OPPONENTS Blackburn Rovers
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 23rd October 2011
VENUE Ewood Park






Travelling to bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers might seem a straight forward task on the face of it, but the pressure on Steve Kean - the Rovers boss - is mounting and he will fire up his charges to produce a performance which could replicate their display against Arsenal.   With their backs against the wall, the Indian backed side can be a dangerous animal.

Spurs will come up against a familiar face in the Rovers goal, with Paul Robinson having a tough time of it with 18 goals conceded and only 19 saves made this season so far.  A solid goalie, Paul was a firm favourite at the Lane and having met him during the time when we printed the fanzine, he is a thoroughly likeable chap.  It was a shame he left, but that own goal in Croatia knocked his confidence and it is only now that he appeared to be back to his best.  He is not helped out by a defence that appears to zonal mark, while the forwards attack in other areas.

The defence has seemed disorganised, which is odd, as it was their most impressive part of the side in the run-in, which saw a last day win over Wolverhampton Wanderers secure their Premier League place.  Samba is a big lump,. but will be missing Nelsen alongside him, so some shuffling will need to take place, with Nzonzi possibly dragged into the back four, along with youngster Jason Lowe, who drops to right back  from midfield to face Gareth Bale.  Salgado was often given the run-around by Bale, so we will see how the new boy copes with the Welshman's pace.  Martin Olsson is sometimes used in midfield, as he is not a natural defender, while Scott Dann has not really settled after his move from Birmingham City and Gael Givet has not had a good run of games, usually because his play is erratic and he often gets pulled out of position too easily.

In midfield, Blackburn have lost Brett Emerton and Keith Andrews, leaving them to choose from the Norwegian Pedersen, new signing Simon Vukcevic, much sought after Junior Hoilett and Argentinean Mauro Formica.  Spurs have watched the Canadian Hoilett, as his attacking play from midfield has impressed, while Formica has been on the spot on penalty duty and Vukcevic not made only one substitute appearance in the short time he has been in England.

The forward line has suffered with players getting old and Jason Roberts does not have the legs to trouble the opposition defence with his pace, although he still knows where the goal is, but former Everton front man Yakubu leads the line and his instinctive finishing is still there, as his goal against Arsenal showed.

More likely to start are new-comers David Goodwillie, who signed from Dundee United and Spaniard Ruben Rochina, who was last at Barcelona.  Rochina has scored a couple of goals this season and he likes to get forward into the box, while Goodwillie is an energetic striker, who can pop up from deep positions to arrive in the box at the right time.

Spurs should be able to cope with the Rovers attacks, even with only two fit centre-halves, but they need to kick off with Bale on the left and two men ahead of him.  Playing with one man up top and one in the hole will not give Blackburn enough problems to keep them pinned back.  The longer the game goes without a Rovers goal, the more their crowd will get on their backs and that will make Tottenham's job easier. 

If Harry feels he has to start Rafael van der Vaart, then on this occasion, he could put him in the right midfield slot and keep Lennon for when the Blackburn players are tiring.  With Walker behind him, the young full back's pace should be able to cover for the Dutchman's wandering feet.

In the last three games they got a point at QPR after losing 1-4 to Manchester City and 1-3 to Newcastle United.  They are off the bottom courtesy of Wigan's defeat today, but their results have shown that they are susceptible at the back and struggle to score goals.  With Rovers being bankrolled by the Indian chicken magnates, Spurs are less exotic and more Cockney Mrs. Skinner's Chicken Dinners, but by the end of the game, hopefully, we will be able to pick the bones out of a game that has provided us with a slap-up valuable three points having given the home team a roasting.

PREDICTION Blackburn Rovers    1       Tottenham Hotspur   3
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.
Spanish defender Michel Salgado will miss out with injury, as will Vince Grella, David Dunn and Ryan Nelsen.  Coming back into the side will be winger Morten Gamst Pedersen, with Jason Lowe dropping back from midfield to full back to cover for Salgado's absence.
Spurs will be without Ledley King, Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson, William Gallas, Vedran Corluka and Niko Kranjcar through injury.  Available for selection after Wednesday's Europa League game when they were rested are Emmanuel Adebayor, Scott Parker, Gareth Bale and Brad Friedel, while Sando and Aaron Lennon came through the Rubin Kazan game unscathed.

