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League Cup semi-final First leg

Tuesday 6th January 2009

With Burnley pressing to get a place in the Premier League, it may be thought that the League Cup campaign comes as an unwelcome distraction.  However, the fact that they have already beaten Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal, they will be keen to keep morale high by carrying on their Premier League scalp gathering.

With Brian "The Beast" Jensen in goal keeping out Arsenal during normal time and Chelsea in the penalty shoot-out, he will be looking to stop the weakened Tottenham strike-force in this first leg to give them a chance when they get Spurs back to Turf Moor.

The defence will welcome back Stephen Jordan after suspension to join veteran Graham Alexander, strapping centre-half Clarke Carlisle and in the back four.  They are a well-drilled outfit and work well, with the midfield tracking back to help provide numbers at the back.  Michael Duff and Cristian Kalvenes are also defenders who have featured recently and will be able to form a useful part of the defence if they are called upon.

Chris Eagles is the name that has been pushed to the fore, as he was previously a Manchester United youth product, but since joining Burnley, he has gained the confidence of playing regularly.  Former Aston Villa and Leicester City's Icelandic midfielder Joey Gudjohnsson is a gifted passer and also has a good shot on him, either from open play or a free-kick, while Wade Elliott is used in a wide position and can beat a player to cross for the forwards to feed on.  Alan Mahon used to play for Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic, using his left foot to pick open defences.  However, he failed to maintain a high standard of performance, albeit having a lot of skill, thus seeing him drop down to take his place in the Burnley side.

Up front Stephen Thompson is cup-tied and that leaves summer signing from Scunthorpe United Martin Paterson and veteran Robbie Blake to feature up front, if he plays with two up top.  Well-travelled Ade Akinbiyi is more usually used as a sub off the bench these days and provides a physical presence should it be needed by the Clarets.  Often one extra defender will be fielded in midfield or an extra man in the middle of the pitch to try to pack out that part of the pitch and make it difficult for opposition sides.

What we can expect is for Burnley to come to White Hart Lane and look for a goal.  While they might try to stymie Tottenham with a side that is hard to break down, they also have belief that they can go through to the final and will try and grab something to take home with them for the second leg.  With a patched up side, Tottenham might find it difficult to break them down, but with Modric in the side, they have a playmaker who can pick the lock with his astute prompting from behind the front two.  I guess Harry will stick with the side that finished against Wigan on Friday, with the same formation in the home leg ... which I think will finish ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Burnley  0

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Benoit Assou-Ekotto (suspended - 2 of 3); Jermain Jenas (suspended - 1 of 1); Alan Hutton (foot); Darren Bent (groin);  Tom Huddlestone (ankle); - (-); - (-);

BURNLEY :  -  Remco van der Schaaf (kidney); Stephen Caldwell (suspended); - (-); 


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click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Tottenham Hotspur   4    Burnley   1      (Half-time score : 0-1)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Tuesday 6th January 2009
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   31,377
Referee :  Martin Atkinson (W. Yorkshire)
Burnley kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, but very cold
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
20  Dawson 
39  Woodgate (c)
  3  Bale

  7  Lennon
  4  Zokora
14  Modric
  5  Bentley  (24  O'Hara 46  )

  9  Pavlyuchenko 
18  Campbell

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
16  Gunter
17  Giovani
19  Taarabt
23  Boateng
33  Rocha

Burnley :

12  Jensen

  2  Alexander
  4  Duff  o.g.     
  5  Carlisle
23  Jordan     

  8  Gudjonsson (  7  McDonald 30)
33  Eagles
20  Blake (19  Rodriguez 75)
16  McCann
11  Elliott

10  Paterson  (  9  Akinbiyi 86)

Unused subs: 
  1  Penny
  3  Kalvenes
18  Mahon
27  MacDonald

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

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Dawson 47
O'Hara 52
Pavlyuchenko 65
Duff o.g. 68


Paterson 15

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  





Jordan (dissent)
Duff (foul) 


Match Report : -  
A first half that would have made it hard to determine which side was from the top flight and which from the second tier, was turned around with a twenty minute goal burst that put Tottenham in a very good position going up to Lancashire for the second half of this tie.

