We huffed, we puffed but were ultimately unable to blow Roberto Martinez’s little DW house down and while things are hardly terminal for our top four chances, all yesterday has done is serve to turn the forthcoming game against Chelsea into something of a cup final on steroids. Considering our track record in dealing with pressure, we could have probably done without that.
The side was set-up more or less as we expected, perhaps with the exception of Kyle Naughton starting yet again out at left-back. After a week-long campaign to hoist him into the starting line-up, Andre Villas-Boas gave the people what they wanted and shunted Tom ‘game-changer’ Huddlestone into a three-man midfield alongside Mousa Dembele and Scott Parker.
And putting The Hotspur Way’s Hudd-based skepticism aside, it’s fair to say that he didn’t actually play too badly at all, probably emerging as one of our more effective creative outlets on the field of play yesterday. Which is all the more impressive given the really quite impressive failure of the Essex Swoop shaped cog right beside him.
You didn’t have to possess a Uefa Pro license to figure out who was causing Spurs’ change in formation some serious damage yesterday afternoon and although Scott Parker’s regression owes as much to tactical change as it has a waning in powers, he looked as woefully exposed as he ever has done at times yesterday.
Abjectly poor in possession and just as uninspiring without it, as desperate as we are to not jump on to what is beginning to look like a Parker-sized bandwagon, with so much on the line and so few games left to play, the former-Spammer man’s woes have become unavoidable. Struggling to keep up with Yaya Toure is one thing – being given the runaround by Jordi Gomez, quite another.
For as insipid as we were, one must of course give Wigan the credit they deserve and even though they remain one of the most astoundingly suicidal teams the Premier League must have ever possessed, they stuck to their game plan perfectly yesterday.
Much is made of how well they play with the ball, but it was in their happiness to sick the boot in, break up play and bereft the game of anything approaching some form of rhythm, that really seemed to stuff us at times. They played the petulant step-child role perfectly and we were simply unable to sack up and deal with it.
Positives to be taken out of yesterday? Not bloody many, but along with Huddlestone’s performance and another refusal to curl up and accept defeat, it’s not damaged our top-four prospects as such, more spunked what was a superb opportunity to really kick on. It’s only out of our hands on the assumption both Chelsea and Arsenal aren’t going to drop any more points this season, which is of course utter garbage and regardless of their game against United this afternoon, the Arse aren’t bouncing off into the sunset.
The negatives, however, are a little more wider-ranging, albeit nothing we weren’t already aware of. One wonder-goal against City hasn’t eradicated Jermain Defoe’s woeful lack of contribution and we continue to look so, so short up front. We remain as apt at set-pieces as Tom Huddlestone is modeling frocks and alongside another Scott Parker mare, the loss of Mousa Dembele could be potentially fatal depending on the length of his absence.
All roses then? Evidently not, but for as disappointing as yesterday was, nothing’s been won or lost just yet. If we did have one, tiny bit of space to maneuver though, it’s disappeared in a swift puff of smoke and whiff of a DW pie. Stamford Bridge awaits.
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