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Will The Real Tottenham Hotspur Please Stand Up?

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What on earth is going on at White Hart Lane? Two games into the new Premier League season and Spurs have put together two convincing performances on the trot and have two wins secured.

Liverpool were put to the sword on the opening weekend, despite Rafa’s bleating about penalties, Spurs should have had the game wrapped up at half-time if Robbie Keane had not been quite so profligate in front of goal. Then Hull were dispatched in a manner that displayed a growing confidence amongst the Tottenham players.

As an Arsenal fan whose brother is a Tottenham supporter I have always had a strange curiosity regarding our North London rivals, their endless optimism in the face of false dawns was something that was almost endearing at times. The question now though is, are Spurs the real deal? I have a horrible suspicion they might be.

Since Harry Redknapp’s arrival last term Tottenham have found a fluidity to their play and a hunger that was not prevalent during Juane Ramos’ brief time at the Lane. Spurs have long been capable of putting in big performances against the big teams, so I wasn’t that surprised by the Liverpool result, to follow it up by swatting aside Hull like they did though was very impressive.

Granted, Hull defended like they had all spent too much time on Phil Brown’s sunbed but Tottenham were ruthless in their execution on Wednesday. Quick on the counter, breaking in numbers and a virtuoso display from Jermain Defoe all point to big progress for them this season.

Harry Redknapp has acquired a plethora of attacking players and the variety that the quartet of Keane, Defoe, Pavlyuchenko and Crouch offers means they can change their style for the requirements of individual opponents. Robbie

What has also been striking about Tottenham’s play is the balance that has been struck in the midfield. Palacios provides steel but defensive discipline that was beyond the ken of the frustrating Didier Zokora. His partnership alongside Huddlestone has already shown promise, but their are players in reserve like Jenas that can also do a job.

It is early in the season but Luka Modric finally seems to have grapsed the pace of the Premier League and can be the dictator of play that Tottenham believed he could be when they signed him. He was not bad last season but certainly did not show the influence he had when playing for his national side and for club side Dinamo Zagreb.

Key to Tottenham’s season will be how many times they can get Ledley King out on the pitch and fit. I am not sure he is quite as good as the likes of Jamie Redknapp will have you believe but there is no doubt he exudes an authority that players at Spurs respond to.

Again, Spurs have options in defence, they have enjoyed collecting a harem of full backs over the last number of seasons so will not be found particularly wanting on the flanks. But, when King is out of the side the heart of the defence looks a little bit suspect.

Heurelho Gomes is not the best friend of a football fan with a dodgy heart but to take away all sense of impending calamity from White Hart Lane would spoil the fun. Tottenham fans like it exciting and Redknapp has certainly given them that but he has also instilled a greater sense of stability. His transfers this summer have been astute and not too flashy and Spurs seem alot more together than at this point last season.

The Jekyll and Hyde show that Tottenham have often embraced looks to be consigned to the past and this season offers them an opportunity with the squad they have to prove their detractors wrong. It is going to be an interesting season on the Seven Sister’s Road and ‘Arry Redknapp may be the man to guide Tottenham to greater heights.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. winstongator

    August 21, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Last year it was Nov 1 before Spurs got to two wins. A good change.

    • LI Matt

      August 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm

      And the first away league win wasn’t until the following weekend (Nov 9th).

  2. C G

    August 21, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Basically, we bring in Redknapp, and he has turned the entire club around. He can afford to keep Bentley off of the pitch (how many owners spend 15 million on a player only to never play him? Harry is running the team, and doing a great job at it). Palacios has been absolutely key. It’s not just him with huddlestone, it’s him with Modric and Lennon. Modric is undersized, Lennon is the pace guy. they need a beast in the middle, and Palacios is perfect for the role. Since he joined in Jan, the Spurs midfield has been great.

    As a team, you have a good set of strikers, a great midfield, and a spotty defense. At home, the defense is fine. On the road against the mid table and up teams, they may still struggle. remember, they gave up 5 to Man U last year, and they haven’t exactly improved in the back. i would expect them to buy some folks shortly.

    Overall, im hopeful this could be a great season.

  3. Rivett

    August 21, 2009 at 2:43 am

    For a side like Spurs that consistantly fails to start the season running these first two games have been massive. Seeing as we have a better and more settled side than last season, not to mention a decent manager, we should definately surpass eight place from last season. Also considering that if our points-per-game ratio after Harry took over last season was our ratio for the whole season we’d have been fifth, and our points-per-game with our side from January would’ve put us well and truly in the battle for fourth spot, I’m inclined to think we can definately push for fourth this season. I can see the prem being a lot closer at the pointy end this season, with a spread of ten or so points potentiall covering the top six.

