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Why Tottenham Hotspur Are Already Winners

tottenham ac milan Why Tottenham Hotspur Are Already Winners

How times have changed at Tottenham Hotspur. After Tottenham Hotspur showed Sunday how leaky their defense could be as Wolverhampton Wanderers ran riot, It was refreshing to see the Lilywhites give a defensively sound performance Wednesday night against AC Milan. It was the type of display that Tottenham may need to rely on again in the quarter-finals of the Champions League where they will face one of the elite teams in the world.

By limiting a very attack-minded AC Milan side to just a few clear-cut chances to score Wednesday night and reducing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a bit part, Tottenham showed more versatility. The current Spurs side matured before our eyes. They’re becoming much more than just a balls-to-the-walls attacking side. They can, believe it or not, defend. That’s something that earlier this season or last season you would never expect especially with their long casualty list of injuries to key defenders. But, as we witnessed the brilliant display by Michael Dawson and William Gallas in the centre of defense Wednesday night, Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate didn’t even enter our minds.

Tottenham’s performance last night was a far cry from the defensive frailties shown in their opening Champions League qualifying round match against Young Boys when they were three-nil down in the opening 28 minutes. Again, how times have changed.

The question is how far can they go from here? They’re only four games away from a Champions League Final at Wembley. In their first season in the Champions League, they’ve already defeated Italian powerhouses AC Milan and Inter Milan. A lot will depend on the luck of the draw, but no matter who they come up against except possibly Barcelona, you have to imagine they have a strong chance of making it into the semi-finals if they can play as well as they’ve done in previous Champions League matches. A return to full-fitness and regaining his goalscoring streak for Gareth Bale will be vital. But, as we saw Wednesday night, Rafael van der Vaart continues to be a threat up front.

A key advantage for Tottenham Hotspur is that their expectations are low. Teams such as Chelsea and Manchester United have the pressure hanging over their head that they must go far in this tournament. At the beginning of the season, no one expected Spurs to be in the final eight in Europe. And even if they got knocked out in the quarter-finals, their season and their European performance would be considered a tremendous success. It’s that lack of pressure coupled with the insane noise generated by the crowd at White Hart Lane that gives Spurs a distinct advantage. No matter what happens from here, Spurs are already winners. It’s a great place to be in.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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41 Responses to Why Tottenham Hotspur Are Already Winners

  1. MennoDaddy says:

    So proud to be a Spurs fan this morning.

  2. I managed to watch a good 40 mins of the game last night and I think Spurs played well as a team. They have alot of talented players in their squad but the main credit goes the Harry Redknapp for the effort he has put into the club.

  3. Andy says:

    Good article that says it all.

  4. tonyspeed says:

    Pretty much. Although I was hoping Milan knocked them out and probably deserved to. Well played. The tie was quite evenly balanced.

    • oh yeah says:

      Of course the team that couldn’t score in 180 minutes against the squad that gave up three to a team in the relegation zone DESERVED to win.

  5. MennoDaddy says:

    These teams were surprisingly very well matched. Milan is top-heavy, and their offense is very, very good. They also have a very good midfield playmaker in Seedorf. In order to effectively cancel out the threat of Ibra, Pato and Robinho, Spurs needed to be perfect and solid in the back line. They did that in both matches.

    Spurs, on the other hand, are weakest up front, but have I’d say the best and deepest midfield in the Premier League. While Modric didn’t have a stellar game and Huddlestone is still injured, Sandro was absolutely magnificent, and of course, the wide players are always a danger.

    What surprised me, mostly in the first half, was how content Spurs were to drop back and give Milan space in the midfield. I really expected Spurs to dominate possession as they bossed around the midfield, but surprisingly they relied on their defensive players to hold Milan’s strikers. And it worked.

    Ugly match. Knock-down, drag out battle. Not pretty offensive football like what you’re used to seeing from Tottenham, but it was undoubtably effective. And surprising, considering that Redknapp pretty much had come out and said prior to the match that he was planning on running right down Milan’s throat.

    • Phenoum says:

      Best and deepest midfield? right – I’m quite certain you’re ignoring someone very close to WHL…

      • MennoDaddy says:

        Nope. I’m not. :-)

      • WHL says:

        Well Mr. Phenoum, you can take heart that Arsenal are now the proud holders of a record that will probably never be beaten.

        First team ever to score more goals than they had shots but still lose the game.

        Outstanding. BTW, how’s that bid for the quadruple looking?

        • Phenoum says:

          First off – there was never a ‘bid’ for the quad. Simple fact was that we were in 4 competitions and all the manager said was that we’d do what we could to win every game.

          Of course Harry’s twitch got to the media and they twisted it, but that’s life in England

          Secondly – I’ts looking a hell of a lot better than yours is, now isnt it?

