14th August 2004
sides under new management meet on the opening day of the season and
both new men at the helm will be keen not to lose out.
Liverpool have only added
defender Josemi and forward Djibril Cisse to their ranks, but they have
a core of sound players to build on and the fine tuning that Benitez
undertakes will be minor in comparison to what is needed at Spurs.
Barcelona's winger Luis Garcia, Real Sociedad's Xabi Alonso and Carlos
Nunez of Real Madrid might be joining as the club go Spanish, which is
exactly what Michael Owen will be doing soon, with a fee agreed for his
move to the Bernabeu. He will leave Merseyside after eight years
in the side and becoming one of their most famous forwards.
But Liverpool will move
on into a new era with a squad of players who will want to try and break
into the top three this season. That will be a tough task, but
Benitez had great success with Valencia, who were not a top team when he
Spurs will hope for the
same result with Santini. His organisational skill swill be put to
the test and he might start by detailing a marker to Stephen Gerrard to
prevent him making the Liverpool team tick. The England midfielder
has been at the heart of the good form that the side exhibited towards
the end of the season, but his lack-lustre Euro 2004 was perhaps a
result of the injuries he suffered during 2003-04.
Alongside him in
midfield, Dietmar Hamann has a wealth of experience and Spurs were
linked with a move for the German when it looked like he might not be
retained by the Reds. He tackles strongly, passes and moves well,
much like an older version of Gerrard and with Smicer out, his tenacity
will be needed. Harry Kewell is more intent on attacking options
from midfield. He had a tough first season at Liverpool, but is a
class act and can produce a finish as well as lay chances on for
others. He also enjoys playing against Spurs ... or did when he
was at Leeds. Those who might feature include the fringe players
Igor Biscan (who was responsible for our win over 'Pool at the Lane last
season) or Salif Diao. Neither has impressed the Anfield
crowd. Youngster Darren Potter is an option after playing against
Graz in midweek and John Welsh is another rising star.
Polish keeper Dudek is an
under-rated goalie and it will take a good effort to beat him, with our
providers needing to produce a string of chances for Defoe and
Kanoute. He's not brilliant on crosses, but his forte is
shot-stopping. In front of him, he has Sami Hyypia to deal with
high balls and Jamie Carragher also is brave in the air. Both
players are settled at Liverpool and provide some continuity to the
team, through all the changes. Josemi, I haven't seen, but he is a
player who was well regarded in Spain, so it will be interesting to see
how he adapts to the Premier League. On the other flank, John Arne
Riise attacks from deep to provide another threat going forward.
The Norwegian is good in that aspect of his tasks, but his defending is
not of the highest quality, so there might be an opportunity to exploit
the back four in this area. Both Riise and Steve Finnan can play
in midfield if required and the Irishman looks to be on his way out of
Anfield, with Spurs again being mentioned in transfer rumours to secure
him to replace Stephen Carr.
All that leaves is Cisse
and Baros up front. Cisse is tall and physical, while Baros is
quick and tricky. The Czech had a great Euro 3004 and the big
question is can he do it regularly in the Prem ? Now that Owen is
going, he might get a regular opportunity to show if he can. Cisse
will be a handful and he has already got off the mark in pre-season, so
expect him to hit the ground running.
The unity of the
Liverpool side looks to be more firmly in place than in the Spurs team
at the moment. Mind you, I thought we were going to get a tonking
at Anfield last year and did well. But realistically, we will
probaly put up a good fight, but slip to a narrow defeat ...
: - Tottenham Hotspur 1 Liverpool
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
How do you think your
team will play this season under new management ?
It's going to be a
slow process but we will start to be a harder working team. I
think you can look at Valencia and you see a team full of discipline in
terms of shape and togetherness. One of the biggest criticisms
I've had of the Red over the past couple of seasons or so is that lack
of a specific shape.
One of the noticeable things about our CL qualifier was that we pushed
far further up the pitch and kept a full width to our midfield.
When you look at players like Murphy who have just gone it's because
he's unlikely to keep proper shape to the side. We were passing
crisper and although we gave the ball away a fair few times it's the
move in the right direction. That's why I think it will take a
couple of seasons or so to really get where we need to be. We're
working obviously now with what we've got and slowly those players will
be changed and specific players brought in to do a specific job in the
team. That's very important rather than how in the past few years
we've had these players coming in who all seem to be a 'in the hole'
type player and then played god knows where.
