Tag Archives: Michael Dawson

At last a decent home performance – Spurs 3 West Ham 1

After recent results and West Ham producing results to beat our points tally I fancied anything could have happened at White Hart Lane this afternoon. On previous visits I had seen Andy Carroll silenced by Michael Dawson and tweeted as much on our journey to the ground never expecting to see him named in the side.

I got a text regarding the starting line up from a golfing mate saying “AVB must have been listening to us.” “Christ”, I replied “do you think that he heard everything we said…..”

So Michael eventually gets a start and after a tentative opening I thought he had a good game, with some deft headers and decent distribution. Not only that but we seemed to have some leadership across the back and he was talking to Walker who had his best game for some time. I am no way against Billy Gallas but at his age he should be supporting the group not playing every game.

It was also interesting to see Vertonghen moving back to left back. Is this an admission that last weeks back four was misjudged? Whatever, I was a little surprised to see Huddlestone starting after Dembele came on in Rome but he did and in the second half played his best 45 minutes for some time.

At last Bale and Lennon got into the game and combined well to create goals Lennon squaring to allow Defoe to score his second when a shot might have produced a goal for himself. In the first half a great run from Bale produced a blistering shot which smashed onto the crossbar.

Our first half performance saw a number of long distance shots not causing West Ham too much trouble until Defoe who was abused by the travelling fans for most of the afternoon picked up the ball on the right and carried it before unleashing a brilliant shot which flew into the net. Answered in the appropriate manner they fell silent for a period.

Our second from Bale saw him play a deft chip over Jaaskelainen which the keeper knew had beaten him and the result but could do nothing about. The through ball was a delightful chip from Dempsey who played a much better game today. A third followed after we broke and Lennon’s pace outstripped the defence before he squared for Defoe to add his second.       

Unfortunately the clean sheet wasn’t to be after we gave the ball away in a needless manner that allowed a back stick cross that Carroll was able to loop over Lloris leaving him stranded and like Jaaskelainen before him knowing the end result. Apart from one palm out punch Lloris looked more comfortable as the game went on and came and collected more than once.  

We finished with Sandro being carried off and taking oxygen but understand that he will be available for Wednesday when he will certainly be needed. Today West Ham weren’t at their best, in fact in parts they were quite poor, but we needed a performance to clear out the memory banks last weeks defeat. We got that and during the second half Tommy was knocking it around quite comfortably in his best performance for some time.

So the positives, better tempo throughout, no sitting off and trying to protect a lead, playing more as a team than in parts of previous games and scoring some goals and some decent ones to boot. Best home performance of the season so far and we need to continue it on Wednesday night to keep the pressure on those struggling above us.

Come on you Spurs!

No wheels on our wagon! Fulham 4 Tottenham 0

I haven’t been to Craven Cottage and I’m very glad that I did not choose today to change that. Unfortunately for them a strong contingent of Spurs fans made the trip across London and made a better fist of it than the players being extremely vocal throughout the game. 

It was probably all there was to do as we threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the worst Spurs display for many months leaving Harry looking very hot under the collar as he chose his steps carefully back across the pitch to issue (hopefully) the rollocking of all rollickings to those gathered in the dressing room. Quite what the problem was is hard to tell but both teams carried on from the last time we met with Fulham getting much better and Spurs getting much worse!

Over confidence? Complacency? The thought of a home draw after coming through this match? The year ending in 1? Whatever it was it gripped them all at the start, none more so than Michael Dawson who firstly played a suicide pass to Alan Hutton before allowing himself to be blocked off in the chase back and then giving away a second penalty and getting himself sent off for tugging a shirt after 14 minutes.

Hutton’s challenge which conceded the first penalty looked unfortunate in real time but he never got any the ball and clipped his man so a fair decision. Quite whether Dawson should have gone for the second is debateable. I felt it harsh but the way he was playing Phil Dowd clearly felt sorry for him and allowed him to sneak off quickly to the Cottage changing rooms. 

But it was not just Dawson who was having a mare. Over the 90 minutes we hardly had an attack and one shot I recall was from a Van Der Vaart free kick near the half way line. Not the right decision though the keeper was a shade of his line but Rafa could only see two men ahead of him and both were short and useless in the air.

Fulham were good – of that there is no doubt but when they got the team sheets they probably felt we can get a “Lancashire performance” out of this lot if we get into them early. The midfield we presented was Lennon on the left, Rafa out right with Pienaar, Sandro and Modric in the centre. Time and time again we feel we can go into these games in all out attack mode but once we get put onto the back foot there is never any answer to it. 

