5th March 2006
Spurs hitting a bit of a stumble and Blackburn not having conceded a
goal for over 270 minutes, it is a tough task that faces the home side
on Sunday. With fourth place seemingly up for grabs for whoever
can put a run together, it is time for Tottenham to be that side ...
starting with Rovers.
Mark Hughes has produced a
side that is well organised and has a rigid four-four-two structure with
a team full of willing workers. The likes of Savage, Neill,
Dickov, Reid and Todd bring a physical approach to the game which is not
to everyone's taste. They do have some players who have talent,
but they do not always seem to be allowed off the leash to use them,
while others might be better off on one !!
Usually in games against
Spurs, Brad Friedel gets the Man of the Match award, thus giving the
impression that we have been going forward enough to allow him to earn
that prize. A tall, strong keeper, he has the presence to un-nerve
striker sin one-on-one situations, but his height does not always make
him as solid on crosses as you imagine he should be. He is usually
protected by the back four of Ryan Nelsen, Lucas Neill, Andy Todd and
Zurab Khizanisvhili. Todd is big and hard and takes no prisoners,
which is an approach adopted by Lucas Neill, who was sent off in the
meeting between the two sides at Ewood Park earlier this season.
Nelsen is another big defender from New Zealand, who has made a place in
the side his won with a series of consistent performances. The
Glasgow Rangers defender Khizanisvhili has made his mark in the team too
and so much so that it looks like Rovers will sign him on a permanent
basis come the summer. He has a good reading of the game, but
lacks a little pace, which might allow a striker like Defoe to get away
from him, given half a chance. Michael Gray at left back and the
versatile Dominic Matteo have been used, but are often on the bench
rather than starting.
It looks like Morten
Gamst Pedersen could be missing with a hamstring injury and this could
tip things in Tottenham's favour. The Norwegian winger has been in
good form and good scoring form too. His ability to fire in fierce shots
from any angle makes him a dangerous player and he also provides good
supply for the front two. In the engine room, Stephen Reid runs
all day and while his distribution can be a bit wayward on occasion, he
links play well and gets up to support the front players. This is
something that Brett Emerton does too from the right side of midfield,
leaving Tugay and Savage to tie up the middle of the park. Both
are not afraid to put in challenges on opponents, leaving their mark on
the game, but both also like to take the ball on towards goal and Savage
can be dangerous with a dead ball.
Goals had been a problem
for Blackburn, with Bellamy and Dickov both being injured. This is
hardly surprising with the way they play, but bringing in England
Under-21 striker David Bentley from Arsenal on loan and Shefki Kuqi from
Ipswich, they have upped their goals total. The Icelander has slipped
back a bit now, as Florent Sinama-Pongolle has also been brought in on
loan from Liverpool and he often gets a run-out from the bench in
preference to Kuqi, who is perhaps the least mobile fo the five
forwards. Sinama-Pongolle is big for his age and had done well at
Liverpool previously, while Bellamy's pace, Bentley's movement and
Dickov's physical, non-stop niggling style will all provide different
problems for the Tottenham defence.
For Spurs, we can
probably expect the Mido/Defoe pairing to start and with Davids and
Tainio having had an extra week to get over their injuries, the midfield
might be stronger than the one we saw pitch up against Wigan Athletic.
Jermaine Jenas will probably start again and his athletic runs forward
will add to the attack. It has been a while since we had a clean
sheet and I am sure that Martin Jol will be reiterating the need for one
to ensure that the team can start building on that base. I expect
the midfield to be the area where the battle is fought out, but with the
options available to Tottenham, I take them to get the three points,
which will be a precious three points in the long run in to the end of
: - Tottenham Hotspur 2 Blackburn Rovers
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
Dean Marney (Achilles); Hossam
Ghaly (groin); Andy Reid (knee); Lee
: Lorenzo Amoruso (ankle); Paul Dickov (dislocated shoulder);
John McEveley (knee); Morten Gamst Pedersen (hamstring); - (-)
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Hotspur 3 Blackburn Rovers 2
(Half-time score : 2-1)
||Venue : White Hart
|Sunday 5th March 2006
||Kick Off : 16.00 p.m.
