Portsmouth (Home)
Premier League

Saturday 27th March 2010

This will be a strange match, with Spurs fielding a number of ex-Pompey players and Portsmouth unable to put out most of their Spurs old boys for one reason or another.  Jamie O'Hara, who has been the one bright spot for the cash-strapped South Coast club (CSSCC), cannot play as he is on loan and cannot turn out against his parent club, while ex-Spurs defender Ricardo Rocha suffered a broken cheekbone in Wednesday's game against Chelsea and that might rule him out for the remainder of the Blues fixtures.  He has not had a great time since moving back to England, being sent off twice and now being injured.  Kevin Prince Boateng is also a long term injury victim ,so only Michael Brown might feature in this game.

The game comes just two weeks before the two sides meet at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final and at a time when Portsmouth were having a bit of a league revival before losing 0-5 at home to Chelsea in mid-week.  Avram Grant's assertion that he might mess up the Premier League at both ends of the table by fielding weak teams is a little under-mined by the players which are available to him in his current predicament. 

With Asmir Begovic having decamped to Stoke City, first choice keeper David James now has Jamie Ashdown as cover or beyond him it goes down to an 18 year old Liam O'Brien signed from QPR by Harry Redknapp.  James holds the England number one position and looks a favourite to keep goal in the World Cup, but he is always liable to the odd gaffe and was unfortunate to mis-kick when the ball bobbled on Wednesday, allowing Drogba to score an easy goal.  Like Booby Mimms, some goalkeepers attract some elements of bad luck, but he can be inspired on his day.  Spurs need to test him early and keep the pressure on him at set-pieces, as with Bale and Bentley in the team, the delivery can be very good.

The defence has been hit by injuries and departures, so veteran full back Steve Finnan is almost a regular in the side, with Heidar Hreidarsson, Richard Hughes, Anthony Vanden Borre and Marc Wilson competing for the other positions in the back four.  Vanden Borre has been missing out, but might come in to cover for Rocha's absence.  A strong full back, he could partner Hughes or Hreidarsson, who add some height to the defence.  Finnan likes to get forward, but might have his hands full dealing with Gareth Bale's raids up the left of the Tottenham team.  While James will get plenty of practice behind the make-shift defence, they have conceded 58 goals this season, so they will be trying to keep a clean sheet, probably by having five in midfield with one up front, hoping to hit on the break.

That means that the midfield will probably consist of Hassan Yebda, Michael Brown, Hayden Mullins, Aaron Mokoena and Danny Webber, with the possibility of Quincy-Owusu Abeyie being included for one of them (maybe Mullins) to add a little trickery and pace going forward.  Former Spurs midfielder Brown likes to get in players' face and has been involved in a skirmish or two in the engine room of the side throughout his career.  With Yedba a skilful runner with the ball and Mokoena the hard man, it is a good mix of abilities, but the depth is not present should they suffer any further injuries or suspensions.  Webber was signed, but one suspects only because he was available on a free transfer, while Obeyie is on loan from Spartak Moscow and they want to buy him back now.  Mullins was previously at West Ham and is a workman-like midfielder, but he and Basinas are both fringe players who have been press-ganged into service in the side.

While Grant has a few fit forwards only two of those available - Frederic Piquionne and Nwankwo Kanu - have featured lately and Kanu only as a sub.  Piquionne is the top scorer and has been hitting the target of late, but Aruna Dinane cannot play as another appearance will cost Pompey 4 million and on the evidence of some of his performances, there may not be too much return on that outlay.

