Looking Forward

 

Blackburn Rovers  (Away)

Premier League

Saturday 4th December 2004

It is disturbing how teams below Spurs always seem capable of picking up points from draws, while our record seems to consist of a win or loss and no middle ground.  Like last season, a few losses turned into draws could have seen us a few places higher.  But then that wouldn't be Spurs would it ??

Blackburn come on the back of a 2-0 away win at Fulham, while Spurs similarly won at home to Boro, so the recent form looks fairly even, but our long run of defeats was not matched by Rovers, who drew the odd match in their run even though they hadn't won.  The battling characteristics of some of the teams down the bottom of the table could be something that Spurs need to examine to ensure that they reap the points they need to pick up their climb up the league.

Brad Freidel will most likely be between the posts and his form has not been as good as in recent seasons, but his performances against Spurs have often been the difference between the two sides.  The defence in front of him has contributed to a lot of goals going in this season and Lucas Neill has been as solid full back, but he can sometimes be rash in the tackle, so a nippy player could get past him should he dive in.  Andy Todd has been given a chance to resurrect his career after a bust-up at the Valley and a tough tackler, he can be a bit slow on the turn, so Defoe might play on his shoulder and given the right service might capitalise on the weakness.  Craig Short adds height to the back line, as does Nils-Eric Johansson, but both have momentary lapses both in and out of possession and the Spurs players need to pressure them as much as they can to make the most of their mistakes.

The midfield contains Stephen Reid, who is just emerging form an injury nightmare since his move to Blackburn, while Tugay looked set to leave until Souness moved on himself.  Another injury victim has been Barry Ferguson, who suffered a broken knee and is again finding his feet in the Premiership.  He is a terrier in midfield and has attracted a lot of attention from other clubs, such as Liverpool and Newcastle.  Brett Emerton has settled into the English game after his move from Feyenoord and has been linked with a move to Tottenham among others, as he starts to show why he was so sought after when he moved to Ewood Park.  A tricky winger, he will need to be shackled to prevent him setting up opportunities for the forwards.

And they are the two Pauls - Dickov and Gallagher.  One an ex-Gooner and a real nuisance, while the other is a youngster with a n ability to finish with a calm assurance.  They will be under pressure from Jon Stead and Jay Bothroyd (another former Gooner) on the bench, but they will hassle the life out of the Tottenham back four, so they will need to keep their concentration going for the full 90 minutes. 

With Reto Ziegler offering an outlet on the left and with Defoe in such good scoring form, I would think Spurs will get on the scoresheet against the division's biggest conceder of goals.  However, conversely, Spurs need to be tight at the back to ensure that they do not give points away too easily.  A bit more focus than on Wednesday might not go amiss, with the aim of taking our game to Blackburn and not being a sitting target for them to pinch the spoils.

With both side needing points, I believe they will both get them ...

PREDICTION : -   Blackburn Rovers  1   Tottenham Hotspur  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 Rovers have played this season ?

Things have started to come together over the last few games.  We look positive and have certainly tightened up at the back.  It was important to get a win after 4 draws and to be honest the way we played against Fulham could have seen a number of goals for us.  I think we have been playing OK for the last 5 or 6 games, we have shown a lot of character and fight to get back into games.

Why the poor start ?

Fitness seemed to be an issue, we looked very lethargic in games.  I think another major factor in us being at the wrong end of the table was the fact that within the first 11 games we had played Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool and Newcastle.  The fixture list certainly wasn't kind to us.  Not sure why we started so badly, I think we were probably counting on Jon Stead to get us 15 to 20 goals and when those goals didn't come we started losing games by the odd goal.  I don't think Souness helped us a great deal by allowing Cole to leave on a free transfer.

What is the view of Rovers fans on the new manager ?

He was definitely the first choice for the majority of Rovers fans.  After about 4 or 5 weeks a number of these had changed their minds (Rovers fans can be very fickle) but now he seems to be the golden child again. He seems to have changed a number of aspects in training and the team are starting to reap the rewards. We are looking a lot fitter towards the end of games and we are finishing strongly.

What is the view of Rovers fans on the old manager ?

Souness did some great things with Rovers, he won us promotion, a Worthington Cup final (which was a very pleasant day out for Rovers fans) and led us to 6th place in the league.  The problem was that once he had built a quality team he decided to dismantle it. Dunn was sold due to a number of fall outs with Souness, Duff left to Chelsea, and finally Cole was allowed to leave on a free to Fulham.  When Fat Freddy finally came in and paid compensation to take Souness I believe a number of fans felt a little relief that he was finally going. The way things had been going he would have been sacked within three games anyway.  I'll be interested to see what sort of welcome he gets on Boxing Day.

