Tag Archives: FC Twente

Goals Galore celebrate Group Win FC Twente 3 Spurs 3

A 3 all draw and top of the group so can it get much better – especially when Inter put out a weakened side and crash 3-0 in Germany? Having got into the Group stages qualifying was our major objective. After doing that in Match 5 this game was all about making sure that we did our best to keep the top spot we had.

How much Rafa’s magic assisted our cause is open to debate but his domestic league issues are clearly greater than our own. As a result of his sides capitulation last night we could have lost and still won the group.  

So how did we do? Not that well if we’re honest but we did manage to score twice and take a gift for the first goal. It was unfortunate that we allowed our opponents to keep coming back at us and when the scores were level it looked possible that we might not get a result from the game.

As predicted by other bloggers Corluka and Kranjcar came into the side to allow Hutton and Lennon to rest and Jenas replaced the sick Modric. It was unfortunate that JJ pulled up with a recurrence of his calf injury and I cannot see him making the weekend game against Chelsea. I had hoped that he would link well with Wilson and shield our defence but his injury made that not possible. 

Kranjcar and Corluka were somewhat different. Both played well last season but have not featured much this season. I would have therefore expected to see them staking a decent claim for a place in the side. How wrong I was. I thought both of them were poor.

When I see a side I want to know in my mind where everyone is playing. Niko was on the right as he was against Bolton but as in that game he failed to stick to his position and wandered around. Luka did this last year from the left as did Niko when he came into the team but then there was a full back willing to bomb past them to make a cross. Therefore, I cannot understand why he was drifting from the right as there were occasions when the ball was for right wing but with him absent and with Corluka behind him we had no pace to exploit the space.

The Jenas injury forced him to play inside but then he had to step up his tackling and I felt failed to do so. Not playing does not help him but his role in the team last night appeared confused. A hamstring injury has put paid to his chances for the bench against Chelsea and unfortunately another club seems to beckon.

Corluka improved a little when Lennon came on and the fact that Aaron stayed on the flank indicated that was how we were setting out the side. He did though seem to be too stand offish and certainly contributed to the second Twente goal by not closing down the attacker and preventing him from playing in a decent cross. I have to say that Hutton should not be too concerned about his place on Sunday.

At left back Ekotto had an in and out night. Firstly he turned his back on a fierce shot and in turning raised his arm and was hit on the elbow. If we appeal hard at The Emirates and then at home against Liverpool for penalties and get them awarded we have to accept that this was a fair decision. Taking one for the team is sometimes an essential part of the game and he maybe needs to think about this.

Then he also contributed towards the second goal by not making any attempt to jump with his man when the cross was delivered allowing a free header that was brilliantly despatched to the corner of our net. But it was not all bad. Benoit contributes well to the attack and tried hard to do so last night. I have noticed in the last two games that Bale has started to stand which means that Benoit cannot float a ball over for him to run onto. It’s as if Bale wants to beat men rather than out run men before putting in a cross and this is going to make it difficult for Benoit. It may be the number of markers being pushed out left but it has made Lennon’s opportunity greater and he is certainly taking advantage of this.

His game is certainly on the up and his intelligent pass to Defoe for our second goal exactly the type of link up play I’ve been seeking since JD retuned from injury. This bodes well for Sunday as does two goals for our main man. I’ve been receiving comments about his greediness in front of goal and I can understand this. Shoot on site has always been the Defoe policy and an early shot to settle him don always helps. In this game Wilson was greedy in shooting having won the ball well against the last defender and the resulting save broke into Defoe’s path for him to score it. 

In fairness I felt Wilson saw a defender from the corner of his eye and viewed the pass as risky but it ended up in the net so let’s not get too concerned. Apart from that he spent time in the game being a little overrun as Twente gave it their best shot to give their fans a final victory. As Harry says we went for it but you have to look at two wingers and a midfielder not sharing his tackling duties as being a little too open away from home. Granted JJ’s injury pushed us into this situation and this has summed up our season so far.

As a consequence Gomes was called into action and made some decent saves during the match. I was also pleased to see Billy G being very disappointed to have conceded 3 goals during the game. That’s the sort of attitude we need to see and no disrespect to  Bassong when Dawson gets back into the side hopefully this will stem the side somewhat.

So qualification as Group Champions and in a group with teams from recognised football countries is a fantastic start to our first campaign but now the hard work starts to protect this good work in the knockout phases. At home we’ll be difficult to stop but we must start lining up in a similar fashion away so that we help ourselves to a draw if we want to progress against some of the bigger boys.  

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Tread carefully: FC Twente V Tottenham preview

Match six and an opportunity to top the group. When the draw was made we would have been astonished to be in such a position but our excellent form in the tournament so far has rightly left us at the top of the group, already qualified and with an opportunity to miss out on the nightmare tie in the next round.

So can we do it with our injury ravaged squad? We have all the attacking weapons needed to win quite easily if we take the type of opportunities we squandered on Saturday but we also have that soft underbelly that has been seen twice so far in the competition.

The BBC reports tonight that Luka is suffering from flu and is unlikely to play but that JJ has recovered and may play. That may fall in our favour as JJ may defend better than Luka does and if alongside Palacios provide us some strength in central midfield. It may also overcome the threat that Twente will offer at some point of this game being the home side.

