Saturday 2nd April 2005
While MEHSTG does not claim to be the font of all knowledge, we are not fully paid full-time football experts ... like those folk at the Sky Sports website, who in their preview claim "Tottenham have not won away from home this season, a statistic that will not have escaped Martin Jol." I am sure Martin appreciates their advice.
We know that our away record is outstanding for the amount of goals we have scored ... just eight away from White Hart Lane. A few more goals on our travels and we would be right up there, especially with the recent defeats at SCBC and Charlton where Spurs had all the pressure without the goals or points to show for it.
It has been a familiar tale, although the football Tottenham have played away is much more entertaining than in previous recent seasons. The next step is to gain some reward from it.
With the forwards being lively, the need to stick the ball in the onion bag remains a priority and Jermain Defoe must start at St. Andrews. With Matthew Upson and Kenny Cunningham forming a reliable duet at the heart of the Brum back line, the speed and agility of Defoe will cause problems for them, as he did with his fine goal in the home match. Maybe twinned with Kanoute's ability in making chances, they might provide a tough afternoon for Birmingham. At full back, the home side will probably field Melchiot and former Spur Jamie Clapham. With Spurs dedicated to using more width and with Andy Reid coming into add strength to the attacking assets of the left side, it is hoped that he might tie up ex-Pensioner Mario Melchiot to make sure he does not have time to showboat like he did in the last match - their win against Villa. Both full backs like to attack, but it will require some hard work from our wide midfielders to stop them progressing. Other options available to Steve Bruce are former Palace winger Julian Gray, who has converted to a full back and one who pushes forward (to score in the case of the Villa match); strong central defender Oliver Tebily, brought in from Celtic and another bug centre half, Martin Taylor, who can play wide if required.
The midfield might be missing Robbie Savage (although nobody seems to miss him !!), there are enough City players who can step into the breech. Muzzy Izzet could be available after being out of the picture for a while and is a driving midfielder, who can break forward to score, although he is less prominent these days compared to his time at Leicester. Jermaine Pennant might make an appearance and Spurs will have to shackle him as tightly as his electronic tag and keep him as wide as they can, without getting a supply of crosses to the forwards. Darren Carter is a Steven Gerrard in the making, although a little less polished at the moment, but he can bring some powerful forward runs to the Blues midfield, while Darren Anderton and Stephen Clemence are two names that are very familiar to Tottenham supporters. Both left White Hart Lane without being able to pin down a place in midfield, but they are adapting to life at St. Andrews and both have talents that will mean they need watching. French midfielder Mehdi Nafti I don't know much about, but Damien Johnson has just featured in Northern Ireland's two World Cup qualifiers this week and is a little like Andy Reid in stature and style. Bruce will have to do without Salif Diao, who has a calf injury; David Dunn who has a hamstring problem that has troubled him for a while and will rule him out until the end of the season and Stan Lazaridis, who misses the game after a long journey back from Australia.
Spurs have already faced Robbie Blake this season at Burnley in the Carling Cup and he gave the Tottenham defence some problems that night, although he will probably have to settle for a place on the bench with the loaned Uruguayan Walter Pandiani (or "The Rifle" as he likes to be known) taking a place in the side, probably alongside the bulky Emile Heskey as the front pairing. Pandiani took just a few minutes to get on the scoresheet in his first Brum game and has shown he has a shoot on sight policy, which might test Paul Robinson's reflexes. The choice up front will mean that Republic of Ireland's match-winner in their last two matches will stay on the bench too. Clinton Morrison is a striker who is instinctive and would be a regular scorer if he got a run, but it looks like he will have to settle for an understudy's role at Birmingham, amidst rumours he might leave in the summer, but then Pandiani has been a target for Barcelona, so how things turn out, who knows ?
With the break between games and the number of players Tottenham have had in international action, there may be a reaction and therefore, I take Spurs to play the way they have in the last couple of away matches, but still fail to finish off their good approach work as the result could end up ...
