Anyone who took a cursory look at the score of this game would have thought it to be a pretty comprehensive win, but anyone who actually watched the match would know otherwise.
A defensive Wolves frustrated us for most of the match, just as Manchester City and Wigan have done at White Hart Lane. It looked like we were going to have to endure a third successive home league game without a Spurs goal, until Alan Hutton became the unlikely hero of the hour.
Our inability to break down defensive teams, has been a problem for the past couple of seasons, especially when Luka Modric isn’t in the side. We didn’t help ourselves in this regard with our team selection against Wolves.
Apparently Van der Vaart was meant to be playing on the right with license to roam. With Robbie Keane playing behind Peter Crouch the result was that we had two players occupying the same central position. Kaboul offered little attacking thrust down the right and it wasn’t until Hutton’s forced introduction, that we actually looked to have any balance in the team.
Keane is so off the pace at the moment it’s unreal. He looks an absolute shadow of the player we all loved. When Van der Vaart is clearly a better option and as he’s obviously happier to play just behind the striker, it’s hard to justify Keane being picked. I can understand Lennon being dropped after his poor start to the season, but surely he should have been replaced with either Bentley or Dos Santos?
We were the better team in the first half, but it was Wolves who went in leading, having scored from their only chance. You would have expected an onslaught from us in the second half, but instead it was Wolves who were enjoying large percentages of the possession.
It took a mazy run from Alan Hutton to change things for us. Having been brought down in the area, it was a relief to see Van der Vaart grab the ball for the penalty confidentally, after our problems from the spot last season.
There wasn’t much doubt that he would stick it away and at 1-1 the game completely changed. Suddenly we were the aggressors and the side that looked most likely to win the game.
Sure enough, we were 2-1 up 10 minutes later, when Pavlyuchenko scored with his what seemed like his first touch (not as impressive, when you realise that he’d been on the pitch for 20 minutes). Hutton then went on another great run and scored his first goal for the club to make it 3-1.
The result came as a great relief, but a bit like when you drink a lot to forget a problem, you wake up the next day with that problem unresolved. I’d love to think that this result will kick start our Premier League season somewhat, but I’ve a nagging feeling that we’re going to have to endure many more afternoons like Saturday.
On the plus side though, we are back in the higher echelons of the league table, just behind Manchester City. None of our rivals for fourth place have got off to a good start, so we don’t have to worry about playing catch-up.
Another positive is the fact that this match demonstrated just what a strong squad we’ve got. Our match-winner on Saturday was our third choice right back. I’m imagining that Hutton will be our first choice right back against the Scum on Tuesday.