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Premier League

Monday 1st October 2007

While Tottenham were fielding a full strength side against Middlesbrough in the League Cup, Villa were resting players ahead of this match when they played Leicester City.  Unfortunately for Martin O'Neill, his plan back-fired and the Foxes ran out 1-0 winners, while Spurs continued on to go through 2-0 over Boro.

Villa have had a good start to the season including a wins over Everton and Chelsea at Villa Park, but they have lost to Liverpool and Man. City.  Martin O'Neill had big bucks behind him this summer, when the American Randy Lerner funded a spending spree.  He has suffered with injuries though and John Carew's knee injury will keep him out for a while, while Shaun Maloney might be missing with an ankle knock.

Coming in this summer on a season's loan from Liverpool is Scott Carson; a keeper who is rated by the media, but on the occasions I have seen him, he looks unconvincing and his strength is in the air, while his shot stopping seems suspect.  With him and Thomas Sorenson vying for the gloves, Villa have good competition for the goalkeeping position and Stuart Taylor, the former Arsenal keeper, has been relegated to third choice.  Sorenson is not happy playing second fiddle and might leave, but he has his weaknesses too and might be found out.

Olof Mellberg provides a giant barrier at the back, with Fulham's former centre half Zat Knight joining him in the recent transfer window.  Knight has been making an impact up front as well as at the back, but he lacks concentration in spells and with Mellberg's lack of mobility, Tottenham might make the most of any slips - physical or mental.  Self styled "not good enough for a pub side" Curtis Davies, after his performance against Leicester, was a player Tottenham were supposedly pursuing, but he has signed on loan with a view to a permanent move to Villa Park.  His price tag is astronomical for what he has achieved in the game, but that is the price of young English footballers in today's game.  A good player, but one who still has a lot to learn.  Alongside the central defenders, Wilfred Bouma has been doing so well that O'Neill has offered him a new deal and Martin Laursen has been a consistent performer, but is always vulnerable to injury.  Young Gary Cahill has fallen out of favour a little and was looking to be farmed out on loan to keep him match-sharp.

England have looked more balanced since Gareth Barry came into their midfield, but at Villa, he roams across the line, while former Hornet Ashley Young takes the left and Nigel Reo-Coker the middle.  Additionally, the experience of Patrik Berger, Stilian Petrov and the youthful exuberance of Craig Gardner can complement the midfield.  There is craft and graft in the Villa engine room, so Spurs will have to put out a midfield to match that and to find their passing range ot open up the back line.

With Carew out, the attack lacks a little experience, but I expect that O'Neill will pair up Gabriel Agbonlahor and Luke Moore to give the Tottenham defence the run-around.  These two have pace and will shut down our defenders who have the ball very quickly.  The summer signing of Marlon Harewood seemed an odd one,  but he has the battering ram ability to knock his way through a defence and his Emile Heskey like presence might unsettle the two Spurs central defenders.

While Tottenham have been creating a lot of chances, there has been a lack in efficiency in finishing them.  This needs to be rectified, as I feel this game will have few chances and might not provide the entertainment the party deserves.  With Villa owning the record for the number of drawn games in the Premiership, I think they might just add to their collection ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  1    Aston Villa  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee)

ASTON VILLA :  -  John Carew (knee); Shaun Maloney (ankle)


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Tottenham Hotspur   4    Aston Villa   4      (Half-time score : 1-3)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Monday 1st October 2007
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   36,094
Referee :  Mike Dean (The Wirral)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Drizzly, chilly
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :



Lennon (Malbranque 86)
Tainio (Defoe 54)

Berbatov (Bent 73)
Keane (c)

Unused subs: 

Aston Villa :



Gardner (Petrov 73)
Barry (c)

Moore (Harewood 66)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Aston Villa
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 20
Chimbonda 69
Keane (p) 82
Kaboul 90

Aston Villa

Laursen 22
Laursen 33
Agbonlahor 40
Gardner 59

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Kaboul (removing shirt)  90  



Aston Villa

Reo-Coker (foul) 10
Gardner (foul)  13
Carson (kicking ball away) 83 


Match Report : -  
What was supposed to be a grand celebration of the 125 years of Tottenham Hotspur history nearly ended in disaster, but in true Spurs style, they grabbed something by giving most of the fans a nerve-racking time.  A 4-4 draw gave Spurs the label of entertainers, but perhaps a dourer approach might be more successful, but that would not be Tottenham.  A point against Villa ended up feeling more like a victory and heralded a second half turnaround that was most unlike Spurs.

