Form Guide January
P W D L F-A GD Pts
8 3 1 4 16-13 3 4
4 Cup Matches
· December 2008 figures
· Last year's figures
January was a month of 8 games, and only one league win. There were two Cup wins, but they were achieved on the back of two decent second half performances. Perhaps it might be worthwhile to try some analysis of what went right for Spurs, and why?
In the first game against Wigan, in the FA Cup, Spurs faced a Wigan side in which Steve Bruce "used his squad", playing his third choice keeper, a couple of players who were transferred out later in the month, and other fringe players. Wilson Palacios played against us and got one of his bookings which led to the suspension he had to serve once we signed him!
Spurs played in a 4-4-2, with playmaker Luka Modric part of the midfield four, protected by Zokora. After a dull first half, Spurs upped the tempo to a degree that the opposition were on the back foot and clearly rattled at times. There were chants for the return of Jermain Defoe, about whom the rumour machine had beem in full flow.
It was a 4-4-2 again for the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Burnley, with Modric again part of the midfield four. Spurs were one down at the break, and made a significant half-time substitution of Jamie O'Hara for David Bentley. Jamie had a terrific 45 minutes, scoring one and playing a part in the other three goals too. Roman Pavlyuchenko continued his record of scoring in every round of the Carling Cup campaign, and we will be happy if he can do it against Man United at Wembley on 1st March! (He did score in our FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford). By the time of this Burnley game, Defoe had been signed, although Spurs had been a little premature in introducing him to the home fans before the deal had been fully ratified.
We lost the away league game at Wigan, where Harry Redknapp experimented with a diamond shaped midfield, featuring occasional player Ledley King at the back of that diamond. The experiemt failed dismally, and Jermain Defoe lost his record of scoring on debuts, although perhaps a second debut doesn't count! Gomes got an injury before Spurs had made their three substitutions, but he was never replaced, and was unable to kick the ball, meaning he could not receive pass-backs effectively. Palacios was one of the more influential Wigan players against us.
The Portsmouth game was an exciting and open game, in which Defoe did score on his second home debut, but Spurs missed too man chances, including one by Darren Bent about which Harry said "My Missus could have scored that". One again, we played with two strikers, and Modric in the middle. This was Gomes' last game of the month too.
Then came the Burnley away fiasco which nearly ended in disaster, averted only by those late, late goals from Pavlyuchenko and Defoe. That was a game where we did start with Modric "in the hole". Another reason for the near disaster has to be mentioned, and that was poor Ben Alnwick's nightmare debut.
Alnwick redeemed himself with a good show in the next game at Old Trafford, but although Spurs did not field such a "mish-mash" side as Harry had threatened, once again the 4-4-1-1 did not work for Spurs, despite the early goal by Pavlyuchenko.
The first half of our next game at home to Stoke featured probably the best football Spurs have played all season. The 4-4-2 worked and Modric was supreme. Defoe, Lennon and Pavlyuchenko worked well off each other, and even David Bentley had a good game! Carlo Cudicini had been signed from Chelsea in time to make his debut, and Spurs had developed their theme of re-signing former players, with Pascal Chimbonda watching the game in the company of Wilson Palacios, who had arrived from Wigan, but was serving a suspension. A bigger surprise was to come after our last game of the month!
The last game (at Bolton) was another disaster, and the 4-4-1-1 was almost compulsory, due to the injury of Jermain Defoe in training before the game. Spurs told us nothing of his injury for a while, and have since admitted to a likely absence of 10 weeks. It could be even longer, and for that reason the return of Robbie Keane from Liverpool on transfer deadline day is more understandable, and even desirable, despite the misgivings of many Spurs fans.
The trend we seem to have discovered this month, if not earlier in the season, is that Spurs do better with two strikers on the field, and that playmaker Modric can be accommodated in a traditional midfield. Extra tempo and 100% pasion and commitment always help too!
Don't forget to check out the cumulative appearances and grades for the squad below.
...if you want to remind yourself of the matches played during this month, then See the Fixtures page here. By working your way back through the previous month's figures, you can review the performances over the last 9 years!