Saturday 4th October 2003
visit of Everton, Spurs will be able to judge exactly where they are
going this season. The Toffees are a side who work hard for each
other and have players how, although not top names in the Premiership,
can do a job in their given position and are led by an energetic and
enthusiastic manager in David Moyes. It is such a side that has
won the last two games at White Hart Lane ... and on each occasion, it
has been the visitors.
From the back to the front, there are willing workers who might put in enough effort to unsettle the Spurs side, still seeking a confidence boosting win.
At the very end of the pitch, there is Richard Wright, who has had dodgy matches against Spurs, but will probably miss out after having knee surgery, to be replaced by Nigel Martyn, taken from Leeds United on the cheap. Martyn was widely regarded as Seaman's number two in the England set-up, but rarely made much of the opportunities he got in goal for his country. A good shot stopper, he struggles with aerial balls and with a tall presence at set-pieces, hopefully, Spurs can finally make something of this advantage. Third choice Steve Simonsen is also still out with a thigh injury and behind him, Paul Gerrard is out on loan in the First Division. Perhaps Tottenham's best hope would be to nobble the keeper and then Everton will have to rely on a youth-teamer as their substitute goalie !!
The back-line might not inspire, but again, they stick their foot in when needed and cover for each other. They are blessed with a surfeit of central defenders, who will be up against in-form Kanoute. Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth, Yobo and Pistone can all play there, but with Naysmith and youngster Tony Hibbert vying for one of the full back slots, there will be a battle royal for the other three defensive berths. Stubbs is the one player who hasn't played consistently well against Spurs, while the others all tend to shine.
Swede Niclas Alexandersson is out on loan at West Ham United, while Scott Gemmill misses the match after suffering a thigh injury and this will leave the way clear to play a hard-tackling midfield, who Spurs will have to close down early to stop anything starting there. Steve Watson stole the headlines against Leeds United last week with a hat-trick and he is a powerful attacking force, but perhaps lacks the legs to get back from his forward runs these days. Li Tie, the Chinese international, is a fluent runner and an join in the attack quickly, while he has developed some defensive nous since his arrival in Merseyside last summer. The grit in the midfield is the domain of Thomas Gravesen and Lee Carsley, who could be twins !! Both are hard-running and determined in the tackle, with the propensity to get forward and snatch a goal, so our midfield will have to keep an eye on them and track back with them. They also share a quick temper and may be on the receiving end of the refs cards at some stage. Back from a loan spell at Monaco, but in limbo at the moment, is Alex Nyarko, who might provide a classy midfielder if he felt wanted and wanted to play. Swede Thomas Linderoth, I am not too clued up on, but I seem to remember him being quite non-descript when I have seen him play, a midfielder who is there or thereabouts, but never seemingly in the thick of the action.
Moyes has a few options up front with a choice of Radzinski, Ferguson, Campbell, Rooney and Gooner Jeffers. Campbell is not likely to feature, but Big Dunc will give our defence nightmares ... or would have when S.Cumball was there. Now, Deano might relish an old fashioned centre-forward battle. Ferguson's renaissance has been a surprise to all, as he hadn't scored for two years and then burst back on the scene against his old side, Newcastle United. If Jeffers plays, bet on him scoring (Sod's Law), although Radzinski is a nippy striker who will need close attention. Rooney has reserved his goalscoring for Arsenal up until now and long may that continue when Everton come to North London. He's had a good run with England, but in the Premiership, Moyes has held him back a bit this season and he needs a goal or two to gee him up a bit.
Spurs might have Ziege back and it will be fascinating to see how Pleat plays at home after the 4-4-2 away at Manchester City last week. He could have a few more players available and that could affect his selection, so maybe he will play a more attacking side against the 4-4-2 that the visitors are likely to adopt.
While I am being hopeful in my prediction, I would settle for a 1-1 draw if necessary !!
PREDICTION : - Tottenham 2 Everton 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 so far this season ?
Who do you think
your best player is at the moment ?
isn't playing as well in recent games ?
Any exciting new
names in the squad that we should look out for ?
What is the
line-up expected to be ?
What do you your
fans think of Tottenham ?
player do you like ?
What do you reckon the
score will be ?
Tottenham Hotspur - Christian Ziege (thigh), Kazuyuki Toda (calf), Ledley King (hamstring), Jamie Redknapp (knee), Simon Davies (hip)
Everton - Steve Simonsen (thigh), Richard Wright (knee), Scott Gemmill (thigh), Alessandro Pistone (hernia)
TV : Highlights on "The Premiership" - Saturday night
Radio : TalkSport 1089 Medium Wave - Live coverage in the London area.
