Saturday 5th February 2005
win over Middlesbrough at Fratton Park, Pompey turned around the two
losses since Velimir Zajec took over from Harry Redknapp as the
manager. The FA Cup defeat in controversial circumstances to
SCBC did not go down well, especially as it followed a run of three
league defeats against Everton, Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea and they
were without a league win since December 26th. This means that
neither team had a good January and with Spurs on a run of three
straight losses, it might be a war of attrition.
Zajec is not well known in England, but had success in Greece and he is well known to Milan Mandaric, who initially brought him in as Director of Football, a move that prompted Redknapp to leave. He is bringing in some of his players to fill out a side who were fighting at the wrong end of the table, but have moved into a position of lower to mid-table safety.
The old faithful keeper Shaka Hislop is still at the club, as is youngster Jamie Ashdown, who was getting some playing time under Hangdog Harry, but all that has changed with Greek goalie Kostas Chalkias coming in and being a bit of a liability according to some sources. He does not seem to have worked out the art of the well timed jump or intervention, so there might be joy for some bits and pieces to be snapped up and with Mido likely to start in place of the suspended Kanoute, he might give the new keeper a tough time in the air.
The defence has remained untouched apart from the fact that John Curtis has left the club on a free to join Nottingham Forest, while Senegal international Aliou Cisse has arrived from Birmingham City and his solid presence might bolster the back four, but he can lose his place on the pitch, leaving Tottenham some space to move into. Giant central defender Linvoy Primus and Arjan De Zeeuw will probably line up alongside each other in the centre of defence, with Matthew Taylor and Dejan Stefanovic outside of them. Ex-Newcastle defender Andy Griffin will give an option, but Haydn Foxe's broken foot rules him out. Stalwart defender David Unsworth has moved to Ipswich for a spell on loan, while a temporary move to Coventry City has seen Richard Duffy move out for a while, further reducing the availability of defenders in the squad.
Midfield has seen Kevin Harper leave for Stoke City, Nigel Quashie go to rivals SCBC, Amdy Faye join Newcastle United, and Eyal Berkovic has had his contract cancelled, but only as long as he doesn't join another English team. This has denuded them of a lot of experience and while Richard Hughes is young, but has quite a few games under his belt, there are some old heads still in the team in the shape of Steve Stone and Patrik Berger. The former Liverpool man has been a shadow of what he did last season and Stone has regained some form after a spell on the sidelines with injury. Two players I am not clued up on are summer loan signing Valerie Mezague and Giannis Skopelitis, who has arrived to replace one of those who have gone. Skopelitis is a defensive midfielder bought to take over the vacancy from Faye and Mezague is a young midfielder, who has played three games in the League Cup and two in the league.
Ricardo Fuller and Aiyegbeni Yakubu formed the partnership up front last time out and Diomansy Kamara might have to start on the bench before breaking the successful duo. Lua Lua's failure to leave the field after being sent off in the loss to Blackburn Rovers saw him given an extra one match ban, so he will be out of this match. With Todorov out for the second season running and former Juventus striker Vincent Pericard out with an ankle injury, Zajec brought in Slovenian forward Aleksander Rodic from Gorica and he might be on the bench if the new boss wants to stick with his own man. Yakubu and Fuller are both powerful and strong on the ball, so will test the resolve of the Spurs defenders to hold them off. They also like to get in the box and so, there may be a test for the Tottenham back four to stay on their feet, rather than to dive into the tackle.
With a poor run behind us, Martin Jol will be keen to start turning things around again and I believe that Andy Reid and Mido will start to give Spurs some pep going forward at home. Some of the others will have to wait, although he might risk El Hamdaoui on the bench with Keano dropping down to sub as well. The introduction of Dawson will also have to wait, as Naybet and King will make up the central defensive partnership and Ifil might even be considered at right back.
