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Spurs Armchair Diary

Year 2005/2006   (Phespirit supports Tottenham Hotspur F.C. from the comfort of his armchair)

Spurs Armchair Diary, season 2005/2006. Oh, please let this season be a good one. The squad is looking young, fresh and talented. Experience has been added in the form of Edgar Davids. Martin Jol is secure in the manager's job, having received universal praise for his efforts last season. For the first time in over a decade it's not just the Spurs optimists talking up their chances; the team is widely tipped to run close for a Champions League place. What can go wrong?
2005/2006 Final position:   F.A. Premiership - 5th

Sunday 7 May 2006   [17:55 BST]

West Ham United 2 - 1 Spurs : A number of car bomb attacks have killed at least 14 people in Baghdad and Iraq's holy city of Karbala. In Baghdad, two bombs killed at least nine people, mostly soldiers. A bomb near the provincial government in Karbala killed at least 5 people. Baghdad police also said they had found the bullet-riddled bodies of 43 men killed in apparent sectarian attacks.

In Baghdad, the first explosion at 0900 targeted an army patrol in the city's Adhamiya district. At least 15 people were injured, including civilians. A second blast - apparently aimed at a police patrol - followed immediately afterwards, killing one civilian and wounding 5. The Karbala device went off at about 0915 as employees returned to work after the weekend. Police at first said the bomb had killed 21 people and injured more than 50, but police and hospital reports later reduced the casualty figures.

In other news, several Spurs players suffer food poisoning overnight at their team hotel. Their match at West Ham cannot be postponed or the kick-off delayed, so Spurs field a team that includes up to seven players who had been ill overnight and unable to eat since. Spurs lose the match 2-1. Arsenal win 4-2 at home to Wigan, thereby pipping Spurs to fourth place in the league. Spurs finish fifth and will play in next season's UEFA Cup.

Sunday 30 April 2006   [19:12 BST]

Spurs 1 - 0 Bolton Wanderers : Another victory and three more points, which now means a win in the last game of the season (away to West Ham, who will probably rest their entire first team for the F.A. Cup Final) would guarantee a finish in fourth place.

On the radio this sounded like a win that Spurs didn't deserve. Sam Allardyce is already droning on about the penalty that - by all accounts - Bolton should have been given, but who cares? Last year Spurs had a perfectly good on-side goal chalked off at the Reebok and Bolton went on to win 1-0. These things come around. All is still well.

Sunday 23 April 2006   [15:55 BST]

Arsenal 1 - 1 Spurs : Ah! A lovely controversial draw for the last-ever North London derby on the opposition's dung-hill. Spurs needed the draw and got it, fair and square, to remain in fourth, four points ahead of Arsenal with two games to play, but with Arsenal having a game in hand.

Regarding the conduct of Arsenal's manager and the usual suspects amongst his players after the opening goal - that Spurs scored after two Arsenal players collided with each other and didn't get up straight away - there could almost be an F.A. inquiry if anyone could be bothered. Key notes: (i) no Spurs player committed a foul or broke any rules of the game; (ii) no Arsenal player was hurt to the extent that they had a serious health-threatening injury, or even that they were unable to finish the game - in other words, any circumstance for which the 'unwritten code of conduct' would normally require play to be stopped; (iii) the referee was right by the two players when they went down and could be seen by the Spurs player on the ball, Carrick, to check on those players and deem there to be no reason to stop play; (iv) and anyway, there is no 'unwritten code of conduct' that insists the ball be kicked out just because one opposition player remains sitting on the pitch holding his shin.

All of the above points would apply if the same situation occurred in a match between any two teams. Now take into account that the team in question is Arsenal: (i) the most notorious team for diving throughout all the thirteen years of the Premiership; (ii) a team for whom if play was stopped every time one of their players cried wolf there would hardly be a complete minute's play in any match; (iii) a team in which the only two players who did any notable whinging were Lehmann and Pires - two of the most reprehenisible individuals in English football (see entry below, 1st January 2006); (iv) a team managed by a man whose eternal catchphrase of "I didn't see it" has become a football comedy legend, but who now brands his opposite number 'blind' and a 'liar' for saying ..... "I didn't see it".

