Tag Archives: Report

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

320

Advertisements

Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 1 Shamrock Rovers: Match Report

30 Sep

I have a confession to make… I didn’t watch the game live. I had somewhere else to be last night and to be honest, that was more important. No, I’m not telling you what I was doing and yes, it is probably what you think it was. However, what I did do, was go the long way, stop off at home and set my TV to record the football, with the intention of watching the game after I got home. What I didn’t anticipate was not getting home until 2am. However, Being the dedicated fan and blogger that I am, I watched it, from start to finish, including some of the build up and eventually I switched off my TV at 4am; safe in the knowledge I’d be able to write all about it. As it happens, only managing 3 hours of sleep and working through most of lunch tends to mean that your ability to write anything is seriously impinged upon. The quality isn’t great as it is, let alone writing whilst having to find that careful balance between a caffeine high and sleeping.

So, following my recent trend of including stupid footballing clichés, here’s your latest one… it’s probably more of a quote really, but never mind… ‘Football, it’s a funny old game’.

I have to admit, in many ways, the game went as I expected. The score-line wasn’t far off my own prediction, although it did take a Shamrock goal to inject a real sense of purpose. What I was surprised by, though, was the quality in our starting lineup and more notably, the quality of our play. Pav and Defoe upfront is a first team combination, even if it is not currently first choice. Aaron Lennon is admittedly making his way back from injury, but Kyle Walker was also again playing at Right Back.

Giovani, is a player with many critics, many of the Spurs fans who have yet to see him make a serious contribution at Spurs. I have managed to avoid judging him too harshly, but I will admit that I would have had no major regrets if we sold him either. I don’t know if he’s sorted out the problems that made Harry seem so reluctant to keep him, or if, in the absence of anyone else Harry is using him in the same way as Alan Hutton (i.e. when he has to). Regardless, tonight I thought he was excellent and a major aspect of our overall performance. In terms of the good sides to his play, he was quick and incisive and willing to take people on. Perhaps the more negative side is that with players like Kyle Walker often on the overlap, instead of laying the ball off, he would take it on himself, usually running infield. Still, he created the first with an excellent cross to Pav and smashed home the second following selfless build-up play from Jermain Defoe.

Overall we were quick, we looked driven and up for it and most importantly we scored the required goals. They didn’t come as the result of any particularly inspired play (except perhaps Gio’s) but as a result of Spurs making the most of the notable gulf in class, which is interesting given that the rest of the game seemed to involve much toil from Spurs and a disappointing end product.

Although the first half ended 0-0, Spurs definitely had the better of the chances, which included Defoe hitting the bar with a powerful effort. In reality, it was an excellent save from Rovers’ inspired keeper, who deserved the man of the match award for his efforts (I know not if he received it). That moment, like so many others was spoiled by the woeful commentary, which I can’t avoid mentioning. Graham Taylor, the expert ‘summariser’ or co-commentator immediately said, after Defoe’s shot is clearly deflected/saved by the keeper, ‘I think the keeper might just have got a touch on that’. 4 blatantly obvious replays and with Graham Taylor finally saying ‘I definitely think he got a touch on that’ I was ready to throw the TV out of the window. YOU THINK GRAHAM? YOU THINK HE GOT A TOUCH ON IT, DO YOU? Thanks for that, you blind, senile, imbecile.

Shamrock Rovers got their fairytale first goal and for 10 minutes they led the game. Finally, Spurs decided to stop trying to score and stuck it in the net 3 times over the space of 5 minutes, as far as Shamrock were concerned the game was done and dusted. Thankfully, for the fans at least, neither team stopped trying.

Of the younger lads, all performed well. Tom Carroll looked fantastic for the first 20 mins, playing incisive balls and keeping it simple when he had to. I don’t know if he started to flag, or if he got a bit too comfortable, but a few passes did start to go astray after that, but it’s clear that having heard very little about him until now, Tom Carroll is a major prospect. Danny Rose played at left back, making a recovery from injury and once again proved that he has a good career ahead of him and is actually a little unlucky to have to play understudy with Benny ahead of him. I also got my first glimpse of Yago Falque, who had some good touches and set up Pav for a half volly that should have led to our 4th. I don’t think he’s ready for the Premier League or anything like that yet, but there’s definitely promise there. Jake Livermore had another solid, but unspectacular game, which is no bad thing given what is required of him and the position he occupies.

Overall then, a decent if predictable result, with the high-point being the energy Spurs put in from start to finish, something I really think we’ve lacked in other games after going ahead, particularly when we think we’ve are already won.

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Carlo Cudicini 7.5
You could argue that the Shamrock goal came as a result of Cudicini choosing to keep the ball in play with his save. I think that’s harsh and he got a good punch/save out of the box. He got down to the shot coming back in, beaten by a last second deflection.

