Form Guide January 2011
P W D L F-A GD Pts
6 2 2 2 6-7 -1 5
2 Cup Matches
· December 2010 figures
· Last year's figures
"It's the hope that kills me"
The headline is part of a famous quote ascribed to the late, great Peter Cook, who was a loyal Spurs fan, but which also featured in the John Cleese film, "Clockwise". The reason I have used it, is because January did indeed start in hope, as we completed a league double over Fulham; had an unbeaten run of 11 games (9 in the league), and three consecutive league wins over the Christmas week. The defence, marshalled by an in -form Michael Dawson, managed a second successive clean sheet in a league game, which has been a rare commodity this season. We were above Chelsea, and things looked good in the race for the top four.
Gareth Bale scored our first goal of the year and his 11th goal of the season. It was also his last goal for us to date, and we must hope that he recovers from his latest back spasm problems soon. Gareth hasn't scored a goal for us in domestic cup games, but that can be explained by the fact he hasn't played. Now he was injured for the fourth round cup game at Craven Cottage at the end of the month, but perhaps his absence from Spurs' only two other domestic cup games explains their failure to make progress. I refer to my theory that Harry Redknapp has not been too bothered about winning domestic cup games this season.
The fact that we lost in that cup game to Fulham on the penultimate day of the month gives a definite asymmetry to our form this month, as we conceded four goals, and Michael Dawson most certainly was NOT the hero of that hour, making errors that led to the first two (penalty) goals, and getting sent off in conceding the second within a quarter of an hour. The least said about that game here, the better.
Things started to get worse when we travelled to Goodison Park for a mid-week game on a cold early January night. One of our three talismen (I speak of Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart) - Gareth Bale - had to be replaced after 58 minutes, following a heavy challenge (let's be generous) by Phil Neville who was to become a Spurs target in the transfer window. That move didn't come off, and if it's true that Spurs offered first £250,000, then eventually £500,000 for a man with 18 months left on his contract, then that is pretty derisory for a player who has kept a grip on Bale this season, whether you like him or not. It says a lot about Spurs strategy regarding buying players, I think, despite the rumours of big money being on the table for high profile strikers later in the window.
Apart from the scheduled arrival of South African centre back Bongani Khumalo, the only player we did manage to sign in the window was Steven Pienaar who played against us in a game where Everton beat us 2-1, after Rafa van der Vaart had equalised Saha's early goal. Coleman grabbed a deserved winner for the "Toffees" in the 75th minute. Robbie Keane came off the bench to make what might turn out to be his last Spurs appearance, as he has gone on loan to West Ham in a move which will become permanent should they survive the relegation battle.
Our FA Cup Third Round victory over Charlton becomes an irrelevance now, in the light of the embarrassing defeat by Fulham. Andros Townsend made a super debut, capping it with a goal, before going back out on loan, this time to Watford. The star of the game though was second half substitute Luka Modric, who simply turned Spurs on after a goal-less first half. Jermain Defoe returned from suspension to score the other two goals, but he's still got to score a Premier League goal this season.
It was back to serious league action the following week, when unbeaten Manchester United came to town. Many Spurs fans were almost expecting their heroes to put the title favourites to the sword, but had to settle for a goal-less share of the spoils, with a fourth clean sheet in five games. Spurs heroes included what has been the first choice back five of Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Dawson and Ekotto, but it was little Luka Modric who ran the show, and who is making gains on both Bale and Van der Vaart in the race to become your player of the season, as both were made to look relatively ordinary by yet another Modric master-class as he patrolled the field to make even United fans envious. United even engaged in time-wasting tactics to stay level with Spurs.
It was a less convincing Spurs that turned up at Newcastle, although Aaron Lennon's added time equaliser was clearly deserved. Spurs have never lost a game in which Aaron has scored his 20 Spurs goal, so we look forward to his next addition to the collection. Pienaar made a solid debut, until he tired, but Gareth Bale only lasted 10 minutes, looking more and more human. Modric once again out-shone Van der Vaart, who looked lively at times. Newcastle seemed to manage quite alright without the injured Andy Carroll for whom they have pocketed £35 million in the ridiculous end of January action from which Spurs shied away. Spurs fans had been looking for a win and a third league "double", and by now Chelsea had reclaimed their place in the top four.
The performance of the team and some individuals at Craven Cottage in the end of month Cup debacle has resulted in the worst team "Spursometer" grading that I can recall. I'm sorry, but I cannot physically go back over 10 years-worth of the records! What I am sure of though is that Michael Dawson's 2.1 out of 10 is the worst individual mark that has been given since the "Spursometer" has been opened up to readers. It was even worse than Gilberto managed in his time at Spurs!
Only Player of the Month Luka Modric (second consecutive month), and substitute William Gallas retained their dignity and above average marks in the face of an onslaught we all need to forget. Or do we need to forget it? The players at least need to be reminded of the demands placed upon them by loyal and long suffering fans who pay some of the dearest prices to watch a team that once again looks likely to be swamped by those teams who do have bigger pockets and budgets than E.N.I.C (the money does not come out of Daniel Levy's pockets as some fans still think).
As I have written elsewhere, we have fifteen "cup finals" remaining in the Premier League, and most of them will have to be won to get us back in the top four!
Don't forget to check out the cumulative appearances and grades for the players as the season progresses - below. The grades are based upon a mark out of ten. Note that this month, Luka Modric overtook Gareth Bale and has made ground upon Rafael van der Vaart in the race to be the Spurs Odyssey player of the season, voted by you!
...if you want to remind yourself of the matches played during this month, then See the Fixtures page here. By working your way back through the previous month's figures, you can review the performances over the last 10 years!