Tag Archives: Bolton Wanderers

Late Niko strike saves Heurelho blushes: Tottenham Hotspur 2 Bolton Wanderers 1

It was a tough afternoon at White Hart Lane against a Bolton side that put up extreme resistance and at times looked like they could take advantage and maybe win the game. But it shouldn’t have been like that after Rafael Van Der Vaart put away his second penalty in a minute only to see Mark Clattenburg ask for a retake following encroachment from Palacios and Defoe and the Bolton defence. 

The retake ended up in the crowd, much to Rafa’s annoyance having tried to repeat the spot that both previous efforts had gone into. The second was a sublime hit and certainly deserved to be a goal for its quality but rules are rules. Haven’t looked at the encroachment issue on the retake to see if Rafa could have gone again!

Had it been allowed I am not sure Bolton would not have come back but having started well and caused us problems that Gallas did well to escape from Sturridge had the type of performance that makes you ask “why is this bloke on loan?” He along with Davies and Elmander kept our back four on its toes and for a period in the second half after their goal the game looked in the balance.

Our performance was pretty good throughout with all our players contributing good things. Defoe had his best game for a long time and put away a great header, unfortunately from an offside position. However, he should have done better when he missed the goal when Pienaar teed him up in the second half. His strength was better in trying to turn and keep the move going and he only blasted the ball into a crowd of players once from recollection.  

Crouch performed well in the air, winning much and providing for others, and was the victim of a perfect challenge when he bore down on goal late in the first half. From Paxton Road I needed to see this again on Sky highlights as it looked like it got caught under his feet. Similar groans to the Everton game when it looked like a feeble shot only to discover later Distin taking it off his foot. Unfortunately a third penalty was ruled out for an offside decision against Crouch when Rafa’s perfect cross was floated in.

Lennon and Jenas both had superb runs from our own half; JJ’s finishing with a free kick from which he rattled the post with a superb effort. His run was clever as he cut inside at an angle that prevented the tackle until he was about to enter the box.

Lennon had a half on each wing starting out on the left before switching after Rafa had gone off injured at half time. He also ended up injured still able to sprint in one direction but unable to turn. Whether he will miss games as a consequence remains to be seen but it was another good display. His run for the penalty was intelligent and he combined well to make crosses during our first half ascendancy. Reunited in the second half with Corluka he also made some decent breaks as the game opened up. In recent games Lennon has looked our best player, yesterday was no exception. 

Pienaar had replaced Rafa and took the left flank. Certainly his best performance to date and he could have crowned his home debut with a goal had Jaaskelainen not made an excellent save. He is still finding his feet with colleagues in match situations and Dawson’s short and risky pass turned into a hospital one with the outcome a Bolton equaliser.

Dawson was allowed to return to the side at the expense of Bassong and got the Fulham performance out of his system. He was flustered on a couple of occasions and a few passes were mishit. He won balls in the air but on occasions put them into dangerous areas rather than towards the flanks. 

The mix up that led to the goal was on the half way line. The line was high so when the ball fell to Bolton a chase ensued. Unfortunately the ball went straight through Gomes on its way to the net and Sky highlights revealed that it was not hit as well as it looked in real time. Once again Gomes was at fault so a succession of errors provided the equaliser and the encouragement to our opponent to push on and look for a winner.

He’s becoming too good at this and despite all the cult hero status I have a question mark starting to hang heavy over his place. He was better in distributing the ball yesterday with some sensible roll outs to get attacks moving and his kicking towards Crouch provided opportunities. But he has to save the ball when it comes his way so that he doesn’t have to stand dejected in his area.

There is also the penalty that got away. Not for us but for Bolton when Pienaar saw Cahill go over his leg and pick up a card for diving. Correct decision the card if it was a dive but was it? Had it been given we could have been behind and looking at 0/6 points against our opponents. 

Harry’s substitutions were brave once again. He was forced to replace Rafa and then brought Pav on for Crouch. As Crouchy was doing well in the air and linking up well with Pienaar on the left it was a risk for with the height of the Bolton defence Pav’s opportunities in the air would be limited. 

Likewise replacing Wilson, who had a good game, with Kranjcar who has been poor at every turn thus far was a risk as Bolton were far from out of the match. Yet Niko, in a more central role, took it in his stride and fired a perfect shot into the top corner to win the game in injury time. 

It was always going to be something like this for Spurs to win the game. Bolton had defended reasonably well and the chances we had created been well saved. Hopefully the goal will give him the confidence to push on and contribute better in future games. 

And so in conclusion a decent game which had the second penalty been allowed probably a comfortable win. It wasn’t and it didn’t but we ended up with 3 points – however streaky they may have been. It’s up to Chelsea to win today to open up the gap once more.                   

