May 18 2013 Latest news:
By Daniel Grigg
Monday, November 7, 2011
Tottenham blogger Daniel Grigg gives his views on yesterday’s 3-1 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage
Tottenham's seventh victory in eight unbeaten Premier League matches didn't come with anywhere near the exultant flourish as their outclassing of QPR the previous weekend, but they were still ruthless enough to snatch all three points away against a dangerous Fulham side.
It was largely a tale of two ageing goalkeepers on the Thames. One of them, Mark Schwarzer, was unable to stop Spurs' goalscoring while the other, Brad Friedel, exhibited the sort of display that reminds you exactly why he's still one of the best keepers in the top flight.
Of all the signings made this season by any manager, few have been more relevant and influential than the decision to sign the 40-year-old American on a free transfer.
Friedel is a great shot-stopper but he contributes a great deal more than that, exuding a kind of calmness and experience, as if hes done everything 100 times or more before, and that it's all just a simple routine.
In a week when Carlo Cudicini's saves single-handedly kept down the score against Rubin Kazan, and not long since similar heroics from Heurelho Gomes helped Spurs to a 1-0 win over the Russians at White Hart Lane, it says something about Friedel that his position as the first-choice keeper has barely been questioned since it was handed to him.
Yet Friedel's heroics would have been just as irrelevant as Cudicini's saves in the 1-0 defeat in Europe last week had it not been for the supporting cast of players - a few of whom played extremely well, but many of whom were decidedly below par for large periods, particularly in the second half. Yet sometimes, with a goalkeeper that's producing miracles and a centre-back as talented as Ledley King, you only need a few crucial seconds of quality from the attacking players to change a game in your favour.
The enigmatic Emmanuel Adebayor provided the perfect example at the end, ending a fairly average display with a moment of genuine class to hook the ball back to Jermain Defoe for the conclusive third goal in stoppage-time.
I know some fans are critical of Adebayor, but hes still making things happen up front, even when hes missing chances.
Gareth Bales recent resurgence has also come at just the right moment, with Adebayor running dry on goals. Had it not been for the Welsh wingers ability to make things happen, Spurs could easily have dropped points in recent weeks.
At times on Sunday it resembled the Inter Milan matches from last season, as Bale was forced to plough on diligently, while his team-mates failed to recreate the fine football theyd exhibited at home to QPR.
Both Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart, the main attacking forces through the centre of the park, gave away copious amounts of the ball after lacking the time and comfort they normally enjoy on the ball, and Spurs consequently struggled to build their attacks with any great structure or consistency.
In Van der Vaart's case, it's not the first time that he's played very poorly when the goals havent been there for him - although thats not so great a problem for a player who scores as often from midfield as he does.
Meanwhile, Tottenham's favoured tactic of starting with Van der Vaart and bringing Jermain Defoe off the bench later on ultimately proved successful again, with the England striker scoring his second goal in his last three league games as a substitute.
Elsewhere, it would be wrong to mention Friedel's exploits so rigorously without also pertaining to the fine work of King and, to a lesser extent, Younes Kaboul.
King, seemingly defying all logic about how injuries and age are supposed to affect a footballer, consistently maintains a level to equal all of the very best centre-backs in the Premier League.
He is easily a match for Vincent Kompany, John Terry, Thomas Vermaelen and Nemanja Vidic when his body allows him to take the field - and that's not a clich nor a biased over-exaggeration, but about as close to fact as an opinion about a footballer's ability can be.
The sliding block to deny Clint Dempsey after he'd rounded Friedel was the very definition of a goal-saving challenge, even though Kaboul had rushed back to cover the goalline.
Despite that intervention a number of other blocks and clearances, namely from Scott Parker and crucially Modric late on, were needed before Friedel could finally breath a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle.
In my view, Parker probably sat too deep with his midfield in the second half, although he made up for that with his willingness to involve himself in play and throw his body into challenges.
Finally, after writing last week of the hope that Lennons two assists against QPR would rebuild much of his confidence, it seems to have done the trick.
Again, this was not an absolute vintage performance, but his superb solo goal was combined with an assist and a greater desire to run with the ball and take people on, which can't be a bad thing looking forward, as we pause for a breather during the international break.