Manchester City (Home)
Premier League

Sunday 13th May 2007

With the last game of the season ahead of us, it has come down to this match to decide if Spurs will qualify for a European place without having to go through the InterToto Cup.

Having fluffed the chance to seal a UEFA Cup place by drawing with Blackburn, Spurs go into this match needing a point and with City having had a week's rest and having nothing to play for, it is possible that the North-West side might put up a relaxed display or may give it everything with the threat of a new board and a new manager coming in for next season.

City's big problem this season has been scoring goals and they have set a new low for home Premier League goals in a season with 28 (currently shared with Watford, who play at home on Sunday).  The pairing of Darius Vassell and Bernardo Corradi has not worked with lots of snide comments aimed at the Italian and Georgios Samaras, as players who were not committed to the cause.  If Stuart Pearce believes this and he is still in a job at the City of Manchester Stadium in the summer, these strikers might not be at the club.  If the money is there to bring in new staff, he might be able to tempt a signing or two, but what quality they will be is something the City fans are dubious about.

By bringing in Belgian forward and then giving him a years contract, Emile Mpenza has shown some interest in getting goals for the team.  A strong striker, who is good in the air, he might give our defence something to consider.  Vassell has a bit of pace, while Paul Dickov is in the twilight of his career of making a nuisance of himself.  Samaras has height and a good touch, but like his forward colleagues, he has a confidence problem.  One other option up front would be the youngster Daniel Sturridge, who has made a couple of first team appearances after he impressed at youth and reserve level, with Tottenham just one of a number of clubs who would be willing to sign him up.

In goal, Andreas Isakson has not been the soundest of keepers.  He seems happy to parry the ball rather than catch it, so the more shots be have on the goalie, the more likely we might be able to capitalise on any rebounds there might be.  Nicky Weaver has been at City for a long time, but is still quite young, having lost a lot of playing time through injury.  A solid keeper, he has height and a good shot-stopping ability, so it may be that he gets the nod ahead of the Swede.

At the back, City are struggling without Micah Richards and Michael Ball.  Ball's stamp on Ronaldo was blatant and earned him a three match ban, while Richards has been hit by a calf injury that will rule him out.  That leaves Nedum Onuoha, Sun Jihai, Richard Dunne and Sylvain Distin, with Stephen Jordan coming in to make his last appearance for the club in place of Ball.  Onuoha needs to improve his positional play and concentration, but having played over 60 Premier League games, should be integrated into the side now.  Sun Jihai works hard, but sometimes strays form his post, leaving space in behind him, which draws either Dunne or Distin out of the middle to cover.  Both are big centre-halfs with Distin being the more mobile of the two, but nippy forwards could give them problems.

The midfield will be missing Joey Barton who allegedly beat up team-mate Ousame Dabo in training.  The midfield will possibly be made up of Stephen Ireland, who the club rate highly, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Johnson and Dietmar Hamann.  Ireland is a midfielder who breaks from deep to support the forwards in the area, while Beasley is a player who impressed in World Cups for the USA, but has found the Premiership hard going.  Johnson is a newcomer I don't know much about, while Hamann has been around for ages and chose City over Bolton in the close season 2006.  I wonder if he doubts his decision now.

With a traumatic season coming to a close and the side having done enough to avoid the drop, Stuart Pearce might hope he has done enough to avoid the chop.  However, the damage might have been done, with City fans unhappy at the way the side have played this season and it might be a last hurrah for the ex-England player.  Having said that, with players out in key positions for City, Spurs might make it tough for them to play the way they want .. albeit tired after playing twice in four days with just two days break before this one.

I fancy a win to round off the season and reckon it will end up ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    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 : -  Mido (groin); Young-Pyo Lee (knee); Dorian Dervite (knee); Steed Malbranque (ankle)

MANCHESTER CITY :  -   Michael Ball (suspended); Joey Barton (club suspension); Ousame Dabo (facial injuries); Micah Richards (calf)


Match of the Day  (BBC 2)  -  22.30 - 23.20 (highlights)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

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 : 2-1)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 13th May 2007
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,426
Referee :  Steve Bennett (Orpington)
Weather :  -  Wet, with sunshine later
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


King (c)

Lennon (Malbranque 75)

Keane (Defoe 81)

Unused subs

Manchester City :


Dunne (c)
Distin (Hamann 28)

Beasley (Samaras 81)


Unused subs

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Manchester City
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 10
Berbatov 32

Manchester City

Mpenza 40

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Gardner (foul)  


Manchester City

Vassell (foul)    


Match Report : -  
The rain fell in a Manchester style, but it must have made them feel at home for they failed to turn their considerable pressure into goals and allowed Spurs to take the three points to secure fifth place and a place in the UEFA Cup next season.

Spurs struck twice in the first half, but were pegged back by a Mpenza header and fought a bit of a rearguard action before having the opportunity to wrap the match up late on.  Both sides had openings, which were snuffed out by the defences, before a ninth minute goal by Robbie Keane on his 200th appearance for Spurs opened the scoring.  Berbatov's back-heel found Ledley King moving into the opposition half, with a spin away from a City challenge.  He played a square ball to Jermaine Jenas, back after his bout of back spasms and a delicate chip over the City back four provided Robbie the chance to smash home a volley from about 12 yards out, which went through the keeper's legs.  It was a fine goal and one which gave Spurs an early buffer against the rigours of what the day might have brought.

