|OPPONENTS||Cardiff City at Wembley|
|DATE||Saturday 6th October 2018|
Having witnessed the sublime football of Barcelona in midweek, we
now have the ridiculous contrast of Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City, who
roll into town second from bottom of the table, with only last
week’s Spurs’ victims Huddersfield Town beneath them. So, will
it be another straightforward win like at the John Smith’s last
Saturday or are we in for a frustrating afternoon of space squeezing
and time-wasting ? With Warnock’s sides, you know more or less
what you are going to get, but they will try and hit you on the
break and make the most of set-pieces, with hulking great players
hauled forward by tugboats to stand like the giant cranes at the
Lane, but around the keeper to prevent them getting anywhere the
This could have been the first game at the new Lane, but a trip to Wembley might gee them up equally as much and Warnock likes nothing more than to try and prove the footballing establishment wrong. Coming after a tiring experience in chasing Barcelona in the Champions League, Cardiff will be fresher, but can they keep any stifling play up for 90 minutes ? Well, the likes of Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison will be keen to attack corners and free-kicks, but might find some of the Spurs player too fleet of foot for them. Joe Bennett was with Villa in the Premier League and Jazz Richards with Swansea, but there is little other top-flight experience in the back line. Bruno Ecuele Manga was formerly with Lorient in France and Callum Patterson with Hearts.
The midfield also has Harry Arter as about the only experienced player in the Premier League, although Junior Hoilett was there a long time ago with QPR filling those slots along with former Wycombe man Nathan Mendes-Laing, Frenchman Loic Damour and Spanish loanee Victor Camarasa. I’m not familiar with those players, but Joe Ralls is a promising young Englishman with over 100 games under his belt, alongside Josh Murphy, another English talent brought in from Norwich (and brother of Jacob of Newcastle) who brings pace and flair to the Cardiff team. Aron Gunnarsson has been with Cardiff a while, joining from Coventry and is an Icelandic international, being chosen to go to Russia in the summer for the World Cup.
The Cardiff strikers have had a tough time so far, hitting the net only four times and maybe the manager needs to make them a bit more attacking, but then that will leave them more open to being picked off no doubt. Kenneth Zahore is untried at the top level, while Gary Madine has scored lower down the leagues with Bolton and Sheffield Wednesday. Both are big, physical specimens, who will give our central defenders a tough time in the air and Zahore has a bit of pace, while Madine relies on being in the right place at the right time - feeding on crosses or knock-downs. Danny Ward had brief Premier League playing time when with Bolton at the start of his career and one interesting signing Cardiff made during the summer was Bristol City's Bobby Reid. Another reasonably prolific scorer in the lower leagues, having played with Plymouth Argyle on loan while at the Ashton Gate club, he looks like the most natural goal-scorer at the Welsh club and if he plays, he will need to be tracked to ensure he isn't left alone near goal.
After the shocking defending at the start and end of the Barcelona game, Spurs may not start with Hugo Lloris and I am sure Poch would like to change around the defence, but lack of numbers makes that difficult. Dier will come back in and Juan Foyth might get a place on the bench. The news was that some of the injured wouldn't be fit before the international break, but now Jan might be out longer term, although Dele was seen in the gym at Hotspur Way in midweek, so that looks a bit more promising.Hopefully, Mauricio can patch up a side capable of taking maximum points in what will be a no-frills, war of attrition and Cardiff might fancy taking something, but I hope Spurs can show the same sort of clinical form they did last week to win going into the shut-down for international matches.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Cardiff City 0|
|RESULTS HISTORY||Click here for results, match reports and facts on meetings with Cardiff City|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Mousa Dembele and Serge Aurier are all out injured for Spurs.
