Tag Archives: Premier League

Newcastle United 2 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur: Match Report

18 Oct

I was allowed to go down to the pub whilst a roast dinner was being cooked up especially for me (and 4 others), what a lucky boy I am!

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and it’s already late so I’ve taken an executive decision and decided not to write very much.

The game started out well enough and ended up being something of an end to end affair with attacking intent rather than attacking quality being the order of the day. The balance of chances probably went Spurs’ way although Fabricio Coloccini was responsible for the most glaring miss of the day.

It was a shame we didn’t add to our winning streak, which we should really have done, but we remain in 6th and 3 points off Newcastle in 3rd with a game in hand. St James’ Park is also a tough ground to go to and one we haven’t won at in some time, so a draw has to be seen as a decent result. Ensuring we don’t lose any ground on 3rd and 4th must remain the priority.

Other than that we wore our purple shirt. We did 2 goals, we conceded 2 goals, both of which were preventable and we are now unbeaten in 5 Premier League games.

A proper match report can be found here: BBC

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 7.5

Kyle Walker 8

Ledley King 7.5

Younès Kaboul 8

Benoît Assou-Ekotto 8
Cool as a cucumber.

Luka Modrić 8
At fault for Newcastle’s first goal

Jake Livermore 7

Scott Parker 8.5
Just did everything that was asked of him so well. He did his little spin 360° round the ball thing a few times (look out for it if you’ve not noticed it already), but kept his passing simple for the most part and broke up the play well.

Gareth Bale 7

Emmanuel Adebayor 7
Offers more to the team than others, just needs to keep working for his goals.

Rafael van der Vaart 8
Scored a penalty.

Sub ’30: Sebastien Bassong 7
Replaced King.

Sub ’63: Jermain Defoe 7.5
Replaced van der Vaart, did a goal.

Sub ’83: Roman Pavlyuchenko 5
Replaced Adebayor.

Referee

Lee Propert, gave the penalty, waved some cards and ran about a bit. Standard. 7

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Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

14 Oct

Barclays Premier League
Date: 16 October 2011 Kick-off: 16:00
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)
TV:
Radio:

You might have, but probably didn’t notice that I haven’t blogged on here for over 2 weeks, which means I wrote nothing about our game against Arsenal. For posterity, I may go back and do-so, if I can find a way of backdating posts. I did start to, but a few things got in the way. Firstly, my PC is burgered (i.e. about as good at accessing the internet as a burger.) secondly, I was so busy at work I barely had a lunch break and thirdly, I got a bit superstitious about it. I was at the Arsenal game though and saw us beat them in the flesh for the first time ever, which was nice! But I also got a bit frustrated with the whole blogging thing, so I thought a break would be useful. Had I remembered there were international fixtures, I suppose I could have waited for that! Anyway, boring bit over, on to the game.

Bogey team

Newcastle seem to be one of those teams who, despite largely finishing below us in the league (apart from a few seasons in the mid-nineties), we have never been able to beat convincingly. I can remember a 6-1 in the depths of history along with a string of home losses, which I have to admit I do find a little confusing. We seem to have even less luck at St. James’ Park and having broken our previous winless streaks against Arsenal and Chelsea it’d be nice to think we could carry on with another decent result on Tyneside.

4 wins in a row

All of a sudden, after an appalling start we are one of the form teams in the league with 4 wins on the bounce proving a better recent record than any other side. If we win again we will equal our best winning streak in Premier League history and move equal on points with Newcastle, currently in 4th, although we’ll need to score more than 4 to move ahead of them on goal difference.

Newcastle are a bit of a surprise package this season

Newcastle are a team who got a bit of a rep for playing buccaneering footie under Kevin Keegan, when he disappeared a steady decline set in, culminating in relegation to the Championship a couple of years ago. ‘Clipboard Chris’ Hughton steered them back into the Premier League with a record points total and unbeaten home record before he was given no money to improve the team and sacked for… well, not actually very much wrong really. Alan Pardew was appointed with a decent salary and a ridiculously long contract to consternation from football fans across the country. What’s interesting though is he hasn’t actually done too badly. Last season his side continued to achieve at about the same level as under Chris Hughton despite losing Andy Carroll and being forced to field Shola ‘Oh, so you actually wanted me to hit the barn door’ Ameobi and Leon Best.

This season, Newcastle somehow have the meanest defence in the Premier League. They’ve yet to play any of the really big guns, which helps, but it’s not bad going. Coloccini and Taylor are good centre backs. They have a bit more depth in midfield with Tiote still kicking people and Cabaye looking like a decent signing. All in all I actually think, as much as I hate to say it, that Pardew has been doing a good job. They won’t finish 4th, as much as they might be enjoying their position so far, but I’ll stick my neck out and say they won’t finish below 10th either.

Stuff I think about Newcastle

  • I wonder if they will ever try swapping from old-school barcode shirts to those new ones which you use with your mobile phone.
  • Fabricio Coloccini has the coolest hair in all the world… Except when Benny has a ‘fro.
  • Do Geordies not have jobs, or does the city just shut down when the fans decide to protest?
  • If Mike Ashley was the chairman on my club I’d either have shot him, or myself by now (probably) and I am a pretty placid guy, so as far as I am concerned every Newcastle fan, even the fat ones with their shirts off, are saints.

Spurs’ Team News

You heard it here last…:

Injuries: Vedran Ćorluka, Niko Kranjčar, Michael Dawson, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone, William Gallas.

Doubtful/Possible: Aaron Lennon, Emmanuel Adebayor, Sandro, Rafael van der Vaart.

Newcastle’s Team News

Injuries:

Doubtful:

Prediction

Newcastle are one of those teams you have to beat if you want to be Top 4. They are decent, but in reality we should prove that we are a level above them. They have some decent players and a good team overall, but I am going to go for a 2-1 victory. Al, my oft quoted barcode housemate fancies a 1-1 for this one, which is a very real possibility if we’re missing Adebayor, or don’t manage to reach top gear.

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Wigan Athletic 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur: Match Report

26 Sep

So, I have been slower than rocks, only just getting around to writing about this game two days after it happened. I don’t know why I’m bothering at this point, it’s more for me than it is for you quite frankly.