Internet : www.spurs.co.uk Live webcast
|Tottenham 3 Everton 0 (Half-time score : 1-0)|
|Saturday 4th October 2003|
|Venue : - White Hart Lane|
|Kick Off : - 15.00 p.m.|
|Weather : - Showery, overcast|
|Referee : - Dermot Gallagher (Banbury)|
|Crowd : - 36,137|
|Teams : -
Tottenham : - Keller, Carr, Taricco (Dalmat 73), Gardner, Richards, Ricketts, Anderton, Poyet, Konchesky, Kanoute (Postiga 78), Keane
Unused Subs : - Burch, Bunjevcevic, Zamora
: - Martyn, Watson, Stubbs (Weir 34), Unsworth, Radzinski
(Rooney 55), Ferguson, Gravesen, Carsley, Yobo, McFadden (Kilbane 55),
|Colours : - (kits
courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
|Scorers : -
Tottenham - Kanoute 43, Poyet 46, Keane 49
Everton - None
|Cards : -
Tottenham - Gardner (foul) 18, Konchesky (foul) 61
Everton - Hibbert (foul) 69, Rooney (dissent) 86
Prior to this match, David Pleat had managed
Spurs to two wins and two clean sheets, but with a record over Everton
almost as good as Chelsea's against Tottenham, fortune might have
favoured the Merseyside Blues. However, it took a wonder-strike to
break the resolve of the Toffees and two quick goal after the break
sealed Tottenham's three points.
Fielding the 4-4-2 system that he has adopted, Pleat put out a side that had a solid base with a bit of flair too. Konchesky's inclusion was to add balance to the team, as Pleaty loves a left footer and I reckon that if he is allowed the money, he would buy him to play on that side of the pitch. He offers the ability to play in defence and in midfield too, so Dalmat or Taricco could play ahead or behind him.
The defensive unit provided a sound springboard for Tottenham to play from today. They held firm against Ferguson and Radzinski, with Deano having a fine game against the tall Scotsman, while Gardner tidied up anything that went to Canadian's way. The full-backs even got forward, with Taricco being the first to try and hit the target, but his effort flew wide from about 20 yards out. Still that was closer than Gus' shot that went about 20 yards wide from the same distance !!
There was a worry for Tottenham about 15 minutes in, when Anthony Gardner slipped and Radzinski was nearly through on the edge of the box, but in getting up, Ant knocked him over, conceding a free-kick and getting a yellow card for his troubles. Luckily, the free-kick from Ferguson rebounded off Ricketts' rump and went away for a corner. But Everton had threatened, with Watson, last week's hat-trick hero, heading narrowly over the top and then their rhythm was upset when Stubbs had to make way for Weir after pulling something in his leg. Almost the first thing that Weir did was seem to push Poyet in the back as he went for a header in the area, but Dermot Gallagher waved play on.
It didn't prevent Spurs from pushing on and Keano nut-megged Yobo on the edge of the box and tried to steer the ball past Martyn, but the keeper got a hand to it. Kanoute seized on the loose ball, played it back in, over Konchesky, but Keano had got up and smashed a half volley way over at the far post. But again, Everton moved upfield and earned a corner, from which Yobo had a free header and, like Sinclair last week at Man. City, he failed to make Keller work by heading it way wide.
That proved to be the turning point of the match, as out of nothing, Tottenham went ahead. Keller cleared up the pitch, Fredi headed on, Gus nodded it back into his path and from what must have been about 35 yards, he hit a shot that everyone assumed was going to clear the bar. In fact, it dipped and swerved, leaving Martyn grabbing air as it flew into the top corner. It was one of those goals that leaves the crowd stunned and it was a few seconds before the cheers rang out to celebrate the strike as a goal.
This provided Tottenham with the impetus to go for more goals and the ball was worked from right to left, where Treacle knocked in a far post cross that was met by Poyet's head. It was about two feet inside the post, but Nigel Martyn threw himself to his left to palm it around the post with a very agile save.
However, a minute later (even thought it was about seventeen minutes later as half-time came in between) Poyet was not to be denied, when he stooped to head in a glancing header from Anderton's cross that flew across the keeper and into the net. It was just the start to the second half that Spurs needed and gave them the buffer of a two-goal lead they could grow in confidence from.
