Tag Archives: Aaron Lennon

Lennon or Walcott? Fabio, Johnson was the wrong man!

Sometimes there are things I find difficult to understand. Such as why did Fabio Capello feel the need to say that he should have taken Walcott over Lennon to last summer’s World Cup? And why now after all this time?

But having made the statement I think he has got it wrong. I’m not going to tell you that Lennon had a great tournament as I don’t think he did but how can the Manager justify that another player would have faired any better?

In England’s first match against USA I thought Glen Johnson was a nuisance. Having had a very good season Lennon consistently received the ball from Johnson with his back to goal and a defender sitting tight. Quite how Lennon was supposed to turn from this position and break out I’m not sure so the ball back was the only option. 

Johnson’s attacking urges then allowed him to burst away more often than not and when we did not have the ball he was left ambling back. It continued into the second game and Lennon was substituted and by this point I did not want to see him play anymore as he could only get slated for not being given the ball earlier enough.

So I ask myself does Walcott like the ball into space as Lennon does and if he does then how well would he link up with Glen Johnson?

I’m sorry Fabio Glen Johnson was your problem on the right not Lennon or Walcott.  

Lively Lennon’s late strike leaves us lifeline. Newcastle United 1 Spurs 1

I was reminded of the 1961 cup final yesterday when watching Spurs game at Newcastle. In that game the Leicester player Chalmers got injured and played like a passenger on the wing for the remainder of the game as no substitutes were allowed. Yesterday Bale, having dropped to full back, suffered a recurrence of the back injury which forced him off at Everton and Bassong came on to replace him. It was a tough ask for Bassong to handle, particularly with Corluka on the bench, and I thought he looked out of his depth for most of the first half, much like Chalmers.

Not his fault but with Gallas playing well on the deck but not winning much in the air should he not have shifted to left back allowing Bassong to come into a role in which he has done well? Bale’s injury was in the first 10 minutes so it would have put the entire pre match planning to waste but it made any penetration down the left very difficult. 

Bassong did his best but to ask a centre back to actively participate in an unfamiliar role with the quality of player around him was putting substantial pressure upon him. May it be no surprise that our offensive play improved when we went 3-5-2 late in the second half in an effort to get back into the game.

I’ve written before about 3-5-2 (“Question for Harry, Might we go 3 at the back?” and “What do we do now, Formation, formation , formation”) and been shouted down yet after being forced into it we held onto the ball and put Newcastle onto the back foot. It was needed for after controlling the first half, without reward for our possession, we had gone behind as Newcastle re-established themselves through a defensive mistake. Worse still Newcastle had chances to add to their lead and Cudicini, in for the injured Gomes, was forced into action and made some decent saves.

At the point of the switch Harry, for the second week running, withdrew the defensive midfielder and threw caution to the wind. Lennon was switched to the left flank and Hutton put into a wingback role with Modric, Van Der Vaart and Pienaar in central roles behind Crouch and Defoe. It was certainly risky but we needed to get back into the game. 

Whilst Lennon may not have fancied going out left he took to the role well and continued with the lively performance he had put in on the right during the first half. Like many in the side his strength when tracking back is more noticeable and his tackling skills have improved. He beat his man on a couple of occasions and was unfortunate when a Newcastle heel deflected away a low cross that could well have produced an opener.

His goal was well taken. Having taken the ball he cut inside before unleashing a perfect shot that Harper was unable to stop. His complaints to the two defenders about forcing Aaron away from goal were too late but it was a great individual goal of the sort that he has been scoring this season. The fact that it was solo goal was not a surprise based upon the previous 90 minutes of play. 

Newcastle was determined in defence and had men back to thwart us for most of the match. With Rafa often deep we were outnumbered and decent opportunities were few and far between. Pienaar had a shot that sailed over the bar which should have forced a save and Defoe tried hard to make opportunities for himself every time the ball arrived at his feet. 

Some were close but passing still looks a skill that is alien to him when the team breaks together and others may be in better position. Unfortunately the chance to break the deadlock just before half time whilst producing a great save from Harper should really have gone in and maybe that would have produced a different points haul.

Having said that we had survived some difficult first half moments ourselves. After weeks of worry with Gomes, Cudicini made an awful effort at a cross from the left and the ball should have ended up in our net. Similarly a Dawson attempted headed clearance lacked power and fell to Ameobi who fired wide when he maybe had more time.       

As predicted Jenas received some stick from the home fans but played well pushing forward on occasions and Modric was difficult to dispossess once again. His edge of the box shot which smashed into the bar would have been great reward for his recent performances but it was not to be. 

Hutton had some decent moments but should have done better with the cross that led to Newcastle’s goal but Coloccini took it like a striker rather than a defender. Dawson’s passing was strong but he was caught on a couple of occasions. His sliding effort to intercept Barton’s perfect pass can be overlooked but he was nearly undone by Ranger and allowed Ameobi a free header from a corner whilst we were one down.

So how was Pienaar? After a quiet start he settled in and linked well with his new colleagues. Our style is different to Everton so having got used to Bale’s pace on the left it was noticeable that he was keener to cut back and come inside. Near the end of the game he was substituted suffering from cramp and replaced by Kranjcar who now seems surplus to requirements.

