As regular readers will know, my irrational contempt is for West Ham, not Arsenal. So beating them in the middle of their own slum is always a very special feeling. Arsenal and Chelsea always manage to provide new reasons to despise them, but the East End guttersnipes are always in a pee stained pole position.
This game, like so many under Villas-Boas sees us a rather redefined if not entirely reborn force. If we’re honest with ourselves, the winning has taken us by surprise. The consistency has confused us. Where once we were assessing performances against a backdrop of close but no cigar, we’re now left trying to evaluate why it went so well. You’d think that would be easier, but in fact it isn’t. It might seem comical of me to propose this, given the ‘one man team’ allegations flying about, but what we are witnessing here at long last are strong team performances under the Ginger One.
The most successful coaches affect the mentality of a team. You can see the existence of this magical connection when you look at any of history’s truly great sides. Tottingham are routinely keeping the ball on the floor, retaining possession and trying in the main, to fuel the creative players and ultimately create more chances. This is despite having failed to properly replace Van der Vaart or Modric who were pivotal in this process.
So all that the best of coaches could do is attempt to create a platform where characters like Bale can shine, sounds simple because it is. I mention it because most managers routinely fail in this enterprise on a weekly basis. We haven’t just benefited from Bale’s incredible talent, but the willingness of most of the squad to really fight games out.
I read this morning that Villas-Boas lasted 27 games at Chelsea and it took him 27 games to overtake them. If true, there’s a poetry in that to soothe even the most savage of beasts.
hugoConcedes two and I still struggle to find negatives about him. His presence of mind, his confidence and his understanding of the game all make for a joyous signing. The knowledge that you have this guy behind you must have a positive effect on the men in front of him. I want to see him start every game and a phase now where Brad is purely for when there is congestion in fixtures or injury.BonzoThe boy stood on the burning deck, playing with a box of crackers, one flew up his trouser leg and blew off both his knackers. Sir LesHad an efficient game. He made a couple of vital moves and aside from the odd hoof he has really made some serious progress in terms of being part of the AVB ‘template.’ CaulkerShould have had a goal! A decent, understated performance. More please. JanHe’s a thoroughbred player he really is. This is one of his more settled performances for some time. His presence plus his height of course made West Ham’s task far trickier.ParkerThis week’s whipping boy. Different player to Sandro, perhaps not as dazzling as he was when we first got him. Does it suddenly make him an idiot we need to replace with a wannabe journeyman like Jake Livermore? While Parker is still worth two of some on our books, then he remains ‘a must pick,’MoussaThe hip appears to be healing at last, but his next adversity to conquer is the extra touch that has crept into his game. His response to passes is slowed, his movement is slowed, let’s hope he wins that one too. Azza BludI’d actually start fining him for not turning up. I’m not going to get over emotional and start calling him a coward, but Spurs don’t need the selective services of people who are only prepared to offer cameo appearances. He needs to step it up. No excuses. Get involved, every game. BaleIt wasn’t just the goals, his whole performance was about winning and wanting to win. His refusing to stay down, his constant wanting the ball. Inspirational. HoltbyNot much came good for him this time out. He just couldn’t seem to get things to click for him. It happens. And it wasn’t down to lack of willing. I bet he’ll be psyched for the weekend.AdeAnother one went begging. Needs a goal for all sorts of reasons. Other than that he’s putting in useful shifts.SiggyImmediate Impacts ‘R Us. That upright knew it had been hit. More please. Livermore & CarrollBoth came on and slotted in pretty much seamlessly.