Tag Archives: Birmingham City

Don’t leave it too late! Spurs 2 Birmingham City 1

White Hart Lane is not a ground to get relegated at particularly if you are dressed as a banana. It is great to get into the party spirit but when some of the away fans look like items from Andy’s toy box in Toy Story it is hard to accept they took seriously that relegation was a real risk. 

The team, however, were quite different with Curtis Davis playing a prominent role in central defence as another typical afternoon full of chances turned into victory with practically the last kick of the match. That shot from Pav was deflected into the net off the after an excellent opening goal from him and a resounding return in the form of a Craig Gardiner volley.

Pav had come on to replace the injured Crouch and in typical fashion produces one of his moments of brilliance to open the scoring. I doubt it will be enough to save him that opportunity exists if the Chairman sets his price too high. 

Once again our stats show us to be significantly superior in attack 22 attempts against 7 but unable to convert chances. Birmingham had a lot of say in that with a strong rearguard performance but typically for the lowest scorer in the Division not a lot at the other end of the field. 

This wasn’t a poor performance but it wasn’t a dynamic one either. Ledley King played back to back for the first time since the end of last season and kept Birmingham under control with the aid of Michael Dawson. Danny Rose continued and looked our best player from the start of the game and takes from my mind the need to buy another left back. 

In midfield Sandro continued to shine pushing forward more with Huddlestone’s inclusion and making the keeper make two decent saves in the first half. Tommy’s return pushed Luka out left in the line up but he orchestrated things from a central position as he has all season keeping our play moving and deservedly picked up the player of the season award after the game. 

Out right Lennon showed some pace and was twice tackled perfectly by Davies when he was likely to score or set up a goal had he beaten the challenge.

So at the final whistle we had secured fifth place and an automatice entry into the Europa League and as a result the players holiday plans remain in tact. In truth it allows the pre season tour to go ahead as planned and Management to get their heads together deciding upon player trading in an effort to build up the squad.

Sunday showed how close the league is at the foot of the table with Wigan and Wolves escaping at the death. Whilst these teams have stumbled through the season the points they have taken have also proved costly for those at the top. 

As it stands today United and Chelsea look stronger than the rest and City, Arsenal, Liverpool and ourselves capable of beating everybody yet capable of a silly slip up here and there. With our new found belief against these opponents having won points at both Arsenal and Anfield I think we can challenge for third place next season as long as we add the real deal in terms of goal threat and maybe some consistency between the posts. 

Having said this it remains to be seen what damage City’s riches will do in this the last year of outrageous spending and with Liverpool also maybe having deep pockets we may need to change more players than we expect as at today’s date. 

Despite a disappointing 2011 this has been a satisfying season. Yes it has had moments to be rightly disappointed about but overall much more good  moments than bad. There are times when Harry “bigs” it up too much but he has much to be pleased about.

Those of us Spurs fans who are getting longer in the tooth will recognise that traditionally we have been more about being a cup side than mounting a consistent run to mount a season long challenge. When we’ve been good this year by golly we’ve been good but on the road we’ve still excelled at being bad on occasions. I fancy next year Sandro might have a bit more to say about that!

Good finish essential: Tottenham V Birmingham preview

Assuming that the World hasn’t come to an end by 16.00 tomorrow Spurs will take on Birmingham City at White Hart Lane to determine whether we will finish fifth or Birmingham get relegated. After last weeks excellent performance this should be a home win but as we’ve seen many times this season it is difficult to predict results.

What we really did not need is a side fighting for its Premier League survival with a European place at stake. Irrespective of whether we want the Europa League or not we should always be aiming to win our home games and final league table positions prize money is at stake.

Last weekend we saw some dismal laps of honour following difficult results and we need to make sure our own circumstances are different. We should be able to do that but we have had trouble with Birmingham before when Larsson lashed in a winner from distance on Alex McLeish’s first game in charge.

Their form is reminiscent of our own after winning the Carling Cup. We put in some dreadful performances and whilst I cannot speak for Birmingham they have not collected the points haul they would have expected since their big day. Yet they are in the Europa League and no doubt delighted to be there.

For us it represents an element of disappointment after this season’s Champions League yet when we won the Carling Cup we were delighted to make Europe. We certainly have the squad to get through the group stages and after this season’s exploits should see it as a competition we can win. But without a win we are not assured of qualification.

I’ve seen a tweet from Rafa suggesting that he will not be fit for this match and that may mean a lack of goal threat. During the week Jermain Defoe has been bleating in the press about his lack of playing time and suggesting he might look elsewhere. This was countered by Harry suggesting that his form has not been good enough. Harry is right, its great to work hard and look good in training but it is on the big stage where it counts.