|Crowd : 36,080
||Referee : Howard Webb
|Weather : Bright,
Davids (Lennon 60)
Tainio (Murphy 78)
Emerton (Kuqi 83)
: - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Lee (foul) 75
Mido (foul) 87
Gray (foul) 71
Reid (foul) 77
Todd (foul) 78
Report : -
While not one of the greatest Spurs
performances ever, this could be a precious three points in the course
of achieving something that would have been almost unthinkable at the
start of the season. Putting more daylight between Blackburn and
taking Spurs further away from the fifth placed team, this victory was
one earned against the run of the second half play and with a slice of
luck with a couple of refereeing decisions.
For once, it looked as though the rub
of the green went Tottenham's way. Blackburn had the bulk of the
second half, at one stage the possession was 86:14, but from that they
only managed one goal, one header off the top of the bar and brought a
fine save from Robinson.
had opened up with a good pace to their game. A corner produced
a shot from Tainio that scuffed wide and at the other end Bellamy got
a header to Emerton's cross, but it was comfortable for Robinson to
gather. After nine minutes, a moment of magic by Robbie Keane
put Spurs ahead. Although there was not much dispute about the
throw-in at the time, after the game Mark Hughes made much fo the fact
that it came off Mido last. Nelsen was tight behind him and was
trying to get a foot through the Egyptian's legs and the linesman
might have judged he got a touch to the ball. Mido thought
quickly and threw to Keane, tight to the touchline. With Savage
behind him, he flicked the ball up and over the Blackburn midfielder,
who thought about handling the ball, but then pulled his hand away.
With the ball still bouncing and Todd closing in, Robbie lifted it
past him and with Friedel coming out, quickly shot under the American
goalie. It was a goal of great class and showed what Robbie is
all about. The skills training must really be paying off !!
Robbie was buoyed by the goal and set-up
Davids, but, with the ball just behind him, he did well to dig it out
to get a shot in, which was blocked. Then the Irishman nearly
got sent clean through, but he was judged to have moved offside before
Tainio released the pass. Blackburn were to have chances, with
their best going begging, as Nelsen headed across goal to the far
post, but Sinama-Pongolle failed to read it and as King left the ball,
the Liverpool loan star watched it go wide, when, had he reacted, he
might have put Rovers level in the 32nd minute.
With the ball being played well by both
sides, the midfields were battling it out and Howard Webb was letting
a little too much go, with Bentley's tackle from behind on Davids a
prime example. What the referee did give, was a handball against
Nelsen right on the edge of the Blackburn box. Out on the left
hand corner of the area, Mido lined up to shoot with his left foot
lending itself to the better shot on goal. His drive beat the
wall, but didn't beat Friedel, who pushed the ball out.
Unfortunately for him, Robbie Keane was closing in for just such an
eventuality and took the ball down, before running it into an empty
goal to make it 2-0. There was a reaction from a couple of
Rovers players claiming handball, but these were waved away and only
after the game, when Robbie had owned up that it had hit his hand,
which is hardly unlikely when he was so close to the keeper, did
Hughes seize on the incident to lambast the officials again.
Perhaps he should have been asking why his defenders weren't following
in as quickly as Keano.
it looked like Tottenham would go on to win this in a more comfortable
manner than we might have thought. However, within a couple of
minutes, Blackburn had got a goal back right on half-time. A
pass down the right wing saw Bellamy make a run behind King and his
cross found Sinama-Pongolle un-marked in the middle to head pasty an
unprotected Robinson. It was a goal that Tottenham needed to
avoid, as it gave the impetus to Rovers, much like the goal we let in
against Leicester City in the FA Cup. And so it proved with the
visitors piling on the pressure after the break.