    • kevmeist

      August 21, 2009 at 6:57 am

      Sure, it’s only the 1st 2 games….but compared to last season it has to be viewed as a positive thing. I didn’t see the Hull game but clearly against Liverpool, Spurs were the better side. I don’t remember who said it earlier about Liverpool in Asia, but don’t don’t forget that Spurs were in China and Hong Kong in the pre-season also.

      Most Spurs fans are happy at Spurs best start in 14 years. As everyone says, time will tell…but savor the good start that they have had.

      K

  4. Tyson

    August 21, 2009 at 2:23 am

    It’s definitely the first 2 games ie the matter practically doesn’t matter at all.

    We won’t get a better grasp of things until they’ve played a bunch of more games but Tottenham is a good side. How consistently they perform that well is up in the air though. A lot of teams start off well and then drop the ball.

    Remember Chelsea and Liverpool last year? It was nearly a foregone conclusion at times but then the team that started off the worse in many years won it.

  5. brn442

    August 21, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Wasn’t charlton on top of the league a fews years back, where are they now? It says more about Spurs sorry state the past few years that you’re seemingly impressed by them winning their first two games. Ah, the summer, the grass is still green the kits are nice and crisp but when the football season really starts: The worn out pitches, the freezing cup ties, injuries, the holiday matches that come thick and fast, I suspect we’ll see the same old Spurs, especially in the back. There is no spine no bottle (Old Trafford last season) The most they can hope for is sixth, I suspect a tad bit lower.

    • Kautzie

      August 21, 2009 at 2:04 am

      Spot on mate.

  6. Dan

    August 20, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    “especially against teams from the bottom half of the table”

    To be clear, are you implying WHUFC will finish bottom half of the table?

    • Lennon

      August 21, 2009 at 12:02 am

      I figured somebody would ask about that… I think I’d be more surprised if they qualified for Europe than if they finished below tenth, but I think somewhere between 8th-10th is most likely. So, no, I guess I don’t think they will… but talentwise they’re still in the range of clubs that Spurs should in theory beat even away from WHL. That’s my opinion, anyway.

  7. Lennon

    August 20, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    *deep breath*
    There’s nothing new about Spurs nicking three points against Liverpool at home or winning an away contest against a weak side. What I think HAS been different is the overall quality of play. Rory, you hit the nail on the head with the vast upgrade of Palacios over Zokora and the continued acclimation of Modric in the midfield. I’d also add that Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been arguably the most improved player from the start of the Redknapp era to the present, and his evolution leaves no blatant weakness in our back four. While I agree that King’s presence brings the defense to another level, there aren’t a lot of Premier League sides that would turn down a pairing of Woodgate and Bassong. And if Alan Hutton continues to look tolerable at right back (a feat I’m admittedly not expecting), that allows us to throw Corluka in the mix for center back every now and then.

    As for the concerns about depth: I buy this argument at certain spots on the pitch (left back and central midfield come to mind). Lord knows we’re set on strikers, and while the fragility of our defenders is well-documented the addition of Bassong and Naughton gives us enough quality to survive a few bumps and bruises. My greatest concern in terms of depth would be losing Palacios to a long-term injury; we have no natural replacement for what he brings to the table in the midfield.

    Sunday’s away match with West Ham will be very telling for the sustained success of this Spurs team. I think it’s no stretch to say that Tottenham should be the favorite based on quality alone. However, for us to hold out hope for anything beyond seventh place we MUST win away matches more often, especially against teams from the bottom half of the table. I don’t feel I’m asking too much of my team to leave Upton Park with three points. Once we’ve stopped playing down to the level of competition away from White Hart Lane on a regular basis, maybe then I’ll start getting TRULY delusional visions of playing in the Champions League. For now, I’ll be satisfied with competing for a Europa League slot.
    *catches breath*

  8. Thomas

    August 20, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Spurs are starting to show why many people predicted a very high finnish for them this season.

    They’ve spent a lot, and they have some good talent to show for it. I think the key is definitely going to be Modric and their defense. They’ve got really good strikers, and as mentioned, Huddlestone has really come on. If Modric can be the playmaker, and hte link to the strikers, this is a team that can do some damage. Not to mention, they have some pretty decent depth in the side as well.

    I think its great that there are 3-4 teams (villa, everton, spurs, city) pushing the top 4.

  9. Lightning Smith

    August 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Sounds like poor old Gooner “Kautzie” is already choking on his breakfast.
    Don’t worry mate. Like the man said they have only played two games.
    Funny people those South London Nomads

  10. wllmhll

    August 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    theyve been almost convincing in the last two games but its still only two games. still think their squad is on the thin side.