To be fair to JD he did get injured when he was flying at the beginning of the season and has struggled to fit in since. I think we need him next year and if Rafa is unfit he must get the nod for tomorrows game ahead of Pav who I fancy has started his last game for Spurs.

I was delighted to read that Benny is fit to play; not because Danny Rose has done anything wrong (he hasn’t) but because he has had such a good season culminating in him picking up a supporters club award today. He deserves to be fit to take the warm reception that is due to him for he has done enough to win over even the biggest sceptic this term.

Also winners were Luka Modric – player of the season – and Gareth Bale – best goal away at Stoke – and Luka will lead the midfield once more tomorrow. I fancy a partnership with Sandro in central midfield with Luka pushing forward and the young Brazilian holding the line. From there Lennon will play on the right maybe ahead of Alan Hutton who is also fit again. That might just be to remind other teams who have forgotten Alan following his injury.

Whether Ledley will be fit enough to continue at centre back remains to be seen but if he is not it is more likely to be the groin rather than the knee to keep him out. Billy Gallas has also recovered and may partner Michael Dawson at the back in front of Carlo Cudicini who must continue after two decent performances. There is also an outside chance that Woodgate might make the bench having returned to training last week.

The question is who plays out left. For me I would start Niko Kranjcar but I would expect Harry to go with Steven Pienaar if he is available. He is carrying a groin injury so Niko could play and might even score in his last appearance leaving us typically dumfounded by transfer movements once more.

So to a team for this final match of the 2010/11 season:

                            Cuducini
       Hutton   Gallas     Dawson     Ekotto
Lennon       Sandro     Modric        Kranjcar
                 Defoe              Crouch

Prediction: Like other grounds around the league this is a cup final type game with an early goal only encouraging the opponents on. I am hopeful that we come out unscathed with a 2-0 victory.

Everything but the win! Birmingham 1 Tottenham 1

Draws fall into two categories. A point won or two points lost. This point has to be in the latter category such was our domination for over an hour in this match. Such was our upper hand that a neutral watcher might have thought Spurs were the home team.

So what went wrong? The introduction of Zigic certainly did not help our cause as it added a threat up front. Previously they had used Fahey as an extra man on Bale which had left Jerome up front on his own and a no contest against Gallas and Bassong who both played well. 

Games must be difficult for Mrs Gomes to watch. At the best of times he can go down quite easily and yesterday was the second time this season that the trainer has been on to examine his groin area. Against the Young Boys he picked up a groin injury and was lying on the ground with his legs in the air trainer over him deep in examination. 

Yesterday he took a shot from Ridgewell in the “stone heap” and needed a break before continuing. Whilst these injuries are legitimate I question their effect upon teammates. Against Young Boys the crowd were unsupportive so who knows what his colleagues think – let alone Mrs Gomes! 

The Birmingham goal came right after this injury break. Had we lost concentration? Possibly but had we put our chances away it would not have mattered. Both Crouch and Defoe had opportunities in front of goal but a lack of control and desire to get it on the right foot allowed them slip away. They also had options and took decisions that proved to be the wrong one. 

Birmingham also had plenty in defence so space in their box was at a premium meaning that the extra touch was not often available. But for the England international strike force such a thing should not be insurmountable. Apart from that both played well though we maybe would prefer a poor performance and a couple of goals. That’s often what Pav provides.

Whilst the result was a disappointment the performance certainly was not. Lennon got at his man all afternoon linking well with Hutton and getting round behind the Birmingham back four on a number of occasions and had a one two come off with Defoe he might have crowned the move with a goal.

Modric also had a busy afternoon involved with everything, making himself available for Wilson and linking well with all of his colleagues. Without Van Der Vaart someone needs to run the midfield and he did it well all afternoon. 

Bale had a quieter game but still delivered the free kick for Bassong’s opener and a number of crosses having beaten off the threat of Steve Carr with ease. The free kick was interesting. Gallas, who is proving to be more than a decent skipper, ran over to offer advice and a killer ball to the back post ensued. Crouch’s header was dealt with poorly by Foster and the ball fell for Seb to turn and crash into the net. 

Bale also linked well with Ekotto who was solid once again and delivered some decent crosses into their box. That leaves Wilson who I felt held the key to our victory. He was more reliable and better in the pass than against Liverpool but still failed to win some of the 50/50 balls that came his way and got a booking for over reaction to a kick in the back. 

That was an unnecessary booking and Hutton was lucky to escape an unnecessary red in injury time for a reaction against Murphy after a tackle from behind. Having worked hard to secure his place in the side a suspension is the last thing he needs.

So Birmingham’s solid home record continues but it was in the palm of our hand for a long period. It is games like these that determine whether Harry’s title claims are founded or not. Yesterday his players let him down in that respect but as G says sometimes a point is a good result. I think we’re waiting till after we play Birmingham in our last home game to decide if it is or not.