Tag Archives: Gareth Bale

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.                                  

Anything but easy! Tottenham 2 Liverpool 1

Back to back victories provide us with 6 points and once again our season is on the march. But that doesn’t tell the real story of this game. After a blistering start which led us to a two goal start we then succumbed to Liverpool’s pressing game got thrown off our rhythm and many of us were wondering how we ended up winning. In essence it may have something to do with Liverpool being wasteful in front of goal or adopting some unusual tactics.

For example, why was Steven Gerrard chained to the back four? He spent most of the game very deep and whilst he made some intelligent passes on the occasions he got into our box pandemonium set in and Dembele made a brave challenge before Walker cleared off the line in amazing fashion and then when he stopped taking the corners his header saw Lennon smash the ball into Bale’s face for what turned out to be the consolation.

Then they have a poor winger playing at left back and the left back playing on the wing. That certainly aided our first goal as Downing didn’t know where his man was and Lennon was free to tap in Bale’s cross and seemed  bizarre decision not aimed to assist when you have a flying man coming at you down the wing.

Thirdly what does Joe Allen do apart from running around? Whilst he fills you with no fear Suarez is a different kettle of fish altogether. His first touches were often outstanding and he missed a chance in the second half you would expect him to bury. Overall the Liverpool team did press like Brendan wanted them to in the TV programme and in the end it thwarted us and made us wasteful in possession.

We shouldn’t complain. At one times victories over Liverpool were extremely rare occurances but in recent times that has all changed.

Dembele, after a bright start, had a difficult second period and it might have been down to a lack of match fitness or just the constant pressure our players were put under to find a man in a white shirt. The game had started differently with Defoe picking Gerrard’s pocket to send Bale away for a blistering run and shot that was close.

Soon after another great run produced a back post cross that produced for Lennon the easiest of tap ins. The same Lennon that I was told doesn’t score enough goals in the Spurs shop before the game and that is true of most of our midfielders. The same can’t be said for Gareth Bale who had the bit between his teeth during our ascendancy hammering home a free kick that seemed to take a deflection off the wall to wrong foot Reina.

Winning a free kick is becoming like the Ronaldo show with Bale taking full responsibility and it may be for that reason why he went down so easily to earn his yellow card. The ball had gone dead for Gareth and the TV indicated maybe the slightest of touches on his boot so down he went. Don’t do it Gareth you’re better than that and we may end up missing on real free kicks if you don’t.

Gallas returned at the back to partner Dawson and we were lucky not to give away a first half own goal when Dawson smashed a clearance onto him. Lloris also continued and was lucky not to concede when he was out of his area before Henderson missed the target and apart from that it was fairly tidy performance from the keeper.

So our passing was off key and we failed to produce much in the final third during the second half but we come out with a win. I would put this down once again as a game in which our performance was forgettable for a large part yet outstanding to get us a 2 goal lead.

Maybe it was Liverpool proving to be better than West Ham or Reading that stopped us being good throughout but if we are to mount a really strong challenge we will have to be better than this to secure all three points. As an example if you gave Walker 10 goes at his goal line clearance how many would he execute as well as he did last night?

Maybe the quality of the Premier League is slipping while teams concentrate on keeping possession rather than scoring goals as Man City and Chelsea have demonstrated so far this season but we don’t consistently look like a top 4 side at the present time. I’ll take a spot if we secure it but I think we’ve got to look better than we are at the moment to really make sides frightened of us. Yesterday we started well but we need to keep it going and prevent our opponents from imposing themselves.

We know this Liverpool aren’t the side of old yet they should have had something from the game. At 2 up surely we should press for the third and an easy win in the time left and we were trying but got bogged down. When appointed I thought AVB promised a similar pressing game but it was nothing like Liverpools.

Final question of the night. If we play in all white and they play in all red why does the Ref have the red shirt on?

Gutted! Manchester City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2

The disappointment of cruel late defeat lingers long and Spurs fans have long been used to it. But today’s defeat with 18 seconds left on the clock is really upsetting, particularly as we had got back into a game that was dead and gone when Manchester City were 2 up after a three minute spell that tore us apart. 

Yet only 7 minutes later the scores were level as first Defoe capitalised upon a defensive mistake and then Bale produced an amazing strike to rock City to the core. Our second half performance was truly excellent and had Defoe been able to turn Bale’s cross into the net at the end of the game we would have taken the points. 

So a six point turn in three minutes leaves us still in third with United still to conclude their own game. Losing two points at home last week took us off the pace and this defeat leaves it to City to get us back into title contention. Yet for me we played like Champions. 

In the first half we controlled much of the game and kept City to a couple of half chances. The only problem was that we did not get the opportunity to use our pace much to put City under pressure. 

My suggested line ups omitted Lennon but he played and did well throughout before giving up to Pienaar with time running out. We stuck to our usual 4-4-1-1 with Kaboul keeping his place in central defence. He fully justified this and was a colossus at the back. The strength in his neck to produce headers of the distance he achieve was phenomenal and for much of the game we looked pretty comfortable.  

When the sloppy period arrived Walker was lost momentarily by Nasri who then fired home an excellent opening goal leaving Friedel with no chance. If you lose to a goal like that you can’t complain too much but it inspired City to step on the pace and within a couple of minutes it was two as they exposed our lack of height in defence for the one and only time to force the ball home from a corner.  

My immediate thought was this game is gone and it could be tricky from here but as if by magic Savic gifted a ball to Defoe who rounded Hart and slotted home from a tight angle. It wasn’t on the cards but we grabbed the chance with both hands and got ourselves going. Unfortunately the City fans didn’t appear to be doing the Poznan at the time and the wait continues to see a goal conceded whilst their backs face the pitch.

From that point our confidence rose and we took the offensive to City. Lennon out on the left cut inside and played a delightful ball to Bale whose first time shot was of such quality that Hart might as well have watched it go past him into the top corner. 

Our fight back complete the game continued end to end with both sides searching for a winner. Rafa was brought off to allow Livermore to come on and try to close down in the midfield and his contribution justified the change which Rafa was rightly disappointed about.    

What we have to accept is that it was a penalty which will be soul destroying for Ledley who had made another super return to the side after injury. His partnership with Kaboul remained solid throughout with Brad taking control in a manner Gomes never did behind them. Walker had a good game, Parker was back on the money and competitive and Modric kept going right until the end. 

Our most disappointing player today was Benny who gave the ball up a little too easily on occasions but he didn’t have a poor game by any means. Replacing Adebayor Defoe did well and worked hard throughout.  

Much is already being made of the incident in which Ballotelli caught Parker. For me it didn’t look like a deliberate stamp but better judges than myself are suggesting it was a red. Yes he stood on Parker but was it deliberate? I wasn’t convinced and I thought his reputation earned him a booking that was maybe a little unlucky as soon as he came on.

Contrast that with Lescott who should have been booked for a bodycheck on Bale in the first half and then committed an appalling elbow on Kaboul on the edge of his own box in the second. Reputation counts highly when it comes to which players get carded and which get away with things. If City should have gone down to 10 the man to go off got away scot free unless the panel make a late decision to punish him for deliberate foul play.   

At the end the Spurs players were all gutted to lose in such a manner having given their all for 95 minutes. We couldn’t ask any more of them and I’m reminded of the League Cup final against Liverpool where Archibald missed a chance on 85 minutes and we ended up losing in extra time.  

City know they had a game today and will also know that we will be at their heels till the end of the season. All we can do is continue to amass as many points as possible between now and then to achieve our initial objective in qualifying for the Champions League and I believe that we will do it.