Blackburn Rovers (Away)
Saturday 4th December 2004
It is disturbing how teams below Spurs always seem capable of picking up points from draws, while our record seems to consist of a win or loss and no middle ground. Like last season, a few losses turned into draws could have seen us a few places higher. But then that wouldn't be Spurs would it ??
Blackburn come on the back of a 2-0 away win at Fulham, while Spurs similarly won at home to Boro, so the recent form looks fairly even, but our long run of defeats was not matched by Rovers, who drew the odd match in their run even though they hadn't won. The battling characteristics of some of the teams down the bottom of the table could be something that Spurs need to examine to ensure that they reap the points they need to pick up their climb up the league.
Brad Freidel will most likely be between the posts and his form has not been as good as in recent seasons, but his performances against Spurs have often been the difference between the two sides. The defence in front of him has contributed to a lot of goals going in this season and Lucas Neill has been as solid full back, but he can sometimes be rash in the tackle, so a nippy player could get past him should he dive in. Andy Todd has been given a chance to resurrect his career after a bust-up at the Valley and a tough tackler, he can be a bit slow on the turn, so Defoe might play on his shoulder and given the right service might capitalise on the weakness. Craig Short adds height to the back line, as does Nils-Eric Johansson, but both have momentary lapses both in and out of possession and the Spurs players need to pressure them as much as they can to make the most of their mistakes.
The midfield contains Stephen Reid, who is just emerging form an injury nightmare since his move to Blackburn, while Tugay looked set to leave until Souness moved on himself. Another injury victim has been Barry Ferguson, who suffered a broken knee and is again finding his feet in the Premiership. He is a terrier in midfield and has attracted a lot of attention from other clubs, such as Liverpool and Newcastle. Brett Emerton has settled into the English game after his move from Feyenoord and has been linked with a move to Tottenham among others, as he starts to show why he was so sought after when he moved to Ewood Park. A tricky winger, he will need to be shackled to prevent him setting up opportunities for the forwards.
And they are the two Pauls - Dickov and Gallagher. One an ex-Gooner and a real nuisance, while the other is a youngster with a n ability to finish with a calm assurance. They will be under pressure from Jon Stead and Jay Bothroyd (another former Gooner) on the bench, but they will hassle the life out of the Tottenham back four, so they will need to keep their concentration going for the full 90 minutes.
With Reto Ziegler offering an outlet on the left and with Defoe in such good scoring form, I would think Spurs will get on the scoresheet against the division's biggest conceder of goals. However, conversely, Spurs need to be tight at the back to ensure that they do not give points away too easily. A bit more focus than on Wednesday might not go amiss, with the aim of taking our game to Blackburn and not being a sitting target for them to pinch the spoils.
With both side needing points, I believe they will both get them ...
PREDICTION : - Blackburn Rovers 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.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
How do you think
Rovers have played this season ?
BLACKBURN ROVERS : Vratislav Gresko (knee ligament); Matt Jansen (knee); Jonathan Stead (knee); Lorenzo Amouroso (heel); Youri Djorkaeff (-)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Sean Davis (knee); Goran Bunjevcevic (shin); Erik Edman (ankle)
|Blackburn Rovers 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Half-time score : 0-0)|
|Premier League||Venue : Ewood Park|
|Saturday 4th December 2004||Kick Off : 17.15 p.m.|
|Crowd : 22,182||Referee : M. Dean (Wirral)|
|Weather : Dry, cold|
|Teams : -|
Ziegler (Redknapp 74)
Defoe (Kanoute 89)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
Dickov (persistent fouling) 30
Naybet (kicking ball away)
|Match Report : -|
|There are things
in football that sometimes surprise you. Spurs going away from
home and pulling out a win from a performance of hard work and grit is
one such surprise, but that is what they did at Ewood Park.
It was a game that will not live long in the memory of the purist, but the way Spurs handled it does give some hope for the future ... even if it is winning games against teams lower than us in the table; something of a Tottenham failing in the past.
The chances were few and far between in the first period, as Rovers lacked the confidence to penetrate too far towards the Tottenham goal, while Spurs were having trouble getting the passing game going. When they did, they opened up the Blackburn defence, but failed to get telling shots on target.
Some of the expected nastiness from Dickov appeared when he made a needless tackle on King as the ball was off the pitch. The only surprise was the ref failed to caution the former Arsenal striker and reserved that for a foul on Naybet when, again, he could not get the ball. His constant niggling is something that you would really like to see eradicated from the game, so when he started having a go at Thimothee Atouba, the defender thought it would be a good ides to kick him while he lay on the floor. The Cameroonian was lucky to escape it being seen by any of the officials, but might not be so lucky as the TV cameras caught it clearly.
Tottenham's best chance came when Keane set Defoe in and he ran past Todd, who pulled his shirt, but the Spurs striker kept going and hit a low shot that Friedel got a foot to, diverting it up in the air and just over the top. Ironically, if Defoe had gone down, it may have resulted in Todd being sent off, having had Blackburn's best opportunity from a volley and leaving Spurs with a penalty, which might not have been the best thing after Wednesday.
The half time team talk Mark Hughes gave must have been more dynamic than Martin Jol's as Rovers had their one decent strike on goal almost straight from the kick off. Dickov played the ball in from the left wing and Paul Gallagher took the ball with his back to goal and turned sharply to hit a shot that Robbo had to thrown himself sideways to save at his post.
