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Premier League

Saturday 2nd May 2009

As Spurs finished their good run with defeat at Old Trafford, West Bromwich Albion were in the process of getting to within three points of their nearest rivals at the bottom of the table.  Still six points away from the fourth bottom team and safety, but leading a charge, however late, to preserve their Premier League place.  I don't actually mind WBA.  Aggrieved that their goal against us was a foul and this led to a second late on, but they try to play football and there are some worse teams than them in the top flight, although the statistics don't bear that out.

They have struggled to score and have shipped goals at the other end and that is why they prop up the league at the moment.  Carson is not a top class goalkeeper and has failed to impress me at any of the clubs he has been at since Leeds.  The defence has some honest players in it, but they have not been up to the quality required and players such as Paul Robinson are experienced, but not capable to dealing with players almost half their age.

The lack of experienced top quality defenders has stopped them keeping out the goals and with a fairly solid midfield, the lack of quality again, this time up front has stopped the Baggies scoring the goals to cancel out those that have gone in at the other end.  While Roman Bednar is a physical presence and good in the air, his goal against Spurs came off the back of his head and might have gone anywhere.  Ishmael Miller's injury hit their chances of keeping other sides pinned back, but the better defences he would be up against might make last season seem a lot easier in comparison.  We won't find out, as he will not be ready to return to action against Spurs on Saturday.  Also out is James Morrison, who had a good grounding at Middlesbrough, making the move to the Hawthorns and showing some good form this season.  Joining him on the sidelines is Abdoulaye Meite, a strong defender, but one who can be beaten on the ground, as was seen when he played at Bolton Wanderers.  Leon Barnet, another strapping central defender, might be missing, leaving Jonas Olsson and Shelton Martis in the middle.  This could play into the hands of Roman Pavlyuchenko, as they might not have come across a player like him before and with Jermaine Defoe ready to return to action, his ability to shift the ball and get a shot off quickly could make it a busy afternoon for them and Carson. 

Zuiverloon has had some good reviews about his performances at right back, but he looks a little rash in the tackle and likes to get forward, which, with Tottenham's players might leave WBA open to counter attack.  Chris Brunt might get to stay in the Premiership one way or another, as the Northern Ireland midfielder has done well this season and his hard work and powerful shooting has marked him out as one of Albion's danger men.  Jonathan Greening has had an in and out season and might be getting to the point where his better days are behind him, while Jay Simpson might have a future in the game, but it is unlikely to be at Arsenal, where he is on loan from.  A strong runner with the ball and a reasonable finisher, he has looked good at the Baggies, but not anything special to displace the forwards already at Highbury. 

Ryan Donk is a Dutch defender who is a tough cookie and Robert Koren's technical ability on the ball from open play and free-kicks is very good.  His effort in playing for the team is slightly more in question and so it is strange that Spurs have been linked with a move for him in the summer.   That only leaves Marc-Antoine Fortune, who I don't know too much about, but he has been getting into the box and has scored a couple of goals.

There is a big reliance on West Bromwich Albion to win to keep their survival bid alive and that might help heap pressure on them to make their play more disjointed than they would usually like to have it.  Spurs could capitalise and with Aaron Lennon always a potent weapon, the movement of the players and the ball might tie Albion up enough to stop them playing their own game.

I take Spurs to erase the memory of last week's farce ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    West Bromwich Albion  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Darren Bent (knee); Michael Dawson (ankle ban); - (-); 

WEST BROMWICH ALBION :  -  Neil Clement (knee); Abdoulaye Meite (hamstring); Ishmael Miller (knee); James Morrison (ankle); Leon Barnett (knee); - (-); 


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Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.30 - 23.50 (highlights)   [repeated at 07:40 Sunday]  Also available online.
Goals on Sunday (Sky Sports 1) - Sunday 11.00
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)  Also available online.
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Radio :  
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 (live coverage)
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If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
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North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :
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BBC London - http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2005/10/12/live_commentaries_feature.shtml
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Tottenham Hotspur   1    West Bromwich Albion   0      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 2nd May 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,836
Referee :  Rob Styles (Waterlooville)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Bright ,dry, sunny, very warm
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
39  Woodgate
26  King
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon
12 Palacios
  8  Jenas 
14 Modric

