Heurelho Gomes is a very good goalkeeper.
No, really, he is.
Okay, so maybe anybody will have a hard time believing that given some of the Brazilian goalkeeper’s mistakes since joining Tottenham from PSV Eindhoven last summer. It was easier to ignore those mistakes when he was just one of many players underachieving. Now, with Tottenham showing signs of life, Gomes’ mistakes are even more magnified.
A Gomes’ blunder helped Fulham knock off the Spurs and slow down the Harry Redknapp Revolution, at least for a week. No such stopping the league’s powers, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United, which all cruised. Arsenal tumbled yet again, leaving Arsene Wenger to scratch his head at his enigmatic squad.
SBI EPL correspondent James Tyler of The Unprofessional Foul gives us his take on Tottenham’s tumble, as well as the rest of the weekend’s action in the English Premier League:
Tottenham express hits a bump
By JAMES TYLER
Ladies and gents, the wheels are off at White Hart Lane. The bandwagon crashed this weekend, ending a euphoric fortnight for Spurs in which they beat everything in sight (including my Reds twice, sigh). One thing is certain: Redknapp is clearly the man for Tottenham, what with his crafty demeanor and no-nonsense attitude. Calling him Harry Houdini is perfect. They hadn’t beaten Fulham in the EPL in 6 years, but with Harry at the helm, wasn’t the outcome obvious?
Not with Heurelho Gomes between the posts. Dempsey tested him early with a ferocious shot from long-range, but it wasn’t long until Simon Davies’ speculative cross/shot from the left wing made Gomes look like the most expensive 10-million dollar mistake since Swept Away. Gomes failed to handle it under no pressure whatsoever, and it slipped off his hands, bounced off his chest and in. Insane as it sounds, but I bet Tottenham Nation misses Paul Robinson greatly.
When Bale and Gomes failed to clear a corner, Andy Johnson made it 2-0 from close range, and despite a late Frazier Campbell goal, Fulham held on, sending Spurs back into the relegation zone. It’s a much-needed burst of reality for Spurs, who were a vogue pick to finish Top 4 back in July, only to find themselves in a very real fight for mid-table survival. The league is stronger all-round this season than in recent years, not to mention the fact that everyone’s beating everyone at the moment and no-one wants to take control of their destiny (see Man City, Portsmouth, West Ham). It’s worth noting that just 10 points separate 6th from 20th. That’s parity we can almost believe in.
Redknapp will eventually guide them to credibility, but their defeat this weekend gave me a breather from all the Spurs/Redknapp/Messiah hyperbole. After all, two weeks does not a season save.
And in the rest of the week:
Bolton 0, Liverpool 2
It should have been 5- or 6-0 for the visitors, but I’ll take it. Fernando Torres continues his gradual return to match fitness, and with a couple of late, glaring misses, it’s clear he needs more time to warm up. Dirk scored AGAIN, his 7th in all competitions this season (he’s almost doubled his EPL tally from last season already), and Gerrard’s header late sealed the deal. They’re still second to Chelsea thanks to the almost insurmountable goal difference, but I’m refreshed to see us passing these tests week after week (except for that f*cking Spurs game), and relieved that we didn’t fall apart despite not having Torres for a full month.
Arsenal 0, Aston Villa 2
What’s Arsene’s excuse this week? It’s great when your kindergartners can embarrass Wigan midweek in the Mickey Mouse Cup, but when you can’t get it done at home the week after knocking off Fergie, can there really be any words of comfort or solace for the Gunners? Last weekend confirmed that they were legit contenders; what does this weekend confirm? Other than that Bendtner’s useless, I’m not entirely sure. Arsenal did begin brightest, but Villa were worth the 3 points, even with help from Gael Clichy’s forehead for their first goal. A truly great performance on the road by Martin O’Neill’s side, winning at Arsenal for the first time in 15 years, although they don’t get much time for back-patting before facing Man United next week. As if it couldn’t get worse for Wenger, he’ll likely be without Sagna for a few weeks. Can Carlos Vela play right-back?
Blackburn 1, Sunderland 2
Dear oh dear, Paul Ince. Up against your Old Trafford battering-mate, and in the clash of former fearsome central midfielders, you’re outdone at home by the Irish firebrand, who looks 1,000,000 times more menacing with the salt-and-pepper facial hair. The Mackems deserved the points for their second-half alone (although Santa Cruz was unlucky with his late effort bundled off the line), and the loss puts Blackburn in the Bottom 3. They were a Top 10 team last season; does the loss of David Bentley really mean that much? Me thinks it’s Hughes’ departure that hurt the psyche most.
Man United 5, Stoke 0
Simple. Clinical. Expected. The Potters are going down, surely. Stealing points here and there doesn’t make up for the gulf in talent between Stoke and almost everyone else. They’ll go down fighting though. The fact that Ronaldo’s found his scoring touch again scares the life out of me. When you’re getting phenomenal goals from your 17-year-olds, this one from Danny Welbeck, you know your season should turn out alright despite a rocky start against your biggest competition.
Newcastle 2, Wigan 2
I never liked Titus Bramble; it was his season-killing late goal at Anfield last season that began my hatred. This weekend, he did it again, but against his former club for good measure. Does Bramble enjoy the attention? I’m thinking so. The late equalizer from Bramble’s noggin capped an entertaining clash that saw the Magpies score 2 in the last 10 minutes to seemingly snatch a win after Wigan had a man sent-off midway through the second half. The result leaves both teams just above the relegation zone on goal difference alone.
West Ham 0, Portsmouth 0
If two dull-ish mid-table sides meet and play out lifeless goalless draw with just three real goalscoring chances and no-one watched it, did it happen? Sadly yes, and the point doesn’t really help either team much in their quests for self-determination. Worth noting that the pint-sized savior Gianfranco Zola has marshalled the Hammers to just 2 points from 7 games. Yep. He was definitely a smart hire.
West Brom 0, Chelsea 3
Another simple win for Luiz Felipe Hackman (the resemblance is uncanny). The Blues win comfortably on the road again, and Nicolas Anelka continues to look like an actual striker.
Everton 1, Middlesbrough 1
zzzzzzzzzz I’ve nothing good to say about either side, so I’ll simply move on.
Hull 2, Man City 2
With his abject failure to get wins with his retooled, money-laden squad, are we setting the stage for Hughes’ dismissal in the New Year, perhaps to be replaced by someone newer, sexier and more Portuguese? I’d imagine so. Four decent goals, and four examples of awful defending defined them all. While it’s all fun and games to have an attacking line of Wright-Phillips (who’s definitely found himself again after that Stamford Bridge phase), Robinho, Elano, Benjani and Jo, does any of it matter when you can’t even play a simple back-pass? Meanwhile, Hull’s impressive season continues.