Make it too hot to trot! Tottenham V Bolton preview

Games are flying think and fast at the moment so following our win at Blackburn on Wednesday comes the visit of Bolton Wanderers to White Hart Lane. Wednesday saw us depleted, Dawson suspended, Modric in hospital, Pienaar concussed and Bale had his bad back on top of other long standing injuries like King and Huddlestone. Therefore our makeshift midfield did well to come through unscathed but sometimes a more negative selection bears fruit in away games.

At Bolton we tried out Sandro and it turned out to be a long day with a 4-2 defeat though Pav’s goal will sit in the memory banks for a while. We might have fared better had we been more negative in that match but we enjoy taking risks in front of an away crowd – even a small one at The Reebok. 

But this is our home game. Our turn to twist the knife and give Wanderers an uncomfortable afternoon. An opportunity to reduce a poor record against a side who should not have more Premier victories over us than we have over them. To do this we need to keep Kevin Davies off the score sheet and for Spurs that is not easy to do! 

So should Dawson come straight back in to combat his aerial threat? Normally I’d say yes but I need proof that his internal compass is fixed for it was uncannily off last time out in his brief appearance and it would also be unfair on Seb who just plays quietly and calmly when asked. In truth it may depend upon Billy Gallas. He went into the Blackburn game with a knock against his name and picked up another with a glorious slide tackle. 

If Billy is fit he should play and keep the armband so I would play him and Seb as a reward for a clean sheet. Quite how much that was down to Gomes saves or Jenas’s knee is open to debate and I hope to see Gomes build on the confidence of some fine saves and at least one caught cross.

I asked Windy on twitter earlier for his right back. He went for Charlie. I can understand this as he did OK on Wednesday and defends better but this is not an away game and if Lennon is staying out left then I fancy that Hutton is the better bet. 

Ekotto can play with Lennon if he stays left or Pienaar or Kranjcar but with the latter two he will be overlapping more. With Pienaar available again our decision is where to play Van Der Vaart to then decide Lennon’s spot. My fancy is for Van Der Vaart to take a central role behind Crouch and Defoe alongside Jenas or Palacios.

If Palacios plays then Kranjcar could take up the role he took last season replacing Modric though I would want to see him distributing the ball more. If he plays and comes off he would add more pace to the attack than Pienaar who checks a lot whilst settling in with his new team mates. 

Based on Harry’s selections this season Krnajcar won’t get the call so expect to see Pienaar. I might pick Palacios over Jenas because Bolton are a physical side and Rafa is not the best tackler. Expect a yellow card and a second half appearance from JJ!

I can’t bring myself to change the front two. If Lennon starts out right let’s hope he can make the sort of break he did against Blackburn and is able to lay the ball to Defoe’s right foot rather than his ineffective left as JD really needs to get the show back on the road. We can expect some form of cameo from Pav and sometimes that provides his best chance to score.

Bolton are not mugs and Owen Coyle has them well drilled. They didn’t lose their star centre back Cahill and added Sturridge from Chelsea though I understand the club website showed a picture of Wellbeck (oops!). 

We need a win to continue our challenge and we’ve got to do it. Unfortunately the speed and number of the games may be taking its toll on Van Der Vaart so we need to get behind him tomorrow to get his adrenalin pumping. So the team I expect for the game is:

                           Gomes

   Corluka      Gallas     Bassong      Ekotto

Lennon    Van Der Vaart    Palacios      Pienaar

                    Defoe            Crouch

Prediction: I’d love to say 2-0 but that man Davies might not allow the clean sheet but we’ll win.

Come On You Spurs!

We play like lassies in Lancashire Bolton 4 Spurs 2

What is it with Lancashire? For some reason most of the times we play there we show ourselves to be southern softies without fight or idea. Yesterday was no exception and was for me our worst performance of the season by far. You heard it from the top at the end of the game “we were as open as a barn door – you just can’t play like that”. But we did.

My team selection differed by one player from Harry. He went for Sandro I went for Huddlestone but apart from that no difference. I was surprised to see both Wilson and Sandro on the same pitch but reasoned that yes this was going to be a tough battle so good choice. Then the referee blew his whistle.

You can’t blame this performance on the Champions League because we played like this before we qualified for the competition. There is – as we know – the Spurs way of playing free flowing quality football with goals goal goals. Unfortunately they’re often at both ends. 

In years gone by we loved it because we only saw the home games and the programme told us about an unlucky defeat on our last trip. These days you can see every minute of play and some of it isn’t pretty. Yesterday was one. We offered nothing at all for most of the game – yet scored the two best goals. Despite all of our talent we got put under pressure by Bolton for most of the game and we had no answer at all.