Michael Dawson was instrumental in getting
his body in the way of a number of shots on goal, although he and
Ledley struggled with the pace and movement of the front two of
Blackburn. With Lennon coming on for Davids, there was an
injection of pace into the team and Edgar had done well, but still
looks less than 100% fit. But it was yet another important save
from Paul Robinson that kept Tottenham in touch with the lead, as Gray
tapped a short free-kick to Bentley, who struck the ball from 30 yards
and as it arrowed towards the top of the net, Robinson flung up a hand
to divert it over the top.
respite was brief, as a long ball down the right saw Ledley go up with
Sinama-Pongolle and get under the ball, leaving the French striker to
race away and pull a square ball back for Bellamy to drive home the
equaliser. It had been coming for a while with the crowd getting
anxious with the players, but it came as a result of an individual
error that could have happened at any time.
With the fans apprehensive that our big
chance to extend our points tally in the league had gone, Spurs hit
back within two minutes. Keane and Carrick linked for the
England man to release Lennon on the right with a pass inside Gray.
Knowing Aaron's pace, there was no way the Blackburn defender would
catch him and as he cut across into the box, Gray was helpless as
Lennon hit a low cross across the six yard box and Mido slid in at the
far post to hit the net ... just. His body took the ball into
the net, but it only just went in under the bar, but that was all that
was needed to reinstall Tottenham ahead in this match.
Frustration was now getting to Rovers
because they did not make their possession pay and the yellow cards
started to mount up. Gray went through the back of Lennon and
Steven Reid fouled Lee, after Lee had been booked for a foul on him.
Andy Todd's expected yellow arrived when he went in late on Robbie
Keane and Mido got caught up in it all when he picked up a caution for
fouling Reid too. Spurs managed to keep the ball up at the
Rovers end for a while and Keane went on a solo run that ended with
him trying to chip a pass through to Mido, but Nelsen's extended arm
stopped the ball. While Webb had seen the fouls, he managed to
miss this handball, but then he had missed Keano's earlier.
Spurs had decided that the best form of
defence was attack and Jenas hit a free-kick into the side netting,
while Lennon and Murphy both had shots go wide. Keane had the
best chance to finish Blackburn off, when he was freed by Carrick's
pass and looked up to try and chip Friedel, but the ball always looked
like it would go just over the bar. And that was where Michael Gray's
header went from Lucas Neill's cross. The crowd held their
breath as it glanced off the top of the bar, but Robinson had judged
it well and knew it wasn't going in.
All that was left was for Lennon to
break away in added time and square a pass to Mido in the box with
just Friedel to beat. The striker took the pass and decided to
go back around the keeper, by which time there were three defenders
back and his shot was deflected wide. But earning a corner was
as good as a goal, because by the time it was taken, time was all but
Perhaps Tottenham rode their luck
today, but then we are due some after the appalling decisions that
have come our way over the last few years and the five point breathing
space will be most welcome ahead of our trip to Chelsea next week.
MEHSTG TOP MAN :
- ROBBIE KEANE
Well, where do I
start. Battered and outfought for much of the game, with many questions
raised against our much vaunted defence, Spurs found a way to beat a
well-drilled and much improved Blackburn side that look a good bet for
Although the boys
worked hard throughout, it took a lot of luck and a fair bit of
opportunism to counter the flair, slick passing and movement of the
north-west outfit. If not for the imbecilic officiating, we could've
been bang in trouble. Unusually, big Ledley had a real shocker, aiding
Blackburn in their goals, while Lee actually had a good game for once,
often clearing danger with his left foot. Now, if only we can get him
to CROSS with his left foot, we could be in business. Dawson must also
take some blame for the first Blackburn goal, but he then put in another
commanding display at the back, winning every header that came his way.
It seemed that most of the action was coming down our left side, so
Stalteri wasn't worked as hard this time, therefore not giving him a
chance to c**k up again.
