Looking Forward



Premier League

Sunday 6th October 2002

With Blackburn involved in the UEFA Cup, at our expense, they will have an extra day to recover from their exertions in Bulgaria, however much Graeme Souness will be annoyed about having to play on a Thursday !!  Having let go a 3-0 lead against CSKA Sofia and been pulled back to 3-3, they just sneaked through on away goals.  Seems like there could be some complacency there when ahead ??

His permanent anger will make sure that his team are fire dup for a match against his first employers, where he felt he should have been in the first team at a very young age.  Unfortunately for him, Bill Nicholson did not agree and Souey moved on.  Ever since, he has viewed this fixture as one in which he has to better Tottenham.

There have been a few flashpoints at Ewood Park in the past because of the physical approach Rovers have taken and the aggressive stance Souness adopts on the touchline.  Hopefully, the reports of this game can concentrate on the football, as both teams have some very good players.

With big Brad Friedel standing between Spurs and the goal, he also stands between Kasey Keller and the No.1 jersey in the USA side.  Both goalies are playing at the top of their form at the moment, so it will be a good test of who comes out on top.  Defensively, they are reasonably tight having conceded only eight league goals this season.  Short and Berg are the experience, with Taylor a tall central defender, as is Johansson, who lacks a little in pace.  Lucas Neill provides some cover in that respect at full back, but can be caught pushing forward.

The midfield is the main area that Rovers excel in.  David Dunn is a powerful driving force, who is very skilful, while Flitcroft and Tugay add steel to the midfield.  New signing David Thompson has also added more industry to this part of the team and he also has weighed in with some goals ... an area where Rovers have been a bit short, only having scored eight in the League !!

This is somewhat surprising, as Andy Cole has renewed his partnership with Dwight Yorke, but it hasn't yet come to fruition.  Missing Matt Jansen is obviously hitting the side upfront, as he offers something the other two don't have, which is pace.  Ostenstad has returned recently, as Yorke hasn't been able to focus (his thoughts, not his camera) on his game, due to things outside football.  He is a strong partner for Cole and similar to Grabbi, who still struggles to get used to the English game.  Damien Duff will also be a handful on the flank and he has also been getting into more goalscoring positions this season, with Keith Gillespie available as a straight replacement if needed.

In recent seasons, Blackburn have failed to do their club justice in the league and they have crept up to 11th position almost unnoticed.  They are basically a hard working team, who have some flair players that can cause havoc on their day.  

In February in Cardiff they didn't have their day, but the work they put in was still too much for the Tottenham team.  With some of the walking wounded returning to the Spurs team, there should be a more solid look about the side.  Each player must give 100% though.  If nothing else, I hope Hoddle has learned that we must match them for work rate.  If we do that, we might match them for goals and so, I think the result will most likely be ...

PREDICTION : - Blackburn Rovers  1  Tottenham  1

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



Blackburn Rovers  1  Tottenham  2   (Half-time score : 0-1 )
Sunday 6th October 2002
Venue : -  Ewood Park
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Sunny, dry
Crowd : -  26,203
Referee : -  A. D'Urso (Billericay)
Teams : -  Blackburn Rovers : -  Friedel; Neill, Berg (Gillespie 46), Johansson, Taylor; Dunn (Grabbi 67), Flitcroft, Tugay, Thompson; Duff, Cole (Ostenstad 46)
Unused Subs : - Kelly, Todd

Tottenham : -  Keller; Thatcher, Richards, Bunjvecevic, Taricco (Perry 67); Acimovic (Iversen 67), Redknapp, Freund, Davies; Sheringham, Keane
Unused Subs : - Hirschfeld, Doherty, Ferdinand

Colours : -  Blackburn Rovers -  Blue and White halved shirts, White shorts, White socks with blue turnover

Tottenham -  Yellow shirts, Navy blue shorts, Yellow socks with navy blue turnover.

Scorers : -  Blackburn Rovers -  Ostenstad 58

Tottenham -  Keane 5, Redknapp 89

Cards : -  Blackburn Rovers -  Berg (foul) 40

Tottenham - Sheringham (unsporting behaviour) 89

Why is it always cold in Blackburn ??  Well, the weather conspired with Tottenham today to warm things up and the late winner, sliced off the side of Redknapp's boot sent us home (albeit through some horrendous traffic on the M1 and M6) with our cockles in our heart none too chilly.

For all the effort that Souness' side put into the game in the second half, the chill wind of Bulgaria had taken it's toll in the long march back from Sofia and Tottenham finished the stronger and could have added to their tally.

They started well too.  Robbie Keane opened his account and the sight of opponents trailing in his wake before his shot flew like a comet into the top corner of the net, out of Friedel's reach.  How long have we waited to see a Tottenham player score a goal like that ?  The boy is destined to be a star.

Friedel did well to keep Spurs at bay.  As Blackburn stuttered on through the half, he denied forward after forward, with free-kick after free-kick just missing the goal.  It was a relief to the home crowd that only one had hit the back of their net by the break.  Not to say that the home side had been dormant, like their crowd.  Dunn and Duff had caused problems, but with Freund back in the defensive midfield role that had been missing from the side, the defence had an extra protection that they benefited from.  Even Richards looked like he was having a comfortable time.

The second half brought a change in personnel for Rovers and a brighter 45 minutes for them.  Ostenstad's strength seemed to allow Thompson more space, which he made the most of.  He was the one who made the side tick after Dunn had put the Norwegian sub through to hit a shot past Keller.  It was the little winger who threatened most with a variety of efforts - headers and shots - but few troubled Kasey.

