Looking Forward

 

Middlesbrough  (Away)

Premier League

Saturday 7th May 2005

Like last weekend, we find ourselves up against a fellow UEFA Cup hopeful side in Middlesbrough.  All to play for in a one-off match, with the remaining League game awaiting eight days later, but this match could make qualification for Europe a lot clearer.

A win will leave the other side a lot to do on the last day and with their destiny in the hands of others.  Boro travel to Man. City, where Stuart Pearce will want his team to win to prove he is the man for their manager's job.  Spurs will face a tough home game against Blackburn's brawlers ... never ones to give a goal away lightly and with players like Dickov, Savage and Flitcroft in their ranks, you know you are in for a bruising afternoon.  A draw will mean that Spurs will have to outdo the result that Boro get at Eastlands.

There has been a European adventure for Middlesbrough this season, but it all came to a halt when they got beaten by a clinical Sporting Lisbon side, who went on to beat Newcastle.  The experience will add to their desire to get back into the UEFA Cup, while Spurs will be keen to re-enter Europe and Martin Jol will be keen to pit his wits with his continental counterparts.

With Tottenham missing Paul Robinson in goal, there may be two unfamiliar faces at either end of the pitch.  Brad Jones has been featuring in the Boro goal in the absence of Schwarzer and has done well, letting in only two goals in three matches.  He will be tested with the lively Defoe no doubt starting up front with Kanoute and with the midfielders now getting forward a bit more, they will be putting in crosses from wide positions.

Trying to stop that tactic will be Franck Queudrue and Andrew Davies, both of whom have weaknesses.  The Frenchman is rash, as his tackle on Pamarot that got him sent off at WHL showed and Andrew Davies, the Rod Stewart look-a-like, who could have been at QPR and is suspect on the turn, so players might have a chance against him.  Michael Reiziger has only just established himself in the Boro side after being out injured at the start of the season and has been a sub lately. Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu will pair up in the middle of the defence and Southgate could have a torrid time against Fredi, if our Malian is on song after his double last week.  His trickery could provide the former Palace defender with problems and his control will test Southgate in the air.  Ehiogu is perhaps more likely to take Fredi, while Southgate could concentrate on Defoe.  Ugo has been badly hit by injuries over the years and these may have taken a toll on the big man.  As for Chris Riggott, he had a great reputation at Derby, but since arriving on Teeside, he has suffered injury and loss of form, but now he was getting an extended run with Ehiogu missing long term. 

The midfield contains a variety of talents, with Brazilian Doriva to Dutchman George Boateng, covering Ray Parlour, James Downing, Stuart Parnaby, James Morrison and Boudewijn Zenden on the way.  Doriva is a hard working player with some good ability to pick out a pass through the narrowest of angles, whereas Boateng works hard for the benefit of others.  Parlour you know all about and Downing is the glittering new talent who is the solution to the England left sided problem.  Quick and with a fine shot, he is a dangerous player, but Stephen Kelly will relish the test against him.  Zenden also has a turn of pace and a wicked shot, but he is not the player he was a couple of seasons back, so will need to be shepherded away from goal and into a blind alley.  He has been preferred to the youngsters Parnaby and Morrison.  Parnaby was also touted as a major player for Boro when he broke into the team, but has not made the impact that has been necessary to shift some of the imports.  Morrison, I must admit, I know little about.

With Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink still raising his eyebrows higher than the stakes in the Champions League, be assured that there will be plenty of arm-waving from the Dutch hit-man.  Strong and single-minded on scoring, he will be a difficult opponent for Michael Dawson and Ledley King.  Playing up front with him, will be Szilard Nemeth, as the club are almost right out of forwards. Job, Viduka and Christie are all out injured, so it is Hobson's choice.  The Slovak is a clever player, but he sometimes is sidelined from the action and would be more effective in the mix of the play, but he can finish well, as he proved at Liverpool and WBA recently.

With this game virtually being a play-off for Europe, the sides will be nervous and although Spurs have a poor record at the Riverside in recent years, the away form this season is very good.  Boro were supposed to have played well against Liverpool, but were lucky to beat WBA 4-0, after being under the cosh before they scored their first goal.  Even though Spurs went nap against Villa, I cannot see a free-scoring match here and the odd goal will settle it and Defoe will be just the man to do so ... 

PREDICTION : -   Middlesbrough  0   Tottenham Hotspur  1

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

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

MIDDLESBROUGH :  Mark Viduka (hamstring); Malcolm Christie (fractured foot); Gazieka Mendieta (knee); McMahon (knee); Ross Turnbull (fractured hand); Colin Cooper (hip); Joseph Desire Job (knee); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Noe Pamarot (knee); Pedro Mendes (toe); Michael Brown (fractured foot); Anthony Gardner (foot); Noureddine Naybet (ankle); Paul Robinson (knee) ; Thimothee Atouba (ankle)

IF TRAVELLING TO MIDDLESBROUGH

The Sporting Lodge Inn Middlesbrough offers a 3 night stay for the price of two = 99 (standard room) or 119 (family room).
Phone Joanne on 01642 578141, quoting JMF04.