Were you sorry to see Houllier
Only sorry it took so to actually happen.
I actually wanted him gone before last season. The whole of last
season was a nightmare for me in which I was frequently bored by
negative football. I didn't see any real outlet in the game.
We started last season well and then Houllier reverted to type and bored
us. The only game after that I enjoyed was the last one because I
was told that Houllier was on his way before I watched it.
Who do you think is your best
player will be this season ?
Same player as last
season to be honest - Steven Gerrard. He's simply awesome and I
can only be made up that he decided to stay with us in the end.
The move to Chelsea was a dead cert until a late change of heart.
The move certainly brought about high feelings round here that's for
sure. The thought of Stevie upping sticks and going really got to
people and it turned to anger towards him.
It will be interesting to see how far ahead of the pack he is this
season though in terms of player of the year. Last season was
embarrassing if were honest that one player was light years ahead of the
rest of the side. Baros and Cisse will be interesting and ones to
push on as well I think this year.
Owen - Are you for keeping
him or resigned to letting him go in the end ?
Well it's looking
more likely that he's off and to be honest even though he is a great
player I'm not gutted. I think the reasoning behind that though is
his attitude. The club have offered him a contract and he's always
stalled on it. It is also Owen who has instigated this move to
Real Madrid so his heart isn't with us. At that point what's the
point of keeping him. We'd be better off getting what money we can
and bringing in a couple of players who want to play for the shirt.
We have three other top strikers at the club and will no doubt replace
Owen as well. This day has been coming for a long time to be
honest. A very sad day obviously as we can think back to great
days of Owen. For Spurs fans as well who can forget the one nil
down 2-1 up Michael Owen won the cup in 2001 over Arsenal. Thought
that might bring a smile to you :o)
Any exciting new additions to
the squad that we should look out for ?
because at time of writing this we've actually only added two men from
last season. Both look good though. Josemi is an improvement
for us at right back. Up front though Cisse could prove awesome.
He'll take time to settle but once he does then he could take the
premiership by storm. I can virtually guarantee you can watch out
for a bicycle kick of some form within this game if he plays. I think
he's tried it on every game so far. Even pre-season at Wrexham he
did one just to try and get a cross in.
If there was one player you
would have liked to have brought in, who would it have been and why ?
A tough one really but
looking at the premiership and where our team is vulnerable then I would
have liked to have seen Shaun Wright Phillips come in from Man City.
He could do an excellent job down our right side and certainly improve
us. He's used to the premiership and to be honest with his
contract talks stalling we might yet get him.
What are your hopes
for 2004-05 ?
To close the gap on
the top three has to be our aim. I don't expect the league this
year but if we could move up to third and stay around to be kind
of in contention for longer that's progress. A reasonable run in
the Champions league would be nice as well to push us forward again.
What is the
line-up expected to be ?
I'd say expect the
same lineup as against GAK in midweek to be honest.
Dudek, Josemi, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Gerrard, Hamann, Finnan,
Kewell, Cisse, Baros
Pongole will push for a place in the front line and Biscan may push for
a place in centre mid after impressing pre-season.
What do you think of
the new Tottenham set-up ?
I never have worked
out these football directors and managers in two jobs. The team
though from what I can see is no different to last season. Naybet
has just arrived, who will need time to settle in, but after that it's
the same side. I don't see an awful lot of change to be honest
other than binning Pleat off. I'd expected a couple of other buys
to be fair. I know these things take time, but Santini - he is
still your manager isn't he ? I only ask as he's been like the
invisible man to the outside world so far.
It's a long road to change I admit, but as an outsider I really haven't
seen anything of Spurs since last season. Nothing to say hmmmmmm
they're moving forward or at least trying to. The best chance for
Spurs I see is that they have one more year of experience for the kids
and with the likes of Defoe up front have scoring potential.
What do you reckon
the score will be ?
Spurs 1 Liverpool 2
Defoe to score for Spurs with Cisse scoring for the Reds first and then
Gerrard with a late winner.
