Tag Archives: Hearts

Tottenham Hotspur 0 – 0 Heart of Midlothian: Match Report

26 Aug

On a scale from 1 to boring, this might well be the most boring game of the entire season, despite only being the third. In fact the most exciting thing about this game wasn’t the game; it was the 2 transfers Spurs decided to announce during the match. I can’t even begin to understand their timing, but I must admit I’m delighted we’ve got them sorted and that we now have a striker who is big and does the goals. I don’t blame a single one of you if you stop reading right now and find something more exciting to do, like jumping up and down on the bed… or porn. I nearly decided to go, but in the end opted for the tellybox again, will be making my way up to White Hart Lane for the first time this season on Sunday.

Another game, another goalkeeper. We are three games into the 2011-12 season and now our three first team keepers have all had a run out. I have to admit, I wasn’t surprised although I had probably thought Gomes might get another run out in this game. He didn’t even make the bench, which might be telling for his Tottenham career prospects.

As expected, we saw a number of youngsters play, with first team debuts given to Tom Carroll, Ryan Fredricks and Harry Kane along with Jake Nicholson from the subs bench. Andros Townsend was also given his first start while Jake Livermore made his 3rd start in 3 games, despite the injuries, a massive vote of confidence from Harry. If I’m honest my lack of player knowledge when it comes to some of the youngsters meant I wasn’t really sure what formation we were playing, even more-so when the game kicked off, with what looked like a 3-5-2 being deployed. If not, Andros Townsend was playing as an exceptionally attacking Left Back. Hearts also fielded a young team, meaning we were given a game with a number of players hoping to prove their worth, but ultimately less quality than one would expect to see from Spurs at this level.

The match was a relatively even one, with chances presenting themselves to both sides. Hearts appeared to be playing on the break, with Spurs pressing but often lacking the killer ball or awareness needed to open up the Hearts defence. On the occasions Spurs did play well, though, it was often the youngsters who shone.

Spurs’ best chance to break the deadlock was from a Harry Kane penalty, saved by MacGregor in the Hearts goal. Kane won the penalty himself after being put through by Tom Carroll and felled by MacGregor. It would be easy to assume that under pressure in his first Spurs game that Kane did a Southgate, but that’d be very unfair, his firm low penalty was well saved, with the entire stadium willing it to go in, for Kane as much as for Spurs.

Before that Hearts had hit the bar with Cuicini well beaten and honours were pretty even.

The second half was a relatively dull affair with neither team looking to stretch themselves too far. Spurs left their big name on the bench and also, confusingly, Tom Huddlestone on the pitch. The big lad picked up a knock around the 10 minute mark and, having mentioned in my preview that I didn’t want to see him play in a game like this after his injury, Harry proceeded to leave him on for the full 90 minutes. Whilst it’s clear to see that perhaps he wanted Tom to get some minutes under his belt and also to provide the team with a little experience, this didn’t seem like the right time to do it.

To be quite honest Harry’s approach to injuries, which I would describe as ‘old school’ at best confuses and concerns me, but that is really an issue for another day. My hope had been that Kane, getting his opportunity in the first team might also have the chance to play with someone like van der Vaart and really get the full experience, along with the extra opportunities that might bring to score compared with playing next to someone like Pav. It’s no co-incidence the Russian striker’s name has barely come up in this report as his influence on the game was minimal to say the least.

In the end though, no-one really looked like scoring and my initial 3-0 prediction was left looking rather optimistic. With Spurs comfortably through to the next round, the game served as the ideal opportunity to give the youngsters so real action and help one or two others gain fitness or get a run out.

As an aside, I should also mention the Hearts fans. they were excellent and in great voice. Officially there were 2,500 there, but the man inside the tellybox suggested that 4,000 had made their way down. Great effort guys.

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Carlo Cudicini 6
Rarely called upon. Very obviously 3rd choice now, but by far the best 3rd choice of any team in the league!

Vedran Corluka 7
Looked slow, which he is, but generally assured.

