Manchester City (Away)
Saturday 11th December 2004
Travelling away with Spurs has not been a great deal of fun over the last couple of years. So, a game at the City of Manchester Stadium without Jermain Defoe and the possibility of Robbie Keane being out with a knee injury too means that the word "toothless" might have been dreamt up for just this situation in the Spurs attack. The possible return of Simon Davies and Erik Edman might offset the added loss of the promising Reto Ziegler.
And the prospect of sticking a five man midfield in the Tottenham line-up might well be an option for Martin Jol to consider without a stand-out reserve forward available. Eddie Silva Sousa is scoring in the stiffs, but I do not think he is ready to make the big step up yet and Lee Barnard is off at Leyton Orient on loan for another month, so Mark Yeates might be the only other selection possible.
Manchester City are also injury hit ... even more so than Spurs. McManaman, Sinclair, De Vlieger, Sun Jihai, Thatcher and Bischoff are all out long term and the side has featured a number of youngsters like Bradley Wright-Phillips, Willo Flood and Stephen Jordan. Keegan has not had any worries about fielding them in the first team and they have paid him back for his confidence in them with a series of good performances.
The more established players have also been giving KK value for money. Anelka sulkily scores with the aim of moving to "a big club", which must be nice for the City fans cheering him on from the terraces to hear. James has been playing well for City, despite his England nightmare and Bosvelt has been tearing up the midfield with some ball-winning performances.
The defence has virtually been picking itself with a lack of options available to City. David Sommeil, remembered for scoring against Spurs (and not a lot else !), Sylvain Distin (remembered for scoring against Spurs), Danny Mills (who was shunted out of Leeds unceremoniously) and Newcastle transfer target Richard Dunne. The side has a lot of height ... something we do not have in attack, apart from Kanoute ... but lacks a bit of pace ... something they do have in common with Fredi. Not sure where Spurs' goals will come from without Defoe and Keane, nor where the creativity will come from, unless Jol plumps for Ricketts on the wing. Some pace would threaten the City back four, but with the side Spurs are likely to put out, this is not going to be in evidence in abundance.
The midfield should feature Claudio Reyna, who is overcoming a thigh injury and Antoine Sibierski will provide some surging runs from deep to get up to support the attack. Joey Barton has had a problem in picking up yellow cards with some rash challenges and dissent, but he has clamed a little this season and will be the more effective for it, as his dynamic running between the boxes means City have a lot of ground covered by this midfielder.
Up front to add to Anelka's pace are Robbie Fowler, who cans till take a goal well, although has lost any pace he once had and Jonathan Macken, who has started to score this season and is showing a bit of the form he exhibited as a Preston player. The star of the show and the one player who is constantly being linked with all and sundry is Shaun Wright-Phillips. His pace and trickery topped off with good use of the ball at the end of it means that he is a rare commodity, especially as he appears on the wing, where he causes havoc.
For Tottenham to do well, they will have to shore up the midfield and I can foresee a five man midfield being put out, with Kanoute the lone striker, which is not his best role. Support will need to come from our midfield and that might see the inclusion of Redknapp, as he has the ability to play accurate passes to whoever makes it upfield and will hold back to cover and try to get his tackles in.
With Spurs lacking the firepower that has won them so many points this season so far, I cannot see it being a high-scoring thriller, but Spurs should travel home with a point, as after City's loss to Boro, they will be happy with a share of the spoils.
PREDICTION : - Manchester City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
So, City sit one place above Spurs before
Saturday's game. Is it a realistic position for this season's
MANCHESTER CITY : Trevor Sinclair (broken thigh); Ben Thatcher (ankle); Bischoff (shoulder); Steve McManaman (Achilles); Sun Jihai (knee); De Vlieger (Achilles); Daniel Renshaw (suspended)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Sean Davis (knee); Goran Bunjevcevic (shin); Jermain Defoe (suspended); Reto Ziegler (hamstring)
|Manchester City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Half-time score : 0-0)|
|Premier League||Venue : City of Manchester Stadium|
|Saturday 11th December 2004||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 45,805||Referee : D. Gallagher (Banbury)|
|Weather : Overcast|
|Teams : -|
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
Jordan (foul) 88
Naybet (foul) 23
|Match Report : -|
|After the recent poor run,
points of any sort are welcome, but these come as a special bonus with
this comprehensive (in terms of play if not goals) win is the third on
the trot. Back to back wins for Spurs in the Premier League have
been difficult, but three is literally something the crowd would love to
see more often.
The team had little difficult in dealing with the City side, who normally have a good home record and attack non-stop. Today, they had trouble starting and there were only two nervous moments for Robinson - one save from Barton in the first period that was probably going wide anyway and a half-spill from a Fowler shot that he had to grab before Macken got to it.
When I say Man City didn't get started, they almost started very well, with a through ball down the middle that ended with Macken going down under pressure from Ledley King, but the ref waved play on. On replay, it looked as though Ledley just eased him off the ball with a shoulder, but his foot did get down and Macken went over it before either of them touched the ball. Penalties have been given for less !! Mostly to Arsenal though !!
Rohan Ricketts inclusion on the left of midfield was no doubt designed to give Tottenham an "out" ball, as he can run with the ball and take players on. When he got the ball halfway through the first half, he darted towards the left corner of the box and as Dunne and Mills came towards him, he switched the ball from one foot to the other and manouevred his way through them. He could see the goal and hit a low ball just wide of the far post, with Fredi Kanoute diving in to try and get a touch, but the ball ended up neither as a shot nor cross for Fred.
