LEICESTER CITY (Home)
Saturday 25th November 2000
|Under new manager
Peter Taylor, the Foxes have found a new impetus to remain ahead of the
field, but will they last the pace. Already the manager is asking
for more funds to bring in an experienced forward. Having lost
Heskey, Cottee and Collymore, Leicester are a little lacking up front,
which explains their paucity of goals this season so far. The
threat from the centre-halves at set pieces is as dangerous as the rest
of the team from open play, so tight marking will be a necessity.
The new line up of forwards includes Richard Cresswell (ex-Sheffield
Wednesday), Ade Akinbiyi (ex-Wolves) and Trevor Benjamin (ex-Cambridge
United). They don't seem to have hit t off yet, but they are
fairly strong forwards, who might unsettle our little defence if Guppy
plays and provides a supply to them.
Lennon has not played as effectively since O'Neill left, while Izzett has been muted after such a good season last time around, picking up a number of yellow cards into the bargain. Eadie has still to prove why they paid a lot of money for him, while Savage will be a source of relief for George Graham as he will be hit by the boos at this match. The Icelander Gunlaugsson can influence a game, as he did against Derby County, but he's not a regular now.
At the back, Elliott will take almost everything in the air, while Taggart alongside him seems to have adopted the approach of if it gets past me, it won't reach goal; thus explaining his five yellow cards so far. Sinclair has been in and out of the side, replaced by new signing Gary Rowett. Hard working and able to spot danger, Rowett is a handy man to have around. Another new recruit is the Scottish international Callum Davidson, brought in from Blackburn Rovers, who can add experience to the side, which has quite a good defensive record this season.
Although Tim Flowers has been injured, he could well be back between the sticks when we face Leicester and he has been inspired this season. Royce, his number two (brought in to replace the Liverpool bound Arphexad) is not so assured in his play. Depending on who makes it into the gloves, this could have some bearing on the result.
PREDICTION : - Tottenham 2 Leicester 1
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
|Tottenham 3 Leicester City 0
Scorers : Ferdinand 34, 39, 84.
Spurs : - Sullivan, Carr (Freund 80), Perry
(Thatcher 31), Campbell, Thelwell, Clemence, Sherwood, Anderton, King,
Rebrov (Armstrong 80), Ferdinand.
: - Royce, Rowett, Davidson, Taggart, Elliott, Sinclair, Izzett, Lennon,
Savage (Eadie 68), Benjamin (Cresswell 77), Akinbiyi (Impey 67), .
With a win over Liverpool and the youngsters still included in the side despite the return of more experienced players, it was an exciting team that took the field. For all the good showing of King and Thelwell last Sunday, it would be a test of George Graham's resolve as to whether he would keep them in the side. With Sol coming back sooner than expected to blunt the threat from the twin strike force of Akinbiyi and Benjamin, it allowed Vega to be omitted and the team to have a balanced look about it.
On a rainy, blowy day, Spurs produced another performance that showed they can pass the ball and although there was a fair bit of luck about the win, it is about time we had something going our way. The dodgy ref was a slight "homer" for once and Taggart was due to get sent off sometime during the game after an early dissent card. Unfortunately, there was not the restraint there to prevent him going into a reckless challenge on a slippery pitch, so he left the action after 63 minutes. Savage (as usual) was lucky not to follow him and was withdrawn near the end before he saw a red card to match the red he had been seeing since the fans started getting after him. For a change Spurs managed to build a lead despite the early charge being unsuccessful. Akinbiyi managed to turn in the box, but he hit a weak shot at Sullivan and a free-kick from Izzett went over the bar, before Tottenham started to get into the match.
Ledley King kept pressing on Gary Rowett who had the ball just inside his own half, forcing him into a pass back to Matt Elliott, but the ball never reached him. Sir Les intercepted and ran towards goal from 30 yards out. The defender didn't know which way he was going to go and from his attempt to save it, neither did Royce in the Leicester goal. He got fingertips to it, but couldn't stop the shot going into the bottom corner. It was a vintage Ferdinand goal and one Spurs fans had hoped for more of since he signed for Tottenham. Five minutes later more Spurs pressure paid off when a corner fell out to Sergei Rebrov on the edge of the box and his fierce drive was kicked off the goal line by Frank Sinclair. However, luckily for Spurs, he only succeeded in planting it straight onto Ferdie's head and he wrapped his head around it and nodded it back past the defender for his second goal. It was mimicked in the second half, when Sullivan pushed away a volley from Elliott, but luck was on Tottenham's side then with the follow up being wide of the mark. Royce had made a breathtaking save from a Carr drive and managed to push away a Sherwood header with Sol closing in to finish it off, but he was suspect on crosses, preferring to punch rather than hold the ball in the wet conditions.