Kyle Walker 8
Got forward and made a real difference to the attacks, looks like a right sided Ashley Cole and without meaning to go over the same ground, with some work on the defensive side of his game, could be a ‘top top player’.

Vedran Ćorluka 7.5
There can be no denying that Charlie looks slow on occasion and we saw that again against Shamrock. He’s an accomplished defender and Luka’s best friend, Harry seems to like him too, shifting Hutton on, despite preferring him for large parts of last season. A great back-up option both at Right Back and Centre Half.

Sebastien Bassong 7
Seb has been unlucky, missing out largely due to Gallas’ arrival last season. His form has dipped as a result, there can be no doubt, but there is a defender in there and if Harry can keep him happy enough then I am glad we still have him. Didn’t have to do much last night, but didn’t do much wrong either.

Danny Rose 8
It’s great to have Danny back from injury. He suffered from a heavy challenge and coupled with a lack of match fitness he went off towards the end, but he looked lively and defended well.

Aaron Lennon 6
Something seems to have happened to Azza’s confidence and he just doesn’t run at players anymore. I don’t know if he’s lost a yard, if it’s the positions he’s taking up or the way players mark him, but he just doesn’t seem to be the threat he once was. It always seems that it takes him a while to get back into the swing of things after injuries, which are increasingly frequent, maybe he’s been rushed back one too many times, but I am becoming increasingly concened that he’ll never be the same player again. Maybe he needs to watch a few videos of his old self and see what it was he used to do.

Jake Livermore 7.5
Didn’t stand out, either for good or bad reasons. Tidy, but still has a number of aspects of his game to improve on. One of those players who could go on to be at Spurs for years, or ending up somewhere like Wigan. If he keeps plugging away, working on his game and getting experience in the first team, there’s no reason it can’t be the former.

Tom Carroll 7.5
Tommy started out really really well, I had half a thought of ‘why not throw him in against Arsenal’. It’s too soon for that and there were a few little mistakes, but the world is at his feet, if he works and doesn’t believe the hype he could be the next Gerrard or Lampard for England, or even Englands next Luka Modric. He just needs to get stronger and make sure to iron out the little flaws.

Giovani Dos Santos 8.5 (mom)
I’d just love Gio to make it, I don’t know why, maybe he’s a lovable rogue, but he’s got so much ability, he just needs to apply it. In this game we saw what he can do, lets just see it against better opposition on a consitant basis and he could be a world beater. It’s a big ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ at the moment though.

Roman Pavlyuchenko 7
Pav did ok and looked like he was having a focussed day. He had a couple of chances, but got his goal and hopefully will keep putting in the effort to play a regular role.

Jermain Defoe 8
Scored with a header, but more importantly, put in the mileage for Gio’s goal without selfishly blasting it himself. Hopefully we’ll see plenty of him against Arsenal, I fancy him for a goal or two.

Sub ’46: Andros Townsend 7.5
Replaced Lennon: Added a great deal to the side. Put in some good balls and showed trickery. Shamrock may be more at his level than some other opposition, but showed more promise than I’ve seen from him before. Also did well when moved back to Left Back.

Sub ’73: Yago Falque 7
Replaced Defoe: Good to see him get a chance, but still raw.

Sub ’80: Harry Kane 6.5
Replaced Rose: I like Harry, but he had no time to shine or real goalscoring opportunities.

Referee

Gediminas Mazeika. It’s rare I say this, but I do feel I have a balanced view. I feel like the referee was biased in our favour in this game and we definitely got the decisions. We don’t need that kind of help and it was a little harsh on Shamrock, but they were half a step behind meaning they did give away a fair few legitimate fouls. The linesman also looked extremely ill. 7.5

1,836

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

1,360

Stoke City 0 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur: Match Report

21 Sep

So, obviously I didn’t see the game, but having heard it on the radio, I’m not too upset about that fact.

Clearly then there is little point in trying to go over the details of a game I could only listen to, however, there are a few impressions that I was left with.

  • Pav. How frustrating is this man? His form, like his desire to stay at Spurs seems to change like the wind. He rarely makes a huge impact on games, but even when he’s quiet he can get on the score sheet, usually with a spectacular effort. Away at Young Boys last year springs to mind immediately. However, it seems that in this game he was absolutely abject, rounding off his performance with a ridiculous skied effort in the penalty shoot-out, leaving far less experienced takers having to step up and accept responsibility. Now, let’s be clear, I don’t blame Pav for the miss; anyone that steps up in a penalty shootout, even in the Carling Cup 3rd round deserves respect. However, it seems that the appalling miss was symptomatic of his entire night. I wouldn’t be surprised if Harry is now only keeping him to maintain the numbers up front; although it is worth noting that (I think) the Russian transfer window is still open. £10m+ would be more than enough to convince me into selling and promoting Harry Kane to 4th striker (if you include Rafa in those numbers).

