Saturday 26th February 2005
go into this London derby not having won one for so long, it is
getting embarrassing. Without picking up points against our City
rivals, we will struggle to make the jump to the top seven and thus
achieve the European place we need to progress.
With Edwin van der Sar claiming that Fulham will not be caught up in the relegation mixer, it is up to Tottenham to ensure that Spurs make their own move up the table, while consigning the Cottagers to look over their shoulder at the other end.
Van der Sar has been playing well in goal for the West London side, but he is prone to the odd clanger and ended up out of the game for a while early on this season with a red card for a rash rush out of his box. Spurs should exploit the opportunities they create with efforts along the ground, as the Dutchman is a big keeper and he might find getting down to well-placed shots more difficult than those shot up to the top corners.
Carlos Bocanegra has settled down from the headstrong tackler who first arrived from America, although he has picked up six yellow cards this season and alongside him he will play with the lanky central defender Zat Knight. Spurs made him look very good in the games we have played against Fulham lately and it might be prudent for Spurs to give him more of a physical challenge to see how he deals with Mido. He likes to play the ball out of defence and he must be closed down to prevent him having the time to do so. Moritz Volz will be a shoe-in at right back with a penchant to rampage up the line, so it will be down to the midfield to push him back and make use of the space if he is caught out of position.
Young defender Zesh Rehman has picked by Chris Coleman in defence on occasion to ease him into the first team, with his own goal against SCBC being a hard lesson to learn for him. He might be the weak link if he plays and Spurs should play on that to make the pressure on the player pay. With Alain Goma out of favour, it only leaves veteran Ian Pearce to be called on and he might find his old team-mate at West Ham Jermain Defoe too hot to handle.
The midfield is a better area for Fulham, even with Mark Pembridge out injured and Steed Malbranque doubtful. Papa Bouba Diop is a big man in the middle, who has the knack of scoring and dominating the midfield. Spurs have nobody like him and will have to buzz around to deny him the time on the ball to do damage. Lee Clark, Sylvain Legwinski and Claus Jensen all provide a mix of hard work and creativity from that part of the pitch. Jensen came in from Charlton and has a good range of passing and is deadly with a dead ball. He will need to be denied the opportunity to supply the forwards and Lee Clark has lots of energy even though he suffered a nearly career ending injury. The former Sunderland and Newcastle midfielder prompts and covers, so will be a busy presence in the midfield area. Legwinski has the ability to make the well-times run into the box and is good in the air, so once more, he will need to be picked up by a runner with him rather than leave the defenders to spot his movement.
With Dutchman Collins John scoring a few goals and then proclaiming that he wants to play for a bigger club than Fulham, it might be that he still has to prove he can oust one of the more established strikers Luis Boa Morte, Andy Cole, Brian McBride and Tomasz Radzinski. Boa Morte is an irritating forward, who dives, spits and winds opponents up non-stop, but he also gets goals and will be a first choice to partner Cole, who has a thing about scoring against Spurs, ever since Hoddle criticised him before the 2002 Worthington Cup Final. A wily goalscorer who knows where to move, whoever turns out in the cetnre of the Tottenham defence will need to keep a close eye on him. McBride will be most likely to start on the bench, but is a strong tall striker who has adapted to the English game, while Radzinski could play as a deep-lying forward, as he can drop out to either wing to put balls into his fellow forwards. He has not been a prolific scorer, but has a fierce shot and also pops up in the box to finish things off. Youngster Elvis Hammond has yet to break into the team on a regular basis, although he could make the bench if injuries hit.
With the prospect of a FA Cup replay on the horizon, Spurs will want to come through this match with the points to set them up for the trip to Forest. The fact that they will be able to play Andy Reid will give others the chance to prepare for the Cup game and without Sean Davis being fully match fit, the midfield will welcome the Irish winger's inclusion. With Mido up front to give Spurs a more solid presence up front, the side might find joy against Fulham, who have been lacking a resolute defence to keep the score down at that end, while they have been able to score at the right end.
