Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Spurs 0 - 1 Newcastle Utd

The back four's group hug with Tim Krul at the end said it all. The Dutchman was our saviour on his debut away at Palermo just over seven years ago and has reprised that role several times since, but he described Sunday's stunning performance at White Hart Lane as "the highlight of my career", having pulled off the most saves in a Premier League match since records began in 2006.

The Silver Fox sent out an unchanged side, keeping faith with those who performed so well in the defeat of Chelsea the previous weekend. That not only meant that Big Lad kept his place in a 4-4-2 formation with HBA and Papiss Cisse substitutes, but also that fit-again skipper Sideshow Bob was only watching on from the bench, Mike Williamson and MYM once again paired in central defence.

While we were wearing yellow shirts and blue shorts, it wasn't really much like watching Brazil for the most part - though we certainly started the better of the two sides. Loic Remy had an early shot deflected behind by a challenge from Vlad Chiriches, having been set free by a sublime Dreamboat pass, but wasn't to be denied a second time. The tireless Goofy won the ball to play him in, and Remy rounded Krul's opposite number Brad Friedel to score.

The American 'keeper was playing as a result of Hugo Lloris' concussion sustained against Everton, but it was Lloris' on-field colleagues who were looking concussed. By contrast, we were sharp, aggressive and committed, and could have extended our lead had Big Lad not been marginally offside.

Gradually, though, Spurs came to, and Krul's afternoon started to get busier. His first real save of the day was arguably his best, an incredible dive to claw away Roberto Soldado's clever flicked header, and he was called upon again soon afterwards when Paulinho tried to make amends for being dispossessed by Goofy for the goal.

At the break, a clearly rattled Andre Villas-Boas made two changes in recognition of the ease with which we'd sliced them open, Younes Kaboul and Sandro taking over from Chiriches and Moussa Dembele. We weren't seen as an attacking force much at all in the second period, other than a lungbursting run from Moussa Sissoko in which he outmuscled Jan Vertonghen and forced Friedel into a near-post save and what would have been a spectacular volley from substitute Cisse. However, this was due less to their reinforced defence than to the way they pushed us very much onto the back foot.

The prodigiously talented Dane Christian Eriksen, handicapped by Mr T's close attentions, should have drawn our hosts level, only for Krul to save with his feet. Even better was to come, our 'keeper repelling Gylfi Sigurdsson's wickedly deflected free-kick and  two follow-ups from Kaboul before MYM somehow managed to hook the ball away a yard out.

That was the Silver Fox's cue to try tightening things up by withdrawing Big Lad for an additional midfielder, Vurnon Anita, and while that made us more solid, it also invited more pressure. Like Eriksen, new England hero Andros Townsend was enduring a relatively poor game, but he nevertheless came close to equalising only for Krul to make the sprawling save.

Even when Krul was less than convincing, he got the luck we needed. Having palmed one shot up into the air, he was relieved when Soldado headed straight into his hands - as he was when Vertonghen beat him but not the crossbar with a late header.

Spurs' total of 31 efforts on goal indicates their dominance, particularly in the second half, and on another day, when Krul hadn't had his pre-match Weetabix, this might have been more like the 5-0 drubbing 'Appy 'Arry's side dished out in February last year. But we defended stoutly nevertheless, and the fact that Spurs deserved a draw is of no concern to us. We're quite rightly too busy celebrating back-to-back wins (with clean sheets) against much-fancied London sides - wins which are especially welcome after the defeat at the Stadium of Shite.

It's a shame, then, that the international break has interrupted our league campaign just as we seem to be gathering some forward momentum. Our next match sees Norwich visit St James' Park, the Canaries having lost 7-0 on their last away trip. West Brom after that promise to be tougher opposition, having beaten Man Utd and very nearly Chelsea too, but if we perform as we did against Chelsea and Spurs then there's no reason why we can't bag another brace of victories.

A Spurs fan's perspective: Dear Mr Levy

Other reports: BBC, Guardian (who also published a photo gallery of Krul's saves)

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