Michael Dawson 7.5
Never seems to stop, all heart and one of my favourite players, for that reason. Wasn’t really stretched tonight.

Sebastian Bassong 4.5
A really disappointing game from the Cameroon Centre Back. In his first season he played well and I had high hopes, but last season seems to have knocked his confidence and last night’s was a poor display.

Ryan Fredricks 7
Young and raw, but quick and seemed to work hard for the cause, one for the future hopefully, but clearly not ready just yet.

Tom Huddlestone 7
Tommy still looks a bit unfit and although I can see that Harry wanted to give him minutes, would like to have seen a player who can really make us tick be a bit more protected.

Jake Livermore 7
Another decent game from Jake Livermore, suggesting he’s not only got a chance of making it, but that he is relatively consistent. Didn’t do enough to worry our injured regulars but should be a regular on the bench this season.

Tom Carroll 7.5 (mom)
Despite loking like a 14 year old boy (Don’t let Wenger spot him) he played well. I’d heard very little about Carroll before but I have to admit he’s shot up my list of young players who I think may just have a future at White Hart Lane.

Andros Townsend 7.5
Another game in which Townsend had the opportunity to show off his attributes, a bit of pace and some trickery. No where near as incisive or powerful as Bale, Townsend is a player more in Lennon’s mould, who just needs to learn his way around the full backs and practice his final ball to be in with a shot of first team action in future.

Roman Pavlyuchenko 5
Unfortunately, the Russian had a poor game, with the vast majority of his shots reaching the upper tier. He ran about a bit.

Harry Kane 7.5
Worked hard and I really want to see more of him.

Sub ’46: Younes Kaboul 7
Replaced Dawson, A straightforward replacement to save our defensive talisman for the weekend. I am surprised Bassong lasted the game though.

Sub ’61: Niko Kranjčar 6.5
Replaced Fredricks, typical game, will hopefully remain at the club, but needs to up his workrate if he wants a regular game.

Sub ’76: Jake Nicholson 6.5
Replaced Livermore, will have been pleased to get a run out, but didn’t have a great deal of time to make an impression.

Referee

Anastassios Kakos from Greece refereed the game. He looked like a referee and definitely had the full range of cards in his pocket, together with a whistle and a watch. No real gaffes and gave the penalty. 7.5

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Tottenham Hotspur vs Heart of Midlothian: Preview

25 Aug

Europa League Playoff – 2nd Leg
Date: 25 August 2011 Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)

This may very well be the easiest match preview I have to write all season. We are by far the better team in this match up and go into the game 5 goals to the good… Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

What all this means is that Harry has the luxury of leaving out some of the more important players and letting us see a few of our much heralded youth team play in a competitive match.

We should win this game

Harry mentioned in a recent press conference that we’d be likely to see Harry Kane, Andros Townsend and Tom Carroll play. Harry Kane is the player who excites me the most, his goal scoring record in our pseudo reserve team is second to none and he looks like he could be a really exciting player. We’ve seen it all before with Lee Barnard, but I really think if this lad can step up it will be fantastic. Andros Townsend is obviously quick although raw and with Tom Carroll we have a lad who has been praised a lot, but who I don’t know a great deal about.

The most important thing though is making sure that we don’t just stick a group of boys and unfit second string players out there. As much as I think Giovani Dos Santos and David Bentley have the ability to be proper Spurs players, if their heads aren’t in the game (I don’t know either’s state of mind) then it will do more harm than good to have them strolling around the pitch.

Harry Kane (Left)

So if we can see Harry Kane up front with someone like Rafa, at least for a half, and see how he gets on playing with real quality, perhaps the lad will earn himself a spot on our bench rather than in a league 1 side’s first team. I’d also like to finally have an excuse to sell Crouch, even if ‘Arry does love the only human/daddy-long-legs crossbreed ever released into the wild.

We’re through anyway!

