Looking Forward

 

Manchester United  (Away)

Premier League

Tuesday 4th January 2005

A trip to Old Trafford is not the most profitable journey that Tottenham make each season.  But this season things might be a little different.  We meet the Red Devils who are just hitting form, but we have a similar recent form record to them, albeit against lesser teams, but this match and the one against Chelsea will be the markers of how the Spurs side of Martin Jol has progressed.

It might be a chance for the team to show on a big stage what they are capable of and for United, they might have to think about what they are facing rather than how many they will score.

Having rested Defoe and Brown from Saturday's win over Everton, Jol will no doubt reintroduce them for the United match to provide some problems for Rio Ferdinand at the back and Roy Keane in midfield.  The area that this match might be won will be at the back.  United will be missing van Nistelrooy and Rooney up front, so Spurs might have to face Ronaldo, Smith or Saha and the way the back four are playing, they should be able to cope well.  Bellion is another option and his pace is electric at times.  With Carrick playing in front of them, they have an extra bit of protection and Mendes and Brown also help out with those duties.  

At the back for the home side, Ferdinand has been joined by Heinze, Silvestre and Phil Neville who can be determined in their allowance of chances to the opposition, but can be caught out.  O'Shea appears to have dropped out of contention, but he adds a bit more going forward if he plays.  With Ziegler pushing up on the left wing, this might limit the opportunity for Ronaldo to get forward and doubling up with Edman will keep the Portuguese winger tied up.  On the other flank, Pamarot will need to shut Giggs down quickly, but not so quickly as to allow him to skip past him.

Carroll has ousted Howard from the goalkeeping position and he is a sound goalie, but does have his moments.  With  he attacking options Spurs have he might find he has a busy night.  I believe that Jol will probably opt for the more defensive side he plays away from home and thus try and hit United on the break.  Therefore, a lot of reliance will be placed on the midfield to win, pick up and pass the ball well.  Spurs did give it away a fair bit against Everton and if that happens again, we will be punished.  Roy Keane is still a very good player, although maybe not as mobile as he used to be.  He has younger members of the side to do his legwork like Fletcher or Miller, not forgetting Djemba-Djemba or Paul Scholes, who both like to get forward from midfield.

Although they might be playing catch up with Arsenal and Chelsea, United still have the mentality to win games, even when not on top form.  It is still a tough ask for Spurs to bring home anything, even on our good run, but I think if the side can play as it has done recently, there is not a good reason why they cannot go one better than their result at White Hart Lane earlier this season, when it looked to be heading for a draw until the ref gave the Reds a penalty.

PREDICTION : -   Manchester United  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.

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE

Because of the busy of the Christmas period, MEHSTG has been unable to get a View From The Other Side.

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

MANCHESTER UNITED :  Quinton Fortune (hamstring); Ruud van Nistelrooy (calf); Louis Saha (knee); Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (knee);  Wayne Rooney (suspended)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Sean Davis (knee); Simon Davies (virus); Goran Bunjevcevic (calf); Dean Richards (ear infection); Stephen Kelly (knee)

Coverage

TV :  
FOX Sports World (US); FOX Sports World Canada; FOX Sports en Espanol LIVE  -  12:00PM Pacific; 01:00PM Mountain; 02:00PM Central; 03:00PM Eastern
Other countries live coverage click here.

Radio :  
BBC Five Live Sports Extra - Live coverage, click here.

Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
Planet football - http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs_match_new.ram (free - only available when match is on)
Radio Five Sports Extra -  Live commentary  http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/sportsextra/schedule.shtml

 

 

Manchester United   0    Tottenham Hotspur   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League Venue :   Old Trafford
Tuesday 4th January 2005 Kick Off :  15.00 p.m.
Crowd :   67,962 Referee :   Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
Weather :  Cold, blustery wind
Teams : - 
Manchester United : 

Carroll

P. Neville
Heinze
Ferdinand
Silvestre

Ronaldo (Spector 85)
Giggs (Bellion 38)
Keane (c)
Scholes
Fletcher (Miller 77)

Smith

Unused subs: 
Djemba-Djemba
Ricardo

Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson

Pamarot
Naybet
King (c)
Edman

Ziegler
Mendes
Carrick
Ricketts (Gardner 90)
Marney

Keane

Unused subs: 
Fulop
Bunjevcevic
Yeates
Ifil

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Manchester United Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Manchester United

None

Tottenham Hotspur

None

Cards : -  
Manchester United

   

P. Neville  (foul) 64

     

Tottenham Hotspur  

   

Pamarot (foul) 52
Marney (foul) 62

     

Match Report : -  
With one goal scored in this match and one linesman not being able to keep up with play, the result became a 0-0 draw with the result decided not by what went on on the pitch, but what didn't go on off it.

