MANCHESTER CITY (Away)
Sunday 28th September 2003
Hod gone, Pleat in and a few new faces gracing the team ... isn't this what everyone wanted ?? Well, after this match we might find out. A spree of goals or a tightly fought contest between two sides who need the win for different reasons. Spurs - because we are too near the bottom of the table. Man. City - because they were booed off at half-time in their UEFA Cup game on Wednesday although they went on to win 3-2 against Lokeren.
Manchester City have had their best start to a season in many years. This is despite having signed the Gooner goalkeeper Seaman and having a number of players who appear to be at constant loggerheads with the manager. Berkovic is an angry old man, who looks like having a fight with himself if nobody else will join in; Anelka is the sulky kid who never has many friends at school and Danny Tiatto is the hard man in midfield and sometimes off the field, courtesy of the referees red card. But even with such an odd bunch of men drawn together, manager Kevin Keegan has got the best out of them, especially going forward. Defence isn't a word that features in the Keegan dictionary.
It is an area that he has to put players in however and it was from there that David Sommeil came up to head home a corner that started City's 2-0 win at the Lane last Spring. He is an uncompromising central defender, who is comfortable on either side. I have never thought Sylvain Distin was as good a player as he promises to be and it could be that Spurs find some joy against him with Kanoute up against his fellow Frenchman. He has taken over from Dutchman Gerard Wiekens, who is a solid professional, but has been eased out since the promotion to the top flight. Chinese international Sun Jihai has given good performances in midfield and even at right back, but fellow defender German Michael Tarnat has not been available as he has not been fully fit, although might be fit for this match. While I am not sure of hid defensive abilities, I know he is mustard from free-kicks.
The midfield is built around the industry of Reyna, Barton, Sibierski and Tiatto, to which is grafted the skill of Sinclair, McManaman and Wright-Phillips. Joey Barton is a prospect that the Maine Road faithful felt very pleased about, so it will be interesting to see if he realises his potential at the City of Manchester stadium. The Belgian based Pole Sibierski is a bit of a mystery, but breaks into the box late, so Spurs will need to pay attention to his runs and wide-men Trevor Sinclair and Steve McManaman will cause Tottenham trouble with their mazy dribbles; it remains to be seen if they produce something at the end of them. The 4-4-2 that Spurs will line up to start with, might provide more of a barrier for City to have to get around. Eyal Berkovic is leading the lone role as playmaker from the middle of midfield, now that Ali Benarbia has moved on.
City's forward line is fairly frightening too, with a choice of Robbie Fowler, Paolo Wanchope and Anelka. That is with Huckerby, Shuker and Vuoso on loan and Jonathan Macken out of favour. Anelka has blistering pace and has seemingly found a manager in Keegan who he is happy to play for, so his darting runs will have to be shut down by the Spurs back four. Fowler scores a lot of goals as he is more of a natural poacher and although he has lost a lot of his pace that he possessed when he was younger, h can still find himself in the right place to finish things off. Wanchope is all arms and legs, but has a knack of getting important goals for City and Costa Rica.
Spurs will field a similar side to that put out by Pleat on Wednesday at Coventry and will be wearing the same purple outfit. Blondel might not start, as I think the new boss was giving him a taste of first team action, but will not risk him as a starter in the Premier League just yet. Expect Ricketts to come back in and Dalmat to still be on the bench to start with, probably alongside Zamora who returns form a stomach upset.
While the 3-0 win over Coventry will have boosted confidence a bit, the team might need a win or two in the Premiership to build on and I am not sure that the run will start against a buoyant City side playing at home in a new stadium with the majority of the fans supporting the home side.
PREDICTION : - Manchester City 2 Tottenham 1
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
How do you think your team have played this season ?
City have made a very promising start to the season and I think a top six finish isn't beyond us. We've come a long way in a short space of time, for which Keegan deserves a lot of credit.
Who do you think is your best player at the moment ?
Nicolas Anelka has been on fire since the start of the season with 6 goals to his name already. He's got all the attributes to become one of the top strikers in the world.