  • The academy boys…Starting with Tom Carroll. It sounds like he was excellent in this game. I have to admit, when I saw him against Hearts, I thought he looked far too young to be playing first team footie. Shame on me, as a short guy with a baby face, I’ve had the same snap judgements made about me and they are invariably wrong.We’ve heard so much in the past about John Bostock and Dean Parrett, ‘big money’ academy signings, although Bostock seems to have believed his hype and Parrett has suffered with injuries. Ryan Mason and Adam Smith have both made an impact in their various loans and Harry Kane scores for fun (although I am weary, because Lee Barnard broke all sorts of records for the reserves and never looked much kop for the first team). With Jake Livermore breaking through into the first team, I had almost sub-consciously decided that would be our lot for this year. However, we have an academy team which keeps performing well in youth tournaments, a group of players recognised by many as one of the best we’ve had in some time. The academy is now a progressive set-up which recognises the poor return  over the last 10-20 years and with the changes all made over the last 5 or 6 years, now is the time we should be expecting to see a return. For me Jake Livermore is the start of that, but the likes of Tom Carroll may really be the type of player who will prove the academy’s worth.Massimo Luongo. His name sounds Italian, he was born in Australia and he plays for Tottenham Hotspur. Again, I made a bad assumption here. My thought was that with a number of our other youngsters in our UEFA ‘B’ list (see the squad list on this site for full details here), Massimo Luongo would be waiting another year for his shot. He only came on as a sub and to be honest, with us dropping out of this competition it may be another season before he sees first team action again; however, he has been roundly praised by those who watch academy games and it seems his performances have been noticed by the management. It’s a shame for him that he missed the decisive penalty, but hopefully he won’t take it to heart because it’s certainly no reflection on him as a player.Heurelho Gomes. It sounds like he had a poor game. He’s a confidence player and it’s his first game since Hearts away (often not even sitting on the bench) which says to me Harry has lost confidence in the sometimes amazing, sometimes amazingly bad ‘keeper. It comes as no surprise then that he had a few hairy moments and had to be saved on a couple of occasions. However, he kept a clean sheet, which counts for something. I have to admit though, despite being shorter in the tooth and longer in the arm than both of our other two stoppers, he looks the most likely of the three to be making his way out of White Hart Lane.

Spurs’ Team

Heurelho Gomes

Vedran Ćorluka

Younès Kaboul

Sebastien Bassong

Benoît Assou-Ekotto

Rafael van der Vaart

Jake Livermore

Sandro

Tom Carroll

Roman Pavlyuchenko

Giovani Dos Santos

Sub ’63: Jermain Defoe
Replaced van der Vaart

Sub ’71: Massimo Luongo
Replaced Sandro

Sub ’96: Andros Townsend
Replaced Giovani

So there we have it. You can find a proper match report on the BBC and whilst I am sure I haven’t told you anything you didn’t already know, sometimes it just feels good to get it down in writing!

808

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

1,664

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

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

1,890

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

1,310

Manchester United 3 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur: Match Report

23 Aug

What a disappointing result, I am loath to have to write about a game after witnessing a defeat like this, but they say that you learn more in defeat than victory, so what have we learned today? I’m not going to bash Spurs, they don’t deserve it and I’m not that kind of fan. But I am going to be honest, and some aspects of this game simply weren’t pretty.

Another away game, another TV based review. My earlier prediction (way earlier, I mentioned it in my report on the Hearts game) that Brad ‘Grandad Divey Man’ Friedel would start in goal was proved to be correct and to be fair on the balding Yank he had a good game… which is an unusual thing to say about a ‘keeper who has conceded 3 goals.

Apart from Friedel, we started with the same team that played Hearts, a show of confidence by Harry, particularly in the midfield pairing of Jake Livermore and Niko Kranjčar. The two of them looked ok in the first half, not always positionally fantastic, with Niko often caught upfield and frequently either unwilling or unable to track back. However, with the youngster Tom Cleverley and defensively minded Anderson lacking the required nous or experience to take advantage of the Spurs midfielders flaws in that position, the play was quite even. Both sides had chances, United perhaps with the better of these, but Spurs’ strategy of peppering the goal with long range shots was clear and one or two breakaways were unlucky to fail at the crucial stage, with some rustiness and a little bit of poor decision making evident. There was one occasion when Bale broke and was hacked down by Phil Jones, who had an otherwise good game. Interestingly the referee gave neither the foul, or the corner (had the referee considered the tackle clean) in a particularly interesting piece of Old Trafford refereeing. However, it was clear that De Gea was a target, Spurs’ player having assumed his confidence was broken by recent games in a United shirt, but what was also clear is that he’d spent his week working on those areas of his game and Spurs gave him some more welcome practice, with all of their long range efforts right down his throat.