Spurs produced another resilient defensive performance with United creating chances, but with little cutting edge.  Robinson was called upon to pull off a couple of point blank stops, a couple of diving saves and a cracker at the end to keep the point we had to settle for.

With Dean Marney retaining his place in Michael Brown's continued absence, he played well in his second match at Old Trafford, making himself a nuisance in midfield.  And the two goals he got on Saturday have given him the confidence to have a pop at goal, with his second minute 25 yard volley going well wide to the derision of the home crowd.

Spurs had to pull a number of players back behind the ball, with Carrick often playing only just in front of the back four and he put in a fine performance.  With Smith just missing Giggs' cross, it was then the Welshman's turn to have a shot from Heinze's ball in from the wing, but it went over the top.  Robbie Keane called Carroll into action for the first time on ten minutes, when he spun on Mendes' pass to see the Irish keeper scramble at his near post to grab the ball.  Giggs brought a dive from Robbo to tip his toe-poke around the post and from the corner, Ronaldo jumped highest to get his head on it, directing it over the bar.  Another shot flashed past the post, and only just, when Roy Keane volleyed Naybet's clearing header narrowly wide.

Robinson made a good advance to stop Alan Smith's shot from the penalty spot after 37 minutes and United's attacking stalled when Giggs was substituted by Bellion having suffered a hamstring injury.  This allowed Spurs to push forward a bit and when Ziegler's cross was fumbled by Carroll diving low near the edge of his box, Keano nicked it off him and laid it back to Pedro Mendes.  From outside the box, the Portuguese midfielder curled a shot that he hoped would beat Carroll back to the top corner of the net, but only got it over the crossbar.

At half-time, it looked like Spurs might struggle in the remaining forty five minutes, but they had been single-minded in getting goal side of the ball to prevent Manchester United the space or options to open them up at the back.  In fact, the midfield had been tireless in breaking forward in support of lone striker Keane, but more often in protecting the defence, in which Ledley King was outstanding.

An early second half opportunity saw Robinson block Bellion, as he broke onto a through ball and then Tottenham hit the post.  Substitute Bellion put in a cross from their right wing and coming in at the far post, Noe Pamarot crashed a clearance against his own post and the ball was smuggled away by King and Edman.  As the game picked up pace, the yellow cards began to fly, with Pamarot, Marney and Phil Neville all being cautioned.  Bellion's pace was causing problems, with a low drive making the Spurs keeper make a stop at the near post and then a combination of Naybet and King closed down Paul Scholes in the area to stop his shot reaching Robinson.  Spurs had to defend with some determination at times, throwing bodies in the way, while others like, King and Carrick, managed to time their challenges to perfection.

Then it happened.  Spurs broke with a long ball forward and Robbie Keane chased Carroll as he came a long way out to his left wing to clear the ball.  His poor clearance flew along the ground and a high clearance was headed to the half way line, where Pedro Mendes was standing just inside the United half.  His vision had picked up Carroll out of position and his first time effort looped very high in the sky and the United keeper back-pedaled as the ball spiralled towards him.  The ball looked a comfortable one to catch, but Carroll managed to pull it to his chest and then it was over his shoulder and heading towards the line.  The Irishman floundered back after it.  Did it cross the line ?  Well, put it this way, if it didn't then Alex Ferguson would hardly have owned up to it.  It was yards over and the keeper scooped it back and out, while hitting the back of the net ... it was that far over.  But the three people in the stadium who didn't think so were the men in black.  And the play went on.

A break from that incident by the Red Devils saw the ref finally make a decision and it was in favour of the home side, but he bottled giving a penalty; instead awarding a free-kick on the edge fo the box.  The flying save to push the ball away by Robinson, as Heinze tried to bend it in just inside the post, was some sort of justice, but it was rough on Spurs.  We might not have had many shots on goal, but the team restricted Man U to some long range efforts, some soft shots from good positions and a couple of decent openings that they dealt with.  The one real chance they had, they converted.

I have never believed the saying that "these things even themselves out over the course of the season."  If so, what about Keano's lob that bounced over on Saturday and the penalty we should have had at Villa and ...

You get the picture.

 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - PAUL ROBINSON

Burton Bradstock

 

RED RED ROBBIN'

 

Rarely are things clear cut.  But just for once, this decision could be nothing more than formality, you would have thought.  Well, nothing is ever as it seems.

You wonder what would have happened if the ball had gone that far over the line at the other end.  Well, I for one, expect that a goal would have been given.  If not, would the Man U players have reacted in the same way ?  I think not.  Spurs got on with the game and nearly paid the price for it, as a free-kick given on the edge of the Spurs area almost led to a winner for United.  Only Robinson's agility kept it out and it was a magic save.

The rest of the game had little excitement during the preceding 88 minutes.