          • WHL says:

            Oh dear, just a little sensitive are we? Well that’s OK, most plastic Arsenal “fans” tend to be that way. You’d think that they would be used to have an empty trophy cabinet by now, wouldn’t you?

            I did notice that you managed to avoid the question of zero attempts at goal in 90 minutes of football – no surprise there of course, I would want to forget that if my team put up such a horrible performance as well. Maybe like the man in the oversized sleeping bag on your sideline, Wenger the blind, you never actually saw it — how tough is it to have a team with blind manager and a deaf striker?

            Ii appears that you are a lot more twitchy than ‘Arry could ever hope to be.

          • Phenoum says:

            LMFAO

            I love how commenters on here pull out the “real” fan card all the time. Whatever makes your ego tick man.

            And for the record, I’d rather have my Manager any day of the year over yours. On top of understanding the game better, he doesn’t look like a man who washes his face in a vat of acid every morning.

  6. cy says:

    For me its how Spurs won. They won with defense. Shut down AC Milan for 180 minutes. Sure they parked the bus yesterday at times, but so did Inter vs Barca. Its not the most entertaining to watch, but its how you win big games.

    • Phenoum says:

      Ah yes – and Arsenal got lamblasted for attempting the same thing @ Barca.

      Love the media these days

      • MennoDaddy says:

        The difference, of course, is that Arsenal failed.

        • DH says:

          And at least Spurs attacked, they had a handful of real chances in the game

        • Phenoum says:

          The difference, of course, is that with only 11 men, when time came to attack in the final 20 minutes and capitalize on our fitness like we had in every other game we’ve played against them in the past few years – we were short a man (at the top no less) because of a self-infatuated ref who couldn’t bring himself to letting two teams battle for a game.

          In short – we were never given the chance to fight for the game. partly due to the game plan to hold back until late, and mostly due to a cu*t of a ref who defends his decision still.

  7. Dave C says:

    Milan seem to have had the same old problems for so long, but never really addressed them – they’re old, slow and have no attacking width. Even they’re Champions League successes in the last few years seem like just blips in an otherwise constant slump since the Sacchi/Capello glory days.

  8. Joe says:

    Yes, this season is a great success, but I still see problems on the horizon. If Spurs finish out of the top four, how hard will it be for them to hold onto Bale, Van Der Vaart, Lennon long-term? I fear that they will end up selling some of the major pieces that have led them so high so fast, and that it could be many years before they reach these heights again. But for now, I’ll continue to enjoy the run.

    • Joe says:

      I’m also confused as to why Sandro doesn’t see much action in the PL. He looked great in both Milan games. Are they just trying to bring him along slowly?

      • MennoDaddy says:

        Redknapp HAS been bringing him along slowly. It’s taken him this long to get used to the fast pace of the EPL as compared to Brazilian league football.

        Who knows what goes on in the mind of ‘Arry some days when it comes to squad selection (Pav as a sub yesterday instead of Defoe? Kranjcar can’t get a start to save his life?), but it sure looks as though Sandro is playing his way into a starting role when Spurs use a holding midfielder.

    • well says:

      Spurs are owned by a billionaire. They can spend with, or for, anyone if they really wanted to.

  9. Norfolk Enchants says:

    Puke…..

    Can somebody please recommend a better blog than this….

    • The Gaffer says:

      Arsenal fan, by chance?

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Dave (dlbags) says:

        To be fair you (and most of the media) criticize Arsenal for defending at Camp Nou and praise Spurs for parking the bus for 90 excruciating minutes, at home no less. Spurs are the darlings as they are new to the CL, I get it but if any team should have attacked it was Spurs at home. They weren’t playing Barca. AC Milan isn’t that good.

        As an Arsenal fan I was rooting for them as I do all BPL teams in CL but the game was awful, but I’m glad they got through. Spurs need to take advantage of the opportunity especially given they may not be back next year.

        Hopefully Spurs fans can lose their complex of everything they do being measured to Arsenal. I mean even their fans were chanting “Are you watching Arsenal?” Grow up and own it. Stop dragging another team not on the pitch into it. It’s going to take a lot more than a few BPL titles or what not to eclipse AFC anyway.

        Also they should have lost that game against Wolves that penalty on Gomez was horseshit and the goal should have stood.

        • Joe says:

          I guess it might be hard for an Arsenal fan to understand this given the last six years, but results are everything. If Spurs had played defensive-minded and lost, we’d be criticizing them. But guess what? They didn’t.

          • Phenoum says:

            Ah yes – those who are blind to the game and look only at the scoreline – If you knew a thing about the game you’d be wishing your team played better as well.