With Villa making changes to bring stronger players into the side after their League Cup defeat by Leicester City.  Spurs had to replace the injured Jenas with Zokora and Defoe made way for Keane.

The tone of the game was set in the first move.  Spurs knocked the ball about at the back and a short ball to Chimbonda saw Agbonlahor touch the ball out, only for referee Dean to give the visitors the throw.  It was an obvious mistake and his performance did not assist the flow of the game in my opinion.  His insistence in being in the thick of things saw him getting in the way when players were trying to play and then he let Laursen pull his arm back as one of his colleagues was getting booked ... something that John Terry is facing a FA charge for.

Despite the lack of advantage played by the ref, both teams played some good football, but both exhibited awful defending under pressure.  Teemu Tainio hit an early shot that caught a Villa player that took the ball wide for a corner and a couple of minutes later Berbatov dragged a shot outside the post when well-placed.  Two Aston Villa players received early bookings, with Reo-Coker and Gardner seeing Dean raise the yellow card for wild tackles on Tottenham players who burst past them.

The first Spurs shot on target came in the 16th minute when Huddlestone unleashed a daisy-cutter that lacked power, but Scott Carson needed to grab the bounce off his arms as the ball might have spun back past him.  The Spurs keeper was then called upon to save well as he threw a timely hand up to beat out Ashley Young's drive as he cut in from the left wing.  Berbatov did better with his next effort in the 19th minute, when he found room on the edge of the area and hit a good shot, but straight at the Villa goalie.  When Spurs earned a corner, Chimbonda rose to head down and Carson knocked the ball away with a man behind him on the post.  However, from the next corner, Dimitar Berbatov replicated the full-back's header, but he was unchallenged and his header went away from the Villa players and hit the net.

The lead only lasted a couple of minutes, as a routine catch should have see Robinson hold the ball as he was under no pressure.  What actually happened was the England keeper dropped it at the feet of Martin Laursen, who put the ball past him to equalise.

Kaboul denied Agbonlahor and Laursen's face stopped a Lennon drive, but both defences stood firm (for a change) as the half hour approached and then suddenly Spurs were behind to a fortuitous Villans goal.  Villa were given a cheap 33rd minute  free-kick by the ref and as Barry back-pedalled away from the edge of the penalty area, no Spurs player picked him up, leaving him time to pick out a cross, which was missed in the middle, but Zat Knight headed it goalwards, only succeeding in putting it back into the six yard box where it struck the unknowing Laursen on the chest and ricocheted past Robinson, going through his legs on the way in.  Although some blame Robbo for the goal, there was little he could do in reality, as the Villa defender did not know where it was going and he was so close to the goal-line, it would have taken lightning reflexes to keep it out.

The birthday party was starting to go from bad to worse and when Dawson and Agbonlahor were each pulling each others shirts, the Villa youngster managed to get a yard and a half between him and the Spurs central defender, which gave him enough space to shift the ball and hit a shot across Robinson and into the net to make it 1-3.  Tottenham looked shell-shocked and played out the remaining five minutes of the half unconvincingly.

The break saw the team booed off the pitch and with Martin Jol left with the unenviable task of talking the team into a comeback after they had given Villa the impetus to take the initiative.

Whatever he said, it didn't work straight away.  Young's free-kick was heading for the bottom corner until Robinson dived to palm the ball away at the foot of his post.  Kaboul went on a strong forward run and found the ball at his feet, but he rushed his shot and it flew well over the top.  It was the signal for Jol to bring on Defoe for the tiring Tainio and drop Keane back into the hole behind the two strikers.  Jermain's desire to score saw him drag a shot wide, but when Villa broke away, Kaboul took Agbonlahor down from behind and another free-kick was given.  From it, it looked as though Barry would curl it left-footed over the wall, but instead Gardner crashed the ball through the wall and past Robbo to make it 1-4 and lots of fans of little faith left the terraces and made for home.

