Even as an avid club and international soccer fan from back home in the States, I thought that coming to England and seeing the teams and hardcore supporters in their natural habitat would be a sight to behold. As it turns out, I was right.
I am currently staying in the Bloomsbury area of London on the Colgate English study abroad program. Recently, I was able to venture out to see the home of the Tottenham Hotspurs, White Hart Lane, a few miles northeast of where I’m living. What I saw was a spectacle. On match day, men and women – young and old alike – don their favorite Tottenham kits and chant battle songs wherever they go. Roars can be heard growing louder and louder as you make the five-minute walk from the White Hart tube station towards the stadium, surrounded in a sea of white and navy blue. As it turns out, those fans have had quite a lot to be excited about since the start of the
When the Spurs headed to West Ham on Monday looking to continue their recent 10-game undefeated stretch, many thought it would end in a decisive victory for manager Andre Villas-Boas’ side. Chelsea once again failed to impress after losing at Manchester City 2-0 on Sunday, and in doing so handed a great opportunity to Tottenham. The Spurs’ next five league games are Arsenal at home, at Liverpool, home against Fulham, at Swansea City and back to White Hart Lane to face Everton. With all of these games looking quite winnable given their current form, the Spurs needed a strong showing at West Ham to propel them forward with a second or third-place Premier League finish in sight.
Emerging star midfielder Gareth Bale, whom many in the UK are now dubbing ‘the Welsh Ronaldo,’ looked to put an early end to the evening with a 13-minute strike to the back of the net that marked his seventh goal in six games.
Andy Carroll then leveled the match with a penalty shot after he had been strongly knocked down by midfielder Scott Parker’s decidedly reckless challenge. Despite the Spurs upping the pressure, it was West Ham who scored once again. This time Joe Cole beat keeper Hugo “Slow”
Lloris with a left-foot shot at the 58-minute mark.
With his team now trailing, Bale stepped up just as he has all season. First, the Welshman sent in a curling free kick that the West Ham defense could not deal with, allowing Gylfi Sigurdsson to easily poke the ball in at the far post. Then, in stoppage time, as outstanding Hammers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen looked poised to keep the points at one apiece with some incredible saves, Bale unleashed a curling dipping shot with his strong left foot from outside the box. Jaaskelainen had
absolutely zero chance at knocking it away.
Villas-Boas embraced his top player, knowing the young star could very well lead his team to its highest-ever finish in the Barclays Premier League. Perhaps equally as important, Bale is nearly single-handedly going to send Tottenham to a Champions League berth – a spot that was thwarted by Chelsea’s improbable run to a title last year.
After seeing the 23-year-old’s eight goals in six matches for the Spurs, including amazing game-winning strikes against Lyon, Newcastle and West Bromich Albion, there’s not much else you can say about the man who does everything required and much more. The fans here are ecstatic, especially considering what the victories mean for their
London rivals’ prospects.
The win lifts Tottenham into a solo third place with 51 points, two points ahead of Chelsea and four clear of hated Arsenal, who lie somewhat dejectedly in fifth. The north London clubs will butt heads at White Hart Lane on Sunday, a game that both Villas-Boas and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recognize as crucial to both clubs’ chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
With Bale making a case for player of the year and the pressure weighing heavily on Wenger after a recent stretch of poor performances, I know that all of London will be watching. Will you be?
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