West Bromwich Albion (Home)
Saturday 20th April 2005
better form being shown by Bryan Robson's West Bromwich Albion has
come at just the right time for the relegation strugglers.
There are points that are up for grabs and the Baggies are bagging them, with wins over Charlton and Everton and they will be looking for more when they come to the Lane. Having shown good form in the early stages of the FA Cup tie here recently, the Midlanders will be seeking to put in a performance over 90 minutes to show that they are capable of pulling away from the bottom of the table.
The absence of one of their more creative players - Jonathan Greening - will make a dent in their regular line-up, but Tottenham will still need to be aware of other danger men in the WBA side. Forward Rob Earnshaw is in a rich vein of form, with a hat-trick after coming on as a sub in the game at the Valley and he caused problems in the two Cup matches. A pacy forward who can find the net with foot and head, he is lively and drags players around with his movement. A good finisher, Michael Dawson (as he will probably be in the team after his good performance at Anfield) and Ledley King will need to be aware of his runs. Kevin Campbell has been starting up front and is an old head alongside the younger Zimbabwean. His strength can hold the ball up while support arrives, making it difficult for defenders to deprive him of possession. The same can be said of Geoff Horsfield, although he is more angular than the chunky Campbell. Leggy and awkward, Horsfield has always given Spurs trouble and he will probably be held in reserve to bring on to make an impact. Kanu is still at the Hawthorns and started at WHL in the Cup replay, making a fleeting contribution in the game and his best days are now behind him, but he can still bamboozle with flashes of skill.
The defence in front of Russell Hoult, who has his moments of madness and can be a good shot-stopper at times, will be determined to put up a bigger barrier than before. The other Paul Robinson plays at left back and got forward enough to score his first Albion goal against Villa a couple of weeks back. Hard tackling, he possesses a good passing ability and will motor up the wing to make sure our midfielder on his side is not allowed to move forward. Martin Albrechtsen came in during the summer and has added some depth to the defensive option, but he has been found to struggle on some occasions against pace and his distribution is not the greatest. Veteran Darren Moore might provide a big barrier to get past for Tottenham, but he is very strong in the air, although not as nimble on the floor as Darren Purse, who might get the nod to play against Kanoute and Defoe. Neil Clement is a solid defender and has a deadly left foot shot from free-kicks and open play and is another defender keen to get forward. Thomas Gaardsoe has a more defensive mind, but his pace is questionable and he sometimes overplays in dangerous areas of the pitch for his side.
The midfield will miss Greening, but fellow ex-Manchester United midfielder Kieron Richardson (albeit on loan) will feature strongly. Quick of foot and thought, he is a player that United hope might take over from Giggs one day and his darting runs are able to take him into advanced positions. Jason Koumas has gone backwards a bit since his heyday as a big money signing from Tranmere, so he might want to make the most of any opportunity he gets. A good runner with the ball and an astute passer, he can fire in powerful shots from wither dead or moving balls. Zoltan Gera has proved to be a player with a bit of fantasy, with his performance in the first half of the FA Cup replay at the Lane impressing. In the second half, he was not so noticeable, so Spurs might have to ensure that someone sits on him to prevent his involvement being pivotal to the Albion tactics. With Andy Johnson having been missing for some time, it is doubtful that he will be included in the 16, but Ricardo Scimeca and Ronnie Wallwork will be playing a part somewhere. Scimeca is a hard working defender, who has been played in midfield too. Strong and rugged, he has shown experience of the Premiership and might help to gain WBA the points they need and with Wallwork a similar player, only one of them might make the starting line-up. Wallwork can get a bit carried away sometimes, losing his discipline and shape, with Spurs having to make the best of any space that the ex-Man U man allows them. With Artim Sakiri and Juinichi Inamoto both fringe players, it would be a major surprise if they play in this match. Both are among those foreign imports who have struggled to make a major impact and might be out-muscled by Davis and Davies in midfield.
