|DATE||Saturday 14th January 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
With a number of players returning, Wolverhampton Wanderers arrive
at the Lane looking to kick start a climb up the table in the second
half of the season. But with players of our own coming back
into the squad, Tottenham will be looking to hold on to thirds place
and push on to pile more pressure on the top two.
With Wolves, like many teams at the bottom, having trouble scoring goals, it will be down to Tottenham to stop them trying to batter us into submission. With Steven Fletcher their main threat at the moment, the supply into him in the air might test Spurs, but with Michael Dawson back and Younes Kaboul in good form, they might be up to the task, but it will be vital that the full backs stick to their task as tricky winger Matt Jarvis can produce good crosses and the newly returned to Molineux Michael Kightly, after a spell on loan at Watford, is also a good crosser, but can also finish well, as he did in his last game at Vicarage Road.
Wolves are always well frilled under Mick McCarthy, but have found it difficult to get wins this season with just four victories out of 20 games, but then with only 22 goals, it has been difficult to pull away from teams. The defence has had a tough time with 36 goals going past them, although Wayne Hennesey is a promising keeper and is highly regarded, but he ahs had his dodgy moments. With Roger Johnson coming in during the summer, it was hoped he would strengthen the back four, but he has found it hard with the defence not that well protected by the midfield. Full backs Stephen Ward and Christophe Berra have not showed the concentration to their defending that McCarthy would have hoped for and other options of Ronald Zubar, Jody Craddock, Richard Stearman and George Elokobi have been bettered by opposition forwards. Tottenham's 2-0 win at Molineux came after some patient play that exposed the positional deficiencies of Johnson and Stearman in particular.
The midfield looks a good mix, with destroyer Karl Henry in there with Jamie O'Hara creating chances, but the former Spurs man's absence might dent their ability to carve out chances going forward. The presence of Stephen Hunt will be an irritant in the side of any side, but his contribution is diminishing these days, while that of Nenad Milijas is increasing. The player was unfortunately sent off at Highbury, but will be back for this one. Adam Hamill is a skilful player, who was on Liverpool's books, but has lost his way a bit and seems to want to add unnecessary force to his tackling which gets him in trouble with officials, while more solidity in midfield must have been the reason for the manager to go out and bring in Emmanuel Frimpong on loan from the Gooners. A big old unit, he also gets more than his fair share of attention from referees for his involvement in the midfield.
Wolves have limited options up front, with Fletcher being their main man nowadays, but with Kevin Doyle having gone off the boil and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake finding chances difficult to take, there may be a reliance on set-pieces for their opportunities, with players who can put dangerous balls into the box.
Tottenham might find a five man midfield facing them and Wolves are not averse to wasting time from the kick off, so it might be a frustrating afternoon, but if the first goal goes in the Wolves net, then they will have to come out to try and get a goal, which will leave them open to attack.
I foresee Spurs going on to a good win, but it might take a little wait before the goals start to come.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Still out for Spurs are Tom Huddlestone (ankle), Sandro (calf), William Gallas (calf) and Ledley King (hamstring). Meanwhile, Scott Parker will take a late fitness test to see if he can play after missing the two games with a knee injury.
WANDERERS TEAM NEWS :
Both Steven Fletcher and Roger Johnson expect to be fit for Wolves after overcoming ankle knocks picked up in last week's FA Cup tie with Birmingham City. Nenad Milijas is back after serving a suspension and Dave Edwards is over a groin problem and looks ready for selection.
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1 (0) Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 (1)
Saturday 14th January 2012 Kick off 15:00
White Hart Lane
|Modric 51||Fletcher 22|
Assou-Ekotto (foul) 69
Frimpong (continual fouling) 29
Henry (foul) 84
Johnson (dissent) 90
|Crowd : 36,194||Weather : Dry, mild in first half, chill in second half.|
|Referee : Mike Jones (Cheshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. J. Flynn; Mr. S. Long|
|Fourth Official : Mr. D. Deadman||
Match Delegate : - N. Cusack
Professional Game Match Observer : - Kelvin Morton
|Wolverhampton Wanderers kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Wolverhampton Wanderers :||kit|
11 van der Vaart
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Mick McCarthy|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Sporting Bet|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Burrda|
You know how dogs look like their owners ? Well, this Wolverhampton Wanderers team is developing not only the look, but the characteristics of their manager Mick McCarthy. Dour, defensive and thin on goals. One seems to do them, tied in with the gamesmanship of an old timer, such as time-wasting from the tenth minute and going down injured in the last ten, as well as leaving the foot in at numerous tackles that they arrived late for. The fact that it worked to gain them a 1-1 draw was as much down to the ineptitude of the officials as it was the poor display of the Spurs team, who looked a team who were tired mentally, as well as physically in some cases.
Tottenham did well and would have won most games, as they should have this one if the linesman had done his job properly, but their play was sloppy to start off with - giving the ball away in their own half, then as the game progressed, the movement which has typified their game was lacking and their passing was half a yard off when it came to putting players in on goal.
Spurs saw Scott Parker come back into the side at the expense of the impressive Jake Livermore, who had been an able deputy against Everton with the remainder of the side the same. And Tottenham started pretty well with Modric getting on the end of the first few chances, with one wide, one high and another cleared after the ball arrived a little behind him. Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul gave the ball away carelessly in their own half, allowing Wolves to seek an opening, but the defence closed ranks to prevent that happening. At the other end, van der Vaart took a full bloodied clearance in the face and needed the magic sponge to continue.