Which player isn't playing as well in recent games ?
David Seaman is looking a bit dodgy so far (and I don't just mean his haircut). Virtually every goal we've conceded is down to him.
Any exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for ?
Joey Barton has established himself in the first team and looks like he has a very promising future.
What is the line-up expected to be ?
There used to be quite a strong rivalry between the two clubs but I think it's less of an issue these days.
Which Spurs player do you like ?
Frederic Kanoute's not bad, and Simon Davies too.
What do you reckon the score will be ?
3-1 to City.
Manchester City - Danny Tiatto (dead leg), Christian Negouai (suspended)
Tottenham Hotspur - Christian Ziege (thigh), Kazuyuki Toda (calf), Ledley King (hamstring), Jamie Redknapp (knee), Simon Davies (groin)
TV : Sky Sports 1 - Live coverage; Canada - 11:00am EST, 9:00am MST on Fox Sports World Canada
Internet : www.spurs.co.uk Live webcast
|Manchester City 0 Tottenham 0 (Half-time score : 0-0)|
|Sunday 28th September 2003|
|Venue : - City of Manchester Stadium|
|Kick Off : - 16.05 p.m.|
|Weather : - Dry, sunny|
|Crowd : - 46,842|
|Referee : - N. Barry (Scunthorpe)|
|Teams : -
Manchester City : - Seaman; Sommeil, Distin, Sun, Tarnat; Bosvelt, Sinclair (Sibierski 72), Wright-Phillips, McManaman (Reyna 85); Anelka, Wanchope (Fowler 76)
Unused subs: Weaver, Bischoff
Tottenham : - Keller;
Carr, Taricco, Richards, Gardner; Konchesky (Dalmat 78), Bunjevcevic
(Ricketts 62), Poyet, Anderton; Kanoute, Keane
|Colours : - (kits
courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
|Scorers : -
Manchester City - None
Tottenham - None
|Cards : -
Manchester City - Tarnat (foul) 39, Sun Jahai (foul) 82
Tottenham - Gardner (foul) 59
For the first time in living memory, or at least since GG was manager, Spurs kept a clean sheet for the second match running. It was more by luck than judgement sometimes, but the effort put in by the team deserved a little good fortune which left Kevin Keegan scratching his head as to how his team failed to take maximum points from this fixture.
In any match where one side has 21 goal attempts to the other side's four, you would think that there would be a good chance the side who were attacking more would win, but City's poor finishing left them pointless ... a bit like Paolo Wanchope's inclusion in the side today. True, he managed to get into good scoring positions, but when there he failed to convert them, even when he was odds on to net a goal. Twice in the closing stages of the first half, he was set free in the box by an Anelka back-heel and a McManaman pass, but the Costa Rican dallied too long and gave Keller the opportunity to stop his half-hearted low shots. In fact, despite all the figures loading up against Spurs, Keller had surprisingly few shots to save, but those he did, he kept out very well.
McManaman's drive from 12 yards was turned aside with a good save and he had to advance quickly to deny Anelka racing into the box after Gardner's short header back, before falling on the rebound. In the second half, Kasey fielded a low 25 yarder from Anelka, but when he didn't get there, he found luck was on his side. A first half corner was knocked down by Wanchope and Anelka stuck out a leg to direct it goalwards past Keller, only to find Stephen Carr stationed on the line to clear the ball. Corners were proving problematical for Spurs, with Keller being beaten in the air to one by Wanchope and the American goalie was relieved to see the ball sail over the top, while another corner dropped in the six yard box, bounced off Anelka and into the grateful arms of Kasey.
Spurs had started brightly, with Fredi failing to connect properly with a ball that squirted through Poyet's legs and getting onto Konchesky's lofted ball, but seeing his prodded effort go across the goal and wide. In between Wright-Phillips just denied Konchesky, as he was poised to head Kanoute's right wing cross. While Manchester City proceeded to hit the series of long-range free-kicks that Spurs gave away straight into the wall, the one opportunity Tottenham had, just right of centre, was smashed towards goal by Darren Anderton. It deflected off Wright-Phillips, causing Seaman to fall to his left to stop it and having to hurriedly slap the ball out for a corner, as Spurs players closed in. Right on half-time, Seaman was well positioned to easily take Richards' header from a corner.
