Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: QPR 1 Tottenham 0

It was like watching a car crash in slow motion, except the car was Tottenham’s season. In fact, for their fans, it was the last two months in wretched microcosm.

Everything about this game was slow, from the speed at which attacks were built to the free-kick from Adel Taarabt that settled this game. Slow of mind, slow of body; Tottenham are gradually sliding out of the elite.

This was their eighth winless league match in the last nine. The speculation over Harry Redknapp’s future will again be wheeled out as a smokescreen, but Tottenham’s slump is surely attributable to something far simpler: fatigue.

The ache and the inertia of weary limbs has rendered Tottenham’s players fractions of their selves; world-beaters in name only. Rafael van der Vaart has played 38 games this season; Scott Parker 42, Gareth Bale 43; Luka Modric 44. Tired players take two touches instead of one.

They find it harder to change direction, to find the half-yard they need to beat a man or get a pass away.

The very best teams manage to find an extra gear at this stage of the season. Tottenham have tried to engage theirs, and found nothing.

Redknapp’s refusal to rotate his squad during this season’s league campaign is catching up with him. Redknapp argued that his hand had been forced by injuries to Emmanuel Adebayor, Louis Saha and Niko Kranjcar.

“Who was left out today?” he asked. “It was only Aaron Lennon. No disrespect to the people on the bench, there weren’t too many others who jumped out at you today.

“We’re putting it in players’ minds now that they can’t play twice a week because they’ll get too tired. I think that’s an absolute load of nonsense. Lionel Messi doesn’t ever miss a game. John Terry’s played five games in about 12 days for Chelsea.”

It was Tottenham’s misfortune, too, to run into an outstanding Queens Park Rangers side, who defended marvellously after Taarabt’s late dismissal. Samba Diakite covered a phenomenal amount of ground; Anton Ferdinand was titanic at the back.

“We worked really hard to stop Spurs creating anything,” QPR manager Mark Hughes said. “We didn’t really allow them many clear-cut chances.”

But almost to a man, Tottenham were poor. One moment on the stroke of half-time proved symptomatic of their lethargy. Winning the ball in midfield, Van der Vaart looked forward to see only Jermain Defoe ahead of him.

Despite the fact that a breakaway was on, barely a single Tottenham player was sprinting forward to take up an attacking position.

Just as against Chelsea at Wembley a week ago, just as against Norwich a week before that, Tottenham had gone behind against the run of play.

It had been a slow first 20 minutes, but when Taarabt was tackled by Sandro on the edge of the opposition penalty area – a marginal decision by Mark Clattenburg – the award was a free-kick, around 25 yards from goal.

Fatally, Brad Friedel had shuffled to his left just as Taarabt curled the ball daintily to his right, and was unable to reverse his momentum in time to stop the ball nestling into the bottom corner.

Spurs flickered fitfully in the rest of the half. Defoe’s simple header, pushed over the bar by Paddy Kenny, was their best chance.

Half-time brought the arrival of Lennon in a desperate attempt to inject some width, but no end to their frustration. QPR simply bided their time, holding onto the ball, making Tottenham chase them.

Bobby Zamora held the ball up superbly, and would have doubled the lead in the 68th minute had it not been for Danny Rose’s desperate sliding block.

On 78 minutes, the mercurial Taarabt offered them a way back into the game. Already booked in the first half for a challenge on Kyle Walker, the Moroccan needlessly kicked the ball away after conceding a free-kick and was given his marching orders by Mark Clattenburg.

QPR owner Tony Fernandes expressed his frustration at the sending off on Twitter. “I really don’t understand referees. Parker dives, nothing.

Someone [Taarabt] just kicks the ball back and he gets sent off,” he said. Tempers were fraying. Bale even mounted the advertising hoardings and marched into the crowd in frustration at not being thrown back the ball.

Modric and Van der Vaart both had shots from 20 yards parried by Kenny. But at the last, through five minutes of injury time, QPR held firm, and took a giant leap towards safety.

Tottenham, meanwhile, are running out of time to swerve clear of disaster.

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