I didn’t go up to wigan, but did get to see the game live, which tells you how useful the internet can be, although various commitments did mean I couldn’t pay 100% attention, unfortunately.

I hate footballing clichés, one of the worst being ‘it’s a game of two halves’, frustratingly though, cliché or not, you can’t avoid the truth. The first half saw Spurs carrying on the form we saw in the Liverpool game. Utter nomination is an understatement and I watched on thinking about whether my suggestion of another 9-1 drubbing really was out of the question. The first goal, created by Adebayor and tucked away by van der Vaart was classic Spurs, with Adebayor doing the job we all wish our forwards could have done last year; the second a corner from Modrić and a flicked header from Bale was another goal we need to see more of. The first signs that it may not go all our way and that we might be in for a tougher time was a couple of unfortunate, but glaring misses. Adebayor should have converted his near post shot from a Kyle Walker cross, while some over-complication and lack of incisiveness in the Wigan box meant other openings were not capitalised upon. Going in at half time with a dominant 2-0 advantage meant the game was going to go one of two ways.

Wigan are a tough proposition at home and despite many pundits suggesting they may stuggle, I still see them as lower mid-table candidates rather than relegation battlers as long as they retain Martinez. They proved their bottle and quality at home coming out of the blocks as quickly as Spurs had at the start of the previous half. With 5 minutes of the second half played they had their reward. Assou-Ekotto, characteristically nonchalant, but uncharacteristically wayward passed the ball forward on the edge of the box and found only the boot of Ronnie Stam, the man brought on at the break for Wigan. The ball skewed up and from Ledley’s head found it’s way to Diame, who despite his lack of goals for Wigan expertly picked his way through the Spurs defence sheilding the ball before unleashing his shot through the gap he’d manufactured for himself. It was unfortunate that we didn’t manage to chalk up another clean sheet, with Brad in a spell of consistent good form, but these things will happen. I have to admit, I think Gomes might have reached that one, but Brad provides a level of assurance amongst the defence that Gomes has never achieved.

With the score at 2-1 it looked as though we could end up allowing the lead to slip entirely. Eventually The Wigan Right Back, Gouhouri fell into the same trap that caught out Martin Skrtel last week and managed to pick up 2 yellows and an early bath for his trouble. When Bale is in this kind of form, with his explosive and powerful runs, defenders without sufficient protection simply can’t live with him. The only downside is Bale does pick up injuries and the way he ends up on the floor, grimacing and thumping the pitch is becoming an all to familiar sight. If you’re hurt, fine, if not, please don’t make such a big deal about it.

In the end we held out, with Kaboul twice having opportunities from corners and hitting the crossbar with one of his thunderous free-kicks; 2-1 seems a fair result. In reality we have lessons to learn. Games are not won until the final whistle blows and whether that’s playing keep-ball against Liverpool or becoming complacent in games like this, we need to apply the killer instinct for 90 minutes, especially while the tanks are full at this stage of the season.

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 7.5
Assured and although another keeper might have got down to save the Diame goal, you just know what you’re going to get with this fella between the sticks.

Kyle Walker 7.5
Marauding runs up the right-wing are becoming a trademark and very useful with Lennon out. When he took the ball past a man and played a fantastic cross for Adebayor’s chance, he really showed what he’s capable of going forward.

Ledley King 8
The term Rolls Royce is becoming ever more frequently bandied about to describe this man. He’s no Lamborghini, but he’s the footballing equivalent of the car you keep locked up until the weekend and then take outr for a drive. Perhaps the equivalent of an old roller, the epitome of style and comfort. Perhaps sometimes the reliability will let you down, but as long as it’s driving you won’t find any better.

Younès Kaboul 8
I’m still blown away by this guy’s progress. I can tell you now, with a completely clear conscience, I was one of those who never wanted him to leave, although he had much to learn he always had it in him to be a top defender. Thank god Harry brought him back, because he’s starting to show it now.

Benoît Assou-Ekotto 7
Cool as a cucumber.

Scott Parker 8.5
Just did everything that was asked of him with the minimum of fuss and maximum effort, I am still disappointed he never found his way to White Hart Lane sooner, hopefully one day he too will admit choosing the likes of Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham over us in the past were mistakes.

Luka Modrić 8.5 (mom)
What can you say about this guy? He might not always have the most obvious influence, he doesn’t make the searing runds or have the locker full of tricks, but he is just one of those guys who makes stuff happen. I am so glad he’s still at the club and desperately hope we can do what is required to make him want to stay; whatever that may be, not only for him, but fo all of us, a club that Modrić 

Sandro 8
Played well and could really strike up a partnership with Scott Parker, opening up the possibility of a 4-2-3-1 formation, which worked so well for Man City against us.

Gareth Bale 8
His runs drew the fouls that took Wigan down to 10 men, this is the sort of form that makes him unplayable, more of this will maintain his threat and keep Spurs in the goals. My only criticism is he keeps shooting from the left. It worked for him against Inter Milan, but his shooting angle is often tighter and the cross would be more likely to yield a goal with unmarked runners making their way into the box.

Rafael van der Vaart 8
Picked up an injury, suggesting he may have rushed himself back, it typifies the guy’s heart and dedication though.

Emmanuel Adebayor 8.5
He set up the first goal, but missed his own chance. He also played on with an eye injury, helping to dispel fears that he is something of a mercinary or may wish only to play when it suits him to do so (i.e. not playing on when injured risking further problems). What I am trying to say is, well done for the bloke for sticking with it, with no alternatives available.

Sub ’78: Giovani Dos Santos 6.5
Replaced van der Vaart, Gio deserves to have a couple of chances, especially if he’s knuckling down, he didn’t have long to make an impact, but he ‘ran about a bit’, which will always please Harry.

Sub ’90: Jake Livermore 6
Replaced King, unfortunate for him that the purchase of Scott Parker has curtailed his run in the first 11. He didn’t have time to make an impact, but he will get chances to shine this season.