Spurs will be confident after a good run at home lately and with the majority of the supporters behind them, they should take the spoils from this home match ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham Hotspur 2 Fulham 0
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Sean Davis (not match fit); Dean Richards (ear); Thimothee Atouba (knee); Michael Dawson (shin)
FULHAM : Malik Buari (ankle); Mark Pembridge (calf); Steed Malbranque (ankle); Jerome Bonnissel (stomach)
|Tottenham Hotspur 2 Fulham 0 (Half-time score : 0-0)|
|Premier League||Venue : White Hart Lane|
|Saturday 26th February 2005||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 35,885||Referee : Neale Barry (Scunthorpe)|
|Weather : Cold, rainy/sleety during game|
|Teams : -|
Mido (Keane 80)
Van der Sar
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
|Match Report : -|
At long last - a home London Derby win. Well, a London derby win of any sort for the first time in a very long time, but even then, it looked like it was heading for a 0-0 until Martin Jol's brave substitutions paid off with both scoring.
With Defoe not getting much joy from the strapping Zat Knight and Mido trying to hit every ball through the net without looking to see if anyone was better placed, the original strike duo were replaced by Kanoute and then Keane to add something different. A trip on Reid, as he finally found his feet, brought Clark a yellow card and Spurs a free-kick 25 yards out. Fredi stepped up to take it and although not a regular free-kick taker, he hit a shot that was well-placed rather than hard. Keeper van der Sar had lined up the wall, but must have positioned himself in the wrong place, as he stood stock still as the ball flew past him into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
It was a bold substitution, as Defoe will always get you a goal, but Fredi turned up trumps on this occasion and did the trick. As did Robbie Keane, who replaced Mido. The Egyptian worked hard, but failed to find his goal-scoring touch today. It was not for the want of trying, as he hit shot after shot at goal and tried an outrageous 30 yard effort, that flew wide, sometimes to the exasperation of Defoe, who was looking for a pass. Anyway, Kanoute had done well to set up Keano with a low ball in from the right, but the Irishman was a little too far behind it and too wide of the goal to convert it from a few yards out.
However, with time running out, a through ball from Davies saw Robbie latch onto it, with only Boa Morte for company. He held the ball away from the attacker and as he entered the area, Boa Morte fell trying to challenge, leaving Keane only van der Sar to beat. Keano ran the ball up to him and the keeper tried to make himself big, but the Spurs striker took the ball around him and walked it into an empty net.
The match had looked as though it was heading towards Fulham's aim of gaining a point from it. They packed the midfield and defence, making it hard for a workmanlike Spurs to break through, but failed to trouble Robinson greatly in the Spurs goal. Tottenham once more enjoyed a huge amount of possession and had about 10 corners, but failed to make van der Sar work hard for his money until the goals.
Robinson had to spread himself at Boa Morte's feet early on as a through ball looked as though the ex-Gooner might be in, but apart from that, Robbo was untroubled until the end of the half when a low cross came in and was cleared at the near post, only to Papa Diop, who hit a shot over the bar from 25 yards out just before the break. The next real action he saw came near the end, when Boa Morte hit a weak effort at him from five yards and then Diop got a foot to a volley, but it went just over the bar, when it looked like it might drop in.
Otherwise, it was one way traffic. Mido blasted a shot way over from a narrow angle and then flashed a shot wide from Davies' pass. Spurs came closest in the first half, when Michael Brown of all people rose highest for a corner to head towards goal, but Cole headed the ball away from the post in the 22nd minute.
One of the main hindrances to Spurs scoring was the referee Neale Barry. I rate him as one of the better refs in the Premier League, but on today's performance (and last week's at Highbury), he seems to be slipping from his position as one of the elite. His decision making was way off today and he failed to acknowledge one of his assistants flagging for a foul for Tottenham and generally getting a number of obvious decisions the wrong way around. Throw-ins and corners/goal-kicks got awarded to the wrong side and when he did give a decision, it was for a foul on Mido, when Defoe was through with only one defender and the keeper to beat. Where was the advantage in that ??
One last opportunity came Tottenham's way before half-time, when a corner was headed goalwards by Ledley King, but the ball went wide.
The second half started more brightly for Spurs, with Reid getting into the game more and looking more confident running at players, whereas in the first half, he struggled to get past them. His first cross found Mido at the near post and he tried an audacious header at the near post, with Defoe looking for a nod back to him. On the other flank, Simon Davies was also having a good game, with one effort flying just over after he cut inside to unleash a rising shot. The next effort came when Kelly's cross was flicked on by Davies and Mido tried to divert it in, but it went just wide with van der Sar moving the wrong way.
