Looking Forward

 

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (Home)

Premier League

Saturday 6th December 2003

Having seen off Manchester City in the Carling Cup in a pretty convincing manner, will Spurs deal with Wolves in the way that they were dispatched from the Carling Cup at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road ?

Well, a good deal will depend on the fitness of Fredi Kanoute, although now Postiga is off the mark, perhaps that is not entirely the case.  Te defence is fairly strong, but Wolverhampton have picked up the knack of battling for points in the Premiership after being sunk in their first few matches.

Manager David Jones is not willing to accept that his side are relegation favourites and will ensure that his side scrap for everything that they can pick up.  To that extent, he will rely heavily on the experience of Paul Ince in the midfield and Denis Irwin at the back.  The ex-Man U pairing will give him old heads, but with them come old legs and it may be that the likes of Ricketts can get after these players to exploit their fading pace.

Michael Oakes is in goal and his large frame might come in useful if we start hitting the target, but he has been subject to some errors and although he has replaced the more inexperienced Matt Murray (out with a broken foot anyway), Oakes still needs to prove himself at the top level, which is why Jones has been looking to bring in an international replacement and has brought in Andy Marshall from Ipswich as cover.

The defence will be fairly solid, but the need to blend with the midfield has left them stretched on occasion, which leaves space for the opponents to move into and punish them from.  Local lad Lee Naylor has come up through the ranks with Wolves and has held down the left back slot, while inside him are Jody Craddock and Paul Butler both acquired from Sunderland and they are tall and tough, but might be suspect against a little tricky player like Keane.  On the other flank is Oleg Luzhny, who we all know about, so that should ensure plenty of joy there, or Irwin.

Alongside Ince in midfield is the temperamental Alex Rae, who often gets sent off against Spurs, but can be the tough tackling midfielder that we have trouble against, as we do against speedy wide man like Shaun Newton, who always gave us trouble when he was at Charlton.  Keith Andrews, I don't know much about apart from he's Irish, has come up through the system at Wolves and was on loan at Stoke last season.  Sound like he might struggle in Premiership company.  One player who ahs some recent Premiership experience is Joey Gudjohnsson, who is on loan from Real Betis, as he was last season at Aston Villa.  Scored some good free-kicks and showed he knows how to get sent off, but apart from that failed to make enough of an impression to earn a contract at Villa Park.   Mark Kennedy and Colin Cooper both dropped down the divisions and were signed from Millwall and Wimbledon respectively, but neither really ahs realised their potential, with Kennedy especially failing to make the grade at Liverpool after bright things were expected from him.

In attack Nathan Blake provides an old fashioned centre-forward's presence and Kenny Miller the one who likes to feed off one of those players.  The Scot has been missed while out injured, so his return will hearten the Black Country fans, as he is a potential scorer for a team who lack natural finishers.  Speaking of whom, Steffen Iversen is in the squad these days, but his total is negligible ... until he returns to the Lane probably !!  The other striker likely to be in the side plays just behind the front two and it will be interesting to see him play, as he is a real favourite at Molineux and he is one player that we nearly signed too apparently - Henri Camara.  The Senegal striker has been lively and has impressed many old pros who have seen him, so he might need to be watched more closely than some others !!

There are a number of Wolves players out injured, with striker George Ndah out for a couple of months with a knee injury, the injury that has ruled promising defender Joleon Leescott out for virtually the whole season.  Ince and Iversen are troubled with knee and thigh problems, so might not make the starting eleven, while Scottish striker Colin Cameron has had a strained stomach muscle.  Then injuries have disrupted the continuity of the side, but then that happens to most Premier League teams during the season, being dealt with by having the depth in your squad to cope with that and suspensions.

The importance of this match should not be underestimated, as defeats by Bolton and Blackburn have dragged us down into the lower reaches and a win here could add much needed space between Spurs and the bottom of the table.  For that reason, I think the incentive will be there and the confidence gained from the win in midweek will lead to an end result of ...

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham  2     Wolverhampton Wanderers   1

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

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE

How do you think your team have played this season ?

Pretty crap, except for a couple of matches - Man City home, Fulham and Bolton away and, of course the second half of the game against Leicester.

Who do you think is your best player at the moment ?

Alex Rae by a country mile.

Which player isn't playing as well in recent games ?