What Spurs will need to ensure is that they don't fall into their old failing of losing to teams at the bottom of the table, while getting points we might not expect against those at the top. A replay of the passing and movement might make Albion's task that much harder, but the effort the team puts in must be equal to or more than that of the WBA players, who will be fired up by Robson. Although a tougher task than it might have appeared a few weeks back (when I had us down for a 4-2 win), I still take Tottenham to come out on top, albeit by a narrower margin ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham Hotspur 2 West Bromwich Albion 1
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION : Andy Johnson (knee); Jonathan Greening (suspended)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Mido (stomach muscle strain); Noureddine Naybet (hamstring); Noe Pamarot (knee); Pedro Mendes (broken toe); Michael Brown (suspended)
|Tottenham Hotspur 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 (Half-time score : 0-1)|
|Premier League||Venue : White Hart Lane|
|Saturday 20th April 2005||Kick Off : 19.45 p.m.|
|Crowd : 35,885||Referee : Chris Foy (St. Helens)|
|Linemen : Mr. R. Bone (Red/Yellow Flag) ; Mr. A. Green (Yellow Flag)|
|Weather : Mild, dry|
|Teams : -|
Defoe (Ziegler 76)
|West Bromwich Albion
Kanu (Earnshaw 84)
|Manager : - Martin Jol||Manager : - Bryan Robson|
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|West Bromwich Albion
|Cards : -|
Dawson (foul) 20
|West Bromwich Albion
|Match Report : -|
The Tottenham tradition of "after the Lord Mayor's Show" continued with a disappointing home draw against West Bromwich Albion following picking up an unexpected point at Anfield.
While it proved difficult for Tottenham to break down a resolute Albion defence in the second half, the visiting team deserved their point for an enterprising first half showing that they could prove a potent attacking threat in making four very acceptable chances ... only one of which was taken !! In the first minute, Albion spurned a great opening. Spurs gave the ball away and as West Brom broke into the area, the ball came in from Richardson on the left and as it came off a stretching Dawson as he stopped Kanu's shot, the central defender just managed to get back to put off Gera. The WBA midfielder, who was to play a major par tin the game, could have put the away side ahead, but he pulled his shot wide of the post with the goal yawning in front of him.
Spurs were struggling to hold Albion's fast start and a free-kick had already been conceded 25 yards out, before Dawson got booked for a lunge on Richardson. Clement took responsibility for the dead ball kicks and his second effort was better than his first, which had been dragged a long, long way wide. For the foul, he stepped up more confidently and curled one over the wall and it bounced away off the post with Robinson looking after it anxiously.
Spurs put together their first attack and a straight-ish ball into the box saw Gaardsoe defend it, by heading it backwards under pressure and Hoult had to turn in mid-air to push it over the bar, just when it looked like it might drop just under it. From the corner, Dawson climbed highest to head on and Sean Davis had a clear header, but failed to hit the target. In fact, the returning midfielder had another headed effort on the 15 minute mark, but once more, it floated wide rather than hit the target.
Dawson's tackle on Richardson had done for him and Junichi Inamoto came on to replace him. Despite his lack of Premiership action, Tottenham's lethargy let him look good in the midfield. It proved an inspired substitution, with Albion taking the lead in the 23rd minute. A dubious corner was given and as it came over, it flicked off Dawson's head at the near post and he was the only one quick enough to respond to try and block Gera, as he curled a hard shot into the gap just inside Robinson's right hand post at the Paxton End.
Spurs were lucky to keep it down to one at half-time, as WBA opened them up a number of times and Spurs contributed to their own pressure by giving the ball away with square passes across the midfield straight to a red shirt. One came when Kanu broke on the right and pulled a low ball across the edge of the six yard box and although there was nobly there to put it in, the Spurs defence let it travel all the way across the area. Coming in at the far post, Richard Chaplow hit it firmly and Robinson did well to make himself big and beat it out with his hands.
Apart from the header from his own man, Hoult had not been troubled too much by Spurs shots. With ten minutes to the break, Andy Reid flighted a corner over and Stephen Kelly got his head to it with a good jump, but he was just underneath his header and it landed on the top of the net.
At the sound of the half-time whistle, there was an accompaniment of booing and it looked like being a tough half for Tottenham. Atouba and Mido came out to warm up with their kit on, indicating that there would be subs used. But who would go off ? Reid hadn't been outstanding in the first 45 and Keano had looked a little off the pace. When the players came out Davis and Edman were missing, it was a shock to all Spurs fans. Both had solid first half performances and could have offered good second half showings. However, the presence of Mido was no doubt to unsettle the WBA defence and the move worked straight away.
He got the ball out wide in the penalty area and wriggled through a challenge and hooked his shot into the side netting when other players were better placed. He was in the thick of things and five minutes into the half, it was he who tried to leather the ball and only succeed in skying it over the bar after King had kept the ball moving on in the area from a corner.