United made opportunities, mainly by attacking down the flanks, but the balls into the box made few clear cut chances and those they did were repelled by Robinson.  His touch around the post from Giggs close range effort was good, but the final save was class.  If he hadn't pulled off those saves, Ledley King and Reto Ziegler would have been men of the match.  Both had games that few can hope for at Old Trafford, putting in lots of effort and showing no fear in the face of the home side's pressure.  The amount of ground covered by the Swiss midfielder showed great endeavour to stop the red menace and King was calmness personified with a towering display that overshadowed Rio Ferdinand at the other end.  

And it was Ferdinand's header that dropped to Mendes near the halfway line to shoot up into the clear night sky, causing Roy Carroll to spill the ball for the second time on the night and drag it back from way over the line.  The linesman was way behind play and in scurrying back to keep up with the ball, he failed to look up and see the ball almost hit the back of the net before the goalie pulled it back over the line to deny Pedro the goal that would have seen Spurs win their first game at Old Trafford in 16 years and end a run of seven straight defeats by Man U.  The draw we got ended the run of losses, but it would have been Tottenham's first Premiership win at Man U. and a great boost to the confidence for the rest of the season.

The "goal" was not the only unsporting incident in the game.  A ball put out, so that a Spurs player could get treatment, was not returned to Tottenham when United took the resulting throw-in.  And for all the good reports about Gabriel Heinze, his use of an elbow on Robbie Keane's face was as cynical an act as you may see anywhere.

I'm not really too wound up about it considering.  If Spurs fail to qualify for Europe for two points, I might go a bit incandescent though !!

Isaac Gregory

And some material that we have received since the incident ...

A Statement from the FA re: last night's game at Old Trafford

An FA spokesman after the game absolved the linesman of any responsibility for the apparently mistaken decision not to award a goal to Spurs after a shot from the halfway line crossed the goal line by at least a metre.

"The shot came in from an unusual distance and as such caught the linesman out of position forcing him to race back towards the goal as the play developed", explained the spokesman, "As he ran, the United scarf he was wearing under his shirt came loose and fluttered up into his face obscuring his view and preventing him from making the call. It was just one of those things."

In response to further questions from the Press the spokesman explained "If they don't already have a United tattoo most officials on game day try to wear a scarf or a replica shirt under their regulation kit to show their support for the worlds greatest club. The linesman in this case had chosen to wear a United scarf, a common choice that is in keeping with FA guidelines. The root cause of the problem lies not with the linesman but with the players and management of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club who broke one the most important unwritten rules of the English FA: They placed a shot on target at Old Trafford. Martin Jol is new to this country and perhaps he's not yet familiar with some of our finer traditions. Fortunately if he doesn't yet understand that for the greater good of the game visiting teams, by  tradition, are not expected to try to score at Old Trafford then our officials are in a position to help Mr. Jol make that cultural adjustment."

Chuckling to himself the FA spokesman added "The goal had to be disallowed to avoid us descending down a slippery slope that would be bad for the national game. It's a fine line the officials have to walk. If they award a goal this week, next week someone might expect a penalty or ask that Van Nistelrooy be booked for diving. Can you imagine? That would just never do.  No no no. Shocking, just the thought of it."

 

Other scores this midweek :

Arsenal

1 Manchester City 1 Tuesday
Birmingham City 1 Bolton Wanderers 2 Tuesday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Charlton Athletic 0 Monday
Chelsea 2 Middlesbrough 0 Tuesday
Crystal Palace 2 Aston Villa 0 Monday
Everton 2 Portsmouth 1 Tuesday
Norwich City 1 Liverpool 2 Monday
SCBC 3 Fulham 3 Wednesday
West Bromwich Albion 0 Newcastle United 0 Monday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 22 17 4 1 42 8 55 +34
2 Arsenal 22 14 6 2 52 24 48 +28
3 Manchester United 22 12 8 2 33 13 44 +20
4 Everton 22 13 4 5 27 23 43 +4
5 Liverpool 22 11 4 7 36 22 37 +14
6 Middlesbrough 22 10 5 7 34 28 35 +6
7 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 22 9 6 7 29 21 33 +8
8 Charlton Athletic 22 9 4 9 24 32 31 -8
9 Manchester City 22 7 7 8 27 23 28 +4
10 Aston Villa 22 7 7 8 23 26 28 -3
11 Portsmouth 22 7 6 9 26 30 27 -4
12 Bolton Wanderers 22 7 6 9 29 31 27 -2
13 Birmingham City 22 6 8 8 25 25 26 0
14 Newcastle United 22 6 8 8 33 39 26 -6
15 Fulham 22 6 4 12 28 39 22 -11
16 Blackburn Rovers 22 4 10 8 20 37 22 -17
17 Crystal Palace 22 4 6 12 23 34 18 -10
18 Norwich City 22 2 10 10 19 39 16 -20
19 SCBC 22 2 9 11 22 37 15 -15
20 West Bromwich Albion 22 1 10 11 17 43 13 -26

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