  9  Pavlyuchenko (25  Defoe 65)
15 Keane (c)

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini
  2  Hutton
  3  Bale
  4  Zokora
  5  Bentley
  6  Huddlestone 

West Bromwich Albion :

19  Carson

22  Zuiverloon
24  Martis
26  Olsson
  3  Robinson (29  Simpson 58)

  7  Koren
  8  Greening
11  Brunt
31  Mulumbu      (21  Menseguez 68)2

28  Borja Valero (20  Filipe Teixeira 77)

32  Fortune

Unused subs: 
  9  Bednar
14  Kim
30  Donk

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur

  West Bromwich Albion
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Jenas 43

West Bromwich Albion


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Palacios (foul) 76   


West Bromwich Albion

Malumbu (persistent fouling) 59   


Match Report : -  
West Bromwich Albion's play belied their lowly position, but went some way to explaining how they are where they are.  Jermaine Jenas' single goal settled the match, but there could have been lots more goals each way, with Spurs failing to kill the game off and Albion not taking the chances that came there way, although they suffered a lack of luck in the process.

With a chance missed at one end and a minute later the ball ending up in the Albion net, it showed how they might end up back in the Championship just one season after gaining promotion to the Premier League.

Within the first minute, Robbie Keane tried a shot on goal, but failed to get a decent hit on the ball after Corluka had played him in and it was to be a game of chances at both ends, which was typified in the next attack when Albion broke on the right and Fortune could not turn his near post effort on target.  With a fifth minute free-kick awarded to Spurs coming after Modric had been the victim of a second heavy tackle by Mulumbu and Martis, the ball was teed up almost in the middle of goal, but Roman Pavlyuchenko struck it and it went about a yard and a half wide.

Spurs had the better of the first 15 minutes, with Modric influential on the left, but the closest Tottenham came to a goal was when the Croatian dinked in a cross from the left wing and with no Spurs player in the vicinity, Greening nodded out for a corner with Carson wanting to claim the ball behind him and a slightly lesser contact with the ball might have resulted in it ending up in the net.  Unfortunately, the corner was not a good one and was cleared.  Lennon got the ball infield and released Corluka in the box, but his nervousness in these positions lets him down and the failure to shoot or cross lead to the WBA defence getting the ball off him.

Chris Brunt lined up a shot, but Ledley King got in the way, but from a subsequent corner, the Northern Ireland international put in a corner into the six yard box, where Olsson rose and headed towards the far post.  Gomes reacted well and dived to push the ball wide, with no Spurs player on the far post and the score remained 0-0 in the 22nd minute.  Once more, play switched ends and Jermaine Jenas cut in from the left wing and put in a low cross-shot which looked comfortable for Carson, but he let it slip out of his grasp, allowing Pav to have a shot, but he was not fully alive to the situation and the ball came out to Aaron Lennon, who put his shot wide of the goal.

Back to the Spurs end, where Marc-Antoine Fortune hit the deck, as Benoit Assou-Ekotto challenged and the Baggies fans in that corner of the ground howled for a penalty.  After last week, perhaps we should have expected the worst, but unlike Howard Webb, referee Rob Styles was on the sort of mood to give nothing today, although the advantages he played were good in keeping the play going.  Modric turned his man expertly on the halfway line and put Pavlyuchenko away down the left in the 33rd minute, but with help arriving in the middle, he decided to have a shot from a difficult angle and the ball went well wide.  The Russian striker had another go at goal a minute later, when Lennon pulled the ball back to him and his shot was closer this time, but still off target.

While Albion passed the ball well and some of their one touch play was very good, they lacked a penetrative passer, who could open up the Spurs defence.  It happened only rarely and some of their chances arose from set-pieces, but lacking a seemingly natural goalscorer, they could not break through.

