Looking Forward

 

BOLTON WANDERERS (Home)

Premier League

Saturday 1st November 2003

In their last league outing Bolton conceded six against Manchester City and some of those were when City were reduced to ten men.  They have bounced back with a 2-0 win over Gillingham in the League Cup, but their league form has shown a marked lack of goals.

That is why Sam Allardyce has moved to address this weakness in the team with a number of players coming in to fill that department of the team.  His most recent addition is Mario Jardel, who was strongly linked to a move to Tottenham, but that failed to materialise.  Instead, he has chosen the delights of the Lancashire town and has had to lose some timber in the process, as he arrived heavy in the frame as well as in the reputation of a goalscorer.  A tall lean forward, he is the sort who knows where to be and as such will always provide a problem for defences.  Needs to pick up the pace of the Premiership, but will be a useful player for the side.  Ibrahim Ba is another player with a previous big billing, but has slipped from his perch since moving to AC Milan from Bordeaux.  A tricky dribbler, who enjoys playing wide, BA has not yet broken into the side on a regular basis, but he can use Bolton as a shop window to show he has what it takes to play at a higher level.  The club seem to be a bit of a last chance saloon for some players and Kevin Davies, the former Blackburn and SCBC striker is another who is hoping to make the most of Bolton's contract offer.  The fact he came free from the Saints was a big factor, but he will be keen to score and usually does against us !!  Henrik Pedersen is a strange player, who never looks that good, but does get a fair share of goals each season.  A strong forward, he holds the ball up well when it is played forward and he will need close attention, as he has a powerful shot when left space.  

At the other end of the pitch, Wanderers have a solid goalie in Jussi Jaaskelainen, who is a fantastic shot stopper, except when he lets them slip under him, like at Man. City !!  That is the exception though, as he has been the main reason Tottenham didn't run up cricket scores against the Trotters over the last two seasons.  Experienced back-up keeper Kevin Poole has been around for years and gets the odd outing to keep his hand in, as he did against Gillingham. 

Bruno N'Gotty could feature in the middle of defence with Emerson Thome, their signing from Sunderland, out with a hamstring injury.  N'Gotty is a strong lad with good ability in the air and a real crunching tackle, but he sometimes wanders from his position and that might allow Tottenham space to get in behind him.  Simon Charlton is another widely experienced defender, who plays on the left and likes to overlap, although his pace is not what it was, while Anthony Barness (who has scored a couple for us over the years) will battle with youngster Nicky Hunt for the right back berth.  I would guess Allardyce would go with the more experienced Barness, although Hunt has started four games this season, including the one at Old Trafford. 

Midfield appears to be the strongest area of the Bolton side and it is here that the manager will expect his side to impose themselves on Tottenham.  Youri Djorkaeff and Jay-Jay Okocha will provide the creativity in this area, with Djorkaeff producing some of his famed incisive passing and Okocha the tricks and flicks, which must end up with some product after they have been displayed.  Per Frandsen is a hard worker and he specialises in free-kicks with his fierce shot, but fights over them with Djorkaeff.  Kevin Nolan has slipped from the exalted position he held as the one most likely to make it, although his contributions have been a more regular starter this season and has two goals in his last four games.  A strong runner and determined tackler, he will be the rock on which the two famous imports can shine. Another foreign signing is Greek midfielder Stelios Giannakopolous, who is an honest worker and he struck his first goal for the club in this week's Carling Cup tie.  I don't know too much about him, but he has been one of their better players in the poor run so far this season.  Winger Ricardo Gardner is blessed with lightning pace and he has the ability to go around players with his dribbling, as can Jermaine Johnson, who is a little more powerfully built than his fellow Jamaican.  With Glen Little returning to Burnley after a loan spell, Allardyce's options are slightly more limited.

While there is a lot of ability in the Bolton side, it hasn't all come together yet this season and Allardyce will be keen to stop the goals leaking in at their end of the pitch.  Therefore, expect a dogged performance form the Lancastrians and Tottenham, on the evidence of the Boro and West ham games, being stymied as they lack the creation to break down stubborn defences.  A goal will open the game up and with Spurs to get one first, Bolton will need to come at us, leading me to think it will end up ... 