Obviously we’re not strictly through to the next round yet, but I can’t see us giving up a 5 goal deficit. The thing is though, even if the stadium isn’t full to capacity (although it should be close, since it’s one of the Season Ticket games), lots of people have spent lots of money being there. With that in mind, we still need to go out there and put on a show. Maybe we won’t score 5 goals again and maybe it’s an opportunity to give Gomes another shot, or even Carlo, but I’ll be a bit miffed if we don’t take our opportunity to really express ourselves.

Spurs’ Team News

Predictably Luka Modrić is a doubt with his niggling injuries… and the fact Harry seems to keep suggesting he’s somehow become mentally retarded which seems to mean he can’t kick a white round object any more, but lets not dwell on the little man. Tom Huddlestone is also doubtful. I rather hope we don’t see him tonight as I think it’d be completely unnecessary to aggravate an ongoing injury in a game like this.

Injuries: Ledley King, William Gallas, Danny Rose, Wilson Palacios, Sandro and Steven Pienaar

Jenas is back in the frame and I’d put money on him starting in the centre of midfield.

Provisional Squad (BBC): Gomes, Friedel, Cudicini, Bale, Kaboul, Bassong, Dawson, Corluka, Walker, Assou-Ekotto, Townsend, Huddlestone, Lennon, Van der Vaart, Kranjčar, Modric, Livermore, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Crouch, Kane, Carroll.

Hearts’ Team News

Hearts’ manager has suggested that he will be making wholesale changes to his team (8 in all). As we established this time last week, the first team was lost on me, so I have no idea whether this will make much difference, although I imagine he is, sensibly, protecting his regulars for a gruelling season North of the border in which expectations from his lunatic chairman remain intense. No doubt the previous loss was a knock to the confidence too, so this exercise should protect bodies and souls.

Provisional squad (BBC): Kello, Hamill, Grainger, Jonsson, Webster, Black, C Elliott, Driver, Templeton, Obua, Sutton, Stevenson, McGowan, Novikovas, Skacel, Smith, Zaliukas, Robinson, MacDonald, Novikovas, Mrowiec.

Prediction

As before I’d like to see us score a decent number of goals. Players like Harry Kane have something to prove and to see him on the scoresheet would be enough to keep me happy. I’m going to plump for 3-0 in our favour, although they might pinch one.

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Heart of Midlothian 0 – 5 Tottenham Hotspur: Match Report

19 Aug

So, once again I’m not going to do this the traditional way and as ever there are a number of reasons for this, primarily revolving around my inability to do-so. I didn’t make notes during the game, I am not into all the stats and everybody else has already done it for me. I guess in reality this makes it more of a match review than a report, but what can you do?!

So I watched the match on TV, which never quite gives you quite the same picture you get from seeing the game live. On the other hand if you’re stuck behind the goal, half the time you have no bloody idea what the players up the other end of the pitch are doing. I hate the ITV punditry team. Andy Townsend being the worst of the lot. Anyone who talks about the keeper’s ‘goals’ instead of ‘goal’ (the keeper can only look after one at a time, it isn’t a plural you twat) doesn’t deserve to have his opinion taken seriously. Apart from that though, the game was thoroughly enjoyable.

If you read my preview, the basic theme was; we should tonk them, but based on all the evidence thus far, we probably won’t (I went for a 2-1 scoreline in favour of Spurs). Well I was right about the first part, but not the second. Barring a 10 or 15 minute spell at the start of the second half when we had some real and sustained pressure on our goal we genuinely looked a cut above and it seemed like we would score on every attack. My Newcastle supporting housemate’s assessment was simply ‘I think this game has taught us that Spurs are just better than Hearts’ and to be honest, that’s all we really learned here, and even that wasn’t much of a revalation.

In terms of individual performances, I was concerned that our make-shift centre midfield could get bullied, but Kranjčar showed his class (and a bit of his bloated gut), proving that you can stroll around the pitch, make the game look easy and still get away with it against some teams. Livermore, although not particularly defensively disciplined put in a proper shift and more than made up for Kranjčar’s laid back style. In terms of the front line, it’s easy to have doubts about the van der Vaart/Defoe pairing, but as long as no-one is trying to fling the ball into the box and one or the other can be a little unselfish it can work. Finally, the defense looked strong. Kyle Walker got caught out on a couple of occasions as you might expect from an attacking full-back. Assou-Ekotto is quite literally the coolest man in existence and the defensive partnership of Kaboul, which was once so fragile and inexperienced is beginning to come of age. We must be careful though, it’s Manchester United we must face next and they will provide a substantially stearner test of what we are made of.