Jenas had yet another infuriatingly frustrating game, where he didn't do
much wrong but also failed to create the spark needed. He was out of
position again but still, at £7m, you expect a bit more bang for your
restored to the left but didn't get much change out of Neill and often
drifted inside, leaving Lee exposed. Davids improved on his last two
showings but was again off the pace and looks a spent force.
Considering his ample wage, it wouldn't be a disaster if he walked away
at the end of the season. We've got Murphy, Carrick, Jenas, Tainio,
Ghaly, Huddlestone and O'Hara, all capable of filling that role. With
Lennon sure to start regularly next season and Routledge returning from
his loan spell, that central midfield position is open only to players
that are fit, focused and not prone to f**king about, like Davids did
against Sunderland, Wigan and West Ham.
However, our man
Carrick was dominant and great with his distribution of the ball,
complementing his performance for England last week. I think it's now a
question of who will partner the big Geordie in midfield next season.
My money's on a fit Murphy, who was a class act at Liverpool.
Up front, Mido
worked hard and was a constant menace to the Blackburn defence and it
was his clever throw that led to our opener. His clever running off the
ball causes problems for any club and Chelsea will find out all about it
this coming Saturday, assuming of course that Rob Styles isn't
officiating this one.
Keano was on fire
and capped the best week of his life by scoring a brace to put us 2-0
up. With Spurs being Spurs, it soon went pear shaped from there but we
had the luck of the Irish on our side. Not only did he score a brace,
he toiled, chased and tracked back throughout the game.
shipping an equaliser, it was Keano's vision that found little Lennon
burning past Gray to set up Mido for the winner. Quite what Defoe made
of it all is anyone's guess. Stripped for action and set to come on, he
was told to sit back down because of the sheer force of Keano's play,
his all round game and the guile shown in telling Murphy to take a short
corner to kill time. Would Defoe have done that? Doubtful, in his
eagerness to show the England boss what he can do, he'd sooner go for
glory than do the right thing for Spurs. We've seen last minute, even
last second goals (often against us) so the Irish captain got his
tactics spot on. Poor little Defoe, out in the wilderness once again.
Will he even get back in the starting line up again this season?
Doubtful, injuries not withstanding. I just hope that he's mature
enough to think about it, look at the situation and continue to ride the
If he works hard,
takes his chances when he comes on and has a good World Cup, Jol will be
hard pressed not to give him another run in the side. If Defoe isn't
going to do it for that reason, maybe he should do it because Lee
Barnard has 22 goals for the reserves this term and could soon be after
a permanent place on the bench. Mark Yeates will return for pre-season,
along with El Hamdaoui, so Defoe must not sulk and keep plugging away.
He has a contract and I can't see Spurs selling him anytime soon.
definitely not least, Robbo was again outstanding in goal. Faultless
for the goals, his distribution was again impressive and he made a
match-winning save from Bentley, at a time when Blackburn had all the
momentum. What price now, I ask ? £20m ? £30m ? Nah, he's E.N.O. He's
So, in conclusion
(yawn), we came up against a genuinely strong side and were promptly
battered for 90 minutes, yet we still came away with a win and three
points. Tottenham are 4th in the league ... still, 4th in the league.
God, that sounds good doesn't it. Makes for good reading that, doesn't
it. I'd like to think that it'll sound even better at the end of the
You have to laugh (unless you
support Arsenal, Blackburn, Bolton or West Ham).
We were murderered ! Blackburn took the proverbial for almost the whole
game and we couldn't hold onto the ball. Davids looked like a man who'd
landed on another planet. He needs to get fit and fast. I'd play Murphy
in the meantime.
But oh, Robbie Keane...what a performance..... not just the goals,
although the first was sublime. His running and his commitment were
awesome. I was sure he was second string to Defoe. I take it all back.
Poor Jermain, how can he get back in when Keano plays like that ?