When one more aimless pass by Wolves up their left wing ran beyond their man and Kyle Walker shepherded the ball out of play for a goal kick, both he and a large number of the crowd were stunned to see referee Jones point for a corner in the 22nd minute. It was swung in to the far post, where Roger Johnson rose unchallenged to head at goal and Brad Friedel, who had stayed on his line, could only palm the ball out and Steven Fletcher reacted first to knock it into the net from a yard or two out. It was a poorly defended goal and one which Spurs needed top respond quickly to.
Wolves started to pack behind the ball and get more teeth into their tackles. Modric was the target, but Bale was brought down from behind by Frimpong to earn a yellow card, which could easily have been handed out earlier for a similar tackle. The threat of a tackle coming in seemed to make Tottenham take the ball early and hurry the passing, which lead to possession being turned over regularly. Not that Wanderers cared to do too much with it. Spurs had a couple of chances, with Bale side-footing a well made chance straight at his Welsh team-mate Hennessey, before van der Vaart smacked one well over and Modric didn't make a decent contact on a volley, leaving the keeper to make an easy gather.
Wolves did have one more opening in the first half about ten minutes before half time and Edwards should really have done better when a left wing cross was pulled back to him 12 yards out, but he sliced his effort and it went well wide. It was a let off for Spurs, as mainly the ball was hoofed forward towards Fletcher, who tried to distract the Spurs defenders with his arm across their face. Mostly, they picked the ball off and started more attacks, with Kaboul having to run it into the other half, with Parker's and Assou-Ekotto's passing both not up to their usual standard. But for all that, Spurs failed to make the most of the possession and although they had the ball in the net, when Bale's shot was turned in by Adebayor, it was disallowed for offside.
The second half saw Spurs start with the same eleven, while Wolves did the same and it looked as though it wouldn't be long before Spurs broke through as they began at a good tempo. Within a minute, Frimpong had rashly tackled leaving Luka Modric in a heap, but instead of receiving the second yellow card it deserved, all Jones did was give him a talking to. Any sort of consistency in applying the laws would have seen him sent off, as well as Rafa being booked for a poor tackle in the first half.
A good move down the left saw Benny pull the ball back for Gareth to shoot, but he didn't keep it down and it ended up in the Paxton Road stand, but such misses were almost costly, as a rare attack by the visitors got Jarvis away on then left and he crossed to Frimpong at the far post and ignoring it was a player rather than the ball, volleyed it at goal and Brad had to dive to his right to beat the shot out and the defence cleared it from danger. That was in the 49th minute, but within two minutes, Tottenham had levelled the score with a goal from Modric. Bale got the ball and pulled it across the edge of the eighteen yard box to where Luka was running on to strike it cleanly into the bottom right hand corner of Hennessey's goal.
The crowd erupted and the relief was palpable as well as the prospect of more to come.
A few minutes after the goal, a ball in from the left was poorly headed out and it fell to Aaron Lennon at the far post. The little winger set up Modric again and his low shot was kept out by Hennessey, but it rebounded out to Lennon, who hit a shot back on target, but too close to the middle of the goal and where the goalie was to take the ball into his arms. Spurs were accumulating free-kicks, but perhaps Wolves knew they were under no threat from them, as the shots that came in were invariably off target and Frimpong got taken off before he got sent off, leaving his replacement Stephen Hunt to live up to his name.
Assou-Ekotto got booked for holding when just after Kightly got away from him, while moments before Karl Henry had done the same twice in one move without even a free-kick. Spurs pressed for the winner, but despite the introduction of Jermain Defoe, the chances were hard to come by. When Defoe did get a chance, he smacked the ball low at goal and Hennessey made an unorthodox save with his feet to keep the ball out. Walker had a couple of shots over, one a fierce volley, while Luka shot over before a clash between Berra and Hennessey in injury time brought the trainer son to give the treatment. Weirdly, the referee did not make Berra leave the field and then restarted play with a contested drop ball. Pandemonium ensued, but the ball ended up rebounding into the middle of the penalty area, where the ref salvaged his situation by giving a free-kick against Adebayor.
When the final whistle blew, it was with a few boos, but I hope these were aimed mostly at Wolves. There was a feeling of a let down, but it was still a point and one that keeps the unbeaten run going. But why is it that Spurs are so ineffective from set-pieces, when Wolves had one corner in the whole game and that was where their goal came from ? There needs to be a better percentage of conversions into goals as we get quite a few free-kicks around the box and a large number of corners, so to turn them into goals would be instrumental in winning more games and boosting our goal difference.
But the disappointment in not winning did not come from the performance, but from the expectation that is building now. Two seasons ago, Wolves scored an early goal and sat on it the whole game to win, but now Spurs always looked likely to get one goal and hopefully the second would come, but on this occasion, because of poor finishing, good goalkeeping and dubious officiating, that didn't happen.
But it is another game unbeaten and we are still up there. It will just need a good reaction to recoup some of the points in our next game at Manchester City !!
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|What you thought|
|Sparky Marky||Rather than
viewing this as two points lost in our challenge for a top finish,
let's view it as a point won, as we have come out of these games
with nothing in the past and even though it wasn't a great
performance, it wasn't the worst.
Let's hope that for Wolves it is the two points dropped that mean all the difference to them staying up at the end of the season, as I would rather see teams like Norwich City and Swansea City survive playing an attractive game rather than trying to bore the pants off people or kick lumps out of them.
It makes next week's visit to Middle Eastlands difficult, especially if we play like that again, but there is no reason why the team should go there and think the result is a foregone conclusion.
If we play our game, it should give City enough problems to keep them for concentrating on their own game.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Manchester United||3||Bolton Wanderers||0||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Norwich City||2||Saturday|
|Newcastle United||1||Queens Park Rangers||0||Sunday|
|Wigan Athletic||0||Manchester City||1||Monday|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||21||6||4||11||20||30||22||-10|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||21||4||5||12||19||36||17||-17|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 3rd
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