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Blackburn Rovers  1 (1)     
Premier League
Sunday 23rd October 2011                              
Venue :  Ewood Park
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)

Kick off 15:00
Formica 28 van der Vaart 15
van der Vaart 53
Nzonzi (foul) 55 
Lowe (foul) 63  
Roberts (dissent) 77
Yakubu (foul) 90+2

Rose 79



Crowd :  22,786 Weather :  Dry, mild
Referee :  Stuart Atwell (Warwickshire) Assistant Referees :  - (-)
Fourth Official :  - -
Blackburn Rovers kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
Blackburn Rovers : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Robinson

35  Lowe      
  5  Givet
  4  Samba
  3  Olsson

29  Vukcevic  (20  Rochina 70)
15  Nzonzi      
10  Formica  (24  Yakubu 70      )
12  Pedersen

23  Hoilett
30  Roberts       (25  Goodwillie 82)

Unused subs: 
13  Bunn
31  Hanley
14  Petrovic
19  Slew

  24  Friedel

28  Walker
  4  Kaboul
19  Bassong
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon  (25  Rose 70)
  8  Parker (c)
14  Modric
  3  Bale

11  van der Vaart       (18  Defoe 88)

10  Adebayor

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini
29  Livermore
30  Sandro
31  Townsend
  9  Pavlyuchenko

Manager :  Steve Kean Manager :   Harry Redknapp
Sponsor :   Princes Trust Shirt sponsor :  Aurasma
Kit Supplier :  Umbro Kit Supplier :   Puma
Match report

Two Rafael van der Vaart goals won this match for Spurs, but it was a backs to the wall defensive ending that earned Tottenham the points when Blackburn staged a grandstand finish, but could not breach the Tottenham back four to equalise.

With a more familiar looking Premier League side taking the field in the unusual black and yellow third strip, Spurs looked to continue their good form in the domestic competition.  But it was Blackburn with the first attacks, ending with a corner that Samba won, but put far too high.  Then Junior Hoilett squirmed through into the Tottenham box, but lacked composure when he had the goal before him, firing over the top.

An interceptions of a ball across the area had stopped Bale having an opportunity to score, but in the tenth minute, Emmanuel Adebayor looked favourite to knock home Bale's left wing cross, until Givet popped up to knock the ball away before it got to the loan striker.  The game swung to the other end and Blackburn pushed on the Tottenham defence, but a free-kick and some corners produced nothing of a serious risk on the Tottenham goal.

The game was being played like a cup-tie, which for Blackburn, the protests against Steve Kean had made it as precious as a knock-out match.  Spurs ability to play on the break was a prime asset, as Blackburn pushed forward and with Bale and Lennon, it left Spurs ways out of their own half when they got possession at the back.  But it was Kyle Walker, coming from deep on a long run up the right, to take Adebayor's pass, that produced the low ball across for Rafael van der Vaart to side-foot in the opening goal from eight yards out.  His finish into the bottom corner of the net beat former Spurs keeper Paul Robinson's dive in the 15th minute.

The goal was almost forgotten, as Gareth Bale put in a low cross and Martin Olsson got a touch to it to take it towards the goal, but Robinson's reflexes proved up to the job to keep the ball out and prevent Tottenham doubling the lead.   In the 25th minute, it was Bale's pull back that found Adebayor and his shot was smothered by Robinson and hacked away. And then, a couple of minutes later, it was all square.

Rovers had been on the back foot for a while, but a Pedersen free-kick was knocked down by Samba for Formica to smash a  volley from around the penalty spot, straight past Friedel to make it 1-1.  Spurs fans were shocked and Rovers fans elated.  For once, they had their mind on their own side doing well rather than trying to get their manager the sack.  The goal perked the team up and Vukcevic had a shot from a narrow angle that Friedel pushed around for a corner just to make sure.

It took until 35 minutes to get the ball at the correct end for Tottenham again.  Modric ran at the defence and hit a low shot to Robinson's right that he had to touch wide for a corner, while Friedel had to be on his toes to beat away Hoilett's shot from 10 yards out, although the Spurs keeper could do nothing five minutes before the break, when Samba won a Pedersen free-kick and put his header just over the bar.

The half time break came with the scores level and Spurs in familiar territory of having led only to be pegged back and memories of last week's game at Newcastle United came to mind.   But a brisk start to the second half gave Rovers a few problems and within eight minutes, Tottenham had made it 2-1.  This time van der Vaart hit a goal and it was a classier finish, with Assou-Ekotto playing the ball to him from the left side and the Dutchman picked out a curler that went past Robinson's outstretched hand and inside the post to make it a double for him and a double for Tottenham.

