Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 23rd August 2003

Leeds United have had a torrid time with the money men of late, resulting in the sale of some of the crown jewels at Elland Road - something that former Chairman Peter Ridsdale said would never happen.  But despite losing Robbie Keane, Lee Bowyer, Jonathan Woodgate, Harry Kewell and Olivier Dacourt, they still managed a creditable draw with Newcastle United in their first match of the season by all reports. 

Having brought in Peter Reid to steady the wobbling ship at the end of last season, the former Sunderland boss has been kept on to take Leeds through this uncertain time.  He realises his hands are tied financially, but they are still trying to sign up some talent with Lamine Sakho, who is on trial from Marseille and has made a big impact with the fans with his spirited performances in pre-season.  The Frenchman would line up alongside the other midfielders of veteran Jason Wilcox and ex-Chelsea midfielder Jody Morris.  With the likes of Batty, Barmby, McPhail and Okon out of the side of late, the midfield is fiesty and not without a little bit of bite.  In view of recent matches between the sides, Morris is not one who might calm things down if things get a bit hairy, if his pre-season performance at Burnley was anything to go by.  With loan signing Jermaine Pennant coming in from Arsenal fresh from being a big hit with the England Under-21s this week (where he was sent off for socking a Croatian player in the face), he will be looking to put on a good wing-back performance back in North London.  Looking for a responsible driving force in midfield might lead to Reid having to overlook Seth Johnson, who was this week arrested for drink driving.

One of the players who is still at Leeds and was the favourite to be on his way, is Mark Viduka.  The Aussie was unhappy at the end of last season, but still managed to score the goal at Highbury that put a nail in the coffin of Arsenal's title hopes.  Inter, Roma, Spain and even Tottenham had been rumoured to be his destination, but he has said he is happy to get on with the football and stay at Leeds United ... for the time being.  He would most likely form a strike-force with Alan Smith, who also has been linked with a move away, but this boy is Yorkshire through and through and won't be going anywhere.  The grit in his game has been transferred to a few people's legs, but I still think he could be a potent striker if he concentrated his mind on the right part of his game.  His running feud with a couple of the Spurs players might be rekindled in this match.  Another option is the Premier League's youngest scorer James Milner, who is a strong teenager and showed when he came on last season, that he is not afraid to get stuck in.

The defence is moulded around South African veteran Lucas Radebe at centre-half, with old hands Ian Harte and Gary Kelly on each flank, although Harte will be challenged by former Newcastle man Didier Domi, brought in from Paris St. Germain.  More likely, Dominic Matteo will slip wide to put some stability in the defence, while the strapping six footer ex-Lens man Zoumana Camara will show what he can do alongside Radebe.  The defence might still be getting used to each other, so if Tottenham can find a supply route, then it might just cause United's back line some problems with the runs that Postiga can make if found by his team-mates.

As the final line of defence, Paul Robinson avoided efforts to sell him to Aston Villa ... a sure sign of the end of anyone's career ... to claim the gloves for another season.  Nigel Martyn was supposed to be on his way to Chelsea, but is in reserve at the moment, leaving Australian Danny Milosevic's position in the balance as third choice. 

Two players who will not take part are trialist Carlos Cuellar from Numancia, as the club will only be making a decision on whether to sign him up next week and Danny Mills, who is in dispute with the manager over comments concerning his alleged lack of commitment in training.  Mills is said to be the target of two Premiership clubs who want to take him on loan. 

With Tottenham losing at Birmingham and wanting to put on a good showing at home, they might find a bit of forward momentum to put Leeds under pressure, but they now have a resilient, if not fluent side in place to deal with that.  If Spurs have Mabizela in place, he could make a sounder platform for Tottenham to work from, but Leeds can break at pace, especially with the addition of Pennant.  Therefore, Tottenham will have to be alert and with both sides struggling to create much from midfield, I predict that the outcome will be limited by that failing to ...

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham  1    Leeds United   1

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


How do you think your team will play this season ?

I probably sound like the Lib Dems on this one. A couple of weeks ago I was convinced that we'd got enough decent players to (a) avoid relegation (places to be filled by Wolves, Leicester & Fulham anyway) and (b) maybe even squeak back into the top half.  Then I went to see a
few pre-season games - notably in Dublin - where we produced a decent half against Villa and a truly awful performance against Shelbourne, and at this point I began to seriously consider what life might be like back down in Division 1.  Then a strange team turned up in white shirts on Sunday who competed for every ball, covered for each other and played a good high-tempo game to get a deserved draw against Newcastle.  If that same team turn up for the next few games then my mid-summer optimism will be justified.  Can't say I'm expecting us to be too stylish: our midfield couldn't be described as creative and exciting by even the most committed fan, but we do solid big-time: Batty, Johnson, Morris and Domi will be called on to run themselves into the ground defensively this season, but I can't think of many other players who could do that job better.

