Looking Forward

 

LEEDS UNITED

Premier League

Sunday 4th November 2001

As with many of the games between these two teams of late, expect a physical battle with more cards than Lee Bowyer will get from Amnesty International when he is sent down.

Although Leeds are emerging as s credible challenger to Manchester United for the title, there are still questions to be answered about their effectiveness and the depth of their squad.  That they have spent a lot of money there is no doubt, but as Hoddle said recently, they will be under pressure to win something soon and old Pig Face will not be popular having taken over from George Graham and not put any silverware in Mr. Ridsdale's cabinet.

Nigel Martyn is a sound enough keeper, as he has proved over the years and at international level, but is always prone to making the odd gaffe that costs his side.  Kicking is not his forte and he also sometimes looks dodgy in the air, so Les could add pressure by doing some closing down and also going up in the air with the England international.  In reserve, up and coming Paul Robinson has slipped out of the first team picture after making such a bog impact when he stood in for Martyn a year or so ago. A big lad, his handling is good and he is a good shot stopper.

In the middle of the defence for Leeds (not that there is any defence for many of them), there is Rio Ferdinand.  Unlikely to feature because of a hamstring injury, he is not a player who I think is as good as the Press he gets.  Looks the part and is praised for being able to bring the ball out of defence, but his primary aim is to stop goals going past his own keeper.  Has got better since he left West Ham United, but has serious lack of positional sense and tries to be too clever sometimes, which again puts his side in trouble.  In his absence Michael Duberry has played in the centre of the back four.  He was reputed to be a target for Spurs as a replacement after the summer departures, but he is another who has not attained the expectations of his abilities.  Moving from Chelsea was a wrench, but he has never established himself at Elland Road.  Tall strong, but slow and again lets players slip in behind him.

With Lucas Radebe out long term with knee injury and Woodgate not up for selection because of the strain of his court case, Dominic Matteo has been the regular alongside Rio. The former Liverpool man is an adequate enough player, but has been hyped up as some sort of super sweeper.  Has the ability to bring the ball out of defence, but is not silky on the ball.  A strong tackler, he is athletic enough to get in last ditch tackles, but again, can drop off to sleep.  Wide of him there are available the Republic of Ireland pair of Ian Harte and Gary Kelly.  They are both attacking full backs in the many senses of the word.  Harte's two footed leap onto Chris Perry's chest a couple of years ago still remains one of the wonders of football that he did not get dismissed for that.  Kelly is no angel, despite his angel face.  The wide men of Spurs will try and push on to ensure that these two's opportunities to maraud forward are curtailed.  More likely Danny Mills will add his steely presence to the defence rather than Kelly.  He has been on the receiving end of some rough tackles of late (notably Le Saux's two footed effort), but then if you dish it out, you have to expect to get some back.  He also likes to get forward, but his final ball is often wayward and he does have a very good shot, but rarely gets a chance to use it.

Midfield at Leeds is a veritable log jam of talent. Much of it is hidden behind some serious intimidating play, but they do have layers who can play if you let them.  Prime suspect in this area is Lee Bowyer, who needs little introduction (or if there is it is likely to be a set of studs in your stomach, as Stephen Clemence found out a few Leeds games back).  He is a man who obviously has ability, but seems intent on making sure he is only remembered for the more unrefined aspects of his game.  With a litany of cards behind him, he has not mellowed with age and the stigma of his court case will hang over his reputation whatever the outcome.  Even though he may be innocent his behaviour on and off the pitch makes people believe he could have done it.  The only disappointment is that young Aussie Shane Cansdell-Sherriff won't be playing !!

Frenchman Oliver Dacourt is getting the bouquets for some fine creative play, but again he is a big collector of cards and red seems to be his favourite colour.  Alongside his the old timer David Batty has plied his trade (and his studs) all over the Premiership and is back in business and back in trouble with officials all over the land.  Erik Bakke came in from Norway and has been a regular with his stamina being the main feature of his game.  He also likes to tug shirts and go in late, but a knee injury makes his presence doubtful for the Spurs game.  With Jason Wilcox injured or out of the side for team selection reasons, in this area of their line-up the jewel is Kewell.  Harry is doubtful with an ankle knock, but he is skillful and effective in a way that Joe Cole can only dream about.  While he might be suspect to recovering from injuries, when fit he is a star who most top European clubs would snap up if they had the chance.

On the end of the supply from midfield are Mark Viduka and Robbie Keane.  These two are the Bonnie and Clyde of the Premiership, being used to overstepping the line of the law to get what they want - goals.  Viduka is a strapping, almost old-fashioned centre forward, but with a delicate touch and a power that is frightening.  Keane relies more on his pace and instinctive positioning to be in the right place at the right time.  Both will need to be tightly watched by the Spurs back line as their movement and interplay are well developed.  With Alan Smith likely to be struggling with an ankle injury (and not suspended for once), the only other option up front would have been Michael Bridges, but he too is always injured and with no return date for his current malady, it is a good job Alan Sugar is reputed to have upset him when he came down to sign for Tottenham (which he didn't know was so far from Sunderland !!).  One youngster from Ireland who would carry a great load if he played in attack is Gerard Mc Cargo.

