|DATE||Saturday 12th January 2013|
Having gone behind early on to Reading, Spurs came good to win 3-1 against the second bottom side in the Premier League and now they face the team one place below them. Rocky bottom QPR are on a good run of one win and will be looking to take another top club scalp after beating Chelsea away.
With the advantage of having Harry Redknapp, Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan in the dug-out, Rangers will be hoping that this will give them the opportunity to mastermind a victory over their old employers, but the team under AVB is a very different beast and while Harry might know the players, they way he used to play them will not be a blueprint to how they will run out on Saturday lunch-time. With a variety of one or two up front, Andre Villas-Boas can change the formation, giving free rein to the three behind the front man (and the two behind them) to move forward and use the space available to them. Alternatively, with two up front, a more conventional 4-4-2 can give the side the familiarity to work the ball wide and have more support from midfield.
With Redknapp knowing what damage Lennon and Bale can do, he will get his midfield to work hard and the forwards to shut down our defenders, to prevent them having time to play the ball through his side. However, he is not fully aware of how Mousa Dembele and Sandro operate, taking turns to cover for each other when they move forward. This gives Spurs an alternative attacking option, which Rangers might find difficult to counter.
Their defence has been their weak point with worries over their keepers and Ryan Nelsen being their best player in the back four. Jose Bosingwa wouldn't travel for one game and has developed a back problem, Armand Traore is also out with an unspecified knock and old stalwart from Harry's Portsmouth days, Ben Haim has been drafted in to shore up the back four, with rumours of William Gallas being one of his prime targets in the transfer window. They have Fabio on loan from Manchester United, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand and Nedum Onuoha, but they have failed to work as a unit and there is a lack of pace there, which could be exploited. Last season, it was the start of our slump in the late winter/early spring and the team did not do enough to test the Rangers defence. This time, they need to get at them and early on to upset any sort of confidence they might have from keeping a clean sheet against Chelsea.
Rangers swamped their squad with players brought in during the summer and while they didn't spend huge amounts of money, they have them all on big money wages, so have found that there is a lack of quality and that it will be difficult to shift a lot of them on, as teams will not want to take on their salaries. It is in midfield that there is a number of players, but not a depth of quality. Having released injury hit Kieron Dyer, it has taken one big money earner off the books, but there are others such as Ji-Sung Park, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Shaun Derry, Stephane Mbia, Samba Diakate, Alejandro Faurlin and Esteban Granero, who need to step up their game to help Rangers out of their predicament. Granero can be an effective player, with an eye for a creative pass and a player who can score goals, but he has failed to live up to his reputation at Real Madrid and perhaps this explains why other teams didn't take a punt on him. Wright-Phillips scored the goal against Chelsea, but often is a peripheral figure in games, while battlers like Mbia, Diakate, Derry and Park are not doing it effectively for QPR. Spurs must not let themselves be bullied out of the game by Derry and with Sandro and Dembele, they have physical players who can withstand this approach now.
With Adel Taarabt playing up front rather than in midfield in the Chelsea game, Redknapp might keep him up top. There is no doubt that the Moroccan is highly talented and skilful, but with his back to goal, he may be less effective than running at defences. Good from dead ball situations, he sometimes frustrates his own team and fans, with his tendency to take the responsibility on himself and shoot when other players may be better placed. With Zamora and Johnson both having been missing for a large part of the season, it has been unfortunate for Rangers, but they should be scoring more and it is the lack of goal - just 17 in 21 games - which has left them in 20th position. Jamie Mackie is a good striker, but not prolific and Djibril Cisse has been erratic after having been away from the Premier League for a while. Harry might spring a surprise and field either Jay Bothroyd or DJ Campbell, who are both back at the club now, just to try and throw a spanner in the works, but the Spurs defence should be able to cope with a QPR side who would be trying to rough them up. The days when that worked are disappearing with a tougher back four not willing to be pushed around.
With a comfortable FA Cup win over Coventry last week, it was an opportunity to give some of the squad a game and to rest some others, with Adebayor about tog o off on African Cup of Nations duty, you might hope he would want to go out with a bang to ensure that anyone signed in his absence might still face a battle for a place in the team when he gets back. Defoe will need to be on his game, making the most of chances that come his way and with games coming up when he might be the main striker, he could get his eye in here.
