12th April 2004
chips are down with even more at stake than in the recent FA cup tie
here. Both sides need points to drag them away from the trap-door
into Division One and with neither side having the most water-tight
defence, you would think a high-scoring game will be on the cards again.
However, I believe this will be a much closer affair in terms of goals
scored and that the nervousness will affect the general play of both
With the teams having
drawn two games and knocked each other out of one cup competition each
this season, they are well aware of the threats in each other's sides.
For Tottenham, the main
threat has been from Shaun Wright-Phillips. The little right sided
wide man provides a busy presence that causes Spurs problems and for
that reason, we need to put a defender in at left back to see him
off. With Jackson and King having been given the run around by
him, it might be time to put Taricco up against him (if fit) or to stick
a player there who will be able to stick with him and not allow him the
space to run. Jackson might be able to do that job, given support
from midfield, so that probably means playing Ricketts there, as Ziege
does not have the defensive sensibilities to get back and help out
The City keeper David
James has produced some very good saves, but also dropped some huge
clangers, so the pressure on him is great and if Tottenham can produce
some decent effort son target, he will (hopefully) not be able to stop
them all. It will be his first game against Tottenham this season
in the Premier League, having played for West Ham against us ion the
Carling Cup, he was cup-tied for the FA Cup ties. In front of him,
City will miss the commanding presence of van Buyten and although Dunne
is a big lad, Keano might relish getting in under his feet. Distin
is prone to losing concentration on occasion, so pressure on him might
pay off, but the return of Sun Jihai means that there will be a dynamic
worker in defence and down the right hand side going forward. We
have made the Chinese international look world class in previous
matches, so again, someone in the right hand midfield slot will have to
frustrate his forward runs. In Tarnat, City have a great dead-ball
expert and a player who can deliver a fine ball into the box, so his
supply will need to be nipped in the bud.
Steve McManaman has
failed to hit the heights since his return to England, but can influence
attacks with his perceptive passes, while Polish midfielder Sibierski is
a rangy runner who gets on the end of passes and crosses in the
box. Our midfield will have to work hard to keep the City side at
bay and to spark off our own attacks, but might find a resolute
ball-winner there in Paul Bosvelt and someone is going to have to
challenge him to ensure we win some of the ball there.
Up front, the enigma that
is Nicholas Anelka will partner Robbie Fowler. Anelka is almost
the opposite of the Scouser Fowler. Pacy, tall and knocking them
in regularly, Anelka contrasts with Fowler, who is struggling to emulate
his scoring record at Anfield at City. Anelka's pace might find
Gardner matching it, but with the Frenchman, it all depends on how he
feels on the day. With Fowler, it appears to depend on his luck
rather than the effort he puts in.
Outside of the expected
starting XI, there are Joey Barton and Trevor Sinclair in midfield who
could come in. Barton is competitive - sometimes to the detriment
of the side - with Sinclair providing some wide play to supply the front
men, but neither have been consistent this season. Scorer of the
last minute winner here in the FA Cup - Jonathan Macken is also around
the team and could be used to come on if the front two are not cracking
the Tottenham defence.
As far as Tottenham are
concerned, there needs to be a 300% increase in willingness to battle
after the capitulation against Everton. Hard work looks to be
below them as they strolled around, while the Toffees got stuck
in. It is time to graft and eek out results, starting with
City. Forty points might not be enough, so Tottenham need to start
gathering points now, before the games start running out. The
supply to the front men has to be of better quality too, no long balls
humped forward in hope and leaving them to it without supporting from
midfield. Most of all, there needs to be some changes in personnel
to liven the team up. Some awareness of players who are free at
corners might also not go amiss !!
With four losses on the
trot, Tottenham need to step up a gear to stop the rot and match City
man for man. With the possibility of the Defoe/Keane partnership
being split, that might be hard, but the presence of Kanoute up front
might pose some problems the two short men can't. Defoe will
always be available to bring on from the bench and I predict he will do
just that to grab the winner in a match that ends ...
- Tottenham 2 Manchester City
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
How do you think your team have played
this season ?
City have underachieved spectacularly this season considering the
players we brought in last summer. The defence is a shambles whilst our
midfield lacks a bit of creativity with the exception of the superb
Shaun Wright-Phillips, easily our player of the season. Some of our
performances have been very good, notably the 4-1 derby win and our
second half performance at WHL in the FA Cup but all too often we have
dominated possession without finishing teams off.
What was the recent derby win like ?
Always nice to beat United and to do so in such a comprehensive manner
made it all the sweeter, particularly as they'd beaten us twice earlier
in the season.
Who do you think is your best player at the moment ?
Shaun Wright-Phillips, by a country mile.
Which player isn't playing as well in recent games ?
Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman have been very disappointing all
Any exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for ?
We have a number of youth players on the fringe of the first team squad
who we have high hopes for. The ones to look out for are Stephen Elliot
(an Irish U20 striker), Bradley Wright-Phillips (brother of Shaun) and
Are City fans worried about the prospect of going down ?
Following on from the draw against Wolves City fans are getting nervous
about our league position but few fans think we'll get relegated, thanks
largely to the fact that there are four or five teams worse than us.
