Looking Forward

 

LEEDS UNITED (Away)

Premier League

Saturday 12th April 2003

We keep saying and it keeps on happening.  Who would have thought Leeds would have gone to the Valley and won 6-1 ?? Not us for sure.  Teetering on the edge of the relegation zone, they were about to be plunged into it until Peter Reid recorded his first win in the manager's seat.  The new manager syndrome also comes into play here and we will be up against it more than we might have thought a couple of weeks ago.

Leeds have got good players, but it has been a mystery as to why they haven't functioned this season.  Yes, they have lost the likes of Dacourt, Bowyer, Keane, Woodgate and Fowler, but there is still the core of a good squad there.  Paul Robinson has still been getting rave reviews despite the team losing, which has attracted a few admirers and rumours of his sale in the summer to balance the books even further.  In front of him, Harte, Radebe, Kelly, Mills and Duberry are all in consideration in the defence.  Mills has had a tough time this season, his wife losing a baby has affected his play and Duberry has also suffered because of off-field matters, being the one who shopped his team-mates in the long running court case.  Radebe has returned from a long injury lay-off and Kelly and Harte are the Irish full-backs who give width to the attack, with Harte the dead-ball specialist who can score with either foot (especially against Spurs).

Dominic Matteo has been pushed into midfield by Reid and has been the anchor there, replacing the departed Bowyer, with Mills having played in this area too.  With Wilcox wide and and Kewell providing the imagination, there is enough there for Bakke to pick up on scraps and ball-win for the others.  They will feed the front two, who will probably be Smith and Viduka, with young James Milner waiting in the wings to play through the middle.  There is determination and power in the front options, which will test the Spurs defence, probably minus Richards.

They brought in Raul Bravo from Real Madrid to play in defence, but he has been sidelined by Reid and Teddy Lucic has also dropped out of the picture, as the former Manchester City and Sunderland boss prefers his team to be made in Great Britain.

The home advantage will assist as Spurs have failed to win at Elland Road on more than a few occasions recently.  It was a bit of a slog getting past Birmingham City last week, so a rampant Leeds will be a tougher assignment for the Lilywhites, but they should be able to call on the memory of the 2-0 win at the Lane earlier this season and the threat of Robbie Keane wanting to do well on the return to his former ground.  Leeds will be seeking to ensure that they pull further up the table and Tottenham will be hanging on to the last vestige of a UEFA Cup placing, so in the end, honours will be shared at ...

PREDICTION : -   Leeds United  1   Tottenham  1

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   2                       (Half-time score : 1-2)
Premier League
Saturday 12th March 2003
Venue : -  Elland Road
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Warm, bright and clear
Referee : -  R. Styles (Hampshire)
Crowd : -  39,560
Teams : -  
Leeds United : - Robinson; Kelly, Duberry, Radebe, Harte (Wilcox 75); Kewell, Mills (Milner 64), Bakke, Matteo; Smith, Viduka
Unused subs: Martyn, Barmby, Johnson

Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Taricco, King, Gardner; Bunjevcevic, Anderton, Poyet (Etherington 85), Davies; Keane, Sheringham
Unused subs: Sullivan, Perry, Acimovic, Toda

Colours : -  
Leeds United  -  White shirts, white shorts, white socks

Tottenham -  Navy and black shirts, navy shorts, navy socks with black turnover

Scorers : -  
Leeds United  -  Viduka 32, 77 (pen)

Tottenham -  Sheringham 38, Keane 40

Cards : -  
Leeds United  -  Bakke (foul) 56

Tottenham - Keller (foul) 75, Gardner (dissent) 76

With honours ending even at Elland Road, it was more of a disappointment for Tottenham, despite Glenn Hoddle's assertion that Europe is still on the cards.  Leeds will be glad of the point to help prevent them being sucked into the black hole of relegation.

For Spurs, the opening half hour was quite torrid, but that was only to be expected form a side who racked up six goals last week and still need a few more points to be comfortable about the trap door opening to drop teams into the First Division.  A procession of corners came and went without much trouble for Tottenham, but they could not break out of their own half for a few minutes, in which time Smith landed a header just over the Spurs bar.  When Spurs did break out, it was Simon Davies who showed the way, with good strong running that had the white shirted defenders trailing in his wake.

The first shot took about a quarter of an hour to come and Viduka spun around, hitting his effort into Keller's arms and six minutes later, it was the same player who whizzed one past Keller's left upright.  Again, Spurs were pushed back and two corners were cleared, before Smith's shot was held well by Kasey.  Poyet made a run in the right wing position and when he pulled the ball back to Robbie Keane, you thought a goal was a certainty, but the Irishman missed the ball and the chance was gone.  With play moving to the other end very quickly, it was on the half hour that Viduka took a pass from Kewell out on the left and powered his shot from the penalty spot into the bottom left hand corner of the net.  