It was good to see 5 different scorers get in on the act and to see both of our starting forwards score too, all too rare last season. Each of the goals was well taken, all generally similar looking placed shots into the corners from around 10-15 yards, although Bale did well to take the ball around the keeper with his first touch before slotting home at an angle. Whilst there was a hint of luck with van der Vaart’s first goal, bustling through a sea of players, each goal simply provided evidence of the gulf in class between the sides. There could have been more but once the air of superiority had set in, the attacking moves became a little over complicated, whilst the insisive breaks were those that generally yielded the goals.

Hearts certainly tried, particularly at the start of the second half, to salvage some pride, but the few shots they did manage to squeeze in were generally high and wide or dealt with by Gomes. The only real scare coming in a goal-mouth scramble which Hearts were unlucky not to score from.

In the end Spurs managed to effectively seal their passage into the Europa Lague group stages in just one of the two games, making the return leg at White Hart Lane a formality.

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Heurelho Gomes 6
Some dodgy moments, particularly in the second half, but a clean sheet will be great for the Brazilian’s confidence. Don’t be surprised to see Friedel start against United.

Kyle Walker 7
Looked like he may have picked up a knock in the second half, but played well. Link-up play with Lennon is currently non-existent and needs work in order to form a successful partnership.

Michael Dawson 8
Looked assured and revelling in his role as the team’s regular captain.

Younès Kaboul 7.5
Again, generally assured and confortable next to Dawson. Hopefully the second half of a consistent defensive partnership over the coming years.

Benoît Assou-Ekotto 8
Cool as a cucumber.

Aaron Lennon 7
Got his goal after a good cross from Defoe, but continues to drift in and out of games. He still doesn’t provide the searing pace and attacking thrust of old.

Jake Livermore 8
The youngster didn’t stand out, either for good, or bad reasons. Suggesting he could fit into this side on a regular basis. Whilst that wasn’t good enough to get Jamie O’Hara a game, Livermore appears to be liked by the current Spurs management. Took his goal well.

Niko Kranjčar 7
I’m not sure if the croation is lazy (like Le Tissier) or languid (like Berbatov) either way he’s both an example of class and frustration all in one package. He still doesn’t look fit and I’m not sure if his heart is in it at Spurs anymore.

Gareth Bale 8
A really good football player. I still think he needs a few more tricks and solutions up his sleeve, especially when faced with double marking, but he will create chances in every game. Scored a good goal.

Rafael van der Vaart 9 (mom)
Absolutely ran the show. Got the goal to set us on our way. Love his passion.

Jermain Defoe 7.5
Could be returning to his old (goalscoring) form. Needs to stop dropping deep, it’s not his game.

Sub ’59: Tom Huddlestone 7
Replaced Kranjcar, looked like he needed a run out. Showed his range of passing.

Sub ’70: Andros Townsend 6.5
Replaced Bale, Looked keen to impress, quick, little end product and too many long shots.

Sub ’79: Roman Pavlyuchenko 6
Replaced Defoe, didn’t have time to make an impression.

Referee

The BBC lists the referee in this game as ‘Tagliavento’, predictably he’s another man I’ve never heard of. He looked a little out of his depth but didn’t make any disasterous decisions. 7

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Heart of Midlothian vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

18 Aug

Europa League LogoEuropa League Playoff – 1st Leg
Date: 18 August 2011 Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: Tynecastle (Edinburgh)

Since I’ve had this thing for a little while now, it’s about time I did something constructive and write a preview of this game. I tried to write a season preview, but it was after the season had started (for everyone else) and I didn’t really have a great deal to say that I hadn’t already read. I am quite keen not to just regurgitate other people’s crap. I will also apologise now for only writing this about 3 or 4 hours before kick-off, it’s only just struck me that I have something to say!