Who do you think is your best player at the moment ?

Dickov is playing well, he must be the most annoying player in the world to play against.  He doesn't give defenders a minutes rest throughout the game.  Young Gally was scored 2 in 2 games so should keep his starting spot on the weekend, he looks like he could become a very good player.  I suppose the one player who seems to look real quality at the moment is Emerton.  He looked lost most of last season but under Hughes his confidence seems to be a lot better and he is finally looking like the player everybody wanted last year.

Which one isn't playing as well in recent games ?

To be honest everybody looked good against Fulham. There have been questions raised about the back 4 and Lucas Neill had been poor for a few games. He certainly looked better last week anyway.

What has happened to Jonathan Stead, who was a revelation last season ?

Jon Stead needs a goal.  He is making the same runs as last season and he just needs one to go in off his backside or anything.  Unfortunately I feel he may find himself some way down the pecking order when he gets over his injury.  Bothroyd looked good until his moment of madness at Norwich and Gally has also looked good in the last 2 games.  Hopefully Steadinho will get his chance and we will see the player everybody was raving about last year.

Any exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for ?

If you ask our Norwegian contingent I'm sure they would tell you all about Morten Gamst Pederson (several times over!!!).  He has yet to impress in a Rovers shirt, although to be honest he hasn't been given much of a chance.  I suppose Steven Reid seems like a new face as it is only now we are seeing his real quality after a number of injuries.

I thought the treatment of Tony Parkes was shameful after all the service had given the club.  How have the fans taken his departure ?

The fans were very upset about Tony's treatment.  I have been assured by John Williams that there will be a testimonial for Tony and also that Tony has no bad feelings towards the club.  I think the fans could understand why Hughes wanted to bring in his own man, we are supposed to have a fantastic academy and at present these young players aren't making their way through the reserves and into the first team.  Glyn Hodges has been bought in to try to improve this.  The club should have handled the matter far better, letting Tony find out he had been sacked by hearing it through the media was just not good enough.

What is the Rovers line-up expected to be ?

Friedel, Neill, Todd, Short, Johansson, Reid, Tugay, Ferguson, Emerton, Dickov, Gallagher

Which Spurs player do you think will cause you most problems ?

Defoe, Defoe and Defoe!!!!  I think our back 4 will really struggle against his pace. We are not the quickest team in the world and have struggled against pacy strikers all season.

What do you reckon the score will be ? 

I would go for an entertaining 2-2

Thanks to
  Ricky Clarke 

http://
www.brfcs.com

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

BLACKBURN ROVERS :  Vratislav Gresko (knee ligament); Matt Jansen (knee); Jonathan Stead (knee); Lorenzo Amouroso (heel); Youri Djorkaeff (-)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Sean Davis  (knee); Goran Bunjevcevic (shin); Erik Edman (ankle)

Coverage

TV :   
Live on Sky Sports 2

Radio :   
BBC Radio London 94.9 FM (London area only)

Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
Planet football - http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs_match_new.ram (free - only available when match is on)

 

 

Blackburn Rovers   0    Tottenham Hotspur   1      (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League Venue :   Ewood Park
Saturday 4th December 2004 Kick Off :  17.15 p.m.
Crowd :   22,182 Referee :   M. Dean (Wirral)
Weather :  Dry, cold
Teams : - 
Blackburn Rovers : 

Friedel

Neill
Short (Matteo 86)
Johansson
Todd

Emerton
Tugay (Thompson 66)
Ferguson
Reid

Dickov
Gallagher (Bothroyd 58)

Unused subs: 
Enckleman
Flitcroft

Tottenham Hotspur :   

Robinson

Kelly
Naybet
King (c)
Atouba

Ziegler (Redknapp 74)
Carrick
Mendes
Brown

Defoe (Kanoute 89)
Keane (Gardner 78)

Unused subs: 
Fulop
Pamarot.

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

Tottenham Hotspur 

Cards : -  
Blackburn Rovers

   

Dickov (persistent fouling)  30
Tugay (foul) 53
David Thompson (deliberate handball) 83

     

Tottenham Hotspur  

   

Naybet  (kicking ball away)  90


     

Match Report : -  
There are things in football that sometimes surprise you.  Spurs going away from home and pulling out a win from a performance of hard work and grit is one such surprise, but that is what they did at Ewood Park.