The goal was reward for some determined closing down and attacking from the start, Leeds looked a good bet to go on from that goal start, but within five minutes, Spurs were level.  From a similar position that Viduka scored, Harry Kewell blazed a volley over the top, but Spurs got a corner from Simon Davies' cross.  Darren Anderton swung it in and Bunjy met it as the near post, flicking it on for Teddy Sheringham to stoop to head home from about six yards out.

Just when you were pleased at being back in the game, Robbie runs through the home defence and plants a right footer into the bottom left hand corner of the goal, leaving Robinson helpless.  To go two up with two goals in three minutes was almost unbelievable.  Spurs had not been playing well, but Leeds showed that their veneer of confidence is pretty thin.

It must have stirred them up, because Bakke had two goes at Robbie Keane, managing to get away without a booking and Kewell also decided to have a kick at his old team-mate.  However, the half ended with Spurs on the attack and the whistle sounded at the wrong time really, because Tottenham were enjoying a spell on top.

Even then, after the interval, it looked as though Spurs were controlling the match as they wanted.  The problem was that too many of the Spurs crosses were not reaching their targets and this meant that the play was moving back towards their own goal instead of staying in the Leeds box.  Bakke was at the centre of much of the early action in the second half.  He managed to put a header wide from six yards out from Matteo's cross and his foul on Keane did earn him a yellow card, when he might have been walking for the tackle from behind, had Styles rightly cautioned him in the first half instead of letting him off with a talking to.

The only Spurs efforts of note during this period of play were a shot by Anderton that was off target and one by Davies that went wide of the left hand post on the volley.  Keane's shot went closest, when Radebe blocked it and it bobbled just outside of the goal, but both Viduka, Kelly and wonder-kid Milner both found the same lack of accuracy with their attempts.

A remarkably similar situation then occurred in front of us.  A through ball was falling between Keller and Kewell and the American keeper crashed into the Aussie, bringing him down as he was going away from goal.  The ref pointed to the spot to award a penalty, but showed Kasey just the yellow card, despite the home crowd baying for red (something they hardly ever did !).  Viduka put the ball down and stroked it past Keller's dive in the opposite direction to equalise and score his fifth goal in two games.

Spurs almost struck straight back with Keane the provider for Poyet to head a good opening just wide of the post, then caused consternation among the Leeds defenders in front of their own goal with a low ball into the box, which ended up just being knocked behind for a corner.  However, it was Leeds who came closest to winning the match, with Smith dumping a header into Keller's chest and Bakke twice getting parts of his body on the ball, but neither firmly enough to direct it into the net.

It was a better away performance than many this season, but once ahead, Tottenham looked comfortable enough to go on and win it and win it well.  As we know all too well, we do not travel well and this was another example of how the team let points slip.  Those points missed out on are going to cost us a place in the UEFA Cup, whatever Hoddle claims.  It needs more resolve and better finishing to ensure that the chances created end up bringing home the points.  In the end here, a draw seemed fair enough.  In the end, we were glad of the one point, whereas we should have been talking about all three.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SIMON DAVIES

Barry Levington

 

PENS DRAW NO CONCLUSIONS

 

The draw in this game came as no surprise to anyone (least of all the predictor at the top of this page), but perhaps the nature of it did.

The way Tottenham came back into the match after falling a goal behind was what we have been waiting for all season.  However, the way that they then conceded another to drop two points was what we had been having to put up with all season.

Leeds started like a steam train and took up where they left off in the rout against Charlton last week.  Peter Reid was keen to rack up his first home win and obviously instructed his side to get after Tottenham early on.  Smith landed a header on top of the net, while Viduka gave a hint of what was to come by controlling the ball neatly on his thigh and hitting his volley on the turn, but it was wide.  The next chance he got, he stuck away.

There was some controversy over the goal though, despite Spurs' acceptance of it.  Firstly, Alan Smith (not known for his fair challenges) went up with Anthony Gardner for a header.  The difference in height between the two must have been about a foot and a half, so the Leeds man's chances of winning the ball were negligible.  Perhaps that was why he leapt straight at Ant, trying to put him off, but making no real attempt for the ball.  Too rarely do refs give such decisions and this one was true to that unwritten rule.  The ball fell to Harry Kewell just outside the area.  He nudged it on to Viduka, who appeared to be standing inside the penalty box, in an offside position.  With no flag or whistle, he turned on the ball and put it past Keller and turned back to the centre circle to celebrate his goal.