On this showing we'd get stuffed in the Champs league, but you have to
wonder if we are destined to make 4th spot after yesterday. We didn't
deserve a point, much less three. In all honesty, I struggle to think of
many five star Spurs performances this season. Man City and Man
Utd away ... Newcastle and Charlton at home maybe. Not a season of
classic performances, but we're still up there ... quite remarkable
really. We appear to have resilience.
Away to Chelsea next week ? Will have to improve big time to come away
with anything, and if we go to Highbury playing like that in April,
We'll be eating a large dose of Gooner humble pie and feeling sick to
the stomach. I flinch at the thought of what Henry would do to us if we
play like we did yesterday.
Phew ... what a game!
we review the game, congratulations to Spurs for securing Robbie Keane
for the next four years. I am sure I am not alone when I say he is my
favourite player. All the time he has been at WHL he has given 100%.
Every game I watch, he chases all the lost causes, rouses his team mates
and ensure we get over the winning post. To secure him for another four
is excellent news ! Next up, Ledley !
There are few
matches where I sit for the whole 90 minutes on the edge of my seat.
Spurs v Blackburn goes down as one of those! What a game! The papers
will be going through their dictionaries to come up with the
superlatives to accurately describe on of the games of the season. So
people will read tomorrow papers and brush it off as hype, but what a
game. Sitting hundreds of miles away in Newcastle, the atmosphere was
electric. I can only imagine what it is like to be in the ground for
one of those games. That being said, we are lucky we came out of the
game with anything. For the home side to only have 14% of the
possession for certain periods is poor and you would not expect the same
team to win. Blackburn, full of thugs and crap players (so the rumours
go), must feel that they have been robbed. Only Sunderland, that we
narrowly beat 3-2 also, will be able to sympathise after just being
beaten by us earlier in the season. But a win is a win is a win as they
say ! As the old cliché goes, sometimes in football you do not get
what you deserve and Blackburn did not deserve defeat.
points in this game were crucial. In the last 6 games, 6 points was all
we had accumulated. A point a game is relegation form and you really
need to be looking at a season average of almost 2 a game to challenge
for Champions League places. We are currently at 1.75 points a game and
I honestly think we need to shift up a gear as we approach the end of
the season, especially as the majority of games are away from home. I
feel we need another 20 points to secure the Champions League spot. To
achieve that, 12 points from 12 is needed at home. That is going to be
difficult as the games are West Brom, Man City, Man United and Bolton.
If we get 9 from that, it would need 11 away from home and that looks
even more difficult. Chelsea, Birmingham, Newcastle, Everton, Arsenal
and finally, last day of the season, West Ham. Difficult but not
impossible ! Although I have thrown a lot of numbers in, what
really matters is we match the results of those around us.
feel, maybe controversially, that 4th spot is a little beyond us. Yes,
we have been there all season but I don't think we will finish 4th. But
that should not be a disappointment. After the last season, a place in
Europe was the aim and should we finish 5th or 6th, we will have
achieved what we set out to do. It would be awful, but I just feel the
teams is a little young and immature to see out fourth. I think that
showed today and the man brought in to solve that, Edgar Davids, is
failing miserably at the moment. I thought he was very poor at
Sunderland and today at Blackburn. As we approach the final hurdle, the
pace is catching him out.
All that being
said, I would love to be wrong and see Spurs finish 4th !
I wouldn't mention this again - honest - but for the fact that I've
already raised the subject with regard to the Wigan game, where their
seemed to be a colour clash. This time, according to the commentator
on Murdochvision, Blackburn were set to appear in their away kit of
silver until the ref deemed this was too similar to ours, so they took
the field in their home kit. Still, despite the passes still
seeming to go regularly astray we got more goals than they did (the
first being a belter).
The sooner we
stop relying on the refs (and FA) or make their job easier
by wearing simple white shirts and navy blue shorts (joy) the better.
this weekend :
|West Bromwich Albion
|West Ham United