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
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
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
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
: Vratislav Gresko (knee ligament); Matt Jansen
(knee); Jonathan Stead (knee); Lorenzo Amouroso (heel); Youri
HOTSPUR : -
Sean Davis (knee); Goran Bunjevcevic (shin); Erik Edman
Live on Sky Sports 2
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|Blackburn Rovers 0
Tottenham Hotspur 1
(Half-time score : 0-0)
||Venue : Ewood
|Saturday 4th December 2004
||Kick Off : 17.15 p.m.
|Crowd : 22,182
||Referee : M. Dean (Wirral)
Short (Matteo 86)
Tugay (Thompson 66)
Gallagher (Bothroyd 58)
Ziegler (Redknapp 74)
Defoe (Kanoute 89)
Keane (Gardner 78)
: - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Dickov (persistent fouling) 30
Tugay (foul) 53
David Thompson (deliberate handball) 83
Naybet (kicking ball away)
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
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
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
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL BROWN
|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
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
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
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
this weekend :
||West Bromwich Albion