Looking Forward

 

LEICESTER CITY (Away)

Premier League

Saturday 11th May 2002

So, the last game at Filbert Street becomes the last game in the Premier League for Leicester City.  How sad.  The Foxes have been getting away with it for many years, but in the end, they have been found out and the move to a shiny new stadium will herald a new era for the club ... in Division One.  It will not be easy for them to get back quickly either as many side have found of late.  Especially as they might have to sell off stars to fund replacements and additions to their squad.  And Robbie Savage won't even be able to wind Spurs players and fans on from the pitch as he is suspended.

The rot set in a while ago at Leicester.  Turning over managers as quickly as they have done (although not all their own doing) has seen a succession of players coming and going under Brian Little, Mark McGhee, Martin O'Neill and Peter Taylor.  When Dave Bassett and Micky Adams came in, you knew it was the last throw of the dice to a certain extent.  The man who has escaped relegation so often has a reputation for pulling clubs out of the mire, but this time, they have sunk, getting the ticket to the Nationwide in the early month of March.  His lack of options and injuries at the wrong times have hindered him, but the lack of quality in depth has hit them hard.  Peter Taylor was sacked basically for signing Ade Akinbiyi, as he became the talisman of Taylor's transfer dealings.  As he failed to hit the target, so Taylor slipped wider of the mark with the Leicester fans.  His dismissal was nothing more than bowing to supporter pressure.  He will take the brunt of the blame for them going down, with the new management saying they had little chance after the bad start, but who knows what would have happened.  Taylor did a good job there the season before and also has done well with Brighton before jumping ship there.

So, what of the players who will be expected to raise some cash for them if sold or help them out of the First Division ??  Well, former Spurs keeper Ian Walker has already been linked with Man. City and Everton.  City have signed Schmeichel, so he won't be going there, bit Everton might consider him an available option to Gerrard and Simonsen.  He's been one of the better players at Leicester this season, but he is still suspect on crosses and can be prone to lose his position with efforts from long range.  Behind him, Simon Royce has fallen from grace and is only a sub as Tim Flowers is going to Coventry. 

With Matt Elliott and Gerry Taggart (as well as Gary Rowett) out for long periods of the season, the two pillars of the City defence have been missed .  Having to rely on Lee Marshall (not really a defender), Frank Sinclair, Alan Rogers and Callum Davidson.  Not the most frightening line-up to face if you are a Premiership forward.  Jacob Laursen was brought in from Denmark, but has returned from whence he came.  The traditional back four have been ripped apart on the flanks quite often and Spurs could reap the benefits of Simon Davies and Darren Anderton working the lines.

Muzzy Izzet's on-off move to Boro' has disrupted his season as much as the injuries he has had, but he remains an important player in the middle of the park for Leicester.  His replacement, Stefan Oakes, might play instead for the suspended Savage (who won't be missed by Spurs fans), alongside Jonathan Stewart.

Upfront we are likely to face the pairing of young Matthew Piper and little ex-Gooner (and possessor of one of the more exotic names in the league) Paul Dickov.  Neither can compare to the internationals that play week in, week out up and down the country, but they battle hard and Piper might be more difficult in that he is a bit unknown to the Spurs defence.  However, having seen him for their reserves, he is athletic, has a little bit of pace, but is lightweight, so should be adequately marshalled by our back line.  Trevor Benjamin is a strong forward who is good in the air and might be considered, but he has not made a great impact since his signing from Cambridge United.

The number of players absent that had hindered Taylor and now Bassett continues to deny Leicester of their first choices.  Brian Deane has a hamstring pull that will keep him out for the rest of the season, as will Jordan Stewart with a shoulder injury.  Defender Gerry Taggart and midfielders Matthew Jones and Darren Eadie have all been sufferers from knee knocks and will be out for this match (and some far beyond).  Others doubtful for the match include Dennis Wise (thigh), defender Callum Davidson (strain), a pelvic injury for Jamie Scowcroft and Andy Impey with his damaged knee.

For Tottenham, if they play like they did against Liverpool (no guarantee of that though), they should run out winners reasonably easily.  Davies should cause plenty of problems and Sheringham will be able to pull the City defence all over the place, but there will need to be someone to put the chances away though !!  Poyet might be given the space he needs to get forward, but unfortunately, with him not even being able to command a place on the bench against Liverpool, we might have seen the last of Sergei Rebrov in a Spurs shirt, so goalscoring duties might fall to Iversen on his own.  Let's hope he can do the job and help Spurs to a win ...

PREDICTION : -  Leicester City  1   Tottenham  3

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

 

 

Leicester City  2   Tottenham  1          (Half time score: 0-0)
FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Saturday 11th May 2002
Venue :  Filbert Street
Kick Off : 3.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Dry, bright
Crowd : -   21,716
Referee : -   Mr. D. Elleray (Harrow)

Scorers : -   Leicester City  -   Dickov 60, Piper 71
                  Tottenham  -  Sheringham (pen) 53

CARDS

Leicester City :  None

Tottenham :   None

TEAMS 

Leicester City :  Walker; Sinclair, Elliott, Ashton (Stevenson 58), Marshall; Izzett (Williamson 90), ; Piper, Dickov (Taggart 76).
Unused Subs : -  Royce, Reeves

Tottenham : Keller; Thatcher, Gardner, Perry, Tarrico; Clemence (Doherty 74), Anderton, Poyet, Davies (Etherington 72); Sheringham, Iversen
Unused Subs : - Sullivan, Leonhardsen, Rebrov

COLOURS

Leicester City :  Blue shirts, white shorts, blue socks

Tottenham :  White shirts, navy shorts, white socks

From the start of the game, with the carnival atmosphere going on amongst the home supporters, the teams looked like they were taking part in a pre-season friendly or testimonial.  For the rest of the game, it was only when Tottenham took the lead that Leicester managed to rouse themselves enough to take the points from the grasp of a lethargic Spurs side.

