Tag Archives: Premier League

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.                                  

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It gets better and better: Watford, Wigan, Liverpool and Newcastle

After enduring games against Watford and Wigan when the team, rather than the Manager, played like it had a prison sentence hanging over its head we regained our composure with an excellent defensive display at Anfield and a stupendous first half performance against Newcastle at Whit Hart Lane last night. As we appreciate sport at the very top level is all about confidence and having a clear head and that really shone through against Newcastle. Maybe it was the manner of the loss at Man City but it seemed more of a “got something on my mind” situation.

What’s more deadline day eyebrow raiser Louis Saha took 20 minutes to equal his haul for Everton this season with two well taken goals as we ran though a Newcastle team that took two mandatory counts in the first six minutes. You have to feel sorry for Defoe sitting on the bench looking on but for me Saha showed all that Pav didn’t for the majority of his stay at the Lane and certainly increased our options for the remainder of the season.

To be truthful I didn’t see all of the Watford game but in the second half action I saw we looked like the Championship side and without Kaboul could have been out. I had heard Rafa’s goal on radio commentary whilst driving and was shocked when I saw how far out he had been when he hit it. Thankfully we progress to the next round but if we don’t play better it could be interesting.

Next up was Wigan in a game which we took all of 20 minutes to get going in. Yes, a comfortable win but Wigan were so bad in the first half that they should have been lucky to get nil yet ended the game looking for a second. Having said that the goals when they came were wonderful. 

Modric’s deep chip across the box to Bale was delightful and Gareth took it brilliantly and despatched it for 1-0. Modric then got in on the act with a well hit shot from the edge of the box to give us a 2 goal lead at half time. In the second half Bale scored another excellent effort but to be honest the Wigan men were like subbuteo men sitting off him and allowing him to strike his now trademark left edge to right corner shot. 

Wigan’s consolation came from a looping deflection but at a time when we should have been inflicting further goal difference improvement upon them and as I said earlier they then pressed for a second. To be fair we did introduce all three subs including a debut for Cameron Lancaster who worked hard to get into the game so the team ended a little disjointed with Livermore having to drop to right back in place of Walker. He himself had been a sub coming on in the first half to replace Rafa who had ended up sitting down on the half way line and throwing his shin pads away in frustration.

This time it was a calf injury for Rafa rather than the usual hamstring and he didn’t make the Liverpool or Newcastle games. That could have presented a problem as Anfield has always proved a difficult place to get a result and our bench on the night showed how stretched the squad had become. Saha and Rose, who got on, plus new boy Nelsen, Khumalo, Luongo and Lancaster.

However, a stirring display gave us a creditable point with Dawson and Parker being outstanding. We also had a chance on the break during the second half which Bale unfortunately scuffed straight to Riena when he maybe had a little more time. 

Suarez was available but despite not being called upon to practice his handshakes got on after an hour and within minutes had planted a kick into Parker’s midriff. After the Manchester City game I suggested that Ballatelli might have been unlucky when standing on Parker but for me this Suarez incident was similar to the Lescott one. Is it important to make it look as bad as possible so that you get away with it? I suppose it is as that is how Stoke have got used to going about their work. 

Some years ago Drogba fell down for fun but then for no apparent reason stayed on his feet more and earned more respect for showing the player he is. Suarez certainly needs to take that wise counsel as he looks a good player who is too keen to win at whatever the cost rather than by exercising his skills. 

And so to Newcastle, with Lennon and Defoe returning to the bench, and a first start for Saha. Newcastle’s error may have been to try and give us a game for their early attack was cleared and suddenly Benny turned up on the far post to turn in Adebayor’s cross to light the blue touch paper with his opener. 

We’d hardly sat down before Adebayor crossed from the right for Saha to arrive perfectly and prod it home past Tim Krull sending us into raptures. Newcastle weren’t done and tried to come back at us but Dawson and King were solid at the back setting Luka back into possession from where he orchestrated further damage with a second for Saha and then Kranjcar making it four before the break. 

An early goal in the second and it could have been 10 but to Newcastle’s credit they battened down the hatches and did well in closing the game down. We still had plenty of second half possession and missed a couple of chances before Adebayor turned home a Saha header in spectacular fashion to add a goal to his 4 first half assists. 

In many ways this result is what could have happened in a number of games had we put away our chances and what looked good was the way Saha and Adebayor worked together. Defoe did get onto the field and had a few runs but nothing opened up for him to remind Harry of his talents. 

Both Wigan and Newcastle were a big reminder to Harry of the affection with which is currently held at White Hart lane. Last night he was bombarded with a continual outpouring of emotion from all sides of the stadium asking him to stay and continue managing this team. 

The team were fantastic last night so Harry had little to do. Unfortunately a problem with a plane prevented Harry from travelling to Liverpool but had he we might have played better in the second half. His work will be cut out from now till the end of the season in our games at White Hart Lane. 

Whilst Manchester United will come out and play Stoke, Swansea, Norwich, Blackburn and Fulham will no doubt have taken heed and unless we can open them up early doors we face further 10 men back games to avoid further goal fests. 

Before then its FA Cup and then that lot up the road. That promises to be some game.

Come On You Spurs    

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.