June 20 2013 Latest news:
By Daniel Grigg
Monday, January 21, 2013
Tottenham blogger Daniel Grigg gives his verdict on the 1-1 draw with Sir Alex Ferguson’s league leaders at White Hart Lane.
With Manchester United wary of the threat from Gareth Bale, the responsibility fell upon Aaron Lennon and Clint Dempsey to make the telling difference once Tottenham had gone 1-0 down – and neither disappointed.
Their work-rate, persistence and positioning eventually paid off and was justifiably rewarded as the pair combined for the late leveller in front of the ecstatic home fans.
United had grown ever more content to pull back and reduce their attacking to just the odd counter-attack as the minutes ticked by in the snow.
Tottenham had to wait until stoppage time to deservedly steal a late point, and again Dempsey was the man who was wheeling away to celebrate a decisive strike against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, punishing Michael Carrick for a momentary lack of concentration with all the ruthlessness that you want from a team with top-four ambitions.
Once the celebrations had died down, memories came flooding back of the many occasions when it has worked the other way round - when Spurs have lost the lead, or worse.
Most memorable and hurtful was Carlos Tevez’s celebrations after equalising with the last kick of the game back in 2008.
Yet, despite their late capitulation, it has to be said that the league leaders defended with a real vigour and commitment yesterday - and their goalkeeper also proved to be excellent value, even for his hugely inflated transfer fee.
Dempsey must still be wondering how David De Gea managed to deny him earlier in the game as the Spaniard somehow stuck out a leg to divert his close-range effort around the post.
That was the most extraordinary stop, but there were others, and Bale, Lennon and Defoe were also frustrated – until De Gea’s scruffy punch fell for Lennon in stoppage time.
The winger was quick-minded enough to pass to Dempsey rather than try a shot, which would surely have been harmlessly blocked in the packed penalty box - just like Bale’s effort from distance seconds earlier.
United had certainly not coasted through the game. Knowing it would be difficult, not least because of the weather, they had clearly come prepared to scrap and fight.
The inclusion of Phil Jones added size, energy and presence to a United midfield which often lacks those attributes as they set their stall out, determined to shackle Mousa Dembele after his impressive previous starring performances against them.
Of course Spurs will miss Sandro but, even without him, Spurs proved they could still harry and grab a good share of the midfield spoils and territory.
Dembele was tidy and energetic and, while there were less of the thrills of his last couple of outings against United, he dribbled through and fed his former Fulham team-mate Dempsey to create Spurs’ best chance of the match pre-stoppage time.
Scott Parker started his first league game of the season and he made the impact that was expected – he was occasionally outpassed and outmanoeuvred a bit too easily when United stepped up the rate and sharpness of their passing, but otherwise he was decent.
The visitors were forced to rely on quality over quantity in attack, but that is not really a problem when they have Robin Van Persie.
Tottenham allowed few openings, but they were sliced open on a couple of important occasions in the first half, unable to cope with some telepathic training-ground passing moves which perfectly countered Tottenham’s pressing game.
Tom Cleverley was the beneficiary of one such move as he was left in acres of space to cross from the right – a position which demanded a high-quality delivery, which he duly produced.
Kyle Walker was caught ball-watching - something he had a few issues with earlier in the season – and he was unable to track his man peripherally at the far post until it was too late, as Van Persie pounced with the unmarked header.
However, more experienced defenders have and will continue to be caught out and made to look foolish by the Dutchman’s seemingly innate ability to arrive in the right place at the perfect moment.
Aside from that goal and Steven Caulker’s heart-in-mouth challenge on Wayne Rooney - which could very easily have been given as a penalty - Tottenham coped pretty well at the back.
Michael Dawson put in a typical captain’s performance, but the whole back four emerged with credit and played their part – including Walker.
Having conceding 13 times in their four previous games against Man City, Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea, it was time Tottenham showed that their improved defensive form could stand up against one of the really big teams.
Spurs have now not conceded twice in a match since the 2-1 defeat at Everton on December 9 – they have shipped one goal or less in 13 of their last 14 matches in all competitions.
Next up is a trip to Leeds in the FA Cup, quickly followed by a visit to Norwich in the league next Wednesday.
By then, Everton and Arsenal will have played their games in hand – but both know of them know that even a win wouldn’t put them back up into the top four.
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