Referee

Jon Moss is not a referee I am familiar with, however, he didn’t flash too many yellows and still made the big sending off decision and got it right. 8

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Wigan Athletic vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

23 Sep

Barclays Premier League
Date: 24 September 2011 Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: DW Stadium (Wigan)

It’s nice to have another Saturday 3 o-clock kick off, although it is away again.

I’m having trouble getting genuinely excited about this game, Wigan are just one of those teams I think maybe even their own fans aren’t particularly excited about.

9-1 again? Not on last season’s evidence

Obviously a couple of years ago we achieved one of our most famous results in recent history against Wigan, indeed it has also gone down in history as the second highest Premier League scoreline ever. The game was incredible, in that at half time, we were just 1-0 up, a pretty typical scoreline for any match. We went on to score 8 in the second half, Jermain Defoe took his tally for the game to 5, equalling the Premier League’s record and Wigan were smashed, earning their consolation goal from a blatant Scharner hand ball.

We shouldn’t expect the same again. Last season, seeking vengeance, they beat us 1-0 at home and held us to a 0 – 0 draw at the DW. We are away again, but Wigan, without such fire in their bellies will hopefully be an easier proposition. I’d be happy with any scoreline which involves Spurs scoring more goals than them, whether that’s 9-1 or 1-0.

Which team will turn up this weekend?

Having started so poorly, perhaps we will finally become a side of consistency. To be brutally honest, if we lose against Manchester City, United and Chelsea and win every other game this season I would be more than happy, and that, to me would be consistent for a side aiming to finish behind those clubs. Obviously life doesn’t work that way, but as long as we are only really losing to the teams we expect to finish above us, we’ll get that 4th spot. The question is, were the hammerings against United and City more about them, or us? Our heads dropped and we’ve still not won a game in this (admittedly young) season in which we have gone behind. Last season that was our strength, goals against serving to fire us into action. whilst I hope we don’t need that type of catalyst this season, we need to respond the right way when we do concede.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

All in all then, we just need to prove we are the team we think we are and get a decent result against Wigan. Against Wigan in the 9-1 game just about every attack seemed to end with a goal, we were rampant. We could have done something similar to Liverpool last week who were abject even with 11 men. Once they were down to 9, a cricket score looked possible. In fact, as harsh as it is, what better way to stick the boot in to the body and soul of one of our big rivals for Champions League qualification this season? Liverpool are not a club who lose big and we have been on the end of some tonkings against ruthless sides in the past, it’s early in the season, I genuinely don’t understand why the players decided to switch off for 20 minutes instead of going for the throat, with a 3 million unbroken pass sequence at one stage typifying our attitude.

The good news is Ledley King is available for his 3rd League game in a row this season. His return coming at the same time as Dawson’s injury is either a spooky co-incidence or indication Harry will only use him when he has to; either way, we’ve not conceded with Ledley on the field yet this season. However, in his presser today Harry has suggested that Pav is ‘playing up’ (not in so many words) and has reported in with a hamstring injury. Harry has reportedly said ‘Pav’s not in the team because the other 2 are doing better. He’s come in today and he’s got a hamstring injury.’ Obviously he’s not been in great form so far this season, but it’s not the kind of attitude or behaviour we need and not the kind of thing Harry loves. I don’t like the way Harry seems to assume every injury is a player being soft and sometimes seemingly forcing them to play through it, potentially making the situation worse, but if Pav’s being difficult, he’s better off out of the club than in, even if it leaves us light up front.

Stuff I think about Wigan

There is very little to say about the midlands club. They have started the season very well, but there is no doubt in the minds of most football followers that they will be one of the teams battling relegation come May next year.

My general views…

  • They are quite possibly the dullest team ever to grace the Premier League! I don’t mean their football, Roberto Martinez seems to be a stand up fellow who plays the game the right way, but I can think of absolutely nothing about this team to stir any kind of reaction from me. If you attached me to a heart rate monitor and put a Wigan game on in front of me I’d be flatlining by the end of it.

Spurs’ Team News

There are a few new injuries and illnesses, with a couple of players having already come back with Rafa playing the second half against Liverpool and Sandro 71 minutes at Stoke. The details of those unavailable are as follows: –

Injuries: William Gallas, Steven Pienaar, Danny Rose, Niko Kranjčar, Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Doubtful: Benoît Assou-Ekotto, Aaron Lennon.

Wigans Team News

Injuries: Hugo Rodallega, Steven Gohouri, Antolin Alcaraz.

Doubtful: Emmerson Boyce.

Prediction

So following some over-optimism at the start of the season and pessimism in the following two games, I think I have reached the middle ground of realism. I hope so, because otherwise I’ll be lost in the abstract world of impressionism, which is no use to anyone. So, I am going to go for a 3-1 Spurs victory. We are away, so perhaps I should say 1-3 for accuracy, but I’ll stick with listing the Spurs half of the score first for consistency.

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Tottenham Hotspur 4 – 0 Liverpool: Match Report

19 Sep

Well, I must admit it feels rather nice to be writing about a game in which we’ve played really well (having missed the Wolves game).

I didn’t manage to get to this game and to be honest I nearly didn’t see it at all, given that I was supposed to be busy on Sunday, but I am so glad I did see it.

To a man, everyone on the pitch did their bit and it seemed like, as a side, we were tactically prepared and psychologically motivated to go out and do the job. There were obvious weaknesses in Liverpool’s side, many have which have been discussed at length by pundits and reporters alike. It was initially unclear which side of midfield Bale and Kranjčar would each start on, with Bale playing from the right against Wolves. What did seem clear though is that with Skrtel playing at right back for Liverpool, there was a weakness to be exploited, and exploited it was.

It was not only Bale and Kranjcar, but the whole midfield which was the defining area of the pitch. Liverpool’s midfield was unbalanced and inexperienced, leading to them eventually becoming completely swamped, regardless of the number of players they actually had on the pitch.

So before really getting into the game, the biggest question is, why have our games against Wolves and Liverpool been so different to those against the two Manchester clubs?

There is no doubt that Manchester City and United, with expensively assembled, high quality sides were always favourites against us, there is no doubt that anything earned from these games would be a bonus, with us finding ourselves at that difficult stage of being enough of a threat that the bigger teams never relax against us, but requiring the balance of luck and fate to be on our side to achieve a positive outcome. What there can be no excuse for is our pitiful turnout having gone a goal down against each side, not something which seemed to faze us last season.

