Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bale steps out of 'the shadow of Walcott'

At approximately 6pm, a small but very fast boy was pronounced missing in Tottenham. Frantic searches at the local Poundland and popular Ozdiller Supermarket proved fruitless. The parents of Theodore James Walcott, who lifted the prestigious Young Sports Personality Award in 2006, expressed their concern as the little lad disappeared under the bright lights of North London after CCTV footage placed him at White Hart Lane stadium at around 4.01pm.

The 'world class striker', who has scored 37 goals in 174 games for the occasionally popular South London club (club motto: bring a bin bag just in case it's a crap result), was an odd absentee as his midfield played out of their skins but succumbed to the guts and fire of an irrepressible Tottenham. At 4.37pm, Gareth Bale was witnessed performing a heart celebration and screaming into a camera, but by this time poor Theo's whereabouts were sadly unknown.

In a mad, crazed, frequently breathless match, Spurs illustrated the new defiance coursing through the club to hold on to a gutsy 2-1 win and triumph in the North (vs Old South) London derby. Tottenham have now lost one game in approaching four months. An insane, barely believable statistic. A quarter of a season remains, but take a time out, sip a satisfactory Kronenbourg and enjoy this sweet moment while you can.

For some inexplicable reason, my dad attended the game clutching a bright red carrier bag which caught the eye of a mob of Spurs fans who reacted angrily, chanting: "Gooner! Gooner! Gooner!" Unperturbed, my 66-year-old father scampered over to the baying crowd and shouted: "I've been supporting this team for 51 f**king years!" Half a second of silence. "Yido! Yido! Yido!" chanted the Spurs fans. It was that kind of day. Humour and good company and, most of all, the result that truly matters.

Granite-like centre backs Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen fought like dogs of war and formed a human wall to withstand the inevitable pressure from Arsenal's human centipede who (once again in this fixture) played like it was their cup final. For periods, the away side were quite excellent in possession though (if I may quote my good friend Brendan Rogers) Tottenham 'won' the all-important possession battle 54%-46%. Were I follower of London's third best team, I might wonder where such spirited performances have been in so many other games this season.

Whatever our differences, the red and white nomads are a slick and savvy outfit when the mood takes them and they posed Tottenham significant problems though in the second half Spurs squandered three gilt-edged chances to put a tense game to bed via Bale, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jermain Defoe. Pure, unadulterated Tottenham football and, er, 'part of the fun'.

For the first 25 minutes, Arsenal unequivocally bossed the midfield areas via the highly-skilled triumvirate of Wilshere, Arteta and Cazorla, frequently threatening without forging clearcut opportunities. The game was played at a skittish, frenetic pace with Spurs on the constant backfoot, Scott Parker and Mousa Dembele were perpetually overwhelmed and speed demons Aaron Lennon and Bale seemingly shackled by the sheer weight of the occasion.

As if by magic, a switch flicked and the jet heels of Lennon kicked into gear and Spurs rose from their dozy slumber to cause the transplanted Woolwich-ites problems at the back. Lennon was suddenly fizzing about like a Barocca tablet that had somehow flipped out of the glass and Tottenham probed for an unlikely opening as Arsenal's backline broke into a bout of inadvertent body-popping.

The breakthrough came with Spurs' first genuine effort on goal. An insightful Sigurdsson pass picked out Welsh wonder Bale, who, er, found the time to step out of Walcott's (cough) shadow, to break the offside trap and calmly stroke past static Pole Szczesny. White Hart Lane went ballistic. The bloke in front of me broke into a strange, almost wookie-like dialect as we thrust our triumphant fists to the sky and then bundled into all-comers.

Within two minutes the bedlam intensified. Parker played a superb and (no insult intended) very un-Parker like pass that dissected a flatfooted Arsenal backline and afforded the rampaging Lennon the time and space to steady himself and roll the ball nonchalantly past the flailing Szczesny. Pure, mind-bending, Aldous Huxley style joy. The doors of Champions League perception flew wide open.

Spurs don't do clean sheets in this fixture and Arsenal inevitably pulled a goal back early in the second half via human statue Mertesacker who glanced home a free-kick off Bale for the Welshman's second own goal of the season. He scores when he wants and when he doesn't, too.

