Category Archives: Tottenham Hotspur Match Reports

He might have scored that! West Bromwich Albion 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1

West Brom2A first visit to the highest Premiership ground above sea level saw three more points accumulated as a result of Gareth Bales fabulous strike on the hour. But this game hinged on a moment, maybe two moments, of madness that killed off any chance West Brom had of winning this game although we did our best to give them some injury time hope by conceding a sloppy free kick! 

The first moment could be said to have taken place on Thursday night when Odemwingie took it upon himself to drive to London in a last ditch effort to get QPR to sign him. The first half of this game saw the Spurs fan reminding their counterparts at every opportunity about this incident and the irony could not have been lost on them. How they must have wished for a minibus from Wigan first game after this embarrassing incident rather than a full take up from North London.

The problem is the joke backfired upon us when Jermain Defoe turned over his ankle and limped from the field so we added that to our list of Odemwingie chants whilst making a point to the Chairman about his lack of a striker during the window.

The first half was fairly even with the better chances probably falling to West Brom. Bale forced a great save from Foster whilst Hugo was off his line sharpish on occasions to collect or clear his lines. Hugo is extremely positive in this area and also doesn’t mind getting involved in crosses. Apart from one early clearance to Walker that put us in trouble after a fat clearance from Dawson he did very well. 

Bale had a more central birth leaving Dempsey out on the left and this provided implications for the team performance. I didn’t think that Benny had a good start to the afternoon and some of that comes from having little playing time with Dempsey. He and Bale have developed a good understanding over previous seasons and I felt Benny looked uncomfortable. I accept it is early days after his injury so set up to help him rather than put doubt into his mind.

Having got used to pace on the flanks seeing someone without it seems to hamper the side and Clint doesn’t have enough to do any damage in that position. On top of that we need to consider what help a free roving Bale gives the rest of the side. His tempo is good and welcomed by Lennon and Defoe and as at Leeds Lennon provided a great cross to see Clint miss again. Not as clear cut as last week but it still looked like he might have been disappointed.

Bale2The risk is that we become a one man team and quite easy to stop. Having got us a point with a fantastic goal at Norwich Gareth again collected us the three points with another unstoppable shot. Yes he is quite brilliant and can do quite outrageous things but we need to build a team or we have a Real Madrid scenario on our hands. He can’t do it all on his own so he doesn’t chase back much and that can, particularly away from home, put us under pressure to crosses from which we have conceded goals. 

picresized_th_1360001922_Holtby FreundMany are criticising Defoe for not scoring but once again he didn’t get any ball in the right areas to capitalise upon and his injury is now a worry. I had hoped to see Holtby start after his impact at Norwich but Villas-Boas decided to keep him on the bench once again. I cannot understand what this actually does unless it is for the benefit of the man he will replace but we paid money to get him early so let’s get him on the pitch. 

What I wanted to see was if he could create some opportunities for JD to pounce upon but we will be waiting a couple of weeks to see that now. My impression of the boy was that he looks a bit special and must start from now on. After his introduction Bale took a more left flank approach and it helped Benny get some confidence. He also fizzed the ball around and kept the tempo up. 

I fancy that this is going to be a problem. The more I see of Dembele the more I think he is competing with Sandro and Parker for a place not necessarily alongside them. He can hold onto the ball but like Clint it does seem a little pedestrian. Alongside him Scott Parker looks short of his best in terms of first touch but again its early days after his injury. 

And so the other moment of madness, the red card for Popov. I had no idea the reason for it during the game but it certainly brought it crashing down on West Brom and left it being a bit of a training ground game for us thereafter. Loads of possession, the threat of Lukaku removed from the action but little end product to show for it.

As when we played at Aston Villa we won a multitude of corners yet threatened very little from any of them. I don’t think any made the MoTD2 highlights last night. Holtby took a number of them and learned that his colleagues have no clue about scoring from them. 