The first obvious difference against both Wolves and Liverpool is, not only did we score first, we kept clean sheets. It’s hard to believe (despite the fact I love both Kaboul and Dawson) that the presence of King Ledley at the back hasn’t had something to do with that.

Secondly, a subtle change to our midfield has made such a difference. Modrić and Kranjčar, no matter how talented simply aren’t able to stem the flow of attacks from central positions. When Harry first arrived, both found themselves vying for the Left Midfield position, with a preference for an enforcer in the middle (Palacios initially showing what an improvement this was). Harry, despite being forced into playing the to Croats this season has always recognised this and we have certainly missed Sandro. Lennon, once our most incisive attacking outlet is also not missed, with him offering little in his first two appearances. I hope when he returns he isn’t blindly returned to the starting lineup, he seems like a player that needs the competition to keep him performing.

Thirdly our signings seem to have made such a difference. Neither Adebayor or Parker were the type of names to really get my juices flowing, however, not only have each been relatively cheap, they have been exactly what we needed. Adebayor has provided everything Crouch was unable to do. With strength and power both in terms of his movement and striking ability, coupled with a sharp mind, Adebayor has demonstrated how a striker can both score and link the play; with flick ons that actually reached his strike partners, you can be confident a ball played to him won’t immediately lead to it coming back towards you in the form of an opposition attack. Parker, despite being 30 has a serious engine. He keeps running, he keeps tackling and he keeps playing the simple passes. With him and Modrić in midfield, there is a grit and a level of quality which many teams will struggle to deal with this season.

Finally, whether it was the win against Wolves or the calming down of the storm around the club at the end of the transfer window, the mentality of every player seems to be worlds apart from the two early season defeats. Against the Manchester clubs Bale didn’t seem interested in running, the strikers couldn’t get their foot on it and Rafa was running around bawling his face off. What a change we’ve now seen.

During the first 20-25 minutes we absolutely decimated Liverpool, leading to a top drawer Luka Modrić goal (I’d like to see a few more of those in a Lilywhite shirt) and culminating in an inevitable Charlie Adam sending off. In fact, my housemate, Alex, predicted it with unnerving accuracy. As soon as Adam was booked he said, ‘he’ll be off’ and with Skrtel booked soon after his commented that they’d be down to 9 by the 60 minute mark, he was just 5 minutes out.

The drop down to 10 men, as it often seems to, actually galvanised Liverpool a little and may have led to some complacency in the Spurs ranks as Liverpool had their best spell of the game running up to half time. With a goal correctly disallowed for offside representing their best moment of the match and the only time they were able to split the Spurs defence.

The second half couldn’t come soon enough and Spurs looked dominant throughout. Eventually Skrtel picked up his inevitable second booking after felling Bale again and Liverpool looked like they would never get the chance to make an impact upon the game. Spurs made their advantage tell with a quick-fire double from Defoe and Adebayor respectively before deciding to play keep-ball for the remaining 20 minutes; Adebayor eventually ambling into the box and slamming home the 4th during injury time.

It’s hard to tell whether Liverpool were awful, or Spurs performing fantastically well, with a combination of the two likely. The only shame is that Spurs decided to take their foot off the gas and didn’t make their advantage count, preferring to show mercy to Liverpool’s remaining players and protecting their own sometimes brittle limbs.

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 7.5
With not a single shot on goal until the last 10 minutes, the big Yank had little to do, but did what was asked of him well.

Kyle Walker 8
Was up and down the right wing and defended well enough against Downing on the few occasions he did get on the ball. Showed great promise with a couple of bursting runs, suggesting he can make up for the lack of Lennon and link up with Kranjčar.

Ledley King 8.5
Was rightly removed towards the end and I am surprised the change didn’t come earlier with fragile knees and groins to protect. Makes such a difference every time he plays.

Younès Kaboul 8.5
Constantly growing in his role, Kaboul is still prone to the odd error, but a worthy long term successor to King in the Spurs back four.

Benoît Assou-Ekotto 8
Cool as a cucumber.

Niko Kranjčar 7
Niko was only given 45 mins to make his impact and whilst he was not a stellar performer he played well.

Luka Modrić 9 (mom)
He doesn’t score enough, but took his chance today with the type of quality that makes him so coveted. Hopefully he can bed back into the squad properly and as much as I hate to admit it, continue to prove he is the man that makes Spurs tick.

Scott Parker 8.5
Just did everything that was asked of him so well. He did his little spin 360° round the ball thing a few times (look out for it if you’ve not noticed it already), but kept his passing simple for the most part and broke up the play well.

Gareth Bale 8
I’m still concerned that he’s believing the hype a little, but I also feel he has been found out a little, in the sense that any occasion he is double marked he’s unable to break free. However, with a better threat up front and a more solid and threatening midfield, hopefully teams will be unable to do-so, meaning he will get more chances like he did against Liverpool, in which he had free reign of the left wing.

Emmanuel Adebayor 9
Made his quality show. He dropped back to pick up the ball a little too much for me and wasn’t in the box when Bale was crossing enough, but he’s exactly what we need in that position.

Jermain Defoe 8
One great chance but often isolated by van der Vaart dropping deep and looking to influence the play, Defoe is not a lone striker and needs a supporting forward to help his game.

Sub ’45: Rafael van der Vaart 7
Replaced Kranjčar, Rafa clearly wanted a run out having got himself fit in record time. He didn’t have a great deal of impact on the game but didn’t do much wrong either. He was brought on to play on the right though… He didn’t.

Sub ’83: Sebastien Bassong 6.5
Replaced King, against a particularly weakened Liverpool side Bassong had little to do except a silly dance to celebrate Adebayor’s second goal.

Sub ’83: Giovani Dos Santos 6.5
Replaced Defoe, unfortunate to get on so late and didn’t have a chance to do much. Should be used in the traditional van der Vaart role really and hasn’t had a proper run there, hope to see him against Stoke.