Lennon had moved to the left early on in proceedings to see if he could get any joy there, but back on the right, he was finding room, but wanted to come inside a lot of the time and got crowded out.  Tottenham also seemed to want to over-elaborate around the box rather than getting shots in on the unreliable Carson in goal.  When Lennon did get the ball back low across goal, it was behind Modric, but would have fallen to Robbie Keane, had he not taken an air shot at the ball.  Aaron came closest for Spurs, with Pavlyuchenko taking defenders away from the winger with his run, allowing him to hit a shot that might have crept in had Olsson not got something on it to take it our for a corner.  Following that corner, the ball dropped for Lennon, who hit a fine low shot, but Carson made a good diving save to push it well away from goal in the 40th minute.

This was followed almost immediately by West Brom's best opportunity.  Zuiverloon made a break on the right and while Assou-Ekotto's tackle held him up and knocked him over, he was up quickly to cross to the far post, where Fortune struck a fierce volley, but it was too high and if it had been on target, Gomes might have been behind it as it was struck fairly central on goal.  When you are down the bottom, things always seem to go against you and for Albion this must have seemed to be the case when Spurs scored a couple of minutes later.  A good passing sequence found Corluka on the right, with his pass to Jenas just outside the D on the edge of the Albion area.  There were a number of players in front of him, but he moved the ball onto his right foot and curled the ball into the bottom left hand corner of Carson's goal beyond the keeper's dive in the 43rd minute.  Perhaps Carson was unsighted by Styles who was in line with Jenas, but it was a precise shot that he probably wouldn't have got to anyway.

1-0 to the Tottenham.

The only other chance of the half came in added time, when Palacios hit a free-kick that the defence blocked out for a corner and Spurs went into the dressing room with their noses just in front.

Albion had to come forward to get something from the game and at the start of the half, Greening's diagonal pass set Fortune away on the left and as he cut in he let go a low shot that Gomes held securely.  Heurelho was a little luckier in the 51st minute, when Fortune got away when a ball was played over Woodgate and took the ball slightly left of central in the box and shot.  The ball flicked off Corluka as he slid in to tackle and the ball went past Gomes, but luckily for Spurs, it bounced out off the post and across the face of goal with no yellow shirt to put it into the net.

Five minutes later, Lennon was put away as Robinson took Keane down from behind as he laid the ball off to the little winger.  Running at speed, Aaron took on his man and put in a low shot that Carson was well behind, although a couple of minutes later, the keeper was helpless as Lennon's low cross cut him out and just evaded Keane's stretch inside the six yard box.

Albion took off Paul Robinson and brought on Simpson up front but the loan Gooner failed to make much of an impact.  the ball almost fell for Assou-Ekotto to get his first goal for Spurs, as the ball was agonisingly passed endlessly around the edge of the area, but the Cameroon international's shot was kept out by the defence. 

Harry decided to make a change and to introduce Jermain Defoe, but rather than the disappointing Keane, it was Pavlyuchenko who made way, explained afterwards as a lack of training, which swayed Redknapp's decision. 

Another Lennon run on the right ended with him crossing and shouts from the crowd for a penalty as Zuiverloon's arm was struck, but Styles wanted an easy day and waved play on.  in the 69th minute, Albion had a corner and Martis rose unmarked at the far post, but could not get over his header and it sailed too high.  However, the next corner in the 71st minute almost brought a goal for Albion, with it being met at the far post again by Martis and this time he got it on target.  Luckily for Spurs, Jermain Defoe was stationed on the post and got his body in the way and as it spun up, Gomes reacted well to knock the ball away from the goal.  It was an inspired substitution by Harry after all !!

As the game went on, Spurs soaked up the WBA pressure and hit on the break, but Modric was tiring and his passing was not as accurate as usual, leading to good opportunities being wasted.  One break soon after Defoe's goal-line heroics saw him bursting through the middle with Modric on the left, but the midfielder's pass was easily picked off as it lacked sufficient weight to beat the last Albion defender.

