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Premier League

Sunday 9th December 2007

With a victory in three of their last five games since getting hammered 6-0 at Chelsea, Manchester City are rebuilding their good start to the season under new boss Sven Goran Eriksson.  The Swede was wrongly criticised as manager of England, doing better than any of his predecessors and his achievements as a club coach are very considerable.

Spurs will find themselves up against a side who are good at home (as we will find out in a week and a half's time in the League Cup), but struggle away and are without a point on the road since their win at West Ham on the opening day of the season.  Not that such a record has any bearing on Tottenham's performance against such teams, as Birmingham proved last week.

With that in mind and a tiring game under their belts at Anderlecht in the week on a heavy pitch, Spurs will need to show willingness to tough it out, as City have some athletic players and they have pace in their side too.

With Joe Hart in goal, they have the England Under-21 keeper, who Stuart Pearce selects ahead of Ben Alnwick.  A big figure, he has a lot of talent, but sometimes, it seems as if nerves get the better of him, so by putting him under early pressure, Tottenham could make an early strike in the psychological battle with the keeper.

In defence, Robbie Keane usually enjoys his tussle with Richard Dunne, but in an ironic turn of events, it will be Keane who will be suspended for being sent off and not his Republic of Ireland  team-mate.  He is strong in the air, so we need to stop playing the long ball, as he is likely to win much of that sort of service.  Linked with Spurs, Verdan Corluka looks like he will be fit to show the Spurs crowd what he could have been doing for us, but on the other flank, Garrido might find Aaron Lennon's pace too much to keep up with.  Sun Jihai is a tidy enough right back and Michael Ball adds a bit of a muscular presence alongside Micah Richards, who is the rising young star of City's side and the England team.  However, he is still pretty raw and can be caught up with the enthusiasm of youth - getting caught up-field in an attempt to be all things to all men.  Again, Lennon might find some joy with a free run if that happens.

The Citizens have some good young midfielders in Stephen Ireland and Michael Johnson.  The Irishman has had his problems, but appears to be at home on the pitch, away from his cares and woes.  A good runner with the ball, he can forage forward as can Johnson, who has a more powerful engine, so provides a bit of bite in wining the ball and then moving the team forward.  Spurs may be fortunate if Elano is ruled out, as he has been the find of the season and I would be keen to see him play, although not if it meant the result went against us !!

Georgios Samaras has failed to live up to the big money City spent on him the summer before last, with Rolando Bianchi being this season's version.  However, both are experienced goal-scorers on the continent and given the right opportunities would make their mark.  More likely to feature is Geovanni, who was formerly of Benfica and has scored regularly throughout his career.  Powerful and strong, Spurs will need to make sure that whoever is playing in the middle of defence marks him closely.  Having  played one side this week with an Mpenza up front, perhaps this will be the chance to do it again, as Emile stars in attack for City, but he might miss out with a hamstring injury.  Darius Vassell is just returning from injury and might be available to play alongside Geovanni up front, while Martin Petrov will play a wide attacking role, possibly from midfield.  Another man who was hunted by Spurs, but a combination of his age and the salary demands meant that he went to Eastlands instead and he has been another player who has been earning rave reviews. Pacy and strong on the ball, he also has the calmness of a striker when in front of goal.

This will be a tough game for Tottenham, who have been finding it hard going against the lesser sides.  Endeavour and passion will be needed, but more than that, watchfulness to make sure that silly errors are cut out of the players' game to leave City no chance to take cheap advantage of any mistakes.  With Robbie Keane out, there are limited choice sup front as well as at the back, so Ramos will field the fittest eleven and I think that the need for a result might now sink in, making the final score ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Manchester City  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee); Ricardo Rocha (knee); Anthony Gardner (ankle); Gareth Bale (foot); Robbie Keane (suspended); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); - (-); 

Manchester City :  -  Elano (hamstring); Dietmar Hamann (suspended); Daniel Sturridge (hip/thigh); Valeri Bojinov (knee); Nedum Onuoha (groin); - (-); - (-); 


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 (live coverage)
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Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Tottenham Hotspur   2    Manchester City   1      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 9th December 2007
Kick Off :  4.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,646
Referee :  Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Rainy throughout, sometimes heavy
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson (c)


Lennon (Boateng 67)

Berbatov (Tainio 90)
Bent (Defoe 77

Unused subs: 

Manchester City :


Dunne (c)

Etuhu (Bianchi 58)

Vassell (Geovanni 84)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Manchester City
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Chimbonda 45
Defoe 83

Manchester City

Bianchi 61

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Defoe (goal celebration) 83
Jenas (foul)  85 


Manchester City

Garrido (foul) 16
Dunne (foul) 75
Gelson (foul)   

Ireland (foul) 82

Match Report : -  
Just when it looked like Spurs would lose a lead once more, two moments within a minute of each other turned the match in Tottenham's favour.  Stephen Ireland's ill-advised two footed lunge at Lee brought a straight red card from the referee, while the resulting free-kick lead to the second and winning goal for Spurs.