          • Joe says:

            Yep, keep talking about how others are “blind to the game” while your team chases the only trophy competition they can’t be eliminated from. And hey, kudos to your classy manager today for calling UEFA a “dictatorship”. I can’t think of anything smarter to say at a time when a major world leader is killing his own people to avoid giving up his power.

        • WHL says:

          Hi Dave (dlbags), well at least your comments are at least more well thought out and reasoned by the other tame Arsenal “fan” that posts on here.

          Unfortunately you need to turn and look at your own fans before you comment on the Spurs fans: “Hopefully Spurs fans can lose their complex of everything they do being measured to Arsenal. I mean even their fans were chanting “Are you watching Arsenal?” Grow up and own it. ”

          I would like to point out the most used chant at Highbury… oh sorry… The Emirates is “If You Hate Tottenham Stand Up”, not too much difference is there?

          Tottenham vs. Woolwich… oh sorry again, Arsenal is one of the great rivalry’s in football. Would you expect City supporters to stop singing about and hating United? Or Liverpool and Everton? No of course not.

          For true Tottenham supporters the two most important games of the year are the ones against Arsenal. Always have been and always will be. If Arsenal do things like, oh I don’t know, blowing a 4 goal lead, losing the Carling Cup or being knocked out of the CL after zero attempts on goal then Tottenham fans will do all they can to make sure Arsenal fans smart about it even more that they already are. And Arsenal fans would do exactly the same.

          I have many Arsenal mates and we take great joy in mocking each other. The difference between them and people like that idiot Phenoum is that they don’t take it personally and they know that it will be their turn soon. Phenoum is one of those plastic fans that think the world owes Arsenal everything based solely on their name.

          It doesn’t.

          • Phenoum says:

            ??? Attacking me in third person now? Plastic?

            I may be emotional in the wake of an upsetting game, but I’m not really sure how you think you know me based on a few comments you’ve read. Big of you as a Sp*rs fan to assume otherwise of course!

          • MennoDaddy says:

            Well, it’s nice of you to come here and crap in our sandbox. So far in this thread you’ve done nothing but spew partisan invective and have contributed little of value to the discussion.

            And you wonder why you’re getting the reaction you’re getting?

          • Phenoum says:

            @Menno

            Just returning the favor kiddo – Goes around comes around?
            Just look at any thread about Arsenal – always sure to find a Sp*rs fan offering their 2 cents. Besides – it’s a rivalry right? Gotta stir the pot from time to time :D

            I respect the commenters here as human beings, it’s when I find out they support Sp*rs that I worry about their sanity ;)

          • WHL says:

            No, I don’t think I know you and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know you thanks very much.

            I’ve seen some of the vitriol you spew on this blog in the comments section, and its always funny to poke sticks through the bars of the cage and make the animals mad.

            I notice that there’s still no reaction to the fact your team managed to get zero shots off in 90 minutes of footie. No surprise.

          • Phenoum says:

            To start with – you calling yourself an animal? curious…

            Secondly – I think even you can agree that had we had 11 men for the final 20 minutes, we would have turned a few of those runs / pressure into a shot. Bendtner’s lead foot may have been the difference b/w them vs us going through – after all that!

            Thirdly – we’ll have to revisit this discussion after Sp*rs get drawn against Barca and see how those games fare…

          • The Gaffer says:

            Should be interesting to see what happens on April 20 when Tottenham play Arsenal in a match which will be a massive one for both clubs.

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

          • Phenoum says:

            Indeed – I might have to come by and comment on your writeup of that game :D

          • Dave (dlbags) says:

            Funny you invoke stadiums as to insult. You guys can’t even beat out West Ham for a stadium. Regardless of what you say Arsenal has done everything right. They build their own stadium, they don’t hemorrhage money for quick fix it now signings and have a bright future.

            Spurs have Bale. Enjoy the now. That expectoration to win you speak about is because the organization is always looking forward, and although the now can be rough sometimes as it has been, at least we are int he mix consistently, not with last minute signings or heroics. We know we will have another chance at CL next year. We know we are competing for the BPL and still FA.

            I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade but success is measure by more than silverware and you’d be better off more like Arsenal than jeering it.

            And drop the zero sum attitude- fans on both sides, it’s silly. At this point Spurs success in CL does not affect AFC so let them have it.

            It’s all I’m saying. I hope Spurs go far. I’m sick of La Liga thinking their lopsided league the best because of RM and Barca.

  10. Rob says:

    Haha Arsenal fans.

    I love the whole “you parked the bus at WHL” bull. We had a good number of attempts on their goal that game.

    Also…We went to AC Milan and won. You went to Barca with an attitude of “we’ll let them pass and hold the ball and pray to God our defense holds up”. Bummer that RVP got sent off, but the better team won because they were actually playing.

    I do hope we run into Barca at some point in our CL adventure. I’d love to see how we cope.

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