Looking Forward

 

MIDDLESBROUGH (Away)

Premier League

Tuesday 9th March 2004

Fresh from their Carling Cup win over Bolton in Cardiff, Boro lost out to Birmingham in the league a few days later.  The fragile nature of the side means that it is possible to beat them ... even though it is in one of the least favourite places for Tottenham to travel to.

With Mark Schwarzer still making mistakes, like throwing one into his own net against Bolton, if Spurs get plenty of efforts on goal, they will get some joy.  With Carlo Nash as back up, there is experience, although Nash has been away from the Prem. for a while. 

The defence has been Boro's strength this season and it is always a point won, if they keep out the opposition.  Conversely, they have trouble scoring and thus their record of 28 goals for and 34 against shows that many of their matches are close.  Franck Queudrue and Danny Mills line up on the flanks, with Gareth Southgate and the returning Ugo Ehiogu most likely to be the pairing inside them.  With Tottenham's surfeit of strikers, the Spurs side might be able to find a way to create opportunities for Defoe and Keane, capitalising on any rustiness in Ehiogu's match play.  Youngsters Ross Turnbull and the cock-combed Andrew Davies have been given a chance this season, while ex-Derby central defender Chris Riggott and veteran Colin Cooper stand by for the call up.

There is a hard working midfield in the Middlesbrough squad and a bit of flair.  George Boateng and Doriva bring Dutch and Brazilian graft, while fellow samba star Juninho is the Ardiles-style creator in the midfield.  Former Man U midfielder Jonathan Greening has been in and out of the side, but has had more opportunities than Mark Wilson, who was with him at Old Trafford.  Young winger Stewart Downing has benefited from loan spells at Sunderland and elsewhere, with Stuart Parnaby being a more defensively minded player, who can double up at the back.  Rested after the Cup Final, Gaizka Mendieta will be fresh for this match and he has played at Valencia, Barcelona and Lazio, bringing his energetic midfield performances to the Boro team, with a fierce drive to trouble opposition keepers too.  So has Boudewijn Zenden, but he can be prone to fade from games and not have the influence that Steve McClaren hopes he will impose on the game.

The forward line have been a bit more lively than a few months ago, although Allan Johnston and Malcolm Christie have been absent with injury.  Cameroon striker Joseph Desire Job has come into a bit of goal-scoring form and he is leggy and pacy, with a deceptive power in his shot.  Slovakian Szilard Nemeth has been in and out this season, but Italian forward Massimo Maccarone has had a bit of a renaissance with a few goals here and there.  The one player who Tottenham will need to watch after his goal against us in the Carling Cup quarter final
is ex-Bolton front man Michael Ricketts, who gives a more muscular presence to the Boro forward line.  His strength in the air and power on the ground might cause Dean Richards a lot of problems, so our back four might need to be a little more mobile.

With a decent midfield, Spurs should be able to compete against the Boro engine room, with some chances created for the front two.  Playing Dalmat from the bench will probably be Pleat's preferred option, with his pace causing the tiring defence some tense moments and Defoe finishing might be the difference between the two sides.  Whatever happens, it will be a tight match with few chances, but I feel that Tottenham are capable of bringing something back home ...

PREDICTION : -   Middlesbrough  1   Tottenham  2

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

How do you think Boro have played this season ?
Weve played quite well in patches some of the early season games at home were excellent, but we were losing. We tightened up at the back, but then stopped scoring !  We might get it right soon, just like we did at Old Trafford and the Millennium Stadium!

Who do you think is the best Boro player at the moment ?
After a poor start Zenden has been showing some good form, and Juninho looks to be back to his very best.

Which Boro player isn't playing as well in recent games ?
Mendieta has been playing superbly well, but looks a bit tired at the moment. Played a brilliant ball through for Zenden for the first goal in the Cup Final though !

Any exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for ?
Stewart Downing has been exciting the fans when hes come on. Had a great loan spell at Sunderland , and looks to be one for the future.  A few bigger clubs are supposed to be in for him his contract expires in the summer !

How have the injuries to Christie, Ehiogu and Maccarone affected the team this season ?
I think weve missed Christie a great deal. Hes a player who gives 100% for the cause always a plus !  Chris Riggott and Colin Cooper have stepped in very well when Ugo has been injured but you cant beat that Ehiogu/Southgate partnership at the back!

What is the line-up expected to be ?
Probably Schwarzer Mills, Ehiogu, Southgate , Queudrue Zenden, Boateng, Doriva, Mendieta Juninho Job.

What do you your fans think of Tottenham ?
I reckon most of them think that you have some superb players, but recently underachieving.

Which Spurs player do you like ?
I would love to have Jermaine Defoe in the Boro team. Having said that, if you need to sell Kanoute or Keane, well have one of them instead!!