It was of little consequence a minute later, as a long ball played in from the left touchline by Ledley found Clement's head as he challenged Mido and the ball dropped right in front of Keane, who struck a looping shot about waist high that flashed past Hoult for the equaliser. It was an opportunist finish from the Irishman, whose partnership with Defoe was not going well and Jermain seemed frustrated with Mido when he came on too. It just wasn't falling for Defoe, who struggled to keep onside in the first half, when he could have been away through on goal a few times, had the ref's whistle not stopped him. And when he allowed play to move on, then Spurs got no advantage from it.
West Brom hit back straight away from the goal and Inamoto was worked in on the right side of the area and he hit a low shot that bounced up and Robbo did well to get down to it and divert it wide of the goal. Back up the other end, a long clearance saw Mido try an outlandish shot from wide on the right just a yard or two out fro the goal-line. The ball ballooned way over the top. Marco van Basten he ain't !! Robbie Keane got a taste for it too and hit a volley well over from 25 yards. The Spurs fans thought that Spurs had got another goal when Kelly played a precise pass into Davies in the box, but his low shot only hit the side-netting and not the inside netting.
With Mido proving a handful for the Albion back four, Bryan Robson made an astute substitution by bringing on man mountain Darren Moore to play in the centre at the back and removed a forward from the attack. Spurs were now reliant on long shots as they were kept away from the box, but their lack of use of the width meant that everything was narrow down the pitch and not much went outside the width of the penalty area. This made Davies tuck inside and Andy Reid was reduced to ploughing a furrow ten yards in from the sidelines. He did at least produce some telling shots, with the closest being in the 65th minute when he drilled a 30 yard drive just over the bar.
Gera once more showed that not only has he got skill in abundance, but he knows when to make a good run into the area, which was picked out by a good ball from Chaplow and the Hungarian volleyed the ball true but without the accuracy that might have restored their lead and the volley slipped wide of Paul Robinson's goal.
On 75 minutes, Defoe left the play and Ziegler came on. The three forward system seems never to work that effectively and even before that he was not firing on all cylinders alongside Keane. The Swiss youngster hit a low drive straight into the diving Hoult's arms a couple of minutes after coming on and with Atouba taking up an intelligent position at the far post from corners, he twice lobbed the ball back to the far post. Firstly, it looked as though Keane ducked under the ball when it came to him and with the latter, Mido did get his head on it, but he could not get it on target to trouble the keeper.
Andy Reid finished a better second half for him, if not for Tottenham, with involvement in some late incidents. Tottenham had worked the ball around and it fell to Reid outside the box, from where he hit a shot that took a deflection off a defender and it flew over the top. As Chaplow broke away on the right hand touchline in injury time, Reid clattered him as he looked to be past the former Forest man and he got a yellow card for his troubles. With the final whistle there were a few murmured boos and it was a little unnecessary, as Spurs had built up the expectation and failed to deliver, but the need for points was just as great for WBA.
Simon Davies did well on the right, but had trouble getting past the tough tackling Paul Robinson (the other one), while Sean Davis looked strong in the first half and Carrick had an in and out game. Sometimes grabbing possession and looking for the million dollar pass, while other times, he went long periods without getting on the ball. King had another good game and for me, Stephen Kelly was the man of the match, with some great running up the right touchline and some very good defending. He made on tackle in the second half, when he ran half the length of the pitch to get back and then timed an immaculate tackle as an Albion player was poised to shoot inside the Spurs box. Always available for the ball to be played to him, he gave Tottenham some options to pass the ball when others were static.
Whether European football will be the reward at the end of the season for Spurs, the finishing position should be higher than last season, the points total should be higher than last season and we will have unearthed some players for next season and the future.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN KELLY
|Match sponsors||Pearl & Coutts|
|Match shirt sponsors||ScotAirways|
|Match ball sponsors||FaithDean plc|
|Match programme sponsors||-|
|The girl on the food counter at
Whites was embarrassed - “I’m sorry sir we’ve completely sold
out of pies.”
I looked incredulous. “You
only sell pies. How can you have none left at 6 clock ?”
“I’m afraid Andy Reid came
in for a snack earlier and ate the lot !”
Sorry Andy, this is mild
compared to the stick being thrown at you by some of the crowd near
me. With an assured second performance from Michael Dawson
(future captain ?) the general view around me was that it is Reid who
was the make weight in the Forest deal.
But it’s unfair to single out
Reid for this game - the entire Spurs midfield struggled to cope with
a gritty West Brom side that could easily have nicked a victory.
I was sitting miles up in the
air in the dizzy height of the North Stand roof for this game.