As far as they were concerned, their night was over. with just an hour gone.  But with a party, it sometimes pays to stay until the end, because you never know what might happen.

An indication of Tottenham's luck came in the 62nd minute, as Berba slid a neat pass through the middle of the defence and Defoe struck his shot early, only for Carson to stick out a leg and the ball looped up and went wide.  How many times have Tottenham's defenders blocked efforts that then sail over Robinson's head ??

Villa were feeling confident enough in their lead to bring on a straight swap of Harewood for Luke Moore.  The lumbering ex-West Ham man might have seemed a good option to throw on, as he has a physical presence which might have upset the Spurs defence.  there was only one thing Martin O'Neill forgot and that was Harewood is crap.  Conversely, Jermain Defoe is not.  Bale's low cross into the box from the left was smacked first time against the near post and again, luck deserted Spurs, as it came out into the penalty area.  But Pascal Chimbonda was lurking at the far post and slid a precision shot in between the post and the covering defender to make it 2-4.  it looked like a consolation, as the players trudged back to their own half.

But it seemed to spur Tottenham forward with Huddlestone drilling in a shot from 25 yards which Gardner threw a block at and Darren Bent replaced Dimitar Berbatov to add a more direct approach to the Bulgarian, while Villa looked to keep going forward, as Stilian Petrov came on for Gardner.

The subs did not change the flow of the game, with Tottenham pressing forward.  Defoe fired a typically short back-lift shot that went a yard wide with Carson looking anxiously after it and the keeper was nowhere as Bale's cross sailed over his head and Darren Bent could not force the ball in at the far post.  Harewood showed his large bulk can be useful, when Robinson had to hurriedly kick out Keane's short back-pass and the Villa sub got in the way and the ball bounced back towards goal, but luckily for Tottenham (for a change) ballooned over the bar.

The lumbering forward's next involvement saw him in his own penalty area, when he knocked Bent over near the edge of the penalty box, with no real danger of him scoring from his position and with his back to goal.  82 minutes on the clock and a stuttering run for Robbie Keane sent Carson the wrong way and Spurs were back to 3-4.  Obviously Carson feared the comeback, as he kicked the ball high into the East Stand and got a booking for his trouble.  White Hart Lane is not really a good ground for him, as he let five in for Chalrton last time at the Lane.

Spurs were playing tight down the middle and this deprived Aaron Lennon of possession and also made it difficult for the type of passes Tainio, Zokora and Huddlestone were trying to play to the forwards.  As the three minutes of time to be played for stoppages started, you felt it might have been a heroic failure by Spurs, but two shouts for handball against Laursen were waved away by the ref, while the linesman was better placed to see, but failed to give the decisions.

Robbie Keane hit a dropping ball on the volley and it spun off a defender for a corner.  Robinson has come up for a previous corner, but this time, Dawson and Kaboul headed the ball around in the area before it fell kindly for substitute Steed Malbranque.  His low drilled effort hit Jermain Defoe and it looked like that was that for Tottenham.

Younes Kaboul reacted the quickest and the ball left his foot and rocketed into the roof of the net.  Cue jubilant scenes like we had won the league.  Kaboul stripped his shirt off and ran to the bench to celebrate, as the rest of the squad joined him.

Flags waved, those people who stayed jumped up and down and the cheers rang around the stadium, while the previously gloating Villa fans shrank like salted snails back to Birmingham with the chants of "4-1 and you mucked it up" ringing in their ears.

The reason it might be significant is that the team revealed some fighting spirit, which had previously been dormant.  Cutting out the individual mistakes to gift goals to the opposition and with the players taking responsibility for their own performances, which are controlling Jol's future, things might turn around, although we have a tough run of Premiership games coming up.  This was a well-earned draw in the end, although it was all a bit heart-stopping.

All this for a point against Aston Villa !!



Reaction : -



I think that Tottenham's 125 year history was summed up in 90 minutes last night.