Everybody (except Rae) in our last match.

Any exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for ?

Henri Camara

How is that Steffen Iversen getting on ?  Is he injured all the time ??

Injured, no - but almost everyone else is. Iversen's had one good match, but can't seem to fit in to the 4-5-1 formation that we are playing at the moment.  He'll go down in Wolves history though as the first Wolves player to score in the Premiership.

What is the line-up expected to be ?

Oakes
Irwin - Butler - Craddock - Naylor
Camara  - Gudjonsson - Ince - Rae - Kennedy
Blake

What do you your fans think of Tottenham ?

I suppose most can't remember the UEFA Cup final.  I've heard a bit of talk about getting beaten up outside White Hart Lane, but mostly we're probably just jealous, 'cause you've been in the Premier League so long and that Robbie Keane plays for you.

Which Spurs player do you like ?

Robbie Keane

What do you reckon the score will be ?

2-0 to Tottenham

Thanks to
Carl at Wolves Stats ...
 
http://
www.wolves.stats.btinternet.co.uk

COVERAGE : 
TV :  No live coverage
Radio :  No live coverage
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast    

 

 

Tottenham   5      Wolverhampton Wanderers   2     (Half-time score : 1-1)
Premier League
Saturday 6th December 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Chilly wind, dry
Referee : -  U. Rennie (Sheffield)
Crowd : -  34,825
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr (c), Richards, Gardner, Taricco; Anderton, King, Poyet (Dalmat 77), Ricketts (Konchesky 68); Kanoute, Keane
Unused Subs : -  Burch, Mabizela, Postiga

Wolverhampton Wanderers : -  Oakes; Naylor, Butler, Craddock, Irwin; Kennedy, Ince (c), Rae (Miller 87), Cameron; Blake (Sturridge 58), Camara
Unused Subs : -  Marshall, Luzhny, Gudjonsson

Colours : -    (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Wolverhampton Wanderers
Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  Keane 30, 76, 84, Kanoute 50, Dalmat 90

Wolverhampton Wanderers -  Ince 31, Rae 85

Cards : -  
Tottenham  -  Richards (foul) 13, Anderton (persistent fouls) 75

Wolverhampton Wanderers - None

A treble from Robbie Keane stole the limelight in a match that could easily have gone either way with a simple missed opportunity by Henri Camara leaving Wolves with the long trek to the Black Country pointless.

The opening exchanges had seen Anderton picking out Dean Richards, but his first touch was heavy and allowed Oakes to stifle his shot, then Keller was in action at the other end with a straightforward save from a difficult, bouncing ball from Ince's volleyed shot.

The match had been meandering along without any great excitement when Darren Anderton fed Ledley King in the 29th minute and his delicate through ball set Robbie Keane in on goal and he slipped his shot past Oakes to give Tottenham the lead.  Keane's respect for the Wolves fans was shown in the absence of his usual cart-wheel celebration.

Just as well he didn't celebrate, as it wouldn't have lasted long, with Wolves equalising straight away.  They broke on the left and as the ball was worked across the box, they got a lucky bounce that fell in Ince's path and he repeated Richard's mis-control.  Unfortunately for Spurs, he stretched to win the ball and Taricco's attempted block was feeble, leaving the ball coming off the former Manchester United man's boot and flying low past Kasey.

This did not prevent Spurs from passing the ball and a neat move ended with Ricketts threading a pass through the visitors defence and Keane was onto it in a flash.  He took the ball into the area, but thrashed it wide when he found himself in a similar situation to the first goal.  Shortly after that he jumped to try and intercept a cross-field ball and appeared to tweak a muscle, as he spent the rest of the half limping.

With Wolves back in the game, they also were more adventurous going forward and when Nathan Blake muscled his way through, he lobbed the ball up and over the advancing Keller, but it dropped way wide of the net.  It was getting a bit worrying, as the same player ran through a number of weak challenges from the halfway line to win a corner, when his final shot was blocked.

At the break, we all thought that Postiga would come on for the limping Keane and so, when the Irishman appeared for the second half, we were worried that his injury might be worsened by his playing on.  We needn't have worried, as although he did little else in the half, what he did do, he did like a master.

