01 March 2013

Of Derbies, Revenge, and Right-Backs

One of the few Spurs players we'd actually wanted (with apologies again to Scott Parker) seems to have missed the memo in the lead-up to Sunday's match. Jan Vertonghen, to whom we were linked over the summer (again, sorry, Scott) has made the utterly sensible statement that they "want to win this game not because of revenge but because we want to beat Arsenal anyway, we want to stay in third position and to keep our good run going."  Sorry, Jan, but that kind of level-headedness has no place going into this kind of game. We want you and your teammates so amped up that you do something silly, like getting sent off as Parker did last year and Adebayor did in November. You want revenge, so come in unhinged. No less an authority on the subject than Gareth Bale has apparently talked in such terms, so please buy into the mindset that the only reason we've hung ten goals on you in two matches is due to silly, unjust red cards.

Very good, Gareth! Soon, we'll start on the letter "B"
In all seriousness, though, the truth lies somewhere in the middle between the calm and the craze. It's kind and decent of Jan to speak so calmly, but beneath that lies a deeper urgency--or maybe not, and that's why we didn't sign him. Heck, when I played and we got scored on, I wanted revenge. Imagine how you'd feel if you got scored on five times. Any player who doesn't feel a little rage at that isn't worth his salt. The key, though, is in channeling that. We saw how Adebayor lost his concentration in November because of how worked up he was. Here's hoping that the atmosphere in White Hart Lane is cranked to a fever-pitch such that various Spurs players do something silly enough to get booked. It's at this point that I should probably try to make a joke of books and low literacy rates among Spurs players and fans, but I feel as if the moment has already passed. So it goes.

In more serious news, we go in to the match without Sagna, and the apparent default is Jenkinson. I think Carl will become a fine player in his time, but I doubt that Sunday's game is that time. He'll go in as the weakest link and will line up opposite Bale (truth be told, Bale would probably shift to whichever side Jenkinson starts on). If we're going left to right, we throw on Monreal, Vermaelen, and Mertesacker, but injuries rule out Gibbs, Sagna, and probably Koscielny. I've asked for it before and will repeat it now--I have more faith in Ramsey playing on the back-line than I do in Jenkinson. However, before too much is made of Mr. Bale, he is not Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo combines pace with actual footwork and can make mincemeat of defenders by getting them off-balance with about 87 scissor-steps and maybe one other move. Bale, for all of his pace, lacks that weapon. As long as Jenkinson doesn't get caught out of position, and as long as teammates make themselves available (instead of hanging him out to dry as happened against Michu earlier in the season), Jenkinson can probably hold his own. Whatever happens on Sunday, it does seem like signing an established defender somewhere between Sagna and Jenkinson's experience would be helpful. As long as we're on the topic of irrelevant requests, I'd like a Triumph Scrambler, please.

At the other end of the pitch, I'm salivating. I see Walcott eager to dispel the comparisons with his former roommate, Cazorla back in form, and Giroud ready to make life miserable for a 35-year old Gallas, among others. With Arteta, Wilshere, and Rosicky joining Cazorla in the midfield, I think we can control enough of the action to neutralize Bale. I won't go so far as to call Spurs a one-man team, but as Bale goes, so go the Spurs. Neutralize him, and it's hard to find who will step up. The longer the game goes, the more the pressure on Spurs builds.The more the pressure builds, the more their nerves may fray.

Speaking of fraying nerves, I don't know if I can wait until Sunday. It's an extra 24 hours that my constitution just can't handle. It's a good thing--not shaking like a leaf, more like butterflies in the stomach and ants in the pants, that sort of thing. I'l just picture Lloris picking the ball up from the back of the net. In a way, it's like counting sheep....

And, before you go, weigh in--Jenkinson or Ramsey at right-back?

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