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Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 23rd November 2012
By: Preview Percy

Next we visit the less fortunate part of London where shellsuits and dandruff are still de rigeur amongst the home support as we pay a visit to White Hart Lane.

Due to their involvement in the Europa League kick-off against Tottenham Hotspur will be at 4.00pm on Sunday. The direct line between Stratford and Northumberland Park has engineering works but services from Liverpool Street should be up to their normal levels. Unfortunately.

Our hosts have supporters not unlike those of Liverpool in that they seem to be deficient in that area of their genetic development that results in the development of any thickness of the skin. Over the years the most light-hearted and obvious of humourous jokes at their expense have made a loud 'whooshing' noise as they have flown over the heads of the Tottenham support who, in the classic example of “missing the point” then bombard the comments section of the bottom of this page with ignorant tosh. These usually say something along the lines of “look how preoccupied you are with us” (or words to that effect – “preoccupied” is quite a long word after all).

So, since I’m eager to help, let me save you some time. If you’re a Spurs supporter about to write something along those lines (and since you now have a clue as to how to spell the word “preoccupied” I expect there’ll be a few more of you than usual) here’s the deal: This is a Match Preview. I write one of these before every match. Tradition dictates that, in a match preview, you have a look at your opponents. At least that’s how it works around here.
Supporters of most other clubs seem to grasp this concept. I mean I could try to write a couple of thousand words without mentioning our opponents each week but that would probably result in the editor stopping his weekly deliveries of Werthers Originals to me here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered. And believe me they’re like currency in this institution. So if you can’t deal with seeing your club mentioned and lightly taunted in a match preview skip to something else on the web. I believe there’s some video of a cat playing the piano somewhere if you look hard enough.

Ok, those of you who are still with me, there endeth the rant and here beginneth the lesson. Spurs currently lie in 8th place in the league with 17 points from their 12 matches thus far. That’s one place and two points behind us. Oh and they have a goal difference of -1. Bless ‘em, they so want to be like us they’ve adopted our usual tactic of being the highest placed club with a minus in the “GD” column.

At home they have a 2-2-2 record, the wins coming against Villa (2-0) and QPR (2-1), the draws coming against West Brom & Norwich (both 1-1) and the defeats coming against Chelsea (2-4) and Wigan (0-1). Most recently in the league they did of course lose to Arsenal at the library. ‘Twas a bizarre match that saw them look to be the better side, going 1-0 up before goalscorer Adebayor lost the plot in spectacular style. When you go down to ten men you can either roll up your sleeves and fight (as we did last season in that spell of three games in a row where we ended up with ten men) or you can collapse spectacularly (as we did at Reading). Spurs took the latter option, Gareth “Christian” Bale’s effort raising spirits only slightly as Arsenal went nap.

That defeat left Spurs without a win since the end of October and they are “zero” and three (as I believe our cousins would say over the water) in their last three in the league. So not exactly in the primest of form then.

The manager is the former Chelsea boss (not the most exclusive of clubs that) Aston Villas Boas (or something like that (note to Ed: that’s close enough and everyone calls him AVB anyway). AVB (see I told you) took over during the close season following some action from the Spurs ownership. ENIC is a sinister-sounding organisation which sounds like it ought to be alternating with SPECTRE and SMERSH on a three film cycle in the Bond movies. Redknapp was summoned to ENIC’s HQ, ostensibly to discuss a new contract but found himself instead doing battle with a tank full of piranha, somehow escaping in time to stick his head through a car door to give an interview about it.

He’s currently letting everybody know that he really is interested, honest, in taking over the manager’s role for Ukraine, a statement that might possibly be translated as “Oi – QPR. Hurry up and sack Hughes”.

The new boss arrived having gotten the sack at Chelsea last year for failing to win the Champions League and the FA Cup in time. Not that that would have made much of a difference as we have seen. We reckon that AVB is in fact a well-known Arsenal supporter who has been charged with bringing down their rivals from within. This would explain the rather unconvincing beard which looks like it’s come out of a kid’s disguise kit.

Although he won the Portuguese League with Porto, prompting calls of “the new Mourinho”, it’s his lesser-known foray into the world of International football that catches the eye. Under his stewardship the British Virgin Islands played and lost two matches. Their four year plan for world football domination is on hold for the time being then.

They’ve been shuffling between ‘keepers a bit this season. Brad Friedel came in on a free from Villa last year. A Redknapp signing, he ran up an impressive spell of 310 consecutive matches in the Premier League, that run ending in October when he was replaced by French skipper Hugo Lloris who came in from Lyon during the last window. The fee was a reported €10m with a further €5m in add-ons with Lyon reported to be on a cut of any future transfer fee. I think that’s about £56.75 in real money but this calculator is a bit fiddly and my eyesight isn’t what it was so don’t quote me on that.

