The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
Never a dull moment in North London. After Arsenal saw their title hopes take the slow train south with a 2-1 loss to Stoke (the blue light was their blues, and the red light was their mind), last-place Tottenham came from behind in stoppage time to beat first-place Liverpool at White Hart Lane. Granted, it was an upset a lot of people saw coming, but it was still a terrific game, played in a steady rain, with a sly opener from Kuyt, a Jamie Carragher own goal, and a slippery punch at the end from Pavlyuchenko.
Liverpool fans may be wondering why Rafa Benitez removed Robbie Keane, who was more or less the Air Force in the Reds’ hegemonic control of the first half, for the navigationally challenged, helplessly barrel-rolling Ryan Babel sixty-odd minutes into the game.
By contrast, the best sign for Spurs was, to my mind, Harry Redknapp’s behavior after Pavlyuchenko’s goal. While the rest of the team was doing its celebratory slide-around on the wet pitch, Harry had Ćorluka by the ear giving him instructions for the late-game defense. When Liverpool won a last-minute free kick, Harry and his puffy coat were off the bench yelling at Darren Bent to get back and defend. Fairly routine stuff, but it was also the kind of thing Juande Ramos often let go, and it sent the signal that Harry was in charge and that the little things would be seen to.
Good stuff, especially coming after Stoke-Arsenal and Hull’s near-miracle at Old Trafford. Liverpool will be fine; the odd Rafa gaffe aside, I don’t think they played badly so much as got caught up in Tottenham’s weird roving vortex of drama. You couldn’t exactly say that Spurs deserved the win, but it’s all or nothing with them, and it clearly wasn’t nothing today. In lidless pragmatism I even started to think that Bent and Pavlyuchenko had the makings of a decent strike team by the end.
And that was enough. Spurs are the anti-Middlesbrough. They have no in-between.
by Brian Phillips · November 1, 2008