Looking Forward

 

LEEDS UNITED (Home)

Premier League

Sunday 24th November 2002

What might have expected to have been the meeting of two teams vying for a UEFA Cup place a few weeks back, is now the contest between two sides slipping back down the table after a poor run.

Leeds under Terry Venables have been a bit of a shambles.  There is little co-ordination in the side and with the spectre of January sales among the squad, perhaps they are waiting to see if they have a future at Elland Road to play for.  The players have been lacking form, the fans have been lacking faith in the boss and in turn he has been picking players who the crowd were rather not in the side.  It is all a bit like Spurs under George Graham, as they see Tel as a Cockney wide-boy, who shouldn't be managing their Northern side.

As for Tottenham, the bubble burst a bit earlier this year and the results over the last four league games have shown that there is a long way to go before the consistency we all crave is achieved.  Tough games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal were expected, but to come back from the Stadium of light empty handed and going out of the Worthington Cup to Burnley showed a lack of fight.

There are some skilled players in the Leeds side, with Kewell and Viduka up front, but while the little Aussie is coming into a bit of form, the big one is hopelessly out of touch, so expect him to stick one past Keeler on Sunday afternoon !!  Alan Smith is the touchstone for the Leeds faithful ... one of their own ... one who will play his heart out ... but also one who gets into more than his fair share of trouble and has done at Tottenham in the past.  Despite it being his favourite ground away from home, he would do well to temper his aggression, as he could be a respected player if he cuts out the nasty side of his game.

Lee Bowyer has suffered from a similar reputation on and off the pitch, but as his contract is coming to an end, he may be one to leave with WHL one possible destination according to some rumours.  His fighting spirit (no pun intended) is at the heart of the Leeds midfield and with the similarly combative Dacourt out of favour, Tottenham could do worse than make a move for the Frenchman.  With Stephen McPhail in the side with Jason Wilcox adding width on the left, there is some balance to the side, but Barmby's lack of form (although against his old side ...) and Bakke's struggle to overcome injury has meant that the area there has changed often.  That's something that is also true of the defence, except that appears to be tinkering for the sake of it.

Defending has been a concern over the last few games.  Despite their good away record, losing four goals at home to Bolton was a shock to the system and there will have been plenty of work going on with the back four in the week leading up to this game.  Lucic, Woodgate, Harte and Mills have been the main choices, but Radebe and Matteo have filled in and there is height there, but not the players who might be up against a nippy little striker.  Especially one who has something to prove in the shape of Robbie Keane, perhaps ??  Behind them Robinson is a big, promising keeper, but still has a bit to learn, although on his day is very tough to beat.  He certainly seems to be keeping Martyn out of the picture at the moment.

Over the last couple of years the game sat the Lane between these two sides have been tight, but have resulted in wins for one or the other.  With the two teams ninth and tenth in the league, they might cancel themselves out here and end up ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham  2    Leeds United  2

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

 

 

Tottenham  2    Leeds United  0   (Half-time score : 2-0)
FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Sunday 24th November 2002
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  14.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Overcast, rainy
Crowd : -  35,185
Referee : -  S. Bennett (Kent)
Teams : -  Tottenham : -  Keller; Bunjevcevic, Richards, King; Ziege (Davies 68), Anderton (Redknapp ), Freund, Poyet (Iversen 90), Carr; Sheringham, Keane
Unused Subs: - Hirschfeld, Perry, 

Leeds United : - Robinson; Lucic, Bakke, Woodgate, Kelly; McPhail, Bowyer, Burns (Viduka 39 [Milner 82]), Wilcox; Smith, Kewell
Unused Subs: - Martyn, Duberry, Richardson

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

Leeds United -  Blue shirts with yellow trim, blue shorts with yellow trim, blue socks with yellow band.

Scorers : -  Tottenham -  Sheringham 13, Keane 42

Leeds United -  None

Cards : -  Tottenham -  Poyet (foul) 32, Ziege (foul) 68, Bunjevcevic (foul) 76

Leeds United - Bakke (foul) 16, Wilcox (foul) 19, Burns (foul) 37, Kewell (foul) 42, McPhail (foul) 71, Smith (foul) 83, Bowyer (foul) 87

 
With the two Tottenham strikers getting on the mark to give Spurs the three points, it was a nice return to winning ways, with a comfortable win over Leeds.