Andy at Liverweb
HOTSPUR : -
Robbie Keane (ankle); Stephen Kelly (ankle); Anthony
Gardner (foot); Simon Davies (shin); Lee Barnard (fractured collar
bone); Jamie Slabber (dislocated collar bone)
Vladimir Smicer (knee)
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(Half-time score : 0-1)
||Venue : White Hart
|Saturday 14th August 2004
||Kick Off : 12.45 p.m.
|Crowd : 35,105
||Referee : D. Gallagher (Oxfordshire)
|Weather : Hot, sunny
Naybet (Doherty 71)
Jackson (Atouba 71)
Redknapp (c) (Brown 83)
Hamann (Biscan 84)
Cisse (Sinama Pongolle 65)
Baros (Warnock 80)
: - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Kanoute (foul) 5
Defoe (removing shirt)
Sinama Pongolle (foul)
Report : -
The refreshing sight of a Tottenham team
putting in a concerted effort to pull back a one goal deficit in this
opening match of the season was a welcome one with the last few seasons
teams seemingly going through the motions. A draw was probably a
fair result, but the two teams could not have been any more different.
The Liverpool side had been together for
quite a while in America and although Michael Owen left their fold for
Real Madrid yesterday, players were available to drop into his
place. Spurs had recruited players from all over Europe (and
further afield) over the summer and some had not even had the
opportunity to train together.
early possession and chances came from the visitors. Gerrard could
not wrap his head around a cross from Kewell and nodded over, while
Baros hit a shot that Ledley managed to get in the way of. The
front two of Kanoute and Defoe were closing down quickly and Fredi did
it a bit too vigorously and got an early yellow card. Six minutes
in and the first caution of the Premier League season ... from one of
the most unlikely sources !! 'Pool were trying their luck from
distance with Hyypia and Cisse taking shots from long range, but one
missed and Robinson took the other comfortably.
was fifteen minutes in before Jackson put the Reds' defence under any
pressure and hit a waist high cross that Defoe looked to latch onto, but
it was hooked out by a defender's boot. Phil Ifil was starting for
Spurs in what was a three-quarters new back four and when Gerrard ran at
him, the TV shots later identified that he pulled the red shirt, but the
England international's dramatic fall probably persuaded the ref that he
was exaggerating. The visitors then enjoyed a slice of luck when
Hamann's shot sliced right and fell to Finnan, who pulled the ball back
to Baros 15 yards out. He let fly, but a superb diving block by
Naybet took the ball over the top, although Robinson and King were
covering behind him.
Of the players
in white today, skipper Jamie Redknapp perhaps was the most
disappointing. He was off the pace and that was eminently
demonstrated when he was robbed of the ball by Steven Gerrard and Jamie
scythed him down as he ran away from him. In truth, Redknapp was
lucky only to see yellow. But then he showed just what he can do,
when he spread the play to Jackson on the left and his cross into the
box was met by the in-running Davis, but he could not aim his header on
target. Jackson also had a later shot on goal from the left that
flew across the face, which was closer than his right foot effort in the
second period. A high bouncing ball was volleyed over by Redknapp,
before Kewell wriggled past him and Ifil at the other end and his low cross was
sliced just over his own bar by Naybet. From the resulting corner,
Finnan had a second chance to knock it back in and Carragher's knock
down was swept in from close range by Cisse, who crept in behind Mendes.
had done well up until that point and only a yard separated us from
going two down, when Gerrard hit a spectacular volley over Robinson's
bar. Going into the break a goal down was not too bad in my eyes,
but what of the second half, with players having put a lot of effort in
under the hot sun ? And what would the first half-time team-talk
in anger produce ?
Well, they came
out with the same line-up as they finished the first half and
immediately went at Liverpool. Only a quick interception stopped
Jermain seizing on King's flick on, while Jackson had his rising shot
and then crossed for Fredi, who couldn't trouble Dudek. The
inconsistent refereeing throughout the game spoiled it as a true
spectacle. Frequent stoppages and decisions given one way and not
the other, made it a frustrating match. Kewell thumped a free-kick
into Davis' midriff as he blocked and Redknapp habitually hit the wall
with his free-kicks. Spurs only got close when Defoe ran at the
Red's defence and got into the box, but toe-ended his effort wide of the
Pedro Mendes made a good
impression on his debut and surged forward and hit a shot way over in
his impetuosity to score. Kewell was also off target, but his shot
had a bit of fortune about it, as it flew between Ifil's legs and past
the post. It was at this point that Benitez made his first
change. Cisse was withdrawn and Sinama-Pongolle came on.