Who do you think is your best player at the moment ?

Difficult.  Smithy had an excellent game on Sunday, and Dom Matteo's performances when he's barely match-fit after a post-season op were equally impressive.  New boy Lamine Sakho has impressed everybody with his pace, ability in the air and vision.  If pushed I'd say Smithy because he played the full game, dropped back well when needed, took a good striker's goal (now that we've finally got a manager who realises that's where he should be playing - cheers El Tel) and managed to keep a lid on his temper for an entire 90 minutes.

Which player isn't playing as he should ?

Danny Mills.  One of the best players in the England World Cup squad and rightly chosen ahead of the Neville sisters at the time. Steadily got worse last season and was dropped for the opener.  Deserves a chance to drag himself back into contention but whining about it on his website isn't the way to do it.

Any exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for ?

Lamine Sakho - Senegalese-born French U21 international.  He turned up on trial in Dublin and after 20 minutes we knew we had to sign him.  Standing ovation from the crowd then and again last Sunday when he was subbed.  If he continues playing as well as he's done so far, there's no way we'll be able to afford him at the end of the season when his loan spell is up.

What is the line-up expected to be for the match ?

Robinson - Kelly, Camara, Radebe, Matteo - Sakho, Johnson, Morris, Wilcox - Smith, Viduka.  Wilcox didn't have a great game on Sunday - was lucky not to be sent off in fact - and might be worth either trying James Milner there from the start or switching Sakho and starting with Domi in left midfield.

What do you your fans think of Tottenham ?

There's still a few who think it's funny to sing about Belsen but they're a decreasing minority these days.  Generally, we don't like everybody, but it's only Chelsea and ManU we've got special songs for.  Spurs are generally regarded as being nowt more than a Cup side - 40 years and not a hint of being able to sustain a league-winning campaign, but the odd flashy player and cup run that somehow keeps the fans from mutinying - not a threat to our own brilliant status and high ambitions.  Or to bring that view up-to-date, I guess we now see Spurs as in pretty much the same position as we are, but without having had all the good times (but still no trophy) in Europe over the last five years.  And on the manager front, I guess it's now 1-1: we managed to sell you a pup in George Graham, while El Tel's ability to make the odd cup run look like coaching genius somehow convinced Ridsdale to employ him last summer.

Which Spurs player do you like ?

Robbie Keane.  Decent pace, scores good goals, but maybe doesn't score enough when you look at the chances he gets.  Maybe we shouldn't have bought him if we weren't going to play him, but at least he didn't leave us under a cloud unlike some recent departures.  Provided he stops scoring goals against us we'll like him more. 
We hate: Taricco cos he got Smithy sent off by stamping on him and then doing a "shot by the Lone Gunman" act when Smithy frowned at him a couple of years ago, and Bunjevcevic because refs have problems spelling his name and was clearly employed so that he could commit as many fouls as he wanted without getting booked.  Now why didn't we think of that instead of having a player called Smith?

What do you reckon the score will be ?


Thanks to Jabba from 

Players unavailable ...

Leeds United -  Danny Mills (out of favour), Eirick Bakke (knee), Michael Duberry (cheekbone)

Tottenham Hotspur - Frederic Kanoute (groin), Darren Anderton (hamstring), Christian Ziege (thigh), Kazuyuki Toda (calf), Robbie Keane (ankle), Gus Poyet (suspended), Jonathan Blondel (finger)

TV :  No live coverage in UK.   Tottenham Hotspur vs Leeds United
Pay-per-view (US)  Saturday 23rd August 10am ET/7am PT  LIVE on FOX Sports World (US)
or on Tuesday 26th August 5pm ET/2pm PT  (3-day delay)
Radio :  
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast    



Tottenham   2     Leeds United    1     (Half-time score : 1-1)
Premier League
Saturday 23rd August 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Hot, sunny with some cloud
Referee : -  S. Dunn (Bristol)
Crowd : -  34,354
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Gardner, Richards, King; Carr, Ricketts, Davies, Redknapp, Taricco (Marney 86); Postiga, Zamora (Kanoute 62)
Unused Subs : - Sullivan, Bunjevcevic, Acimovic

Leeds United : -  Robinson; Kelly, Camara, Radebe, Matteo; Wilcox (Pennant 54), Morris, Johnson, Sakho (Domi 63); Smith, Viduka (Lennon 78)
Unused Subs : -  Martyn, Batty

Colours : -  
Tottenham  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, navy blue socks with a white turnover

Leeds United -  All dark blue with white piping.

Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  Taricco 42, Kanoute 72

Leeds United -  A. Smith 5

Cards : -  
Tottenham  -  Postiga (foul) 68

Leeds United -  Kelly (foul) 69, Matteo (foul) 72

Despite it only being Mauricio Taricco's second goal for Spurs in his 100th League appearance in England, it was enough to bring Tottenham back into the game and for Frederic Kanoute to round off the win with something special in the second half.  All this after going a goal down in five minutes too, but it was a good performance by Tottenham to overcome that early blow, making a second half of possession tell against a defiant Leeds side.

Proceedings had opened in a pretty dramatic fashion, with Taz hitting a shot that looked like worrying row ZZ in the second minute, but it dipped and fizzed, just enough to miss the top of the net in the end.  However, when play went up the other end of the pitch, a free-kick was given and it was quickly taken by Seth Johnson to Smith on the right side of the area about 30 yards out.  The Leeds striker strode forward into space afforded him by the ever-generous Spurs defence and from 20 yards drilled a low shot past Keller's right hand.  It was sleepy stuff from Spurs and on reflection, Dean Richards was the one who failed to close Smith down quickly enough.  Soft goal to concede though.

But Tottenham started to get back into the match.  They had about 80% of possession during the 90 minutes, I reckon, but although they pressed in the first half, their dominance didn't pay off.  Postiga went wide with one effort and hit the keeper with a header from 12 yards.  Ricketts had two poor shots, both dragged wide, while Stephen Carr failed to convert a tempting cross from Taz from the left, when the goal beckoned in front of him.  Unfortunately, his thigh failed to connect in a way to put it in.  Captain Jamie Redknapp had a free-kick straight into the wall and then tried his "flick-up" free-kick, but it went straight into Robinson's arms and it is getting very predictable.  Sometimes, you wish he would step aside and let Carr have a go, as he has proved he can be very good from dead-ball situations which are centrally placed.

Leeds broke on the right and a cross from the dead-ball line was behind Viduka, but luckily for Spurs there was nobody at the far post to follow it in.  Sakho produced a couple of prodigious jumps to meet crosses, but neither troubled Kasey.  Spurs also a good chance that fell in the box to Davies, following a head-on from Deano after a long-throw, but he blazed well over the top.  Just when it looked like Spurs would go in at half-time 0-1 down, Postiga won a header out on the right, which fell to Zamora in the centre circle and he swept it out left to the advancing Taricco.  Moving down the line in acres of space, he cut inside on his good right foot, moved the ball across the face of the box, away from two defenders and unleashed a powerful drive into the top right hand corner of the Leeds net.  It was most un-Mauricio like and left everyone amazed by the goal he had just scored.  It is something he had done when he was at Ipswich, but he had shown no evidence that he would produce such goals in a white shirt !!

It was a good time to score.  Half-time came and went, with Spurs coming out in good heart and picking up a tempo that had Leeds struggling.  In fact, so much that the only two efforts came at each end of the half from Seth Johnson, both of which dipped over the bar from distance.

The opportunities for Tottenham came thick and fast.  Postie curled one just wide from the left corner of the area, heading another one of target, before Gardner put one over the top and Ledley King intercepted a pass out of defence and hit a fierce drive just wide of the angle of the goal.  When Postiga made a run down the right wing, he was palmed off by Matteo, but referee Dunn chose not to give a free-kick for that.  However, as Helder progressed, Matteo slid in and down went the Portuguese man.  The ref gave a free-kick, when Matteo had seemed to play the ball away and got booked for his troubles.  Perhaps these sort of things do even themselves out over a season !!  Carr swung the free-kick in to the towering figures in white shirts at the far post and a defender got a touch to it, before it fell to Frederic Kanoute, on as a sub for Zamora.  Fifteen yards out in the box filled with Leeds players, he took a great touch and knocked it up for a superb scissors kick that flew into the left-hand bottom corner of  Robinson's net.  Only his third and fourth touches in a Spurs shirt and what touches they were !!  It was a goal that sparked a little cameo for the Frenchman, who then moved the ball around, ran through defenders and showed good skill on the ball, linking up quite well with Postiga.

The match ended with Tottenham passing the ball around and it was a good victory in the end.  Leeds were gifted an opening goal, but couldn't capitalise on that, with Viduka having a game where he didn't looked bothered.  He was replaced by the Premier League's youngest ever player - Aaron Lennon - with a few minutes left ... that was what Peter Reid thought of his performance.  Smith scored his goal and buzzed abut, but Sakho was the most impressive of the visiting side.  He worked hard and tried to get on the end of things, but not enough things were created for him to get on the end of.  Wilcox ceded too much space down the Tottenham left for Taricco and Ricketts to exploit and Morris threaded a few neat passes through, but did little else in the middle of the park.  

With some players still out injured, it was a heartening display with some good passing, although I prefer a bit more movement off the ball, with Richards and King showing what Tottenham had missed at Birmingham last week.

While it will be tough at Liverpool in mid-week, there is enough there to give them some problems, but the midfield will need to work hard to deny the home side any space to work with.