Spurs will be comfortable in possession and the question will be how much QPR have the heart to harass Spurs non-stop for 90 minutes plus to prevent them playing their own game. Rangers will not go out with a plan to play their game and impose it on Tottenham, so a stalemate could occur, but I think that enough opportunities will come our way (especially with the way we have been playing) to give us the goals to separate us from the R's.
|PREDICTION||QPR 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
Esteban Granero and Junior Hoilett are doubtful with hamstring pulls, while Jose Bosingwa (back), Armand Traore (knock), Bobby Zamora (hip) and Andy Johnson (knee) are all out too. Tal Ben Haim might make his debut in defence.
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Younes Kaboul (knee) and William Gallas (calf) are Tottenham's only absentees with injury and the rest of the squad is available to select from.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
QPR 0 (0)
Saturday 12th January 2013
Venue : Loftus Road
Tottenham Hotspur 0 (0)
Kick off 12:45
Mbia (handball) 70
Dembele (foul on Mackie) 39
|Crowd : 18,018||Weather : Dry, cold|
|Referee : Lee Probert (Wiltshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. A. Garratt; Mr. R. Ganfield|
|Fourth Official : Jon Moss||-|
|QPR kicked off and played towards the School end in the first half.|
|QPR :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
33 Julio CESAR
15 Nedum ONUHUA
10 Adel TAARABT (c)
Aaron LENNON (22
Emmanuel ADEBAYOR (
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Andre Villas-Boas|
|Sponsor : Air Malaysia||Shirt sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : Lotto||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
You could have headlines like "Harry Makes His Point" or "Honours Even", but the gap between the two teams was clearly on display if it was not evidenced by the score-line.
What Andre Villas-Boas is doing at Tottenham bears little relation to the job the former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has on his hands at Loftus Road. With the attacking mostly done by Spurs, Redknapp only had to replicate the tactics that frustrated his side towards the end of last season to try and keep them out. Well, that and some help from Julio Cesar's right hand and left leg ... and the woodwork. Any credit for the draw should got o the performance of his players, as it wasn't tactics that won this day, it was hard work put in by the hopped shirts to try and hold Spurs at bay. And the fact that Tottenham didn't play to the best of their ability, with a few players off their best and losing Sandro halfway through the first half meant that there was one vital cog of the side missing for much of the match.
Coming into the game with the curse of the "Manager of the Month" award about to exercise itself, AVB brought in Gareth Bale for Gylfi Sigurdsson in the only change from the last league match. But the game was played out in much the same manner as last season's meeting there, but with AVB securing a point whereas Harry lost the game, when Tottenham's manager. With Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor linking up well early on, allowing Defoe space coming in from the left to fire in a shot from just outside the area that Cesar got the finest of touches to to divert it against his right hand upright, Tottenham were unlucky not to take an early lead. The rebound fell to Adebayor, but with South Africa and the Cup of Nations on his mind, he took too long to get the ball under control and hit a low shot from eight yards out that Cesar got his arm to and knocked the ball into the ground and the ball bounced over the bar. The Togo striker had already curled a lazy effort wide and his touch was poor today, with his reactions looking slow, which allowed Rangers' defenders to pick the ball off him too easily most of the time.
Defoe looked lively, but he was not getting a lot of service, as Spurs failed to get Bale and Lennon in the game enough and when they did, they got dumped on their arses most times, with referee Probert allowing QPR players tog et away with a lot, while Dembele got a booking for his first offence of pulling Jamie Mackie back, while the QPR forward committed a string of "clumsy" and "over-enthusiastic" tackles. With Spurs not moving the ball or themselves as quickly and effectively as they have done in recent matches, QPR had a relatively easy task of packing their side with prosaic clumpers who have the prime asset of getting back behind the ball. Which they did effectively, but it left them with only Adel Taarabt up front to try and hold the ball up until the cavalry arrived in support. Luckily for Spurs, Adel had one of the days where he tries to win a game on his own and when he did receive the ball, he tried one trick too many and Tottenham players managed to pick-pocket the ball off him.