Martin Jol said Wenger should "take it on the chin". If Wenger had pushed his confrontation with Jol much further then he quite possibly would have done.

Whatever. After a 1-0 win at Everton and a 2-1 defeat at home to Man Utd., this draw steadies the ship and guarantees UEFA Cup football at the very least next season. So all is well.

Saturday 8 April 2006   [18:10 BST]

Spurs 2 - 1 Manchester City : On performance this win should have been by a bigger margin, avoiding the unnecessarily nervous last ten minutes. Even so, three points against potentially tricky opposition at the desperate end of the season are not to be taken for granted.

Spurs remain in fourth with a bit more of a cushion over Arsenal, who have their work cut out at Man Utd tomorrow, and Blackburn who dropped two points at Pompey today. The gap to Bolton in seventh is now ten points. Bolton have two games in hand but they'll hard pressed to get anything out of the first, away to Liverpool tomorrow.

Thursday 6 April 2006   [19:45 BST]

After finally the joy of actually winning a match in the last minute (2-1 at home to poxy West Brom), Spurs are routed 3-1 away to Newcastle. For the first time this season, missing out on fourth spot looks a nailed-on certainty rather than a pessimistic/realistic expectation. Needless to say it's Arsenal that are creeping up on the rails. Happily, Blackburn and Wigan both dropped points in a one-all at Ewood Park, and Bolton have had the decency to lose two on the trot. So ..... hanging in there:

1. Chelsea   (played 32, 79pts, +41)
2. Manchester United   (played 32, 72pts, +34)
3. Liverpool   (played 33, 67pts, +25)
4. Tottenham Hotspur   (played 32, 55pts, +14)
5. Arsenal   (played 31, 53pts, +30)
6. Blackburn Rovers   (played 32, 53pts, +6)
7. Bolton Wanderers   (played 31, 48pts, +8)

Finishing sixth would be just fine. Seventh would miss Europe and be a disaster.

Saturday 18 March 2006   [19:35 GMT]

Birmingham City 0 - 2 Spurs : A big test of form and character, satisfactorily passed. It is a matter for debate whether there was any benefit in kicking-off at 5:15pm, knowing that Arsenal, Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan had all won earlier and were either up there with Spurs or - in the case of Arsenal - above them, meaning that only a win would do. Bearing in mind that this was big game for Birmingham too, whereas the other aforementioned teams arguably had soft matches, made the pre-match predictions all the less certain and the eventual outcome all the more sweet.

Still fourth in the table and only eight games to go.

Saturday 11 March 2006   [18:12 GMT]

Chelsea 2 - 1 Spurs : Grimsby, West Ham, Leicester, Fulham, Sunderland, and now Chelsea. Games against whom, had the referee blown the final whistle at the end of the eighty-ninth minute instead of stoppage time, Spurs would have had six more league points and earned replays in both domestic cups instead of being knocked out in the first game of each. It's wearing very thin.

Particularly after the uplifting 3-2 win at home to Blackburn last weekend. A point at Chelsea would have kept the positive momentum going quite nicely.

Sunday 19 February 2006   [16:20 GMT]

Spurs 2 - 2 Wigan Athletic : Still dropping points. It's starting to look like more than just a blip. The next four fixtures are home to Blackburn, away to Chelsea, away to Birmingham and home to West Brom. Anything less than 8 points out of 12 would probably confirm that the game is up and European football is not likely to be coming to the Lane next season.

Sunday 12 February 2006   [15:55 GMT]

Sunderland 1 - 1 Spurs : Just like November's home draw with West Ham, this match sees another two points tossed away through conceding a last-minute equaliser. Add those points to the one similarly lost at Fulham two games ago and a profligate pattern starts to emerge. It's frustrating and depressing but somehow not surprising. The reckoning will be due if the club misses out on a Champions League or UEFA Cup place by a single point this year. With a tough run of games yet to come, it's well within the realms of possibility.

Sunday 5 February 2006   [15:55 GMT]

Spurs 3 - 1 Charlton Athletic : At last a win. Having last one-nil at Fulham in the week to a miserable stoppage time header, it was all the more important to get all the points at home to Charlton. Possibly of more importance in the longer run was Defoe getting two of the goals and Jenas getting the other. Defoe has been sorely out of sorts for months and Jenas hasn't been making his mark in attacking play. So good stuff all round; next stop Sunderland.