Location : - Approaching from the South - turn off the A19 onto the A174 East (right).
Take the first slip road signposted to Yarm on the B1380.  Stay in the left hand lane and bear left at the T junction, following the road over the bridge to the roundabout.
Take the second exit, signposted the
B1380 to Yarm.
The Sporting Lodge Inn is located 200 yards on the right hand side.

Coverage

TV :
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.
The Premier League site has details of coverage wherever you are in the world.  Click here for details.

Radio :  
BBC London Digital Radio (click here for details).
For coverage elsewhere in the world, click here to access the Premier League site.

Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
Planet football - http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs_match_new.ram (free - only available when match is on)

 

 

Middlesbrough   1    Tottenham Hotspur   0      (Half-time score : 0-1)
Premier League Venue :   Riverside Stadium
Saturday 7th May 2005 Kick Off :  15.00 p.m.
Crowd :   34,766 Referee :   Dermot Gallagher (Banbury)
Weather :  Sunshine, hail, rain
Teams : - 
Middlesbrough :

Schwarzer

Parnaby
Southgate (c)
Ehiogu
Queudrue

Parlour
Boateng
Zenden (Doriva 79)
Downing

Hasselbaink
Nemeth

Unused subs: 
Reiziger
Cooper
Morrison
Knight

Tottenham Hotspur :

Cerny

Edman
King
Dawson
Kelly

Reid (Mido 70)
Carrick
Davis
Davies

Kanoute (Ziegler 84)
Defoe
(Keane 59)

Unused Subs: 
Bunjevcevic
Fulop 

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

Boateng 12

Tottenham Hotspur

None

Cards : -  
Middlesbrough

   
Southgate (foul) 39

 

     

Tottenham Hotspur

   
Davis (foul) 7
Carrick (not retreating ten yards) 18
Mido (foul) 71

     

Match Report : -  
A tepid performance in the rain and hail at the Riverside Stadium saw Spurs' European hopes all but evaporate with just one game left to play.

The players never really got going in what was expected to be one of the matches of the season in terms of those that make a difference to the club's future.  But there was rarely a troubled moment for Schwarzer in the Boro goal and Cerny did what he had to do, but his goal was under far more threat than the one at the other end.

From the second minute when Boateng won a tackle with Davis and the ball was worked to Nemeth, who crashed his shot onto the bar, it looked like Spurs were second best to most of the things that happened in the game.  The fact that Spurs were off the pace showed in the bookings that were picked up.  Davis's tackle on Zenden caught him late and Carrick was slow to think when he obstructed a free-kick and picked up a yellow card.  Mido was the only one that could be classed as decisive, as he wasted no time in getting cautioned after coming on as a sub and fouling Parnaby within a minute of entering the action.  Mind you, it was a bit frustrating when the ref let Parlour get away with an elbow, when he was booking Spurs players for a little misdemeanour.

Following Davis' foul, Downing hit the first of what proved to be many shots on the day.  This free-kick curled over, but in the next attack, in the 11th minute, a forward move broke down and Zenden raced upfield.  He played it into the box, where he found Nemeth, but pushed wide he made the lay-back to Boateng, who produced a shot from outside the box that caught Ledley King's ankle and left Cerny committed to going one way to save and the ball taking a path into the opposite side of the goal.  So, Middlesbrough took the lead in what was always going to be a tight game.

While Boro produced a number of chances, Spurs enjoyed more possession, but failed to make their opponents work as a result of it.  A Kanoute cross had Davies and Reid at the far post, but Parnaby got between them to knock the ball out for a corner.  After the half-hour, Sean Davis broke past Boateng and he opted to shoot, but his effort was blocked by Ugo Ehiogu.  

With Southgate picking up a booking for fouling Kanoute, he was luck not to incur further wrath a minute or so later, when he committed a foul on the same player.  Schwarzer kicked a long ball downfield and Edman could only clear to Downing, who took the ball past Dawson and rasped a shot just wide of the post.  Davis once more left Boateng behind and hit a volley over the bar, after a patient build-up saw Fredi chest the ball down for the midfielder to have his shot.

One of the early rash of corners we earned fell in the area and sparked off a melee, but the ball did not go in.  Keano came on for the mostly anonymous Defoe and a corner on the hour was cleared out to Edman, who knocked the ball back in the area and Keane spun to volley it over his shoulder, but only found the large frame of Schwarzer.  At the Spurs end, Radek Cerny showed good handling and anticipation to prove he could be a suitable stand-in for Robinson.

An Andy Reid free-kick produced a headed chance for King, who put it over the top in the 62nd minute and then Reid was replaced by Mido, who was supposed to add some power to the attack.  unfortunately, he did not receive much service and he found himself well marked to shut him out of the game.  Carrick almost opened up the Boro defence, as he flighted a pass just a foot too far in front of Robbie Keane.