With only a square inch of the Jumbotron visible up there, the most I
could see on screen was the occasional sock, so trying to keep tabs on
who was who, especially in the West Brom side, was vaguely
disorientating. And maybe that was Spurs problem – dizzy
heights. They picked up their newspapers after Tuesday’s
matches to find themselves still 7th - still in position
for Europe and the pressure got right to them in the first half.
Even at my altitude of 20,000
feet it was clear from the kick off that Albion wanted this more than
Spurs. All the early threatening moves came from them.
Almost immediately the “Gooner” nearly scored, being denied only
by a last ditch tackle. Clement hit the woodwork and they simply
locked us out all over the pitch.
Jol had started with his pair
of shorts up front : Jermain and Robbie, and they again failed to make
an impact. However the service to them was awful and we did not
have one serious, intended, attempt on goal - Hoult picking up
everything with ease.
Gera is, in my view, one of the
most underrated players in the premiership (get him in the summer
Martin when Albion go down!!) and Spurs just gave him too much space
for the opener - a well drilled shot after the defence failed to clear
Without Jol’s substitutions
at half time Spurs would have come out of this pointless but the
introduction of Mido and Atouba was tactically astute. Despite
the occasional Atoubaisms in defence his bulky presence on the left
gave West Brom a lot more to think about and greatly increased the
pressure on their defenders. With Mido now the focal point of a
4-3-3 formation Spurs built up a head of steam and began to exert more
effective pressure everywhere.
It took just seven minutes
after the break for the Atouba/Mido combination to free up a ball for
Robbie Keane to smash home from more than 20 yards. A great
finish from my Spurs Man of the Match. But that was the only
goal. Spurs played the superior football for the rest of the
second half and should have won. West Brom however remained
awkward and a serious threat up to the nervous final minutes (just a
couple of bonkers mis-hits from Mido and Keane relieving the tension)
So have the wheels fallen off our Euro train ? You have to say this was two points lost and three points here could have even put us in sight of the Champions League ! The suspicion is that we haven’t developed the mental toughness to move into the next tier. In my view however the problem is more basic than that - we simply have a shot shy midfield ! A few goals from any of our midfielders this season would have put a lot more points on the board. But the goals just don’t come – nothing from free kicks – nothing from pile drivers outside the area (note last weeks was from Edman) – nothing from breaks into the penalty box.
Sorry lads - there’s a lot
more work needed on the training pitch and a lot less time spent with
the pies !
Spurs Man of the Match: Robbie
Brom are here again at The Lane and this time both teams have to win
to help them in their respective targets for the end of the
season. Spurs to get into Europe and West Brom to stay in the
West Brom have been rejuvenated under Robson and Spurs always seem to struggle against teams that have the spectre of relegation hanging over them. The Spurs line up had the two shortest strikers in the Premier League starting and Dawson making his home debut.
game started with West Brom looking to take the game to Spurs.
Gera made an early run from his preferred right wing to the left wing
and no one picked him up and when the goal came, it was Gera who
buried the ball in the back of the net with Robbo looking on.
West Brom hit the post from a free kick and we had a lucky escape when
Dawson made an outstanding tackle (which left him in a heap) but the
ball fell to the feet of a Brom player but he screwed it wide.
Spurs' only reply in the first half was a header from a West Brom
defender which bought out a great save from the goalie. It was
not surprising that the boos rang out from the Spurs faithful at half
would not have liked to have been in the Spurs dressing room.
Mido and Atouba came on at the start of the second half at once West
Brom were on the back foot. To counter Mido, West Brom bought on
Moore. He is a big bloke who must take XXXXXL in shorts
department. Mido was causing them all sorts of problems, which
resulted in a goal for Keano. A cross from Atouba, a lovely
knock down (from a West Brom player, who was being challenged by Mido)
and a well placed shot by Keane.
That is the way the game ended.
A one all score draw.
Both teams could have won it. Certainly West Brom could have been two up at half time. In the second half, Spurs looked the more dangerous, and there were many chances to grab those three points. This was the worst game I have seen Defoe play, but Dawson was outstanding at the back. He made tackle after tackle and marshaled the defence and all the headers bar one. A great home debut. The results went with us tonight and that final spot is still up for grabs. Can we make it ?
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Aston Villa||0||Charlton Athletic||0||Wednesday|
|Blackburn Rovers||1||Crystal Palace||0||Wednesday|
|Manchester City||3||Birmingham City||0||Wednesday|
|Norwich City||2||Newcastle United||1||Wednesday|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||33||5||14||14||32||53||29||-21|
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