And how do they feel about the size of the club's debts at the moment
Our current debts (rumoured to be around £50m) are a cause for concern
but our situation is different to that of Leeds United, as our loans
have been taken out against the stadium and will be paid off through
season ticket sales for the next 25 years. If we were to get relegated
it would be disastrous financially but we would still avoid
administration. Besides if today's papers are to be believed we have an
Abramovic style saviour on hi way to Eastlands !
What is the line-up expected to be ?
James, Sun Jihai, Tarnat, Distin, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, McManaman,
Bosvelt, Sibierski, Anelka, Fowler
What do you your fans think of Tottenham ?
There's a little bit of history between City fans and Spurs fans so it's
fair to say that there's no love lost between the clubs. Having said
that feelings towards Spurs are nowhere near as strong as those towards
United, Middlesbrough & Leeds.
Which Spurs player do you like ?
to Ric from
Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane are quality players.
What do you reckon the score will be ?
I'm going for 2-1 to City, more out of hope than anything else.
Dean Richards (Achilles); Rob Burch (ankle); Darren Anderton (Achilles); Simon
Davies (shin); Gus Poyet (back); Christian Ziege (groin)
MANCHESTER CITY : - Gerard
Wiekens (knee); Daniel van Buyten (abductor strain); Nicky
Weaver (knee); Kevin Keegan (back); Claudio Reyna (groin)
TV : - No live coverage
Radio : No live coverage
Internet : www.spurs.co.uk
Live webcast (subscription only)
1 Manchester City
1 (Half-time score : 0-1)
|Monday 12th April 2004
|Venue : - White Hart Lane
|Kick Off : - 15.00 p.m.
|Weather : - Mild, sunny,
with some dark cloud later
|Referee : - C. Foy (St.
|Crowd : - 35,282
|Teams : -
Tottenham : - Keller; Carr (Kelly 32), Doherty, Gardner,
Taricco (Bunjevcevic 65); Brown, Redknapp, Poyet (Keane 74), Davies;
Unused Subs : - Hirschfeld, Ricketts
: - James; Tarnat, Distin, Dunne, Jihai (Sinclair 73);
Sibierski, McManaman, Bosvelt, Wright-Phillips; Fowler (Wanchope 63),
Unused Subs : - Arason, Macken, Barton
|Colours : - (kits
courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
|Scorers : -
Tottenham - Defoe 53
- Anelka 26
|Cards : -
Poyet (foul) 36
Fowler (foul) 51
One moment summed up Tottenham in this
draw that suited neither side but was better than a defeat in the rush
for points before the matches dry up. 42 minutes and Fredi Kanoute
wins a corner by the flag. No-one rushes to take it !!
Davies runs half length of pitch to go and take the corner, but Fredi
thinks it would be a good idea to take it short. Good idea, but
his execution was lacking, with him kicking the stick of the corner flag
and the ball going about two feet, so Davies had to sprint to get there
before a City defender and it all came to nothing.
It was a bit like too much of our play
today. Nobody wanting it badly enough and the final ball always
lacking the quality needed. Our crossing into the box either ended
up safely in James' hands or went way over the players in the
area. It didn't look like we would score, although we did create
some chances, but it needed a bit of individual skill to get us on the
But let's start at the beginning.
Outside, I heard that Keane was on the bench and Poyet in the starting
eleven, which did not fill me with great hope. That and the fact
that Redknapp would also be filling one of the berths in the
midfield. However, Gus exhibited some determination during his
time on the pitch and although he could not get back to defend, his play
in the hole behind the front two was a threat to City at times.
Within the first ten minutes, he had got two headers in ... something
not associated with our forward play !! One went wide as he got
his head to Taricco's ball in and the second more fortuitously arrived
with him, after it had flicked off a defender's head and he directed a
firm header at goal, but unfortunately, straight at James. His
next effort was not as close, as he hauled his old carcass into an arch
to try an overhead kick that went almost straight up into the air and
miles over the bar.
Without Keane, it was an opportunity for
Defoe and Kanoute to revisit their partnership of their West Ham days
and Fredi looked a lot more up for it today than at any time since his
return from Africa. In the 21st minute, Jermain dummied a Brown
pass and Kanoute was left with a run on goal which ended with a shot
forcing James to dive to save. However, with their first effort on
goal, City scored. With 25 minutes on the clock, McManaman was
allowed to run at the Tottenham defence and slipped the ball to Anelka
on the edge of the area. His shimmy put Doherty on his arse and
his shot was stopped by Keller, but instead of trying to knock the ball
wide, Kasey put the ball straight back in front of Anelka to poke home
into the net.
Tottenham hit back with a good move
involving Kanoute laying the ball back for Brown to square it to Davies,
who hit a low shot, but it didn't provide any worry for James, who took
it comfortably low down. Then, Pleat made a change with Kelly
coming on for Stephen Carr. He didn't seem injured, but surely the
switch wasn't tactical ? It signalled a spell of pressure for the
last fifteen minutes of the half from City as they looked to extend
their lead. Bosvelt hit a 25-yarder just wide of the goal, while
just before half-time, McManaman crossed for Fowler to score from close
range, but his effort was struck squarely into KK's stomach, in what,
apart from the end result, was a replica of the goal Chelsea scored here
Half-time saw the Spurs team troop off to
boos and there was little to say about their performance. Redknapp
had failed to shine (again), while Brown struggled against his old side
and the supply to the front two was poor.