Paxton Pete


Work to make it work


Pressure on Hoddle, Diego deal falls through, injury crisis hits Spurs ... just some of the newspaper talk prior to this match, which made the fans apprehensive as Tottenham lined up to face Leeds.  Some fans were patient in the way the team needed to grow and with Hoddle who had spent a lot of cash, but on reasonably young talents, who would give the club a stability over the next few years.

While the way Tottenham conceded the early goal to Alan Smith's low drive in the fifth minute was "old school" Tottenham.  No-one alert or closing down from a free-kick in an innocuous position.

But what we saw after that was a Spurs team dominating Leeds and only off target finishing denied them a score-line to match their possession.  In the second half especially, they moved the ball around and made the most of the space the United midfield left for Spurs to fill.  We also saw some of the young prospects start to bud in the hothouse atmosphere of the Premier League.

Despite the stick Postiga got from some quarters (and the daft old fat git who sits behind me), he showed a few things in the match that highlight his potential and promise that he will be a very good goalscorer for Tottenham Hotspur.  For me the first time shot form a clearance that had Robinson nervously looking at his right hand post in the first showed his awareness of where the goal is.  In the second half, he cut in from the left wing to curl a shot just wide of the mark with a delicate effort, but the most exhilarating was his shot near the end.  Receiving it with his back to goal on the edge of the D, he turned, pushed it a foot out of his feet and hit a screaming shot with virtually no back-lift that left Robinson standing and would have ripped the back out of the net had it been two feet further left.  The Portuguese international will still need some time to acclimatise, as he is clearly not at home with the pace of the game nor the physical nature of the Premier League in this country, but here was enough on show today to demonstrate that he has a great deal of skill and will be a real asset for Spurs.

One who is already showing what he can do is Rohan Ricketts who has grabbed his chance with both feet.  His ability to use his feet in a skilful way makes opponents tackle, but the ball has gone by the time they get there.  His tenacity penned Gary Kelly in the corner when it appeared that the Irish international had nicked the ball off him.  However, Rohan won it back and was pulled down for a free-kick and a yellow card for Kelly.  He worked up and back all match and when replaced by Marney, he got a great ovation.

Ledley King also had an imperious match.  He won challenge after challenge and towered in the air, even finding time to unleash a stinging drive that just missed the target, while Dean Richards had a good game next to the young Spur.  His performance had a few rough edges, but his presence is important to the side.  Taricco had as good a match as he has had for Tottenham and scored the screamer of a goal that breached the Leeds defence and gave Spurs a way back into the match.

Anthony Gardner had a very good game against Viduka, who he matched for strength, but there was one moment when he had two hands on Sakho's back in the box in the first half, which could have ended up with another spot kick against us.  Composed on the ball and in the tackle.

Redknapp prompted and probed, but did give the ball away a little too easily sometimes, but was willing to get stuck in when required ... especially on Jody Morris for some reason !!  Stephen Carr looked happier getting forward on the right wing and produced a really inspiring performance, but he needs to blend better with other players on the wing, as sometimes, he gets isolated and runs into a dead end of defenders.

The way the side came back from a goal down is a good sign, but it is something the club will need to maintain, as the way we will be playing this season means that there might be only a few clean sheets ... much like last season.  But a good win and one that will give confidence to the team and to the fans.

Benny The Ball


Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 0 Liverpool 0 Sunday
Bolton Wanderers 2 Blackburn Rovers 2 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Leicester City 1 Saturday


3 Fulham 1 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Portsmouth 1 Saturday
Middlesbrough 0 Arsenal 4 Sunday
Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 2 Saturday
SCBC 0 Birmingham City 0 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Charlton Athletic 4 Saturday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 2 2 0 0 6 1 6
2 Manchester United 2 2 0 0 6 1 6
3 Chelsea 2 2 0 0 4 1 6
4 Blackburn Rovers 2 1 1 0 7 3 4
5 Manchester City 2 1 1 0 4 1 4
6 Portsmouth 2 1 1 0 3 2 4
7 Birmingham City 2 1 1 0 1 0 4
8 Everton 2 1 0 1 4 3 3
9 Charlton Athletic 2 1 0 1 4 3 3
10 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 1 0 1 2 2 3
11 Fulham 2 1 0 1 4 5 3
12 SCBC 2 0 2 0 2 2 2
13 Leeds United 2 0 1 1 3 4 1
14 Leicester City 2 0 1 1 3 4 1
15 Newcastle United 2 0 1 1 3 4 1
16 Aston Villa 2 0 1 1 1 2 1
17 Liverpool 2 0 1 1 1 2 1
18 Bolton Wanderers 2 0 1 1 2 6 1
19 Middlesbrough 2 0 0 2 2 7 0
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 0 0 2 1 9 0

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