Saturday 7th February 2004
would have thought that after the sprightly start that Pompey made to
their first Premiership campaign that they would be below us in the
table at this stage of the season ? It may be that is the reason
that Harry Redknapp has chosen to freshen up the squad in the transfer
window to make sure they do not get down to the bare bones. In
have come Richard Duffy (a youngster from Swansea City), Lomano Tresor
Lua Lua (a speedy winger from Newcastle), Ivica Mornar (a striker who
was playing for Anderlecht) and former Blackburn Rovers and Leicester
City defender John Curtis. Highly rated Duffy is a buy for the
future, while Mornar has been brought in to beef up the goal-scoring
department in the absence of the prolific Todorov, who's net-finding
propelled Portsmouth into the top flight last season, but is missing
through injury this campaign. Curtis has experience with a number
of clubs, but is a gritty defender and Lua Lua is seeking a regular
first team place after not establishing himself at St. James' Park.
The bulk of the squad has come in since Hangdog Harry took over at Fratton Park, transforming the side under the chairmanship of Milan Mandaric, who has put up the money to get Portsmouth into the PL. He has made a string of goalkeeping signings, with Shaka Hislop the main holder of the post, but injury has kept him out, while Pavel Srincek and Harald Wapenaar both arrived on free transfers to stand in for Hislop and have been found a little wanting. Hislop is a big keeper and a good shot stopper, but the one time NASA employee has found that it is tough back in the stratosphere of the Premiership and he has been missed by his team.
He has had a bit to do, as have the stand-in goalies, behind the defence made up of four from Dejan Stefanovic, Linvoy Primus, Adrian De Zeeuw, Matthew Taylor, Sebastian Schemmel, Richard Hughes and Petri Pasanen. Stefanovic came from Holland and had played at Sheffield Wednesday under David Pleat and in Italy before that, but has been guilty of some moments where he lapses in concentration. De Zeeuw is well know in England for his time with Barnsley in the Premiership previously, but he has been around and is a strong presence in the air, although can be caught on the turn and Defoe might find some joy there is he plays. Young Welsh defender Hughes can play energetically, as he proved when called on, while Primus has lots of experience, but not in the top flight. The 31 year old again adds height to the back line, but mobility is not a major asset, so some exploitation of that might be made by the Tottenham forwards. Don't know much about Pasanen, apart from the fact that he is on loan from Ajax, while Spurs were keen on Taylor when he was at Luton, but he signed for Pompey, did well in the promotion season and has been out for a long period injured. Back fit now, he likes to get forward on the left and has a cracking shot on him too !! Schemmel looked as though he was on his way back to France when West ham showed him the door, but Redknapp picked up another of his former charges and has restored him in the line-up at right back. Another who likes to attack, Spurs might find that they can catch Portsmouth on the break, if the wing-backs push on.
The midfield of Harry's side is packed with experience, but also with old legs of old lags. Eyal Berkovic moved from Man City and hit out at his former manager Kevin Keegan, Nigel Quashie has never realised the potential he showed as a QPR youngster and Steve Stone has been hit by injury since his return to the top flight. That has also ruled Tim Sherwood out of a game back at the Lane after his move to the South Coast. Amdy Faye sounds like a promising, if slightly raw talent, with pace and poise. Patrik Berger brings a good stylish presence in midfield and a hell of a shot from dead or moving ball, with Alexei Smertin on loan from Chelsea alongside him, who again has a cracking shot and is a delightful passer of the ball.
The forward line is depleted with the loss of Todorov, but with Sheringham, Yakubu, Mornar and Pericard there are still options available to Redknapp. Teddy we know all about and is probably a good bet for the first goal !! Aiyegbeni Yakubu is pacy and strong and available after being sent home from the African Nations Cup for breaching a curfew. Mornar is a new face brought in from Anderlecht with Mandaric's knowledge no doubt recommending him to Harry. A forward who can score goals, he might cause Tottenham problems merely because nobody knows much about him !! Finally Vincent Pericard was signed from Juventus and shocked a lot of people by choosing Pompey. He's young, athletic and has a prodigious leap. A tight watch will be needed, especially after Wednesday !!
Portsmouth move the ball well and switch play, trying to string out the opposition for Teddy to move into space in and around the box. Berger is still a decent player and can pull some strings in midfield too. Spurs must play for the full 90 minutes to gain anything from this game, but with Defoe available to play, they might be content in making a few more chances and he will no doubt be grateful to stick one (or four) away !!
