It was far from the perfect game, but finally we got a win. It took two draws and two losses to get it out of us, but surely that is the spring board?
The goalkeeper produced a number of late saves as Spurs scraped a first win in five league games, while his boss called for patience as Erik Lamela continues to settle
David Moyes needs to start impressing Old Trafford and Chelsea’s strikers still can’t fire away from home
1) Moyes testing Old Trafford’s patience
Newcastle have not won a league game at Old Trafford since John Tudor and Stewart Barrowclough scored the goals to secure a 2-0 win in February 1972. Could they end that run on Saturday? David Moyes will be without Wayne Rooney, suspended after his fifth booking of the season, and the Manchester United manager did not exactly sound hopeful about Robin van Persie’s chances either. Van Persie has missed the last three league games, in which time United have taken two points and dropped to ninth in the table, 12 points off the top. One of the notable things about the defeat to Everton was that there was only a smattering of boos at the final whistle. Yet Old Trafford feels different right now. Opposition teams are suspecting this side might be vulnerable. Another bad result and it is difficult to imagine the crowd retaining their patience. Daniel Taylor
2) Away-day blues for Chelsea strikers
Chelsea manager, José Mourinho, was eager to defend Fernando Torres after the striker failed to hit the target for the fourth game in a row, insisting that the Spaniard had made a significant contribution to the victory. However, the striker has failed to score in his last four games and was guilty of missing two excellent chances at the Stadium of Light. He was eventually replaced by Demba Ba and there were reminders of last season in his body language at times. Chelsea are still waiting for a striker to score in an away game in the Premier League this year. John Wardle
3) Shelvey needs to concentrate on his football
Jonjo Shelvey is not everyone’s cup of tea and when Swansea paid £5m for him in the summer there was a sense that Liverpool had done well to recoup that much for a fringe player. Shelvey, though, seems to be growing in confidence at Swansea, where he is no longer the small fish in a big pond that he was at Anfield. He was the best player on the pitch against Newcastle United on Wednesday night, when he had a hand in the second goal and scored a brilliant third in Swansea’s 3-0 victory. Michael Laudrup, the Swansea manager, was particularly impressed with the way that Shelvey adapted to taking up a more attacking role in a formation without an orthodox striker. “We saw the perfect way to play without a No9, when you move the ball around and someone who is coming from deep, like Jonjo, is making good runs from midfield. I think that position suits him very well,” Laudrup said. The problem with Shelvey, however, is that in between the second and third goals he could easily have been sent off after he squared up to Mathieu Debuchy, the Newcastle right-back. Shelvey motioned to headbutt Debuchy and although he appeared to stop short of making contact, it was a stupid act and the sort of incident that the 21-year-old seems to be unable to walk away from. It’s a shame that Shelvey has an issue with his temperament, because there is, in football parlance, “a player in there”, as he demonstrated against Newcastle. Stuart James
4) Southampton may need reinforcing in January
Southampton manager, Mauricio Pochettino, spoke of “seeing how it goes” when talk of the transfer window cropped up, but the manager must privately be craving the chance to add to his options. An eye-catching start to the season has been checked, with Aston Villa’s fine victory at St Mary’s a third successive defeat and Manchester City due on the south coast on Saturday. More worrying is the flurry of injuries that has afflicted the squad ahead of the cluttered Christmas period: Artur Boruc has broken a hand; Morgan Schneiderlin was absent on Wednesday; Victor Wanyama and Nathaniel Clyne will undergo scans on Thursday after sustaining new muscle injuries; José Fonte was patched up to play; Guly do Prado is a long-term absentee. This squad boasts quality but can feel rather thin when the injuries bite, and there is disruption now to endure, particularly across the back-line. Losing key personnel ahead of six games in three weeks would be bad enough even before the standard of the opposition is taken into account, with Tottenham, Everton and Chelsea following on from City. Southampton have spent heavily in recent times to supplement their talented homegrown players. They may have to again in mid-winter if that excellent start is to be maintained. Dominic Fifield
5) Adam needs to take a good hard look at himself
Charlie Adam has been cast as the kind of creative catalyst to help take Stoke City out of the dark ages. But instead of helping the Potters reinvent themselves, he is in danger of becoming their very own Neanderthal man, if Wednesday’s match against Cardiff City is anything to go by. Dennis Wise was the player whom Sir Alex Ferguson suggested was capable of starting a fight in an empty phone box; Adam looked like a one-man pub brawl. He kicked, pushed and elbowed his way around the Britannia Stadium pitch like a drunk careering around a teetotallers’ convention. First of all there was his hack on Fraizer Campbell which warranted the yellow card awarded by Michael Oliver; but then came his senseless push on the same player – for which Peter Crouch was absurdly booked – while Stoke attempted to build a wall to defend a free-kick. Mark Hughes wants creativity, he needs someone capable of making goals. Adam is the team’s top scorer this season, with all of three goals. So Stoke can loath do without him. But that’s what they almost had to for the final knockings as Adam, with malice aforethought, landed an elbow on Jordon Mutch. What was he thinking? Was this a bid to get banned for the Christmas build-up? The referee missed that one; so retrospective action becomes plausible. Adam has been through enough in recent times to take a good hard look at himself; if he doesn’t, the FA should. Peter Lansley
6) Berbatov’s Fulham love affair is over
It does not feel like a coincidence that, a matter of days after Martin Jol’s sacking at Fulham, Dimitar Berbatov wants a transfer. Jol loved Berbatov, considering him as one of the few world-class players at the club and he made him the focal point of the team. But Berbatov is enduring a barren season and, with his champion now departed, he clearly feels that it is a good time to explore his options. New Fulham manager, Rene Meulensteen, is a fan of Berbatov’s as well – he worked with him previously at Manchester United – but he did not sound optimistic about keeping him in January. Asked after the 2-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur whether he would try to persuade him to stay, Meulensteen answered: “The most important thing is that we have to focus from game to game all the way up to the beginning of January and I had some good chats with Dimitar. He is a player that really cares for this club and I think that was evident in the way he played tonight.” Could Fulham be collectively stronger without the brilliant but sometimes frustrating Bulgarian? David Hytner
7) What has Suárez got against Norwich?