Can I be the only Spurs supporter who thinks that this has to change? These periods of concerted pressure mean nothing if the opponent knock it behind their goal because they know we have no chance of converting. It’s the opposite of giving Stoke a throw on. I fancy training probably finishes at around 1 o’clock latest so couldn’t the players take it upon themselves to use an hour each day to work out who takes them and what we do to attack them.

Irrespective of that we won the game in got the three points and after Chelsea’s slip up we are now only a point behind challenging for third place. I still don’t think we put enough space between ourselves and our opponents to look comfortable and see the games out well even if we have huge possession advantages and loads of poor shots to show for ourselves. 

Yesterday saw a break from a West Brom attack near the end of the game which turned into keep possession at the half way line. From there we became negative despite our crowd baying for us to stop mucking about and get a second goal. We also saw the negative Lennon substitution for Sigurdsson that gives the opponents hope for believe it or not I fancy they fear Lennon’s pace at the end of the game.

West Brom3And what of West Bromwich itself? Two miles off the M6 and then just off the turning. Parking was easy to get way from the ground so the return journey wasn’t too disastrous apart from being sent away from the stadium on the wrong side. The ground itself is nothing like you imagine it from camera angles and our view was very good. We even had a wooden floor under the stand which looked very nice indeed!   

Next week an in form freshened up Newcastle side in what promises to be a lively encounter. We may need to be at our best to overcome them. Try and remember Gazza on minute 8.                                  

This is where Andre starts to earn his money

When we were watching MoTD last night young Mac and I started constructing some stats about our performances during 2012 – annoyingly Sky got to publishing it first (but they do this for a living!) – and of course 2012 is a split period in terms of management. Consequently we then did the previous two calendar years to see how our fortunes have turned once the New Year chimes have been heard. 

Anecdotally we all know that Spurs performances in the business period of the season has been worse than the first part leaving us at best disappointed at worst totally frustrated. But how bad has it been and what does our current manager have to do to improve our situation come the end of the season? The stats for the years 2012 to 2010 are as follows:

 

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

Points

2012

             

2011/12

20

8

6

6

31

21

30

2012/13

20

11

3

6

36

26

36

 

40

19

9

12

67

47

66

2011

             

2010/11

19

7

8

4

26

23

29

2011/12

18

12

3

3

35

20

39

 

37

19

11

7

61

43

68

2010

             

2009/10

18

10

3

5

25

19

33

2010/11

19

9

6

4

29

23

33

 

37

19

9

9

54

42

66

avbAs a result of the Everton cancellation we ended up playing 40 games during 2012 and managed to win 19 drew 9 and lost 12. Interestingly the number of losses is equal at 6 for Harry and Andre but as we ground to a halt in 2011/12 Harry had double the draws with 6.

Interestingly to me we scored 36 goals in the current season which is the most of all of the periods shown and so whilst this is  good sign it does show our vulnerability in games by not capitalising on periods of advantage. It was certainly a problem last year where we missed a hatful of chances and has continued this season where I feel that the lack of a creative player has reduced the chances created making it even more important to put them away. 

In my opinion perennial top 4 qualifiers like Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal continue to be in the Champions League because of their ability to convert their chances which forces opponents open up in an effort to get back into the game allowing themselves to be hit and punished once again.

For us winning points still remains the prime objective without showing the same ruthlessness yet at the seasons end goal difference will be the key determinant as to who qualifies for which competition. Maybe that is the difference between paying £140,000 and £70,000 for the best players in Europe? Maybe not.     

Of these years 2010 is the only year in which we fared better at the end of the season against the start of it. This suggests that for us to make Champions League that Andre must get the team to a level of performance not seen for some time. Entirely possible with the talent we have but is a creative midfielder required to link all those elements together so that the back four don’t have to look for the 60 yard cross field pass. I think it is. To set out why this is take a look at the same period at White Hart Lane.