The starting line up picks itself if Harry takes this game as seriously as his press conference suggests and forgets about the Chelsea game until full time. In my mind the strongest – and at this point fittest – side is:    

                                                Gomes

              Hutton             Gallas             Bassong          Ekotto

          Lennon                 Jenas               Palacios             Bale

                                    Defoe                   Crouch

If it goes well I fancy Dawson might get a run before the end if it doesn’t we might see some key players protected for Sunday. When I say fittest my biggest doubt is Gomes and I’d like to see a tough and strong performance from him in a Country where he first made his name in Europe. 

His experience may be vital. In my minds eye this is a small stadium where a decent atmosphere can be drummed up by the home fans. The sort of place where our wheels can come off if we don’t defend from midfield. As a consequence we should be looking to hit them on the break and not treat it as a home game. What we don’t want to see is aimless jogging back to help the back four more like the break out play we saw in the second half at The Emirates.

This game is in our hands. I’ve felt since the draw it might be the surprise defeat but it needn’t be if we put on a professional performance. Can we do it? Yes we can but we might need to tame some of our all out attacking instinct to do so.

Prediction: Sensible approach 1-3 win, all out attack approach 2-1 defeat.

Another great Euro night Spurs 4 FC Twente 1

7.45 is a difficult start time for White Hart Lane and so it proved last night with huge numbers of empty seats as the teams came out and the final crowd not reached until 20 minutes into the game.  Those late arrivals would have been surprised by the team that greeted them; 2 men up front, Ledley in defence and no tackler in the side.

So how did the 4-4-2 play? The defence was solid throughout though at 2-1 and Twente pressing there were some moments of concern. The midfield were super going forward and all of them had a good game but we saw the bit that Rafa is not so good at – tackling! Two silly challenges resulted in an early second half red but the 10 men remaining got down to the job in hand and increased the lead leaving the final score line a comfortable 4-1.

Gomes returned in goal but looked like his injury was not quite healed. His goal kicks lacked distance and he later reverted to his long throw outs mainly to Pav who dealt with them better than he would a kick often retaining possession.  I thought Alan Hutton had a very good night at right back and was back to the player who played when we first signed him. Not only did he bomb down the wing when required but he also dealt well with his defensive duties.

Ledley was his usual calm self in central defence but had clearly enjoyed his previous foray down the right wing as he did it again and Bassong supported well having his own charge up the field the first time reaching the box the second getting robbed on half way. As I said in my preview Benoit was the key. His presence allowed Bale to play left midfield and he sat in behind him clearing up well and releasing GB with some decent balls.

This turned out to be Tom Huddlestone’s night though many suggested on our drive home that he had been lucky to stay on after elbowing an opponent. From Block 53 you could not see that incident clearly enough to judge but Tommy can be a little silly in these situations. It’s something he needs to get on top of. Sometimes weak in the challenge and in his headers he can leave studs in or use his arms and he will get caught out. However, last night was his best performance this season by a mile to the point of craziness in the dying seconds when he was beating men for fun in his own penalty area.

Modric and Van Der Vaart are starting to link up well. Though following VdV’s red he will miss the trip to Milan. They were both excellent going forward and our first goal was the type we have been missing from midfield for a long time. He arrived in the box at the right time and from the moment he had the ball there was only one place it was going. That was rich reward following his first half penalty miss and as he came out earlier than the rest of the players for the second half you could tell he was fired up.

Then there was Bale. As he had against Bremen he showed the right back that playing against him can be near impossible though he worried us when he crashed into the advertising hoardings and stayed down for lengthy treatment in the first half. His performance richly deserved the final goal and a really well taken one it was. There is no longer doubt in my mind; he cannot drop back; his performances on the wing cannot be taken away.

Up front Pav and Crouch worked hard to create chances. Crouch did better than Pav until late on in the game but after the penalty miss Pav stepped up to put away numbers 2 and 3. Pav was to have been subbed but Harry changed his mind and took of Crouch instead. Whilst that may have been harsh on Crouch motivationally it was the right decision for had Pav come off at that moment he would probably have sulked for weeks.

So were Twente right to complain to the referee so frequently about his decisions? Crouch gets blown up against all the time for just jumping so last night he got the rub of the green when he won the penalty. Again it was at the other end so I have to rely on radio comment on the way home and they felt it was dubious. What was beyond doubt was the deplorable time wasting employed by the Twente players in an effort to unsettle the kicker and they succeeded though seeing the kick again at half time the keeper was miles of his line suggesting that a retake should have been called for.

The second penalty was clear cut. Bale had rounded his man and was cut down. Again more mind games but of shorter duration but Pav was having none of it. The third penalty was ludicrous. Ignoring the point about the handball itself Twente had cleared the ball and I was annoyed with Pav not playing to the whistle when after an age the ref blew up and awarded the kick. G suggested that the linesman had a flag up straight away and that was why it had to be given. On that decision Twente were right to feel robbed and they also moaned about the delay in the substitution which was drawn out.

So a fabulous result that had White Hart Lane rocking – all 32,518 of us. The Twente fans supported their team well and at 2-1 they looked a pretty decent team. Milan next on the road and a more defensive team expected to protect our position and hopefully keep advantage over Bremen. Saturday’s game against Villa is key for that and our PL fixtures provide us with the opportunity to have these great nights at the Lane. Let’s hope the players remember that!   I’m sure they will.

Come on You Spurs