Didier Zokora put in a huge performance considering this was the third game in a week for Tottenham and he was on the end of a lot of rough tackles by the visiting players, but he stuck to his task until the end ... more of which later.  He was on the end of a two-footed jump tackle from Ireland which went unpunished and a foul when Vassell left his foot in and he did get a caution.  From the quarter hour mark, City started to push Spurs back.  A hesitant piece of defending saw Richard Dunne allowed time to ship the ball into the heart of the Tottenham penalty area and the ball fell nicely for Vassell to strike the ball at goal from about six yards out and the ball was close to Robinson, but he did well to palm the ball away with a fine piece of goalkeeping.  Robinson has had his detractors this season, but he has come good near the end of the campaign with some vitally timed saves.

The midfield was a tough part of the pitch and Teemu Tainio made a valuable contribution with some hard running and some tough tackling.  He even got forward to curl a shot not too far over the top in the 23rd minute and the Finn was playing the ball around the pitch well too.

With an injury to Distin, Manchester City had to re-organise and maybe this allowed Spurs to attack through the middle of the defence to score the second goal shortly after.  Anthony Gardner played the ball into Berbatov's feet and he turned to move into the penalty area, centrally placed.  He tried to prod a pass through to Aaron Lennon outside him on the left, but Onuoha could only stick a leg out to stop the ball, leaving it invitingly in the Bulgarian's path.  What else is a striker to do when presented with such a chance other than to oblige by smashing it into the net to make it 2-0.

Gardner's pass was one of the better things he did in the match, as he had a tough time up against Vassell and brought a yellow card out of Steve Bennett's pocket when he mis-timed a tackle.  Luckily the free-kick was cleared, but in City's next attack, Hamman curled in a cross that hit Mpenza at the far post and although a little behind him, the Belgian forward put his header back across Robbo to find the corner of the net.   1-2 with five minutes until half-time and within a minute Mpenza's cross was pushed out by ENO and the ball bounced up for Johnson to head at an unguarded goal, only to put it over the top.  It was an escape for Tottenham and one which left them going in a goal to the good at the break.

With the team 45 minutes from the end of the season, they put in a tired second half performance, with City pushing forward to grab something from the game.  Keane went close with a curler just after the restart, but then in the 57th minute, Tottenham were indebted to Robinson once more, as Ireland's cross found Mpenza unmarked, with Chimbonda allowing him a header, which Paul had to back-peddle to jump up and push the ball over the bar when it was heading for the top corner of the net.  For the next fifteen minutes, Tottenham had to defend as the crosses came into the area, but with Lennon's exit to be replaced by Malbranque, the match swung the other way.

Jenas showed good pace to break forward, but his pass to Keano was not well weighted and the chance slipped away, then Berba's pass was heading for Keane until Dunne got it away by slicing it over his own bar.  Keane then took a break, with Jermain Defoe coming on for the last ten minutes.

With five minutes remaining, Defoe curled a free-kick just wide of the goal and then in the next forward move, Zokora picked up a loose ball, ran at Dunne and as he neared the penalty area, he was nudged by the Irish defender and Bennett pointed to the spot.  It looked dubious and on TV afterwards, it was outside the box.  However, taking what is given, Defoe grabbed the ball and stepped up to take the spot-kick, but smashed it straight at Isaksson and when the rebound bounced in front of him, he struck it when it was slightly too high and it rocketed over the bar, with Jenas coming in behind him with perhaps a better run at it.

Right at the death, Zokora lead another breakaway and with Defoe in support, played him in.  With it looking like a typical opportunity for the little striker to fire a shot in on goal, he instead tried to drift it across the six yard box, but the ball flocked off Dunne for a corner and the last chance of the match went begging and shortly after the final whistle blew on a season that was a marathon this time and Tottenham stayed the course to win their aim of European football and a fifth placed finish was a good return for some entertaining football.

Next season will be the tester, as it will be expected that we move to the next level and crash the top four party.  With some astute buys and with Berbatov retained, it might be a realistic aim.  With the UEFA Cup to look forward to, the players earned themselves an extra month's holiday, as there is now no need for the InterToto Cup.

The after match presentations for Player of the Season and the speech by Martin Jol left everyone leaving with a smile on their face.  Especially when Jol told the crowd that he wasn't "a slimeball" just before he told us that we were the best fans in the country !!

Long may he reign !!





Other scores this weekend :
Bolton Wanderers 2 Aston Villa 2 Sunday
Blackburn Rovers 3 Reading 3 Sunday
Chelsea 1 Everton 1 Sunday
Liverpool 2 Charlton Athletic 2 Sunday
Manchester United 0 West Ham United 1 Sunday
Middlesbrough 3 Fulham 1 Sunday
Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 0 Sunday
Sheffield United 1 Wigan Athletic 2 Sunday
Watford 1 Newcastle United 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 38 28 5 5 83 27 89 +56
2 Chelsea 38 24 11 3 64 24 83 +40
3 Liverpool 38 20 8 10 57 27 68 +30
4 Arsenal 38 19 11 8 63 35 68 +28
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 38 17 9 12 57 54 60 +3
6 Everton 38 15 13 10 52 36 58 +16
7 Bolton Wanderers 38 16 8 14 47 52 56 -5
8 Reading 38 16 7 15 52 47 55 +5
9 Portsmouth 38 14 12 11 45 42 54 +3
10 Blackburn Rovers 38 15 7 16 52 54 52 -2
11 Aston Villa 38 11 17 10 43 41 50 +2
12 Middlesbrough 38 12 10 16 44 49 46 -5
13 Newcastle United 38 11 10 17 38 47 43 -9
14 Manchester City 38 11 9 18 29 44 42 -15
15 West Ham United 38 12 5 21 35 59 41 -24
16 Fulham 38 8 15 15 38 60 39 -22
17 Wigan Athletic 38 10 8 20 37 59 38 -22
18 Sheffield United 38 10 8 20 32 55 38 -23
19 Charlton Athletic 38 8 10 20 34 60 34 -26
20 Watford 38 5 13 20 29 59 28 -30



Back to homepage