One tactic Spurs were employing was the ball into the space behind Richard Dunne to exploit the pace of Kanoute and Keane. Six minutes before half-time, Mendes measured a pass over the central defender and Keano got onto it, but failed to completely control the ball and as James did well closing him down, he put his shot over the bar and wide. Almost immediately, Spurs nearly paid for non-existent marking as King and Naybet got sucked to the near post, leaving Sibierski on his won to head a left wing cross from Jordan wide of the goal. It was a good chance, but the Pole might have just mis-timed his run and he was stretching when the ball reached him, with the chance slipping off his head for a goal-kick.
The break came and Jol made a couple of half-time substitutions in Gardner and Kelly replacing Naybet and Mendes, with Atouba moving into midfield, as Kelly slipped into the vacant left back spot. Kelly had sound game, making some timely interventions, but he did almost break Shaun Wright-Phillips' leg with a challenge that went over the top and caught the City winger right in the middle of the shin. It was fortunate that he did not have his weight on that leg otherwise, it could well have broken.
Keane and Kanoute started to link together well and one neat back-heel from Robbie found Kanoute and he pulled the ball back, but it was behind the players who had got forward. Luckily, in the next minute things went better for Fredi. Winning the ball at the back, the ball fell to Michael Brown, who hit a pass over the head of the right back to Kanoute to run onto. He strode away and as Dunne tried to get a tackle in, he fired a shot that ripped past James' outstretched hands and into the top corner of the net at the near post. It was a powerful drive that James would have had no chance of stopping as it was just inside the angle of post and crossbar.
After this Spurs broke at will and Keano should have wrapped it up with two good chances. In the 69th minute, he took a pass from Kanoute on the left that slid him through and he took the ball around James on the left, but having a tight angle to score, hit an early shot that Distin stopped at the post. Ten minutes later, he had a clearer chance when Michael Brown robber Distin on the halfway lien, raced forward and put a ball across the six yard box that Keane met at the far post, but hit over the bar from close range. It was a great ball in and Robbie indicated that it bobbled up and that was why he shinned it over the top.
This was a top performance, with little concern about City scoring. I had expected more from them, but this will boost the team's confidence and hopefully, they will be able to go on from here. Jol seems to have got them playing as a unit and they are now understanding their roles in the side, making them a more cohesive side. Michael Brown earned another man of the match rating with his energetic showing and his forward forays add to the attacking options of the team. With our Christmas programme looking winnable, one must hope that they don't crash and burn like they have done in similar situations in the recent past !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL BROWN
|Another away match, and another
three points. I think I speak for everyone when I say I could
definitely get used to this! Going into this match, my first Spurs away
match, Spurs were without Defoe and Ziegler, who have been two of our
better players in recent weeks, so this didnít exactly breed
optimism. Added to this the news that Keane was also doubtful I
think I would have definitely taken a point from this match beforehand.
Arriving at the ground, also my first visit to the City of Manchester stadium, I was pleased Jol had opted against the five-man midfield. The inclusion of Keano was a bonus, and the inclusion of Ricketts on the left was definitely a plus point, it is about time he was given a decent run in the team, especially as Davies is out of both form and fitness. He is definitely someone who gives our often one-dimensional midfield something different going forward, in particular some pace, which we have been crying out for in recent seasons for as long as I can remember.
The first half started in the usual Spurs style, on the back foot, and disjointed, with numerous passes going astray and no support to the front two. King was fortunate not to concede a penalty after a loss of communication between himself and Naybet, Naybet seemed more intent on arguing with the referee than anything else, and Atouba continually made life difficult for himself by dallying when in position around his own box. Despite this Man City failed to threaten, until Barton had a shot that was comfortably pushed away by Robbo, and then again at the end of the first half when Sibierski headed wide unmarked when he should have done better. Spurs rarely threatened themselves with only two Keane efforts to show for themselves.
Spurs came out in the second half replacing Naybet with Gardner, and the ineffective Mendes with Kelly, who must have felt bewildered at having been left out of the starting line up after an excellent display at Blackburn. Man City again threatened Spurs with little, and Spurs sensing this, visibly grew in confidence. The understanding between Keane and Kanoute resurfaced, and Atouba seemed far more confident back in midfield, while Brown was seemingly everywhere. The goal from Kanoute, who made an excellent contribution in the second half, was excellently finished into the top corner at the hour mark.
After this, Man City continued to offer very little, and Spursí confidence continued to grow, with Keane missing twice when he really should have done better. In the remaining minutes Man City even threw James (England No 2 as he was continually reminded by the away support!!!) forward in a quest to score, but again never looked likely to score. The final whistle brought a huge sense of relief, although on the balance of play a deserved victory. But again this performance was to show the Spurs that never make it easy for themselves, or their fans, but nevertheless bought some welcome Christmas cheer going into the festive period.
|Other scores this weekend and midweek:|
|Crystal Palace||0||Blackburn Rovers||0||Saturday|
|Norwich City||3||Bolton Wanderers||2||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Charlton Athletic||1||Saturday|
|Aston Villa||1||Birmingham City||2||Sunday|
|20||West Bromwich Albion||17||1||7||9||15||32||10||-17|
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