Saturday 21st January 2006   [18:01 GMT]

Spurs 0 - 0 Aston Villa : Spurs scored five in the corresponding fixture last year and by all accounts should have scored at least as many today. Sadly, Mido is away with Egypt at the African Cup of Nations and Defoe seems to be well off the pace and out of practice. A pity really, as a goalfest would have been a suitable response to the last two results.

Saturday 14 January 2006   [19:07 GMT]

Liverpool 1 - 0 Spurs : Disappointing but hardly a shock. It keeps Liverpool 3rd, four points clear of Spurs and just a point behind Man U with two games in hand. Chelsea still way beyond anyone's reach at the top.

Won't be too many teams get anything at Anfield this season.

Monday 9 January 2006   [19:05 GMT]

F.A. Cup Third Round: Leicester City 3 - 2 Spurs : Hard to find adequate words to express the frustration at being knocked out of both cups in the first game, away from home against lower division opposition and to a goal conceded in the final minute - despite being 0-2 ahead in this game after forty minutes. Fingers must be pointed and names must be named. Gardner was horrifically inept against a limited opposition attack; Rasiak looked lead-footed, off the pace and out of touch; Kelly should have scored when clean through, or least got within a yard of the target; Jenas went missing for fully fifty minutes after the half-hour; Defoe needs to play more for the team if he wants more of the game. Carrick and Brown did the barest minimum demanded by the occasion. Robinson, Stalteri, Dawson and Keane are the only ones who could argue that they didn't deserve exactly what they got.

Mido, Davids, Lee and King must feel as though they daren't leave the rest of them unattended for five minutes. Most let down was the travelling support that was in fine voice for so much of the match.

So, concentrating on the league it is then.

Sunday 1st January 2006   [19:20 GMT]

Manchester City 0 - 2 Spurs : Tremendous result. With this sort of match it is customary to take a draw in the event of it being offered beforehand. To come away with all three points is a huge bonus. And, furthermore, by all accounts Spurs played exceptionally well. Robinson did not have to make a single save. Mido can't stop scoring. Excellent.

Sunday 1st January 2006   [20:15 GMT]

Spurs 2 - 0 Newcastle United : Just as it should be, just as it ever is, Spurs won at home to Newcastle yesterday. Furthermore, with injury having been added to the insult, Michael Owen came away with a broken foot and Shay Given came away with a broken hand. Completely accidental, and a shame really, as there are plenty of Premiership teams and players who deserve to be ahead of Owen, Given and the Geordies in the queue for such bad luck .....

For example, this 4-4-2 Premiership Shithouse Eleven:

Goalkeeper: Jens Lehmann, Arsenal
Right Back: Danny Mills, Manchester City
Centre Back: Titus Bramble, Newcastle United
Centre Back: Sol Campbell, Arsenal
Left Back: Ashley Cole, Arsenal
Right Midfield: Robert Pires, Arsenal
Central Midfield: Robbie Savage, Blackburn Rovers
Central Midfield: Lee Bowyer, Newcastle United
Left Midfield: Laurent Robert, Portsmouth
Centre Forward: El-Hadji Diouf, Bolton Wanderers
Centre Forward: Craig Bellamy, Blackburn Rovers

Manager: David O'Leary, Aston Villa
Substitutes:
Lucas Neill, Blackburn Rovers
Tomas Repka, West Ham United
Joey Barton, Manchester City
Dennis Bergkamp, Arsenal
Paul Dickov, Blackburn Rovers

Thursday 29 December 2005   [19:45 GMT]

West Bromwich Albion 2 - 0 Spurs : A stupid defeat against a ropey team of chancers has been on the cards for a few weeks now, but that makes it no more palatable when it comes. If Gardner was being put in the shop window (Charlton rumoured to be sniffing) then the cost of three points should be added to his price. Probably harsh on the lad as he's been out of the side for months, but when better to show a miserly lack of charity and an absence of good cheer than during the festive programme?

At home to Newcastle next - usually a rare three-point banker in any given season, but not this year without a significant lift in form.

