Spurs’ title crusade gaining volume There are some rumours sweeping White Hart Lane that Tottenham Hotspur are building their campaign for the Premier League title this year, in a bid to create history under the rule of Harry Redknapp in north London. Reports suggest that they have some elements of truth in them. Despite their 3-2 loss away from home at Manchester City, which was previously compelled by a 1-1 draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Spurs have been looking all the more contentious for silverware this year. A finish inside the top three would do them well as a return to Europe’s roundtable puts the other top teams on alert that there is more than one London club capable of putting up a fight.
Harry Redknapp was also spotted in France, with Twitter reports also suggesting his appearance at Stade Vélodrome a few weeks back for Marseille’s home game against the current champions, Lille OSC. Whilst wolfing down a good half-time meal, washing it down with a cold drink, pen and paper in hand, he was on a personal scouting mission to watch France international Loïc Rémy in action, as OM won 2-0. What made it better was that he scored twice to conceal the three points for L’OM in their bid to win the league title this year from Lille. Didier Deschamps observed from the touchline, arms folded, as the Marseille ultras grew louder and louder in the 60,000-capacity.
But some Spurs fans are not as keen as one may assume; though they look strong to wobble a weary Manchester United who look like their midfield could crumble at any point, especially with the re-appointment of Paul Scholes on duty until the end of the season, a small number have buffed that they will, somehow, “bottle it”. A capitulation of their campaign for honors, and running out of gas much quicker than the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and surprise package Newcastle United in the teams that sit below them. That’s understandable. With Emmanuel Adebayor’s inspired form in his well-suited loan spell from table-toppers Manchester City, his scoring record cannot last forever. Someone will have to step in at some point to take over when things get rough. The loan transfer in the summer when Tottenham were heavily linked with Leandro Damião, Internacional’s no. 9, only silenced persistent whispers around the club and, whilst many speculated that it would be a poor move for the Togolese man (especially in his chequered past with Arsenal and then the club thereafter) it has proven otherwise. He is not love at WHL like the son of God to Christians, but they are content with him doing his job well enough to carry at least some weight off the shoulders of their next star in Gareth Bale.
Other concerns include Roman Pavlyuchenko, Jermain Defoe and Giovani dos Santos – the three players that would supposedly step in when Ade cannot. Of course, the latter is hardly-ever an option for ‘Arry, as he is like a trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. That round hole being the Lilywhites in their attacking, high-tempo playing game that needs a “big man” up top in order to compensate for the cross-after-cross that flies into the penalty area and seemingly slips wide of everyone as they slide in, desperately hoping that they can just poke it into the net. With Pavlyuchenko having not played very many games this season for the club and a 30-70 chance for Redknapp in terms of becoming the team’s main centre forward, in current state, coupled with Defoe having a similar issue, you can see why the title challenge could end before it really begins. Although, the January transfer window is open for a reason.
Alas, mental health is in its gradual recovery. Yes, the table leaders did win on their own turf and increased the gap, but for teams who really want to get the grasp the trophy by the handles come the end of the season in dramatic fashion, then you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go again. Old as the cliché may be, it still has deep meaning to the current situation. Despite it not being a foregone conclusion (as it never is) the FA Cup fixture away to fellow Londoners Watford at Vicarage Road, a team that were last in the Premier League in the 2006-07 season before being relegated under Aidy Boothroyd but now sit 18th in the npower Championship. It’s only a half hour from White Hart Lane westward, but the last time that these two sides met at Vicarage Road was in the 2008-09 season in the Carling Cup, where Tottenham emerged victorious 2-1. Before that, it was a 0-0 draw and a 1-1 draw in the spring of 2000.
Then it is a return for Wigan Athletic to north London as the ghosts of the 9-1 defeat still haunt them. Or that is at least what some say. That is the last of the “easy fixtures” before they embark onto a difficult run; Liverpool (A), Newcastle United (H), Arsenal (A), Manchester United (H), Everton (A), Stoke City (H), Chelsea (A). ‘H’ equals to home and ‘A’ means away. If I were to be honest, I’d say at least four out of those six are winnable for them. The home games especially. Perhaps the other two will prove to be far more difficult than previously, but overall, if the belief is there and the desire, drive, and ambition overrides the fear of defeat in the camp, then who says that they cannot win those games? If all the players are on some the majority of the time, they could even grab 16 out of 18 points. It’s all there if they can just find that belief.
Yes, they lost to City, and they will be the most difficult side for any team to beat all season, but if they want to increase the volume, it’s going to have to come from winning these games. It’s quite obvious in fact. The big games are on the way, the teams that will be stubborn to sit back and soak up the pressure are there, but when you’re firing on all cylinders, you are unstoppable.