Football: Winter draws on and on for Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Sherwood 69 Derby County 1 Burton 46 Half- time: 0-0 Attendance: 35,392
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STEWART HOUSTON, we have a problem. The message from George Graham to his former right-hand man at Arsenal, who joins Tottenham from First Division Ipswich Town in a similar capacity this week, is that for all their new defensive organisation and meanness, Spurs cannot win League games. Successful progress in two cup competitions has obscured the fact that 28 December against Everton was the last occasion they collected full points. Since then, there have been six successive Premiership draws, this latest in a game that should have been won comfortably.

David Ginola, the shining light in the FA Cup replay against Leeds last Wednesday, illuminated the proceedings again, but it was left to a substitute, Jose Dominguez, almost forgotten and now on the transfer list, to set up the equaliser for Tim Sherwood after Deon Burton scored in a rare Derby attack just after half-time. In the last minute, Justin Edinburgh was dismissed for a second yellow card and Paulo Wanchope, already booked, was fortunate not to follow after catching Mauricio Taricco late.

Superficially, it seems inexplicable that a run of 15 matches unbeaten should have left Spurs in 12th position, only one better off then when they began it. However, more than half the matches were Cup ties and a mixture of wins and defeats is mathematically more useful than the run of draws earned by Tottenham. Six draws on the trot - four of them goalless - have meant only six points, whereas a team such as Derby collected nine by winning three times and losing three.

Graham, clearly a man who regards a glass as being half-full, not half- empty, claimed not to be concerned. "We're playing well enough," he said. "We had 75 per cent of the game and in the first 25 minutes played some lovely football."

Ginola was at the heart of that, from the moment he collected a throw- in on his chest and volleyed across goal. It has been a week of praise for the Frenchman, ranging from the best hat-trick that never was, to Johann Cruyff's accolade as "probably the most exciting player in the world at the moment".

Statistically, he is also the Premiership player with the most passes and dribbles, and the one who has been fouled most. The figures for fouls and passes soon increased as he released team-mates with some delicious first-time flicks, before and after being clattered by Stefano Eranio, the unfortunate figure selected to mark him. The Italian's punishment came later, when he was carried off after getting a bang to the head in a challenge by Edinburgh. He should be fit for a return to North London in the FA Cup tie against Arsenal next Saturday, but Derby's other wing- back, Tony Dorigo, is likely to miss the game after going off with a hamstring injury.

Ginola was limping for a while and required treatment before returning to set up wasted chances for Chris Armstrong and Steffen Iversen. There was less scope for Wanchope, Derby's answer to Ginola, who nevertheless fashioned his side's only opportunity before the interval, a run taking him onto Lars Bohinen's through-pass, which Wanchope clipped wide.

The visitors' second scoring possibility arrived before the half-time tea - or isotonic drinks - had been digested, which may have explained Tottenham's state of unreadiness. Wanchope headed down Dorigo's diagonal free-kick and Burton was allowed to score from close in.

Ginola now decided to crank up his quota of dribbles, and often left Eranio's deputy, Jakob Laursen, in his slipstream. One brisk, low cross was almost diverted in by the Derby defender Stefan Schnoor, Russell Hoult saving while going the wrong way, and another was scrambled clear. Then Ginola got his tresses to Darren Anderton's corner and Hoult saved again.

There was a hint of desperation about the decision to send on Dominguez for the first time since October, but the effect was startling. In the 69th minute, the little Portuguese picked out Sherwood's run and a crisp finish brought Spurs deservedly level. They were denied victory by Hoult's save from Anderton, who shot from almost as far out as against Leeds but this time saw the goalkeeper divert the ball on to the bar before Spencer Prior hacked it away.

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