While the memory of Man City lingers on, the side could be a very different one than that which finished the FA Cup run and that should make it possible for Spurs to get a result that will aid their rise away from the bottom of the league ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham 3 Portsmouth 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
It has not been possible to gain an alternative view .
TOTTENHAM : - Jamie Redknapp (not match fit); Frederic Kanoute (on international duty); Darren Anderton (Achilles)
PORTSMOUTH : - Svetoslav Todorov (knee); Tm Sherwood (broken leg); Gary O'Neil (leg); Hayden Foxe (broken foot); Deon Burton (knee); Dejan Steanovic (suspended); Richard Duffy (suspended); Kevin Harper (suspended); John Curtis (groin)
TV : Highlights on "The Premiership" - ITV Saturday evening (10.30 p.m.) and Sunday morning (9.25 a.m.)
Radio : BBC Radio Solent (69.1 103.8 FM - South Coast area only); Quay Radio Live (107.4 FM - South Coast area only)
Internet : www.spurs.co.uk Live webcast (Subscription access only); Portsmouth FC website - registration necessary for access to commentary
|Tottenham 4 Portsmouth 3 (Half-time score : 2-1)|
|Saturday 7th February 2004|
|Venue : - White Hart Lane|
|Kick Off : - 15.00 p.m.|
|Weather : - Dry, but it had rained prior to the match; chilly|
|Referee : - P. Walton (Northants)|
|Crowd : - 36,107|
|Teams : -
Tottenham : - Keller; Carr, Gardner, Richards, Jackson; Davies, Brown, King, Dalmat (Ricketts 73); Keane, Defoe (Poyet 82)
Unused Subs : - Burch, Doherty, Yeates
: - Hislop; Curtis,
Primus, De Zeeuw, Taylor; Quashie, Faye (Lua Lua 64), Smertin, Berkovic
(Stone 85); Yakubu, Sheringham (Mornar 46)
|Colours : - (kits
courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
|Scorers : -
Tottenham - Defoe 13, Keane 42, 79, Poyet 89
Portsmouth - Berkovic 39, Lua Lua 65, Mornar 84
|Cards : -
Tottenham - Dalmat (foul) 73
Portsmouth - Faye (foul) 61
Rarely will you get to see fourteen goals in two matches in the space of four days and never will you have so many palpitations as seeing Spurs scrape home in this match against fellow strugglers Portsmouth.
From the start to the finish, it was more end-to-end than a cup-tie and neither side really excelled at keeping the other at bay, with chances available at either goal. Spurs opened up well, but the first real opportunity fell to Yakubu, refraining from returning to Africa after being booted out by Nigeria. He took a ball from Eyal Berkovic, who was at the centre of all Pompey's good work and hit a shot that Keller had to push out.
When Tottenham started to put their play together, they did look quite fluent. Ledley King established a firm hold on the game early on, although that was to slip in the second half. He produced a ball forward to Keane after nipping it off a Portsmouth toe, then Robbie found his new strike partner Jermain Defoe in space outside the penalty area on the right. He took the ball forward a couple of strides, shifted it out of his feet and hit a low shot along the floor. The ball flew between De Zeeuw's legs and past the stretching dive of Hislop, finding the inside of the side-netting to give Spurs a 13th minute lead. It was a striker's goal, with the instinct to hit the target a priority and taking the shot early helped it beat the big keeper. His celebration sliding to his knees showed how much it meant to him and his team-mates, who surrounded him.
Spurs were moving the ball well and finding space to move into, with King and Brown linking well to put Simon Davies in on goal, but his firm shot was saved by Hislop, who then denied his soon after with a block with his legs. However, as the ball flew up into the air, Michael Brown was held by both arms of Curtis in the box, but the ref, who had a pretty good game, failed to consider a penalty. It was a bit worrying that Spurs failed to be first to the second ball, when it was cleared at either end, with Nigel Quashie hitting a shot from 30 yards as Tottenham backed off and it flew two feet wide, with Keller scrambling. Johnnie Jackson tried to emulate the Pompey midfielder, but was too high with his effort and then it was 1-1 !!
A ball in from the right from Yakubu, low into the box, was cleared from inside the six yard box by Carr, but it flew straight back past Kasey as it rebounded off Berkovic's head. Of all the places it could have gone, it had to hit him and go into our goal, which was becoming symptomatic of our luck at the moment. The 39th minute equaliser was bizarre and nothing more than might have been expected after Wednesday's debacle. Just one of those things ... but one of those things that always seem to happen against us rather than for us.