Poyet's yellow card for a foul on
McManaman was equalled out by Fowler's caution for a late tackle on
Brown, but Spurs looked a bit more like they were up for it in the
second half. Five minutes in, Poyet headed a cross against the
inside of the post and it bounced out, then two minutes after, Defoe got
Tottenham back in it. A long cross by Davies flew through the
players in the area and Defoe was at the back post to pick it up.
He showed good skill to get past Dunne and Jihai and slotted his shot
under James to put Spurs level.
Where Spurs had been second to almost
everything in the first period, they were now competing better, although
the midfield never seemed to be in the right place to pick up balls
dropping outside the penalty area at either end. So competitive
did they get that when Kelly closed on Tarnat to go for a loose
ball, he German defender ended up tripping Kelly after the ball had long
gone in a show of pique. Kelly's partner in defence Taricco was
having a good game, apart from his falling over act to win free-kicks,
but he unleashed a hard shot from 30 yards, which flew up off James'
chest and he grabbed it at the second attempt. It was about the
last thing he did before getting injured in going in for a fifty-fifty
challenge. On came Bunjy, while City made the change of Wanchope
A free-kick almost caught Tottenham
out, as they failed to be alert to the danger, when Tarnat floated a
ball in and it was met by Sibierski, who headed inches wide, when he
should have done better. Two more changes, with Keano replacing
Gus and Sinclair coming on for Sun Jihai, but it did little to stop the
game swinging from end to end. Kelly denied Wanchope at the far
post with a glance off his head to prevent the ball reaching the Costa
Rican, while Doherty did even better in pinching the ball off the toe of
the lanky forward after he appeared to have set himself up for a clear
volley on goal in injury time. Keller had to make two saves, both
fairly comfortable, but with the low drive from Anelka being a bit more
difficult than the Tarnat free-kick straight at him.
As the game came to an end, it was
Tottenham doing the pressing. Redknapp set up Defoe in the box and
his shot was charged down, but Robbie Keane toed it past James, only to
find the linesman flagging for offside. Then with three minutes
left, Defoe was dragged back by his shirt in the area by Dunne, but the
ref didn't want to know. Hardly surprising, because earlier he had
ignored pleas for a spot-kick when Dunne span Poyet round in the air as
a cross flew across the penalty box.
At then end, there was a feeling of
emptiness. This is not the position we wanted to find ourselves in
at this time of the season and the performances will have to improve to
take the five more points we definitely need to be safe. Looking
at the other results coming in, you get the feeling that other teams are
more up for it than Spurs. With the team selection made by Pleat,
it is hardly difficult to see where we are losing points. Bolton
next week will see them hyped up by Big Fat Sam and you sit and wonder
if Pleat has the same effect on his charges ? No. Well, I
probably tend to agree with you.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ANTHONY GARDNER
|The lack of urgency in the
Tottenham team appears to be causing great concern among the fans if not
the management. Pleat's comments about not minding being booed and
that "They pay their money, but I'm only acting manager so I don't
know why they are worried. It happens in football so I won't believe
it's personal." is not a quote that shows much sensitivity or
understanding of the situation as fans view it.
If he believes those words, I
wish I shared his optimism. What I saw was a rag-tag outfit with
little cohesion and the side being opened up at times by a side who went
on a run of fourteen games without a win earlier this season.
Until they beat us in the Cup, they had been wretched. Now we are
down with them thanks to the uninspired choices made by Pleat, who, it
is rumoured, is a Director of Football because he knows so much about
the game and that is why the club pay him approx. £300,000 a year for
And as far as I am concerned that
jerk Redknapp can head for Portsmouth now after his disgraceful antics
today. When Defoe scored, Mr. Louise turned to the East Stand to
demand more vocal support for them. Well, excuse me Mr. Redknapp,
but while you have been sitting on beaches in the sun-kissed parts of
the world, we have been here watching the "kiss my arse"
attitude of too many players who don't want to get their boots
dirty. And the sight of the inside of treatment rooms might make
you feel sick, but the sight of you gesticulating to the crowd who have
patiently watched the dross served up by the team this season is not one
that I want to see repeated by a Tottenham captain. The day you do
something to excite us, then we might get animated. Until then,
just stick to your job and start doing what you are paid for.
I am not convinced that this side
is good enough to battle for survival and how we scored all those goals
back in February, goodness knows. It was with more or less the
same team. Perhaps that was before Pleat decided he might not be
there next season, so he won't take it personally that we think he is
wrecking our team.
I have not felt as sick watching
a Tottenham team for a long time. The years of mediocrity have
come home to roost and not even Chirpy can save us, even though he
managed to save two shots in the holiday shoot-out.
Perhaps they should consider
putting him in goal ?
this Easter Sunday/Monday and midweek :