Luckily the game was decided on goals and not bookings, as Leeds racked up seven yellow cards to Tottenham's three and the implication is that it was a dirty match, although it certainly didn't merit that number of cautions.  While there were a couple of occasions that the ref needed to bring out the card, he failed on the instances it was necessary and brought it out far too often when he could have maintained control with a well-placed word.

All this was a sideshow to the main event of Tottenham coming off the back of a five game run without a win and Leeds being beaten at home by Bolton last week.  Tottenham started the brighter and took the game to the visitors, which was the way we all hoped it would go.  In fact, Leeds were pushed back so comprehensively that it was 35 minutes before they managed a shot on target.  Spurs had got their noses in front with a Teddy Sheringham strike from the edge of the box that caught Robinson on his heels.  It had been an incisive move form Tottenham, much in contrast to recent matched, when the build up has been laboured.  A Carr throw found Sheringham and he put Keane in on goal.  Defender Teddy Lucic got back to baulk him, but the ball ran kindly to our own Teddy and he struck it low into the corner of the goal the Leeds keeper had just come from.

It was a lead that could have been extended had Stephen Carr been more accurate when meeting a Bunjy cross from the left to the far post, where the right back ran in, but hit his volley across the face of the goal.  His Irish team-mate Robbie Kane was desperate to do well against his previous club and he warmed Robinson's hands from the right corner of the box, before going on a  little run at the Leeds defence and hitting a shot around the defender facing him, but also hitting it around the post.

His next effort was more successful though.  A long ball forward fell to Poyet and he lobbed the ball forward to Keano on the right edge of the area.  Without hesitation, Robbie took the ball early and hit it with the outside of  his right foot and arced the ball over the goalie and into the far side of the goal.  It was a piece of exquisite finishing and one which we all hoped he would provide for Tottenham.  Being two up was, in truth, a bit flattering.  While chances had come Spurs' way, there was no sign that we would accept many of them and with Venables introduction of Viduka, Leeds had started to find a focus for their attack.  Again, no chances were made to threaten the Spurs goal, but there was a presence there, which had previously been missing, leading to united spraying the ball to the four corners of the crowd.

Before the break, there was an opening when Keane raced away on the right wing and put the ball across a goalmouth where no Spurs layer could arrive.  Teddy just failed to get on the end of it and Ziege was too far back on the opposite wing to collect the ball.  

It was ten minutes to half time when Harry Kewell made Keller get behind the ball when Leeds had their first effort on target, but the lack of spark in their side must be alarming for management and fans alike.

Many thought that Kasey Keller's half time war-up session with Hans Segers was just that, as he had been so under-employed in the first period !!  He had to be on his toes on the hour, when Leeds' best attempt on goal came from ... Tottenham's Christian Ziege, who intercepted a through pass, but nearly deflected it past his won keeper.  The assistant ref was flagging for offside anyway, so it wouldn't have counted.

As Leeds found getting hold of the ball harder, the tackles started going in and the yellow card started to come out with more regularity.  Keane was tormenting his old team-mates and was often isolated up front, with little support being able to make it forward in step with him.  Anderton got a clear sight of goal, when set up by a square ball from Freund, but he dragged it wide ... probably not wanting to annoy his soon-to-be employers !!  He had a decent game with lots of energy and some smooth passing, but then he was playing for a contract !

Although the game had changed a bit when Viduka came on his closest effort was a free-kick that kept rising over the Tottenham bar and after that he then proceeded to limp around until Tel took him off with a 16 year old replacing him.  He almost made an immediate impression as Leeds broke away and Milner set up Smith on the right.  However, Keller was quick enough to smother the effort, as he did to Bakke (pushed up into midfield in the second half) and Bowyer as they got into the box. Perhaps United were unlucky with losing Barmby in the warm-up ... the lengths some players will go to not to have to return to play against Spurs !!  They also have a long list of injuries in defence especially, but then Spurs have had that for years and little sympathy was shown to us.

The pleasing thing was the way that the whole side played for each other today.  It was more of a team effort rather than a bunch of individuals turning out in the same shirts.  And the benefits of it were obvious.  King was a rock at the back alongside another in Richards, but it was Robbie Keane, who was the shining star and he made the point to his former employers and made three for Tottenham.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ROBBIE KEANE

Kevin Mendament

 

DIRTY TYKES

 

The "Hell for Tel" headlines were never going to be far away once Spurs had completed this win over their former player/manager/chief executive's latest team.  However, this probably masked the impact that his side made on the ref's notebook and will leave his club having to face an FA enquiry into their seven bookings !!  Dirty Leeds, well not entirely. Mr. Bennett was sometimes quick to extract the yellow card from his pocket, while on other occasions he was content in having a word with the offender.

