Van der Vaart’s Boxing Day Magic
£35 for a match ticket. £25 for petrol. £2 for a hot chocolate. Watching Rafael van der Vaart return to the side, Priceless.
In all fairness to the rest of the team it wasn’t vdV alone who got us a hard earned 3 points yesterday but he did make all the difference. I just love watching him play. I didn’t think there were many players who could surpass my enjoyment of watching Modric in a Spurs shirt but the Dutchman is pure class. All the superlatives have been used already so there’s little I can add to them in my little corner of the internet.
Football is all about moments. Those little things that separate one team from the other. We were lucky enough to witness quite a few moments last night, and some of them were simply breathtaking. If you only managed to catch the highlights on Match of the Day you won’t have seen that many of those moments actually came from Ekotto and Palacios who were as good as vdV if not better. Both have been “whipping” boys of large proportions of the white hart lane crowd in their time and while I’ve always sat on the side that thinks highly of Benny, I can understand the Palacios disappointment but he’s been coming back to form in recent weeks and yesterday he was back to his best. The only thing that could’ve topped it was a goal which he nearly got had it not been for a superb save from Friedal which went unnoticed from the officials.
Speaking of the officials. I’m not one to point the finger too often when they get it wrong. I’ve watched too many games screaming for what I think is an obvious penalty only to see a replay later to see I was completely wrong to pass judgement on them but they all had absolute shockers. Not only bad decisions for Spurs, but for both teams. We would’ve been better allowing each manager to have a half each. The Defoe sending off is debatable. Personally I don’t think it was a red but it’s one of those that are sometimes given and sometimes not. It’s the game and it’s something I would expect us to have to deal with as I don’t see the FA or Premier League rescinding the 3 match ban. A chance for Crouch and vdV to strike up their partnership again. For all you Pav fans out there, he won’t get in front of Crouch for our next game against Newcastle and that I guarantee.
As I sit here with my new Christmas pants and socks on, I realise I was privileged to witness two moments of genius. There’s nothing quite like coming away from a game and thinking you’ve had value for money. Thankfully this season we’re lucky that’s the feeling most of us get after each match, but winning isn’t the be all and end all of football. As a talented footballer once said, “Football is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom”. There’s a team currently in the premier league who are constantly praised for their style of play. Some suggest they try to play like Barcelona, but there’s a massive difference. Barcelona are entertaining, they’re not. They pass the ball about very nicely but with little end product and tend to wait for the other team to tire and make a mistake. We on the other hand just go full out attack, entertain and hope to score one more goal than the opposition. It’s a joy to listen to other fans singing our praises on radio phone ins after watching us play. We’re Newcastle circa 1996.
Luka Modric makes a pass that not only was pass of the game but was quite possibly the best pass I’ve seen from any player in any team in any game this season. Maybe I’m being a little over the top but it was a piece of magic that only he in our team could produce. The vision to be able to turn and pass into a space that he knew Alan Hutton would be able to get into and pass it to within an inch of perfection so Hutton could set up our first goal was special. From my angle I was right behind the balls flight and to be honest as soon as it left his foot me and those around me all said “ooooooohhhhh, what a pass”. It was one of those moments you remember. A moment you pay to see.
Goal two and the eventual match winner. This was sexy football at it’s finest. Sky Sports News were reporting this morning that Ruud Gullit locked himself in his bathroom just after witnessing it and has only come out once since to get more tissue paper. It was a goal that had they scored it or Barcelona or even United, people would be going on about it all the time. As far as team goals and counter attacking football go we’ll be hard pressed to better it this season. For me, it was even better than Bale’s goals against Inter purely because of the match situation, amount of defenders and the fact it incorporated 3 players instead of just one.
van der Vaarts control and flick around the corner 10 yards outside his own box to set Bale on the break showed the class he has. None of our strikers could’ve done what he did then. Bale did what he does best which was run, run, run. Reminds me a little of Forrest Gump at times. Anyway, huge credit must go to Aaron Lennon who not only kept up with the break but showed footballing intelligence, something he’s not always had, to lay the ball back to vdV instead of taking the shot on with his weaker left foot. I’d hazard a guess that had he been on his right he might not have passed it. Rafa just slotted the ball home and we had just witnessed excellence.
To play for an hour with 10 men and play the way we did was a real sign of where this team could go if we can get a few class signings in. I don’t think we’re in the title hunt for one second but the way things stand if we can have a really good festive period, and that’ll be very hard, there’s no reason why we couldn’t really cause an upset and get into the top 4 again. Make no mistake, we’re the outsiders again to finish in the top 4 and if we do it, we’ll have done better than last season.
Just a quick match preview for tomorrow’s game now. Newcastle at home. Going to be very hard I think. We struggled with Heskey once again until he went off injured and I see no difference with Carroll. I expect us to give away plenty of fouls on him as Kaboul and Dawson try to go through him to get the ball. Thankfully, Nolan is suspended so that’s a bonus for us. Personally I’d let Carroll win the ball and make sure we’re ready for the second balls. Maybe don’t even compete with him for it except for set pieces of course. Gomes still isn’t looking the same as he was last season, especially at corners and I would’ve thought Newcastle will have a couple of players keeping him on his line. It’ll be up to Crouch to sort Carroll out when that happens.
I can’t decide what I think the outcome will be in this one. It’s a pity JD is suspended because his pace would be handy against their centre backs but Crouch will come in as his replacement, especially so we have some extra height to cope with Carroll. Barton will probably make a hard, borderline leg breaker early on Bale or vdV so expect lots of booing from the home crowd. It’ll also give us a chance to compare Ekotto and Enrique who some think would make a good replacement for Benny. Silly people.
The one thing is for sure, if we play the way we can and the way we did with only 10 men last night we’ll win. I’d like a clean sheet at some point though. Another massive game. I think it’ll be a 1-1 draw but would love an easy relaxing game, so 3-0 at half time lads. No make that 4-0, I still remember Black Wednesday.
Watch the goals from the Villa game here.
Submitted by THFC1882
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