WHL

             

 

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

Points

2012

             

2011/12

11

7

2

2

22

9

23

2012/13

10

5

3

2

14

10

18

 

21

12

5

4

36

19

41

2011

             

2010/11

9

4

5

0

14

10

17

2011/12

8

6

1

1

17

8

19

 

17

10

6

1

31

18

36

2010

             

2009/10

9

7

2

0

14

4

23

2010/11

10

5

4

1

16

9

19

 

19

12

6

1

30

13

42

What we can see is that fortress White Hart Lane has diminished in terms of the defeats in 2012 and because of the flair on show for our own fans over the whole period we have become accustomed to opponents playing two banks of four with occasional counters. We must accept that teams know that if they come and attack they are likely to get beat so only Manchester United, City and Chelsea play their home game these days.

Having said that if we could win 7 home games between now and the end of the season it would provide us with a decent platform for the top 4 so it must be on the road where improvement would really count.

ROAD

             

 

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

Points

2012

             

2011/12

9

1

4

4

9

12

7

2012/13

10

6

0

4

22

16

18

 

19

7

4

8

31

28

25

2011

             

2010/11

10

3

3

4

12

13

12

2011/12

10

6

2

2

18

12

20

 

20

9

5

6

30

25

32

2010

             

2009/10

9

3

1

5

11

15

10

2010/11

9

4

2

3

13

14

14

 

18

7

3

8

24

29

24

What this shows is an improvement away from home in terms of wins though the number of defeats has increased through our inability to scratch out draw so far this term. If we don’t do better than last season between now and the end of the season its likely that there will be no Europe next season at all and this may well be the reason that the managerial change occurred.  

My gut feel is that the top sides will post the number of away wins we have recorded in the first half of the season and we therefore have to do the same. The opportunity to do so exists as teams have to attack at home and we can therefore Bale2attack on the counter exploiting our pace. To do this we need to give the ball to Bale and Lennon whilst they are on the move rather than to feet so that they can open up and use their pace to frighten. With all of the ex player support for Bale today it would seem likely that better protection will be offered by officials to Gareth in the remaining games so that may bode well.   

To date Andre has suggested that little money will be spent in the window. If that is the case we need to keep a better tempo in midfield, get the ball to the wingers in Daniel Levydangerous position and put away the chances we create. If we want to do that Ade needs to play more down the middle and work tighter with Defoe if they are both to keep playing. Whatever happens, having felt the need to make the change Daniel Levy will be watching closely to see whether Andre earns his money.

Win, draw no we’ve lost! Everton 2 Spurs 1

Goodison Wall of fameIts 262 miles back from the scrap yard car park right next to Goodison Park to Colchester but it still wasn’t far enough for us to quite understand how we lost the game. As we pulled up on the drive we concluded; this is Tottenham Hotspur and it’s the type of result we specialise in.

You can say what you want about substitutions, formations, managers and individual players we’ve seen it so many times before but have normally not waited till time added on to start throwing it away! MoTD2 was quite helpful in showing the goals in their full glory as we walked back into the house as our seats prevented Goodisonus from getting a decent view of the action. As the ball rose up in the air it disappeared from view for most of the game and for the winner a post obstructed my view of the overhead kick so all I saw was Lloris diving again and thinking “that’s that then.” 

It certainly brought the stadium to life for it had been a little lacking in atmosphere previously but of course he who laughs last laughs longest and we were put to the sword by amongst others a couple of 11 year olds at the final whistle. Earlier the biggest outpouring came following the handballs that never were – clearly not for they never made the MoTD cut. Cue an extended hand ball retort from the Spurs fans which left the locals bemused at best, confused at worst, “they’re funny folk them lot from London.”

However, if Kevin Friend had awarded a penalty for Dempsey’s arm controlling the ball no one would have been surprised and having realised his error given a more dubious appeal against Gallas we could have gone in one down at the break. The fact we didn’t was down to a controlled performance that lacked a final ball to provide a chance in front of goal for us to capitalise upon.  