Tuesday 20 December 2005   [17:25 GMT]

Spurs 2 - 0 Birmingham City : Spurs do the decent thing by not spoiling their fans Christmas with soppy dropped points at home to rubbish opposition. A win was expected; the clean sheet was a long-overdue bonus.

Tuesday 20 December 2005   [19:35 GMT]

Middlesbrough 3 - 3 Spurs : Yet another fixture in which Spurs go behind, and which in recent years would have had no difficulty whatsoever in losing, but in 2005/2006 fight back for a result. It's the third match on the trot in which Spurs have hit three - a clean sheet would now represent excellent progress.

Tuesday 13 December 2005   [17:35 GMT]

Spurs 3 - 1 Portsmouth : Once again Spurs win a match that they had appeared certain to cock-up, and which in bygone years they almost certainly would have cocked-up. Things are going right this year. Arguably for the first time in two decades the fans have genuine belief in their team. A quick glance at the league:

1. Chelsea   (played 16, 43pts, +28)
2. Liverpool   (played 15, 31pts, +12)
3. Manchester United   (played 15, 31pts, +11)
4. Tottenham Hotspur   (played 16, 30pts, +9)
5. Bolton Wanderers   (played 15, 27pts, +4)
6. Arsenal   (played 15, 26pts, +9)

Saturday 3 December 2005   [17:50 GMT]

Spurs 3 - 2 Sunderland : One-nil down, two-one up, two-two, and then a missed penalty - this match had "one of those days" written all over it right up until the final whistle. A big relief.

Back-to-back wins now, and not the hardest looking fixtures in the calendar coming up. Could be a good Christmas ..... rarely is, though.

Saturday 26 November 2005   [19:05 GMT]

Wigan Athletic 1 - 2 Spurs : The need for Spurs to get back on course with a good result far outweighed any concern that Wigan might have somehow mysteriously reinvented themselves as a top class Premiership club. Spurs had to win it if they were to keep the Top Six dream alive. All credit to them, they did what was needed. Job's a good 'un.

Sunday 20 November 2005   [18:42 GMT]

Spurs 1 - 1 West Ham United : Ooooh - how annoying was that?

Monday 8 November 2005   [18:55 GMT]

Bolton Wanderers 1 - 0 Spurs : What better way to bounce back from the disappointment of a 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal than by wading all the way up to poxy Bolton for the privilege of being robbed by a linesman and going down by the odd goal? That was the Premiership's last unbeaten away record, snatched unfairly. West Ham next - they will surely be stuffed out of sight.

Saturday 22 October 2005   [18:37 BST]

Manchester United 1 - 1 Spurs : Oh yes, that lad Jenas always looked like being a bargain at seven million. Two goals in as many games proves the point. Spurs still second in the table (on goal difference from Wigan, for Christ's sake).

Another season, another result at Old Trafford, but never let it be forgotten how last year Pedro Mendes had the ball a full yard over the goal-line, clearly visible to the 65,000+ capacity crowd, minus the three match officials.

Dreadful ..... it still beggars belief, and looks worse every time it's shown.

Saturday 15 October 2005   [18:17 BST]

Spurs 2 - 0 Everton : As ever, Spurs' money-in-the-bank fixture returns the full three points. Goals from Mido and Jenas, who - ahem - may have been written off a little hastily. Still, seven million pounds was a ludicrous amount of money to have paid. Not to worry. Time to gaze upon the table:

1. Chelsea   (played 9, 27pts, +20)
2. Tottenham Hotspur   (played 9, 18pts, +6)
3. Manchester United   (played 8, 17pts, +7)
4. Wigan Athletic   (played 8, 16pts, +3)
5. Charlton Athletic   (played 7, 15pts, +5)
.....
8. Arsenal   (played 8, 13pts, +5)

Saturday 1st October 2005   [17:50 BST]

Charlton Athletic 2 - 3 Spurs : Just after half-time, with the score 2-0 to Charlton, this match had the distinct look of another depressing London lapse into mediocrity of the kind that Spurs have made their specialist subject in recent years. But, lo, Deadly Ledley strikes, possibly with a pinch of good fortune, and then it's all Spurs. A tremendous result against the team who are second in the Premiership and who had previously won all their games, barring the inevitable defeat against Chelsea.