Redknapp had produced two unconvincing shots on target before Tottenham broke away in the final minute.  Iversen hit a low cross into the area from the right and it found Jamie near the far post.  Brad Friedel, who had done so much to deny Tottenham in Cardiff, expected the contact to be hard and to his right.  Jamie got it all wrong, but it finished alright for Spurs, as the ball spun off the side of his foot and went over the keeper to his left, leaving him stranded.  Oh for such luck last February.

At the end, Spurs had more chances through Keane and Davies, but one flew just wide and the other ended up there from the keeper's touch.  Although Blackburn had two goals disallowed for offside at the end of each half, there was little in their game that showed a vibrancy that would earn them the points.  Spurs dealt with them pretty well and although it did not look like a Tottenham winner would come, in the end, there was a happy ending.

Games like this must be productive if we are to challenge near the top of the table.  While the winner was fortunate, the confidence that win brings must be capitalised on.  Unfortunately, it is now two weeks before the next match, although it should be with a much enhanced squad with the return of some of the walking wounded.  No more repeats of Boro though and if the side can play like they did today, their resolute attitude should see them through.


Mick McManners




The way that things were going, it looked like Rovers were the most likely to take the three points, but then one off the edge by Jamie and the game could have ended up three-one to us !!

Having started like a steam train with an early chance for Keane that was dived on by Friedel and then Robbie finally getting his name on the scoresheet for Tottenham, it looked like it might not have been that hard a game.  That thought was even more prevalent when Milo floated a free kick narrowly wide and Redknapp hitting another one wide.  Teddy got in a couple of times, but couldn't find the target, then Keane was denied by a last ditch tackle.

Not that it was all Spurs' way in the first half, with Dunn threatening and having a shot deflected just wide and Duff causing problems to our back four.  The right on half-time, Andy Cole was at the far post to poke home a low ball into the box, but it was ruled out by the linesman's flag.  Ha !  It don't work twice you Gooner reject !!

Robbie's pace was worrying Blackburn as much as Duff's was troubling Spurs, but Dunn was really setting the tempo of the Rovers side.  He is a powerful, prompting midfielder, who's slipped pass through the Tottenham defence made the equaliser for Ostenstad.  He fired it past Keller, who might have been a bit quicker off his line.  It had come at the end of fifteen minutes of sustained pressure as Rovers came out after the break trying to get an early equaliser.  It was during this time that the benefit of having Steffen Freund in the side became evident.  He is never spectacular, but offers a valuable service to the side, just by getting in the way.  He also helped others out by pointing out where the danger was coming from.

After the goal, Redknapp failed to take the ball around Friedel when he could have got an early shot in, before the ball started heading towards Keller again on a regular basis.  Luckily, most efforts were off target and the ones that did come his way were not too hard to deal with.  What was unnerving was the fact that Duff and Thompson were winning headers in the box, when they were two of the smallest players on the pitch.  Then, with five minutes left, it looked as though the game was up.  Grabbi cut in from their left wing, hit a low shot that caught a foot on the way and went to the far post, where Thompson stuck it away.  Once again the ref's assistant raised his flag and Tottenham were saved.

However, there was to be no such respite for Rovers when Spurs broke away with Thatcher finding Iversen on the right wing.  He took the ball down, crossed in low and with three Spurs players standing in the area, it reached Jamie Redknapp.  He tried to sweep the ball in on the half-volley, but failed.  Spectacularly !!  However, with the ball coming off the side of his boot, it flew up and over Friedel and into the net for a last minute goal.

Suddenly, Spurs were pouring forward as the home side sought an equaliser.  Robbie Keane was put away by Sheringham on the left and his shot went across the face of the goal and missed the far post by inches.  Then into the last seconds, Simon Davies was released on the right and his fierce drive was tipped around the post by the Blackburn keeper. 

Overall, it was a good performance in which Spurs might have been a little fortunate to get away with the win, but the sight of Keano running away from Rovers players to score his first goal by smashing the ball past Friedel with his left foot was one we had been waiting for.  May we see the sight of his cartwheel many more times over the next few years.

Kirk Hammarton.



Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal  3   Sunderland  1  (Sunday)
Aston Villa  0    Leeds United  0  (Sunday)
Fulham  1      Charlton Athletic  0  (Sunday)
Liverpool  1    Chelsea  0  (Sunday)
Manchester United  3    Everton  0  (Monday)
Middlesbrough  2    Bolton Wanderers  0   
Newcastle United  2    WBA  1   
SCBC  2    Manchester City  0    
West Ham United   1   Birmingham City  2 


League Table

    P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 9 7 2 0 24 9 23
2 Liverpool 9 6 3 0 19 8 21
3 Middlesbrough 9 5 2 2 13 5 17
4 Manchester United 9 5 2 2 12 6 17
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 9 5 1 3 13 13 16
6 Chelsea 9 3 4 2 15 12 13
7 Newcastle United 8 4 1 3 12 9 13
8 Leeds United 9 4 1 4 11 9 13
9 Blackburn Rovers 9 3 3 3 11 10 12
10 Fulham 7 3 2 2 12 8 11
11 Birmingham City 9 3 2 4 10 11 11
12 Everton 9 3 2 4 11 14 11
13 SCBC 9 2 4 3 6 8 10
14 Aston Villa 9 3 1 5 6 9 10
15 WBA 8 3 0 5 7 13 9
16 Manchester City 9 2 2 5 7 14 8
17 Sunderland 9 2 2 5 4 13 8
18 Bolton Wanderers 8 2 1 5 9 15 7
19 Charlton Athletic 8 2 1 5 7 13 7
20 West Ham United 8 1 2 5 8 16 5

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