Referee

It has to be said, I think Mike Jones refereed the game very well. Maybe I am biased because he sent off 2 Liverpool players, but all to often refs duck the big decisions and give players on a yellow card the benefit of the doubt. Jones did not, which is particularly nice to see given that Dalglish spent much of last week ranting about refereeing decisions. 8.5

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Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool: Preview

17 Sep

Barclays Premier League
Date: 18 September 2011 Kick-off: 13:30
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)
TV:
Radio:

2 games played whilst I was out of the country, with a win and a good draw acheived, which begs the question… Why did I come back? Well, I had no choice, but with any luck the good form will continue. While I’m wishing for luck, perhaps the permanent sun and 35ºc temperatures I experienced over the same period will continue too.

No?

Fair enough.

I won’t bore you with how much it bothers me (my OCD again) that my last couple of posts didn’t contain the normal level of detail (score graphic, squad lists, player ratings etc.) because you will have neither noticed nor cared. Not only that, I haven’t even been able to write anything about the PAOK game, despite being in the same country as the game itself. As a bare minimum I might go back and put the scoreline/scorers graphic into the Wolves post.

Anyway, instead of shaking in the corner and muttering about trying to find a match download from Thursday night, we have a Premier League game to look forward to, a big one at that.

We beat them twice last season

Liverpool are a team with an unrivalled history. United (of the Manchester variety) have now surpassed their total number of league victories, yet still are unable to match the Scouser’s 5 European Cup victories. However, in a similar vein to our own great club, they have faltered in the Premier League era, particularly in recent years. Whilst their decline does not compare to our own, still acheiving top 4 almost every season until this decade, the sense is now that if we do not finish above them in the league, we have underachived.

Kenny is credited with carrying on the Liverpool tradition, signing a number of young English players, some of whom we might have liked ourselves. Indeed it compares with the spell in which we acquired the likes of Huddlestone, Lennon, Jenas and a smattering of other young English players. The difference is their signings come with reputations and huge fess which ours did not. Whether it is indeed ‘King’ Kenny or ‘Scattergun’ Comolli making the signings, they do appear to have strengthened. I can’t shake the feeling Roy Hodgson was harshly treated and never got the money that Kenny has had to spend, I also felt Dalglish was past it, but there is no doubt he has acheived a fantastic feat in guiding the club up the league last season.

Our record has been good against Liverpool in recent times, but they are much changed and the match will be a difficult one.

1-0-2

So we’ve won one and lost two thus far. With our victory coming against a Wolves team playing well and losses against the two Manchester clubs, I’m genuinely finsfing it hard to know what to expect against this Liverpool side. My heart, as ever, says that they are there for the taking. We are at home against a side with no genuine stars and some young players with much promise but limited experience, this is not a classic Liverpool team. However, we’ve not covered ourselves in glory thus far.

Adebayor and Scott Parker seem to have provided a noticable improvement in areas that needed it, although I’ve yet to actually see them in action. Hopefully together with some effort from Modric and maybe a decent game or two from our wingers will lead to a proper upturn in form.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

Perhaps worryingly, possibly encouragingly, we are actually doing better this season than we were in the last. Clearly not in terms of points vs games played, but in terms of points accumulated in corresponding fixtures, we are 2 points up. Statistics can tell you anything you want though, so to be honest, who cares until 38 games have been played?

What we do need though, is to prove that not changing our team means we have at least stood still as opposed to falling backwards compared with last season, that means acheiving our first home victory.

Stuff I think about Liverpool

So, Robbie Keane’s boyhood club, apparently.

  • Why do players go there? Joining the club guarantees that your residence will be burgled on match day at least 42 times a season.
  • Why do players go there? They haven’t won anything in ages.
  • Why do players go there? They are managed by a slightly senile Scot who leaves at the first sign of success.
  • Why do players go there? It’s Liverpool for christ’s sakes? Have you been there? … Well I haven’t, because I hear it’s bloody awful!
  • They do actually have quite a decent anthem.
  • Their fans have a sense of humour.
  • If you plan on visiting Liverpool, maybe for the corresponding fixture, remove your hubcaps and, if possible, your car’s wheels prior to visiting in order to prevent them being stolen on arrival.

Spurs’ Team News

I can exclusively tell you… (It is an exclusive if you’ve not visited any other websites before this one):

Injuries: Aaron Lennon, Sandro, Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone, William Gallas.

Doubtful/Possible: Rafael van der Vaart, Ledley King.

Liverpool’s Team News

Injuries: Glen Johnson.

Doubtful: Steven Gerrard.

Prediction

I am still optimistic and I really think we should be beating Liverpool. However, I think they are going to come to the Lane with a point to prove and a point is exactly what I think they will come away with. Unfortunately I will have to agre with Lawron on the likely result, if not on the scoreline, opting, as I am, for a 2-2 draw.

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I don’t want to tempt fate by mentioning the Arsenal score, but I will leave you with this from Saturday’s football, which is a rather pleasant image, particularly for those of us who still have a soft spot for our former ‘keeper.

Paul Robinson Celebrates

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur: Match Report

11 Sep

Apparently we did ok, Scott Parker was really good. Adebayor scored the first, Defoe got the second and we ran out winners.

I’m on holiday and didn’t get to see the match, so that’s all you’re getting. In fact you are lucky to be getting that because we’re only staying in this hotel for one night and it happens to have free WiFi. Mobile broadband is about £3.50 per MB on O2, so that was never happening. In case you care its about 32ºc out here and I’m by the pool. Jealous much?

A proper report can be found here: BBC

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

9 Sep

Barclays Premier League
Date: 10 September 2011 Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Molineaux (Wolverhampton)

Look at that… a 3 o-clock kick-off, on a Saturday! The traditional kick-off time, so rare it seems for a Spurs game, is back! Unfortunately it’s not at White Hart Lane, for that we still have to wait until we meet Bolton on 3 December (that’s right, nearly 3 months away).