With all that in mind, there are 101 different places you can find out who is injured or how many games Hearts have won this season compared with us. So I won’t bother with all that, because quite frankly I can’t be bothered to research it all and if I do it from memory I’ll only end up getting it wrong.

On that note, actually, if someone wants to get into writing a regular preview, or match reports for this blog, with proper stats and maybe some fancy boxes where you can compare top scorers or how many players on each team wear Nike football boots then that’d be really cool. Just because I’m not very good at finding the time to do all that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for such a thing.

In the meantime, since I am mostly all about opinions and bleating on about rubbish I’ll stick with that tried and tested formula. The most important bit (and best way of judging me and my opinions) is my prediction, which you’ll find at the bottom. Feel free to scroll past the following 600 words of crap to find the good stuff!

We should win this game

I held this opinion before we played Young Boys last season and although it took as two goes, eventually we did. This time around we’re playing a team from a similar (shitter) league and we don’t have to play on a stupid plastic pitch. Nor do we have the psychological pressure of trying to reach the Champions League. So, there really is no excuses for not winning here, except the fact we haven’t played as much football as everyone else.

I’m sure if we do lose, Mr Redknapp will find an excuse, I know already that it’s not his fault, so don’t even think about trying to blame him. (I’m warning you, the bloke has skin like kevlar).

I don’t really care about the Europa League

Now many of you may know this, but for the benefit of the yoof; back in the day there were 3 European competitions. The League Champions all went into the European Cup, Cup Winners into the Cup Winners Cup (funny, that!) and the best of the rest into the UEFA Cup. This inevitably ment that in any given season you would find Barcelona and Real Madrid split up between competitions, Manchester United, Liverpool Arsenal and Tottenham the same and so on throughout Europe. That meant winning any of those trophies really meant something. It meant that you had to get past some of the best teams in Europe regardless. Being in Europe meant everything, to paraphrase our greatest ever manager. Today being in the Champions League means everything. Money has meant that broadcasters and their audiences want to see the biggest teams fight it out. With it the other competitions diminished in stature and were re-branded in a vain attempt to restore them to prominence. Sadly now, we’re left with a competition with a ridiculous number of games in order to win a trophy no-one really cares about. It’s all gone a bit wrong.

In the end then, my main excitement here is finally watching a competitive game of football involving my beloved team and maybe one or two of our younger players getting a chance to shine. Unfortunately there are still no new faces to salivate over, but that’s a whinge for another day.

Spurs’ Team News

Sod it, I’ve changed my mind, I’ve just had a look at the Spurs website and to save any of you who have actually bothered to read through this doing the same, you can have a bit of info.

Injuries: William Gallas, Ledley King, Tom Huddlestone, Luka Modric (apparently), Jermaine Jenas, Steven Pienaar, Wilson Palacios and Sandro. (Basically every central midfielder, then. Start as you mean to go on and all that!)

The BBC says Alan Hutton is also injured although the official website hasn’t even bothered to mention him.

Normally I’d hope to list the squad of players Harry will be picking from here, but it seems that information just isn’t out there (at least none of the places I trust/bother to look at) so it’ll be a happy surprise for everyone when we see the line-up.

Hearts’ Team News

A cursory check of the BBC tells me that Medhi Taouil is out for Hearts. I have no idea how much that will affect them, because I’ve never heard of the bloke, but I am reliably informed he is a midfielder. They are also missing stikers Kevin Kyle and Calum Elliot, which may or may not be absolutely devastating for Hearts’ chances of scoring ‘an goals’.

Prediction

I have to say I’d love to see us score a hat-full and really get my juices flowing. Experience, both of Spurs in general and the pre-season specifically suggests that this is unlikely. We’ll probably have the run of play overall, have a few wobbles, go a goal down in the first half and at best, come back to win 3-1. For my prediction though I am going to go with an unconvincing 2-1 win.

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