Well, are we back to being the Spurs side that grinds out victories in matches where we don't play our best? It would seem that way after two 2-1 victories over Aston Villa and Fulham. Once again, Spurs had some obvious deficiencies and didn't play their best football, but were able to grind out a victory against a formidable opponent regardless.
Once again, Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart, and Tom Huddlestone put in great performances. All three players were very effective in passing the ball throughout the match and all three players had a hand in setting up or scoring Spurs' two goals.
It was Fulham who opened the scoring, though, with a goal by Diomansy Kamara on the 30th minute, assisted by Clint Dempsey. Spurs' defending on the play was poor and really shed some light on how much injuries have affected the back line. Although Ledley King and William Gallas are both starting quality Premier League center backs, both have seen a long lay-off due to injuries and are getting up there in age. It seemed that Spurs were facing a tough task, down a goal at Craven Cottage, but they hit back immediately.
The build-up play that led to Spurs' goal looked like the build-up to almost every Spurs goal. Huddlestone sprayed a ball wide for Bale who surged forward and crossed to van der Vaart. He took a shot and hit the post, but Roman Pavlyuchenko was waiting to pounce and finish the the play off to tie the score at one. It happened less than a minute after the Kamara goal, an instant reply.
Just before the stroke of halftime, Ledley King was substituted off for Sebastian Bassong due to an injury that was eventually declared to be a groin strain. King is expected to miss at least one week. My guess is that his return will come on November 2nd when Spurs face Inter Milan at White Hart Lane.
Aaron Lennon entered for Sandro in the second half, and it was a substitution that made a big difference. Luka Modric started on the right and did a decent job, but he predictably played closer to the middle of the pitch than Lennon does, meaning that the width on the right was usually provided by Alan Hutton. Lennon's addition and Modric's move to the middle made Spurs a much more dangerous side. The goal would come as a result, but it would be controversial.
Off of a set piece in the 61st minute, Huddlestone ripped a shot into the back of the net from 25 yards out. Initially, the assistant referee flagged for offsides because William Gallas was in an offside position when Huddlestone struck the ball. It was obvious that Gallas did not touch the ball, but there was some debate as to whether or not he was obstructing the view of Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer. After consulting with his assistant, Mike Dean concluded that Gallas was not interfering with play and subsequently awarded the goal, putting Tottenham up for good, 2-1.
A showdown at the San Siro is looming, and it's tough to figure out what Harry Redknapp's thinking is going into the match. Maybe he'll just tank it and save all of his ammo for the return leg at White Hart Lane, as well as the Premier League. Maybe he's got some crazy tactical rabbit under his non-existent hat. Inter are an immensely talented side who embarrassed Werder Bremen, but their manager is the Fat Spanish Waiter, so anything can happen.
Next week in the league, we host a resurgent Everton side at home, fresh off a 2-0 victory in the Merseyside derby over Liverpool. Their stars Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta appear to be in good form and I expect a very entertaining match.