League Cup Fifth Round
Wednesday 1st December 2004
|Spurs will face a
reduced Liverpool side as they recover from their 2-1 victory over
Arsenal and prepare for their important Champions League match next
It will be a Scouse side full of young faces and a few experienced heads who haven't been getting a run out of late. So, when they face a full strength Spurs side what might happen ?
Well, the match at the start fo the season will give no clues, as both teams were under new management and a lot has changed since then. Spurs have a new Head Coach and Liverpool have been shorn of their strike-force as Cisse broke his leg and Baros is out with a hamstring pull, the same injury that robs them of Luis Garcia. Added to that Smicer has a long term knee injury, depriving them of his goals from wide or midfield and defender Josemi is ruled out with concussion, with his fellow stopper Traore having a knee knock that means he will not be playing.
But the ones coming in might be striving to stake their claim for a regular place and the prospect of getting through to the semi-finals will mean that no quarter will be available for anyone to hide in. That means another performance like Sunday from Spurs, where they work hard to shut down any space that Liverpool might want to exploit.
With the way Tottenham have been playing it might not have been an ideal game to face, so soon after the long losing run, but perhaps with both teams having won on Sunday, the game might be a bit more open that it promised to be when the draw was made. Defoe's presence will be important and the loss of Naybet could be a problem with Calum Davenport cup-tied and Anthony Gardner just back from a while out with problems with his feet. The midfield four must put in the hard yards and Michael Carrick will be instrumental in opening up the Liverpool defence for chances to be created.
Crucially, the fate of Tottenham in this competition will lay in their own hands. Home advantage should be a bonus, but the most important thing it brings is the fact they don't need to travel and will have the benefit of the larger slice of the support. What will be needed is to give the fans something to cheer about and should Spurs go a goal behind, it might transmit the worries that the side have onto the terraces.
There is no doubt that the side Liverpool put out could decide the outcome, rather than the side Spurs put out. The Reds have the greater quality and the bigger squad, but Tottenham might benefit from playing a side who have played together more often. It will be a determining factor if that cohesiveness can provide pressure on a Liverpool team who may not be completely together and be without the rested Gerrard.
With a fair bit at stake, whatever Benitez says, I think it will be a close tie and that if Tottenham can get their nose in front, they might just keep it that way until the end.
PREDICTION : - Tottenham Hotspur 1 Liverpool 0
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Sean Davis (knee); Goran Bunjevcevic (shin); Noureddine Naybet (groin); Erik Edman (ankle); Calum Davenport (cup-tied)
LIVERPOOL : Milan Baros (hamstring); Luis Garcia (hamstring); Jimmy Traore (knee); Djibril Cisse (broken leg); Vladimir Smicer (knee); Josemi (concussion)
|Tottenham Hotspur 1
(Half-time score : 0-0)
(after extra time; score at 90 minutes 0-0. Liverpool won 3-4 on penalties)
|League Cup 5th Round||Venue : White Hart Lane|
|Wednesday 1st December 2004||Kick Off : 19.45 p.m.|
|Crowd : 36,100||Referee : Neal Barry (Scunthorpe)|
|Weather : Cold, dry|
|Teams : -|
Diao (Partridge 111)
Mellor (Welsh 52)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
Sinama-Pongolle (p) 117
Defoe - SCORED 1-0
Henchoz - SCORED 1-1
|Cards : -|
Pamarot (foul) 39
Welsh (foul) 59
|Match Report : -|
For the first time in a long time, Spurs
dominated a match in terms of possession and territory, but not for the
first time, failed to make that pay as they slipped to a penalty
shoot-out defeat to a fresh-faced Liverpool team.
It is not a terrible indictment of the players, but they lacked creativity and hardly troubled Dudek in the Reds goal, despite being given the space and time to play by a very young Liverpool side fielded because the manager Benitez rested a large number of the regular starters. Spurs played an almost first choice side, but leaving Defoe on the bench until after the hour mark proved costly. The chances that were made were spurned and you felt that had Jermain been on the pitch from the first whistle, he might have snapped up one or two more.
Spurs started brightly and had early openings which Ricketts and Kanoute both skewed wide enough to go off for throw-ins !! Kanoute did manage to twist on a ball in the box to rap a shot against the crossbar in the sixth minute, while the precision balls through the red defence were just not accurate enough to find their target. Man of the Match Ziegler was put in with one ball that did find it's mark, but he couldn't, lashing his effort into the side-netting, while Ricketts rose to get on the end of a fine right wing cross from Fredi, but he tried to glance it in, rather than go for power and the ball slipped off his forehead and slipped wide.
Robbie Keane was once more frustratingly unable to finish, hitting Dudek's body as the Polish keeper rushed at him following a scramble form a loose ball at a corner. It was a disappointing half, but Spurs had strung some passes together, albeit in areas of the pitch which would not hurt Liverpool. The Liverpool side had hardly threatened the Tottenham goal, so when the ball bounced loose once more in the box, Keano was on it like a flash, but, again with Dudek at his feet, he hit the ball towards the goal and it flew just the wrong side of the post. The Pole was the barrier to Tottenham scoring in the 60th minute, as Robbie's volley from Fredi's cross was powered down into the ground and the keeper dived up to push the ball over the bar for a corner.
Paul Robinson was called into action, at last, in the 72nd minute, as he kept out a Smyth effort at his near post, while he was almost exposed when Anthony Gardner tried to dummy the ball and slipped, letting Sinama-Pongolle through. However, the Spurs man dragged him down to stop him getting away, with the ref chasing up to him with card in hand. We all thought it would be red, as the French forward would have been away, but it proved to be yellow and Gardner was relieved to see that. He made amends a little, with a diving block to deny Biscan, who drilled in a shot on the edge of the box.
