Friday, May 05, 2006

Spurs Most Important Game of Past Decade

The final game of the season is upon us and who in mid-August would have predicted that the outcome of this game against West Ham would have such important consequences for Spurs' future. Who would have suggested that Spurs would be contesting 4th place with Arsenal and have it in their own hands to finish above their neighbours for the first time since 1995. Who would have considered the possibility of Spurs having a claim on a Champions League position for next season?

Only in our wildest dreams would we have considered such possibilities but today they are the reality of this season's Premiership. Spurs have held fourth place since early December and this week's results as Arsenal won their two games in hand, have changed nothing - a win for Spurs at Upton Park on Sunday will ensure they have their highest finish in the Premiership.

As in all the games during the past two months, it will be like a Cup Final for Spurs, a must win game, only West Ham won't want to be too involved in a Cup Final a week before their trip to Cardiff to meet Liverpool in the FA Cup Final. However, Spurs must avoid complacency and be lulled into thinking West Ham are there for the taking - it is a London derby and they would delight in bringing Spurs' season to an unsatisfactory and disappointing conclusion. Remember, Wigan had the distraction of the League Cup final when they played at White Hart Lane - it didn't benefit Spurs in the least, a reserve played his heart out and caused Spurs considerable difficulty in the 2-2 draw.

Spurs having had a reasonable injury free season, have now been hit by a number of injuries at this vital time. King, Jenas and Stalteri will be missing while serious doubts surround Keane, Carrick and Mido who will have late fitness tests. To go into such a vital game minus players of this experience and calibre is a major concern and puts additional pressure on the regulars within the team - that they produce of their best and also support and assist the young players who come into the team. It is another opportunity for someone to step up and show their true value - Spurs are crying out for a superb inspirational goal scoring performance from Jermain Defoe against his former club.

West Ham are also troubled by injury doubts going into the game and they are very conscious of the Cup Final but also of their responsibility to provide a stern contest for Spurs. Etherington is out injured and Mullins is suspended so Teddy Sheringham, Bobby Zamora and Paul Konchesky may have the opportunity to extract revenge on their former employers. Whoever plays, Spurs can expect a difficult game so they must be prepared to compete to ensure their right to play their own game and it needs to be from the very first minute and not only in the second half. Spurs have yet to score a goal in the first five minutes of a game this year, so it would be avery opportune time to get one on Sunday - to calm the nerves and set Spurs on their way to victory.

With the injury to Stalteri, it is to be presumed that Kelly will deputise and play alongside Dawson and Gardener. This central defensive partnership has played well since King's injury and another faultless performance will be essential. Dawson has been immense and fukky commited in everything although he needs to be careful to avoid conceding unnecessary free-kicks. A mature performance is required, curbing his over enthusiastic challenges. Midfield will again be a permutation of whoever is fit. Davids will return from suspension and his experience willbe invaluable but he also needs to produce quality play. Carrick will be a bad loss if unfit so Tainio and Lennon with Reid or Murphy looks the most likely. Up front Defoe should start as the only fully fit striker (Pic: Defoe - due a goal aginst his former club). Mido has been injured for weeks, Keane can not be 100% fit and may be a gamble with Barnard waiting in the wings for his first start. The young striker was totally committed in his play but it will be a big responsibility on his shoulders if called upoon to start. Martin Jol would have preferred to have had a full squad available but his selection, motivation and tactics will be vital to bring Spurs all three points. West Ham are a good team and have played very attractive football this season but a win for Spurs is possible and it is certainly not a 'Mission Impossible'.

So much hinges on this game, so many emotions for Spurs fans who have waited too long to see their team in a position where they have the opportunity to step out of the mediocrity that has plagued the club for the past twenty years. During those two decades there have been false dawns that have been cruelly snatched away and it is the fear of every supporter that events will conspire against Spurs an another opportunity will be gone.

To Upton Park in faith go the Spurs supporters and the players also need to go with a belief that they can produce the result that will enable them to hold what they have had for so much of this excellent season.

To quote from the history section published earlier today:

'On the last occasion when Spurs had something meaningful to play for in the final game of the season in 1995. The possibility of European football existed if Spurs could get three points and some other results went their way.
At one point, after Jason Dozzell put Spurs ahead, Tottenham were looking at a UEFA Cup place but then things started to fall apart - Newcastle equalised, the game finished in a draw, and Arsenal went on to win and claim the final European place, while Spurs finished eighth.'

Such an opportunity mustn't be missed this weekend - Spurs aren't relying on others, although some assistance from Wigan would be appreciated, it's in their own hands and fourth place awaits them if they are brave enough to go for it and can produce the performances of which they are capable.

'Come On You Spurs'

'Spurs Go Marching On'

'Glory Glory Hallelujah'


No comments:

Post a Comment