I can only conclude that Harry did not want to destroy Sandro’s confidence by subbing him at half time for the lad’s sole contribution from the armchair was to concede possession in a dangerous position which allowed Kevin Davies to score from on offside position. No moans about the offside the ball should have never got to him but interestingly the linesman had his flag up against us in the second half!

This was the goal I’ve been waiting for from Ekotto but his sloppy concession – along with others – got intercepted or missed. So with Sandro continuing Wilson got tugged off and Pav came on. As we know JD is injured but hopes to return for the Arsenal game. Without him in the side much of the scoring duty has fallen to the midfield with Crouch becoming more of a provider than goal scorer. Many of you will say Pav would score more if he got more games but yesterday was once again a typical Pav performance. He was not in it throughout yet scored close to goal of the season. 

It was similar to the Young Boys game. Yesterday proved that if a sub plays badly the game cannot be changed around. For us to get back into it we had to win the ball and get it to our sub to make him do something with it. Never happened. Maybe not Pav’s fault but it gets to be like playing with 10 men.

I prefer Crouch because he does provide you with more options. He stays up front for a start so away from home you can try and belt it at him up the field. With both Pav and Keane playing in a different way it becomes more difficult. Neither can head with any great prowess and so you can get caught carrying a man by selecting them. Keane is a better option because he will try and press more but in front of goal Pav is definitely better – if only he would attack the ball a bit more.

At home this is a problem enough but away it’s magnified 100 times. With our midfield weak in the tackle but full of flair going forward the extra man in midfield helps to close down a marauding opponent – or that’s the theory. So the one man up front needs the support of the midfield and that’s where Rafa has come in. Without him it did not work so we reverted to 4-4-2 and saw we’d forgotten how to play it properly!

So will Defoe be able to fulfil the one man role? Balls hit into space to run at yes for sure but those don’t often provide opportunity for him to score; balls hit at him in the air – we know his record in the air about 1 in 10 possession retained. 

Having got to half time only 1 down on the back of a very poor half what did go wrong? A free man in the box for the second and a dreadful clearance from Gallas and very noticeable nudge in the back  to concede a penalty for the third but overall Bolton were very good stuck to their job and overwhelmed us for a lot of the time. What was Billy doing? Surely sticking it in the crowd was preferable to what resulted and he certainly won’t enjoy seeing that again. By the end he looked in trouble and was pushed upfield where a break fell to him but he couldn’t get up the speed needed to win it.

At 3-0 Harry told Bentley to sit down again but then relented and Hutton scored a peach of a goal to get it back to 3-1. I’m pleased for him. He does make it hard work at times at the back but going forward he is a decent player and hit a sweet strike with his wrong foot right into the top corner. 

When Pav scored there was a momentary panic amongst the Bolton fans but in pushing  for an equaliser we were caught on the break and conceded a fourth to Petrov who thankfully only played a short sub role rather than from the start. We had other chances. Bale had a good free kick hit the corner of post and cross bar and Sandro should have scored  to make amends but went with feet rather than head. 

He has much to learn about this league and maybe should not be risked in these games so early but without Carling Cup what have we got? Niko on the other hand knows all about this league. He was just poor. Surprising because so many – including myself – wanted to see him get a game  and I’m sure he really wanted to play and perform himself. 

I couldn’t decide his position. With five in midfield should he not have been out right stretching the play? He was inside for most of the game. His performance showed why Harry has had him on the bench or is it because he has not had 10 minutes here and there from the bench that his confidence has dropped to a low level. On this performance Bentley is likely to get a game if Lennon is not fit on Tuesday night.

Harry was incensed about Wilson’s performance and about him getting forward on occasions. Yes he should be holding but Luka wasn’t getting forward in support often enough and he did have the ball on the occasion of biggest rollocking. And Bale? Quiet, well marked, appallingly smashed by “90 cards” Davies without a 91st but still provided a couple of opportunities.

So what did we learn from yesterday’s game? 

Alan Hutton has a decent left foot and should be phoning Andy Gray for a motivational talk about capitalising on his ability. 

And what did we already know?

Sandro is not yet ready for this league.

We miss Huddlestone when he is on the bench..

Van Der Vaart is essential for 4-5-1. 

We don’t travel well and should review our travel plans for this part of the country before we gift Blackpool 3 points!

Pav is like Class A drug addiction. All highs and lows with not much in between.

We need Berbatov back – or a player like him to be the front striker.

Lastly, Richard Gough suggested Harry picked the wrong team. I don’t agree with that. I think they let him down and made it look like that.  They need to sort it out with a table having a 3 point difference between 5th and 16th place!