Wow, how wrong can a man be? Before the team was selected I said we needed to score three to win and possibly even to draw and when Grant's selected side was announced, I called the decision to replace Tomkins with da Costa mad! But today, our defence stood tall and, with some wonderful assistance from Green and a gift or two from Lady Luck, we battled away to secure what could prove to be a crucial point.
Tottenham fans will moan that Bale was not 100%, that Defoe had a mare and that we were lucky because the ball kept bending inches wide or striking the woodwork, but we made our own luck. After 15 minutes, the prognosis did not look good, Tottenham were ripping us apart down the flanks and a goal looked inevitable sooner or later. But, unlike under Zola, the team dug deep. We closed, we harried, we got a foot in here and a foot in there, we kept our shape, we said to Spurs, keep the ball as much as you like out there, but we will close you out as soon as you get 10 yards outside our box. And we created four half decent chances ourselves and so could have won the game.
That said, Defoe did have a mare! I didn't realise that he was on 99 Premier League goals for Spurs going into the game! It was nailed on for Judas to score against us: he even had 100 goals written on the t-shirt under his top, the arrogant little shit! And boy did he miss some chances. The one in the first half, when the ball came back off the post from Lennon's shot, must be a competitor for miss of the season and it was even worse because, had he got out of the way, Modric was a certainty to score! In the second half, Green pulled off a brilliant save with his right foot but, inside the six yard box, unchallenged, Judas shouldn't have given the keeper a sniff. Going back to the first half, Defoe also screwed the ball inches wide from a Bale cross, under pressure from da Costa, and then, in injury time, he blasted high and wide when he really should have worked Green.
Cockyfools will also bemoan the hitting of the crossbar in the first half but Green had Dawson's shot covered: it dipped very late and hit the top of the bar. Then Bale's freekick hit the woodwork too, but only because of a brilliant save by Green - and that's what a keeper is paid to do.
Actually, second half, I felt pretty confident. Early doors in the second 45, Bridge was done a few times as Tottenham doubled up on his flank but we closed ranks in the middle, dealing expertly with the ball into the box, and kept Tottenham at bay; and for the last 20 minutes Bridge was our best player. Upson and da Costa were giants throughout, and the four in midfield offered very little going forward but shielded the back four superbly. Parker really was everywhere defensively and only gave away one stupid free kick.
And we did have our chances! Cole should have scored when put through by a delicious ball from Ba. His shot was tame and far too easy for Gomes to save. That said, Cole turned brilliantly in the second half, shrugged off a challenge and forced an excellent save from Gomes with an angled shot. In the first half Hitz also played Cole in but, cruelly, the ball bounced awkwardly and Carlton was caught in two minds: he stretched, made contact, but the effort was tame. Then there was Ba's shot, which was heading for the bottom corner but for a brilliant Gomes save. Noble really should have done better from the edge of the box after brilliant build up play, trying to bend the ball with the outside of his boot instead of striking it with venom, and the shot was woeful. But Noble did come over all Brazilian with an excellent over head kick which flashed narrowly wide. Yes Tottenham could have scored three or four, but so could we. The draw was therefore a fair result.
Today was all about character. It would have been so easy to fold under the Tottenham pressure in the first 45 but we didn't. Defensively, we were superb today and had Cole taken that great chance in the first half, we might have won. The Cockyfools will claim we were lucky, but today we really did make our own luck. And Grant deserves huge credit because he selected the team and they gave him everything!
Player ratings: Green 9; Jacobsen 6, Upson 9, da Costa 8, Bridge 7; O'Neil 6, Noble 7, Parker 9, Hitzlsperger 8; Cole 7, Ba 8 Sub: Obinna 6