It has been an unexpectedly tough season for Portsmouth, but from the pre-season, when they sold a number of their more valuable assets, it was always going to be a struggle to stay up.  The nine point deduction for going into administration makes it almost certain that they will not be a Premier League club next season and with a buyer being sought and the club still in massive debt, it could be that they start next season in the Championship with a points deduction and it could spiral out of control from there.  You have to feel some sympathy with the Portsmouth fans, who have had their club mis-managed by the owners, but unfortunately, with our own priorities, there can be no sympathy on the pitch and therefore, I think Spurs will continue their good run with another victory ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    3      Portsmouth    1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (out - thigh); Carlo Cudicini (out - hip and wrists); Jermaine Jenas (out - groin); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Aaron Lennon (out - groin); Jermain Defoe (out - hamstring); Kyle Walker (out - wrist); Vedran Corluka (out - ankle); Roman Pavlyuchenko (doubtful - hamstring); Sebastien Bassong (out - ankle); Kyle Walker (out - ankle); Wilson Palacios (doubtful - groin); - (-); - (-); 

PORTSMOUTH :  -  Ricardo Rocha (out - cheekbone); Tommy Smith (out - nose); Jamie O'Hara (out -ineligible because on loan from Spurs); Nadir Belhadj (doubtful - hamstring); John Utaka (doubtful - groin); Kevin Prince Boateng (out - knee); Tal Ben Haim (doubtful - groin); Arune Dindane (out - contractual issues); Papa Bouba Diop (doubtful - knee); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   2    Portsmouth   0      (Half-time score : 2-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 27th March 2010
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,870
Referee :  Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Portsmouth kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Bright with heavy showers
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

  3  Bale
19  Bassong 
20  Dawson (c) (  4  Kaboul 62)
28  Walker

  5  Bentley
  6  Huddlestone
14  Modric
21  Kranjcar  (32  Assou-Ekotto 66)

15  Crouch 
17  Gudjohnsen (  9  Pavlyuchenko 79)

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
29  Livermore
25  Rose
12  Palacios

Portsmouth :

  1  James  (21  Ashdown 89)

16  Finnan
  7  Hreidarsson  (19  Webber 51)
22  Hughes 
  4  Mokoena

  6  Mullins
33  Basinas    (14  Owusu-Abeiye 84)
18  Vanden Borre
11  Brown (c)
  9  Piquionne

27  Kanu

Unused subs: 
40  Ward
46  Sowah

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Crouch 27
Kranjcar 41



Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  




Hughes (foul) 74   


Match Report : -  
As a match, this was a mis-match and with Spurs missing players because they were injured and Portsmouth missing players generally, there was just enough done by Spurs to win 2-0, but Pompey did have their chances, although they failed to take them. 

A half-paced match was never setting the pulse racing, but there were enough bits of interest to keep the crowd paying attention, although I must admit at the end, I thought Portsmouth were down to eight fit players and I had remembered they only started with six on the bench.  Spurs in turn had to shuffle their pack and Kyle Walker started at right back for his debut in a Spurs shirt.

The game started off with the usual threat of Gareth Bale's pace taking him down the left wing.  Unfortunately, having got past Vanden Borre, his cross only found David James' arms but the next cross came in from Niko Kranjcar and although Eidur Gudjohnsen made a good run to the near post, his header went wide.  Portsmouth began to find space, as Spurs allowed them to break with the ball and when Piquionne crossed from the right wing, after getting past Bassong, there was nobody in the middle to finish his good work.  It was perhaps a lax Tottenham that faced Portsmouth when they allowed Vanden Borre and Piquionne to link up on the left side of the box and the former ran into the box to take a return pass to put him in on goal, behind the Spurs defence.  Heurelho Gomes, who has been in very good form for Tottenham, came to the team's rescue with an advance to block the midfielder's low shot with his legs to keep the score-line goal-less in the 18th minute.

David Bentley was finding space on the right and his crosses were troubling the Portsmouth back-line, but his 19th minute corner was well delivered to Bale on the edge of the box and it was struck on the volley, heading for the bottom left corner of the goal until a deflection took it wide for another corner.  In the 27th minute, Tottenham made the breakthrough and it was Peter Crouch scoring against his old side that did it.  A move that started at the back with Gomes throwing out to Gareth Bale, who made a run two thirds the length of the pitch to cross to the near post, where Crouch got between Mokoena and Mullins to head past David James, who was rooted to his line.  The defenders probably thought James should have come for the ball and he certainly would have been nearer to Crouch if he had come for it.

