Sunday, 11 November 2007

In Attendance: Tottenham Hotspur vs Wigan Athletic

Over the summer, many footballing 'experts' predicted big things for Tottenham this season. The Liliwhites were supposed to be ousting thier arch rivals Arsenal from the 'top four' and the premier league's upper echolon.

However, Spurs' start to the season reminded us of Spurs teams of years gone by. Wins were few and far between, goals were being leaked left, right and centre and the sacking of the best manager the club has had in about 15 years off the back of a slightly iffy start to the season. No-one in their right mind would have ever predicted that come the start of November Wigan would be going to The Lane to contest the proverbial relegation six-pointer.

Two Spurs-supporting mates offered me the opportunity to join them to watch Tottenham take on the managerless Northerners.

Having taken the train from Liverpool Street at about half 12, we arrived at White Hart Lane at around 1 o'clock. After picking up the tickets, I asked the lads how they thought the game would pan out. They were generally optimistic.
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We found our way to The Bell. A Tottenham pub by the ground populated by fans attending the game. Some very relaxed pre-match chat with a few Kronenberg's centered around painful defeats of the past and the resounding conclusion that supporting Spurs, with all the 4-all draws, 6-1 cup defeats against lower league opposition and frequent sacking of managers, is far more enjoyable than regularly winning trophies and ridiculously long unbeaten runs.

We got into the stadium and observed the minute's silence for rememberance day immaculately.

Once the game kicked Tottenham played just as you expect any half decent side at home would. It took no time at all before they took the lead. Just 12 minutes in and Robbie Keane made Andreas Granqvist look silly, squared the ball across the 6 yard box where Kirkland failed to get any sort of decent contact on it (Robinson would have been crucified had he done the same) and the usually hapless Jermaine Jenas managed to bundle it over the line.

Wigan, under caretaker manager Frank Barlow looked set to be in for a long afternoon.

After taking the lead, Tottenham played with an air of confidence that has clearly been lacking thus far this season. They could have easily been mistaken for a team looking to chalenge for honours! Wigan on the other hand seemed to run out of ideas very early on. Marcus Bent looked like a little boy lost up front.

With Titus Bramble in defence, the latics were always suseptable to conceeding a second. And so it came to pass on 26 minutes. Jermaine Jenas latched onto a through ball from Berbatov and found himself in a two on one situation in the box with Robbie Keane. Having opted not to return the favour from the first goal, JJ rounded the flailing Kirkland and slotted the ball into the net for 2-0.

At this point I feel it necessary to point out that Jermaine Janas and Titus Bramble are two players I, to put it as nicely as possible, have very little time for in terms of what they offer at top flight level so to see the two in flesh lining up against one another was a frightening prospect for anyone who enjoys football. It's a shame there doesn't seem to be a counter-metaphor for 'The unstopable force aganist the immovable object' When the initial pass was played, Bramble stood on the halfway line with his hand in the air claiming offside against Keane. Jenas took the opportunity to race past him for the second Spurs goal. Every negative thing ever said about the former Newcastle defender was summed up in this passage of play.

Wigan continued to offer nothing and on 35 Berbatov brilliantly controlled a long ball and played it to Lennon who chested and Volleyed past Kirkland for 3-0. A great stike nicely set up by a man who for the first time this season looked like he actually WANTED to play for Tottenham.

The game was over as a contest and the handful of Wigan fans who made the trip South were fearing the worst considering the number of high-scoring thrashings we have already seen this season.

The second half ultimately became a non-event with Spurs happy to keep possession. Wigan for some reason started doing backheels and fancy flicks. Why?
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The atmosphere in the ground was uncharacteristicly subdued. The high scoreline was expected and it was difficult to be inspired at this stage. The most audile sounds over 90 mins were the groans from the Tottenham faithful whenever Lee Young Pyo misplaced another pass.

Big Summer signing Darren Bent was brought on and it wasn't long before he made it four shooting across Kirland and off the inside of the post.

I felt a slight pang of sorrow at the poor Wigan diehards who bothered showing up.

The rest of the game panned out like a training session with Spurs playing out time. Kirkland was forced into a couple of half decent saves and the frame of the Wigan goal took a brief battering. Wigan's eventual shot on target was not met with a great deal of enthusiam from anyone.

So Spurs finally got the elusive league win that has been much sought after in recent months. 3 points dragged them out of the relegation zone should help inspire Juande Ramos' side to surge upwards in the league. Wigan on the other hand were awful and should they get relegated, would probably fit in with other teams not quite ready to compete at the highest level of English professional football. Any team that allows Jermaine Jenas boss the midfield needs to take a good long hard look at themselves.

Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Wigan
Attendance: 35,504
Man of The Match: Jermaine Janas for actually not being poo for once

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