The expected reaction from Blackburn came and in old Sam Allardyce style.  High balls pumped into the Tottenham box and set-pieces aimed for the heads of Samba and Nzonzi were the order of the day.  In the 57th minute, Friedel started to get nervy and dropped a high ball on the edge of the six yard box, leaving the defence to hack it out and in the 64th, he was equal to a header from Samba that he managed to tip over the top.  However, Spurs were still looking to go forward on the break and Modric again brought a save from Robinson with a low shot.

With 20 minutes left, Jason Roberts met a cross with his head, but somehow Gareth Bale got something on the ball to take it over the bar and then Hoilett got the ball in after he had beaten Benoit on the right wing, only for Yakubu to meet it at the near post, but being unable to get around it enough to get it on target.

With time running out, substitutions changed the game and Blackburn were seeking a late leveller, with Olsson making ground to cross to Yakubu, who volleyed it well, well wide when in a good position.  Five minutes of added time did not help Spurs.  With corners and long throws arrowing into the Spurs goalmouth, it was Brad Friedel, rather than his opposite number, who was in the same penalty area for a few final moments of the game, who came out on top.

This was not the most fluent game Spurs have ever played, but it was one of those that they had to dig in and grind out a win.  van der Vaart's finishing was the difference in the end, but a lot of hard work and the benefit of having rested a number of players in the Europa League match in midweek paid dividends for Harry Redknapp.

Despite Rovers being at the bottom of the table, it was never going to be a easy as some people thought, but once more, Tottenham had more than enough chances to win a couple of matches, but failed to finish off the home team.  A third goal would have made the final 15 minutes a lot more comfortable, but that's not the way we play is it ?

With three points from this game, with other results going our way, we are now three points behind Newcastle United and Chelsea with a game in hand.  If we had won at St. James' Park last week, we would already be above the Toon and although goal difference is in Chelsea's favour, to be neck and neck with them would be a real boost to Spurs and might show Luka Modric why we wanted to keep him.  However, we have a home match against Chelsea conquerors next week and that will be another hard game.

Paul Ellingham



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What you thought
Benny the Ball Not sure BAE played the ball to VDV, as it more or less came off his shin from the challenge on the edge of the box, but perhaps that made it even more of a sweet finish from our Dutch Master.

A fine show by our back five (don't forget Friedel, who has been pretty good since he signed).  Keeping out a team like Blackburn who have little finesse but plenty of muscle is no mean task ... ask Arsenal.

With injuries in the defence, the remaining fit back men put in a good shift and despite a couple of nervy minutes and a glaring miss by Yakubu at the end, they hung on with some assistance from the midfielders to earn the three points.

Not pretty ... but three points nonetheless.




Other scores during this week :
Aston Villa 1 West Bromwich Albion 2 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Sunderland 2 Saturday
Fulham 1 Everton 3 Sunday
Liverpool 1 Norwich City 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Wigan Athletic 0 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Swansea City 2 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Manchester City 6 Sunday
Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1 Sunday
Queens Park Rangers 1 Chelsea 0 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 9 8 1 0 35 7 22 +28
2 Manchester United 9 6 2 1 26 12 20 +14
3 Chelsea 9 6 1 2 20 10 19 +10
4 Newcastle United 9 5 4 0 12 6 19 +6
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 8 5 1 2 15 13 16 +2
6 Liverpool 9 4 3 2 12 10 15 +2
7 Arsenal 9 4 1 4 15 18 13 -3
8 Norwich City 9 3 3 3 11 12 12 -1
9 Stoke City 9 3 3 3 6 10 12 -4
10 Queens Park Rangers 9 3 3 3 7 14 12 -7
11 Aston Villa 9 2 5 2 11 11 11 0
12 West Bromwich Albion 9 3 2 4 9 11 11 -2
13 Everton 8 3 1 4 10 12 10 -2
14 Sunderland 9 2 3 4 12 10 9 +2
15 Swansea City 9 2 3 4 9 14 9 -5
16 Wolverhampton Wanderers 9 2 2 5 8 14 8 -6
17 Fulham 9 1 4 4 11 12 7 -1
18 Bolton Wanderers 9 2 0 7 12 24 6 -12
19 Wigan Athletic 9 1 2 6 5 14 5 -9
20 Blackburn Rovers 9 1 2 6 10 20 5 -10


Position before match :  5th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  5th


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