When the half time whistle was blown, I had a gut feeling that we’d blown our chance to take something from this game, unfortunately I wasn’t far wrong, although my nerves were unable to die down. I can’t remember a game when Manchester United didn’t score (I can’t remember many United games at the moment given that we’re 2 weeks into the new season) but it seemed an inevitability. At the break Kyle Walker was removed from the fray with Vedran Corluka his more than capable replacement. Walker was apparently suffering from nausea throughout the day; it is telling, that he was still picked ahead of Charlie in such an important game. The second half started with United tipping the balance of play in their favour before eventually Welbeck certainly proved to me that he’s a far better striker than I’d ever given him credit for with an inch perfect header giving United the lead and leaving Friedel with no chance. With that, the game was effectively gone for Spurs.

United were renewed in confidence and vigour after their goal, with wave after wave of attack pouring down on Friedel’s goal. He made a number of smart saves but once again was powerless to resist after that man Welbeck produced a deft back-heel to slip in Anderson for the second. Rooney’s third, a thunderbolt typical of the man sealed the deal.

In between all this Spurs did carve the United defence apart at time with Lennon, van der Vaart and Bale all guilty of over-playing when more decisive action was required, Lennon was certainly the worst culprit, on one occasion driving past Evra as he once used to do on a regular basis, reaching the byline then, instead of slipping in van der Vaart or crossing, he powered it into a United player, then brought the ball down and over the goal line, not even winning a corner for his trouble. van der Vaart was the epitome of frustration, expressing the feelings that every watching fan also felt. In the end the most clear-cut of chances fell to Defoe, the ball managed to squirm across the post to him at the far post and he volleyed hitting the post like a cannon. With the game at 2-0 to United, it was clear then our Old Trafford woes were not to be abated.

I was left feeling despondent, but there were positives. our midfield stood up to United for almost an hour. We were missing our first choice midfielders of Sandro and Modrić as well as Huddlestone for much of the game, all of whom offer greater defensive nous, some attacking guile and high energy levels. Once again though, Jake Livermore, in his first real Premier League appearance (he has previously been a 90th minute substitute) proved he might just have what it takes to be a Spurs player and Niko Kranjčar that he would be an able replacement for van der Vaart when the Dutchman is unfit.

In reality, no-one goes to Old Trafford and wins, the lucky few go there and draw and Spurs will have to wait at least one more year to challenge United on this stage again.

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 8
The keeper had a fine game and one or two performances like this will seal the number 1 jersey.

Kyle Walker 7
Worked hard, despite his illness.

Michael Dawson 7
One or two slightly dodgy moments, but generally the type of performance you expect.

Younès Kaboul 8 (mom)
Man of the match in the first half, unlucky to have conceded so many. Really put in a shift and made some fantastic challenges.

Benoît Assou-Ekotto 7
Cool as a cucumber.

Aaron Lennon 5
A poor game with almost no end-product.

Jake Livermore 7
Picked up where he left off against Hearts, solid, but doubts over whether he has that extra bit of quality required to ever be a regular. Also needs to work on his positioning, particularly when we were under the cosh.

Niko Kranjčar 6
Not bad, but not great either.

Gareth Bale 7
A few decent runs, but well marshalled by the relatively inexperienced Chris Smalling at Right Back. Bale needs to learn how to contend with double marking and needs to man-up in and after challenges.

Rafael van der Vaart 7
Passionate but less incisive today. His frustration was often in evidence.

Jermain Defoe 6.5
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: Vedran Corluka 6.5
Replaced Walker, Charlie provides better link up play with Lennon than any other contender, but slower to turn than a cruise liner and about as quick in a foot race. Young got more chances with the ‘defensively minded’ Charlie playing.

Sub ’74: Tom Huddlestone 6
Replaced Kranjčar, Tommy didn’t influence the game when he arrived and if anything the removal of Livermore and Kranjčar opened up the space for United’s second goal.

Sub ’74: Roman Pavlyuchenko 6
Replaced Livermore, dropped deep too often and didn’t offer much of an attacking threat with the second goal shortly after his introduction further reducing our chance of a victory.

Referee

Lee Propert succumbed to the usual inability to give big decisions against United at home, but apart from the one odd decision generally refereed the game well. 7

1,254

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

1,131

%d bloggers like this: