Who’d have thought that we’d be going into the last game of the season still not certain of finishing above Liverpool? After the start they had it’s incredible that we’re only a point above them. Kenny Dalglish has done a fantastic job there, but the turnaround owes more to Tottenham’s dismal start to 2011 than what’s gone on at Anfield.
It seemed like Ledley King’s lack of knee cartilage had finally caught up with him in the last year. He picked up a groin injury at the World Cup and hasn’t played at all since October. Today he started in William Gallas’s absence and was brilliant. In the first half particularly Luis Suarez was left frustrated as King beat him to everything.
In the 9th minute Rafael van der Vaart scored a brilliant opener. Luka Modric’s corner was headed out to him on the edge of the box. After the bounce he chested and volleyed it past Pepe Reina.
Skrtel put a peach of a ball across the six-yard box for Andy Carroll, but the big Geordie messed up his header and it went well over. Luis Suarez came close with a free-kick as well.
Five minutes into the second half Van der Vaart went off with an injury after attempting a chip. Jermain Defoe replaced him.
Five minutes after that Steven Pienaar went shoulder to shoulder with John Flanagan on the edge of the box. If anything Pienaar exerted more force than the Liverpool player, but got the penalty. It was the wrong decision, not the kind that got Howard Webb an MBE. Modric put his penalty down the middle and scored.
The second half wasn’t packed with action as Tottenham close the game out impressively. Jonjo Shelvey’s and Steven Pienaar hit good long distance efforts and Michael Dawson turned a dangerous ball over our bar without knowing much about it. Shelvey gave Sandro a nudge and he went into the crowd landing on a kid’s head.
Whether you’d like to be in the EuropaLeague or not it was essential for us to win this game. Liverpool are mentioned among next season’s title contenders, while Tottenham are quietly being written off as one-season wonders. This was a reminder that while Liverpool are no doubt on the up, Tottenham are still the better side.
Even more important is the way the players see the club. We can’t offer Champions League football or huge wages, but if they think the club is heading somewhere we might be able to keep them for a year. A performance and result like this ought to persuade them that we are.