PREDICTION : -  Leeds United  2  Tottenham  2

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

 

 

Leeds United   2   Tottenham   1                                    (Half time score: 0-0 )
PREMIER LEAGUE
Sunday 4th November 2001
Weather : -  Bright, but chilly
Crowd : -   40,203
Referee : -  Mr. S. Bennett (Orpington, Kent)

Scorers : -  Leeds United   -   Harte 61, Kewell 82 

                  Tottenham -  Poyet 52

CARDS

Leeds United :   Johnson 72 (foul)

Spurs :  Poyet 16 (foul), Sheringham 43 (dissent), Ziege 45 (unsporting behaviour)

TEAMS 

Leeds United : Martyn, Mills, Ferdinand, Matteo, Harte, Bowyer, (Johnson 39) Bakke, Dacourt (Batty 81) Kewell, Keane (Smith 74) Viduka
Subs not used : -  
Robinson, Duberry

Spurs:  Sullivan, Taricco, Perry, King, Richards, Freund (Rebrov 87) Anderton, Poyet, (Davies 87) Ziege, Ferdinand, Sheringham
Subs not used : -  Keller, Thatcher, Bunjevcevic

Midday on a Sunday is an unusual time for a kick off, but at least it means the journey up the M1 to Leeds is easy on (Ed : - or should that be like ?) a Sunday morning.  Leeds knew that a win would take them to the top of the Premier League, while Spurs were looking to extend a promising run. Spurs were unchanged, but had both Rebrov and Bunjevcevic back on the bench.  There was plenty of pre-match talk about the fitness of Ferdinand, Kewell and Bowyer in the Leeds camp.  They all played.

It was a bright day and Leeds put Tottenham under plenty of pressure from the off and there were no immediate signs of them suffering after their midweek UEFA Cup exploits.  The Leeds midfield players seemed to take it in turn to make runs behind the Spurs defence, so it took some good fortune and some good defending for Spurs to go in at half time level.  Bowyer missed a couple of chances before he left the action after 39 minutes; no doubt suffering from the broken nose he had treatment for the previous week.  He needs more than a nose job and left the field to the usual cry of “Bowyer’s going down” from the visiting fans.  Spurs best and probably only real chance in the first half followed some good work by Anderton.  He delivered an excellent low cross, which somehow went through Les’s legs at the far post.

The second half started with Spurs much more positive. Ziege and Anderton both had shots that went over the bar.  Then on 52 minutes an excellent move saw Leeds concede their first goal at home in the Premier League this season and what a goal.  Sheringham fed Ziege out wide.  Ziege drilled a pass to Poyet.  Gus controlled the ball, beat his man, switched to his left foot and hit a crisp shot into the top corner.  At this stage it was looking very promising, but Leeds raised their game.  Viduka had a “goal” disallowed for a clear offside.  Then Harte found himself in possession on the edge of the box.  He hit a shot that Sullivan seemed to have covered, but somehow it squirmed from his grasp hit the post and went in to level the scores.  A rare mistake by Sullivan, but he redeemed himself shortly afterwards saving at the feet of Keane.   From a corner Ledley King almost restored Spurs lead forcing Matteo to clear his low drive off the line.  Then came disaster.  Richards headed a Leeds throw back to the keeper, but the ball seemed to be falling in “no man's” land.  Sullivan hesitated, Perry tried to retrieve the situation, but it was Kewell who got to the ball first to poke it into the empty net.  

There was still time for Spurs to try and get a deserved equaliser.  From a corner in the dying stages of the game, Ziege flashed the ball over and Richards missed with the goal at his mercy.  So, a difficult game where Spurs played well, but had nothing to show because of two basic errors.  For Tottenham Sheringham did well, but Anderton was the key with his accurate passing and all round game.  Les struggled up front lacking the pace to make an impact against his cousin Rio.  In fact pace was one of the major differences between the two sides and Leeds have it in abundance.

At least the journey home was cheered by the match commentary from “The Library” where the home team lost by four goals to two.  Let us hope that they lose their next league game at the Lane by the same scoreline.  Oh, and you know who was not playing as he is injured again ?? A Gooner fan even suggested on TalkSport's phone in that you know who is overweight!

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  DARREN ANDERTON

Eric The Viking

 

LOSING A(T) LEED(S)

 

With two simple mistakes, the game was lost.  Was it ever won ??  Well, Spurs played well enough to have the lead, despite Leeds having the bulk of the possession, but at a stage where they had taken the lead, it was the home side that took the initiative by pushing forward for the equaliser and then with two substitutions took the points with a winner.

There were good individual performances and yes, errors cost the game in the end, but what of the team play in the match.  Occasionally we saw flashes of the passing game that Hod has developed, but all too infrequently because of the wastefulness of possession. Too often we make it too easy for other sides to play against us by providing them with the ball, when to hang on to it and make them work to regain possession would be far more beneficial.  Glenn said he wanted players who were comfortable on the bal and played with their head up, but there are still some in the team who don't.

I think that there are signs of improvement in many departments of the team, but two stand out.  One is communication.  Spurs need someone to dominate the defence - be it Sullivan telling those in front of him what he wants (a la Schmeichel) or one of the defenders to tell the rest of the back line what should be done.  While it is early days for Richards, perhaps he would fill this role best, although I don't know if he is that sort of player, but that is what we need.  Too often the ball runs through the Spurs back line or players nip between Tottenham defenders, when a call might obviate the need for the gaps that appear.

The second thing that appears to be holding us back is our substitutions.  Glenda does not seem to read the need for a change, rather seemingly responding to things that happen in the game.  We saw it glaringly against Manchester United and this was another example.  At 1-1 and with some of our older gentlemen tiring, it was left until we were losing and with only three minutes left that he brought on Davies and Rebrov.  This leaves them little time to get into the game, let alone change the course of it.  Conversely, Leeds' subs came on before the winning goal was scored and changed the whole result.  I can understand the need to maintain the same side who had won three matches on the spin, but the need for fresh legs in the second half is self-evident to almost all Spurs fans.

For Tottenham playing away to one of the top clubs in the country, it showed that the gap between them and us is closing, but there is still a lot to do before we overhaul them ... like winning away against some of them.

Peter Tuomey

Back to homepage