Spurs 3 v Man City 1 (21 April, 2013)

21 Apr

George Graham was always keen to tell us that the league season is a marathon not a sprint.  Surely though, as the sprightly of limb geared up for a 26 mile race across the nation’s capital, what the Hotspurs of North London now needed was a sprint finish.  Last weekend saw a man from Tyneside pick a fight with a horse.  Had Spurs similarly bitten off more than they could chew in thinking they could secure a Champions League berth?  A loss today would confirm Tottenham’s place as perennially adorned in a bridesmaid’s dress at the wedding ceremony of the Top 4.

For Manchester City, their grasp on the Premiership crown is now weaker than Charlie Sheen’s grip on reality.  Today was a day for some big reputations to prove they still wanted to lace up their sneakers for next year’s foot-race to the title.

In a week where the BBC’s Panorama programme achieved the impossible and actually found a use for students, Roberto Mancini also pulled off an unlikely success.  Rather than using undergraduates as a human shield to enter North Korea, Mancini did something equally impressive and got a performance out of Samir Nasri.  Nasri was my vote for the 2010/11 Premiership season’s best player (along with Luis Nani, as incredible as this all now sounds).  To say that he has some way to go to rediscover that kind of form would rival Alan Shearer’s ability for stating the bleeding obvious.

Nasri was out of the starting blocks on the “B” of “Bang” today, though.  Five minutes in, some sharp team-work down the right flank by Tevez and Milner allowed Slammin’ Sammi to direct his volley into an unguarded corner of the net.

The enthral of the opening goal was all in the build up.  Such was the cuteness of the angle with which Carlos Tevez’s pass circumnavigated Scott Parker, one couldn’t help but be filled with both admiration for Tevez and pity for Parker.  The English terrier was made to look like he had five seconds to find his car keys before an explosive device would detonate, but was only allowed to turn clockwise in order to find them.  The former McDonalds brand evangelist could only look on in a daze as City went a goal to the good.

There’s something bordering on the sexual in having Gareth Barry in your team.  Sure, on the one hand, he’d lose a footrace against continental drift.  But his metronomic ability to keep the ball moving back and forth to the creative hub of the City side makes him indispensable.  I remain convinced that allowing Nigel De Jong to leave in the summer was a big error, but it shows the faith placed in Barry that this was allowed to happen.

A messy incident occurred a few years back when the Queen wrung the neck of a pheasant while out on a hunt.  Such behaviour brought hoots of derision from conscientious animal-lovers, while Buckingham Palace defended the actions by stating that it was “clearly the most effective and humane way of despatching the injured bird”.  Watching Manchester City today, part of me longed for Her Majesty’s cold-blooded decisiveness when confronted with a wounded animal.  City had injured Spurs, but not fatally.  By not twisting the knife, a backlash was always a possibility.  And what a backlash it proved to be.

The pick-pocketing couldn’t have been more apparent if AVB had wondered over to the City technical area and pinched a trail of handkerchiefs from Roberto Mancini’s jacket pocket.  City lurched from a slender one-goal lead to an insurmountable 3-1 down in seven hurricane minutes.  First, Clint Dempsey profited from a quick-thinking prod across the box by the Welsh Ronaldo.  Second, Jermaine Defoe (on for Emmanuel Adebayor, who had shown about as little endeavour as I had during my Grade 1 violin lessons) rifled in a bullet from a wide angle to put the Lilywhites into the lead.

Tottenham’s third was finished by Bale himself.  A cool chip from just inside the penalty area left Joe Hart and his charmingly outdated haircut completely stranded.  The come-back was complete.  A revival which, on 70 minutes, wouldn’t have been more startling if Maggie herself had emerged from her recently constructed coffin door.

An occasional criticism of Mancini is that he lacks a certain lightness of spirit and a sense of humour.  Our wily coach disproved both of these accusations in an instance by introducing Scott Sinclair with ten minutes to go.  During this process, Sergio Aguerro remained tracksuited and at ease.  It’s at times like this that the mind boggles as much as the heart despairs.

AVB’s post-match interview voice continues to sound like a lump of pavement being dragged over a cattle grid.  It was difficult to ascertain much from his grumblings other than that the man was badly in need of a lozenge.  Surely though, the Argos Mourinho was deep in contemplation of the need to avoid another run of Thursday night UEFA cup games.  One suspects the pull of ITV4 won’t prove enough of an appeal to Gareth Bale’s sense of loyalty for him to stick around for another year.  And it’s hard to imagine a Bale-less Spurs getting into the Champions League in the seasons to come.  It is therefore hard to overestimate the importance of their next 5 games.  Twelve points at the very minimum are a must.  Failing that, the auction for Tottenham’s golden goose commences on May 19th.

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Image

The City team lacked a dispassionate killer in their ranks to protect against a Tottenham charge.

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