PREDICTION : - Birmingham City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
BIRMINGHAM CITY : Salif Diao (calf); Stan Lazaridis (travelling back from Australia); - (-);
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Michael Dawson (shin); Pedro Mendes (broken toe); Thimothee Atouba (suspended);
|Birmingham City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Half-time score : 0-0)|
|Premier League||Venue : St. Andrews|
|Saturday 2nd April 2005||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 29,304||Referee : Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)|
|Weather : Warm, sunny|
|Teams : -|
|Birmingham City :
Pennant (Gray 57)
Pandiani (Morrison 68)
Pamarot (Kelly 14)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
|Match Report : -|
|This was another game that
Tottenham could have won, but they came close to losing the points, as
they had done players earlier in the match, but Stephen Kelly's first
goal for the club put them in the ascendancy until Carter equalised
within six minutes.
With Noe Pamarot being stretchered off after a seemingly innocuous incident with Lazardis, Stephen Kelly came on in the 14th minute and had an eventful match, especially in the second half.
The opening salvo were fired by Birmingham, with Pandiani hitting a shot too high after Heskey had laid the ball back into his path. However, Fredi Kanoute almost got in on goal, but Cunningham and Clemence squeezed him out as he was about to shoot. The closest that anyone came to a goal was Jermain Defoe in the 11th minute, when he looped a header from Kanoute's cross over Maik Taylor and only the intervention of Jamie Clapham prevented the ball crossing the goal-line and Michael Brown's volley cleared the crossbar from the loose ball.
Spurs fans harangued jailbird Jermain Pennant at every opportunity with the chant of "You're Supposed To Be In Jail", but this did not stop him swapping passes with Heskey, with the England forward hitting a curling shot wide of Robinson's goal. Defoe's presence provided a loose ball to go in the direction of Andy Reid and his curler also ended up wide, but only after a deflection took it for a corner. An Irish link-up between Kelly and Reid ended with Taylor stopping the winger's shot with a dive.
The fortunes of the Birmingham front pair contrasted as much as their size. While the big lump Heskey won everything in the air, the Uruguayan Pandiani could not trap a mouse and his touch gave the ball to Spurs players unerringly. With Ziegler getting drawn infield quite regularly, there was space for Edman to bomb up the left wing, but Jol obviously wanted the midfield to operate with width and Sean Davis came on for the Swiss left sided midfielder to add some grit in the central area added to some astute passing ability. His early involvement showed that he was making the midfield tick and tried to slip in the forwards with good vision.
After half-time, Melchiot drove a low cross in front of goal, but there was no bluenose to sniff out the chance and when Pennant left the field to be substituted, he received a great ovation from the Spurs fans. It was in the 59th minute that Tottenham took the lead with a well-worked move. The ball was moved forward by Davis to Carrick, who passed a well-weighted ball into the run of Kelly on the right hand side of the area. His run did not break stride as he hit took the ball on his chest, brought it down to strike it low past Taylor to net his first ever goal for Tottenham.
Spurs almost relaxed to bad effect after the goal, when ex-Spur Clapham took a free-kick that was met by Upson and his header was fortunately straight at Robinson. The aerial route was paying off for Brum, as Pandiani also headed a ball goalwards, but it went wide of the target, but he did better in the 66th minute when he set up Carter breaking into the box to was not strongly challenged and popped a shot past Robbo to bring the scores level.
Spurs decided that they would go for the win and with King limping, Martin Jol took off Naybet for Mido and his introduction nearly paid dividends. As Reid's cross came over, the Egyptian rose high and nodded the ball at goal, only for the Irish keeper to make a fine save to stop the effort and then Kanoute hit a goal-bound shot from the corner, but the reflex save took the ball away from goal.
Having said all that, Spurs could still have lost their point at the end. Johnson's long cross was headed down by substitute Gray and with the goal yawning before him, Clinton Morrison managed to hook the ball wide of the goal even though he was little more than six yards out.