It was a game that will not live long in the memory of the purist, but the way Spurs handled it does give some hope for the future ... even if it is winning games against teams lower than us in the table; something of a Tottenham failing in the past.

The chances were few and far between in the first period, as Rovers lacked the confidence to penetrate too far towards the Tottenham goal, while Spurs were having trouble getting the passing game going.  When they did, they opened up the Blackburn defence, but failed to get telling shots on target.

Some of the expected nastiness from Dickov appeared when he made a needless tackle on King as the ball was off the pitch.  The only surprise was the ref failed to caution the former Arsenal striker and reserved that for a foul on Naybet when, again, he could not get the ball.  His constant niggling is something that you would really like to see eradicated from the game, so when he started having a go at Thimothee Atouba, the defender thought it would be a good ides to kick him while he lay on the floor.  The Cameroonian was lucky to escape it being seen by any of the officials, but might not be so lucky as the TV cameras caught it clearly.

Tottenham's best chance came when Keane set Defoe in and he ran past Todd, who pulled his shirt, but the Spurs striker kept going and hit a low shot that Friedel got a foot to, diverting it up in the air and just over the top.  Ironically, if Defoe had gone down, it may have resulted in Todd being sent off, having had Blackburn's best opportunity from a volley and leaving Spurs with a penalty, which might not have been the best thing after Wednesday.

The half time team talk Mark Hughes gave must have been more dynamic than Martin Jol's as Rovers had their one decent strike on goal almost straight from the kick off.  Dickov played the ball in from the left wing and Paul Gallagher took the ball with his back to goal and turned sharply to hit a shot that Robbo had to thrown himself sideways to save at his post.

When Atouba gets his throw-ins right, they do go a long way.  One was headed out but only to the boot of Pedro Mendes, who struck a low volley that was saved by the Rovers goalie comfortably.  In the 56th minute, a move from one end of the pitch to the other gave Spurs the lead.  Michael Brown took the ball off a Rovers midfielder as they tried to build an attack, then he ran away from Tugay, who tried, but failed to foul him.  From the right wing, he ran diagonally across the pitch to the left hand corner of the area and when confronted with Todd, pulled back and square passed the ball into the path fo the on-running Robbie Keane to smack it past the goalie who was on the floor.  It was a really good run, considering Brown is not known for his pace, but he kept his body between the ball and the opponent and the only way they could have got to it was to foul him, so it was good thinking as well by the midfielder.

It was expected that Rovers would give it the kitchen sink to get an equaliser, but it didn't seem to happen.  Some long range efforts wide and high and a ball headed into the six yard box that Naybet had to dispatch before someone in a blue and white halved shirt got there were all that Rovers had to offer.  Spurs could have extended the lead, as Defoe forced Friedel into another save with a low drilled effort from outside the box in the 62nd minute.

But with Tottenham being Tottenham, they have to make it exciting at the end by giving away a free kick on the edge of the box.  And not content with that Naybet helps them have a better go, by kicking the ball away to move it ten yards closer.  As it happened, it might not have been a bad thing, as the ball was smashed into the wall and cleared just before the final whistle went.

That signalled a good away win and all the side have to do is stop booting the ball anywhere when they are under pressure and try to hold it a bit more, then we might see some improvement in the long term.  A trip to Man. City will not be easy, but the determination shown hints that the team, and the Head Coach, might be realising that there is more to just turning up to get a result.

 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL BROWN

East Stan

 

DOWN ROVERS

 

Just how Spurs managed to hold on against a frankly poor Blackburn side for the three points is a question we will all ask for the next few days.  The attitude of trying to protect what we already had is understood, but did the remaining eleven players in yellow shirts on the pitch have to make it such an abject last fifteen minutes, surrendering possession in a way that an amateur team might be embarrassed by.

The panic in booting the ball anywhere was inherent in the side and led to a long series of Blackburn attacks, which, luckily for Spurs, were as powerful as a powder puff.  Even the award of a free-kick on the edge of our box with a minute left was helped along by a stupid act by Naybet in kicking the ball away, thus earning a yellow card and moving the kick ten yards nearer the goal.  It was a dangerous decision by Naybet and one that might have cost us against a better team.

But the rest of the game showed Spurs are not yet in a position to take games by the scruff of the neck and dominate.  Letting Blackburn have 75% of the possession towards the end was playing a dangerous game and thanks to some stout defending by Naybet and Kelly, along with some safe shot stopping (to go with a couple of dodgy cross catching moments) by Robinson were enough to keep Rovers out.  One good thing was the introduction of Thompson, who seemed intent on trying to score "goal of the month" from 30 yards and although he got closer than Todd's first half volley, Robinson was not troubled by his efforts.  He also picked up a booking for a deliberate handball as he went up for a cross in the Tottenham penalty area.

