‘Boring, boring Villa’ sang our fans in frustration, as we once again failed to find the net at White Hart Lane against stubborn opponents. For me though, there was a far more boring reality that I see looming on the horizon.
Liverpool are now fourth, despite having played terribly for most of the season. They’re grinding out victories in an ominous fashion and if we, or either Villa or Manchester City don’t get out acts together, then Liverpool will finish fourth and the ‘big four’ will reign supreme yet again. Now that’s boring.
On the evidence of this match, neither Spurs nor Villa have what it takes to break into the top four. Villa just don’t have enough quality in their strikers and are thus forced to play a very tight game, trying to sneak 1-0 victories and away draws. I just don’t see them winning enough games to make it.
One thing that you couldn’t accuse us of is not trying our very best to score, but on too many occasions we are being denied. We outplayed Villa over two games and had countless half-chances, but couldn’t convert them. The same has been true against Stoke, Wolves and Hull.
The problem (strangely for a team that was able to score 9 goals in a single match) is up front. Defoe is a brilliant forward, but is reliant on a strike partner to create chances for him. So far this season we’ve had two plans. Plan A is to play Defoe alongside Crouch and hit balls up to the big striker to knock down. Plan B worked so badly that it is currently on loan at Celtic.
What I found strange about this game was that we didn’t at some point opt to try the new Plan B and bring on Gudjohnsen up front, behind Defoe. He might not be fully fit, but with us having all the possession for the last 20 minutes, it surely couldn’t have hurt.
Perhaps Redknapp thought that the game hung too much in the balance, to risk the equilibrium. If we’re going to finish above Liverpool though, then we need wins. We have to take risks. Modric played pretty well, but why not bring on Kranjcar, who poses far more of a goal threat?
Some of the papers highlighted Brad Friedel as having a particularly brilliant game. I don’t think that we really tested him that much and most of our shots were quite comfortable for him to save. His best stop was to palm away Ledley King’s flick, from which Defoe might have done better on the rebound. In truth, Gomes had to make equally good saves in our goal, albeit on less occasions.
Their back four certainly were superb, especially Dunne. God knows why City sold him, as he’s better than any of their current defenders.
I’ve seen Tottenham sites accusing Villa of playing for a draw from the off. I didn’t see it this way and thought that the first half was pretty open, with both sides committing men forward. In the second half, after a bit of early pressure, Villa seemed content to settle for a draw and just sit back.
On the positives for us, our back four had a good game. Against Ashley Young, Bale defended well and was still able to get forward. Bentley had a decent match and created most of our best chances with his set-pieces.
Huddlestone and Palacios had the measure of their midfield and it was good to see The Hudd testing their keeper with a couple of stinging shots. Up front, Crouch probably caused them more problems than Defoe, but as I’ve said earlier, we needed to change tact at some point.
Liverpool will slip up again and drop points. Quite possibly they will even do so this week against The Scum and then their next game is away at Manchester City.
The question is, are we and Villa going to be able to capitalise upon it, or will we be dropping points ourselves? I’ve got my doubts as to whether either of us will be up to the task. Still, at least in Spurs’ case, it won’t be for the lack of trying.