Last night’s performance was something of a tale of two halves, in much the same way as the transfer deadline day was. The first half of the game against Wigan couldn’t have been more comfortable, and similarly, it was easy to see how targets we were being linked to early on deadline day could improve the team – Milos Krasic would provide cover for Aaron Lennon on the right wing, and a conclusion to the ongoing Chris Samba saga would have provided more reliable cover in defence.
The second half of the game, by comparison, was scrappy, hit by injuries, and, if Wigan had been a little more clinical, we could have found the three points more in the balance despite eventually maintaining a two goal margin. The conclusion to deadline day felt like a similar come-down – any potential deal for Krasic fell through, and into the place of the rumours of Leandro Damiao, stepped the timid, hobbling figure of Louis Saha, closely followed by Ryan Nelsen being wheeled in.
Not to be too critical of our transfer deadline day dealings, or our performance overall last night for that matter, but it all felt a little underwhelming. Here are a few succinct points on the night, which, in some cases, may not be particularly succinct.
The First Half Performance
The first half was, from Spurs’ perspective, exactly what was needed after the lack-lustre showing at Watford. Pressing, authoritative, and incisive, Wigan did well to avoid conceding before Bale’s eventual breakthrough on 29 minutes. As that goal showed, Modric’s eye for a pass was back after an evening off against Watford, and when the Croatian grabbed a goal himself shortly afterwards, it seemed that we might finally partake in a gluttonous demolition of a team for the first time this season.
The Second Half Performance
Sadly, it was not to be. It’s still puzzling why this Spurs team, which Sir Alex Ferguson has recently claimed are playing the best football in the division, can’t put teams to the sword in the same way that his Manchester United side can. The best we’ve managed is the 4-0 victory over Liverpool, but against the teams lower in the league we seem to perhaps become a little too complacent. Against Villa earlier in the season, we could have run rampant, but emerged as 2-0 victors, and again against Wigan there was the feeling that we should have punished their defensive faults more.
This is by no means too harsh a criticism – what’s important is the three points, and I’m more than happy with those. Think of it more as a minor gripe. At any rate, the second half performance paled in comparison to the first, and whilst Bale’s second goal looked to have made things comfortable, Wigan made things a little less of a formality with McArthur’s goal. If anyone had managed to connect with a ball across the Spurs six yard box on the 80th minute, we could have endured a nervy finale.
More Injury Woes
Although we secured the win, it didn’t come without cost. Kyle Walker limped off midway through the second half, although thankfully later posted on twitter that his injury was nothing serious. However, it did raise the pertinent question of what Spurs do if he does suffer an injury, what with Corluka now having departed for Bayern Leverkusen for the remainder of the season.
Rafael van der Vaart came off not long into the game, but he too confirmed that the withdrawal was just a precaution, and he will not be absent for Tottenham’s upcoming games. There is yet to be any further elaboration on the extent of Emmanuel Adebayor’s injury though, with Harry stating after the game that he came off after feeling a niggle in his hamstring. We could be down to just Defoe and Saha as our fit strikers for the Liverpool game – an worrying proposition.
On the plus side, the FA confirmed they won’t be charging Benoit Assou-Ekotto for his somewhat clumsy challenge on Franco Di Santo. Losing him for any period of time would also stretch our somewhat thin squad, but thankfully Lee Probert included the incident in his referee’s report, and no further action will be taken, meaning Benny’s re-released afro will continue to grace our screens.
Saha, Nelsen, & A Strange Turn of Deadline Day Events
As far as the Spurs deadline day goes, well, it was a bit… interesting. With all the potential signings being bandied about at the start of the day, I suspect approximately no-one was predicting that we’d end the day signing two players over the age of 33, yet that’s exactly what happened. It’s worth bearing in mind that, with the departures of Roman Pavlyuchenko and Sebastian Bassong, it’s essentially an exchange of bench-warmers for bench-warmers; however, with the additional departure of Steven Pienaar, it isn’t being overly critical to say we’ve certainly come out of January with less squad depth than we entered it.
Saha’s fitness is the main concern. Actually, that’s a lie – another big concern is his record of one goal in eighteen games, as well as the fact that he’s failed to score in his last 942 minutes of Premier League football. We know that Harry has a record of getting the best out of players, but it’s hard not to worry that this might be a bridge too far. On the plus side, if it doesn’t come off, we won’t have lost a significant amount of money, since Saha arrived on a free after Everton cancelled the remaining few months of his contract.
Ryan Nelsen is also a strange one. When playing, he was no doubt an important part of Blackburn’s defence, but he’s played one game since April, and as far as internet investigation goes still seems to be suffering from a chronic knee injury. Now, I’m all for moral support for Ledley, but perhaps signing another player with a dodgy knee isn’t the best way to be going about it. Unless they’re planning on pioneering some form of knee transplant surgery so we end up with one player with two good knees out of the whole affair. Still, as with Saha, Nelsen is arriving on a free, and initially just until the end of the season, so economically it won’t be a big loss even if his stay is unsuccessful.
Harry: Departing in the Summer?
What with the current court case, there’s been a lot of conjecture that he could well wind up leaving the club in the summer. If it’s the case, then it would certainly go a way towards explaining yesterday’s transfer dealings. Both players brought in are very definitely short term options, and will not be a burden if a change of manager occurs in the summer. They would also leave any new manager free to bring in his own players of choice in those positions – and on top of this, the draw of Champions League football (unless we somehow balls the rest of the season up) should aid in bringing players to the Lane.