Obviously Peter Taylor must have given his team a verbal roasting at half-time as they appeared invigorated for the restart. An early break by Savage was ended by an obstruction and an indirect free-kick was awarded although the Welshman, who is obviously au fait with the Laws of the Game, thought he should have had a penalty !! An Akinbiyi header was blocked and Benjamin's follow-up was put off target. The former Cambridge United striker also missed the target when a low Eadie cross got past Campbell and Benjamin was alone in front of goal, but failed to react and the chance was lost. Elliott's volley also brought the best out of the Spurs keeper.
It was after 65 minutes that all hell broke loose. Stephen Carr was making one of his trademark runs down the right wing and had left Darren Eadie and Callum Davidson behind him. As he surged into the Leicester half, both Neil Lennon and Gerry Taggart raced towards the Spurs right back and Taggart got their first, knocking him off balance. While Carr tried to keep on his feet, he could not and the ref raced over to caution the already booked Northern Ireland defender. However, he had other ideas and moved in on Carr to try and punch him. Ferdinand got in the way, but a melee ensued with Savage and Elliott at the forefront (surprise, surprise), with Sherwood and Clemence trying to separate the factions. The ref gave Taggart another yellow, but could equally have given him a straight red for his antics. Manager Peter Taylor was not happy with the decision, but at that speed and already on a yellow card, you would have thought an experienced player would have thought twice, but no. There was clear intent on both Lennon and Taggart's part to stop Carr and that is obviously what the ref thought.
It all went off for a while after the dismissal. Savage, in his usual charming manner, tried to wind up the Spurs players into retaliation and generally mouthing off to the referee. For all that, Tottenham did play the situation well and made the visitors work hard to get the ball. The passing was accurate for most of the time, while Spurs made good movement off the ball to use it. The third goal was an example, with a good movement of the ball through Freund, Sherwood and Anderton, before his swerving drive could only be pushed out to where Les was waiting to shoot his third and his first hat-trick for Tottenham. With the game virtually won, Leicester came back into it a bit, but the nearest they got was Rowett heading a corner against the bar as the game came to an end. Both sides had chances to score with Ferdinand, Anderton, Carr and Clemence all spurning opportunities, but there was enough in Les' hat trick to take the points.
At the end, an unsporting Leicester City player kicked the ball into the East Stand and it disappeared down one of the exits to deprive Les of his trophy for his scoring efforts. Stewards poured around the area and got all agitated, but the ball was off down the High Road by then. Even the questioning of two stewards on the doors proved fruitless. The match ball from this game could go down in history like the one in the 1966 World Cup Final !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LES FERDINAND
|Is it true that dog owners end up looking
like their pets ? And if so, do football supporters come to ape the
antics of the players in their favourite team ? It seemed like The
Foxy fans were just like the Leicester players in getting at the referee
for giving them decisions !! Savage and Taggart both picked up yellow
cards for dissent when free-kicks were awarded to their own side and it
was a ridiculous booking for the Irish centre-half to collect, as when
he raced 10 yards to slide in on Carr, he got another and made his
exit. Not before he tried to take on Stephen Carr for allegedly
diving. Now, I didn't have a good view of the tackle (and no my
name is not Arsene Wenger), but I did see Lennon and Taggart both make a
bee-line for Carr as he raced away from Eadie and Davidson. On a
very wet pitch, Taggart should have been aware that any contact on a
player who had built up a head of steam, would result in a foul and with
Rob Harris as the ref, you wouldn't want to leave things to his
discretion. Perhaps he should have let the previously un-booked
Lennon make the tackle. There was obviously enough intent there to
convince the ref that another yellow was required. However, for
what followed after it was clear that the ref would be dismissing him,
Taggart deserves great punishment. The man is a liability and
should be banned big time for his attack on one of the most honest
players in the game. Elliott and Snot boy Savage both joining in
the finger-pointing at Stephen and Savage even tried to provoke a
response from him when he barged into him off the ball. Fortunately
Spurs did not fall into the trap of getting involved.