For both teams, it was a match that they needed to win.  Both had racked up a grand total of four points in their previous four matches, so a win would have been welcome in either dressing room.  The loss of Nicky Barmby in the warm-up probably did not help Leeds' build up to the match, but I doubt if he would have made a big difference apart form the "ex" factor.  You know ... the one that says that a player will more than likely score against his former team.  But more of that later.

El Tel inadvertently helped Tottenham on their way to the first goal by returning the ball to Stephen Carr to take a quick throw-in that fed Sheringham the ball.  He moved it on to Robbie Keane, but Lucic stuck out a leg to divert the ball away from him ... straight into the path of Sheringham, who had kept on running and he stroked it past Robinson for the opener.

Chances came Tottenham's way while Leeds played with wild passing, poor movement and little heart.  I was expecting a return to that visit of Boro while Venables was in charge.  Very organised, but dull in the extreme.  I am afraid that Leeds were just the latter, because even the organisation was not there.  Players who usually are fired up to play us seemed to go through the motions, so much so, that it was 34 minutes before a shot at Keller and only into the second half that they began to apply some pressure on the Spurs penalty area.

Robbie Keane was playing with great purpose and making the life of his former colleagues a nightmare.  With a little more thought, Spurs could have racked up more goals in this game, which would have helped our poor goal difference.  However, the other one that came in the match, with a dash of "ex" factor, was superbly taken by Keane.  His  instinctive strike with the outside of his foot after being put in by Poyet was neat and clinical.  It was what he wanted to show them that he could do.  Score goals and play a part in a team performance.  In fact, when Keano scored he produced his trademark cartwheel and ran back to the middle of the pitch, keeping one eye on the big screens, as he looked desperate to see his goal again on the Videotron !!

But he was just one of many good performances.  King was majestic at the back, rarely troubled and confident in only his second match back, while Richards was excellent in the air and good on the ground too, producing crunching tackles that left even Bowyer shaken.

In midfield, the initial shock of Redknapp and Davies being left on the bench was overcome by a hard working performance by Anderton and Ziege putting in some effort to get back from his attacking positions.  Even Poyet looked comfortable.  Maybe this is because the Leeds midfield of Bowyer, McPhail, Burns (who) and Wilcox is not the sternest that they will ever come up against.

However, there was a commitment to closing the opposition down today and not to allow them time and space as they had done at Sunderland and Highbury.  Also, the movement off the ball did give more options and lead to Spurs holding on to the ball more than they had done in the last three matches.  It is something that frustrates the opposition (perhaps accounting for the high number of bookings) and means that they have to work harder to retain possession.

This win does not answer many questions, as Leeds were not a worthy opponent today.  With injury worries, they have been decimated and will probably come good later in the season, but their former England manager has more worries on his plate than our former England manager.  Hoddle hasn't quite got a clear run yet, but the next two game should be winnable and he will have to shuffle his pack to make sure they do so.

Martin Matthewson

 

Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 4 West Ham United 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 3 Blackburn Rovers 1 Sunday

Everton

1 WBA 0 Saturday
Fulham 3 Liverpool 2 Saturday
Middlesbrough 3 Manchester City 1 Saturday
Manchester United 5 Newcastle United 3 Saturday
SCBC 3 Arsenal 2 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Birmingham City 1 Saturday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 15 10 2 3 33 16 32
2 Liverpool 15 9 4 2 26 13 31
3 Everton 15 9 2 4 18 15 29
4 Chelsea 15 7 6 2 25 13 27
5 Manchester United 15 7 5 3 23 16 26
6 Middlesbrough 15 7 3 5 19 12 24
7 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 15 7 2 6 19 21 23
8 Newcastle United 14 7 1 6 23 22 22
9 Blackburn Rovers 15 5 5 5 20 18 20
10 SCBC 15 5 5 5 17 17 20
11 Aston Villa 15 5 4 6 14 13 19
12 Fulham 15 5 4 6 20 20 19
13 Birmingham City 15 5 4 6 15 18 19
14 Leeds United 15 5 2 8 19 22 17
15 Charlton Athletic 15 5 2 8 14 19 17
16 Manchester City 15 5 2 8 15 23 17
17 Sunderland 15 3 5 7 8 17 14
18 Bolton Wanderers 14 3 4 7 17 25 13
19 WBA 14 3 3 9 10 22 12
20 West Ham United 15 3 3 9 15 28 12

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