Naybet powered a header over the top as the hour mark approached, then there were some weak appeals for a penalty as Defoe crumpled under Knight's challenge in the box, but it appeared as though he slipped. Edman ripped a shot across the face of goal, as Spurs heaped more pressure on the Fulham defence just before the first goal. In between them, Andy Reid fired in a powerful drive that the Fulham goalie beat out, before Kelly had to produce a perfectly timed challenge on Boa Morte as he shaped to shoot from inside the box and the young Irish full back did so to stop an effort on target.
Robbie Keane picked up on a loose ball from a blocked Kanoute header, but his reflex shot flew just wide of the target in the 84th minute. Keano also tried an outrageous effort from even further out than Mido's in the first half, but his volley was over van der Sar and over the top. However, he had the last laugh a few minutes later with Spurs' second goal.
This was a win of patience and of determination. Fulham were hard to break down, but the midfield of Spurs battled with them to make sure they did not make any headway and Michael Brown played a pivotal part in that happening. Whether it was snapping at Papa Bouba Diop's heels, winning headers he had no right to win or keeping the ball moving by making himself available and laying off a simple pass, he was at the heart of Tottenham's performance today.
With the points from this victory moving us above Charlton and with them to play soon, it looks as though relegation is all but a distant worry now and the team can look forward to the top half of the table for their finishing place now.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL BROWN
The Heathrow Spur
|IT'S ALL ABOUT AMBITION|
|Patience is a virtue and when it
looked as though the 0-0 this match had written all over it was about
to materialise, along came two late goals to take the three points
Tottenham's way. Both came as a result of the head coach's
substitutions and like the Napoleon Bonaparte old quote goes
"Don't bring me good generals, bring me lucky ones" !!
With Martin Jol starting Mido and Defoe up front, it looked like they might provide a good partnership to foil Fulham, who were looking for points to drag themselves away from the bottom of the table. unfortunately, the move failed to pay off and the tall duo at the back for the Cottagers - Knight and Goma - coped well with what the Spurs pair had to offer.
Mido was trying to replicate his debut by shooting at every opportunity, but on this day, he did not look like threatening the Fulham goal, as most of his efforts went high and wide. His work off the ball was good and he hassled the Fulham defenders when they had the ball, trying to force mistakes. His link play with Defoe did not look promising though, as Jermain often went off on runs into good areas, only to be frustrated in not receiving the pass he wanted. He was not able to break free from the shackles that Goma had on him throughout the match and even though he cane get a goal out of nothing quite often, Defoe was the one who made way for Kanoute in the 70th minute.
Fulham did play some nice triangle passing, making Spurs look off the pace, but most of this took place in areas where there was no danger. Paul Robinson had a fairly quiet day in terms of dealing with anything directly at him, with just a couple of corners and crosses to take and a couple of shots that were not going to give him any worries. That was the most disappointing thing about this game. Fulham's complete and utter lack of ambition. Even when we were going through a similar stage of the season last year, with Pleat in charge, at least the team showed a little impetus to go forward, although away from home, Tottenham too were dire for most of the season.
Coleman was spouting on about Spurs conceding goals as well as scoring a lot before the match, but his side failed to show why we had let goals in and with only Manchester United and Chelsea keeping more clean sheets than Spurs this season, perhaps we had got something right at the back, as this clean sheet showed.
Ledley had a fine match too, with Andy Cole in his pocket for most of the time. And there was a welcome return to form by Simon Davies was in evidence and he worked hard and gave Tottenham options on the right, while some fans were giving Carrick and Reid stick, they both stuck to their task and assisted the team open up the opposition. Reid had a sticky first half, but came into it more in the second and gave Fulham problems with his wing play and shooting, while Carrick might not produce the killer pass every time, but he works back to get the ball back when the other team breaks away. He has an inordinate amount of possession and rarely wastes it, but some people expect him to provide a goal-making pass every time.