Cisse had proved a handful for the Spurs defence and they must have been
relieved to see his replacement lining up in midfield, leaving Baros
alone up front. However, he gave a few problems, like when he ran
at Ifil and was caught as he ran past him. He crumpled and the ref
pointed for a Liverpool dead-ball situation, but although it looked in
the box, Gallagher gave it just outside. Riise hit the ball into
the wall and off for a corner.
by the lack of attacking intent by Rafael Benitez, Santini brought on
Doherty for Naybet, who had an outstanding debut, using his experience
to the maximum and Thimothee Atouba replaced Johnnie Jackson, who was
having a difficult second half. It was inspired, as Spurs scored
straight away, although neither new man had anything to do with it.
took a free-kick into the penalty area and Kanoute knocked it on to
Defoe. He brought the high ball down well, tricked it around
Carragher, took one touch and hit it into the net at Dudek's near post
for the equaliser. It was all his hard work deserved, as he had
chased and harried all afternoon, even going wide and deep to get the
ball. And it was a typical finish by the little striker, which
propelled him into England's squad for Wednesday's friendly with the
Ukraine. However, in his celebration of his strike, he ripped off
his shirt and threw it into the air. Thanks to Baros being the
devil on Gallagher's shoulder, the ref booked Defoe for removing his
shirt. It really is a ridiculous rule and as long as it is not
directly in front of the opposition's fans, I cannot see the point of a
caution for such a natural outburst of emotion.
almost responded immediately, with a corner flighted in and Carragher
rising highest to head powerfully goalwards. Although it was
straight in the middle of the goal, Robinson did well to react and throw
a hand up to get it over the top. Benitez' reaction to the
attacking of his side was to bring Baros off with Warnock (who ?) coming
on. This virtually finished any hope that Liverpool had of winning
Atouba stated to come
into his own, as he used his power down the left. A really big lad
at just 22, I am already a big fan. Soccernet rate him as a comedy
character, but this athletic left sided player with a sweet left foot
will be one to keep an eye out for. He utilised his strength to
power through challenges and when he lost the ball, he went straight
back on regained possession. It will take a tank to knock him off
the ball !! He hit a wicked cross in from the left and although
Hyypia got it away from the six-yard box, Defoe was on the loose ball in
a flash and could not keep it down as it went over the goal.
Thimothee won the ball out on the left and moved to the edge of the box
before trying to pick out a shot that would have curled in at the far
post, but he failed to get enough swerve on it and it went wide, but it
All that was left
was for another sub, Biscan, to hit a low drive that Robinson fielded
easily, before the final whistle blew, as Spurs pressed forwards for the
winner. A good first day's work and a point that perhaps was not
the most likely outcome after the pre-season Spurs fans had suffered !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SEAN DAVIS
This is a strange one.
Opening day of the season and the sun is blazing down and here I am
saying "Good Morning" to people !! The 12.45 p.m. kick
off was putting people out all over the place. Empty streets at
that time on a Saturday morning were heaving and the main roads to
Tottenham flowed well considering the 35,000 who travelled to the
game. It was like having a Boxing Day match in the middle of
Everybody seemed oddly optimistic
and the general feeling was that it would be a 2-2 draw. Was there
something going on that I didn't know about ? A Far Eastern
betting syndicate fix ? Would the floodlights fail at 13.00
?? Was there something in the air that I had failed to latch onto
? It all seemed very weird indeed.
