Harry Redknapp Pours Fuel on the North London Fire

Joe GSenior Writer ISeptember 20, 2009

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 29:  Harry Redknapp of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City at White Hart Lane on August 29, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Just when you thought that Arsenal's successful appeal against UEFA's two-match ban for Eduardo would be the last word in the saga, Harry Redknapp offered his two cents after his side lost 3-0 to Chelsea.

Tottenham striker Robbie Keane was denied a clear penalty following a tackle by Ricardo Carvalho. Keane had beaten Carvalho, and was taken down after nudging the ball past the Chelsea defender.

Match referee Howard Webb neglected to give the penalty, and was the focus of Redknapp's post-match comments.

"When Carvalho first caught him, if Robbie had gone down, he'd have got the penalty. But, given all the talk there's been about diving, he's tried to stay on his feet. I think it does play on players' minds. They're scared that if they go down, they're going to get a card," said an aggravated Redknapp.

Read his statement carefully, Redknapp seems to imply that all of the recent unpleasantness with Eduardo is somehow at fault here.

While Redknapp didn't name Eduardo directly, it's a pretty easy connection to make. All the talk about diving has occurred because of that Arsenal/Celtic tie.

Such comments are certainly not surprising, given the nasty history of the North London rivalry. Remember back in 2006, some conspiracy theorists claimed that Arsenal had given Spurs players food poisoning to ensure a Champions League berth.

Redknapp's comments are mere child's play compared to what has transpired between these two clubs in the past.

Still, this will doubtless raise a few eyebrows over at the Emirates, and Arsenal doesn't ever need motivation to beat Spurs. Such is the nature of a rivalry game.

There may be a second reason for Redknapp to make those comments though, one that is being ignored by the media for now. It seems to me that Redknapp is trying to deflect attention from his club's obvious shortcomings.

After their fast start to the season, many folks thought that Tottenham would join Manchester City in challenging for a place in the top four. Spurs encouraged such speculation with an opening weekend victory over Liverpool.

Even before the season, Peter Crouch had tipped his new club for a Champions League slot.

But in their past two matches, they've been exposed as paper tigers. They've faced two established top four opponents in Manchester United and Chelsea, losing both matches.

They've been outscored 6-1 during that stretch, and to make matters worse, have suffered some very unfortunate injuries, thinning their squad.

Ledley King was substituted early in the second half against Chelsea with a hamstring injury. Later in the match, Sebastien Bassong was stretchered off in a neck brace after sustaining a head injury.

Things had begun to unravel for Spurs well before the injury bug hit, but losing both central defenders was the icing on the misery cake.

Spurs missed several chances early in the game, allowing Chelsea to take control of the match with their more disciplined finishing.

Don't forget, Tottenham also led against Manchester United before the wheels fell off. They've now given up six unanswered goals to two supposed rivals for a top four position. Their fast start to the season is giving way to a suddenly-porous defense and injuries.

So perhaps this was a calculated dig at Arsenal, as well as Howard Dean. It could have designed to take the heat off of his own players and potentially allow them to regroup after a tough couple of weeks.

Is it a smart ploy by Redknapp? Only time will tell, but he had to try something if they are to right the ship and make a run at Europe once again.


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