TEAM NEWS :
Aron Gunnarsson is out for Cardiff with a knee injury.
|Premier League||Kick off 15:00|
|Tottenham Hotspur 1 (1)||
Dier 7m 55s
Sanchez (foul on Paterson) 51
Kane (confronting Ralls) 59
Alderweireld (foul on Murphy) 68
Arter (dissent) 90+5
|Crowd : 43,268||Weather : Wet; raining throughout|
|Referee : Mike Dean (Wirral)||Assistant Referees : Mr. Darren Cann; Mr. Dan Roathan|
|Fourth Official : Paul Tierney|
|Cardiff City kicked off and played towards the West Stand end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 7 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Cardiff City :||kit|
Hugo LLORIS (c)
Heung-Min SON (11
Erik LAMELA 72)
10 Harry KANE
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Manager : Neil Warnock|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Visit Malaysia|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : adidas|
The rain fell on a dank and dreary afternoon that preceded (and continued throughout) a dank and dreary game against Cardiff City that Tottenham ended up winning 1-0, thanks to an early goal by Eric Dier.
So often the butt of social media opprobrium, Dier popped up in the box in the eighth minute to sweep the ball past the keeper from a coupe of yards out after Trippier's cross from his short corner to Lucas had been headed down by Sanchez, with defender Bennett unable to do anything when the ball bounced at his feet and he was frozen (unsurprising in the wind and rain) on the spot, allowing Dier to react first with his right foot and give Spurs the lead. The corner had been won by Rose, who hit the ball too far beyond everyone from a corner just before and when it came back across the field to him, took it to the line before it was blocked for the dead ball that led to the goal.
What should then have been a procession lapsed into what has been this season's pattern. Twenty minutes of Cardiff dominance almost let them back in and a side a little better than them would have taken full advantage. Luckily, we are talking about the poorest team in the division and they couldn't make the most of the chances they had, while Spurs then hit back and pushed towards their goal again. When Murphy was released on the right of a central position, Hugo thought twice about dashing out, went back and then had to come out, forcing a hurried chip over him. Luckily, Toby Alderweireld was alert to what was happening and just as Junior Hoilett was poised to touch the ball home from a few inches out, he hooked the ball upwards and away beyond the way it had come from for a corner. How he managed to get the ball out and off is a wonder of the world, but his rescue was vital in not letting Cardiff have a way back into the match.
Cardiff's tactics looked straight out of a Sunday league team. With an elaborate (for them) routine at kick off, one player looked as if he was going to play the ball, but Josh Murphy ran up to thwack it straight at goal from the centre spot. Hugo was well aware of what was going on and the ball went wide, but the effort smacked of sheer desperation from the kick off. They did create a couple of good chances, with Morrison forcing Lloris to a low save form a free-kick that saw the ball hitting the post, coming back across goal before Alderweireld kicked it away.
The irritating Harry Arter had tried to test Lloris early on, but it was a straightforward save and the former Bournemouth man went back to doing what he does best; arriving late for tackles and back-chatting the officials, who showed their immense tolerance before booking him in the 94th minute. Sonny almost unlocked the massed Cardiff defence, with a jinking run that took him to the line, but his cross was grabbed by Etheridge low down. The second goal almost came in the 15th minute, with Lucas powering past players to pull the ball back to Sanchez, but his effort was blocked by Paterson in front of goal. Lucas' running was testing Cardiff, who couldn't cope with his dribbling. One run from tight on the line in our own half took him past three players in a slaloming run before being crudely upended by a frustrated blue shirt. Moura also had a chance when Sissoko latched onto Trippier's cute dinked pass into the box and pulled the ball back for the Brazilian, who shot straight at the keeper.
Harry Kane had been quiet, but with a man permanently ear-marked to stay with him, he had to drop deep to get the ball and it took him half an hour to have his first shot, running at goal from 40 yards out before unleashing a low drive from 25 yards out that Etheridge was right behind. Cardiff are a reasonably good defensive side, who throw their bodies into the line of fire and block shots and crosses, so they don't lose too many goals, but the sheer number of effort son goal mean that they are risking at least one getting through. It is a dangerous tactic, but one that Warnock obviously feels is workable.