With ten minutes left, Gomes pulled out a save that was top class.  Played in on the right side of the area, Robert Koren hit a shot that looked to be going into the bottom right hand corner until Ledley King challenged and it popped up and suddenly bounced up off the ground and was heading into the top corner.  Gomes was off his line and changed direction, throwing a hand up to knock the ball away to be cleared away by Corluka.

Spurs settled and began passing the ball better, but Keane and Modric wasted good situations, with Luka also hitting a shot a few yards wide across the goal in the last minute of normal time.  Things were still a bit nervy, as a second goal would have wrapped up the game, but going into added time, you felt one bit of fortune could have got Albion something from the game.

As it was, the fortune did favour WBA, but it was at their end, as Lennon was given the opportunity to shoot at goal and his bobbling effort went past Carson, but hit the upright and went across goal and was kicked upfield.  Shortly after, Jenas made a good run from halfway on the left and as he cut infield, with Keane making a run into the edge of the box, he hit another curler that looked like it might creep inside the far post until Carson's full length dive touched the ball wide for a corner.  Nothing came from it, but West Brom pushed forward and got one of their own and Carson came up for it, with the clock running down.  The ball was heading for the keeper's noggin and a possible legendary equaliser, but luck intervened once more, with Olsson taking it off the goalie's head and the ball sailed harmlessly out for a goal kick.  And that was it, as Styles blew the final whistle.

West Bromwich Albion are far and away not the worst team that I have seen at the Lane this season and I wish them well for next season, even if they are still in the Premier League.  Tony Mowbray is sticking with his beliefs about the way the game should be played and I hope that Albion stick with him.  And their fans were noisy and good-humoured considering their current position and I would welcome them back to the Lane any time.



Reaction : -



Our fourth consecutive 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane puts us on 47 points and
makes some interesting facts and figures -

6 wins from our last 8 Premier League games
18 out 24 points
Our sixth consecutive game at White Hart Lane without conceding a goal
Only 2 goals conceded in our last 10 home matches (900mins of football)
22 points from our last 10 games

When you think we had two points from our opening eight games and now 47 points from 35 games and are still chasing a Europa League place, we ain't done bad.  I just wish we could kill games off, because, as Cloughie once said, "it only takes a second to score a goal" and whilst happy to be winning 1-0 as we approach 90 minutes you always fear the worst with Spurs .

No wonder I have no finger nails.



No wonder Tottenham looked tired today.

I think it is outrageous that Spurs should have had to kick off at 3 o'clock on Saturday after having a game scheduled for a 5.30 kick off last week. 








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



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 34 25 5 4 63 23 80 +40
2 Liverpool 35 22 11 2 69 26 77 +43
3 Chelsea 35 22 8 5 59 21 74 +38
4 Arsenal 35 19 11 5 63 33 68 +30
5 Aston Villa 35 16 10 9 51 44 58 +7
6 Everton 35 15 11 9 50 36 56 +14
7 West Ham United 35 13 9 13 39 38 48 +1
8 Manchester City 35 14 5 16 56 46 47 +10
9 Fulham 35 12 11 12 35 30 47 +4
10 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 35 13 8 14 42 41 47 +1
11 Wigan Athletic 34 11 9 14 31 38 42 -7
12 Bolton Wanderers 35 11 6 18 40 51 39 -11
13 Stoke City 35 10 9 16 33 50 39 -17
14 Portsmouth 35 9 11 15 35 53 38 -18
15 Blackburn Rovers 35 9 10 16 38 58 37 -20
16 Sunderland 35 9 8 18 31 48 35 -17
17 Hull City 35 8 10 17 37 60 34 -23
18 Newcastle United 35 6 13 16 37 56 31 -19
19 Middlesbrough 35 7 10 18 25 51 31 -26
20 West Bromwich Albion 35 7 7 21 33 64 28 -31


Position before the match :  10th
Position after the match :  10th
Position after the weekend :  10th

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