By Ryan Fleming
Even when not at their best, they continue to find ways to win, putting the struggles in the match behind them. Essentially, Tottenham Hotspur always look forward.
When Rafael Van Der Vaart left Sunday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool in the 11th minute, the Spurs lost a real talent. Since the Dutchman’s arrival at White Hart Lane, the midfielder rose to the platform of one of Spurs’ best players, some say the best. Instead of panicking, Tottenham, along with Van Der Vaart’s substitute Jermain Defoe, continued to press deep into the Liverpool showing their opposition that even without one of their best players, they still field a quality side.
Only 25 minutes later Younes Kaboul picked up a knock and was substituted off for Sebastien Bassong. Last weekend’s hero, Kaboul gave Spurs the go-ahead goal, completing a miracle, two-goal comeback in the season’s first North London Derby with Arsenal at the Emirates.
When Martin Skrtel put the Reds up 1-0 off a free kick, Spurs continued to push, led by the little Croatian, Luka Modric and some inspired play by Gareth Bale patrolling the left flank. Despite maintaining the advantage and possession and attractive play, Liverpool proved resilient, holding the Spurs to a minimal amount of chances, yet racking up a handful of yellow cards.
Despite being awarded a penalty when David Ngog blocked Bale’s free kick with his hand, Defoe failed to capitalize, slashing the ball just inches from the post. Again, though the Spurs continued to push.
Unfortunately for Skrtel, he parried a Modric cross into his own net, handing Spurs an equalizer. Hard work by Modric as well as the determined play by Wilson Palacios, who was on the wrong side of Spurs supporters’ chants earlier in the game, led to the goal.
Following the leveler, Tottenham didn’t sit back, seemingly pleased with constructing the goal – happy with the eventual point. Pleased, probably, content, not quite
Getting quality defending by all four of Spurs’ back line, William Gallas, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Bassong and Alan Hutton, Tottenham were aided by these four, pushing forward, spraying passes and lobbing crosses into the box.
It was to no one’s surprise, despite all the adversity that faced Spurs earlier in the match, they came out on top in extra time when Aaron Lennon used his blazing speed to get by Liverpool defenders, bringing himself alone with Reds keeper, Pepe Reina, then calmly tucking the ball into the net.
The win not only once again puts an exclamation point on the fact that Spurs are one of the best in the EPL, but it also demands the league’s attention to the depth the club has on the bench and the hard work even the substitutes willingly put in.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.