If any of you have read my blog more than once you may know I live with a guy called Alex and you may also know that he’s a Newcastle fan, which means he has a decent outside perspective on our club. He read both my preview of the City game and my subsequent review and said that I was both optimistic in the former and generous towards Spurs in the latter. He had only seen the second half of the City game (in which we were worse than awful) and accepted that every fan is optimistic pre-match, but I took his opinions graciously. He was wrong, but it’s ok; he’s had to watch Newcastle’s decline over the past 10-15 years. Of course I am going to be optimistic, apart from anything I don’t want to spend my life bitching about what is actually a good Spurs side, but…

The season hasn’t gone to plan so far, either on, or off the pitch and it seems Harry has been struck with the same curse that prevents any Spurs manager making it to three full seasons without drama. In fact it prevents most of them completing three full seasons at the club, full stop. I don’t really need to go over the things that have gone wrong, we all know, whether it’s the Modrić issue, the lack of any palpable transfer strategy or the poor showings against the two Manchester clubs, things are not rosy in the blue and white garden.

In reality they are both phenomenal teams, City especially with one of the most expensively assembled sides in history, but that doesn’t excuse our performances, particularly when playing at home. Things are getting serious now, so unfortunately, you won’t find much to laugh about in this pre-view.

Banker or Banana-skin?

Wolves and our matches against them sum up both Spurs’ progress and our flaws in recent seasons. In fact it is our matches against clubs like Wolves that define our Premier League existence since the whole circus began in ’91. Sometimes we turn up, we look like world-beaters and we win by a sometimes huge margin. However, all too often we get turned over, and last season it was our draws and losses against teams well into the lower half of the table which destroyed our hopes of a top 4 finish.

Most notably lacking in our first two games, in comparison with last season, was the fight that conceding seemed to instil in the side. We regularly went a goal down and like a wounded cat struck back, sometimes sealing victory in the closing stages of matches. Maybe it’s the quality of the opposition, maybe it was fielding a midfield far too fragile either to dominate in attack, or break up the play, but at no stage did a fight-back appear a genuine proposition after the first goal was conceded. That has to change, because unless we stop conceding entirely, we’re really going to be in trouble.

Mentality

It is our mentality which is the most important factor now. There is no doubt we have an exceptionally talented side and although they weren’t necessarily the players we were pining for, in Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor we have two players who have filled problem positions in our last two matches.

The good thing, from a mentality point of view, is that with two comprehensive defeats to our name (will ‘0 points from 2 matches’ become a Harry catchphrase? I think not!) we will hopefully not make the mistake of thinking this match is already won, a problem William Gallas confirmed towards the end of last season.

The bad thing is that 2 capitulations in the league so far means confidence may be fragile; Wolves scoring first could be disastrous.

It is time for Harry to prove that he really is the man manager his reputation suggests he is.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

If we don’t win this one, I honestly can’t see Harry making it to the end of the season as Spurs’ manager. I can’t envisage him being sacked this week, either way, but a loss would not only prove that a rot has set in, but it would serve to perpetuate any issues which may be affecting the club.

We may have played one fewer game than everyone else and the two best teams in the league, but a bad start is far more damaging to confidence than a bad spell during the season and, to my mind, harder to recover from. With this in mind there will be no better time than now to get 3 points on the board and make a solid move off the bottom of the table.

Unfortunately I think much (too much) will depend on if Luka Modrić turns up, both physically and mentally. He didn’t get his move, he’s definitely here until January, hopefully he will knuckle down, if only to prove to his prospective suitors (clubs who may value him highly, but evidently not as highly as his current employers; Luka, take note!) that he is both the man and the player people like Harry say he is.

Stuff I think about Wolves

There is very little to say about the midlands club. They have started the season very well, but there is no doubt in the minds of most football followers that they will be one of the teams battling relegation come May next year.

My general views…

  • Aren’t their kits all bright and shiny!

Spurs’ Team News

The club and the BBC, my usual sources for this stuff have yet to put up any information on player availability, perhaps I am just earlier than usual (it’s not often I beat others to the punch!) so I have taken our injury list from physioroom.com, probably the best source anyway!

Injuries: Rafael van der Vaart, Aaron Lennon, Ledley King, Steven Pienaar, Sandro, William Gallas, Danny Rose.

Wolves’ Team News

Injuries: Matt Jarvis, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Adlène Guedioura,  David Edwards, Steven Mouyokolo.

Prediction

I’ve been optimistic in my last two predictions and plumped for a draw on both occasions. I have to say, despite our appalling showing against Wolves this season, I want to give us the benefit of the doubt. Adebayor did really well when he got to Man City and with any luck Parker will stiffen the midfield, protecting Dawson and Kaboul whilst feeding Modrić and the wide men with simple balls. I’m going to give in to optimism once again and suggest 2-1 is not out of our reach.

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Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 5 Manchester City: Match Report

28 Aug

Our worst home result in some years. I don’t think I have ever left White Hart Lane feeling quite so disappointed as I did this-afternoon.  Let’s just get this out of the way; I warn you though, there are really no positives that can be taken from this game.

Brad Friedel started in goal once again and unusually, amazingly even, has conceded 5 in this game, a total of 8 in his last 2 and I can’t really find fault with him. I would guess that if he maintains this form, Friedel’s amazing unbroken run of games will not be at risk of ending. On the other hand, there was one or two that perhaps Gomes, with his ridiculous reach might have gotten a fingertip to, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.

I sat down and squinted at the various players warming up and my first thought was that they must have changed the training routine and mixed in the subs. Kranjčar, Modrić, Bale and Lennon in the same midfield? Surely not. Apparently though, yes. In a move that Harry is bound to have considered bold and adventurous, the rest of us considered to be stupid, short sighted and suicidal. Ultimately it was Harry who was proven wrong. He has told us since, that 2 hours before the game Luka Modrić asked not to be considered. Now not only is it astonishing that this has been made public, it is also odd that Harry decided to tell us having played the little Croatian. (If you are so inclined, you can assume that I am using the word Croatian in place of the words ‘rat-faced prick’. I kindof am, kindof not.) I wonder if this would have been made public had this gamble paid off and led us to a win; we shall never know. It does feel a little like one of Harry’s excuses though.

What we learned from this game is that now, after 2 or 3 years of posturing, Manchester City now really are the real deal. They also answered the question about their approach away from home, particularly whether they would hold back against a ‘top’ team. It was a categorical ‘no’.