They need not have worried too much, as Robbie Keane latched onto some good work from Anderton and Kanoute, to run at the Toffees defence. He got the luck of the bounce, in what seemed like an eternity as he got into the box and swept the ball across Martyn for the third goal, just two minutes after Gus'. The two goals coming so close together really knocked any hope out of the visiting side and laid the way for Tottenham to confidently stroke the ball about to the "olÚs" of the crowd. IT was a bit worrying, as there was barely an hour gone and such piss-taking from the crowd riles the opposition, sometimes resulting in jury to a player as one of the opposition gets so wound up they fly into a tackle. When Wayne Rooney finally came off the bench, he slid into a couple of tackles that were "ill-timed" and finally got his name in the book for slagging the ref after missing out on a corner that was given as a goal-kick. It looked for a while that he might see red, as he continued his diatribe against Mr. Gallagher.
But Everton did try to get back into the game, with a McFadden volley easily saved by Keller, a Weir volley wide and Steve Watson's last minute shot when allowed space in the box that went way over the top. They were all in vain and Spurs could have added to their tally with Carr firing a shot straight into the midriff of Martyn after a good move down the right and Ricketts hurriedly volleying over when alone in the penalty area.
The abiding memory towards the end of the match was a diving block made by Richards as Carsley fired in a shot. Two weeks ago, it might have gone in. Today it didn't and that is the fine line between success and failure. Between having a job as Spurs manager and not. Between confidence and depression. Between a slump and a recovery.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ANTHONY GARDNER
|Are you the same team (I used to know) ?|
|Two weeks on and we go from losing
to a non-entity of a team to beating the 4-0 vanquishers of Leeds the
week before. How can a team change so much in such a short time
? We all know about the way teams suddenly pick up after a new
manager comes in, but three clean sheets on the trot and two wins and a
draw in successive games !! It's some sort of resurrection.
From the moment that a loose ball was met with an Everton boot and one from Gus Poyet and it rebounded up into Lee Carsley's face to lay him out, you had the feeling that it was going to be a good day. The Spurs side looked happy with the Pleat formation and passed the ball around with some flair, even though the first half was a little disjointed. Everton left Looney Rooney on the bench and played with Big Dunc upfront and he played into Deano's hands, while Radzinski tried to nip in and around Gardner and Taricco, mainly by falling over when he got near them.
It took a goal-seeking missile to break the deadlock and it made a bee-line for the top corner of Martyn's net, which left the keeper helpless and the crowd breathless. It was a great time to score, just a few minutes before the break, but if Gus had made it 2-0, it would have been even better. Martyn managed to get a hand to the ball and divert it for a corner, which was headed over by a combination of Richards and Kanoute. But Poyet did manage to get in front of Gravesen to get a better contact on the ball when Anderton swung a cross in from the right and the ball sped past the goalie and into the net. It was only 38 seconds after the restart and resulted from an appalling square ball from the Toffee's Danish midfielder, who didn't even look where his team-mate was before playing the ball behind him and off for the throw-in that lead to the goal.
When Robbie Keane caused panic in the Everton defence with a direct run straight at them two minutes later, it was all over. Unsworth swung at the ball, connected, but failed to clear the attack. The ball bounced kindly for Keano, who steered it to Nigel Martyn's right, but this time out of his grasp (unlike the one in the first half). His cartwheel announced he and Spurs were back.
The team were confident to play keep-ball, which annoyed Rooney, when he did come on, enough to get booked for abusing the referee and also nearly taking out Dalmat with his studs up. Luckily, Stephane saw it coming. Ricketts had a great chance when alone in the box, but hurriedly took the volley and put it over the angle, while Everton did manage a couple of shots, but neither drew Keller into the game.
It was a good win and a good performance. The news on ITV that it was our first home clean sheet since November 2002 was a shocker and I can't remember the last time we had three clean sheets on the trot. But the performances of Ricketts and Kanoute in tandem with Keane, supported by a decent second half from Dazza meant that the team ticked over like a finely tuned engine. Let's hope that nothing happens to that precision during international week !!
|See Smiler's reaction to the match, by clicking here.|
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Aston Villa||1||Bolton Wanderers||1||Sunday|
|Leeds United||2||Blackburn Rovers||1||Saturday|
|Manchester United||3||Birmingham City||1||Saturday|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||1||Manchester City||0||Saturday|
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