May 26 2013 Latest news:
Monday, November 14, 2011
Tottenham blogger Daniel Grigg on Scott Parker’s one-man show against Spain
Tottenham may not have been in action over the weekend, but a number of their players were on show in the international arena – and offering Spurs fans even more cause for encouragement.
There is only place to start – Wembley, where a certain Scott Parker further enhanced his glowing reputation by earning the man of the match award in England’s 1-0 victory over Spain.
Aptly for Tottenham fans, he was replaced by his club-mate Kyle Walker, who came on late in the game to make his England debut.
For the Three Lions to beat the world champions, it was always going to require a top-drawer performance from Parker in the centre of midfield.
And, just like his performances against Liverpool, Arsenal and particularly QPR, he didn’t disappoint.
Most spectators probably went into the match expecting the 31-year-old to be given the run-around by the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Xavi Alonso - myself included, admittedly.
If I’m honest I’ve never rated him among the Premier League’s best players, ever since the years when he struggled at Newcastle United and Chelsea - even though his form this season has been superb.
Indeed, while everyone was turning their attention away from White Hart Lane at the end of last week, Parker quietly picked up Tottenham’s player of the month award for October – having also won it for September in his first month in north London.
While the former West Ham man’s work-rate and defensive positioning were predictably effective on Saturday, it was Parker’s confidence when using the limited amount of possession that England managed to get that really impressed me.
The way he calmed things down, held the Spanish players off and generally took control of the midfield, alongside a very young - albeit confident and talented - Phil Jones, was mightily impressive.
It was yet another good sign for Tottenham, in case Luka Modric gets injured and Parker has to play alongside a midfielder like Sandro instead.
Parker, for the most part, was smart on the ball and succeeded in counteracting the famously tricky and challenging Spanish midfield as it continuously tried to swamp him and Frank Lampard.
At times, his performance even bore some resemblance to Jack Wilshere’s fine displays against Barcelona in the Champions League knockout stages last season.
Only once did Parker get caught out, and it nearly cost him big-time late in the second half.
Caught in possession trying to run the ball out from defence, he ran into multiple opponents halfway inside his own half, but was fortunate that Spain were unable to take advantage as the ball was quickly and harmlessly misplaced.
For Walker, who eventually replaced Parker, this was the chance to finally get his first run-out in the full England side, making his long-awaited debut months after his first selection for one of Fabio Capello’s squads.
He made pretty good use of what little time and opportunity he had to impress, coming into the high-pressure scenario and doing nothing to cause Capello to question his mentality or defensive capabilities any more than he may have done before the match.
The England boss has also suggested that Walker will start the match against Sweden tomorrow night, giving Tottenham fans (and the Spurs hierarchy) an inviting opportunity to see how the right-back performs at the highest level.
Elsewhere, Gareth Bale scored for the third game in succession, following his strikes for Spurs against QPR and Fulham – and also for the third Wales match in a row, with his thunderous opener setting Wales on their way to a 4-1 win over Norway.
Vedran Corluka was also on target on his return from injury, as a Croatia side including Modric beat Guus Hiddink’s Turkey 3-0 away in the first leg of their Euro 2012 play-off.
And, away from Europe, Sandro scored his first goal for Brazil against Gabon, from a pretty similar position to Lampard’s goal against Spain - although he had to bundle his way past defenders and throw himself at the ball to head it across the line.
Of course, there is always an injury to sweat on when the players report to their national sides – and it’s usually Rafael van der Vaart, who suffered a hamstring strain against Switzerland.
However, with so many Tottenham players catching the eye over the weekend, and with Jermain Defoe raring to go after his spell on the bench, it would be churlish to focus on a negative aspect of this international break.
Instead, let us cross our fingers that the Dutchman is the only casualty this week, applaud the Spurs stars who are grabbing the headlines at the top level – and hope for more of the same over the next couple of days.