Interestingly there was no Pav on the bench so maybe he was dropped off on Wearside. Today’s transfer rumours suggest he may now want away but our problem may be to recover the fee paid for him – unless a target makes us get reasonable to replace him on the squad.  

So 3-5-2 sees us secure a point in injury time but will it be deployed s a regular fixture. I doubt it but we may see it again if there is a game to chase.

“We’ll ‘Azza Go” Tottenham Hotspur 2 Liverpool 1

Liverpool must be getting sick of this. Two years ago they came dominated and lost. This time they came played well for 45 minutes, wasted chances and then conceded a late goal to lose the game. 

We helped them. Our radar was off in the first half and we conceded possession. Wilson’s was broken or simply not in place. We also lost Rafa and Younes to injury which forced us to change it about from the 4-5-1 to 4-4-2. Despite that we had some decent moments. Lennon got in around the back on a number of occasions, Rafa looked lively until he pulled up and Defoe had a shot cleared off the line when from Block 53 at the Paxton Road end it looked in all the way. 

Liverpool went in 1 up from a cleverly worked move when Skrtel slipped Crouch and finally powered a shot into our net after his initial header rebounded off one of his colleagues. It should have been 2. Gomes made a decent save and Maxi made a clown of himself falling over when it was easier to get a shot off and Torres was foiled by Bassong who had come on to replace Kaboul.

Thankfully he was more prepared for the marking job needed to do once he entered the field of play but as at Anfield last year took an eternity to get ready to get onto it. Harry needs to write him a list. He came on defended a corner and then tied his laces in the six yard box. When the ball went out at the other end he returned to the bench for a pair of gloves. Requests for a hat and scarf were unfounded – those were in Mido’s days!

Liverpool too suffered the same fate when Carragher was forced to go off and got the bird when he slowed down to allow Kyrgiakos further time whilst protecting the draw. I’m no fan of Carragher, in my opinion he’s often a thug early in the game, but he looked to have dislocated his shoulder as soon as the incident took place. He didn’t, therefore, deserve the bird when he was down in the penalty area taking treatment to determine the problem. Yes we wanted to get on with the game but have a heart lads and lasses.

What does Harry say at half time? Keith Burkinshaw was good but this is astonishing. Quite what he could say to Wilson without destroying him completely is beyond me. Bill Nick used to tell Gillie what colour we are playing in just before the off to remind him not to give the ball away but we’ve never played in red and Wilson knew that as he won the ball well a number of times.

In the second half he improved but playing in the centre the ball goes through him an awful lot. Whilst he is a better tackler than most at the club his distribution looks ungainly and is often clumsy. I like his ball winning but his distribution can totally frustrate. This was one of those days. 

It was a surprise to me that Defoe did not start but it gave us Lennon and Van Der Vaart. He came on after 10 minutes and was substituted at the death so Harry clearly feels he is not yet ready for 90 minutes. His performance included some decent runs, a number of shots from acute angles and the goal line clearance from Carragher. He also stepped up to take the penalty and like Pav before him pushed it wide of the goal.

What is it with Spurs and penalties? In truth I thought it a lucky award as the wall seemed to be outside the box but we should have put it away. As I reported against Blackburn the protests delayed the kick but I would still expect JD to hit the target. It might be be saved for JD does miss them but not normally the goal.

It’s an area in which we need to improve as is some of the 50/50 balls where we need to be a bit more lively rather than watching possession taken away from us. 

My preview suggested the game to be decided on the match up between Bale and Johnson. In essence Johnson was not knocked out but Bale did get in four or five efforts from the left wing. He would have had more but there were often 3 men on him leaving space over on the right for Lennon and Hutton to plunder. He also managed to have a great shot cleared off the line when he came inside.

And so Lennon and Hutton impressed with Modric playing an important role as we fought back and took the game to Liverpool. Modric’s run that produced the equaliser, courtesy of an own goal from Skrtel, was quite brilliant and after building up some pressure it was a welcome reward. From there it was push on to win the game.

Yet Liverpool still had second half chances. Torres went on a long run but was kept away from goal by Bassong and did not get a shot off. Excellent defending from Spurs for whom Gallas also had another superb day. The man is back to his best form and we’re all behind Billy now – I hope!

As the end of the game approached we had to be careful to see it out professionally whilst going for the win. Chances were appearing and with a minute to go Crouch headed across goal for Lennon to touch on and Defoe to put it in the net. Only for it to be offside – and probably Palacios as well who had also belted into the area. Our chance gone? No for soon after Lennon was able to break at pace, got free and calmly slotted home the winner.

Even more he had a further mazy run across the field before a cross come shot which it looked like Luka could have slid in to give me my 3-1! I was pleased for Aaron. He had a decent night on Wednesday and followed that with some real opportunities today. Some of his runs today were at electric pace and his goal showed that he did know what to do after running out of ideas/room on a similar run in the first half.

So it was a terrific game today – unless you support Liverpool. But they played their part in an excellent game which could have gone either way. Having suffered for years at the hands of the top 4 we are now dealing with them at White Hart Lane and competing better with them away.

He may not have been a top top player but as a Manager Harry Redknapp is close to sensational. What a motivator he is and long may it continue. England will call but Harry, let’s face it, you want to work with players every day and you won’t get a better bunch than these too easily.