Coming to the Lane looking for their first away points since the opening day of the season, Manchester City hardly looked that keen, with only one forward and that forward was only Darius Vassell.  A five man midfield was obviously designed to stifle the Tottenham midfield and to spring forward in numbers, which they did on a number of occasions.  However, there was little persistent threat, with their final ball sloppy and some weak finishing meaning that Paul Robinson had little to do for most of the afternoon.

The game started with a refereeing error, when Lee kicked the ball off Petrov for a goal-kick and a corner was given, leaving Spurs to breathe a sigh of relief when Johnson headed the ball over, when he was unchallenged.  However, the first save of the game came in the eighth minute, when Berbatov, who looked a bit more up for it today, slid a pass through to the left hand channel for Bent to run onto.  Reaching it first, he took his shot, but Isaksson raced out to block it and although the Spurs striker could have got more elevation on it, the keeper did well.

Tottenham were getting Aaron Lennon into the game early and one run past Garrido in the 15th minute brought a blatant foul as the little winger roared past him (and not for the first time).  A yellow card was shown to the Manchester City defender, leaving him on a knife edge every time Lennon ran at him.  Berba did well when floored as he ran into three City defenders, but still managed to hook the ball into the path of Darren Bent on the right side of the area, but his low shot went across the face of the goal, with Jenas and Malbranque waiting for a squarer ball to them.

While much was expected from Petrov, his free-kicks, fortunately enough for Spurs were aimed directly at the wall today.  When Kelvin Etuhu (younger brother of Sunderland's Dickson) ran at Lee, the Korean did not angle his body well enough and allowed the City man to cut inside, but his decision to try and beat Robinson at his near post was not a good one and the ball rippled the side netting.  The game was taking a similar path as last week's.  Spurs having lots of possession, but not making enough from it, while they were always suspect to a breakaway, with City's midfielders pouring forward in support of the lone striker.

When Tottenham broke and Bent chased down a Chimbonda clearance, Micah Richards looked at the Spurs forward and then cut across him from behind, bringing him down in the process.  For al the world, it looked like a free-kick, but the strange world of refereeing raised it's head again and nothing was given.  Maybe to make up for it, when Berbatov was surrounded by Gerson and Corluka and went down holding his head as a stray arm caught him, Halsey awarded a free-kick.  Jenas lined up to take it from the left side of the box a yard in from the dead-ball line.  It was a tight angle, but he shaped to shoot, then played it low to the edge of the six-yard box, where Berbatov flicked it through his legs and the ball popped up off a defender and hit Pascal Chimbonda's arm as it deflected past Isaksson.  The City players went mad and it was a toss-up as to whether they were complaining about the handball or the fact that Chimbonda was standing right in front of their keeper in an offside position.

The psychological boost of a goal scored right on half-time would have been a big enough lift for the Tottenham players, but one in which they had such good fortune might have given them an even greater buzz. So much has gone wrong this season, it was about time something went right ... and these things even themselves out over the course of a season (of course).

The second half was a different 45 minutes to the first, as City had to chase the game if they were to live up to Sven Goran Eriksson's boast that his team were going to be "braver" away from home to gain some points.  It was Tottenham who took the initiative and pressed forward to try to increase their lead, with Zokora breaking up a visitor's attack and feeding Dimitar, who hit a low, skidding effort that Isaksson turned around for a corner, even though it looked like it was going wide. 

However, it was Eriksson's substitution of Bianchi for Etuhu that paid off immediately.  Chimbonda got his body in the way of Petrov's cross and the ball went off for a corner on the left side of the City attack at the Park Lane end.  When the Bulgarian played the ball into the near post area with a bit of pace on it, Bianchi was first to react and beat Bent to the ball and thundered a header past a static Robinson.  At 1-1, you could sense that the Tottenham fans were fearful of what might happen, with so many leads lost this season.

Petrov almost played a cross into the far post for Vassell, but Lee got his head to it and deflected it away as he did a couple of times to provide a valuable contribution at the back.  Petrov flashed a shot wide as he moved forward and nobody closed him down and Lennon got past Garrido easily once more, but his cross missed everybody in the box.  it was the little winger's last involvement, as Kevin-Prince Boateng came on to stiffen up the midfield.

The young German made an impression with a cool performance of good control and sensible passing.  He was involved as he was fouled to provide Jenas with the opportunity to put a ball into the area, which found Chimbonda at the far post, but the full-back could not get sufficient power on it to bear Isaksson.  Then Lee and Malbranque linked well on the left for Steed to drag the ball back, behind Berbatov, but into the path of Jenas, who hit the ball leaning back slightly and it rose over the bar, when he might have forced the goalie make a save.

Unsurprisingly, Dunne got a booking for a foul on Zokora and Defoe replaced Darren bent, who had a disappointing performance.  Then came the minutes that changed the match.  Jenas played a short pass to Lee on the left and as the ball ran towards him, Stephen Ireland dived two-footed off the floor into the top of his calf.  The referee hardly had any choice but to dismiss the midfielder, who is turning into a cross between the new "Psycho" and the new Joey Barton.  For Eriksson to compare it to Keane's challenge last week must surely mean he should have gone to Specsavers !!