As the new build-up blared from
the new speakers inside the ground, the atmosphere built until the teams
came out of the tunnel. The lush green pitch, the stadium looking
great in the sunshine and the bright whiteness of the Tottenham shirts
give a special feel to the first game of the season. This was only
our fourth Premiership start, but with a record of won one, drawn one
and lost one, something had to give. It didn't and for that we
should be grateful for a well-structured side and the determined play of
the Tottenham players.
first half showed that Liverpool have had a bit more time together than
our team. They linked well and played triangles, which our side
found difficult without having trained together before. Defoe and
Kanoute did not pair up and there was a yawning gap between the forwards
and our defence, with the midfield stretched.
played the team deep and invited Liverpool onto the edge of our penalty
area, where they found the massed ranks tricky to break down. The
ploy worked well, with Ifil tying up Kewell for the majority of the
match and Edman getting stuck in when the ball ran 40-60 in the
opponents favour !! However, the Reds were getting the luck
running their way and when a corner was cleared and knocked back into
the box, it fell nicely for Cisse to score his first Premiership goal
from a couple of yards out, with the Spurs defence standing.
was a slack goal to concede and for the bulk of the first half Naybet
had been marshalling the defence with pointing and indicating, while
Ledley had got on with his job alongside the experienced
professional. Naybet showed he has class and eased people off the
ball with a well positioned body or short burst of pace that took him
into a position where he was the favoured ball-winner. Laying
simple passes off, he made the game look easy. He will be a good
asset to the side. And King seemed to do well playing alongside
him too ... another good sign !!
second half saw a change with Spurs attacking the Liverpool goal more
and the long ball being utilised better than in the first half.
Kanoute's chest control was very good and he seems averse to heading the
ball if possible. His ability to hold the ball up brought others
into the game and helped the flow of Tottenham's play. The balls
played forward were pushing Liverpool back and this made their midfield
a bit redundant, thus when they did get the ball, they invariably were
lacking options to use it, with their players being mostly behind
them. It produced a few over-hit passes from Gerrard as he tried
to find killer passes to his forwards.
failed to get into the game and he might be ousted from the side when
others get up to speed. It is a shame, but he tried to help Ifil
out on our right side, but sometimes the 17 year old was faced with two
opponents and he did very well in getting to the ball first in a way
reminiscent of a young Stephen Carr. He did get caught out a bit,
when Gerrard and Baros ran across him in the penalty area and he will
need to learn quickly that such tactics are applied in the top flight.
best chance of the half for Spurs fell to Sean Davis, who got into a
good position to meet Johnnie Jackson's cross, but powered his header
wide. Davis started quietly, but gradually got more into the game
... mostly after Hamann studded him up the thigh in a sliding
tackle. He prompted and prodded passes through to the front men
and linked up with Mendes and Ifil making the triangles which failed to
be realised in the first half. Mendes was also more influential as
the game went on. A willing runner, he also moved the ball about
the pitch and was more effective with his sort passing rather than his
attempted long through balls.
had a couple of decent efforts at crossing, but he tended to run down
blind alleys and it was no surprise when Atouba was introduced in the
left midfield position. A man mountain at just 22, the Cameroonian
will be a strong feature of our side in the months to come I
feel. He looked like he could run through brick walls and was
willing to as well !! He showed he could put in a neat cross with
his left foot and with Edman behind him, it might be a good combination
on that flank. The side didn't demonstrate a great deal of width,
which limited the balls being played into the box, but perhaps the
return of a fully-fit Simon Davies will add some right-sided width.
the back, the new keeper Robinson could regularly be heard shouting
instructions to his defence and his reflexes were tested when
Carragher's header produced a sharp tip over from close range. I
think he will keep the gloves despite Kasey's two year reign in between
the posts. With Defoe scoring a goalscorer's effort out of very
little, the side have the component parts and have to put the bits
together to make a consistent outfit and then we might be able to talk
was also cheering that the players applauded the fans at the end of the
game. Edman looked like he might have played his last match for
Tottenham as he made a tour of the ground clapping the supporters !!
the game, we filed out, optimistic for the coming campaign, but
realistic in our expectations. Walking AWAY from the stadium at
2.45 p.m. was a very strange one indeed !!
thought that I’d better sleep on this one before articulating any
thoughts. I found it all a
bit different yesterday almost like I was returning to White Hart Lane
after an absence of several years rather than just a week.
It only really hit me, shortly before kick off, of how
things have changed since last season. Ledley King is now the
longest serving member of the squad !