A  corner was cleared shortly after the goal and Bentley put a heavy cross into the near post area, where Michael Dawson met it with a powerful header that flew past the post and if it had been on target, James would not have had much chance in stopping it.  Then, in the 35th minute, another corner was cleared to Tom Huddlestone 25 yards out.  He side-stepped two Portsmouth players and thrashed a drive from 20 yards that rocked the crossbar and bounced up into the air, the ball was knocked back into the box and headed on by Bassong to Crouch, who volleyed the high bouncing ball with an effort that looked as though it was going high over the bar.  However, the striker's technique made the ball dip over James and it bounced off the post and then off Mokoena for another corner.  From that Crouch teed himself up for an over-head kick that was straight at David James in the Pompey goal.  The woodwork and a second injury to Richard Hughes only delayed the inevitable second Tottenham goal.

This one was a bit cheeky in it's final execution, but was well crafted down the right wing.  Bentley put Kyle Walker away on the wing and he went around a defender to get to the dead-ball line and pulled a low ball back to Luka Modric on the edge of the area and the Croatian's shot was blocked in the box, but popped up off Hayden Mullins to Niko Kranjcar.  With his back to the goal, the midfielder back-heeled the ball away from James and into the opposite corner of the net.  41 minutes gone and 2-0 to Spurs.

Within a minute, Gomes was keeping Portsmouth out at the other end, when a right wing cross was headed back into the middle of the area, where Michael Brown had a clear shot at goal from five yards.  Heurelho closed him down quickly and blocked his effort, which was then cleared away.  It was strange to see Brown in the penalty area, as he had spent most of the first half chasing after Luka Modric, who had the temerity to foul him early on.  Brown put a lot of effort in, but this was obviously not matched by his team-mates, who he berated with a screech of "Come on", after a Spurs player had got away from him and nobody bothered to track back to pick them up.

The second half was all a bit embarrassing, as Spurs went through the motions without hitting top form to try and add to the score and Portsmouth went through the motions of trying to keep the score respectable.  It wasn't the normal cut and thrust of Premier League football you might expect, but when one side is one defeat away from losing that status, perhaps it is not too surprising. Things weren't helped when a Spurs corner ended with Herman Hreidarsson crumpling to the floor at the far post with nobody around him.  Stretchered off, it appears he tore his Achilles and will be out for some time.

Both sides went close, with Bentley's cross from the right just too high for Gudjohnsen coming in at the far post and Gome parrying a shot from Nwankwo Kanu and having to recover well to hold it before Danny Webber closed in on the loose ball.

Spurs had their own injury scare when Michael Dawson pulled up and went off to be replaced by Younes Kaboul as a precaution.  It made little difference to the flow of the game, as Bentley put Walker away as he had done for the goal and the defender pulled the ball back for Crouch this time, who might have had more success with a first time shot, but he tried to make a volley for himself and his shot was blocked away.  That was in the 62 minute and two minutes later, Harry brought on Assou-Ekotto for Kranjcar, with Bale moving into left midfield and Benny taking his normal left back role. 

Brown once more popped up in the Spurs area, but could not get a shot in as Kaboul made a well-timed challenge to halt his progress.  Hughes, who had a poor game, finally got a booking his fouls deserved in the 74th minute, when he received a yellow card and then Kyle Walker put a mis-placed pass into the path of Kanu, who was through on goal, but managed to kick the ball straight in front of him from left of the goal, rather than on target and make Gomes make a save.  With 12 minutes left, it might have given Portsmouth some encouragement, but as it was the wheels fell off their wagon in the next ten minutes.

Firstly, Sebastien Bassong rose to head a corner downwards and James grabbed the ball on the floor a yard out from his line and then only the presence of Mullins stopped Pavlyuchenko getting onto the end of Assou-Ekotto's left wing cross at the far post.  Another attack saw Bale's intended cross spin off a defender and go high into the air.  James jumped to keep it in, but started feeling his calf and then in the next passage of play, Danny Webber went down holding his knee.  It resulted with Webber being the second player carried off and James limping off to be replaced by Ashdown.  This meant that with Basinas being replaced previously by Owusu-Abeyie, there were no subs left to replace Webber and the last few minutes were played out with ten Pompey players on the pitch. 