Lloris has made two starts in the league, the most recent being the defeat at Arsenal. He had a much happier time of it in the Europa League match on Thursday night with his heroics keeping Spurs in the match.

The defence has seen the rise to prominence of Stephen Caulker, who marked his England debut with a goal in Stockholm last week. For some reason his goal didn’t quite get the same coverage as the Swedish fourth. Caulker spent last season on loan at Swansea, where he picked up part of this week’s Crimewatch award. A late night out saw the defender arrested and given a fixed penalty notice for swearing in the street. That sounds a bit harsh to me given that anyone who has had a surfeit of ale (Brains I believe in that part of the world) is surely bound to let forth an expletive or ten when they realise that they’ve woken up in Swansea. Especially when they realise that all they have to look forward to when they finally get back home is Harringey.

The Spurs 'talisman' is Gareth “Christian” Bale. Bale has the twin misfortunes of playing for Tottenham AND Wales and whilst at international level he is pretty much stuck with what he’s got, there have been numerous murmurings linking the player with a move overseas. I wouldn’t have thought that he would be off in the January window which, amazingly, is just over a month from now. However, next summer may see him going to ground under the slightest of contacts in slightly warmer climes.

The big departure in the summer was midfielder Luca Modric. A class act, Modric’s absence has been sorely felt in the Spurs midfield. They did go some way to alleviating that sense of loss by picking up Moussa Dembele from Fulham. However, Dembele has missed several matches through injury and they don’t look quite the same side without him. He seems to have recovered from his hip problem though and he was in the squad for the trip to Rome on Thursday, coming on for the last 15 or so of the 0-0 draw with Lazio.

Our former "not the captain" Scott Parker will be missing. Parker, who, of course was a three-time Hammer of the Year before bravely volunteering to join Spurs as part of a project to bring football to the more primitive parts of the world, has been suffering with an Achilles problem for a while now. “No return date” is the sad prognosis from the usual injury data sources. Parker got their Player if the Year award last season. Copying their betters again.

No such injury problems for the other ex-Hammer in the squad. I was quite gobsmacked the other day to discover that Jermain Defoe has recently turned 30. I mean it only seems like last week that he was turning out for us and scoring for fun. He’s still a hellofa goalscorer but has suffered over the years from having managers never quite knowing how to fit him into a 'system'. As a result he must surely be looking back on his career with a wistful eye and wondering why he’s never quite fulfilled the promise of all those years ago. His "24-hour" transfer request and penchant for getting himself sent off (“not right in the head” – T.Brown c2003) on an all too regular basis in his latter weeks with us will ensure that he will remain a pantomime villain at the Boleyn, though in retrospect his crimes were far from as heinous as those of some other players we could mention.

Defoe has been known to play on his own up front, though he’s often been partnered by Adebayor. Of course this option won’t be available to the home side this weekend thanks to the spot of “serious foul play” from the Togolese that did so much to turn last weekend’s match. The statutory three match ban stats this weekend.

If they’re looking to play two up front they may go for summer arrival Clint Dempsey, whose transfer from Fulham is the front runner for the 'Comedy Transfer Of The Season' award that I just made up. This, for once, has little to do with anything that Spurs have done per se, but is all the more amusing for the way it stitched Liverpool up. The Anfield club, to whom the words “honest transfer dealing” might as well be written in Klingon for all the meaning they carry up there, spent a large part of the summer illegally tapping up Dempsey. Fulham, whose owner should be able to spot a dubious practice when he sees one, were understandably miffed at the prospect of being presented with a virtual fait accomplis and refused to allow the Scousers permission to talk to the player on the grounds that they’d already done so anyway.

Dempsey went walkabout, allegedly refusing to turn out for Fulham, or not depending on who you believe. Liverpool bided their time and let a chap called Carroll go out on loan, safe in the knowledge that they would probably snap up Dempsey as the window closed. Only it didn’t quite work out like that.

As the clock ticked down they called up Fulham to politely enquire whether they might take Dempsey off their hands what with the window coming to a close and all, they were told “oh him – sorry he’s gone to Spurs now. Must rush – we’ve got Berbatov hold up a new scarf for the cameramen”. Thus did Liverpool end up with only one recognised striker in the squad. Fulham did make some noises about reporting the Scousers to the authorities but I expect that it’ll get forgotten. It usually does with them. In the meantime, as a striker/attacking midfielder/whatever, Dempsey’s decision to go with the no.2 squad number is just plain wrong and is something that, alongside the playing of music after goals, would result in a points deduction and a hefty fine in an ideal world.