  11. Cam

    August 20, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Too early to call…the teams that finished 1st and 2nd last year haveboth dropped games and yet they will still be in the top four at the end! No doubt Tottenham look a hell of a lot better than last year but they still have 36 games left to play…

  12. Ryan

    August 20, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I thought Gomes was going to be out for a little while.

    • Gaz

      August 21, 2009 at 8:17 am

      That may be good for them… he’s the weakest link on that team.

      • Ryan

        August 21, 2009 at 8:33 am

        Right, but I’m just saying in an article on Spurs, it might have warranted a mention

  13. Kautzie

    August 20, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    It’s 2 freaking games into the season man! They got lucky against an overrated Liverpool side that clearly wasn’t up for it, and then beat arguably the worst team in the league. What’s amazing to me is how everybody falls for this crap about them breaking the top 4 every year and the same thing always happens.
    Rory, the bottom line is Sp*rs are a talented, potentially big but poorly managed from top to bottom 2nd tier club that will finish somewhere between 5th and 11th and always will be, give them time and they’ll screw it up.

    • Rory

      August 21, 2009 at 4:45 am

      At what point did I say they would break into the top four?
      The point is Spurs are building slowly and steadily and after the start they had to last season they must be pleased with how things are going.
      About time allowing them to screw up, that would be pleasant but at the moment they look more steady than they have been for some time.

      • Kautzie

        August 21, 2009 at 6:05 am

        Chill dude we’re on the same side here. My point is that every year those idiots say they’re going to finish above us and every year it all ends in tears, I remember after they hired Ramos, all we heard was how Ramos was the spanish Wenger and what a strong young squad they had and Ramos had a torrid start with the 5-1 win over our B squad and I was worried just like you are now, but we all saw how that ended, this time won’t be any different.

        • Rory

          August 21, 2009 at 7:16 am

          Yeah I know what you mean Kautzie.
          Me and the brother have nearly come to blows when he has come home to find me rolling around the living room laughing at his Spurs. Although he got over for the Carling Cup win which was certainly rubbed in my chops.
          I just have a sneeking suspicion this year they could be consistent, that is not a good feeling to have on a Friday morning!

          • Sudonihm

            August 21, 2009 at 10:44 am

            Look at the Spurs record since Redknapp took over. They have been one of the better teams in the Prem. Maybe not top 4, but this “only 2 games” crap by Kautzie is weak. They have been a good, solid team since Redknapp. You just haven’t been paying attention because of the horrid start under Ramos.

  14. Bullers

    August 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    I concur. We also haven’t had the best of them for quite a few games if you recall. The massive squad as you mentioned and a lack of a european scheduleis also another threat and although we are not playing badly, I just don’t think we have the strength in depth to go or cope the whole season the whole season. I am genuinely concerned this season. We have become a shop window and selling club, I am more for the moyes type approach, cast them to the reserves and let them rot for a few weeks.

    Another sleepless night thinking about the yids

  15. JimB

    August 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    A remarkably objective article from a gooner!

    It’s far too early to say yet whether Spurs are the real deal. Not many teams will allow Spurs as much space in which to play as Hull did on Wednesday night. How will Spurs fare against their traditional nemesis – the rough and ready teams that are no respecters of reputations? There’s the rub. Will Spurs’ feet of clay be exposed once again?

    There’s no doubt that Harry is doing a good job. And Spurs do, for once, appear to have balance in their squad. Another strong central midfielder and another left midfielder / winger would really give Spurs consistent depth throughout the squad.

    Nevertheless, I think 5th will be the limit of Spurs’ potential – this season, at least. You can’t expect to go from fighting to avoid relegation most of last season to breaking into the top four this season. Too big a leap and I’m not sure that Spurs have the very highest quality required (even if, as shown on Sunday, Spurs might have the depth).

    I’d be happy with 6th. Anything less would be a disappointment. Anything more would be a fantastic achievement.

  16. DeNyO

    August 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    A really good comment on the current state of Spurs, as someone who has a rival sibling and seeing year after year of underachieving, perhaps this might be the year where things start to click. In the purchasing of Defoe and Keane, Harry as been astute to stick with a tried and tested formula with both players seemingly telephatic at times.

    I think we should (Spurs fans) revel in the wins so far, but reserve judgement 15 games down the line – if Harry is still winning then there might seriously…just maybe…be some real cheer down at White Hart Lane.

  17. manaz

    August 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    It was Liverpool’s first game.Give them a break. They are getting used to the pace of premiership football after getting back from Asia. This is the thing that happens when you go on tour to Asia . On coming back they got a wake up call in Athletico Madrid and Spurs. On the other hand Spurs were already playing premiership teams in their friendlies so this was bound to happen. Let a few matches go by then we will see the true colors of every team

  18. dlink09

    August 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    two games only.. long way to go..

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