While Tottenham matched the visitors for their work-rate and industry, there was always more in the Spurs locker to create things than the long ball up to Akinbiyi and Benjamin. Izzett ran at the defence a couple of times, one resulting in him going flying over Thatcher's leg as he ran across him and Savage had one shot on target. Apart from that, it had to wait until Eadie came on to provide some crosses which caused Tottenham's defence trouble. One eluded Sol and left Benjamin the simple task of prodding the ball home, but he was not up to it and shot wide. The most dangerous effort came from a cleared corner which fell to Elliott, whose volley was very well saved by Sullivan and the rebound was put wide. Towards the end Rowett headed against the bar, but it was all over then.
The game started fairly evenly, with a few chances, but the first real one coming for Ferdinand just after the half hour. King harried Rowett in his won half and his pass was intercepted by Les, who ran at Matt Elliott. He made the Scotland centre-half turn and then unleashed a shot from 20 yards out that went low into the bottom right corner of the net, with Royce slightly out of position. It was a goal Ferdinand might have scored many years ago and one we have been waiting to see him score for Spurs. His second came five minutes later, when a Rebrov shot was cleared off the line by Sinclair straight onto Les' head and he put it back into the net. He wrapped up his triple six minutes from the end when he rapped the ball into the net from 10 yards out after a fierce Anderton drive was pushed out by Royce. In between he could have had another when a header missed by inches; Sherwood was picked out by Rebrov and had a volley deflected wide; Thatcher managed to get a shot over the bar from two yards out when a corner dropped to him and Clem raced away from the Foxes defence, but fell just as he was about to shoot.
Rob Harris, who, in my opinion, is one of the worst referees I have ever seen, did have one of his average games. He was inconsistent for both teams and let an awful lot go, when he should have taken action. Running feuds were allowed to continue and the most blatant fouls were not even blown up for. There could have been two penalties given to each side, but he probably got most of those decisions just about right, as he was not helped by his linesmen, who seemed content to go along with whatever Harris pointed for. He booked Clemence for shoulder barging Savage over the touchline. Ignoring the fact that it was Snot boy for a minute, I thought shoulder to shoulder contact was allowed in the game. The fact that Savage actually managed to leave the field without being sent off is a continuing mystery to us all. The man is an untalented wind-up merchant in my opinion and as my good friend the Good Doctor said, if he was any good, he would still be at Manchester United. Still, he got his usual warm welcome and the sight of both of his wrists bandaged only added to the thoughts that Spurs fans had about him for a long time.
Neil Sullivan produced a fine save from Elliott's volley in the second half and helped Spurs stay in the game as Leicester came strongly after half time. Ledley King was not as involved as against Liverpool, but his distribution and work closing people down was very good. Thelwell did everything he had to in a simple and effective manner, while Perry was doing well again until he had to leave the field after he felt the full weight of Benjamin falling on top of him. Thatcher came on for him and played well, apart from his miss. Carr was his usual masterful self, but was substituted as he was feeling his calf in the second half. Sol's return really was an unexpected bonus. He played up against the strapping forwards and even made some of his forays forward too. Sherwood was up for the match and his efforts in midfield made a big difference in mixing it with Izzett and Savage, while Anderton worked the line very hard, producing some good outlet balls and was often the outlet himself. Rebrov will have to be careful as he was sliding into tackles which might earn him a card with other referees, although he takes a kicking each game without any protection offered from the officials. Les was as good as he used to be when he played against us in the past. He did say that like Heskey, he only needed a goal to start the flow and that came in a torrent like the rain today.
One of the most disappointing things was the fact that I was looking forward to seeing a team managed by Peter Taylor, but ended up feeling that this was no different from the Leicester of old. Leaving their foot in after every tackle, moaning about every decision and generally coming to spoil and get what they could on the break. Standard tactics, but with the side near the top of the league, I thought things might have changed. I was sadly wrong and although he hasn't been there long, it was nothing like the job he had done on the England Under-21 team. Many of the players in the Leicester side are not of that quality he is probably used to, with some performing below their usual standard and some just not up to Premiership standard. If Akinbiyi and Benjamin had been, then Spurs might not have come away with the points. However, the new approach adopted by the side and Sol's return made sure Tottenham weren't muscled out of it this time.
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