I mentioned Stephen Caulker earlier on for his having part of this week’s Crimewatch award. The other joint recipients are of course the shadowy three individuals currently awaiting trial for various fraudulent activities in connection with the Olympic Stadium bid. For a while it appeared that ENIC wanted to use the Olympic site, using Spurs as a cover for their base from which to launch stolen Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. However, it seems that the world’s governments caved into their demands and gave them loads of money to improve the area surrounding White Hart Lane.

Meanwhile, as part of Operation Grand Slam, the shadowy three are alleged to have obtained personal information concerning officers and employees of West Ham United. Tottenham of course have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from those concerned (“they were working for SMERSH, Mr Bond”) and the rules of sub judice prevent much in the way of further comment so we’ll award them a partial Crimewatch for the time being, pending the outcome of the trial. If ENIC don’t kill them by covering them in gold paint before they get the chance to spill the beans of course.

And so to us. Good point the other night. Slightly disappointed that it wasn’t all three bearing in mind the dominance we had in the second half but, nevertheless it was a point worth respecting. There were some good performances out there and one was particularly inclined to be chuffed for Joey O’Brien, whose efforts have not gone unnoticed by the cognoscenti of this website.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was his usual two-faced hypocritical self, mind. Next time you hear him have a rant about opposition players cheating, you may wish to recall the glee with which he cheerfully admitted the foul that contributed to the opening goal, the sort of tactic to which he has in the past admitted forms a part of their daily training routine. When he finally goes they’ll probably put up a statue to him in one of the six towns they have cluttering up the place up there which will bear the inscription “Tony Pulis Manager and inventor of the 25-second goal kick”.

Injury news is that there is a slim chance of a re-appearance for one or both of Benayoun or Jarvis. Although Jarvis has yet to really set the world alight in the manner one would expect of a £10m player, I reckon that he’d have had some fun on Monday night had he been available. Maiga, for all his efforts, isn’t what you’d call a natural left winger, and, though he grew into the role as the night progressed, someone more used to operating on the flanks might have benefited from operating on what proved to be the weaker of the two Stoke flanks. It’s as you were for the long term casualties, with Collison and Vaz Te pencilled in for a return in the new year and Diarra still being anyone’s guess.

Prediction’s a tough one for this. Though they’re not in the greatest of form in the league, you can never underestimate the propensity for a lesser team to raise its game against its betters – look how well they battled to keep Arsenal down to five for example! We are proving hard to beat in the main and it’s taken off-days on our part to see us get beaten on the road (Swansea & Wigan). As long as we can avoid a repetition of those two matches I reckon we’ll end up with another hard-earned point. So this week’s trip to see Mr Winstone at the Turf Accountant’s office will see the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered Fund To Find Something On Betamax That Isn’t A James Bond Film (£2.50) placed firmly on a 2-2 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met: Drew 0-0 (a) March 2011. A Rob Green wonder save earned us a point in the ultimately fruitless battle against relegation. It was the 4th point that we’d taken off them that season mind. Referee Mike Dean got his knickers in a twist over Christian “Gareth” Bale’s, er, knickers because the white undershorts didn’t quite match the black shorts the player was wearing. Strangely Dean didn’t seem too fussed that the replacement black undershorts didn’t match the white trim on the black shorts the player was wearing.

Referee: Andre Marriner. Last time he took charge of us was in March 2011’s 3-0 defeat of Stoke City, though more recently he was spare part, I mean 4th official, for the 3-0 home win over Fulham.

Danger Man: Jermain Defoe. In truth there are a number to choose from and, should he play, Dempsey has a history of netting against us. However, Defoe has that “law of the ex” running in his favour.

Daft Fact Of The Week: When we last went to White Hart Lane, at half time they trotted out Alan Mullery who informed the crowd that Spurs were going to win that season’s Champions’ League. I haven’t had the chance to look it up yet but something tells me that he might just have been mistaken in that prediction.

Breaking News: Begovic has just taken his final goal kick from Monday night.

John Nortcutt's corner to follow shortly!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Preview Percy
02:41PM 27th Nov 2012
''@John Wilcox - 1946? Pah you're just a youngster. I first saw a load of Romans kicking a pig's bladder about what is now called Canning Town when I was a kid. Mind you it was all fields around here back then...''

by John Willcox
05:52PM 23rd Nov 2012
''I`ve been watching football since 1946. I think Ernie Gregory was your keeper. You youngsters do go on a bit. But surely Hammers fans wouldn`t get past "de rigeur"?''

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