Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 24th August 2002

So, there might not be Matt Holland in the midfield of the visiting Villa side, but Mark Kinsella might appear if he can complete his move from Charlton in time.  The industrious Irishman will add verve to the midfield, which has lost the artistry of Merson and the dynamic running and tackling of George Boateng.  There are plenty of options there, but some, like Taylor and ,Stone are not ones that will surprise any more.  Hendrie is a good young player, but appears to have fallen out with manager Graham Taylor, Kachloul wants to leave and Hitzlsperger doesn't feel he is getting a fair crack of the whip in that area of the team.  Gareth Barry is a fine talent, who has gone backwards in the last year or more and new signing Ulysses De La Cruz is a strapping lad who plays wide from deep in midfield, but whether he will be up to the Premiership pace is yet to be seen.

Taylor has added Stefan Postma to the goalkeeping ranks at Villa Park after Schmeichel decided to return to Manchester. The Dutchman will play second fiddle to Peter Enckelman, who is agile and had a very good game against Liverpool.  In front of him an experienced front line will be Staunton, Delaney, Alpay (if he hasn't got his move to Leeds by Saturday) and Mellberg.  Not infallible by any means, this defence could be pulled out of shape by good movement, if we can get it from our players and also, players breaking through from midfield might take them by surprise.  Jay Lloyd Samuel has had a lot of good press and if he plays it will be interesting to see how he does, after a rough time at the end of last season.

Their striking options include an familiar face in Peter Crouch, the tall forward.  He has scored for them quite frequently since joining from Pompey at the end of last season and it will be another intriguing battle with our centre halves to see if he would have made it at Tottenham.  The old are represented by Dion Dublin, with Balaban not likely to get a look-in, while another foreign import, Angel, might play if he has impressed Taylor in training.  More likely is Darius Vassell, the England forward, to start.  His pace will be a threat and he will forma  little and large partnership with Crouch.  Spurs need to be aware of Vassell's mobility to prevent him getting away on goal.  Youth player Stefan Moore can also come in and he is fast and strong, with a natural goalscorer's instinct.  Swede Marcus Allback came in during the summer and will probably feature from the bench, with his strength in the air being his big plus point.

Having played in the InterToto Cup and having been knocked out without getting the UEFA Cup place they sought, it will be a blow, although they will have had more competitive games than Spurs, so might have more edge to their play.  Villa will most probably play a 4-4-2 system, looking to break from midfield to support the two up front, but if Spurs start with a 3-5-2, they might over-run the Villans in midfield.  Losing the first game at home to Liverpool must have been a disappointment, but they will be keen to hit back straight away.  The run of draws between the sides has to go sometime and I think it will be a tight game, but Tottenham might just edge it in midfield, where goals will come from to give them the result ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham 2   Aston Villa 1

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



Tottenham  1   Aston Villa  0           (Half-time score : 1- 0)
Saturday 24th August 2002
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00
Weather : -  Dry, sunny, very warm
Crowd : -  35,384
Referee : -  C. Wilkes
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  
Keller; Taricco,  Richards, Gardner, Ziege (Thatcher 66); Acimovic, Redknapp, Davies, Etherington (Bunjevcevic 61); Sheringham, Ferdinand (Doherty 81)
Unused subs : - Sullivan, Rebrov

Aston Villa : -  Enckelman; Delaney, Mellberg, Staunton, Wright; Barry (Samuel 77), Hendrie, Kinsella, de la Cruz (Allback 46); Vassell, Crouch (Angel 46)
Unused subs : - Postma, Hadji

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

Aston Villa -  Claret shirts with blue sleeves, white shorts, claret socks

Scorers : -  Tottenham -  Redknapp 26

Aston Villa - None

Cards : -  Tottenham -  Ziege 64, Bunjevcevic 73

 Aston Villa -  None

Without the acrobatics of American Kasey Keller, Spurs may have been left with nothing for their afternoon's endeavours, but as it was Redknapp's "home made" volley won the match and the points for the home side.