In truth, there was little to say about the home side's performance apart from they had a lot of the ball.  They failed to do much with it and did not press home their advantage like a home team should.  For that Spurs should be thankful ... that and the fact that other results went their way today.

Martin Jol began with Kelly coming in for Pamarot and with Keane and Defoe up front, losing Fredi to the follies of his midweek performance.  It was a fairly even first half with nothing to distinguish it from a match between two teams struggling for points.  Defoe had a couple of snapshots, the best kept out by Friedel's left foot and the ball then ballooned up into the air and goalwards, but, if it had been us defending, it would have gone in.  As we were in attack, it nestled on top of the net.  Brown had a shot from the edge of the box and the keeper dealt with it comfortably.

It was one of the few times I had seen Ledley lose his rag.  Dickov scythed him down as King let the ball run out and pushed the tiny Gooner in the chest as he came up to offer a limp hand in apology.  It was no surprise that a later clash with Atouba ended with Thim kicking him on the floor and perhaps he was lucky not to have been seen by an official, but the Scotch forward brings out the worst in footballers and refs don't always get it right.  Luckily, Mr. Dean did.

Robinson's day's work started just after the break when he turned aside a Gallagher shot on the turn and apart from a low save from Dickov at the end, there was little in between.  Thanks to the defenders in front of him, they cleared anything that dropped in the area, leaving him to field tame attempts on goal and any crosses that came in (which didn't go behind, as a lot did).

At the other end, Spurs had a Mendes volley stopped by Friedel, as was Defoe's low drive, but it was Keano who got the all-important goal.  Breaking up a Blackburn move halfway inside his own half, Michael Brown ran away from Tugay (who couldn't foul him, having already been booked) and then across the chasing defenders to the left corner of the area.  He turned and looked up to lay a square pass into the path of Robbie Keane, who drilled it low past the spread-eagled Friedel.  It was a fine goal and owed a lot to Brown, who doesn't always get the credit he deserves.

Rovers frantically tried to get back into it, but their efforts were wayward and even the introduction of the physical presence of Bothroyd didn't help, as he looked anything but a Serie A player.

The points were eeked out and although not a pretty performance, Jol will expect some games like this where we get the result without perhaps even earning it.  However, the team should improve their ability to hold the ball to ease the pressure at the back and Thim should not try any of his fancy tricks in areas where it might cost us !!

With two successive league wins, these are heady days and I just hope that the team capitalise on the games we have coming up against lower Premiership opposition with wins like this.  With confidence they might even go out to attack teams and then we might see exactly what they are capable of.

Benny The Ball

 

Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal

3 Birmingham City 0 Saturday
Aston Villa 1 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Chelsea 4 Newcastle United 0 Saturday
Everton 3 Bolton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Norwich City 0 Fulham 1 Saturday
Manchester United 3 SCBC 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 3 West Bromwich Albion 2 Saturday
Crystal Palace 0 Charlton Athletic 1 Sunday
Middlesbrough 3 Manchester City 2 Monday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 16 12 3 1 31 6 39 +28
2 Arsenal 16 10 4 2 42 20 34 +22
3 Everton 16 10 3 3 20 14 33 +6
4 Manchester United 16 8 6 2 22 10 30 +12
5 Middlesbrough 16 8 4 4 27 20 28 +7
6 Aston Villa 16 6 7 3 21 17 25 +4
7 Liverpool 15 7 3 5 24 17 24 +7
8 Bolton Wanderers 16 6 5 5 24 22 23 +2
9 Portsmouth 15 6 3 6 21 22 21 -1
10 Newcastle United 16 5 5 6 27 31 21 -4
11 Charlton Athletic 15 6 3 6 18 25 21 -7
12 Manchester City 16 5 5 6 21 17 20 +4
13 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 16 5 4 7 15 17 19 -2
14 Fulham 16 5 2 9 18 27 17 -9
15 Birmingham City 16 2 8 6 12 18 14 -6
16 Crystal Palace 16 3 4 9 17 24 13 -7
17 Blackburn Rovers 16 2 7 7 16 34 13 -14
18 SCBC 16 2 6 8 15 24 12 -9
19 Norwich City 16 1 9 6 14 26 12 -12
20 West Bromwich Albion 16 1 7 8 15 31 10 -16

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