In the end, perhaps both sides settled for the draw, but in terms of the ambitions of the team, Tottenham will feel, once more, that they should have finished the good work they created and should have taken more than a point from this away game.
Without disrespecting Birmingham, they were not matching Tottenham in football terms and there were more chances for the white shirts, but if you don't take them, there is no reward. Perhaps things might change when Spurs face Newcastle next Sunday. They will be in for a real fight !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SEAN DAVIS
|The Heathrow Spur|
|HORNS OF A DILEMMA|
|Following Tottenham is an often
frustrating experience and today was no different to many pilgrimages I
have made to football grounds all over the UK (and Europe).
Once more Spurs had the bulk of the possession and clear cut chances, but failed to stick them away, allowing the home side to find the net with their one real chance of the second half and salvage a draw.
Brum started brightly with loan striker Pandiani hitting a couple of shots goalwards. I think he must be called "the Rifle" because all he can do is shoot and he appeared to annoy some of his team-mates with his shoot on sight policy. But there is a similar feel to the Spurs attack sometimes, with player electing to shoot when it is not the best option.
Defoe had Tottenham's first real chance, nodding Kanoute's deep cross back over Taylor, with Clapham doing well to get the ball away. I am not sure the ball would have gone in, but we lacked a forward run from a midfielder who had anticipated the trajectory of the ball and might have finished it off. Spurs were required to rearrange the troops, as Pamarot left the field on a stretcher, having done his knee. Kelly came on and did well at right back, as he has done lately.
Reid tried to curl the ball around the defender in front of him and the keeper, after a Defoe effort had been charged down, but he might have been better off getting it on target, as the ball beat the far post. It was nearly ten minutes until the next shot from Spurs and Defoe blasted a drive over the bar and then Kanoute did his dance over the ball before having a shot a couple of minutes later, but that went wide too.
To be honest, neither side looked like scoring in the dull first half and it seemed as though we were in for a duller second 45 minutes. But it started with tag-man Pennant and Melchiot getting around Edman for the former Chelsea defender to flash a ball across the face of goal with no blue shirt reading it. Then, just before the hour, Sean Davis, who was on for Ziegler in a tactical switch to open up the play, held the ball and played it to Michael Carrick. Looking up, he picked out Stephen Kelly's run on the right wing and the Irish defender took the ball on his chest and finished across Taylor with a fine low drive to give Spurs the lead. It was a well crafted and well finished goal.
Birmingham came back with a few lame efforts and then when Carrick lost the ball, Carter ran through a few "challenges" (although they were hardly worthy of the name) and poked the ball past Robinson from about the penalty spot. It was a soft goal to concede and one that would have been easily avoidable. And one that would have earned two more points for Spurs if they are serious about getting into Europe again.
In the closing stages, the passion went out of the game a bit and although Mido had a bullet header well stopped by Taylor, who then denied Kanoute with the follow-up, in injury time, Morrison swivelled to hook a shot wide, when if he had got it on target, Tottenham might have travelled home with nothing.
The point was probably the right result and with hindsight, it is easy to see how we lost two more.
The away form has been consistent this season ... consistently dropping points through lack of clinical finishing. It (again) is something that needs to be addressed in the summer and maybe the one telling moment of this match took place off the pitch rather than on it. Robbie Keane's assault on a water bottle showed his frustration when Mido was brought on to bolster the attack when Naybet was withdrawn. Robbie might well have thought he could have turned the game, but the big man's header almost won it for Spurs and if Robbie would have done better in the remaining time, we will never know.
Jol will have his work cut out to keep the four forwards happy if that is the reaction to not getting a game and the pressure on them to deliver when they do get to play looks like it is playing on their minds too. Horns of a dilemma ? Somewhere along the line someone has to get the point !!
The Funky Phantom
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Charlton Athletic||2||Manchester City||2||Saturday|
|Manchester United||0||Blackburn Rovers||0||Saturday|
|Newcastle United||0||Aston Villa||3||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Everton||0||Sunday|
|18||West Bromwich Albion||31||5||12||14||30||51||27||-21|
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