From the fourth minute, when Ziege picked out Teddy Sheringham at the far post and his header went over without troubling the keeper, it was a procession of missed chances for both sides.  Mainly for Villa in the first half, it has to be said.  Hendrie had a volley and two other shots wide, while Mellberg scorched one over that made it look like he couldn't hit an iceberg in the Titanic.  The main thrust of the Villa attack was the high ball to Crouch, who did more on the ground to impress.  When Ziege flicked on a cross from de la Cruz, it fell invitingly on the six yard box and Crouch extended his "Go-Go Gadget legs" and prodded the ball towards goal, but Keller managed to paw the ball out as it headed inside the post.

The visiting Villans made headway along the wings, but when things came to a head they went awry.  As for Spurs, they were denied a clear penalty in the 25th minute, when Matthew Etherington cut in from the left wing and his attempt to go past Delaney bounced up and was stopped by the defender's hand.  The ref saw it as outside the box to the chagrin of the Tottenham following, as it was clearly inside.  However, Milenko Acimovic stepped up to bend the ball straight for goal and Enkelman dived to punch away.  As he did so, he hit the ground and a defender, leaving him prostrate while the ball found Jamie Redknapp lurking just outside the box.  He knocked the ball up and hit a volley that dipped through a crowd of players in front of goal and into the bottom corner of the goal.  It was not quite as stunning a shot as the one against Lazio, but it was a quality strike.

Suffice to say, Tottenham did little else in the game to match this sublime piece of skill.  Some of their passing was nice, especially near the end, when they strung passes together to run Villa around and time down.  Nothing came of it though and the chances they did make they didn't make the most of.

Villa came out with more purpose in the second half.  Kinsella hadn't made much of an impact, but bringing on Allback and Angel was intended to make their forward line more versatile than the beacon of Crouch's head they aimed for.  Chances began to be created mainly along the Tottenham left flank.  Angel tried to sneak in front of Richards, but Deano did just enough to make his shot a weak one.  While he is still getting caught out of position on occasions, the centre back did start looking better as he made a couple of timely tackles to prevent strikes on goal.  In contrast, Anthony Gardner had handled Crouch very well, while he had little more trouble from the replacements after the break.

Teddy nearly got a goal, when he volleyed Acimovic's cross as he fell back and he guided it at the goal, but it went a yard or two wide.  Other Spurs chances included Taz finding Milo, who headed over from close in and another shout for a penalty when a hand was thrust out to stop the ball as it went towards goal.  Matty also put in a volleyed cross across the face of the six yard box, but as usual, nobody was on hand to apply the finishing touch.

Meanwhile, man of the match Keller was providing a one man wall to Villa's attacks.  He dived sharply to his right to keep out a Barry volley as he made his way into the box unmarked and Kasey did well to get down to it and turn it around the post.  Later, he stood up well to an Angel drive that he pushed out, unfortunately, straight to Vassell, but his finish was woeful, ending up way at the back of the South Stand.  

Spurs ended up with bookings for Bunjy and Ziege.  Goran's was for a challenge from behind, which the official seemed to allow for Villa players, so he was unlucky, but Christian's was for cynically pulling Vassell back as he ran past him.  Not a very charitable thing to do, but Mellberg (who appears a very angry young man ... ask Ljungberg !!) did himself no good by protesting vehemently that the German should be yellow carded.  

Perhaps the win was a little fortunate, as Villa did enough to earn a point, but goals win matches and Tottenham got one to the none that Villa achieved.  Neither side will set the Premier League alight on this showing, but there should be enough there for both to get top half places.  Both sides were in desperate need of someone to stick the ball in the net though !


Peter O'Hanrahanrahan




It wasn't just the fire bells that sounded a warning to Tottenham at the start of the second half, but those being rung by the Villa attack when they recommenced activities with renewed vigour.  Spurs were lucky to get away with the three points, but scored the one goal in the game that ensured they stayed unbeaten in their two games so far.

That was thanks to Redknapp, but he was also aided and abetted well by Gardner and Keller, with Acimovic showing some nice touches.  The most important thing was the win and the side looked vulnerable in the second period, until Hoddle tactical subs of Bunjy for Matty and Thatcher for Ziege shored the side up a bit better.  Tottenham were helped by a shocking forward shooting line-up in the visiting side and the fact that they constantly kept giving the ball to Spurs.  Hoddle reckons that this is a game we might have let slip for a draw last season and if you look at the game at Villa Park, you can see he might have a point, but these are the games that we should be winning and winning well. 