When Atouba gets his throw-ins right, they do go a long way. One was headed out but only to the boot of Pedro Mendes, who struck a low volley that was saved by the Rovers goalie comfortably. In the 56th minute, a move from one end of the pitch to the other gave Spurs the lead. Michael Brown took the ball off a Rovers midfielder as they tried to build an attack, then he ran away from Tugay, who tried, but failed to foul him. From the right wing, he ran diagonally across the pitch to the left hand corner of the area and when confronted with Todd, pulled back and square passed the ball into the path fo the on-running Robbie Keane to smack it past the goalie who was on the floor. It was a really good run, considering Brown is not known for his pace, but he kept his body between the ball and the opponent and the only way they could have got to it was to foul him, so it was good thinking as well by the midfielder.
It was expected that Rovers would give it the kitchen sink to get an equaliser, but it didn't seem to happen. Some long range efforts wide and high and a ball headed into the six yard box that Naybet had to dispatch before someone in a blue and white halved shirt got there were all that Rovers had to offer. Spurs could have extended the lead, as Defoe forced Friedel into another save with a low drilled effort from outside the box in the 62nd minute.
But with Tottenham being Tottenham, they have to make it exciting at the end by giving away a free kick on the edge of the box. And not content with that Naybet helps them have a better go, by kicking the ball away to move it ten yards closer. As it happened, it might not have been a bad thing, as the ball was smashed into the wall and cleared just before the final whistle went.
That signalled a good away win and all the side have to do is stop booting the ball anywhere when they are under pressure and try to hold it a bit more, then we might see some improvement in the long term. A trip to Man. City will not be easy, but the determination shown hints that the team, and the Head Coach, might be realising that there is more to just turning up to get a result.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL BROWN
|Just how Spurs managed to hold on
against a frankly poor Blackburn side for the three points is a question
we will all ask for the next few days. The attitude of trying to
protect what we already had is understood, but did the remaining eleven
players in yellow shirts on the pitch have to make it such an abject
last fifteen minutes, surrendering possession in a way that an amateur
team might be embarrassed by.
The panic in booting the ball anywhere was inherent in the side and led to a long series of Blackburn attacks, which, luckily for Spurs, were as powerful as a powder puff. Even the award of a free-kick on the edge of our box with a minute left was helped along by a stupid act by Naybet in kicking the ball away, thus earning a yellow card and moving the kick ten yards nearer the goal. It was a dangerous decision by Naybet and one that might have cost us against a better team.
But the rest of the game showed Spurs are not yet in a position to take games by the scruff of the neck and dominate. Letting Blackburn have 75% of the possession towards the end was playing a dangerous game and thanks to some stout defending by Naybet and Kelly, along with some safe shot stopping (to go with a couple of dodgy cross catching moments) by Robinson were enough to keep Rovers out. One good thing was the introduction of Thompson, who seemed intent on trying to score "goal of the month" from 30 yards and although he got closer than Todd's first half volley, Robinson was not troubled by his efforts. He also picked up a booking for a deliberate handball as he went up for a cross in the Tottenham penalty area.
In truth, there was little to say about the home side's performance apart from they had a lot of the ball. They failed to do much with it and did not press home their advantage like a home team should. For that Spurs should be thankful ... that and the fact that other results went their way today.
Martin Jol began with Kelly coming in for Pamarot and with Keane and Defoe up front, losing Fredi to the follies of his midweek performance. It was a fairly even first half with nothing to distinguish it from a match between two teams struggling for points. Defoe had a couple of snapshots, the best kept out by Friedel's left foot and the ball then ballooned up into the air and goalwards, but, if it had been us defending, it would have gone in. As we were in attack, it nestled on top of the net. Brown had a shot from the edge of the box and the keeper dealt with it comfortably.
It was one of the few times I had seen Ledley lose his rag. Dickov scythed him down as King let the ball run out and pushed the tiny Gooner in the chest as he came up to offer a limp hand in apology. It was no surprise that a later clash with Atouba ended with Thim kicking him on the floor and perhaps he was lucky not to have been seen by an official, but the Scotch forward brings out the worst in footballers and refs don't always get it right. Luckily, Mr. Dean did.
Robinson's day's work started just after the break when he turned aside a Gallagher shot on the turn and apart from a low save from Dickov at the end, there was little in between. Thanks to the defenders in front of him, they cleared anything that dropped in the area, leaving him to field tame attempts on goal and any crosses that came in (which didn't go behind, as a lot did).
At the other end, Spurs had a Mendes volley stopped by Friedel, as was Defoe's low drive, but it was Keano who got the all-important goal. Breaking up a Blackburn move halfway inside his own half, Michael Brown ran away from Tugay (who couldn't foul him, having already been booked) and then across the chasing defenders to the left corner of the area. He turned and looked up to lay a square pass into the path of Robbie Keane, who drilled it low past the spread-eagled Friedel. It was a fine goal and owed a lot to Brown, who doesn't always get the credit he deserves.
Rovers frantically tried to get back into it, but their efforts were wayward and even the introduction of the physical presence of Bothroyd didn't help, as he looked anything but a Serie A player.
The points were eeked out and although not a pretty performance, Jol will expect some games like this where we get the result without perhaps even earning it. However, the team should improve their ability to hold the ball to ease the pressure at the back and Thim should not try any of his fancy tricks in areas where it might cost us !!
With two successive league wins, these are heady days and I just hope that the team capitalise on the games we have coming up against lower Premiership opposition with wins like this. With confidence they might even go out to attack teams and then we might see exactly what they are capable of.
Benny The Ball
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Portsmouth||3||West Bromwich Albion||2||Saturday|
|Crystal Palace||0||Charlton Athletic||1||Sunday|
|20||West Bromwich Albion||16||1||7||8||15||31||10||-16|
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