For the game, I might normally opt for a draw, but with Spurs needing to break the run, I think that the attacking intent will make sure that the game will end up ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham Hotspur 4 Portsmouth 1
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
MEHSTG did not have time to get a View From The Other Side
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Sean Davis (back); Anthony Gardner (nose); Reto Ziegler (hamstring); Rohan Ricketts (knee); Frederic Kanoute (suspended)
PORTSMOUTH : Steve Stone (hamstring); Andy Griffin (hamstring); Vincent Pericard (ankle); Svetoslav Todorov (knee); Hadyn Foxe (broken foot); Lomana Tresor Lua Lua (suspended)
|Tottenham Hotspur 3 Portsmouth 1 (Half-time score : 1-1)|
|Premier League||Venue : White Hart Lane|
|Saturday 5th February 2005||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 36,105||Referee : Steve Dunn (Bristol)|
|Weather : Cold, overcast|
|Teams : -|
Mido (Keane 64)
Primus (Skopelitis 90)
Berger (Fuller 63)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
|Match Report : -|
For a player with little match practice of late and a groin strain, I hate to think what match-winner Mido will be like when he is 100% ready to go !! His two goals were a major factor in earning Spurs a vital three points after a bad run of defeats in the Premiership.
The way that Tottenham lined up, with Andy Reid making his debut in the left midfield slot, it looked as though the defence would need to be strong to beef up alight weight midfield. With Mido selected up front, he added a bit of muscle to our attack.
The way the game started, it looked as if that would be enough to beat Pompey. A flowing move found it's way to Simon Davies on the edge of the box and as he traversed the face of the area, he laid a first time bal into Mido's path and his shot was walloped over the top. The Egyptian was also in action shortly after with a dink back into the danger area, where Stephen Kelly got his head on the end of it and made Chalkias save. From the resulting corner, Reid swung the ball in and it flicked off a Portsmouth defender's head, dropping to Ledley King and his instinctive reaction saw the ball finish up way over the bar. Spurs were finding a fair bit of joy down our left and Mido chased a ball down, tricked his way around a defender and played a low ball into the six yard ox that Stafanovic managed to slice it wide of the mark.
When the visiting side earned their first corner after 27 minutes, there seemed little danger, but then Berger played the ball in, Stefanovic ran in with Mido, Kamara moved Naybet out a bit and his jump met the ball to power it past Robinson with a well timed header. 0-1 down without a previous shot in anger and another goal we have let in form a corner. We now know what the training sessions will be about this week !!!
Spurs' run of unfortunacy with officials continued in the 33rd minute, as Defoe ran into the area pursued by three Portsmouth players and he went down under challenge. Why he would have feigned a foul, I don't know as he was about seven yards out with a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Mind you, a minute later, it didn't matter as much. Defoe fed Davies out on the right and he put a cross into the box where Mido got goal-side of his marker and from six yards out, he powered a header past Chalkias for the equaliser. He enjoyed the adulation of the crowd, as his dream of scoring in front of a full White Hart Lane was realised.
It was a shock that Portsmouth almost went into the break in the lead, as a ball through saw Kamara get beyond the Tottenham defence and he took the ball around Robinson and put the ball away. This time, Spurs were lucky with the ref and he ruled out the strike that had the Pompey fans jumping up and down, with a handball being spotted.
The half had flown by, but there had been periods of untidy play from both sides and the ref had stopped the game unnecessarily on more than one occasion. This had resulted in fractured play and some Spurs players were lucky not to end up with fractured legs, as Cisse went in late on three separate Tottenham men.
It was an injury that sparked off the second half, when Mido got on the end of Defoe's stood up cross and only succeeded in heading Primus' head and treatment was required for both players. Mido then headed the ball just over the top and Defoe smashed a ball goalwards, but he only succeeded in felling Stefanvoic by hitting him in the midriff. Mido took the ball on the edge of the area and turned to curl an effort on target, but it made Chalkias flop on the ball, but in the next attack, the new striker got his second goal.
A loose ball in the area was picked up by Defoe and he hit s hot that was blocked. He got to the rebound and laid the ball across goal after bamboozling two defenders on the right. As it flew in the corridor of uncertainty, it was left by other defenders and at the far post Mido stood waiting to hit the ball into an unguarded net. The two players embraced and perhaps a star and a partnership was born.
The pressure on the Portsmouth goal grew and Spurs had a string of four corners on the trot with Michael Brown going the closest with a header at the near post. When another, worked short with Mido, fell to Defoe at the far post, he hit a shot that was blocked by the legs of Matthew Taylor. When play finally got down to the Park Lane End that Spurs were defending, the defence backed off as Cisse approached the penalty area and he curled a shot that had Robinson diving in vain, but he had lifted it too high above the angle.
Mido had taken a knock in a penalty area exchange, leading to his substitution by Robbie Keane. Pompey decided to go for it, with Fuller coming on in place of Berger and young midfielder Mezague on for O'Neil. With Portsmouth relying on dead ball situations to create their chances, a free-kick lead to the ball being shot goal-bound by Yakubu, who had a mostly quiet game (apart from one outrageous dive in the box) and he saw Robinson keep it out.