In midfield Dembele and Sandro were providing our defenders with decent protection and forcing Everton to float balls over the top for the front men to chase. Too many times our offside trap caught them out and Lloris was only forced once to charge out of his goal to intercept. We were a little vulnerable again down our left flank with Mirallas putting in some decent work and as the half wore on Baines and Pienaar began linking well.

As the second half began the introduction of Naismith was welcomed for the loss of Mirallas and he immediately missed a chance from which hitting the target was the minimum requirement. Yet even though Everton tried to step it up we didn’t seem in too much difficulty and were able to clear our lines reasonably comfortably.  

Then when Dempsey chipped in from outside the box I wasn’t sure it had gone in as the net didn’t appear to ripple much. Clint was delighted as he came across to the Spurs fans and after a difficult period he is starting to look a better prospect though with Adebayor back to full fitness his starting opportunities will be more limited.

This wasn’t the greatest of days for Defoe or Lennon. Apart from a superb interception that robbed JD of a shooting chance in the first half his day was limited to a yellow card for dissent. Lennon fared better but Baines was in top form and handled him well. He made way for Tom Huddlestone who played a more central role and Sigurdsson replaced Dembele who I thought as the game wore on held onto the ball a little too long before trying to release it.

For me Gylfi has been very poor thus far and had his curling shot put the victory beyond doubt it would have been his best moment for us but do he and Tom have the physical presence on the pitch to put fear in the opposition at the end of a game? I’m not convinced by that so is anyone else? Had this game come later and Parker been fit again it might have been a different story. 

And so to the fateful 90 seconds. Those at home or with a better view said Lloris called but once more Caulker ignored him. His fluffed clearance came back and was poorly headed by an out of position Vertonghen allowing a crossing opportunity under no pressure and the arrival of Pienaar to beat Lloris at the far post. Should the keeper have saved it? Possibly but by then it was a holocaust of errors…

What followed was typical Tottenham. When a bad goal goes in it often gets followed by a second in quick succession and so it proved once more. A quick throw allowed Gibson to float a hopeful ball towards the box that gets flicked on by an overhead kick allowing Jelavic to react first and nip between Gallas and Walker to prod it home.  

So three points becomes none in a minute and irrespective of either sides performance we turned a win into a loss without trying too hard. We’ve done it before; we’ll probably do it again. We have to understand that we have no divine right to win games and that Everton, or whoever we are playing, should throw everything at us until the final whistle in an effort to win but the crowd’s reaction and that of David Moyes made it clear that they had expected a defeat.

So what positives can be drawn? Kyle Walker is starting to look the player of last season and put in a good shift and with the exception of the time added on Gallas and Caulker played well and both made important clearances. Dembele makes the midfield tick and Sandro once again had a good day in the tackle.    

One has to ask if Vertonghen gets dragged out of position away from home being either too far forward or away from the line giving our opponents too many chances to cross and I would maybe question Lloris’s instructions in the box. Did Caulker not hear or understand his call?

Lloris3What I did see during the warm up was Tony Parks and Brad warming up together with the Frenchman nowhere to be seen. When he did come out some minutes later he spoke not a word to them as he caught up his jogging and stretches until Parks spoke to him. He then smiled and joined in with the group but he does look an isolated character.  

Since his arrival there have been repeated newspaper talk particularly after an international break and one wonders whether the transfer has gone well for him. I think he will settle and become a good goalkeeper. He rushes off the line effectively and is willing to come for crosses. I not sure about his palming punches but can live with them if they don’t lead to goals.

Don’t get me wrong I am not trying to excuse Caulker and throw blame upon him, far from it but he seems maybe a quiet and reserved guy – not the sort of keeper we are used to in the English league!          

Goodison SeatsSo if you’ve not been to Goodison what would you make of it? An old stadium like ours but with much a poorer view of the game. The wooden seats reminded me of the 1970’s footage that gets shown in the opening MoTD titles but the Wall of Fame which stretched all round the ground was impressive. Finally the Christmas card inside the programme was a nice touch, it was a shame that they snatched back the present just as we were starting to unwrap it!