Even so, the amount of ball we had during the game and the number of corners won did not result in any penetration of the Cottagers' defence. The final ball was lacking and the shooting was invariably not threatening on the day, meaning that van der Sar had little to do until the second half. Kanoute's entrance was the turning point, with him taking responsibility from a free-kick given for a blatant trip on Reid. not noted for his dead ball prowess, he stepped up and curled a shot into the net with the Fulham keeper stranded and stationary behind his wall. His lack of footwork was shameful for an international keeper and also his positioning behind the wall, when that is supposed to cover that half of the goal
Keane was played in, but lost control as he ran at the last defender, although it soon was back in Spurs possession, with Kanoute laying it off to Reid, who rifled in a hard shot that van der Sar managed to palm out, with Keane just failing to get a shot on the ball as it flew past him.
Robbie Keane knocked the ball back to Simon Davies and then looked at least a yard offside when the ball left Davies' foot for the return pass, but the linesman had got some wrong in the other side's favour earlier, so these things even themselves out. Van der Sar's footwork was little better for this goal. Boa Morte was the only Fulham player running back, but Robbie cleverly got himself between the ball and the opponent and used his contact to unbalance him. This left him on the edge of the area and only van der Sar to beat. Keano took the ball right up to him and as the Dutchman thought he was going to be nut-megged, he stood knock-kneed to prevent that embarrassment. However, Keane took the ball to the goalie's right, out fo his reach and knocked home the ball, when it would have been great had he done what we wall did as kids and stopped the ball on the line before bending down to head it in !!
You don't see goals like this anymore ad it was a neat piece of finishing by Keane, who is scoring regularly when he is on the pitch for Spurs these days.
Although the majority of this game seemed as though it was heading to end a bore-draw, the patience in the game by Spurs eventually overcame the dour Fulham approach and their belief in the way they wanted to play nearly ended up with them as 3 or 4-0 winners in the final stages, as chances were created.
The win continues the good home form and with the away displays, hopefully, this will maintain some sort of consistency until the end of the season to enhance our league position. The next League match against SCBC will show if we can keep the run going.
First of all thanks for your efforts with the site. The effort is much appreciated, and I very much look forward to the daily news.
Have to say though that my jaw hit the floor when reading the conclusion to the Fulham match report. After 30+ years of going to WHL I'm resigned to our crowd's negativity, but to read that we should now be clear of relegation worry makes me wonder what planet the Heathrow Spur just jetted in from.
The League table I just checked shows that if we win our game in hand we'll be 6th, that's 6th not 16th, and one point off 5th. We'll also have exactly twice as many points as SCBC (what does that stand for, by the way?) who are third from bottom. So if they're allowed an extra 28 games this season, maybe we'll be in trouble...
More to the point, we'll also be not only close behind Liverpool in 5th, but just 9 points behind Everton in 4th and a Champions' League spot. Okay, so getting that high would require a very good last 11 games for us and a bad run for them, but it's a hell of a lot more likely than relegation!
Let's just try and be a bit more positive, eh? Or has the Heathrow Spur been worn down by the continual moaning of the all too numerous WHL loudmouth xxxholes who, it seems, now have to slag off not only poor Atouba (not to mention Dean Richards) but even the likes of Carrick and Reid too, even though Tottenham's prospects are surely better now than for many years?
It's not that I have been influenced by the nutters who sit around me (my friends excluded of course !!), but the first aim of each season, whatever we hope for, must be to achieve the 40 points necessary to avoid relegation. From there we can push on.
For too many seasons recently, we have had to wait until the end of April to get to that stage, so to nearly reach it so soon, is a major achievement; even if we achieve nothing else this season, it will be a step in the right direction.
It's not pessimism, just realism and that planet can be a great place sometimes. A shame some people at the Lane (and I don't mean you Roland) can't inhabit that planet to make them realise what we acrually have happening at the club. They don't know when they are well off
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Crystal Palace||2||Birmingham City||0||Saturday|
|Newcastle United||2||Bolton Wanderers||1||Sunday|
|Norwich City||2||Manchester City||3||Monday|
|League Cup Final|
|Liverpool||2||Chelsea (after extra time score 1-1 at 90 mins)||3||Sunday|
|20||West Bromwich Albion||27||2||12||13||23||49||18||-26|
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