The opportunities we made cried out for someone who knows where the goal is and will be sharp enough to read the play and get in the places where you score from.  Etherington had no trouble getting into good positions, but again his crossing was not 100% accurate, but when he did get a decent ball in, there was no-one in the six yard box to convert the assist.  We were not alone in this, as lanky Crouch and squat Vassell could neither find the goal, although little Lee Hendrie tried hard and went closest with three efforts whizzing past the woodwork.

In the second half, Angel came on with a delightful pony-tail, which made him look charming, but did little to help the attack ping the ball past the goalie.  Donkeys indeed !!  Villa had a lot of the ball, as from nearly every throw-in Tottenham had (wherever it was on the pitch), they were gifted the ball, but more times than not they returned it to a white shirt.

As for Spurs, let's look at the players ...

Keller - good handling, good shot stopping, good agility, poor kicking.  Will continue to get the nod over Sullivan for the time being.

Taricco - did little wrong and was our furthest man forward on some occasions.  Managed to get back and make useful challenges when required without the histrionics.

Richards - good in air, played better today as he did actually prevent Angel getting shots in on a couple of occasions.  Needs to read where his marker is better though.

Gardner - stylish and confident.  The more games that he plays the better as far as I am concerned.  Looking forward to him and King playing alongside each other.

Ziege - crossing up to his usual level, but he was obviously struggling for full fitness, as shown by his dragging back of Vassell.

Davies - subdued, but energetic in his work.  Took a hefty whack on the side of the head with the ball, but shook it off and played on.  A real player, not one of these weak-kneed wonders, who would have needed attention.

Etherington - Stymied by de la Cruz in the first half, but had the running of Delaney.  Earned the free-kick we scored from, which should have been a penalty.  Needs to be stronger on the ball, with more accuracy on his crosses.

Redknapp - tired in the heat and in the second half, but showed willing in closing down their defenders and keeper in the closing stages.  Great skill and vision for the goal and also for the passes he hits without even looking, straight to the feet of a colleague.

Acimovic - first game and showed enough skillful touches to impress.  Sometimes looks like he doesn't believe in putting in the effort if the ball isn't right to him ,but at others he raced back to tackle (and foul) when he thinks he has been wronged !!  Linked well with Sheringham.

Sheringham - didn't link well with Les and looked like he was going to have an off day.  Header off target right at start should have made the keeper work, but he kept going and did put some good balls through.  Needs to be more deadly when playing in the most forward player role.

Ferdinand - took 44 minutes before being flat out with a clash of heads.  So, he's improving !!  Looked out of sorts, as he and Teddy didn't hit it off, but plugged away and ran until substituted.

Bunjevecvic - the game rather passed him by in mdifield.  Ball whizzed past him and even picked up a booking for going through the back of a Villa player. Booking a bit harsh, as no worse than other challenges and Allback's constant shirt pulling (where has the crack down on that gone ?).  Seeing him go down the left wing brought back fond memories of John Lacy.

Thatcher - looked comfortable against the pace of Vassell, but not severely tested.  Won the ball and used it sensibly.

Doherty - held the ball up well, something that hadn't been done and full of energy.  Not on long enough to make an impact.

With previous games ending in draws this was a good way to break that pattern, but there are aspects of our play that need working on.  With Charlton on Tuesday and SCBC next Saturday, there will not be much time to iron out any crinkles in the team.  Let's hope that there will be no smoke without fire, but we could do without the panics associated with the game today.

Kevin Mendament

Our thoughts go out to the parents of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, as the minute's silence before the game was well respected and although these tributes are becoming an almost everyday occurrence, it was a moving tribute to the two girls who were murdered in Cambridgeshire.



Other scores this weekend :

Birmingham City  0    Blackburn Rovers  1  
Sunderland  0     Everton  1  
WBA  1    Leeds United  3
Bolton Wanderers  1    Charlton Athletic  2
Middlesbrough  2    Fulham  2   
Manchester City  1    Newcastle United  0
Chelsea  2    Manchester United  2   (Friday)
West Ham United   2   Arsenal  2  
Liverpool  3    SCBC  0


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

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