So, as the game followed what was to become a familiar pattern, with Spurs building a passing movement, only for it to founder on the rocks of massive boulders in front of the Rangers goal, then they would either give the ball away or get it taken away from them. Thus few chances were actually created. Gareth Bale was restricted to efforts from corners and long range, with a header at the keeper, an ambitious volley from way out on the left that went behind before it got to the goal and a cheeky back-hell behind his standing leg from a low corner into the near post by Walker. Rangers had an opportunity in the 12th minute, when Taarabt played a pass inside Walker to Wright-Phillips, but when he tried to cut inside in the box, Dawson got their to deflect his delayed shot wide. Dawson had a fine game, getting into tackles with good timing, but in the 22nd minute Sandro went down after trying to play the ball back into the Rangers penalty area, with nobody around him. It looked bad straight away, with him holding his knee, so Scott Parker came on in his place.
The change didn't affect Spurs too much, as Parker spent most of his time moving forward, as Sandro had done, as well as getting fouled regularly and not getting free-kicks for them. He had a couple of go at goal too, as did Dawson, with both from over 25 yards out and both going wide. Into added time and Wright-Phillips went around Dawson with a rush of pace, but then a rush of blood caused him to shoot too quickly and off-balance, he sliced wide when well placed in the area.
At the start of the second half, Spurs kicked off with an immediacy that took QPR a little by surprise. A free kick when Defoe was brought down outside the box allowed Bale to dip one over the wall and it was fairly easy for Cesar to take, but he needed a second go, as the ball dropped to the floor. Then Parker had a go from 25 yards out and the ball got a bit closer to the goal this time, but it was on the up and went over with the keeper having it covered. The crowd wanted a penalty in the 52nd minute, when Lennon was running wide left and was pulled back by Fabio, with the little winger falling into the area, but the referee gave a free-kick on the left hand corner of the box. This time Kyle Walker stepped up to take it and it dipped a fraction too late. A foot lower and it would have been in the very top corner to Cesar's left ... not that he knew much about it, as he was standing still as it almost grazed the bar.
Within a minute, Spurs were in again and this time, Dembele won the ball just inside the QPR half, worked it through Adebayor and onto Defoe, who switched from left to right foot in the area and his shot looked goal-bound until it flicked off a defender's knee and Cesar stuck out a left foot and the ball somehow stayed out. There was a series of corners from which we didn't score (no surprise) and Lloris had a pretty quiet afternoon, only being called upon twice in the second half to sweep up behind the high line. Firstly, he beat Wright-Phillips to a through ball and when the trick was tried again, he produced the high-point of the second half with a clattering tackle that took out Mbia who was already flagged offside. A case of the Rangers man getting some of his own medicine.
There were a couple of nervy moments when Fabio put a low ball across the face of goal with no hooped shirt there to read it and when Wright-Phillips went into the box before falling over his own feet resulting in the know-nothing QPR crowd calling for a penalty. They had been booing Lennon all afternoon after Fabio had pulled him back and the referee didn't see it and were howling for Dembele to be sent off when he committed a foul after being booked while Mbia eventually went in the book for a handball after he had been shoving Spurs players over all over the pitch. Desperate times at the Loft obviously.
For Spurs there were two more efforts on goal, with Bale firing a low free kick wide of the wall, but also wide of the goal, then in added time at the end, Defoe had a shot blocked by Hill. It summed up Tottenham's day really. Off target and others getting in the way.
All the talk was about what Harry will do for Rangers, but frankly, that is his and their problem. Luckily, we didn't suffer too much with other results going our way, although a win would have kept up above Chelsea and drawn away from the others. There are tougher games coming up, with it being a spell of games which might cause us problems. There will need to be more urgency in the United game next week and I am sure the tempo will be higher for the whole game then. Without Adebayor, it might mean that Dempsey will get a chance ... or a mystery new striker if Daniel can barter one form somewhere, although nearer the end of the window might be more likely.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Norwich City||0||Newcastle United||0||Saturday|
|Reading||3||West Bromwich Albion||2||Saturday|
|Sunderland||3||West Ham United||0||Saturday|
|Other scores during the week :|
|7||West Bromwich Albion||22||10||3||9||31||30||33||+1|
|11||West Ham United||21||7||5||9||24||27||26||-3|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||22||2||8||12||17||36||14||-19|
Position before match :
Position after match : 4th
Position after the weekend : 4th
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