except of course for the win.
Only Spurs can batter a team 3-2 and be hanging on in desperation for the final whistle.
‘Arry was making a point playing Crouch after his shenanigans on Tuesday night, it paid of quite handsomely for both – luck or great judgement?. It certainly helped that Spurs started off like we haven’t seen for some time, with the whole side actually looking “up for it”, out of the traps quick smart and running rings around Stoke.
The first 45 minutes was the best we’ve seen from them, well it seems like all this calendar year. Could it have something to do with Huddlestone being back in the starting line up? He’s been much missed for the last 5 months, hasn’t lost any of that touch during that extended lay-off.
Buzzing from the off it didn’t take too long to pay off as van der Vaart and Pavlyuchenko did a Madrid and caught Stoke cold with a a quick corner, the Russian’s excellent cross found the head of the onrushing Crouch to start his game of redemption. A goal, when did that last happen and from a striker as well.
Not long and it was two and from an even more unlikely source, again big Pav in the build up lays it off to to Modric, who scurries into the box and round one defender and the ball is under the ‘keeper an into the net. The little Croat certainly showed his joy at his first league goal since the beginning of September. Is it that lack of goals that’s kept him of the shortlist for PFA player of the year? The fact he’s been outstanding all season completely missed by the muppets.
Of course it couldn’t all go this swimmingly, I mean they were destroying Stoke the floodgates should have been opened but no this is Spurs. Not long to go before the clean sheet is wiped out. Corluka dithered on a high ball, let it bounce and then played Dawson short, Dawson again sold himself – worryingly he’s doing that a bit these days and he didn’t redeem himself with some lollygagging back to the box – and Etherington, never the quickest, is skinning Huddlestone – hasn’t lost the touch, hasn’t lost the weight or gained the speed. Everyone is calling for Hudd to just bring Etherington down, he doesn’t and the old boy scores quite a good goal.
Somewhat typical, but it wasn’t long until the two goal advantage was back. Nice cross-field ball from Assou-Ekotto to Corluka, who laid it back to Huddlestone, great first time cross right onto Crouch’s head and the striker had doubled his league tally for the season. Redemption complete?
Well only if it guaranteed a win, a guarantee that was in danger when Bale dithered on a ball in his own half until he had the ball taken off him, Kaboul gave Jones all the time in the world and the big Trinidadian slammed in an unstoppable shot.
This should have been a cruise of a first half, going in three up riding high on an excellent performance and the points pretty much in the bag but no, two bits of sloppy play and Stoke are well in it.
A far more even second half followed with chances for both sides, Kenwyne Jones looking pretty dangerous throughout. Spurs have the ball in the back of the net from a corner but the whistle goes for a foul on the ‘keeper but was there a foul? Did Kaboul touch him or did Begovic just drop the ball on Kaboul’s head? And it starts going the old Tottenham way of dropping deeper and deeper, inviting cross for Jones and worst of all giving away stupid free-kicks in areas just ripe for a Stoke equaliser.
Final whistle finally goes, finally a win in the league, seems like a long time coming. Maybe more importantly a performance far better than we’ve seen in a while. Huddlestone, almost like a new signing, Pavlyuchenko with a very lively performance doing his best to make sure he’s the one to replace Crouch against Madrid on Wednesday. Modric showing he knows where the net is, another 90 minutes from Bale and van der Vaart and the first for some time from Kaboul.
Just cut out those defensive lapses and well…who knows…