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham  2     Bolton Wanderers   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

MEHSTG could not get a view from the other side.

Players Unavailable

TOTTENHAM : -  Christian Ziege (knee), Simon Davies (hip), Jamie Redknapp (knee), Fredi Kanoute (ankle)

BOLTON : -  Emerson Thome (hamstring), Florent Laville (knee), Youri Djorkaeff (calf), Ivan Campo (Achilles).

COVERAGE : 
TV :  Highlights on ITV's "The Premiership"
Radio :  No live commentary
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast    

 

 

Tottenham   0      Bolton Wanderers   1     (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League
Saturday 1st November 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Cold, clear
Referee : -  U. Rennie (Sheffield)
Crowd : -  35,191
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Richards, Doherty, Taricco (Blondel 64); Konchesky, Poyet (Postiga46), King (Mabizela 86), Anderton; Keane, Zamora
Unused Subs : - Burch, Bunjevcevic

Bolton Wanderers : -  Jaaskelainen; Charlton, Campo, Hunt, N'Gotty; Nolan,  Giannakopoulos (Pedersen 86), Frandsen, Okocha, Gardner; Davies
Unused Subs : - Poole, Barness, Jardel, Ba

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham               Bolton Wanderers
Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  None

Bolton Wanderers -   Nolan 74

Cards : -  
Tottenham  -  Carr (foul) 61, Konchesky (foul) 89, Blondel (dissent) 90

Bolton Wanderers - None

Nothing that you can say would deny the fact that this result was the right one on the balance of play.  Although Tottenham dominated the early stages, they soon fell back into the familiar ways of not testing the keeper and letting the other side back into the game by providing them with the ball and the space to play their game.

The few chances Tottenham had on goal came in the first ten minutes, with Keane and then Carr testing Jaaskelainen.  The woodwork came to Tottenham's aid for the first time in the 19th minute, when Okocha took a loose defensive header from Doherty and whacked it against the bar from 20 yards out.  While the Nigerian is undoubtedly a fantastically skillful player and one who took the midfield in this match and made it his own, he must be frustrating to play with.  Every time he gets the ball, he moves forward and hits a shot, not really worrying about where it ends up, but always with great power.  For colleagues running into good positions, it must be a pain when he doesn't pick you out when better placed for an attempt on goal.  

Spurs were having trouble holding onto the ball and when Carr got onto a long diagonal ball from Keane, he squirted his shot wide.  Kasey Keller was being active at the other end, when he dived to try and foil a Frandsen shot, but it was deflected away and when the Dane picked it up again, wide on the left, Keller had to be alert to scramble up to stop the follow-up shot at the foot of his post.  Bolton's Greek international midfielder Giannakopolous was having trouble keeping his footing as every time he was challenged he fell to grass, but when he did keep his body upright, he hit Gardner's cross on the volley straight into the Spurs goalie's chest, much to the fans' relief.

In the opening while Spurs were knocking the ball about, they looked comfortable, but the one moment by Okocha turned the game Bolton's way.  From then on, Spurs looked jittery every time he got the ball and they allowed him to dictate play.  Even bringing Postiga on at half-time and dropping Keane back to a more familiar midfield role, rather than the 4-4-1-1 formation they had used in the first half, did not help.

Tottenham's approach contrasted that of the Trotters, as Okocha was keen to shoot every time he received the ball, Tottenham were trying to walk the ball in, as they have done too often over the years.  When they did let fly, they were off target as Taricco and Konchesky found in the second half.  Konchesky was deemed guilty of a foul just outside the Spurs area by referee (and I use the term lightly) Rennie.  Okocha managed t get the ball over the wall and it bounced off the bar, with Keller having to tip the subsequent header from Davies over the top.

When Carr got a yellow for bumping innocuously into Jaaskelainen the die was cast against Spurs by the official, who later went on to book Blondel for felling the pie-munching Kevin Davies and then throwing the ball into the ground in disbelief and Konchesky for a foul.  His most interesting award came just after Blondel's booking, when he moved the ball forward ten yards as Zamora was deemed not to have retreated 10 yards at the free-kick.  I am not sure if it just my own personal interpretation, but I thought it could only be done if he booked the perpetrator ??  But by this time, Rennie had given all the Spurs fans the need for express relief.  And despite the inane prattling of radio talk show hosts on the way home, this was not an excuse for our defeat, just a patently bad case of over-officiousness which accompanies most of the performances by Rennie that I and many others have witnessed.