Spurs kept going on the attack, but only produced two more efforts on goal, with Bale having a shot stopped by Ashdown and then Crouch was released into the left side of the box to slide a shot past the keeper, but also past the far post.

The final whistle failed to cheer the away players too much, but their fans greeted them like heroes.  Shirts were swapped as it will probably be some time before the Pompey players meet Premier opposition regularly again.  And that is all down to the fact that a large amount of honk has been spent or frittered away at Fratton Park.  There is little doubt that the side will break up on relegation, as the administrator has made comments about having to sell the entire first team to survive, but then not all of them belong to the club anyway.

It has left them short on and off the pitch and with these injuries, they will be hard pushed to form a squad for the FA Cup semi-final in a fortnight.

For Spurs it was a fairly routine three points, but for Portsmouth, it almost spelled the end.

stanford rivers


Fan Reaction : -



You really know when the chips are stacked against you, when your six subs are still not enough to cover the number of injuries you sustain.  That and the fact the money at the club is running out and time in the Premier League is running out too.

With the prospect of a debatable future in the Championship and a battle for a buyer off the field, the Pompey fans haven't got much to shout about, but they showed braveness in the face of adversity and made a lot of noise.  Their team did not share their taste for the fight.  They looked less than willing to put themselves out and the injuries they sustained were not the result of bad tackles by Spurs players, but in isolated incidents with no Tottenham player nearby.

Crouch looked up for this game and while he could have scored more, his opening goal paved the way for Tottenham's win and Kranjcar clearly was not going to celebrate his goal, despite it being an inventive effort executed with only a second's thought.

There were a couple of scares when Portsmouth broke through, but Heurelho stopped the two good chances that they created and kept another clean sheet.

Another win to make it five on the trot in the league and it is the sort of run which will store up points and give confidence ahead of the tough April fixtures.  Plus a psychological (and now a physical) blow for us over the Portsmouth side for the forthcoming FA Cup semi.

the heathrow spur




Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 1 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Manchester United 4 Saturday
Chelsea 7 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Hull City 2 Fulham 0 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Stoke City 1 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Everton 0 Saturday
Burnley 0 Blackburn Rovers 1 Sunday
Liverpool 3 Sunderland 0 Sunday
Manchester City 3 Wigan Athletic 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 32 23 3 6 76 25 72 +51
2 Chelsea 32 22 5 5 82 29 71 +53
3 Arsenal 32 21 5 6 74 34 68 +40
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 31 17 7 7 57 29 58 +28
5 Manchester City 31 15 11 5 58 39 56 +19
6 Liverpool 32 16 6 10 53 32 54 +21
7 Aston Villa 31 13 12 6 43 32 51 +11
8 Everton 32 13 10 9 50 42 49 +8
9 Birmingham City 32 12 9 11 33 37 45 -4
10 Blackburn Rovers 32 11 8 13 35 50 41 -15
11 Stoke City 31 9 12 10 30 35 39 -5
12 Fulham 31 10 8 13 33 36 38 -3
13 Sunderland 32 8 11 13 41 50 35 -9
14 Wolverhampton Wanderers 32 8 8 16 30 52 33 -22
15 Bolton Wanderers 32 8 8 16 36 60 33 -24
16 Wigan Athletic 32 8 7 17 29 62 31 -33
17 West Ham United 32 6 9 17 38 55 27 -18
18 Hull City 31 6 9 16 31 64 27 -33
19 Burnley 32 6 6 20 31 65 24 -34
20 Portsmouth 32 6 4 22 28 60 13* -32

*   9 points deducted for going into administration.

Position before the match :  4th
Position after the match :  4th
Position after the weekend :  4th


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