There was only one talking point at Anfield, and it is one that will be discussed for many a year; Luis Suárez’s four goals against Norwich City and the quality, the variety, of every one. Liverpool have frequently reacted well to set-backs under Brendan Rodgers but no-one could have anticipated the excellence of the Uruguay international, regardless of his personal crusade against Norwich City over recent seasons. Suárez was unplayable and it was interesting that the Liverpool manager brought up the striker’s long-term future – one he believes will be best served at Anfield in the long-term. “This club suits him,” said Rodgers without prompting in the post-match press conference. It was one of the finest individual displays the Liverpool manager had ever seen. Please add your own nominations below … Andy Hunter
8) Can Bendtner solve Arsenal’s striking issue?
Let’s just say there were a fair few gasps when the team-sheet came out the news that for this performance, the role of Olivier Giroud would be played by Nicklas Bendtner. As it turned out he gave a decent understudy’s performance. He scored, came close with a couple of other efforts, and showed a greater work ethic than usual. The Dane hasn’t exactly burst through the doors of the last chance saloon and blasted everyone out of sight, but he did make enough of an impression to give Wenger food for thought. If Bendtner can be dedicated, with Lukas Podolski back in training this week and Theo Walcott recovering from a sick bug and hoping for more game time, will that be enough attacking support to carry Arsenal through the rest of the campaign? As a striking group is there enough there to compete over a season? The fact that both Steve Bruce (who has managed Bendtner before) and Wenger had mixed feelings about him afterwards was telling. While complimenting Bendtner’s qualities, they both made a point of airing their doubts about his mentality. They can’t quite bring themselves to trust him, so he will have to keep knuckling down to convince Wenger that he can be the answer. Amy Lawrence
9) City need their ‘glass man’ to stay in one piece
Can Vincent Kompany now put a string of consecutive full 90 minutes together for Manchester City after safely coming through a first full game in two months in Wednesday evening’s 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion? There was a moment in the opening minutes when the captain flung himself at Saido Berahino as the forward unloaded a 25-yard shot. Kompany’s intervention killed the threat and suggested Manuel Pellegrini’s main man is not one to hold back, despite the injuries that have plagued him over the past two years. Dubbed the “glassman” by the German media when at Hamburg for his fragile physique, if Kompany can keep his body together then City’s hopes of reclaiming the title are greatly increased. Jamie Jackson
10) Palace life is all about staying in contention
Victory in Tony Pulis’ first home game in charge of Crystal Palace did not hoist his side out of the relegation zone, but it did offer hope that the Londoners can stay in contention with those clubs just above the cut-off. The new manager is counting down the games, and days, to the 2014 having already identified the need to add up to five new players to his squad to “lift the quality” at his disposal. Only in January will Palace know whether they boast the defensive nous, strength and ammunition to survive in the top flight. The manager will be backed in the window in terms of wages and transfer fees, with Pulis having already spoken to the recently appointed sporting director, Iain Moody, about potential recruits. His biggest issue will be convincing players to move to Selhurst Park given they will be joining a struggle, hence the immediate urgency to keep the side in touch. “It would be good to at least be in touch with the rest of the Premier League come the new year,” said the co-chairman, Steve Parish, who has recognised the need to invest further despite the 16 additions made last summer. “It is notoriously difficult for promoted teams to survive, but I feel we have the right man in to help us do that, and he has the time to achieve that aim. If we can hang in there over Christmas then that would be excellent.” It would certainly offer Pulis the chance to wheel and deal in a market where the likes of Fulham, Cardiff and West Ham are also sure to be seeking reinforcements. That competition will be equally fierce. Dominic Fifield
It’s that time again. Martin Keown is here to answer YOUR questions on the wonderful world of football. After a wild Wednesday of action, the December fixtures are coming thick and fast as the former Arsenal and England centre back looks to the weekend…
This is my first article for Spurs Mad, for someone who has supported Spurs since 1958, saw every home game as a kid to adulthood, and played the game as Centre Half for over 30 years.
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