City players argued his innocence, but there was nothing innocent about the challenge, as he had already cleared out Zokora with a challenge that started three yards away from where the ball was without any chance of stopping.  It was a shame, as up until this point, Ireland had shown what a good player he was, making short passes to link play and putting in a lot of energy getting up and back.  However, he needs to sort his head out otherwise, he will go the same way as so many players.

As Tottenham were also reduced to ten men, with Lee absurdly having to leave the field after getting treatment for Ireland's assault, it was Jenas who floated the ball into the area where an equal number of players battled for it.  As the ball was cleared to the left hand side, Boateng rescued the ball and dinked it back for Malbranque.  Pushing the ball first time past two defenders, he burst into the box and played a low ball across the six yard box.  Dawson was at the near post and jumped over the ball, confusing the keeper and defender behind him, but the ball cannoned off the inside of the post, as our bad luck continued to visit us.  But then, the luck changed and the ball fell for Defoe, who turned quickly to bend his foot around a shot that ripped off the wet turf and might have taken a slight deflection as it went past Richards and Isaksson to hit the back of the net.

The roar of relief from the Tottenham crowd was evident and the joy with which Defoe celebrated got him a booking (which should rate a lot lower in terms of punishment than that given for a bad tackle).  The whole team, except Robinson, joined in the celebration, but they needed to focus for the remaining seven minutes and then the four (four ??  where did they come from) minutes to be added to the end of the game.

Jenas saw yellow for a nip at Geovanni's ankles and the free-kick from Petrov hit the wall and another one a few minutes later was played with such pace, it flew off the pitch beyond all the City forwards.

But Tottenham kept going forward and Malbranque pulled a shot wide, when he would have done better finding a colleague in the middle with a square pass, while Berbatov played Defoe in with a neat back-heel, only for Isaksson to beat out the powerful shot.  When Dunne tried to back-heel the loose ball to a colleague, he only succeeded in stepping on the ball and Jermain reacted quickest to the ball and managed to make the goalie make another save.

As the game came to an end, City threw the ball in, with Richards getting his head to one cross, but could not control his header, which went way over the top.  It was desperate and when you consider they scored with their only shot on target, perhaps their lack of adventure cost them today, as it might have done on other occasions.

Sven's cautious formation let Spurs have a lot of the ball and we must really learn to make moves forward more urgent, as the protracted build-ups allow the other side the chance to get plenty of men back behind the ball.   By getting Lennon into the game, they can open teams up and from wide areas, rather than the ball being played into the middle, where midfielders only have a narrow angle to try to play the passes into the forwards.  This might be why Bent is struggling, as he is not used to this sort of supply and is more accustomed to the ball being played over the top for him to run onto. At the moment, he looks low on confidence and Defoe might be the better option against Portsmouth, with his nippy movement likely to cause the Pompey defenders more of a problem.

A win was vital today, with two tough games coming up.  The team did it, but, as always, caused a number of cardiac flutters in the crowd !!

Kirk Hammerton


Reaction : -



Read Wyart Lane's Times Online Fanzine Fanzone piece

Boots ... and other feet

by clicking here.

Although we won, it wasn't entirely a success. 

We let in another soft goal and when we were in possession, there were far too few options for people on the ball.

Ramos will have to get the team fitter to improve their movement and to keep their concentration going for 90 minutes.









Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 1 Portsmouth 3 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Sunderland 0 Saturday
Everton 3 Fulham 0 Saturday
Manchester United 4 Derby County 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Reading 3 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 4 Wigan Athletic 1 Sunday
Middlesbrough 2 Arsenal 1 Sunday
Blackburn Rovers 0 West Ham United 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 16 11 4 1 33 14 37 +19
2 Manchester United 16 11 3 2 29 8 36 +21
3 Chelsea 16 10 4 2 24 9 34 +15
4 Liverpool 15 8 6 1 27 9 30 +18
5 Portsmouth 16 8 6 2 28 14 30 +14
6 Manchester City 16 9 3 4 20 17 30 +3
7 Everton 16 8 3 5 29 16 27 +13
8 Aston Villa 16 8 3 5 27 19 27 +8
9 Blackburn Rovers 16 7 5 4 20 19 26 +1
10 West Ham United 15 6 4 5 20 12 22 +8
11 Newcastle United 16 6 4 6 23 26 22 -3
12 Reading 16 5 2 9 21 33 17 -12
13 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 16 3 6 7 28 29 15 -1
14 Bolton Wanderers 16 3 5 8 16 23 14 -7
15 Middlesbrough 16 3 5 8 15 28 14 -13
16 Birmingham City 16 4 2 10 17 26 14 -9
17 Fulham 16 2 7 7 18 26 13 -8
18 Sunderland 16 3 4 9 15 31 13 -16
19 Wigan Athletic 16 2 3 11 12 30 9 -18
20 Derby County 16 1 3 12 6 38 6 -32


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