It took a goal of class from Robbie Keane two minutes later to restore Tottenham's advantage. He had just mucked up one opening, when he tried to take too long over a shot and the defence closed him down with the opening passing him by. However, as the ball bounced on the edge of the area, he shimmied to go right and De Zeeuw bought it and moved that way, but Keano went the other way and hit a fine left footed effort that ripped past Hislop and bulged the Paxton net. It was typically Robbie and his cart-wheel celebration showed that he was back on scoring form, with this being his fifth league match running where he has his name on the scoresheet.
Dalmat was looking a bit more interested this afternoon, with a couple of runs past defenders, but his final ball was lacking a little. He hit one shot coming in from the right wing that flew a long way wide, but right on half-time, he forced the Pompey glove-man to hold a stinging shot from outside the box with his right foot.
After the break, Teddy Sheringham failed to appear for Portsmouth and was replaced by Ivica Mornar. Teddy had not featured too much in the play from the visitors going forward, but Mornar made an impact on the second half as he got to grips the Tottenham defence. A foul on him 20 yards out gave Berkovic the opportunity to bend one over the wall and two feet wide of Keller's left hand post, while the USA goalie then had to make a fine diving save to push wide a low skidding drive from Yakubu. It looked like it had jumped over his arm, but he got enough on it to divert it outside the goal.
The lanky Croatian Mornar was all arms and legs, which seemed to unnerve Richards and Gardner, as he ran at them, won headers (he must be 6'3" tall) and generally upset them in their work. Keller was called into action with saves from Yakubu again and Lomana Lua Lua, brought on as a sub for Faye). Dalmat's frsutartion was evident as he had less time on the bal in the second period and he brought down Yakubu right on the touchline. It was his last act as he was subbed, with Rohan Ricketts making a welcome return to the first team.
However, within a minute, Portsmouth were level. A long bouncing ball into the 20 yard area outside the box was got away from Richards and Lua Lua was allowed to swivel and hit a fierce shot past Keller, which went in off the post in the 72nd minute. The little loan player from Newcastle should not have been given the time to line up his shot and from this point, Richards received boos every time he got the ball, which is not what Spurs fans should do. It only serves to promote the image of the Tottenham fan as a fickle one and does not help the player during the game, as we still want him to do well despite what we think of him at that particular time.
Spurs pushed forward, but King as getting a little lost in midfield and Davies was tiring from putting in a huge amount of work closing down Portsmouth players and making runs off the ball. Brown had a fine game, not being an outstanding figure in the game, but making the midfield bite and getting the ball to the players who need it to do damage to the opposition. He looked hungry for his first Spurs goal and forced Hislop to save, had another blocked by Keane, one more blocked by a Pompey defender and finally, near the end, curled a shot from the left wing in towards goal and Hislop has to tip it out at full stretch.
As it was he was the main creator of Tottenham's third goal, although Keane made most of the running for it himself. With the ball being cleared out of the Spurs box, it came to Brown just outside the penalty area. Looking up, he hit a first time ball out to the left, where Robbie Keane could get to it, but the Irishman was on his own on the halfway line. However, he decided he was going to go it alone and outpaced Curtis and Taylor, getting a ricochet off one of their legs to put him in on Hislop, his shot was directed into the ground and it bounced up and over the prostrate goalkeeper to put Tottenham ahead once more.
With the lead at 3-2 and with less than 10 minutes left, Pleat took Defoe off and replaced him with Poyet !! A weird choice as the game was still tight and with Defoe the sort of player who could nick a goal form nothing, he might have been useful on the pitch. As with many of Pleat's substitutions these days, the change resulted in Spurs conceding again. Yakubu was causing problems when he got forward, playing from a deeper position in the second half, but a run down our right saw him pull a low ball back into the six yard box, where Mornar had lost Gardner and he tapped home from close range. 3-3 with just six minutes left. Great !!
With a final twist of the fickle finger of fate, Keane ran forward and Spurs won a corner as he was tackled, with a minute left. Davies swung it to the far post and he found Richards' head there. He nodded the ball back into the danger zone and Poyet met it with his knee to force the ball into the net for the winner. The two players who had caused Tottenham fans the most consternation linked up to produce the winner in the most unlikely scenario since last Wednesday.
