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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 213) (12.02.18)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 213
Submitted by Norman Giller

Unique Dembele is the Spurs slalom master

With the Winter Olympics in full swing down in South Korea, I am fully expecting to see Mousa Dembele appear on the podium to collect the gold medal in the slalom. In my 70-plus years watching, reporting and waffling about football, I have never seen any player control the ball quite in the same style as the Belgian craftsman.

He bossed Saturday’s remarkable game against that other team from North London with cunning running that had Tottenham dancing to his tune. It was just as if he was slaloming past Arsenal tackles with a gliding ease that gave Spurs vital command of the midfield.

When Dembele receives the ball he invariably goes off at a completely different angle to a conventional player. It’s as if the ball becomes glued to his boots, and on Saturday he literally had the likes of Jack Wilshere running in circles.

Wilshere got himself in what is appropriately called a spat with substitute Erik Lamela, but the root cause of his anger could be traced to the chasing he’d been given by The Moose. He had been left flummoxed and frustrated by the time Lamela came into the game to cause him even more irritation.

It is, of course, Our Harry Kane who stole the headlines with his winning goal that – for we old timers – was like a flashback to when Bobby Smith used to regularly outmuscle defenders to head the ball into the net. And how about the cross from Ben Davies! That can go down as one of the assists of the season.

Harry’s powerful all-round performance put into the shade the debut display of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who must be sick of the sight of Spurs shirts. This was his third defeat this season at the hands – or well-crafted feet – of Tottenham, following his two disappointments with Dortmund in the Champions’ League.

If he is worth £56-million, then on the evidence of this NLD Harry must be valued at twice as much, but we hope Tottenham are never tempted to sell “one of our own” who in-the-know Harry Redknapp predicts is with Spurs for life.

But for me, Dembele should have got the Man of the Match honours ahead of Harry because of the way he pulled the strings like a harpist in the best orchestra you will ever hear. It just astonishes me that according to the stats Mousa has only one League goal and one assist in the past two years, yet to my eyes he dominates matches. I wonder if he has considered hypnosis to give him that final oomph in the last third of the pitch? He certainly had Arsenal under his spell on Saturday.

You can read exactly what happened in an amazing derby in our guru Paul H. Smith’s report HERE, and he provides evidence that it could easily have finished 5-0 … or, let’s concede 5-1 when you take into account that nerve-jangling four minutes of extra-time when the Gooners so nearly snatched a goal and a point that would have been much more than they deserved.

It was an exceptional team display, and as well as Dembele I must single out for praise Davinson Sanchez, who is looking more and more like a carbon copy of Ledley King with every outing. There can be no higher praise. I am sure Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to play his three-at-the-back strategy once Toby Alderweireld is fully match fit, because 21-year-old Sanchez is too good to be demoted to the bench.

As it was announced that the match had set a new Premier League attendance record of 83,222, I wonder if the thought entered Daniel Levy’s head that perhaps he should knock down the new stadium and start again. It needs another 20,000 seats!

I just wish the Champions’ League challenge in Turin tomorrow was a day later. Kane, in particular, took a real buffeting from the Arsenal defenders and could have done with an extra 24 hours to get proper treatment. We cannot expect him to keep putting his body through hell … but he will, because he’s the one and only Harry Kane.

Now for Juventus.

Nurse, more tablets.


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

WEEK 26 of the Sports Odyssey Quiz League 2017-18. The rules are simple: I ask one Tottenham-related question for which a right answer earns you two points, and then a related teaser that can bring you an extra point.

The questions are always easy, provided you know the answers!

The winner this season will get a framed certificate proclaiming him (or her) the Spurs Odyssey Quiz Champion, plus a no-longer-in-print autographed GOALS book by Spurs idol Jimmy Greaves and another collectors’ item from my Greavsie collection: Football’s Greatest Entertainers, signed by Jimmy and Tottenham’s Mr Loyalty, Steve Perryman.

Now, if you’re sitting comfortably, here comes the 26th question of the 2017-18 SOQL season:

Who won 79 caps for his country, scored 21 international goals and moved from Spurs to Wolves? Against which team did he score the winning semi-final goal that took Tottenham to the 1999 League Cup final?

Please email your answers by Friday’s midnight deadline to: soql26@normangillerbooks.com.

Keep a check on your points score, because I can never rely on my server that often loses emails in the ether. You will receive a response from me, and I apologise that for health reasons you had to make do with cold automated replies last week.

I test you with Spurs questions until the last few weeks of the season, when I introduce the dreaded tiebreaker teasers that call for your opinion as much as your knowledge.

But please remember, we are all in this just for fun, with the common bond of admiring all things Tottenham.

Question 25 was: Which son of an Olympic basketball player appeared 26 times for his country, and in 98 League and cup games for Tottenham? To which boss was he later assistant manager at the Lane?

Most of you came up with the correct answers: Gus Poyet, who briefly returned to the Lane as assistant manager to Juande Ramos. There are now more than 50 of you jockeying for the lead at the top of the SOQL table, and I am going to have to dream up a particularly challenging tie breaker to sort it out in the closing weeks of what is becoming a memorable season.

First name drawn from the correct answers: Dave Smith, who lives in Walthamstow and has been “a Spurs fanatic” for more then 40 years. I will send Dave a screen version of my Spurs ’67 book (I have now sold all copies, and the book raised £4,000 for the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes Thank you all those Spurs Odyssey followers who gave their support).

Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!

The "Giller Index" - listing all Norman's articles for Spurs Odyssey

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