However, the lack of urgency among the Spurs players seemed alarming, especially when they won a throw-in on the right wing about 15 yards out.  Anderton looped the throw to Carr, who knocked it back.  Darren showed with one good cross that it can open a defence up easily and Fredi rose highest to glance the ball past Oakes to make it 2-1.  It was a simple goal, when Tottenham always seem to want to go for the complicated to score a goal !!

With Ricketts not getting much joy on the left, Pleat swapped him for Konchesky and the change didn't seem to work initially.  Dean Sturridge had replaced Blake and his speedy, direct running was troubling Spurs, especially Richards, who was having a bit of a 'mare against his old side.  This precipitated a slip by the Spurs centre-half leaving Sturridge the chance to run into the right side of the box.  His low pull-back was straight to Henri Camara, the Senegal midfielder, who was on the edge of the six-yard box and managed to get his shot off the bar and over the top.  At 2-2 at that point, Tottenham might have been panicked like they were on Wednesday.

Kanoute had hit a shot, just like the one against Everton, which Oakes had done well to manouevre his feet to spring and push over the bar, but it was a couple of minutes after Camara's miss that Tottenham snapped into action and it was Keane who got in the frame to notch his second.  Konchesky was in acres of space as Spurs broke away on the left and with Anderton piling forward at the far post, the loan player's cross was volleyed home by Keane, who made a run between two defenders who let him go.  It was slack marking and it had probably cost Wolves the match, as what came after was just a consequence of that goal.

Dalmat replaced the ineffectual Poyet and on 82 minutes, Keane rounded off his hat-trick with a simple tap-in after Konchesky's early low cross was headed at Oakes by Anderton and as the Wolves keeper blocked his effort, Robbie tidied up by knocking home the ball.  But again, Spurs slept, as a ball in from the right by Sturridge was met by Rae, who hit a cross hot that crept inside the post to make it 4-2.  As the game was played with two minutes added on, Stephane Dalmat made sure of the points for Tottenham.  Picking up the ball about 30 yards out on the right wing, he ran at two defenders, moved the ball from his right foot to his left to get between them and as the ball just entered the penalty area, he unleashed a shot of such ferocity that Oakes was left waving at it as it sped past him into the top corner of the net !!  It was a brief glimpse of what the Frenchman is capable of and one that we hope we will see more of in the future.

Once more, Tottenham were being bettered in midfield for periods of this match and the need for a dominating player in this area of the pitch is obvious.  Ledley did well, but there were few crunching tackles going on there with Rae and Ince getting stuck in more than our players, although we ended up with two booked !!  But then it was Rennie who was in the black.  Robbie finished like only he can and despite playing the second half on one leg, he was excellent ... just the sort of goal-scorer Tottenham have been seeking for years, but with Fredi hitting almost a goal a game, he's not far behind.

Wolves looked a poor side on this showing, but we were equally as bad for spells and with two games against Newcastle and Manchester United coming up, we must step things up another gear if we hope to get anything more than a lesson in how to play.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ROBBIE KEANE

Paxton Pete

 

THREE'S A CROWD

 

It was back to the old days of Chris Armstrong with Keano not celebrating his three goals that helped Spurs eventually ease away to victory against Wolves in this match, which was watched by a number of empty blue plastic seats.

The stipulation that this would be graded as a Category B game (39) because of Wolves alleged large hooligan following was perhaps borne out by the heavy Police presence on the streets from early on the day.  Most of the Wolves fans I met were friendly and up for the game ... and not a lot more.  They saw their side score twice and although they ended up losing, they must have had a good day out.  Spurs fans are obviously getting used to being treated to nothing more than a tepid display and that is why they chose not to turn out in numbers for this game.  However, this entertaining game might well have been down to the failings that both teams exhibit at the moment.

Robbie Keane helped himself to a glee-less hat-trick with a neat one-in-one finish past Oakes, a volley from Konchesky's cross and a poacher's effort when the Wolves keeper beat out Anderton's header.  With a twinge or two from a leg injury, he looked like he wouldn't make it past the half-time whistle, but came out and did enough to prove his worth.  Kanoute looked keen to bring the ball down and use it, but the out-numbering by the Wolves players left him frustrated most of the time.  His first time cracker of a shot in the second half had Oakes back-pedaling to get it over the bar and he was a worry to the away defence, with his pace and movement.  None more so than when he made a typical striker's move to get across the face of his marker to glance Anderton's right wing cross into the bottom corner of the goal.  Anderton had another good game and as many Spurs fans have always thought, his most effective position is out wide rather than through the middle of midfield.  His crosses and through passes bear more results from that area of the pitch.

