We are going to need a massive performance from this man on Saturday
If you're wondering where "Know Your Opponent" is, there's no such thing as a Blackburn fan.
Okay, so, Wednesday's match really sucked. Like, really really sucked. Sorry if those first two sentences read like they were written by a valley girl in the 90's, but we were God awful. Our only legitimate scoring chance came off of a handball that the ref didn't see and we gifted a point to Sunderland when Younes Kaboul and William Gallas ran headfirst into each other like they were on "The Three Stooges." It was a monumental pile of suck.
Fortunately, we have a chance to bounce back from our current skid against a mediocre team at home. Unfortunately for us, that team is on a two game winning streak and half our team is injured. Despite the fact that they appear to be crap on the surface, Blackburn are actually only behind us by one point and are even with us on goal differential. Allardyce Ball, ladies and gentlemen!
Breaking down a team who plays like Blackburn do is pretty hard when you don't have a mobile striker who can finish. Only one of our four strikers fits that bill, and Jermain Defoe won't be healthy until at least the North London Derby. Peter Crouch will be the man up top tomorrow, and he will probably have to perform above and beyond his normal duties of jumping and knocking the ball down unless Rafael van der Vaart suddenly got really good at blasting shots into the upper 90 from 35 yards away.
We have a bit of a problem, and that problem is that our available players all fit into completely different systems. Crouch is perfect for the old Redknapp system, attacking with speedy wingers and the big man-little man striker combination. David Bentley is a winger built for Allardyce Ball, which is funny seeing as he came up with Arsenal. Luka Modric and VDV are best in an attack-minded, short passing system. These players haven't figured out the best way to play together, and it's possible that they never will.
So, what do we do about this? Sadly, the answer is nothing. Harry Redknapp had a team set up to play a certain way. Suddenly, Bale morphed into Welsh Jesus, VDV became available for an absurdly cheap price, and Jermaine Defoe went and messed up his ankle in an international fixture. Harry made (mostly) the right decisions and ended up with a team that seems a bit disjointed. It happens.
What's incredible is that during most of last year, I disagreed with Harry's team selections. I didn't like the system. Tom Huddlestone didn't look as impressive as he does this year. Neither did Bale. Neither did Modric after he came back from his injury. Most of the time, it looked like we were playing crappy football, but it worked.
What is more likely to be true, that last year's results were positive outliers or that most of this year's results are negative outliers? When I see matches like the ones against Twente and Inter Milan, I think that it's a positive re-affirmation that this more expansive style of football is better. For the most part, we've been pretty crappy in the league, though. Does this just work in Europe? Are we better off playing in a rigid 4-4-2 setup in the league? Crap. I don't know.
Tomorrow, Blackburn come to White Hart Lane. Should we beat them? Of course. Should we have beaten Wigan, West Brom, Bolton, and Sunderland? You bet. This team has given me little reason to believe they're going to show up and play to the best of their abilities tomorrow. If I tell you we're going to kick some serious ass, it's nothing but blind hope. Do we need that as fans once in a while? Absolutely.
Will this loss be the first step towards Harry getting canned? Will our dominating 4-0 victory be the catalyst that starts our contention for a top four place? Will it be a predictable 0-0 suckfest? Will van der Vaart save the day yet again? Shit. I don't know.
I don't know.
I don't know.
I really hate this team sometimes.
Projected Tottenham Hotspur lineup (4-4-1-1): Gomes / Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Gallas, Hutton / Bale, Huddlestone, Palacios, Bentley / van der Vaart / Crouch
Projected Blackburn Rovers lineup (4-5-1): Robinson / Givet, Samba, Nelsen, Salgado / E. Diouf, Pederson, Jones, Emerton, M. Diouf / Kalinic