How do you think the loss against Birmingham affected the side, coming so soon after the high of winning the Carling Cup ?
Stupid time to play a Premier League game. The players probably didnt have much chance to celebrate and to wind down from the euphoria of the final.  Hopefully it was just a bad performance after the rigours of a tough weekend !

What do you reckon the score will be ?
Hopefully in front of our home fans for the first time since the Cup win, they will put on a show and win handsomely. Having said that, this is Boro, so well probably just scrape a 1-1 draw !

Thanks to Jon at
www.borobarmy.com

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

MIDDLESBROUGH : -  Malcolm Christie (broken leg); Mark Wilson (knee); Carlo Nash (finger); Danny Mills (suspended)

TOTTENHAM : -  Jamie Redknapp (not match fit); Fredi Kanoute (hamstring); Christian Ziege (thigh); Simon Davies (shin)

COVERAGE : 
TV :  No live coverage
Radio :  Radio Five Extra (digital radio broadcast only); TalkSport (1089 MW)
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast (subscription only)    

 

 

Middlesbrough   1     Tottenham   0     (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League
Tuesday 9th March 2004
Venue : -  Riverside Stadium
Kick Off : -  20.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Cold
Crowd : -  31,789
Referee : -  M. Halsey (Lancs)
Teams : -  
Middlesbrough : - Schwarzer; Davies (Parnaby 46), Ehiogu, Southgate, Queudrue; Boateng, Juninho, Mendieta, Doriva (Maccarone 46); Job (Nemeth 69), Zenden 
Unused subs: Jones, Riggott

Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Gardner, Richards, Taricco; King, Brown (Poyet 83), Anderton (Postiga 88), Jackson (Dalmat 66); Keane, Defoe
Unused subs: Burch, Doherty

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Middlesbrough Tottenham
Scorers : -  
Middlesbrough  -  
 Nemeth 74

Tottenham -  None

Cards : -  
Middlesbrough  - None

Tottenham -  Brown 45 (foul), Carr (foul) 86

Well, after the good run in 2004, it had to happen.  What an away defeat I hear you say ?  No !!  A game with less than six goals in !!

The early indications were that Tottenham might get something from the match, but as it went on, especially in the second half when Boro brought on another forward and upped the tempo, that it might go the way of the home side.  With Jermain Defoe getting his first shot off target after eight minutes, after crafting a volley for himself, Spurs ran the first half, but without racking up the goals to go with it.  Middlesbrough's defence is as tight as a gnat's chuff, so goals were always going to be difficult to come by, but with Tottenham around, the oppo will always get an opportunity.

Anthony Gardner's return was welcomed by the travelling Spurs contingent and his perfectly timed tackle on Job prevented him getting in on goal, while Keller fielded his first piece of action, pushing Zenden's free-kick over the bar.  There was a great amount of fannying about with the ball in midfield by both sides which lead to the possession being shared and conceded, but on 36 minutes, Jacko's corner was delivered to Anderton, who was standing outside the box, from where Daz hit a full-bloodied volley that was ripping into the top corner, until Schwarzer pushed it out.

When Michael Brown got booked just before half-time for a foul on Zenden, things looked like they would be suitably received in the dressing room, but the interval is not always kind to Tottenham and so it proved to be in the Boro case.  McClaren's changes swung the game in their favour, as they seemed suddenly hungrier for the result and with Spurs' well known propensity for gifting away points, it all looked like going pear shaped.

Kasey was suddenly usurping Schwarzer as the busier of the two keepers, with a touch over from Juninho's drive.  While Anderton managed to get a high shot in and Brown and Taz both made the Boro keeper go low to keep their efforts out, it was all up when Richards tripped Job in the box.  Or so it seemed.  However, he appeared to play the ball and the penalty award was harsh to say the least ... even though it was Deano who perpetrated the tackle.  Anyway, Maccarone stepped up to hit the ball off the spot on the hour, but KK went down to his right and got a good hand to it to push it off for a corner.  Hurrah ! ! A penalty save.  Perhaps our luck was in.

We should have known better than that, because in the next attack on the Tottenham goal, Richards managed to miss the ball in the box, leaving Job with the easy job of putting the ball past Keller from a couple of yards out.  The Cameroonian managed to side foot the ball wide and that was almost he last thing eh did as he was hauled off and Nemeth brought on.  Damn !!

He'd only been on for five minutes, when he nipped in front of Deano to take the ball around him and then circumnavigated Keller to slide the ball into an empty net.  Great !!