Carr looked inhibited in going forward, as he has done for much of this season.  He did well in defence and maybe the weight of carrying the captain's armband is making him more aware of his duties back there.  Gardner did well, but Deano had a wobbly match with him being turned on a number of occasions and he lost a great chance to open the scoring early in the match when he failed to take a shot first time and tried to control it, but it got away from him and Oakes smothered his shot when it eventually came in.  Taricco could have done a lot better with Ince's equaliser and he looked like he was willing to wind the Wolves players up to the maximum.  It is a shame he has to resort to that, as without it he might be a better player.

Gus was anonymous for long periods of the game, putting in a few hard tackles, but his lack of mobility make sit difficult for Ledley to cover in the middle of midfield.  King looked comfortable picking off Wolves passes and flicking the ball around and over opponents, but he is hardly the most likely to up-end someone in the style of Ince, who had a bit of a laugh with the Spurs fans after earning a free-kick when getting fouled by Ricketts.  A hard man in midfield might balance things better.  Having said that, when the silky skills of Dalmat were added near the end, he made them pay.  One piece of trickery on the edge of his won box had our hearts in our mouths, but the trickery he demonstrated at the other end was more like what we want to see.  A flair player like Dalmat has to be given a certain degree of freedom and when two defenders converged on him, it looked like they would splatter him all over the running track, but shifting the ball from right to left foot, he left them standing and ran on to hit an unstoppable drive past Oakes. 

Ricketts was quiet in comparison to some recent displays, but that can only be expected in his first season in the first team, but he still puts in the effort and having suffered a calf injury in midweek, he might still be feeling that.  While right at the back, Keller had little chance with either goal, the defenders not getting in the way of each attempt, but he did make vital stops.  Firstly from Ince's header just before the break, when he got a leg in the way of the effort from a yard away and then another leg blocking Sturridge's shot from a narrow angle, while doing enough to put off Camara, the incident that the game turned on.

As for the other side, there looked little more than a return to the Nationwide on this evidence.  We didn't play that well, but our finishing was clinical in the second half making the difference between the two sides in the end.  Poor defending was another Wolves failing, with at least two of the goals avoidable, leaving their task uphill all the way.  It is nice to have Wolves in the Premier League, as it feels proper for someone of my age to have them on the fixture list, but unless they learn some harsh lessons quickly, they will drop back down a division.  A shame, but there you go and one that Tottenham had to capitalise on when they could to get up the table and get some space between us and the bottom sides.

Peter O'Hanrahanrahan

 

Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 0 Blackburn Rovers 4 Saturday

Everton

0 Manchester City 0 Sunday
Fulham 2 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Leeds United 1 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Leicester City 1 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Manchester United 4 Aston Villa 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 0 Portsmouth 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 1 Saturday
SCBC 3 Charlton Athletic 2 Sunday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 15 11 3 1 29 9 36 +20
2 Arsenal 15 10 5 0 29 11 35 +18
3 Manchester United 14 11 1 3 29 9 34 +20
4 Fulham 15 7 4 4 26 19 25 +7
5 Liverpool 15 6 4 5 22 16 22 +6
6 Charlton Athletic 15 6 4 5 22 20 22 +2
7 Newcastle United 15 5 6 4 21 20 21 +1
8 SCBC 15 5 5 5 11 10 20 +11
9 Birmingham City 15 5 5 5 12 18 20 -6
10 Manchester City 15 5 4 6 22 19 19 +3
11 Middlesbrough 15 5 4 6 12 15 19 -3
12 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 15 5 3 7 18 20 18 -2
13 Bolton Wanderers 15 4 6 5 14 21 18 -7
14 Blackburn Rovers 14 5 2 7 22 23 17 -1
15 Leicester City 15 4 4 7 23 23 16 0
16 Portsmouth 15 4 4 7 17 20 16 -3
17 Everton 15 3 5 7 15 19 14 -4
18 Aston Villa 15 3 5 7 11 21 14 -10
19 Leeds United 15 3 3 9 14 35 12 -21
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15 2 5 8 11 32 11 -21

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