City started the second half as if they were going to keep Spurs in their own half for the majority of the remaining time, but their efforts got increasingly wild and it was only the entry of Fowler at the end of the match, which threatened to change things. Twice he hit volleys in the box. One from wide on the right missed by a distance, but when the ball popped up 20 yards out, his effort flew narrowly wide of Keller's post.
Even then, Spurs could have won it at the death. A ball in from Ricketts on the right was half cleared, leading to Dalmat hooking the ball back into the area towards Robbie Keane. With his back to goal, the Irishman flicked himself round and was just unable to get a proper contact on the ball, which bobbled into Seaman's arms.
Well, it wasn't pretty, but it was a point and with Leeds losing 0-4, we move above them and into the lofty position of 17th !! The trouble is that next week we have to play Everton, who beat Leeds today !! Maybe, it will be another lucky day then ??
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN CARR
|Two clean, by half|
Don't get me wrong, it's not that I am
unhappy with an away point (goodness knows they have been hard to come by
for Tottenham for some years now) ... nor that I begrudge the clean sheet
(ditto there of late too), but it is more the performance that earned us
the one point for our trip to Manchester City.
I am afraid that many more showings like that and we will be seriously looking for some teams to go on a long losing run to keep us out of the relegation zone. The nature of the display today was one of getting away with it, rather than earning the point. Our midfield was slow, our passing failed to finds a purple shirt (and perhaps that might be the problem), we failed to support the forwards when it was hacked out to them and we looked as though we would not create a decent chance unless Man. City moved aside to let us score it.
We conceded so much space to them and failed to mark tightly, allowing Wanchope to get away from our defenders almost every time an Anelka back-heel came off. It was only poor finishing that saved us from a hiding today ... and a couple of good stops by Keller. Spurs must look at the age an mobility of the midfield. Konchesky was brought in to beef up that area and he didn't have a bad game, while Anderton, Poyet and Bunjy are not blessed with a turn of pace between them. And their tackling is more Power Puff Girls than Incredible Hulk !!
Kanoute and Keane can only be applauded for the efforts they put in to track down passes struck forward and to track back when required. They had scraps to feed on, but did almost make something of them. Fredi stuck out a long leg in the first half to guide the bal past Seaman, but also past the post and if he had reacted quicker in the opening stages, he might have nudged home the ball as it came through Gus' legs.
The escapes Tottenham had came thick and fast. Wanchope was having a day when he couldn't score and Anelka seemed too intent on trying to do it all himself, leaving him too eager and too strung up when faced with an opportunity, to relax and finish as he should have done. One let-off Tottenham did have was when a cross from the left was aimed at Trevor Sinclair, alone having lost Richards in the area. The former West Ham United midfielder rose to meet the ball and headed it five yards wide !!
Seaman has had a torrid time in goal and the fact that the home fans got on the back of their players in midweek, should have encouraged Spurs to go after them a bit. Although they did silence the crowd on occasion, the main noises that could be heard came from the Spurs contingent. The new Stadium is fantastic in structure, but the fans failed to make a huge amount of noise in support of their team, considering Tottenham only had about 2,000 tickets.
The defence looked a bit more solid, but there appears to be a lack of communication there, as too often players went for the same ball or left it for each other. This might be nerves because of the situation they find themselves in, but it needs to be sorted out quickly. With some games coming up against teams who have done well in the last week or two, Tottenham need to get things together and get a little run going. We are only one win from thirteenth place and a couple of wins now could make things look a whole lot better.
Yet again we failed to take the lead in a Premier League match this season. You wonder whether an early goal would help them settle down and play with more confidence. Let's hope we find out soon !!
The Heathrow Spur
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Bolton Wanderers||1||Wolverhampton Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|Leicester City||1||Manchester United||4||Saturday|
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