This did spur Tottenham forward for a final flourish, with Robbie Keane firing inches wide after Defoe and Carr had set him up for the shot.   Unfortunately, Carr got booked for fouling Juninho and then was lucky not to get sent off in injury time as he flew into another challenge. Before that Stevie put Helder in on goal, but he managed to miss the target with his shot, before one least surge took Keano into the box, where he went down under challenge from Ehiogu and stayed down, but the ref decided not to give it as a penalty.

So the game fizzled out and Spurs trekked back South with nothing in their locker and a match against Boro's North-Eastern rivals Newcastle on Sunday.  Will it be a return to the high-scoring days of February or more of the same that we saw here tonight  ?  Goals do it for me, as although Tottenham played well in the first half, they need to get goals on the board to get anything from matches these days and a tight game is one that I think will always end up going the other way.

 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ROBBIE KEANE

Alton Pancras

 

IT'S FROTHY MAN !!

 

Never had such a big occasion fallen so flat; almost as flat as a pint of Carling left on the bar too long.  Remember what it was like when we returned to WHL after winning the Worthington Cup ??  Perhaps it's a Worthington thing ?  But we lost to Leicester that day, having beaten them in the Cup Final a week or so before.

So it was another trip to another side who turned us over without looking like they had got over the shock of winning in Cardiff ten days previous.  The first half consisted of a series of half hearted attempts from Boro and little in the way of a real threat on the Spurs goal.  But for all the ball Tottenham had, they only had two shots to show for that.  Defoe knocked the ball up for a "home-made" volley that flew too high and Anderton's fiery drive from Jackson's corner was well kept out by Mark Schwarzer.

However, the second half was nearly a story of two penalties.  Maccarone hit his spot-kick to Keller's right, but the Yank managed to get across to the ball and divert it wide.  There was much discussion about the award in the first place, as Richards looked to have played the ball and not the man, but as Job went down easily, the ref was convinced enough to blow his whistle ... something he appeared happy to do throughout the match.

Kasey was already warm-handed from tipping over Juninho's shot, but he was helpless when Nemeth, just on the pitch for the hapless Job (who missed a cert when he was left in front of goal by a lack of concentration by Richards, who allowed the ball to reach the Boro striker), took the ball, ran away from Richards and then rounded the Spurs keeper to net what was to be the only goal of the game.

Though Spurs almost got a penalty back in the dying moments, with it looking a certain one, the ref failed to agree and let Ehiogu off and Middlesbrough's good record against Tottenham in the Premier League continued.

Richards looked OK in the first half, but two moments in the second half summed up his current lack of confidence.  One a good tackle which gave away a pen., the other a piece of comedy defending that saw him fail to clear a routine ball in the area, giving Job the easy task of scoring, which he spurned.

The service from the middle of the park was poor and the front two fed off scraps, with a couple of efforts of their own making, while the only other shot of note was Anderton's shot from a set-piece.

It was all a bit of a shock after the recent goal-fests, but it proved to be a dull second half performance and considering the team haven't had a game for two and a half weeks and have been training in the sunshine of Dubai, they can hardly be worn out can they ?  Perhaps the shill wind around the Riverside wasn't to their liking.

I know that, at the end of ninety minutes and another long journey home with nothing more than the warmth of out-singing the subdued home crowd to keep me optimistic that things might be better on Sunday, it wasn't to my liking.

Neville Fifehead

 

Other scores this weekend/midweek :
Birmingham City 2 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
FA Cup Sixth round
Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 5 Saturday
Manchester United 2 Fulham 1 Saturday
MiIlwall 0 Tranmere Rovers 0 Sunday
Sunderland 1 Sheffield United 0 Sunday

 

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 27 20 7 0 53 18 67 +35
2 Chelsea 27 18 4 5 48 21 58 +27
3 Manchester United 27 18 4 5 51 25 58 +26
4 Newcastle United 27 10 12 5 38 28 42 +10
5 Birmingham City 27 11 9 7 30 29 42 +1
6 Charlton Athletic 27 11 7 9 38 34 40 +4
7 Liverpool 26 10 9 7 38 29 39 +9
8 Aston Villa 27 10 7 10 32 32 37 0
9 Fulham 27 10 6 10 39 38 37 +1
10 Middlesbrough 27 9 7 11 28 32 34 -2
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 27 10 4 13 39 43 34 -4
12 Bolton Wanderers 27 8 10 9 32 42 34 -10
13 SCBC 27 8 9 10 27 27 33 0
14 Everton 27 7 8 12 33 39 29 -6
15 Blackburn Rovers 27 7 7 13 39 44 28 -5
16 Manchester City 27 6 9 12 36 39 27 -7
17 Portsmouth 26 6 6 14 29 40 24 -11
18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 27 5 9 13 24 52 24 -28
19 Leicester City 27 4 11 12 37 51 23 -14
20 Leeds United 27 5 7 15 26 53 22 -27

Back to homepage