The weekend’s most mouth-wate­ring Pre­mier League clash may have finished 0 – 0, but jud­ging by the cla­mour in Berlin’s bril­liant Blarney Pub, few who saw Tot­tenham Hot­spur versus Man­chester United were disap­pointed. This was a thril­ling match and an accu­rate mea­sure of each team’s cur­rent qua­lity. 

First off, despite the attacking talent on dis­play, it was defen­ders who ruled at White Hart Lane. United’s Nemanja Vidic in par­ti­cular deserves praise for an impe­rious 90 minutes. The Ser­bian hard nut, who could pro­bably melt steel with his stare alone, made playing against a 6’7” striker (201cm) look easy. Okay, we all know by now that Peter Crouch can’t actually jump, but still the United centre-half bested him con­ti­nu­ally in the air and relished every second of this encounter.

At one point, Sky treated viewers to a super slow motion shot of Vidic chal­len­ging Rafael Van Der Vaar with a diving header. Hori­zontal, han­ging for see­mingly an age, tur­ning his head mid leap to watch the ball sail safely out of play, Vidic really did look like Superman in flight, or perhaps a magni­ficent thra­shing salmon. Either way, it was a frozen moment that typi­fied Vidic’s per­for­mance and for once jus­ti­fied the flashy camera work. No wonder he finished the game for 10-man United crippled by cramp.

United are still unbeaten in the Pre­mier League

Despite having pro­blems else­where on the pitch (Wayne Rooney mis­placed a dis­tur­bing 50 per cent of his passes for example), United are still unbeaten in the Pre­mier League this season. With the Rio Fer­di­nand and Vidic part­nership firing on all cylin­ders, there will cer­tainly be more clean sheets for them bet­ween here and the end of the season and it is beco­ming increa­singly ques­tion­able whe­ther any side boasts the attacking talent to beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s table-top­pers.

For moments in this game it looked like Spurs might have it in them to do so and momen­ta­rily inter­rupt United’s steady parade to the Pre­mier League title (regis­te­ring a first win against the Red Devils in 24 games in the pro­cess). They were cer­tainly the sli­cker side going for­ward, with pint-sized Croa­tian schemer Luka Modric pul­ling the strings beau­ti­fully in the Spurs mid­field. He has been moved to a deeper play-making role to accom­mo­date Van Der Vaart, but much like Bas­tian Schwein­s­teiger at Bayern Munich last season, has demons­trated how bene­fi­cial it can be for a pre­cision passer to see more of the pitch in front of him. Modric mar­ries his exqui­site deli­very with industry and sur­pri­sing strength on the ball. No wonder United them­selves made enqui­ries about his avai­la­bi­lity during the summer.

On top of the Pre­mier League with goal dif­fe­rence of 24

Spurs though were once again undone by their lack of a world-class striker, some­thing the match sta­tis­tics show clearly: Spurs had 55 per cent of the pos­ses­sion, more cor­ners (eight to United’s two), and more shots than United (11 to United’s seven) – but less of those shots were on target (three to United’s four). The North Lon­do­ners are crea­ting ample chances, but fai­ling to ade­qua­tely trouble oppo­si­tion kee­pers.

For all the thrill of their approach play (which on Sunday was often elec­tri­fying), they are desper­ately poor up front. This scoreless result leaves them out­side the top four and a quick glance at the table’s goal dif­fe­rence column shows that is where they belong. United are top of the Pre­mier League today with a goal dif­fe­rence of 24, Man­chester City in second have 18, Arsenal in third have 23 and Chelsea have 19. Spurs’ goal dif­fe­rence? A paltry six.

Noch mehr Kolumnen zur Pre­mier League hier »

The ques­tion is then, what do Spurs do about it? The obvious answer is buy a striker – and one who can play con­vin­cingly in the 4−5−1 that accom­mo­dates the ridi­cu­lous talents of Bale, Modric, Van Der Vaart and on his day, Aaron Lennon. Newcastle’s woolly strike mam­moth Andy Car­roll would cer­tainly fit the bill but his club are reluc­tant to sell. Ins­tead, Spurs are today being linked with a move for Ajax and Uru­guay comic book vil­lain Luis Suárez who would defi­ni­tely add some bite to their attack. Per­plexingly though, his favoured posi­tion is the deeper-lying second stri­kers’ role. He is also cup-tied for the Cham­pions League and valued at £15 mil­lion, won’t come cheap. That said, David Bent’s ludi­crous £24 mil­lion move from Sun­der­land to Aston Villa will boost Harry Redknapp’s transfer kitty – Spurs, Bent’s former club, will receive 10 per cent of the profit.

The larger pro­blem for Spurs is that if they don’t invest in a top striker, the price they pay at the end of the Pre­mier League season could be signi­fi­cant: In an age when few players are as loyal as Ryan Giggs, who made his 600th Pre­mier League appearance for United here, stars such as Bale, Modric and Van Der Vaart would be hard-pressed to turn down Cham­pions League foot­ball else­where, having so revelled in it this season. That leaves Spurs with a mighty conundrum. Break the bank in January or risk the dis­in­te­gra­tion of one of England’s most exci­ting squads. Because if they can’t crack the top four cabal, there will be only one other route back to Europe’s top table for next season: By beco­ming the first ever London club to win the European Cup, at Wem­bley, in May. Now there’s some­thing for Spurs fans to think about…

Die Titus-Fuss­bal­ling-Eng-zyklo­pädie
An dieser Stelle erklärt Titus Chalk die eng­li­sche Fuß­ball-Kultur und Pre­mier League auf Deutsch

Folge 22: Horror debut
Wayne Bridge hat am Wochen­ende ver­sucht diese zwei pein­liche Worte neu zu defi­nieren mit einem des schlimmsten Debüts aller Zeit. Der Links-Ver­tei­diger und dicke Freunde John Terrys, hat wah­rend des Spiels vier Takels pro­biert, ohne Erfolg. Nicht nur das, er war für jeden Tor von Arse­nals 3 – 0 Sieg gegen West Ham ver­ant­wort­lich. Nur viel­leicht der anrü­chige Ali Dia hat schlechter gespielt – In 1996, hat Dia Graham Sou­ness, der dama­lige Trainer von Sout­hampton, erzählt, dass er George Weahs Cousin war, um einen Ver­trag zu kriegen. Er hat als Ein­wech­sel­spieler sein Debüt gegen Leeds gemacht – aber musste selbst nach 53 Minuten, aus­ge­wech­selt werden. Er sah aus, sagte Mat­thew LeTis­sier, »wie Bambi auf Eis«.