Many of the Spurs players were anonymous during the match, adding a new dimension to the phrase "end of season game".  The stroll with some good passing movements as there were few tackles flying in, was a useful work out to get fit for the coming season, but didn't really signify the urgency there should have been from Tottenham, who could have secured seventh position with a win, but failed and dropped two places like a stone (who turned in a decent performance for the Villa side who leapfrogged us into eighth).

With a few efforts on goal from either side, few moments of excitement occurred.  Clemence was set up by Poyet to slide a shot past Walker's goalpost, while a weak visit by Sheringham caused the former Spurs keeper little trouble.  When Iversen smashed a shot about ten feet over the bar, it was symptomatic of the goal-scoring malaise that hit the team when faced with a white rectangle with netting behind it.

There were chances either side of the half-time period for ex-Gooner Dickov, but he followed Iversen's lead by clearing the bar with both of them, with Izzett marking his last Foxes' appearance doing the same.  When an Anderton corner was cleared to Clemence, he tried to weave his way into the penalty area, but was floored by Marshall's tackle and the ref pointed to the spot.  Teddy stepped up to plant the penalty past his old team-mate in the Leicester goal.

It was a lead that Tottenham should have gone on to extend, as they were the better team up to this point and Leicester had looked like the relegated team that they are.  However, as with the usual pattern of a Tottenham game, the home side were allowed back into the match and Spurs were pushed back towards their own goal.  Letting City take the initiative meant that the ball entered our box too often, with the inevitable consequences happening.

Marshall was desperate to atone for his earlier misdemeanour and made a burst into the box, but was stopped by Chris Perry's block.  However, the ball came off him and dropped invitingly into the path of Dickov, who struck it firmly, first time, past Keller.  The lead lasted just over five minutes and the game swung the way of the Nationwide bound club, as we sat back expecting to be able to soak up the pressure.

With just about 10 minutes left, the ball was swung over from Rogers' throw in and a header at the near post got to Piper in the middle of the goal and he dived in to head his first ever goal for his team.  The game petered out into a home win and lots of lost money from the falling placement by Spurs.

Keller had no chance with either goal, while the rest of the defence didn't do much wrong, but hardly impressed against a weak and inexperienced side.  Gardner looked OK though.  Midfield, Davies apart, were ponderous and lacked urgency, while Sheringham dropped deep, leaving Iversen up front on his own.  He needs a partner, as he is not in possession of a good touch or the strength to hold the ball up.

It is disappointing that the same team who beat Liverpool could lose to a team who have won only four games previously this season.  The old Tottenham inconsistency has cost us once again and although sixth place is a long way off, just think back to stupid pints that have been thrown away since August 2001 and that will explain why we ended in ninth.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  SIMON DAVIES

Keith Mendament

 

SUMMER HOLIDAY

 

While mugs like us are still trying to get the best out of the dying embers of another transitional season, the players were either in Japan/Korea or on some golden strand somewhere in their heads.  That can be the only reason why they played like they did in this loss at the home of Leicester City, which would be the last match at the venue.

I suppose it is a bit better than last year.  We were half as bad as losing 4-2 then and 2-1 now is an improvement, but it still amounts to the same = 0 points.  And a loss of about 700,000.  As this defeat cost us the chance to finish in seventh place, with both West Ham and Aston Villa creeping above us.  Now for all those who know fans of these two clubs, even the summer will be unbearable.  And for goodness sake, these are two clubs that have been in turmoil for one reason and another this season.  When not being able to beat Blackburn Rovers to get into Europe wasn't bad enough, not being able to take three points off Leicester City at their own ground (which most other clubs have done like taking candy off a baby), then Hod needs to look carefully at who in the side should be there and who shouldn't.

There was little to get excited about really.  Leicester fans were bizarrely celebrating their relegation and Spurs fans were muted until we scored.  Then the tables turned and the home fans were noisy again.  

Clem hit the post, Davies drove over, Ted brought a couple of saves from the the rejuvenated Walker.  One brought about the corner that was swung over and cleared to Clemence, who darted into the box, only to be brought down by Marshall near the edge of the area.  Mr. Elleray said it was inside and Teddy dispatched the penalty past Walker's dive.

Then things started to go awry.  Perry halted Marshall's charge into the area, but the ball fell perfectly for Dickov to strike a powerful drive past Keller's outstretched arm.  Then Piper popped up, having lost Thatcher, to nod home in the middle of the six yard box.

I suppose this was a return to the charitable Tottenham of yesteryear.  Last game in the Prem, last game at old ground ... well, it is the least we could do.  

No doubt some of the faces will change during the summer, but the one real change we need is the one that turns the players into a clinical side, capable of beating poor sides like Leicester.  The should have the skill, but they need to have the application to bring home more points from these sort of games.  With only three more points, we could have been sitting in seventh place, but even that was 13 behind Chelsea in sixth.  

It looks like being a long hard summer for Hoddle and one in which he needs to be busy to bring about a new approach by the players.  

So, so long Leicester, so long Filbert Street, may it be a long time before we see your likes again.

Barry Levington

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