Looking Forward



Premier League

Sunday 15th December 2002

The example set to Tottenham by Manchester United last week is the way to approach this match.  Their harassing of the Arsenal midfielders gave them little time on the ball and knowing they could be tackled at any moment put them off their game.  Phil Neville's performance was outstanding and although I have never thought much of him as a defender, he did just the job for United on the day.

Will Spurs be able to recreate that role for one of their players ??  Who would be most able to do it ? Freund is a destroyer, but at his age won't have the legs to chase for 90 minutes.  Redknapp tries hard, but isn't a good enough tackler to keep it up.  Anderton - nah !  Davies is a possibility, but then we lose his ability to go forward and cause a threat to their defence.  Ziege and Carr will be detailed to defend the flanks with an instruction to push Pires and Cole back whenever they can.

Perry will be needed to get in first against the quick visitors, but he must be careful that he doesn't sell himself early and get turned.  Deano will have to be strong against the running of their forwards to deny them the opportunity of getting a run on goal.  I would say that it is not a game to play Bunjy in, as he hasn't quite got used to the pace of the Premiership and this match is faster than that.  The same goes for Acimovic.

And upfront, it will be necessary to take whatever chances come our way, as there possibly won't be many.  The passing must be crisp and accurate, because if we give the ball away as we have done in the last few matches, we will be seriously punished.

Although it is sometimes a dirty word (or two), hard work is the name of this game to deny Arsenal time and space.  Even if Vieira is not fit, the side should not be lulled into a false sense of security and they will still have to give it everything to get anything out of the game.  While Arsenal haven't scored for two matches running, that is no reason to think it will happen again, unless the whole team defend as a unit.  We are usually not as bad at home as we are away and although away in this context is only the other end of the Seven Sisters Road, the bigger support for Tottenham might help the side.

I am assuming a good showing from Spurs to get a point with a result of ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham  1   Arsenal  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.



Tottenham  1   Arsenal  1  (Half-time score : 1-1)
Sunday 15th December 2002
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  14.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Constant light rain
Crowd : -  36,076
Referee : -  N. Barry ()
Teams : -  Tottenham : -  Keller; Bunjevcevic, Richards, King; Ziege, Anderton (Davies 72), Poyet, Freund, Carr; Keane, Sheringham
Unused Subs: Hirschfeld, Perry, Clemence, Iversen

Arsenal : - Seaman, Cole, Campbell, Keown, Lauren; Pires (van Bronckhorst 80), Parlour, Silva, Ljungberg (Toure 86); Bergkamp (Wiltord 70), Henry
Unused Subs: Taylor, Upson

Colours : -  Tottenham -  White shirts, Navy blue shorts, White socks with navy blue turnover. 

Arsenal - Red shirts, with white sleeves, white shorts,  red socks with white turnovers.

Scorers : -  Tottenham -  Ziege 12

Arsenal -  Pires (pen) 45

Cards : -  Tottenham -  Keller 44 (foul), Sheringham (foul) 63, Freund (foul) 73

Arsenal - Lauren (foul) 82, Parlour (foul) 89

For long periods of the match Tottenham looked like they would come out of it with more than the one point they ended with, but their attitude was spot on for a North London derby, which was all the better for not having anyone sent off early in the proceedings.

Despite being pulled back by a penalty goal just before half-time, Spurs still pressed forward in the second half and made enough chances to win a couple of games, but like West Brom last week, they didn't take them and that is why they didn't get what they deserved.

It was easy to see why Arsenal hadn't scored in their previous two matches. They were ragged and their passing and understanding way short of what you would expect form a team who were champions last season.  Perhaps that says something about the standard of the League.  Tottenham certainly looked the hungrier of the two sides and set about Arsenal, much as Man U had done a week before.  While they might not like it up 'em (well not all of them), they certainly got stuck in themselves and that was why Tottenham ended up with an 11th minute free-kick, centrally positioned and about 30 yards out.  His left foot drive left Seaman moving the wrong way and when he did go in the correct direction, he was not flexible enough to reach the fiercely hit and swerving shot.  You could say that "Seaman will be very disappointed with that" !!

In fact, it is not hard to come to the conclusion that the England keeper has completely gone.  One early Ziege cross would have evaded him had he not stuck a foot out to prevent it reaching Richards and Keane at the far post.  How will he live down the attempted dribble out of his box, with Robbie nicking the ball off his toe and then just being too wide to lob it back over the keeper who was wandering around the edge of his area like a bewildered pensioner.  Dodgy wasn't the word for his first half performance.