Davies ran endlessly and showed he is not far off his form of two seasons ago and he picked out a pass to Jermain and he let himself down, with a weak attempt to lob the keeper, which produced an easy save. However, Defoe linked well with Reid on the left of the penalty area and out him in with a back-heel, with the Irish winger striking a low shot that beat Chalkias, but rebounded out off the post and he almost got to the bal again, but it was just out of his reach. Within seconds, it was all academic as Reid's deft ball into the left hand channel in the area to Keane was taken early and it rose over the Greek keeper and dropped into the opposite side of the net from a narrow angle. It was a real piece of opportunist finishing that only Keano could have produced, making his contribution to the side evident, but more mystifying when he goes on mazy runs into dead ends rather than getting an end product like this.
Spurs could have grabbed fourth near the end of added time for stoppages. Defoe had a shot blocked after Davies pulled s right wing cross back to him and the ball came out to Carrick 25 yards out. He had Davies as an option on the right and Defoe inside him, but he drilled in a shot, that was going well wide, until Robbie Keane ran in and missed getting a goal-scoring contact on it by a foot.
However, the one moment that made this match one to remember was the thigh high ball played into Mido five yards outside the box in the first half. Instead of controlling it, he leapt in the air and as the ball went through his legs flicked it with the inside of his foot to Defoe, just inside the box. The England man was shocked to see the ball just a yard from him, as it was a sublime piece of skill to get it there. What a goal that would have made !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MIDO
|YOU'LL MIDO FOR ME|
|A fine debut should not
overshadow the fact that Spurs rocked every time Portsmouth got a
corner. Against a better side, Spurs might not have come off the
pitch with three points, but they played well enough to beat Pompey.
The goals that Mido scored showed me that he can add things to the side that Fredi can't. The header he scored was one that no other Tottenham player was likely to get and his second was reminiscent of what Defoe and Keane should be doing. His all round play showed strength, a willingness to defend, some fancy touches and a joy at scoring goals. His time in exile at Roma might well pay dividends for us, as he looks like he can't wait to net his next goal !!
But it was more than just Mido that caught the eye. The return to fitness and form of Simon Davies was most welcome. His energy and protection of Kelly showed that his presence had been missed on the right of midfield. Jol was not joking when he said the return to fitness of the Welshman would be like a new signing, as Simon did very well including supplying a fine cross for the first goal.
Andy Reid's involvement was limited to trying to run around the houses to get past Linvoy Primus ... it's a hell of a long way to get around this man mountain. But he showed with his shot against the post, that he has an eye to get goals and with his pass to Keano for the third goal, that he can set up chances. He does need to slim down a bit and he will come up against better defenders than Primus, but he can get there in time. It is just a shame he can't play next week.
The rest of the side were relatively untroubled by Pompey.
Their goal was a bad one to let in, with Naybet losing his man, as he came away from goal and then glanced the ball from the corner past Robinson. Noureddine is showing a little bit of age, when long balls are played through, he tries to hook the ball away with an outstretched leg rather than run back to get goal-side. Maybe Dawson will be brought in to give him a rest when the ex-Forest man is fit.
With Keano coming on for the tired and limping Mido, he scored a third with an audacious flick of the outside of his right foot, when the defender probably thought he had the player covered. Robbie's goals are vital to the side, but he does seem too keen to be knocked over and then stand there arguing about it. I would rather he kept possession and got on with the game.
Ledley looked secure and Atouba gave us heart flutters when he started showboating on the edge of our area. Kelly had a decent game, but looked nervy at the start. Carrick was quiet, but prompted play from deep, while Michael Brown was all over the place with his tackling and running, which often goes unnoticed. Jermain Defoe had a quiet game too, but showed great skill to turn in the box to put the low cross in for Mido to tap home.
Jol got his selection right and the way the team played won out in the end. Tougher battles lie ahead with WBA first up in the Cup. Let's hope that he is still having a good, long run come May !!
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Crystal Palace||0||Bolton Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|Manchester United||2||Birmingham City||0||Saturday|
|Newcastle United||1||Charlton Athletic||1||Saturday|
|Norwich City||3||West Bromwich Albion||2||Saturday|
|20||West Bromwich Albion||26||2||11||13||23||48||17||-26|
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