One step forward, four steps back before salvaging something that puts us back where we started.

All this Jol speculation is not only unsettling, but it is now boring.  Will the current board never learn from the errors of their predecessors ??  It don't look like it.

I thought that was what history was all about.


So, where were Jimmy Greaves, Gazza, Ricky Villa, Steve Archibald, Garth Crooks, Graham Roberts and other "legends" from the line-up last night ??  Were they unable to attend or just not invited in the first place ?  I think we should know.

The selection of the "legends" was strange in itself, with Espen Baardsen (good keeper, but hardly a legend), Garry Brooke (FA Cup winner, but hardly a legend) and David Pleat.  And who is Chris Adams ??

I thought that the "legends" were going to kick 125 footballs into the crowd at half-time too.  Was it the fact that the majority of them might have been booted back after we were losing 1-3 that put the powers that be at THFC off the idea or was it because the team were doing their best to boot 125 balls into the crowd with their wayward passing throughout the match ??



When you score four goals in a Premier League match, the Good Doctor said to me, you should win.  With Spurs these days, it is the norm to score that many to get at least a draw.  Having seen our side hand Villa a couple of goals and with Dawson failing to see off Agbonlahor for the third,  we appear to be missing Ledley as much as ever.

Chimbonda's lack of pace to get back when caught upfield and Kaboul's new-ness to the team mean the defence is not a tight unit and the midfield are failing to function like they did last season, making more work for the back four. 

When the score got to 1-4, my memories went back to that evening in 1978, when Ardiles and Villa played their first home league game for Tottenham.  The opponents - Aston Villa.  The score - 1-4.  The torn up newspaper for the tickertape celebration stayed in the pocket.

Then at 3-4, the first game in Gerry Francis' reign as Tottenham manager came to mind.  Having battled back to 3-3, the visitors snatched a late winner and another new era almost stalled in it's inception.

They had already ruined two parties, so I was glad that this time we showed what we could do going forward.  And we got to wave our free flags the club had provided us with.

It wasn't always beautiful, but at least they are learning to score ugly.  Perhaps if we stopped letting them in at the other end, things could be a whole lot better for them Jol and the fans.


I have felt for a long time that Paul Robinson was an overrated but adequate goalkeeper.  However, after Monday night I think it is time to prioritise getting a replacement.  It is such an important position and I believe he contributes a lot to the current flakiness of our defence.  Itís not just his errors but his inability to dominate the six yard box (particularly on crosses) and his vulnerability to shots from distance.  Being a good shot stopper is simply not enough.





Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 0 Manchester United 1 Saturday
Chelsea 0 Fulham 0 Saturday
Derby County 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Manchester City 3 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 7 Reading 4 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Blackburn Rovers 2 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 0 Liverpool 1 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Everton 2 Middlesbrough 0 Sunday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 7 6 1 0 16 4 19 +12
2 Manchester United 8 5 2 1 7 2 17 +5
3 Manchester City 8 5 1 2 11 6 16 +4
4 Liverpool 7 4 3 0 12 2 15 +10
5 Everton 8 4 1 3 10 8 13 +2
6 Portsmouth 8 3 3 2 17 12 12 +3
7 Blackburn Rovers 7 3 3 1 7 5 12 +2
8 Chelsea 8 3 3 2 7 8 12 -1
9 Aston Villa 7 3 2 2 11 8 11 +3
10 Newcastle United 7 3 2 2 10 8 11 +2
11 West Ham United 7 3 1 3 9 7 10 +2
12 Wigan Athletic 8 2 2 4 8 8 8 0
13 Birmingham City 8 2 2 4 7 10 8 -3
14 Middlesbrough 8 2 2 4 9 13 8 -4
15 Sunderland 8 2 2 4 8 13 8 -5
16 Fulham 8 1 4 3 12 14 7 -2
17 Reading 8 2 1 5 9 18 7 -9
18 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 8 1 3 4 14 16 6 -2
19 Bolton Wanderers 8 1 2 5 9 13 5 -4
20 Derby County 8 1 2 5 5 21 5 -16


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