The last quarter of an hour of the half saw Spurs push up to the Cardiff goal apart from one break that saw Murphy try and get onto a long ball. He did on the edge of the box and tried to poke it over Lloris, but the Spurs keeper timed his run out well and blocked the ball with his chest just inside his box and then played the ball outside his box with his feet to start another attack. Moura headed wide when out-jumping Morrison and then side-footed a shot wide from six yards out, after Son had taken the ball around Bamba very close to the line and passed back to Lucas. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to put his shot across the goal, but went for the near post and missed. Moussa Sissoko was having a decent game, but was too high with another Son set-up.
The incessant rain saw people in the first 26 rows of the lower tiers head for the shelter of the concourses, which were steamy with the evaporating dampness. There was more of that through the second half and there was no need to water the pitch at half-time. Whatever was going on in the Cardiff dressing room at half-time, it didn't work, because in the first minute, Rsoe was freed down the left and put in a cross that Kane headed goal-wards that Etheridge had to dive to save. Lucas was on it in a flash and followed it in with a shot that Morrison somehow managed to clear off the line. A goal at that stage might have seen off the Welsh side.
The Cardiff fans could have been watching too much bad rugby, as every time the ball hit a Spurs player in the chest they kept shouting "handball" - the game their nation is more famous for. In between blocking shots (witho9ut spurs fans claiming handball), Cardiff managed to get forward and Arter has a shot from the edge of the box, but Hugo didn't have to move to save it and then Son received the ball from Sissoko and put it square to Harry Kane, who put his shot narrowly wide after turning his man in the box.
Just before the hour, the moment that saw Warnock explode when Trippier was tackled from behind ten yards inside his own half, but a free-kick was not given, as the ball went forward to Lucas on the halfway line. He knocked it past Ralls on the turn and raced after it. With no covering player behind him, the Cardiff player took a look as Moura as he went level with him. He leant into him and then finished the job with a kick that took Lucas out with the ball about five yards away. While 40 yards from goal, the challenge was more than cynical and the referee's main role is to ensure the safety of players and with the recklessness of the challenge and the intent, there could only be one outcome. Kane was so incensed he grabbed Ralls, for which he got booked, but it was hardly surprising, as it was more in keeping with the Barcelona game of 1982. Warnock was jumping up and down on the touchline and Dean was lenient with him, as he should have been showing him a card of some description (as refs are allowed to do now), but opted for a chat with him.
Cardiff stuck with the two banks of four in front of the ball (having started in a 4-1-4-1 formation) and tried to quell the tide of attacks, while looking to hit on the break. Tottenham continued to go forward and Winks blasted over from 20 yards out, but Toby brought down Murphy on halfway, prompting calls for him to be sent off, but it was not a violent challenge like Ralls', so you could say he was cleverer than the Cardiff man in stopping the Cardiff winger getting away, but it just highlighted Ralls' crass way of going about his business. That was just after Lloris stopped Morrison's header and after that Cardiff rarely threatened.
More good work by Sonny and Lucas opened up space on the left for Danny Rose to get into the box, come inside Sol Bamba and to go down under his challenge, Dean waved way moderate appeals for a penalty. This was Son's last involvement, as Erik Lamela replaced him, I am sure, with a view to running at a tiring defence. He showed just that with a run on the right, coming inside into the box but firing a weak curling effort into Etheridge's arms. He was on the spot again, in the box to meet Rose's cross, only to see Bamba get in the way of his effort.
Warnock made a double change, bringing on Harris and Ward for Hoilett and Paterson, but Ward lasted a grand total of four minutes before limping off to be replaced by Bobby Reid, while Wanyama substituted Sissoko, as Pochettino looked to shore up the midfield to seal the win. Rose went over under a foul challenge by Murphy, having to be replaced by Ben Davies, who was finding lots of space where Rose had previously, but he was not finding the ball coming his way. Lucas almost got away from Bamba, but his legs gave out on him, as he had put in a lot of work across the midfield today. Arter picked up his late booking, Tottenham kept the ball in the final third, which also seemed to annoy Warnock, although he tried to turn this into some sort of weird positive that he was happy Spurs had to resort to this. Most people would call it game management. Warnock calls it a compliment.