Sparky’s job was easy, “The only real tackler is the boy Sandro and he has no experience of our game.” I know I’ve complained about Jenas on this blog but this year he has looked better and his experience was vital to compete and take the sting out of Murphy and Dempsey in the early stages. So we lost that battle and inside 45 minutes the war. What made it worse was that Sandro was them removed to allow Gallas to come on. 

Let’s understand this. Sandro plays for the defensive midfield role – or that was my understanding – and then gets taken off after 17 minutes. In the past Lennon or Modric would have gone, personally I think it should have been Pienaar. He’s new to the club and it could have been justified. Easy for me to say after the game but I thought he showed little and will only be a squad player as he offers nothing over Bale or the others.

Many will look at the absence of Bale but that wasn’t it. He would have helped as he has been able to assist in back tracking but he would not have got the ball enough to make a difference. Added to that he played in games where we did give away goals for fun before recovering. 

So looking at our team – and squad – what we can see is that it’s OK when things are going well but when things go wrong the personnel are sadly lacking in breaking up play and taking the steam out of the opposition. There are exceptions. Gallas – but he was on the bench, Dawson – who went Hari Kari today and Palacios but he cannot keep it when he’s got it. 

Once again Crouch was called upon to try and resurrect the failures of the first half and Rafa limped off when it was clear it was game over. So it appears we have problems with a day to go in the transfer window. Or do we? Juvenile football says you play your strongest team, win the game and then make changes. Why don’t we do that? 

Lennon’s started right all season so why start left today. Switch by all means but start? Sandro is in his first season so why put him in as he is clearly not ready yet. Why rest Gallas if we want to win the competition and we needed a different strategy up front. When first signed Rafa was arriving in the box and scoring these days he is pressed back against the half way line leaving us with no support in the box.

Bad day at the office? Bloody bad day at the office if truth be told. No new striker on the horizon and only loan deals for those leaving. This was a competition we had a decent chance of winning. Unfortunately we thought we already had or at least for the first 14 minutes.   

Let’s be tough: Everton V Spurs Preview

I was reminded of Goodison Park when watching Colin Stein scoring for Rangers on the BBC news 40 years ago. Like Ibrox, Goodison Park also had a large area behind each goal yet a massive capacity. These days it is 12,000 lower due to the seating of the Taylor Report but for most of the last century the ground was considered to be one of the most advanced in the Country.     

A visit to Everton is as tough a midweek away fixture as you can expect. Because of the atmosphere that the Evertonian’s produce if the team plays well. Like White Hart Lane fans now site close to the pitch and opposition players can find this tough to play in. Thankfully Spurs have a terrific recent record at this ground and it may be because it feels a bit like a home game. 

It may also be because you never know which Everton are going to show up, the team who tussled with us and walked out of the Lane with a point or the walkover team who compete but cannot score and leak the odd goal. After three quick fire games over Christmas this final fixture comes before FA Cup third round weekend. Therefore, one last effort is needed before a rested team takes on Charlton on Sunday. 

If we are to overcome the atmosphere we need to get them quiet from the start. Defoe finishes his suspension after this game so it will be up to Pav or Crouch to finish or set up Bale, Lennon or Van Der Vaart on the break. 

We also will need another strong performance from Michael Dawson and with Billy Gallas a doubt as a result of a hamstring injury picked against Fulham Bassong may well come into the side. With Kaboul still suspended this could leave us a bit short at centre back if either fall to injury and with Hutton out with a foot injury Kyle Walker who has returned from his loan at QPR may be straight onto our bench. 

With the exception of Palacios or Jenas the midfield picks it self so I find myself debating once more whether Pav or Crouch or Jenas or Palacios start the game. My hunch for this away game is that Palacios will start as if he gets booked he can be substituted and Crouch may get the nod for the extra aerial ability in defence as well as attack.

The good news is that the Asian Cup deprives them of Tim Cahill who causes massive problems for most opponents but hopefully the sloppy Sylvian Distin will be present to offer much needed hope to our misfiring attackers. Phil Jagielka may also be missing for the home side having aggravated his injury at Stoke.

So if we play well we have every chance of continuing our unbeaten run and if Everton play badly we might even get 12 out of 12. When was the last time we did that? My team for the game is:

                                  Gomes

     Corluka      Dawson       Bassong       Ekotto

Lennon          Palacios            Modric           Bale

             Van Der Vaart

                                               Crouch

Prediction: I’ll play safe and go for a 1 – 1 draw. If we score more I think we win the game.     

And for those of you who need reminding of the old Goodison Park here is a short YouTube film of 1966 footage.