As we all know, Manchester City have an embarrassment of riches up front, so much so they have been willing to subsidise Emmanuel Adebayor’s move to a club they have actively avoided dealing with in the past. On this occasion it was Edin Dzeko who took the opportunity to shine. In terms of the scoreline at least it was Edin Dzeko v Tottenham and Dzeko won, but there is so much more to it. Dzeko’s first two goal was a poacher’s effort, with City exploiting space down the Spurs left to cross in across the face of goal, leaving the ball on a plate. The next a deft header underlining Dzeko’s quality, becoming increasingly evident as the season progresses. His third was another tap in before he eventually showed he can score from outside the box with a curling shot into the far left corner of the goal. Before that Aguero also got his name on the score-sheet with the easiest of all the tap ins, laid on by Yaya Toure after a powerful run through the Spurs defence. Rumour has it that we tried for Aguero at the end of January’s transfer window, too little too late, but more concerningly agreed a deal with City for Dzeko. The suggestion is that City were so disappointed with their Bosnian striker that they were willing to cut their losses to the tune of £10m, however, Tottenham were unable to meet Dzeko’s wage demands and the move never got close to completion.

Spurs’ goal came via Kaboul from a van der Vaart corner. With that bringing the scoreline to 4-1, the idea of a fightback seemed fanciful at best. When another goal failed to materialise and van der Vaart limped off injured and straight down the tunnel, kicking a bottle in frustration, it was clear the game was long gone. This happened towards the end of the game (I couldn’t see the clock to know exactly when) and it left us with 10 men and Rafa took what little spirit and fight that remained down the tunnel with him. Spurs, at 1-0 down did have a period of ascendency and looked like they could even the scoreline at 1-0 down, but Dzeko’s well taken second goal ended those hopes.

Perhaps the only bright spot was Jake Livermore, when he came on he added drive and impetus to a feeble midfield and despite his youth and inexperience, looked the most willing to take players on and change the game. Bale and Lennon both look strangely dis-interested and during the first half at least, the diminutive Croatian (you know who I mean) was possibly the most positive of our midfielders.

As I write this reports are breaking that we have agreed a deal for Scott Parker, who can add a dimension to our midfield, however, it seems that it comes at the expense of Jake Livermore. I certainly hope this isn’t the case, Livermore has been one of the few bright spots, not only in this game, but in our rapidly self destructing season and he looks like he may have a real future at the club. A loan I could just about stomach, but anything else would prove to me that Harry Redknapp is interested what is good for him now, not what is good for Tottenham Hotspur in the long term.

Defensively it’s hard to pick fault with any individuals, with Dawson and Kaboul both playing ok, but as a unit, work is clearly needed, Sandro is sorely missed too, hopeful we can also add some steel to protect the back line.

We did have chances. Bale should have scored, with the ball on a plate. Defoe had chances at range and van der Vaart might also have scored. In reality, though, we just didn’t have enough of the ball, nor the attacking drive to tip the game in our favour. I touched on Lennon and Bale, but I will admit to being shocked by their approach in comparison with this time last year. When Assou-Ekotto had the ball (the best of the starting 11) Bale last season would be on his toes and running towards the space. Today he stood waiting in his own half or was moving centrally, where he was surrounded. Bale’s quality is in his ability to beat players onto the ball, in space; he is no longer playing to his strengths. Lennon too seems unable to take players on as he once did. I wonder whether these players, when their places in the team were under threat, were able to step it up and now, with starting positions assured, they no longer feel that they need to stretch themselves. Harry needs to show that no player is safe, much as Alex Ferguson does at United and he also needs to show that his approach can be more subtle than just a bark or an arm around the shoulder, neither of which seem to be doing the trick.

A word, finally, about Peter Crouch. Bambi on ice would be a friendly description for this man. He doesn’t score and his link-up play with van der Vaart has all but disappeared. He lacks strength in the challenge, meaning he’s constantly appealing for a foul which isn’t there or fouling the defender himself. He cannot run with the ball, he cannot head it accurately and cannot score. Harry seems to love him, but I just can’t see why. Despite the fact people slag off the likes of Jenas, Crouch is the only player I have ever disagreed with the incumbant manager on so strongly. Rasiak was awful but rarely played, I can’t fathom how Crouch gets onto the pitch. With Adebayor’s arrival one can only hope the days of Crouch in a Spurs shirt are numbered.

Perhaps then, the only bright spot today was Arsenal’s demise at the hands of Manchester United. An 8-2 defeat at the hands of Rooney and co perhaps giving hope that we can indeed finish above the boys from Woolwich.

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 6
No clangers, but did little of note to keep City at bay. Poor distribution is Friedel’s real downfall.

Vedran Corluka 5
Was beaten all ends up a couple of times and looked slow, but was one of the few looking to attack towards the end.

Michael Dawson 5.5
Dawson struggled to handle the trickery and power of Aguero and Dzeko.

Younès Kaboul 6
Also struggled to handle the City attack but got his goal and kept working.

Benoît Assou-Ekotto 7
Cool as a cucumber.

Aaron Lennon 4.5
Harry needs to show Lennon he can’t assume he’ll start regardless. No matter what is going on with David Bentley, it’s time to give the lad a go, for the sake of the team. Lennon went off injured.

Luka Modrić 5.5
It was clear Harry subbed him to ‘protect’ him. Didn’t look happy on his way off, the question is whether selling him or keeping him is the best thing for THFC, I don’t know the answer to this one, but I do know I want the transfer window shut as soon as possible.

Niko Kranjčar 6
A good player but out of his depth in the centre of midfield with no protection. Still looks unfit and lacking drive. So many times though he waited, unmarked on the edge of the area of corners whilst Rafa hit the first man and had he been spotted might have had a goal.

Gareth Bale 5.5
Looked dis-interested or unfit. Considering his athleticism, Bale looked a shadow of his previous self. He may still be shaken from the brutal attack on his ankle from Charlie Adam at the tail end of last season and fearing another injury; no excuse for his lack of movement though.