Not that the man in front of him was giving him much cover.  S.Cumball made error after error as the booing rang out every time he touched the ball and he failed to find a team-mate on almost every pass he attempted.  The speed of Keane on the deck often left him outwitted and there was a moment when it looked like Spurs fans would get what they wanted, when Wenger said he handled the pressure last season well, but this year it got to him.  His feeble attempt to get back at the fans by blowing kisses was perhaps not the best advised move.  Waves of insults washed down the stands towards him.  Poyet's back-heel to Stephen Carr really mugged him up good and proper.

Another objectionable player, Ashley Cole always was a mistimed tackle away from getting a red card.  Either he is the best defender of all time, as all his two footed, studs first tackles are perfectly timed or he is one of the luckiest in the world not to have severely injured someone by his actions.  We will let you be the judge as to which is the fact.  He just happened to be on the line twice to stop Spurs increasing their lead in the first half.  Richards imperious header from a corner and then Keane's low shot found him blocking the way on the line.  Spurs were becoming profligate and it might have been a different story against a team who were threatening them all the time.

As it was Keller was only called into action twice.  Once to palm a low, long range shot from Parlour wide and then to turn back the way he was coming from to push away a header from Henry.  Unfortunately, it was Kasey's rush of blood that saw him rush from his line to bring down Henry as he raced across the corner of the box to concede a penalty and pick up a yellow card.  There was no real need to do so, as defenders were with him as he headed towards the corner flag and as expected the spot kick was converted to level things on the stroke of half-time.

Players such as Ljungberg and Gilberto were being out-battled by the Spurs midfield, where Darren Anderton was playing a role alien to him, but hassling them into mistakes and then when he did get possession, Dazza used the ball very well.  Poyet was helping out and despite his age, ran non-stop and got stuck right in.  He should have earned Spurs a penalty even before we scored, when Parlour nudged him in the area and sent him sprawling.

Such was Tottenham's vigour that Bergkamp spent his time on the field moaning (no change there then !) and giving the ball away and Keown must now be very aware that Robbie Keane is number 22 as he spent so much time chasing him.  Indeed, into the second half, Keano should have got a couple of goals himself. Breaking the offside trap, although he looked a yard or so off, he ran through, but poked it just a bit to near to Seaman and gravity did the rest.  Then the keeper provided a big barrier (something he IS good at) to our Irish international when he had the opportunity, from Poyet's head-on, to volley a shot in from close range.  As the ball spilled free (well you didn't expect him to hold it did you ?), Keown cleared and Sheringham went in and got a yellow card for his tackle.

Gus himself could have scored, when he got on the end of a Steffen Freund cross and hit a shot well wide, when well placed.  The game got a bit scrappy, with Arsenal picking up a couple of cautions, before a break freed Gilberto on the right of the box, but he was unable to control the ball and it ran off for a goal-kick.  The game ended as it had gone for much of the preceding 93 minutes.  Poyet had an effort charged down and a Ziege free-kick cleared everyone, but found Ted on the far post.  However, it flicked off a head on the way and he was unable to direct his header on target.

With a great deal of effort and some good movement and passing, Tottenham caused Arsenal lots of problems.  For a side who Wenger said would got through the season without losing a match, they looked almost out on their feet at a point before Christmas.  Their arrogance was shown up as very misplaced, with Henry and Bergkamp both trying to showboat and screwing it up royally.  Their was little fight from a couple of their players and even those who are used to the hostile nature of these games are looking past their best.

Tottenham's players rose to the challenge.  Bunjy would not have been my choice, but his performance was solid and skillful, while Ziege had the taste for it today from start to finish.  Richards played a strong game, while Stephen Carr got stuck into the opponents and stopped Bergkamp getting a strike on goal after a good Henry run.  It is a shame we were not treated to a Keano cartwheel, but Henry would have been denied the opportunity to run the length of the pitch to taunt the Spurs fans if he had scored.  They were everywhere around him and his own supporters sat quietly in the corner.  It was a shame that they couldn't join in with the rest of us encouraging their team, but then they are so used to success that they probably don't need to.

Burton Coggles




With all the talk about Stephen Carr's imminent move to our opponents and the possibility of ground sharing before the game, it was nice to see that the questions were answered in no uncertain fashion during it. 

It is bad enough having to be in the same ground, let alone having to share one with the Arsenal fans.  Situated away in the end of the Park Lane (or after the deathly hush that pervaded that zone of the ground for most of the match, it will now be known as the 'Book Corner') they were silent until a minute before half time, when Henry fell under pressure from Keller and Pires tucked away the spot kick that followed.  Apart from that, there was little sound emanating from their seating and for all intents and purposes, it appeared to be like a Boxing or New Year's Day game, when all are hung-over.  Perhaps they were shocked into silence, which wouldn't be a bad thing.