Thursday 28 September 2005   [19:55 BST]

Spurs 1 - 0 Fulham : This Monday night win was very important. Not only does it restore the team to fourth in the Premiership (on course to be the Everton of 2006? is that good?) but it ends a run of five matches with no victories and only one goal. The previous one-all at Villa was an acceptable away point, albeit questionable in its deservedness; the last minute one-nil defeat at Grimsby in the League Cup was atrocious. Unspeakably bad. Almost inconceivable. It's probably not fair to single out individuals for blame ..... but if Jenas doesn't take his finger out and fast he's going to fully confirm the strong suspicion that he's the biggest waste of time, space and money since eleven million went down the drain on Rebrov.

Saturday 10 September 2005   [18:30 BST]

Spurs 0 - 0 Liverpool : Three new signings since the last match - Jermaine Jenas for £7m from Newcastle, surely a waste of money and not needed; Lee Young-Pyo for £1.35m from PSV Eindhoven, expected to be a better leftback than Edman who has been shipped off to Rennes; Grzegorz Rasiak for around £2m from Derby, who could either be an exciting, if surprising, hit or a fourth choice bench-warmer - all bought on the 31st August transfer deadline day, all started against Liverpool today.

Despite all the changes this match ended a draw, just like last year, but there remains the sense that the team is getting ever stronger, even if the squad is worryingly bloated (a Christmas clear-out will be required). Also of concern is a run of three games without a goal, but now is the time for a little patience rather than a lot of expectancy.

Sunday 28 August 2005   [10:10 BST]

Spurs 0 - 2 Chelsea : In spite of all the new found optimism, it's no real surprise that this result turned out exactly the same as last year and pretty much the same as most years. The only consolation is that there won't be many teams that don't drop all three points in their equaivalent fixture, so not too much ground will have been lost in the long run ..... just another year's hope.

It's worth pointing out that this match was not dominated by Chelsea. The match was dominated by referee Rob Styles, who provided the most abjectly atrocious example of top-flight officiating seen in the Premiership for a long time. Or since he cocked up that crucial Palace fixture last year (whoever they were playing). The man is proving time and again that he is not fit to referee. His sending off of Mido was ludicrous, especially as he subsequently said it was for the challenge rather than use of the arm. And it wasn't as if he particularly favoured Chelsea. He was equally appalling in his judgement of every incident. The man should not be permitted to ply his trade again. Should he attempt to do so at the Lane he can expect a profoundly hostile reception.

Spurs now fourth in the Premiership.

Thursday 25 August 2005   [19:40 BST]

Blackburn Rovers 0 - 0 Spurs : Whilst back-to-back wins is always good for confidence, it was a bit much to hope for a third with half the team rested. Spurs now welcome Chelsea to the Lane on Saturday. Both teams are yet to concede a goal, Chelsea are top with three wins out of three, Spurs are second. Bring it on .....

Saturday 20 August 2005   [19:30 BST]

Spurs 2 - 0 Middlesbrough : Two games in, one hundred percent record, top of the league. Always good for morale, although in truth it's not that unusual for Spurs to hit top spot at some stage early in a season. It's staying there that has been the problem. Nonetheless, it's nice to savour the moment:

1. Tottenham Hotspur   (6pts, +4)
2. Charlton Athletic   (6pts, +3)
3. Manchester United   (6pts, +3)
4. West Ham United   (4pts, +2)
.....
8. Arsenal   (3pts, +2)
9. Chelsea   (3pts, +1)

The latter two play each other tomorrow at Stamford Bridge. It would be nice if they could both somehow contrive to lose .....

Sunday 14 August 2005   [18:40 BST]

Portsmouth 0 - 2 Spurs : All of the pre-season optimism is translated nicely into a start-of-season away win. A good thing, not just for the three points but also for the ghosts it lays to rest: a first win at Portsmouth for four or five decades; one of only a tiny handful of opening day victories for Spurs since the Premiership began; and the simple fact of picking up maximum points away from home - that rarest of commodities in recent times.

Now bring on all comers.