4-1 might have flattered Spurs, but the pace they came out at in the second half took Burnley by surprise and made an astounding turnaround.

It took a substitution and a change in attitude by Spurs to finally put an impressive Burnley side to the sword.  In the first half, the five man midfield of the visitors by-passed and out-passed Tottenham's four, with the white shirts being lacking in effort and spirit.

Chris Eagles ran the midfield for the Clarets in the first 45 minutes, with a style of bringing the ball down and passing it simply.  In comparison, Tottenham were either trying things that were far too extravagant to hitting long balls up for Carlisle to win in the air.  Too many Tottenham players were unwilling to track back and the pairing of Bentley and Bale just did not work on our left hand side.  Burnley exploited this and their two best chances came form that area.

Eagles hit a shot from outside the box early in the first half, but Spurs had the first shot on target, as Bentley shot from 25 yards.  However, Jensen made an easy save flopping on the ball.  Within two minutes, Tottenham were behind.  Eagles took the ball forward on their right wing, then cut in between Bale and Bentley before putting a square ball across the six yard box to Martin Paterson, who easily lost Dawson to find space at the far post to knock home the ball from four yards out.  Fifteen minutes in and 0-1 was not the way it was supposed to be.  But what was supposed to be was that Tottenham were supposed to turn up.

It was one of the matches when Spurs turn up thinking that is all they have to do.  When things are not working well, they need to buckle down and graft, but the team looked unwilling to do that.  Lennon seemed to be getting a lot of the ball for a change, but when he got past his man, he failed to deliver a killer ball.  At the other end, Eagles was delivering good service into the area and with 24 minutes on the clock, Robbie Blake ran into the box, unmarked, to glide a header from Eagles' right wing cross a foot wide of the far post.  He really should have made Gomes work to save it, but the effort brought some ire from the Spurs crowd which might have got through to the players.

Almost immediately, Tottenham won a corner and from Bentley's kick, Woodgate rose highest to head down into the six yard box and Roman Pavyluchenko got a touch to, forcing Jensen to make a good diving save to parry the ball out.  It was a lot closer than Bentley's attempt from 25 yards out on the left, when he tried to replicate his goal against Arsenal and only succeeded in hitting the Burnley crowd who continued to give him stick for his previous association with Blackburn Rovers.

The half-time whistle was welcomed with boos from a big section of the Tottenham support, with a different noise coming from the away end.  It was patently obvious that Bentley is woefully out of form and his replacement had to be made, with Jamie O'Hara the logical choice.  His left foot would give the side more balance ... and so it proved to be.  With Ralph Coates appearing at the interval to reminisce about his time at both clubs, his comments on TalkSport earlier in the day had revealed his true colours with references to Spurs as "we" and on the pitch saying he hoped Spurs would get through and Burnley get promotion.

By adopting a different approach to how we came into the Arsenal semi-final last season, Spurs started the second half at pace.  And it really caught Burnley back on their heels.  A neat link-up between Lennon and Corluka finally got the Croatian through and he delayed his cross, with it being blocked out for a corner.  O'Hara trotted over to take it and produced a cross to pick out the head of Michael Dawson at the far post.  He rose beyond and above Clarke Carlisle to power a header at goal and with a man on the line and the goalkeeper there too, the ball went into the top corner to give Spurs a rapid equaliser, which is just what they needed to have any hope of getting back into the match.

Within a couple of minutes, Modric was setting up O'Hara for another shot, but this time he blazed over, but six minutes into the half, Pavyluchenko got the ball on the edge of the box and cut inside to try and shoot, but it was blocked into the air, where Modric flicked his header backwards to the left hand side of the box.  Waiting was Jamie O'Hara.  His first time volley caught Jensen unawares and the ball went under the big keeper to squirm into the net to make it 2-1 to Tottenham.

