As some of you know, I had my first ever trip to White Hart Lane on Sunday. More to come on that experience tomorrow. But just for today, I wanted to focus on the footballing aspect of watching the game live. As anyone who has watched football live knows, the things you notice whilst in the stadium are quite different than watching on television.
So with that, I wanted to drop the five biggest things I noticed from my seats in the lower corner of White Hart Lane:
1. Saha's Spots: On our last episode of Wheeler Dealer Radio coming off the back of the transfer window closing, I differed from my co-hosts on the value of Louis Saha. I said that Saha is a clear upgrade, and would fit into our system much better than Pav. It was only the hopelessness and lack of service playing for Everton that stopped Saha's effectiveness.
Well, I felt pretty vindicated in my beliefs Saturday. We all have always known that Saha could finish since his Fulham days a decade ago. But despite Pav's Row Z heroics, so could the Russian. What made Saha different then? Saha still has the brilliant ability to follow the run of play and put himself in the spots where he has the opportunity to score. Standing on the attacking end in the first half, it was clear to see that Saha was running towards where he felt the ball would go, rather than just chasing open space as Pav did. For a team playing the kind of football Spurs are currently, that is exactly what they need at striker.
2. Charitable Ade: Emmanuel Adebayor has always been a striker of immense skill and talent. In the beginning of his tenure with Spurs Ade was vicious, snatching every chance and putting a shot on goal. It's funny then that Adebayor has long been considered a cocky player. Because it was a loss of confidence that saw the Togoan suffer a major dip in form, appearing tentative in the attacking third.
You need one of two things from a striker when they receive a ball: to immediately figure out how to score or how to set up the score. The one thing you can't have is indecisiveness. While Fall Adebayor fell into the former camp, immediately looking to goal, against Newcastle Adebayor was the opposite, looking for how to set up his teammates. The big question becomes which Adebayor is better: the cold blooded scorer or the Magic Johnson--a sweet passing big man. Well put me down for Magic Adebayor, because with all the attacking talent on this team, keeping the ball moving for the open man is the most important thing.
3. Jumping Ledley: In some ways the fantastic scoring was a shame on Saturday, if only because it took away from a Man of the Match performance Ledley King put in. King was facing a vaunted Senegalese duo in Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, both players who are dangerous number 9's. Despite a clear cartilage disadvantage, King consistently had the aerial advantage, destroying any chance the Toon had of playing some counter-attacking long balls. I had been very hard on Ledley in light of some recent performances, but it's clear that King still has some top class performances left in his legs.
4. Right, Niko?: Part of what saw Niko Kranjcar fall into obscurity at Spurs was his seeming inability to play anywhere across a four man midfield besides the left, which obviously is Gareth Bale's position. This season though it seems Niko has put in more work than ever at being a competent right midfielder. Niko had really good positioning, staying wide unti he had width from Kyle Walker. Then Kranjcar would cut in to attack the goal, and a play like that helped Niko tally his goal. The fluidity of Niko and Bale were truly phenomenal, as the two switched sides with ease, confounding the Newcastle fullbacks. With the way Niko has played lately, he will definitely push Aaron Lennon for playing time upon returning to the Tottenham line-up.
5. Parker Destroyer: I had decried Scott Parker's ability to play box-to-box lately, as the RAF member had been playing as more of an anchoring midfielder, setting up shop right next to the centerbacks. Saturday saw a return though of dynamic Scottie, pushing high up the pitch to create turnovers, whilst still getting back to support the defense. Perhaps even more exciting was seeing the return of some of those late-arriving runs that created major headaches for the Newcastle defense. Parker is at his best when he is all over the pitch, forcing the opponent to account for the danger he creates.