in Blackburn of all places.
A cold Wednesday night up North, a must win, a can’t lose, can’t even really afford to draw, got to keep in touch and it happened. Not without a bit of luck.
It didn’t start to well yesterday with the news that Luka Modric would be missing not only from this game but who knows how many to come after his appendix chose this moment of all moments to throw a strop. Luka, Bale and Huddlestone all out, three quarters of our trustworthy midfield gone, I tweeted when I heard…
Midfield with Pienaar, Krancjar and Jenas…end of season party follows?
— Toxic Web (@Toxic_Web) February 2, 2011
I didn’t figure into that Pienaar wouldn’t be available after suffering concussion in training.
With Dawson suspended, King missing his latest operation due to a mislaid passport, Kaboul crocked and Gallas initially rated doubtful, this looked like a complete disaster in the making. Luckily Gallas made the game but Hutton was all of a sudden out, so Charlie Corluka back hobbling about. Which all lead to two ‘keepers on the bench alongside Woodgate sitting with a yellow bib on. Too soon?
One piece of luck, Blackburn’s home kit meant that baby blue abomination wouldn’t be in use.
I said in the Fulham match post with Bale out I’d go two up and play van der Vaart in the nominal left sided berth, well ‘Arry went close as the Dutchman was more right sided with Lennon on the left.
And he duly produced the only really decent bit of play from Spurs in the next 42 minutes of the first half, a great cross with his left right onto the head of the leaping Crouch. A surprise that the big fella wasn’t penalised what with the way refs do him for any perceived infraction. His hands were on Samba’s shoulders which normally sees the whistle blown but Crouch was up to get the ball and Samba was backing in and late to even attempt to go for the ball.
So Crouch not only scored a league goal, he did so with his head and with his feet off the ground. It was a well placed header past Robbo as well. Wonders will never cease.
After that it was pretty much all Blackburn as an attacking force. Yes Spurs had quite a bit of the ball but very little if anything was created as they passed it about until it made it’s way back to Assou-Ekotto, Corluka or Gomes who then just humped it up the park to a Blackburn player.
During all this Blackburn were being gifted chances by Spurs dithering, pissing about and generally being caught in possession. The backline repeatedly being exposed by the disappearing Jenas, who was only spotted when having his head stamped on – could have done a better job son.
Bassong was in full dithering mode, and as the game progressed into through the second half with Spurs holding this one goal lead he Corluka and BAE increasingly looked like a penalty about to happen. Gallas started to hobble late on and it looked like Woodgate would make an appearance, after how long, but the Frenchman battled on. ‘Arry then really indicated his intentions of holding out for this by bringing on Sandro for Defoe with 15 minutes to go.
But not before the striker had one real chance to finish it, a nice jazz hands run from Lennon right down the middle of the park, Defoe had drifted to the left and Lennon fed him the ball, the striker had slightly slowed up so the pass wasn’t that perfect but he should have made a better effort of it but yet again Defoe hit a ‘keeper.
Still it seemed an odd choice to take him off as Blackburn were pushing on and were rather vulnerable to a quick counter especially a ball over the top to a speedy striker, which ain’t Crouch.
Through all of this Blackburn had chance after chance – they do play better now they’re not hindered by the scintillating tactics of Sam Allardyce, much like Bolton – and were only prevented from winning by not hitting the target or when they did by an inspired Gomes. The big Brazilian was having one of those days, no not one of those days, one of those that ‘keepers usually have against Spurs. He made some brilliant saves throughout the game, from Hoilett, Diouf and Pedersen. Though he was helped out right at the end by the only decent thing Jenas did all night when he inadvertently got in the way of Samba’s goalbound header deflecting the ball over the bar.
Must win, did win, season starts here…