Good Week For Tottenham With Chelsea On The Horizon


Celebrations at Villa Park [Photo: Alan Hill]Alan’s Season 2013-14 Diary 8
Saturday 21 September
An example of a tongue-tied Paul Merson in the Sky TV studio. He blurted out that Liverpool were bringing on Sirloin as a substitute. He meant Sterling. Cue much hilarity from fellow pundits. Jeff Stelling made the most of it with comments like “he’s got a massive steak in the outcome” etc.

Sunday 22 September
Cardiff away
In contrast to last Saturday, had to wait for Match of the Day to watch this one. David Marshall, Cardiff goalie Man of the Match for me. We had 29 shots, more than any other club in any game in the Premier League this season. Lamela came on and gave us a bit more guile, getting in behind the full back on the right for the 93rd minute cross for Paulinho to arrive late to back heel it first time into the net.

We should have had it well tied up by then. Cardiff did have a one on one in the first minute and just on half time Cardiff had it in the net from an unnecessary corner given away by Hugo Lloris trying some misguided ball juggling when he could have just picked it up. He was then impeded as the cross came in but I have seen those goals given. Odemwinge came on for his home debut and made a difference for Cardiff, combining well with Bellamy.

Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool all lost this weekend. We won away to a team that beat Man City, who in turn have just thrashed Man Utd. That leaves us equal first, technically 2nd to you know who on goal difference.

Paulo di Cantio
I’m thinking of having a cliché of the week. This week’s would be “You can’t treat players like that in this day and age.”
Sunderland owners and shakers plumbing Venky-like depths in their understanding of football and people. We all knew what Paulo Di Canio was like before they made him the shock replacement for Martin O’Neill. He has behaved in every way exactly as we all expected. He sold a team’s worth of players and bought in what? 11/13 new ones, mostly foreign.

It hasn’t been working and they have been left with only one point at the bottom of the league. So having appointed him in the face of all the evidence, having given him all that money to spend and recruited a backroom team and having witnessed him use the same methods and behaviour that he has used everywhere else, why sack him now?

Well according to Tuesday’s papers it was down to a threatened players’ strike brought about by his dictatorial behaviour and harsh treatment of people at the club. No different to what he was known for elsewhere. So that brings us full circle. What does the decision to appoint him tell you about the people running the club?

Tues 24 September
Spurs beat Aston Villa 4-0

Only conceded 1 goal in nine games now. Jermain Defoe hitting best goal scoring form in the Cup games he is played in. Soldado keeping first choice in the league but is going to have to start hitting the back of the net from open play to justify keeping Defoe out.

[Photo: Alan Hill]A headline writer’s dream. Villa caught with their pants down. Bottoms up. Knickers. Flash in the Pan. That’s the second game on the trot when we have got away with not having a penalty given against us. What’s the bet that particular chicken will come home to roost in the Chelsea game? Various pics have been published of the incident where Vertonghen debagged Helenius. I am more concerned with what they got up to immediately afterwards. I know he is a good looking guy but isn’t that taking things a bit far? Is he a George Michael fan do you think?

Willian and Chelsea Next

£150 million pounds worth of Chelsea reserves manage to beat Swindon. Willian played and missed an open goal. I wonder if life in the Carling Cup made the betrayal worthwhile? What’s the bet that Jose throws him the scrap of an appearance against Spurs? No doubt we can expect one of those twists of fate where he turns it on against us. Then that’ll probably be the last anyone sees of him. Just like Mata, who may well see sense and come and join us in the January window – as cover for Erikssen perhaps.

I didn’t think Arsene Wenger looked happy when he withdrew Walcott at the last minute from the league game last weekend. Then Arsenal announce he has an stomach problem requiring instant surgery which they already know enough about to be sure it will keep him out of action until after England’s qualifying games for the World Cup. If they can be that sure that the recovery will take that long this far in advance, then any club with a player’s interests truly  at heart would ensure he makes a full recovery by not playing him in Arsenal’s subsequent league game either, even announcing that now.

As I have said before, this should be a rule of the FA and Premier League. Also did they know about the problem before the weekend? If so, why didn’t they arrange the op sooner? They have guaranteed putting England’s World Cup qualification at risk. I do hope t was genuinely their only option. Was Wenger’s apparent disgruntlement because he was hoping to get one last appearance for Arsenal before putting him under the knife. Did Walcott then pull himself out at the last minute? I guess we’ll never know.

Thurs 26 September
Carling Cup Draw

We’ve got Hull at home a couple of days after we play them at home in the league on 26 October. There is no point in them going back home, they may as well enjoy a City break between games, take in a show or two.

English Sporting Achievement
Oh yes, I can’t sign off without a doff of the hat to another wonderful English sporting achievement. I don’t think that a fortnight ago, even Sir Ben Ainslie himself would believe that by tonight he would already be an Americas Cup winner. I think that was his plan and hope for a British boat in a few years’ time. Now he has done it already. At this rate he is going to run out of challenges. What honour do you get when you are already a sir?  What a turnaround. It was amazing to watch the highlights on TV. I know nothing about sailing but it seemed to me that he translated the style and skills he demonstrated in his tiny Olympic boat to the comparatively massive catamarans. Somehow he taught the American team the crucial timing needed at the pivotal moments in races, when to make a move, when to stay on the tail of the opponent. Absolutely fascinating.