Rafael van der Vaart 7
Still one of the few showing drive and passion. Had the Modric situation been different Rafa may have been the one who got subbed in order to protect him from injury in a game already lost. Hopefully he will not be out for long.

Peter Crouch 3
If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything. It may be a bit late for that, but I have nothing more to add here.

Sub ’46: Tom Huddlestone 6
Replaced Kranjčar, Tommy looks fitter than I have seen him before, but lacks a little bit of touch and match fitness.

Sub ’53: Jermain Defoe  6
Replaced Lennon, without an orthodox right winger on the bench and lagging behind Harry opted for a striker to try and make the difference. Defoe’s ability to actually shoot showed what a waste of space Crouch is up front, who barely ever kicks the ball in the direction of the goal.

Sub ’66: Jake Livermore 7 (mom)
Replaced Modric, Jake came on and for a short while had an impact and got the team going, he looked like he might bring a reaction, but ultimately it was already too late.

Referee

Phil Dowd gave a couple of poor decisions and generally didn’t appear willing to make the tough calls. 5

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Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City: Preview

27 Aug

Barclays Premier League
Date: 28 August 2011 Kick-off: 13:30
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)

This, already, is one of the biggest games of our season, following probably one of the most pointless against Hearts. Last week I was talking about our first game of the season against United, the most difficult game of the season away at Old Trafford. Since then we have signed two players, neither of which will play and watched our kids get held by Hearts. Now, with Manchester’s other club, coming to visit White Hart Lane and with no points on the board yet, it is now we will see what the boys from White Hart Lane are really made of.

A draw might just be the most likely result

Manchester City have really taken the concept of buying success to another level. The only team in the Premiership era to be relegated to the third tier of English Football and make their way up, the transformation at Manchester City has been one of the most dramatic ever witnessed. Roman Abramovic pumped his millions into Chelsea, but with the club already blessed with the likes of Zola and Hasselbaink the plastic West London club already had some presence, despite being on the cusp of a dramatic financial meltdown. However, City are a club which has won nothing for years until last season’s FA Cup triumph and the fact they now have one of the most expensively assembled and, admittedly, talented sides in the world is a reflection of the determination of a bunch of rich Arabians to prove that not only can you edit a team in Football Manager and give them untold wealth, but you can do so in real life too. I’d venture a guess that victory under such circumstances is equally hollow either way.

Last season we played this fixture on the first day of the season. Having done the double over City the previous season, despite their spending, this was seen as a winnable game. We outplayed Mercinary Manchester City comprehensively, but were pinned back to a 0-0 draw. It was generally seen as disappointing, despite the fact City not only went on to break into the top 4 themselves, they managed to snatch 3rd place from Arsenal.

This time around there is Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko and countless other players purchased over the last 12 months for an extortionate amount of money; presenting a very new challenge. However, we are at home and that counts for a lot, even against the best of teams.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

This game is important for both clubs, but I said it last week and I’ll say it now, no game is more important than this one. In many ways, no game is more important than the next one, but given each clubs’ stature, recent history and squad, this will be a major litmus test for both. City, or more importantly Man-kini, will give some clues as to whether they are willing or able to go away from home to a top side and play the time of attacking game they’ve shown this season. For Spurs it’s a chance to have a strong start at White Hart Lane and lay down a marker for the rest of the season.

Stuff I think about City

So, I do have some thoughts about City and, surprisingly, they aren’t *all* about the money.

My general views…

  • Why didn’t Carlos Tevez cut his hair off sooner? Admittedly he still looks like a Gremlin, but maybe about 10% less now.
  • Why does every player go there feel the need to say ‘it’s not about the money’? Lets be sensible, if your current club was willing and able to pay the money City offered, you’d probably stay. Whether it’s about the 6 figure weekly salary they are paying you, or the one they are using to lure someone else, it’s always about the fucking money you bunch of self serving, arrogant, deluded, hypocritical pricks.
  • What the fuck are those three stars still doing above their badge? How small time that you decide to have stars, commonly used in football to denote past glory, above your badge because they look cool. Get rid of them or you will always be small time.
  • How many strikers do you really need? When you had Santa Cruz and Jo you still wanted Tevez, now you have Tevez that doesn’t stop you signing Sergio Aguero. It’s not Pokemons, you do not need to catch them all.
  • Why, when I hate you so much, think everything about the club is plastic, hate your often not-sold-out stadium and the new Man City fans springing up, do you have to have the most classy looking shirts in the league? It just isn’t fair.
  • It was easy to hate Chelsea when they were the money-bags club, because their football was almost robotic. If the Italian male-one-piece-swimming-costume you have for a manager continues to have you playing the same brand of attacking football all season I might actually enjoy watching City. I don’t want to have to burn my eyes out with acid, please can you be boring again?
  • Adam Johnson. If you aren’t going to play him, can we has him? Pleeeease?

Spurs’ Team News

 

I think we can expect to see Friedel back in goal, Modrić also looks set to play, which is great news if he is willing to give it 100%. Is it too much to wish to see him put away his first hat-trick and kiss the badge before shitting on a Chelsea shirt? Yup, I thought so. Kyle Walker is back from his illness too, which means we could well see him start at Right Back in an effort to combat City’s speedy attackers.

Adebadger

Adebadger: Not eligible to play

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

Adebadger will be unavailable against the club who ultimately own him.

No mention of Bentley or Giovani, but again, I can’t see them playing.

Man City’s Team News

Injuries: Nigel De Jong.

Samir Nasri might well make his debut, but through the rest of your side, just take your pick. Any combination of Balotelli, Aguero, Dzeko, Tevez, Silva, Nasri, Johnson, Bellamy (lol, ok, I know, perhaps not, but he’s still there) could make up their attack. Thank god De Jong won’t be out to maim or kill Gareth Bale though.

Prediction

The reality is, which this is a game we can win City are strong, confident and have not played mid-week. You have to fancy a goal or two from their attack, although with Lescott still in their defence, you have to consider this area the most suspect area and hope that the Spurs strike-force can conjure something, especially if Modric fancies showing he’s a big boy. I’m going to go for 2-2, but in reality it could go either way.

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