It was all that a lot of Spurs fans expected. Not a spectacle, but managing to win out against a side, who rarely looked threatening in a football sense. Although Spurs are still yet to hit their stride, sitting in third place with 18 points - our joint best total after eight games - isn't a bad position to be in.
In my opinion, Cardiff are the new Middlesbrough. Idea-less sides managed by an objectionable coach producing eminently forgettable matches. I hope that we will be fortunate enough for the Premier League website not to have to include their details for too much longer. They say that football is about opinions and Neil Warnock is entitled to his, but if he really thinks that Ralls should not have been sent off for his 'foul' on Lucas, then he should be done for bringing the game into disrepute. The fact that it wasn't a goal-scoring opportunity doesn't need to come into it. When the midfielder looked at Moura and then decided to barge him over and then scythe his legs from under him, he forfeited all rights to be on a football pitch. That type of challenge should not be one seen on a football pitch, wherever on the pitch it happens to be perpetrated. And for Warnock to say that the Spurs players got him sent off is a complete fallacy. Dean was reaching to his back pocket as he approached the scene of the crime. And Warnock is being not a little hypocritical when he said that, because he rants and raves about all and sundry and would be the first to be calling for someone to be sent off if they had done that to one of his players. He has obviously been successful in getting teams promotion, but he is not successful in adding anything to the game that his sides take part in. He said this week that he was worried about getting the sack. Well, he doesn't have to worry, as it will be coming his way soon.
A side who have only scored four goals says a lot for the Cardiff approach. And when their fans tried to breach the sheeting between them and the Spurs fans at the end, it smacked of 1980s hooliganism, which might be all the vogue where they come from, but in the remainder of the world, it is an anachronism that shows the visitors supporters up for what they are.
1-0 wasn't great. The weather wasn't great. Spurs weren't great and Warnock wasn't great in suggesting that he was proud of his team and happy with a 1-0 defeat, as they did well after the early goal. He might be happy with that, but many more results like that he is happy with and he will not be happy (unless he gets the ritual pay-off). Spurs were tired after running after the ball all Wednesday night. Cardiff couldn't take advantage of that and it leaves them nailed to the bottom of the table, so a swift return to the Championship might be on the cards.
Tottenham will welcome the three points and the rest before their next game after the international break. Hopefully, some of our injured players will be ready to return and we can start putting together some performances like the last three seasons and convert this good run of indifferent play, into a good run of good form.
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|What you thought|
|Benny The Ball||
Warnock said he didn't think Harry Kane should be trying to get
other professionals sent off. I don't think he should do that
either. Joe Ralls seems more than capable of getting sent off
without any help.
|The Heathrow Spur||I
enjoyed Jonathan Liew's comment on Sky Sports' "Sunday Supplement"
that if Ralls was going for the ball, he is very bad at his job !
He did say that the incident could be described as an assault, as it
wasn't a tackle or a challenge and the other contributors to the
programme pointed out that the treatment handed out to Manchester
City on a couple of occasions has been raised in the Press.
They also said that Cardiff's football is out of touch with the
modern game, likening it to "grainy footage" of the likes of
nostalgia tinged 'Good Old Days' when the likes of Graeme Souness
and Steve McMahon roamed the midfield.
|Sid E. Netting||
What is Warnock getting so rile dup about, when Ralls was sent off.
His diabolical assault was nothing less than arrestable and as a
citizen, Kane was right to try and apprehend the assailant. As
usual, it is a well known tactic to try and deflect the focus away
from the disgusting incident, as many managers have done before him.
Where he should be
criticising his own player for the foul and letting his team-mates
down, he tries to put the blame elsewhere. Whether Vincent Tan
is savvy enough to know that his side are going nowhere other than
down under the current management, I don't know, but maybe some of
the massive entourage around him might mention it.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||1||West Ham United London||0||Friday|
|Crystal Palace||0||Wolverhampton Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|Manchester United||3||Newcastle United||2||Saturday|
|League Table 2018-19|
|13||Brighton & Hove Albion||8||2||2||5||8||13||8||-4|
|15||West Ham United London||8||2||1||5||8||13||7||-5|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 5th
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