Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dramatic Final Minutes Proving Costly for Spurs

Since the events of the dramatic final minutes of the game against Manchester City in late January, Spurs have suffered on the wrong end of similar situations both in their own matches and those of their nearest rivals.

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In the immediate aftermath of the Manchester City game, I received  a text message from my Liverpool supporting son-in-law, "Football can be so cruel!'  And so it has proved for Spurs in the subsequent seven weeks as they've seen results go against them in those final few minutes of added time, removing them from what, only ten days earlier, had seemed to be a position to mount a challenge for the title alongside the two Manchester clubs.

After the home game against Everton in mid-January, Spurs had lifted themselves level on points with United and only three behind City.  The unfortunate draw at home to Wolves rather dented their position of strength but it was the events in added time at the Etihad Stadium which were the start of the season slipping away from Spurs.

Sunday, 22nd January
Level at two all, having come back from two goals down after an hour, Spurs were finishing the stronger.  In added time Gareth Bale's break and cross gave Jermain Defoe the opportunity to put Spurs ahead but as he stretched to reach the ball, he failed to make good contact and poked it wide.  A let off for City but events got worse as in the final seconds Ledley King conceded a penalty and Balotelli whom many consider shouldn't have been on the pitch, scored to snatch the points for City.

Saturday, 11th February
An added time goal from Henry earned Arsenal three points at the Stadium of Light after Sunderland had taken the lead with twenty minutes remaining.

Saturday, 3rd March
Van Persie scored at Anfield in the 92nd minute for another Arsenal win in a 'snatch and grab' performance after they went behind in the first half.

Saturday, 10th March
In added time, having dominated the second half at Everton, Louis Saha's close range shot hit the post, bounced on to the goalkeeper's knee and away to safety.

Monday, 12th March
An added time break away goal at The Emirates against Newcastle and Arsenal had another three points.

It's not just Arsenal who've benefited in such situations, Chelsea won at Wolves with a last minute winner by Lampard who should probably have been dismissed earlier in the game.

After their win over Wigan at the end of January, there was a twelve point between Spurs and Arsenal and after half an hour of the north London derby a month later, with  a two goal lead, Spurs looked set to increase their impressive ten point advantage.  Since, then however, the gap has been reduced to a single point with ten matches remaining.  The race for third place is definitely back on and the swing in fortunes has been dictated by the events in the final minutes of those games.  Where Spurs could have won at City, they lost, while Arsenal turned three draws into victories and a late desperate attempt to snatch a point at Everton failed for Spurs.

Spurs have scored a couple of late goals this season but they only made victory secure, they weren't late match turning moments.  Throw in the late saving tackle that John Terry made for Chelsea at White Hart Lane before Christmas to deny Emmanuel Adebayor in the final moments at White Hart and although, it wasn't in added time, the late opportunity Bale had to score a winner at Anfield after defending stoutly for most of the game and Spurs have not done well out of late dramatic changes this year.  Perhaps, like refereeing decisions, they'll even themselves out over the course of the season, but somehow I doubt it.

In the dark days before Harry Redknapp, we, Spurs fans, called to 'Have our Tottenmham back'.  In recent weeks with late goals conceded, allowing a two goal lead to slip and dominating a match but losing, perhaps, actually, we have got our Tottenham back now. 


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