The effort that Spurs were suddenly putting in made Burnley back-track, as they didn't know whether to go for a goal to get back into the game or to hold onto what they had.  The slick passing they displayed in the first half disappeared and Eagles faded from the action, as the Tottenham midfield really kicked into action.  Chances came thick and past, with Modric heading a Lennon cross wide, when better placed than he was for his goal against Wigan on Friday and Fraizer Campbell curled a shot into the goalie's arms when in a good position.  In between Robbie Blake received a quick free-kick from Jordan and nearly caught Tottenham out as they had been in the Everton match.  Luckily, Blake's effort curled well from outside the area, but did just enough to beat the far post to miss by a foot.

A real scramble happened in the Spurs penalty area just after the hour, as the ball was played down the left hand channel for Paterson to chase and Gomes came out to close him down, but the ball ran loose to Blake, but the resulting cross was headed out by Dawson and Gomes recovered to grab the ball as it came away from goal.

A minute later, the match was decided with a touch of class.  Taking a ball from the left wing, Pavyluchenko cut inside between two defenders and pushed the ball out of Carlisle's reach before rifling a shot home from inside the penalty area past the keeper to give Tottenham a two goal cushion.  While criticism has come Roman's way, he is now getting used to playing in the team structure and with the new signing Jermain Defoe, who was shown off to the White Hart Lane crowd before the game, waiting to join him in the team, he is scoring on a regular basis and seems to like this competition especially.

At this stage, Burnley lost their composure.  Having put in a few rustic challenges to try and unsettle the Spurs players in the first few minutes of the match, Michael Duff conceded a needless free-kick with a push on Pavyluchenko when wide on the right wing.  His argument with the linesman seemed to occupy his focus, so when O'Hara whipped in an in-swinging free-kick with his left foot, Duff got his head to the ball, but could only divert it past Jensen into the far corner of the net to make it 4-1 just a minute after the previous goal.

With 26 minutes of the game left, it looked as though Burnley had gone and it might be a question of how many.  Spurs did create other opportunities, with Zokora blasting the best one over the bar ... unsurprisingly.  Burnley struggled to get their game going again and brought Akinbiyi on to try and shake the Tottenham defence up, but the improved second half showing included Woodgate and Dawson linking well in the middle of the back four and Bale playing more confidently on the defensive side of his game, with O'Hara giving some protection in front of him.

The large and noisy following from the North-West will have made a disappointed journey back to Lancashire, but the tie is not over and Tottenham will need to be well aware that an early goal in the return leg might give the Clarets some encouragement to go on and attack Spurs, but that might lead to some gaps opening up.

With a second half performance giving Tottenham a three goal lead, it was more than most home fans could have hoped for going into the half-time break.  It will not be a foregone conclusion that Spurs are through, as many newspapers seem to think.  From last season's semi, we will know better than most that things can go against the expected outcome.

But with some players desperate to get back to Wembley and with Harry Redknapp having to bawl out the side at half-time, I am sure he will make it perfectly clear to the players what is expected of them at Turf Moor.



Reaction : -



What a day for Tottenham ! 

The prodigal son returns home to a rapturous reception and the team gets a good result in the first leg, albeit by way of another Jekyll and Hyde performance.

Spurs were awful in the first half (Bentley in particular) and were lucky not to be 0-2 down at the break.   Clearly Harry gave them a proper rollicking during the interval and, with the battling O'Hara on for Bentley, Spurs turned it on big style to overwhelm stubborn Burnley.

I don't wanna tempt fate, but you've gotta fancy Spurs for the Carling Cup final, as we surely wont mess it up now.  Defoe will make sure of that. 

I'm worried about Bentley though, as he was at fault for the goal tonight and generally looks disinterested.  Never believed he was worth (or anywhere near) 15m.

S J Wightman




Other semi-final first leg result :
Derby County 1 Manchester United 0 Wednesday



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