Yet Spurs held firm despite sustained opposition pressure and a number of contentious officiating decisions that caused predictable consternation in the home trenches. But the best teams always find a way to win through adversity and even the most myopic Arsenal fan would have to agree that, after years of mediocrity, Tottenham Hotspur are now one of the top teams.

Just don't Google 'Arsenal human centipede'. It's positively inhuman.

* This week my existential horror novel 'Players' Restaurant' finally hit the streets. It's about a revolutionary dieting craze that promises women astonishing weight loss. In a matter of months, Size 16s become svelte size 6s as the new slimming commodity is deemed more valuable than gold or cocaine. Its formula is a mystery, but after women worldwide gleefully overhaul their wardrobes and play hide and seek behind lampposts…the deadly side effects become apparent. If you enjoy this blog (and want to support a fellow Spurs fan), the book is available here for the Kindle or Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, PC or Android. Thanks for your support.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, the joy of reading that and reliving the game.

Still think you're a very magnanimous towards the red ones (except for poor lost kid haha). We created the better chances (Siggy, oh Siggy why did you square it?) even when they were chasing the equaliser. Also the attack that ended with Bale blasting BAE's cross over the bar was possibly the best team attack of the season starting with some beautiful combination play down in right back position freeing Dembele up to go charging down the field with the ball. I think he passed it to Ade who put BAE in space on the left flank and he put in a low beautifully weighted cross who Ade of course failed to get at the end of and, it was too close range for Bale to put away.

Happy to hear your dad was there to enjoy another NLD-win at WHL.

I hope Dembele will be OK. It looked quite bad and we have been known to be rubbish without him. Otherwise there are no clouds in the lillywhite sky.

//jaxonville99

IKnowAlanGilzean said...

Wahaaaayyyyy!

Chuckling along there LD. I've spent years calling Theo the lesser spotted walcott as he struggled to gain game time. I was starting to cower a bit, but good to see him revert back into his shell yesterday.

Why sing you're just a shit theo walcott when the real thing is in front of you, why throw a banana at Bale when Wilshere is Julia Donaldson's Night Monkey made flesh. Confused lot Gooners.

It's a confusing time no doubt. I spent may games in the first three decades of my Spurs supporting life watching Spurs play pretty patterns and lose out to Arsenal's stubborness and steely resolve.

I enjoyed yesterday all the more for that. Though, we had the better chances and contained them as comfortably as you can I felt. Second half we looked a very clever, composed and tough as teak side with real quality and verve on the break. I like it.

Lennon definitely kick-started us yesterday and I made him our man of the match for that, just ahead of Dawson and Verty.

Good luck with the book, I'll seek it out.

Up the Spurs!

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks Jax. I was being kind to Arsenal. One can afford to be magnanimous when you are London's top team!

Dembele and 'The Lion of Togo' are fine, according to AVB. Good day, eh?

'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers IKAG. It's great to wake up and have that result as the first thought that enters your head (closely followed by, 'What's that supermodel doing?').

My good friend sent me an email last night with another thought worth sharing, "As the cameras kept cutting to Wenger looking disgusted after major incidents, I just remembered getting spat on from above at Highbury and watching Henry, Ljungberg and Bergkamp etc. celebrating in front of us as they inflicted all the pain." Memories of these atrocities make yesterday's result all the sweeter.

mentiar said...

Never miss a read of the LD and today's was even more enjoyable than usual. Will also seek out the book, which if even half as fine as the poetry will be be one not to miss.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thank you, Mentiar. Greatly appreciate the kind words and support of the book. The post-derby celebrations are continuing in my home!

Frank said...

Aldous Huxley in a Spurs blog?? Now yer talking, Mark.

Oh yes, a fine Sunday afternoon.

p.s. How come your dad waited until he was 15? Late developer?

Cheers

Ben Chater said...

Get in there LD, there's only Tottenham Hotspurs....

'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers Frank. Aldous Huxley is the creative foil to the unrelenting Anthony Burgess in Spurs' literary midfield. They tore Nick Hornby a new one on Sunday.

I once explained to a committed Muslim, "Fever Pitch is like the Satanic Verses to us." He understood immediately. Obviously, I failed to mention Salman Rushdie is a Spurs fan.

You'd have to ask the old man why he was a 'late developer'. I watched my first game on TV at 10 days old!

'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers Ben. Can't smile without 'em.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Miami-bound - blogs will resume in a fortnight on my return. COYS.