It was a case of two points dropped in the battle for fourth place as Tottenham endured another frustrating day in front of goal against rivals Aston Villa. As well as their profligate strikers, it seems Spurs may have someone unexpected to blame.
It seems harsh to blame John Motson, that most enthusiastic of football commentators, for Spurs drawing a blank, but the superstitious among us might well have food for thought. Motty is currently undergoing the longest barren spell of his 40-year commentary career. He has now commentated on four matches in 2010 and has yet to describe a single goal. As well as games between West Ham and Blackburn and Villa and Arsenal, he was the man at the microphone for the exasperating stalemate with Hull at White Hart Lane recently. With Motson now having overseen two scoreless games each for Spurs and Villa of late, both sides will be hoping not to hear the legendary voice for a while. The bad news for Tottenham is that he is covering the game with Wolves on Wednesday.
With tongue removed from cheek, Saturday’s six-pointer was an opportunity missed for Harry Redknapp’s side. There were distinct similarities to the match with the Tigers, although Brad Friedel was not called in to action quite as often as Boaz Myhill was thanks to some wayward finishing and plenty of deflections. Spurs will be sick of American keepers having failed to score against the USA international Friedel and the America-born Myhill. They will hope for more luck against Tim Howard when Everton arrive at the Lane at the end of the month. It was all one way traffic towards the Villans’ goal and it was telling to hear the contrasting interviews given by the two managers after the game. Martin O’Neill paid tribute to his defence and their all hands to the pump efforts. Redknapp’s words were about his attackers, pointing out that he did not make substitutions in an attempt to alter their fortunes because his players were playing too well to be replaced.
It is starting to get a little concerning to see Tottenham drop points so regularly. The last five league games have seen just one win and three draws, with the team failing to score on three occasions. Add in the goalless draw at Fulham on Boxing Day and it has been a worrying run of form punctuated only by the occasional high. The FA Cup fourth round meetings with Leeds were hardly the most encouraging of affairs and for all the Elland Road side’s pluck, Spurs really should not have needed 180 minutes to see them off. With Robbie Keane now wearing the green and white hoops of Celtic, Redknapp needs Jermain Defoe to find some consistency in front of goal and Peter Crouch to find the goal full stop. The ‘beanpole’ striker has a fairly respectable 10 goals for the season but that tally is distorted by the four he helped himself to in the early rounds of the League Cup, a hat-trick against Preston included. He has bagged just five times in 25 games in the Premier League since joining the club over the summer. It is not as if he has been restricted to a few minutes as a substitute for most of his playing time as he has started 16 times in the league.
The midweek trip to Molineux brings a chance to avenge the home defeat inflicted upon Spurs by Wolves in December. On that occasion, it was an early goal by Keane’s international strike partner Kevin Doyle that denied Tottenham, and the Irishman comes in to this week’s game fresh from scoring in the West Midlands derby with Birmingham at the weekend. The better news for Redknapp and co is that Doyle and his teammates will be reeling from the late Kevin Phillips double hammer blow that stole the points for the Blues. Spurs have plenty of reasons to go out from the off in Wolverhampton and take the game by the scruff of the neck. If Redknapp has any need to stimulate his team then he will have plenty of ammunition. Whether it is gaining revenge for the humiliating defeat two months ago, or getting back on course in the race for 2010/11 Champions League qualification, Tottenham have every motivation to take advantage of a Wolves team who may well be on the ropes. If all else fails, then they could at least do it for Motty. After a 375-minute wait for a goal, John will gladly settle for a Defoe finish or a Crouch strike, or even a scuffed effort off Wilson Palacios’ shin.