The booing that accompanied every touch of the ball by the Arsenal 23 was ringing around the ground and there was none of last season's unpleasantness.  Just plain and wholesome dislike.  Maybe not of the Barcelona-Figo level, but enough to let him know he is not welcome back, unlike most other ex-Spurs.  Even the appearance of a Gooner shirted Osama Bin Laden look-a-like running onto the pitch could not attract more disdain than the A23.

The next one on the production line due to join him at Highbury in 2003 is Stephen Carr.  Since returning form injury, his form has been patchy to say the least, but today he was back doing it for Tottenham and hopefully not to impress his new employers !!  He got stuck into A23 and precipitated a bit of a scuffle, but he came away with a smile on his face.  Did this mean he was laughing at his opponent or was it a knowing grin for one incident to make it appear his heart is still blue and white ??  Only time will tell. 

The performance was of a type I would like to see more often from the side.  Going at other sides from the first whistle and then pressing home the advantage.  Except we didn't press home the advantage.  One goal was never going to be enough and perhaps their poor form showed that they are not invincible, but also they will also capitalise on any chink in the armour.  The way that chances were created and that the Arsenal defence failed to cope with our movement and passing means that we should not hesitate to play in a similar manner for all our games.  Having drawn with Chelsea and lost out by a single goal to Man U and Liverpool, there is nothing to fear against these sides above us.  The difference in having eleven players for the whole match showed in this match.

Cole denied Dean Richards and Robbie Keane on the line, while Seaman was so totally foxed by Ziege's free-kick that he must have thought he had been transported back to Wembley 14th April 1991.  It was a well taken dead ball, but he was all at sea trying to guess where it was going.  If only we had got another before half-time.

But still chances were created into the second period and we were looking the more likely to get a second, despite Carr having to make a last ditch block on a Bergkamp effort after a mazy Henry run.

Keane twice, although maybe beyond the last defender each time, was thwarted and Sheringham had two goes and Poyet one from close in, but neither could break the deadlock.  Even World Cup winner Gilberto Silva looked ordinary when he failed to control a cross from Henry, which would have left him with a clear shot.  The pressure exerted by Spurs clearly rattled the Gooners out of their game and their passing and general attitude to each other was obviously way wide of what I suspect they normally produce.  Apart form the pen. and one header from Henry that he did well to save, Keller was underused in goal.

Richards looked far superior to A23 today and King ... well, A23 can't really be mentioned in the same sentence can he ??  The job Ledley did on Henry made the one they all rave about almost anonymous.  Pace, well read anticipation and Ledley shut him down away from the danger areas.  How well he did was shown by the one occasion he ran into someone else's area and the penalty resulted.  Hoddle's tactics of pushing Ziege and Carr forward to pressure Cole and Lauren back towards their own goal worked well and both Tottenham men had their best games in a while.

With Espen Baardsen sitting in the lower East for the match (and going unrecognised by most Spurs fans) and Gary Brooke seem limping to the ground, it was a day for old players to remember times gone by.  Perhaps we can look forward to a bright future, while realising that the present is not too shabby either.  No chickens counted today, but the cockerel could be crowing soon over a team that makes inroads in the right direction.

Mikey Dixon


Other scores this weekend :

Aston Villa

2 WBA 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Leeds United 3 Monday
Charlton Athletic 2 Manchester City 2 Saturday
Everton 2 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
Fulham 0 Birmingham City 1 Sunday
Manchester United 3 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 1 Chelsea 1 Saturday
SCBC 1 Newcastle United  1 Saturday
Sunderland 2 Liverpool 1 Sunday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 18 11 3 4 37 20 36
2 Manchester United 18 10 5 3 30 17 35
3 Chelsea 18 9 7 2 32 15 34
4 Everton 18 10 2 6 22 20 32
5 Liverpool 18 9 4 5 28 19 31
6 Newcastle United 17 9 2 6 27 24 29
7 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 18 8 4 6 24 24 28
8 SCBC 18 7 6 5 21 18 27
9 Middlesbrough 18 7 5 6 22 16 26
10 Blackburn Rovers 18 6 6 6 24 22 24
11 Charlton Athletic 18 7 3 8 20 22 24
12 Manchester City 18 7 3 8 22 25 24
13 Birmingham City 18 6 5 7 17 21 23
14 Fulham 18 5 4 8 22 23 22
15 Aston Villa 18 6 4 8 17 18 22
16 Leeds United 18 6 2 10 23 25 20
17 Sunderland 18 4 5 9 10 24 17
18 WBA 18 4 3 11 13 27 15
19 Bolton Wanderers 17 3 5 9 18 31 14
20 West Ham United 18 3 4 11 17 34 13

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