Bobby Zamora showed that he has the ability to make it in the Premiership, when he out-muscled Charlton to run and shoot, but straight at the Bolton keeper, who was forced to scramble across his goal to see a Konchesky effort go just wide off a defender.  However, the frame of the goal at the other end came to Tottenham's salvation twice more with Giannakopolous and Okocha, for the third time, striking the bar.  In between the crossbar being vibrated, a corner was headed out, but only to Okocha, who hit a bouncing shot along the ground and it bounced off Keller back in front of the goal, just three yards out for Nolan to pounce and net the winner.  It was a sloppy goal to concede as we rarely have a player stationed on the edge of the box to pick up a cleared corner ... at either end.  Also, nobody reacted to the mistake by the keeper and Nolan was alone and quick enough to beat anyone to it.

One final fling saw Blondel hit a grass-cutter from 20 yards that looked as though it might sneak in, but Jaaskelainen made ground to get his hand t it and divert it for a corner, for which Keller came forward to try and make amends.  He nearly got a head to it, but would have directed it away from goal anyway, so the final whistle came as a respite for the crowd, as this was another abject performance to go with the others recently.  It was one too many to get away with and Bolton deserved their points, as we did little to create decent chances and failed to move the ball around in the last 80 minutes of the match.

With few players shining on the day, King did OK in midfield, with Zamora trying hard up front, but Keane made the effort to get up and back without being truly effective, but that was more than some others achieved.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ROBBIE KEANE

Burton Coggles

 

BAR NONE

 

When the name Ba was read out as one of the subs, I was surprised at the end it hadn't been on the Tottenham team list, as it was their best player !!

Frankly, Tottenham got what they deserved out of this match ... nothing.  The changes in the team were confounding, with Doherty preferred to Gardner and the re-introduction of Poyet and Anderton instead of the pairing of Blondel and Mabizela that worked when they played in Wednesday's League Cup tie.  That and the tactical move to play a one-and-one up front with Keane behind Zamora.  Although the young striker got his first goal on Wednesday, he still needs an experienced partner alongside him to give him some support.  Being isolated up front helped nobody and to the dickhead who said that he was a donkey on the radio on the way home, I can only say that the player did admirably considering the way he was asked to play.

For all the effort Spurs put in, it was the silky skill of Okocha that caught the eye, with his willingness to shoot from whatever distance and wherever he was on the pitch, his ambition to take people on and his self-belief.  Unfortunately, Spurs had nobody like him and when they introduced the one player who might have some claim to being as skillful, Postiga failed to show the application that might have brought an example of it.

Keller had performed reasonably well until the point when he spilled Okocha's shot from a corner that let in Nolan for a tap-in from close range.  Mind you, up until that point, he had been the busier of the two keepers, as for the third game running, we failed to turn possession into goals.  We have gotten away with some poor performances against Man. City, Leicester, Boro and West Ham, but even with the luck of the woodwork delaying the obvious, our good fortune ran out and good luck to Bolton for their approach to the game.

It took them a little while to figure out where they were, as Tottenham played like the home team for ten minutes, then dropped back allowing Bolton to bring the game to them in the last third, playing in the manner of an away side.  I couldn't fathom why Pleat instructed them to play like that, as we should have been trying to seek the early advantage and to build on it.  As it was Jaaskelainen had a relatively quiet afternoon, as the ref ensured that whenever things weren't going Bolton's way, the play was stopped and the direction of play altered.  It is not as if he was bad both ways, just in not spotting the Kappa kit being stretched, nor that tackles took the ball in another direction to that of the player's run, but that he couldn't talk to players about misdemeanours and just had to pull out the yellow card.  Well, that and the fact that he failed to see a blatant handball on the edge of the box by Hunt.  Not that it would have helped us, as we were unable to help ourselves.

