’s best. Two games against the Villa and four goals from the Dutchman.

Albrighton made those last ten minutes plus injury time a worry with a goal that was just a touch lucky. Maybe Kaboul should have made more of an effort, Gomes couldn’t do anything really, stick or twist, stand still and wait for a touch and this happens, gamble on no one getting a touch and someone more than likely will.

So Crouch was pretty much in a back three at the end but he did defend manfully, as had Dawson and Kaboul before and during. You look at the way those two have played over the last few games the way Gallas came into form just before his injury and how well Bassong has stepped in when needed and you have to wonder how Spurs haven’t kept a clean sheet since the opening day.

Anyway, clean sheet or not, it was a much deserved 3 points in another entertaining game, the great entertainers, same score and same scoreline as the reverse fixture, even survived Jenas being on the park…

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