This is the sort of match which we often fail to get anything out of. But we came good in the end. It certainly wasn’t our best performance of the season, but we did deserve the three points. Stoke didn’t help themselves by self-combusting. They weren’t the worst team we will play this season, but despite being first to the ball a lot of the time, they failed to capitalise on the possession they had.
I can’t ever recall a player being sent off for hitting one of his own teammates, but that is what happened to Ricardo Fuller just as Stoke were kicking off following the West Ham goal. I suppose it’s this sort of thing that keeps us going to matches. Just when you think you have seen it all.
Our clear man of the match was Valon Behrami. What an engine he has. I don’t think I have ever seen a player like him. Tenacious is a word which hardly does him justice. He was all over the pitch and won the ball back countless times. When he first came to the club I thought he was a headless chicken, but he knows exactly what he is doing. I didn’t think I would ever admit a player deserved to keep Noble out of the team, but I will make an exception for Behrami.
Overall, the midfield had quite a good balance to it. Scott Parker was all over the pitch too, although too often his final ball was off beam. He takes too long to decide what to do with it and today missed the obvious ball on too many occasions. Luis Boa Morte had one of his better days today and in the second half gave the team some much needed width, although he still had an annoying tendency to drift infield. Jack Collison was superb again and quite why he was subbed is anyone’s guess. His tackling was effective and he was probably the most creative of the midfield four. He’s also not afraid to shoot.
With two of our defenders being changed (O’Neill and Davenport) I suppose it was inevitable that we looked shaky at the back on occasion. The Stoke goal came about because neither Faubert, nor Collins picked up Faye from the corner. Otherwise Collins was commanding in the air and had a good game. The same cannot be said, unfortunately, for Julien Faubert, who has joined Carlton Cole as the crowd’s favourite whipping boy. At times he was simply awful, giving away possession too easily and being weak in the tackle. He fared a little better in his regular forays forward, but too often his crosses were misdirected.
Carlton Cole was largely anonymous in the first half and only really came to life after he scored. Confidence is a wonderful thing. The truth is he should have scored immediately after the Stoke goal. A poacher would have tucked away Collison’s cross without thinking twice. Cole blasted wide. But for all that, he was miles better than the totally ineffective David di Michele. Apart from a skilful cross, he contributed very little to the game and it was a mystery to us all when Zola substituted Tristan for Collison rather than di Michele.
Tristan again looked totally out of it after he on for the last 20 minutes. Yes, he scored, but it was quite a flukey goal. I couldn’t understand why Zola thought Tristan or di Michele were better bets than Freddie Sears. But why should I complain? We got three points and now sit in tenth place, just one win away from a European place. What a difference a week makes, eh?
Boa Morte 6
di Michele 4
UPDATE: To all those Spurs fans leaving comments protesting (several using very homophobic language) at the headline to this article, your comments won’t get through moderation. So piss off.