Seven new players on the field, with names that we’re still
getting to grips with. Was
it was the overload of pre-season matches, the hot sunny day, the new
flavour of ‘pitch side’ announcements from Brian Alexander or quite
simply the abrupt entry to a new season ?
It took me a while to settle into the game and to realise that
we’re playing for crucial points.
lot of us (all of us?) have felt uneasy about how things have been
shaping up, pre-season, and perhaps slightly bewildered by the constant
reference to rebuilding and the new management structure.
I didn’t feel encouraged, on my train ride from Cambridge, by
reading that Santini has ‘written off’ the rest of the month, or by
the familiar nagging worries about injuries. I had a chat with the
amiable Gary Doherty after the match, who reckons that Robbie might be
fit for the Birmingham game at the end of the month.
note that Frankie Arnesen
has picked up the booing and jeering antics that shame some of our
supporters and I particularly amused by the fury (the veins in his neck
were bulging) of a South Lower ‘fan’ who stormed out in disgust (he
swore repeatedly, barged past a charming WPC and dropped his lighter on
the stairs) when Doherty and Atouba came on. It was his loss to
miss highlight of the match: Jermain Defoe’s excellent goal from the
penalty box. This
magnificent signing is distilled quality with magnificent ball control
and power. Long may it last !
in all, being mindful of the circumstances, we came through the first
day of the season really well. Players giving 100% in each and
every match has been a bugbear for many of us and I believe that we did
just that for the 90 minutes. Paul Robinson has instantly endeared
himself to all of us, not only by his shear ability but also by his
attentiveness (where time permits) to the supporters. England’s
number one ? I think
so. Naybet, I believe to be a shrewd buy, experienced and hard
working. Shoring up
our defensive frailties and building a bond and understanding with
Ledley would be real progress.
Certainly I felt safer, from where I sat behind the goal, that
we’d be able to deal more confidently with Liverpool’s strike force
than we had against others last season. That Naybet and Robinson
have more to say that the reticent King might reduce the uncertainties,
errors of communication and downright mistakes that have cost us
free kicks were disappointing and far from the awesome accuracy of
Christian Ziege. If Redknapp was a free kick merchant he
certainly lacked that form yesterday.
It was thoughtful and helpful of Benitez to take Cisse and Baros
off in the second half and if their tiredness was anything to do with
Tottenham’s long balls so much the better. Philip Ifil did well,
looking confident and committed, and a really good prospect for the
future. Doherty won headers and got some tackles in when he came
on for the tiring Naybet, which warded off the boo boys.
atmosphere, at the Park Lane End was excellent: happy and entertaining
and no doubt really appreciated by those on the field particularly when
we started battling in the second half.
I love that insulting version of ‘You’ll never walk alone’
and the casual assumption that all Liverpool supporters are unemployed
Liverpudlians. ‘Sign on, sign on, you’ll never work again’
(with exaggerated hand actions). Very
good! I went home happy. I
think that we’ve got something here, embryonic now, but capable of
rapid cell division. Sure
we can be patient. We’ve no choice.
Here’s to better days, and lots of them, in the not so distant
What exactly have
Tottenham ever done to Alan Hansen ?? He has the biggest chip on
his shoulder about our club and never has a good word to say about them,
last night being a prime example.
A very good,
classy defender in his day, he now seems to revel in picking holes in
other people's games and he had a pop at Naybet last night on one
isolated incident, which could have resulted in a goal, but
didn't. He failed to mention the quality of the rest of his time
on the pitch. Then to pick on a 17 year old defender making his
Premier League debut just strikes me as cowardice.
And would you
believe it, the Liverpool performance was exemplary. Not a bad
word to say about anything in the Anfield neck of the woods. While
it is all scripted, I was a little disappointed that Gary Lineker didn't
challenge him on the points he raised and also point out that the
wonderful Liverpool Red Machine failed to beat such a shoddy outfit as
I looked forward
to the return of "Match of the Day" after Spurs regularly
being on past midnight on ITV's "The Premiership".
Perhaps I will video it and fast forward through the sweaty's comments
Carter (North Upper)
this weekend :
||West Bromwich Albion