The display showed that there is still a lot wrong at Tottenham. The lack of a dominant personality in the team means that the confidence in the side is brittle and they are not a solid enough unit to repel the advances of the opposition. The two goals Portsmouth scored in the second half were avoidable and the defence must shoulder a lot of the blame, but they are not being properly protected by the midfield in front of them. These are issues that need to be addressed in the short term, but definitely in the summer for the long term benefit of the side.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL BROWN
|WHEN I KNEED YOU|
|The crazy world of Tottenham
Hotspur produced another game that oscillated from one way to the other
until finally Tottenham sealed a win that left the fans staggering out
with the knowledge that their share of the seven goals was greater this
time. Without being melodramatic, I don't think there are enough
St. John's Ambulance staff in the ground these days with matches like
this going on all the time !!
When the team was announced before the match, Poyet and Richards both received boos and the team line-up was similar to that which ended the game on Wednesday. The one big change was that Defoe had come in to make his debut, replacing Poyet, who had come on for Postiga up front. Ricketts' appearance on the bench was a welcome sight, as his absence has been noted with his determined energy lacking from the team.
The heavy downpour at 1.30 p.m. would have left the pitch zippy on top, but the sprinklers were also on before the game and the amount of water probably made the going a bit heavy. However, it seemed to suit Tottenham initially, with them attacking the Paxton Road end ... an unusual occurrence and one that might have indicated that Spurs had lost the toss. It didn't seem to faze Tottenham, as they proceeded to pour forward and Pompey were on the back foot. Keller had to save a breakaway from Yakubu before Ledley King found Keane in space. He immediately looked up to find Defoe pulling away to the right and taking the ball he had only eyes for goal, hitting a low skimming shot off the turf that the keeper was probably unsighted for. It went through a defender's legs and into the netting for the first goal of Jermain's Tottenham career. He slid on his knees and was saluted by the crowd, who hope this is the first of many, many more in the lilywhite shirt.
Simon Davies was playing really well and got forward to have a couple of shots that Hislop was called on to save and it was more or less one way traffic, although Portsmouth gradually started to get possession and make inroads towards the Spurs goal. Yakubu is a strong striker; stockily built, he takes some knocking off the ball and it was his run down the right wing that set up the equaliser ... freak though it was. He was put away as Spurs held their arms up for an offside that didn't come and he hit a low cross into the goalmouth and Stevie Carr was there to clear, but Berkovic's head was in the wrong place at the wrong time for the ball to bounce off and in past a surprised Keller. While the Israeli had been the most effective player that Pompey had during the 90 minutes, his goal-scoring is not his forte, but if he keeps getting goals like this, then watch out Ruud !!
It was a well-crafted and expertly taken goal that got Tottenham back in front. A ball in to Keane was stepped over, leaving it for Defoe, but a defender's leg diverted the ball up into the air. As it bounced, Defoe moved right, with two defenders following him, leaving Keano to swing to hit his drive on the turn with great power and out of the reach of the keeper's dive. There seemed to be an almost instant understanding between the two little front men. Although at times, Tottenham did pump high balls up to them, with the ball on the ground, they showed that they have similar ideas about where to run and how to flick the ball to each other. With big central defenders in the other side, they are the ideal pairing to have should you be able to give them the proper service.
Into the second half and the substitution of Teddy Sheringham turned the match. Claiming a hamstring pull as the excuse for his exit, he had done little in the match and was well tied-up by Gardner and Richards in the first half. Perhaps he just couldn't bring himself to face Tottenham for the full 90 ?? Anyway, the freaky looking Mornar came on and caused all sorts of problems with his height, determination and elbows. The man was like he had eight arms and legs. And suddenly, the ref, who had quite a good first half, decided that he was going to be a Premiership ref after all. I had never heard of him before, although he has apparently done three other games in this league previously. His linesman in front of the East Stand didn't help, as he was not often up with play, leading to him giving some dodgy offside decisions. With Mornar being a real handful, Gardner and Richards struggled to keep him quiet. It proved costly as his forays down the line were making Keller save low balls into the box and when Lua Lua came on, he also was hitting crosses in at the near post. Luckily, there were no Portsmouth forwards there to convert them.
That was the case until Spurs decided to play offside from a long ball forward. Richards let the ball bounce and then lost position as Lua Lua got in front of him, took the ball down and bent his shot around Kasey that hit the post and went in. It was a poor goal to give away and one that exposed the lack of fitness/pace/confidence (delete as appropriate ... or leave them all there !!) that Deano is currently suffering. Personally, I think he is finished and not only that but his performances are affecting Gardner's, who doesn't look comfortable with the number 36 beside him.