The undefeated run had to end sometime, so now was as good a time as any, but I would have preferred points on the board from this match before our visit to the Gooners next week, when we will get pulverised if we play like this.  It was another bad day at the office ... similar to that which got Hoddle the sack.  It will be interesting to see what happens to Pleat, who pulled the "extra-time on Wednesday" excuse out in true Hoddle style and didn't mention why certain players didn't feature and why he didn't introduce a solid midfield presence in the shape of Mabizela until four minutes from the end.  Still, when he only answers to the Director of Football and a dwindling number of other board members, you can become your own boss to a certain extent, I suppose !!

Stanford Rivers

1.11.2003

Before everyone jumps on Pleaty's back and has a go let's remember we aren't Blackburn and we haven't got Souness in charge. Feeling better already ? Good... now think on... now that the 'unbeaten Under Pleat' tag has gone we can get on with the business of building a team and consolidating (yes, I know it's The A*** next week but concentrate).

First, the board should announce that Pleat is in charge at least until January or (preferably) until the end of the season. This then will enable him to quietly usher Anderton and Poyet to the exit door, give them a party bag and say thanks for everything and restrict them to cameos for the rest of the season.

Next, get Blondel, Ricketts, King and Davies (remember him) installed in midfield so that we don't get overrun and more importantly so the creative side of our game can flourish.

Richards also needs to be gently levered onto the subs bench and Mabizela ( or Ledley) partnered with Gardner. Carr looks his old solid self again at full back - I'd like to see Konchesky instead of Taricco on the left.

Up front we've got a touch of turmoil at the moment with Fredi out but the quality is there and will eventually produce - when the two banks of four are established.

So let's put today aside, learn from Big Sam's never say die approach and go and kick some Arse next Saturday,
Success isn't forever and failure isn't fatal.

Peter Lis

2.11.2003

What's important in the long run is not next week's little local difficulty - anyway the Arse regard Man U as the biggest game of the season now and we have to think like that too to an extent.

The first thing is to break into the top 6-8 or however many European places are on offer and build from there.

We're not going to do that with Shaggy or Gus and so better to get the new guys embedded now - if Dalmat is staying for instance then play the guy and play to his strengths - otherwise Davies (when fit), Blondel, King/Mabizela etc need that time to become part of the scenery like the Man U youngsters did a while back.

I do think we have an exciting crop of young 'uns (no not Doc) at the moment and the best legacy Pleat can give his successor (if that's what's going to happen) is to guide them through this season, give them confidence to play and to know they are part of a long term plan. Then sign em up for longish contracts and go on from there.

I still revisit the 86-87 season video in my darkest hours and yearn for a team that plays with that kind of verve and panache - maybe this crop of players could produce similar results given time - something which the financial side of things doesn't always allow for.

Next week ? 2-1 us - Postiga to break his duck!

Peter

 

Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 1 Charlton Athletic 2 Monday
Everton 0 Chelsea 1 Saturday

Fulham

1 Liverpool 2 Sunday
Leeds United 1 Arsenal 4 Saturday
Leicester City 2 Blackburn Rovers 0 Sunday
Manchester United 3 Portsmouth 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
SCBC 0 Manchester City 2 Saturday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 11 8 3 0 23 9 27 +14
2 Chelsea 11 8 2 1 21 8 26 +13
3 Manchester United 11 8 1 2 21 6 25 +15
4 Birmingham City 11 5 4 2 10 7 19 +3
5 Manchester City 11 5 3 3 22 12 18 +10
6 Fulham 11 5 3 3 21 15 18 +6
7 Charlton Athletic 11 5 3 3 16 14 18 +2
8 Liverpool 11 5 2 4 17 12 17 +5
9 Newcastle United 11 4 4 3 16 13 16 +3
10 SCBC 11 4 4 3 8 7 16 +1
11 Portsmouth 11 3 3 5 11 15 12 -4
12 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 11 3 3 5 10 14 12 -4
13 Aston Villa 11 2 5 4 9 13 11 -4
14 Middlesbrough 11 4 2 6 9 15 11 -6
15 Bolton Wanderers 11 2 5 4 9 19 11 -10
16 Everton 11 2 4 5 12 15 10 -3
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 11 2 3 6 7 23 9 -16
18 Leicester City 11 2 2 7 16 21 8 -5
19 Blackburn Rovers 11 2 2 7 15 22 8 -6
20 Leeds United 11 2 2 7 11 26 8 -15

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