So, without being able to breach the young battlers from Anfield, Spurs moved into extra time, as the night got colder.
Fredi almost repeated his early effort of the first half, as he moved the ball onto his left foot and curled a shot that flew a couple of feet wide of the angle of post and bar. A minute later and it was Welsh at the other end, who almost produced an action replay of Kanoute's effort, but it was lower and just flew wide of the far post by inches. The second half started with Spurs hitting some long range efforts at Dudek, but he was helpless in the 108th minute of the tie, when Michael Brown played Fredi on down the right side of the penalty box. He turned his marker and looked up to find Jermain pointing to the near post. That was exactly where Kanoute placed the ball and Defoe got on front of his marker to fire home, like he did on Sunday. It was a well-crafted goal and out of keeping with much of Tottenham's work up until that point.
The lead was only kept intact by Robinson's athleticism. With a header coming in from Sinama-Pongolle, the England goalie turned the ball over the top from just under the bar. From the resultant corner, the ball was played in and Kanoute decided that he would stick his hand in the air and the ref rightly pointed to the spot. The previously and regularly off target Pongolle stepped up to bury the spot-kick past Robbo. Hardly surprisingly, coming just three minutes from the end, there was no real attacking intent after that as both sides settled for penalties.
The shoot out saw Spurs lose out again and we are getting as bad as England these days !! Kanoute hit his penalty well, but it was not near enough to the corner of the net and it was at a good height for a keeper to save it. Then RObinson made the save of the night, diving full length to tip Potter's kick onto the post and out. Brown tried to put it out of the keeper's reach and succeeded, but blasting it way over the bar. When Sinama-Pongolle scored his second pen of the night, it was all over. WHen we heard that Liverpool had drawn Watford, it was a double whammy. Just what we needed !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - RETO ZIEGLER
|THE GAME NOBODY WANTED TO WIN|
seriously think we are in proper proper trouble for relegation (even
more than previous seasons) - there is just nothing there in the team.
and King aside the defence is horrific; the two full backs are just
beyond bad - I am not sure what is worse Atoubaís chaos or the Paramot
school of defending, which seems to involve keeping at least 10 yards
between you and the attacker at all times - how we let Taricco go I do
not know. Naybetís deep
defending is an accident waiting to happen but he is better than the
mess that is Gardner. We
miss Edman, but to be honest he has been found out and the deep cross to
the back post will always expose him, which leaves Bunjy and Richards
midfield is equally dreadful - Ricketts hasnít moved on and is as poor
as he ever was and Davies seems to have forgotten how to play
altogether; in the centre Mendes is the master of the sideways pass and
the million dollar ball that never comes off; Brown is Brown, what you
see is what you get. Michael
'best of a bad bunch - but why did no one else come in for him in
18months ?' Carrick followed by lovely wife - nuff said; Ziegler is the
one bright spark - but he's a kid and canít do it on his own.
Sean Davis is probably what we need, but he seems a long way from
fitness - otherwise we are down to one pace Jackson and some kids.
front Defoe is the only saving grace on the team - without his goals we
would be neigh on bottom already (no really, you work out the scores
without him); I donít know what is up with Keane, but something is not
happening, he seems to get worse by the game and couldnít finish his
dinner at the moment. Kanoute
is an enigma of the highest order - promises but never delivers and
seems to be getting in the team purely for his aerial ability.
have I missed, no-one of note I donít think; as a team this collection
of poor individuals make an even poorer team and the few bright spots of
Robinson, King, Defoe and Ziegler will only get affected by them.
I reckon Santini worked this out which was why he just went for
the defensive option - now heís gone (and I know its early days for
Jol) we seem to have no real style of play which just magnifies the
You look at our next five games and just wonder if we have the spirit, commitment, desire let alone the ability to beat the likes of a scrapping Blackburn, etc, etc - I really doubt it - I really think (and I know I say this every year) this could be the year - the Nationwide beckons.
thought Ė Robinson / Carrick / Kanoute / Defoe / Brown - all been
relegated from the Premiership once ... they know the drill!
The King of Mediocrity
GREAT OPPORTUNITY MISSED.
Take the one competition Spurs realistically have a chance of winning.
Take a home draw in the quarter-final.
Take our opponents fielding a reserve side.
Take Watford, a middling lower division side waiting in the semi-finals with either Moan U or the Scumís reserve team.
Take the great boost qualifying for the semi-finals would give our club in the six weeks before they are played, a time during which we are due to play many of the teams just below us in the Premiership.
Take the real possibility of Spurs reaching the Final and the wonderful boost this would give everyone in the club.
Take the fact that we only look dangerous when Defoe is on fire, usually allied to Mendes.
Now with this great almost unbelievably fortunate set of circumstances wouldnít you play your strongest side ?
Not Martin Jol.
Letís keep Defoe and Mendes on the bench, play Ricketts wide, even though he cannot go past any player and put Gardner in central defence for the first time this season.
And, consequently, fail.
We can bemoan the fact that Ricketts missed a clear header from six yards, Robbie hit the side netting from five yards in front of an open goal and that we ran out of ideas after an hour. If Defoe and Mendes had been on from the start we all know Spurs would have won.
And played Watford over two legs in the semi-final.
And been in the Final.
And we would all have been in Cardiff in February.
And the club would have been buzzing for three months.
Instead it is relegation fodder and no chance of Europe, which means Defoe, King and Robinson will be even more likely to be wearing Chelsea blue or Arsenal/Manchester red next season.
Smart selection policy Martin.
A great opportunity wasted, thoughtlessly thrown away, carelessly squandered and criminally discarded.
In 44 years this club has frustrated me many times but, perhaps, never so needlessly than now.
|Other scores this round :|
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