For Tottenham's lack of concentration in defence, they at least have alert strikers. As the pressure built up on the Spurs defence, a corner was cleared to Brown, who hit the ball first time on the turn to the left wing, where Robbie Keane picked it up just inside the Pompey half. Chased by Smertin and Curtis, Robbie cleverly kept the ball out of their reach and as he got to the six yard box, tried to cut inside. The ball bobbled up off a block and he quickly adjusted to fire a shot in that bounced over Hislop to give Tottenham the lead for the third time.
Would that be enough ? No, of course not, as this is Tottenham Hotspur we are talking about here !!
When Poyet came on for Defoe with ten minutes left the reasoning behind the move was not really clear. It was a weird choice as the game was still tight and with Defoe the sort of player who could nick a goal from nothing, he might have been useful on the pitch.
It all came home to roost when Yakubu got free down the right and Richards went over to him, but failed to get close enough and the Nigerian hit a low ball in with the outside of his right foot that was netted by Mornar, who had got away from Gardner in the six yard box. Gardner was drawn to what was going on with Richards and was distracted from his marking duty, but again, it was a soft goal to concede ... something that is becoming too frequent. Let's at least make teams work for their goals !!
With other results going our way, the need for a win was uppermost, but in typically Tottenham style, we looked to have thrown away two points that would have been very useful in getting to the magic 40 mark. But then, a final fling and a corner from Davies found Richards' head to knock the ball back in front of goal, where Gus kneed it in for a last minute winner. The two villains of the piece combining to win it for Spurs ... how ironic.
It was also ironic that Bobby Zamora scored on his debut for West Ham, but the muppet Iron on one of the radio phone-ins who said he would take them up while Spurs would go down only made me laugh. He said Defoe would only stay a couple of years because he wanted a move to a top three club, well, he obviously thinks he has better options playing for Tottenham than he does for West Ham !! Another season in the Nationwide should see us pick up a few more of their players !!
With Brown having an influential match in midfield, alongside Davies, who looked like he is returning to his old form, the team worked very hard at depriving Portsmouth space and time on the ball, but that was not true of the defence ... especially Richards. It seems that his best days are behind him and his deficiencies are now becoming more apparent to all. Doherty offers a more solid presence and seemingly one that Anthony can play alongside.
Dalmat showed flashes of what he can do, but he often failed with the final ball or shot, but Ricketts gave a good display when he replaced the Frenchman. Defoe looked lively and although he did not always get the ball, he was alert to making runs to get into the right position to receive it should it come. When Kanoute returns from Africa, he will provide an aerial option and having played with Defoe before, hopefully their partnership will pick up from before, so they will need little "settling in". Keano will probably play in the hole, just behind the front two and that will suit him as he will be able to arrive from deep and also to run at defences, as he did today.
A heart-stopping match that saw Spurs fans relieved to have taken the three points and with ten more needed, we all hope we live to see that day !!
|What can I say but just
another fiasco of a match. When are they ever going to learn.
I noticed in the 1st half Teddy was unmarked at nearly all set pieces, did he not play for us twice so should we not know what he was going to do. (just lucky he did not have a particular good game). Would have been just like us to let a ex player scorer on his return.
Why did they not replace Richards with Doherty, he is getting worse match by match, I know you will say he had a hand in the winner, but to me that is no where near enough. The boo's for him were fully justified, especially the second Portsmouth goal; he can't win many headers, he can't tackle and has no idea what to do with the ball except lump it.
I hope Hoddle gets the Notts Forest job, then maybe we can swap him for Dawson + cash.
Finally any truth in Antic for the job? Celta Vigo are near the bottom of the league.
last time I posted in, I chose some of Sir Bill's legendary quotes to
portray my opinions on the last 3-4, so this time I thought I should
choose a quote that described this 4-3. Though he didn't appear to
have any with something to the tune of "Three points is three
points" so I chose this,
"The public can't be
kidded. They know what they want to see, what is good and what is bad
and what is just average. At least I believe they do."
I also spotted this
little piece of info in the News of the World today, turns out we are
the highest scorers at home in the Premiership after U Man U, with the
hefty total of 24 beating are North London rivals by a clear two,
although they do just scrape ahead of us in the against column. We have
let in just the 19 which is just beaten by the 9 down at the Library.
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Aston Villa||2||Leeds United||0||Saturday|
|Manchester City||0||Birmingham City||0||Sunday|
|Newcastle United||3||Leicester City||1||Saturday|
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