Simon Davies' running on the right wing had worried Leeds all afternoon and it was his trickery that earned the corner that Tottenham scored from.  It was their first of the match and was hit with pace to the near post, where Goran Bunjevcevic got a touch on.  Coming in at the far post on the edge of the six yard box arrived Sheringham to nod home past a static defence and keeper.  It was a typical Teddy goal and it was indicative of his performance, which was better than recently, but he still gave the ball away to readily when we were trying to kill the game off.

Before you knew it, the side were in front out of nothing.  Robbie Keane received the ball from Stephen Carr on the right touchline and ran at the Leeds defence.  Past Matteo, past a weak attempt at a tackle by Harte, past Duberry and Bakke with a deft sleight of foot, past Radebe and then the ball was stroked past Robinson for a very good goal.  Keane had scored against his former team for the second time in two games and obviously realised that his celebratory cartwheel would not have gone down well with the Elland Road faithful.  His team-mates swamped him, but he was reluctant to raise more than a weak hand as his goal had opened up his old colleagues and might have condemned them to a struggle to stay up.

However, he, and we, should have known better.  The long ball into the right hand corner of the box saw Kasey Keller come for the ball, but he was competing with Kewell for it and although on TV, it appeared Keller might have got there first, there was no denying he also hauled him down as he went to retrieve the ball as it went out to the right wing.  Viduka stepped up and put the ball into the opposite corner from Keller's dive.

In the final stages, Leeds had a couple of chances with balls into the box narrowly missing the target, while Spurs had a good shout for a penalty turned down as Radebe brought down Davies.  On TV review, it looked as though it was outside the box, which would still have given Spurs a good chance of scoring.

The pattern Spurs played was good.  A more traditional 4-4-2 was employed, with Gardner and King at the heart of the defence particularly impressive.  Carr linked better with Davies than he has done at times, while Poyet looked more lively and showed a lovely piece of skill in providing a cross to Keane that eluded both his feet !  Anderton was subdued, but produced a good corner, which gave the Leeds defence problems and lead to the goal.  Alongside him, Bunjy still is a bit of an enigma.  His presence is noted, but the impact on the opposition is not yet fully appreciated by most fans.  Sure, he made Teddy's goal, but he is not a full-on tackler and although he does get back to defend, he rarely does much of note.  Is that the sign of a good player ?  Robbie was desperate to do well, but obviously wanted to get out alive, so didn't do anything to wind up the United fans.  But he did score, which can't have pleased them that much !  He almost got another, had it not been for two blocks close in on goal, but the one he did get was a beauty.

Going through the whole repertoire, the Spurs fans made themselves heard above a mainly hushed Leeds crowd, especially when Tottenham lead.  Perhaps the thought of the drop was playing on their vocal chords ?  Perhaps they could have had more to cheer if the team had quelled the home side's thrusts in the last twenty minutes.  

Again, it was a disappointing journey home, but a draw is better than we have achieved elsewhere and although it might not be enough to keep Leeds worrying about a relegation threat, it keeps them hanging on for another week to secure their safety.  If only we were playing for something and not just for pride ... or is it even that ??

Steve Dawkins

 

 

Other scores this weekend/midweek :
Birmingham City 2 Sunderland 0 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Charlton Athletic 0 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Fulham 0 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Middlesbrough 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Manchester United 6 Saturday
WBA 1 Everton 2 Saturday
West Ham United 2 Aston Villa 2 Saturday

Arsenal

2 Manchester United 2 Wednesday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Manchester United 34 21 8 5 63 30 71
2 Arsenal 33 20 8 5 69 36 68
3 Newcastle United 33 19 4 10 57 43 61
4 Chelsea 33 17 9 7 60 32 60
5 Everton 33 16 8 9 43 38 56
6 Liverpool 33 15 10 8 49 35 55
7 Blackburn Rovers 33 14 10 9 43 37 52
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 33 13 8 12 47 47 47
9 Middlesbrough 33 12 10 11 42 35 46
10 Charlton Athletic 33 13 7 13 41 46 46
11 SCBC 32 11 12 9 35 33 45
12 Manchester City 33 12 6 15 40 51 42
13 Leeds United 33 11 5 17 46 48 38
14 Fulham 33 10 8 15 35 46 38
15 Aston Villa 33 10 8 15 36 40 38
16 Birmingham City 33 10 8 15 31 44 38
17 Bolton Wanderers 33 8 11 14 36 48 35
18 West Ham United 33 7 11 15 37 56 32
19 WBA 33 5 6 22 22 52 21
20 Sunderland 33 4 7 22 20 54 19

 

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