As the home side seemed content to have the 1-0 win ,they sat deep, inviting Tottenham onto them, while trying to hit on the break.  This they did successfully, as they have players with pace and Cerny was on his toes to keep out a Hasselbaink shot and then a blocked shot from the same player.  Downing was trying to do a Geoff Hurst by shooting as hard as he could at every opportunity, which brought Cerny into action once more and Tottenham's only respite was when a free-kick just before the 90 minutes were up saw Keano try his flick up and volley free-kick routine, but as before, it failed to have the same result as Jamie Redknapp had once produced.

With time running out and Tottenham going for the equaliser, Hasselbaink fired over the bar, when he should really have scored, while Nemeth struck a scorcher just past the post in injury time.

Jol tried everything, including the substitutions which took the side from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and then back to 4-4-2.  Three forwards on at one time and then Ziegler came on to add a bit more width.  But it didn't come off.

Boro looked more up for it from the start and Spurs couldn't get the game going the way last week's victory over Villa went.  The high tempo failed to materialise and the time for Europe is obviously not just yet.

Mathematically, there is still a chance to get through.  Man City beat Boro and Spurs beat Blackburn by two more goals than Man City win and that will do.  Having seen Spurs fail in games that they should win, trying to "do the math" will not appeal, when sometimes the team just can't "do the match."

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN KELLY

Sam Lowry

 

SAY BO(RO) SELECTOR

 

With a fine win behind them, Spurs headed North to Boro, in the hope of taking a big step towards Europe with a win over their main challengers for the UEFA Cup place associated with 7th place.  What they achieved was a step backwards, as the team put in another pasty away performance and Boro seized the initiative and have left Tottenham with little chance of making European competition next season.

The first thought on seeing the team was "Why start with Defoe ?"  He has been struggling for form and with Keane and Kanoute last week, the forward line looked very good.  I realise that Jermain is one who can score a goal out of nothing and has the ability to make runs that distract defenders, but the lack of goals away from home has hurt the team and having got five the week before, should Jol have started with the same side ?

From the off, Boro were that much quicker to the ball and Spurs found that Dermot Gallagher was keen to add a few names to his yellow card collection.  Downing was shooting on sight and put a free-kick over the bar and Nemeth hit it before Middlesbrough took the lead.  And it was from a Spurs attack !!  The move was broken down and Zenden was allowed to go a long way before he played the ball right to Nemeth, but the pass was over-hit and he went wide of the goal.  However, he was composed enough to pass the ball back to the on-running Boateng, whose drive was deflected in by Ledley King's ankle.  On another day, it might have been we claimed it was another case of bad luck hitting Tottenham, but today we could not complain, as we failed to produce a decent effort on goal in the first half.

Davis hit two shots on goal, one was blocked and the other over, while Downing raced away from Dawson, but his shot was low and just a foot off target, luckily for Spurs.  Apart from the efforts by Davis, Schwarzer had a quiet first 45.

The second half proved little more demanding for the Aussie between the Boro sticks, with Keane's volley the only direct shot he had to field.  Cerny was glad to see Hasselbaink hit a late effort over the top and he had to beat out Nemeth's shot, while Downing and Nemeth both saw shots going wide.

It was a terribly disappointing showing when the prize of Europe was so close.  Too many players had off days on the one day we needed them to be switched on.  Jol said afterwards that the team are still young and lack the experience to go to places like Boro and get results.  That is true of course, but the line-up might have been better selected to make the likelihood of bringing home the points greater.  The fact that Spurs have scored only 11 goals away from home all season tells a tale.  It is something that needs to be addressed before next season's campaign.

East Stan

 

Other scores this weekend and midweek :
Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 2 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Fulham 3 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Charlton Athletic 0 Saturday
Crystal Palace 2 SCBC 2 Saturday
Everton 2 Newcastle United 0 Saturday
Manchester United 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 Saturday
Norwich City 1 Birmingham City 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday

Arsenal

3 Liverpool 1 Sunday
Manchester United 1 Chelsea 3 Tuesday

Arsenal

7 Everton 0 Wednesday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 37 29 7 1 71 14 94 +57
2 Arsenal 37 25 8 4 86 34 83 +52
3 Manchester United 37 21 11 5 56 25 74 +31
4 Everton 37 18 7 12 43 43 61 0
5 Liverpool 37 16 7 14 50 40 55 +10
6 Bolton Wanderers 37 15 10 12 46 42 55 +4
7 Middlesbrough 37 14 12 11 52 45 54 +7
8 Manchester City 37 13 12 12 46 38 51 +8
9 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 37 14 9 14 47 41 51 +6
10 Aston Villa 37 12 11 14 44 50 47 -6
11 Charlton Athletic 37 12 9 16 40 56 45 -16
12 Newcastle United 37 10 13 14 46 56 43 -10
13 Birmingham City 37 10 12 15 38 45 42 -7
14 Blackburn Rovers 37 9 14 14 31 43 41 -12
15 Fulham 37 11 8 18 46 60 41 -14
16 Portsmouth 37 10 9 18 43 57 39 -14
17 Norwich City 37 7 12 18 42 72 33 -30
18 SCBC 37 6 14 17 44 64 32 -20
19 Crystal Palace 37 7 11 19 39 60 32 -21
20 West Bromwich Albion 37 5 16 16 34 61 31 -27

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