Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 18th January 2003

Only Newcastle United and SCBC have taken all the points from League visits to Villa Park this season so far, so Tottenham will be in for a difficult task if they are to get any joy on their travels.  not being the greatest on the road, Spurs will have to put in a lot of effort to make sure they deny the home side the space to play their football, which can be attractive despite all the stick they are getting from their fans.  The big problem for the Midlands side has been scoring goals.

After a shaky start Peter Encklemann has been proving to be a sound keeper and he has obviously learned a fair bit from being understudy to his previous number one Peter Schmeichel.  A tall lad, he is string on crosses and a good shot stopper, but there are positional chinks in his armour.

The back line has been disrupted by injury and suspension this season.  Alpay has hardly played and wants out, which has cast a shadow over the whole back four.  Olaf Mellberg has added strength to the middle of the defence, with a no-nonsense attitude to tackling - especially Freddie Ljungberg !!  Alongside, Gareth Barry has settle into the left back slot, but has been a bit unsettled by not getting a regular game, although he has been a frequent pick in that position of late.  Graham Taylor favours the old head of Staunton in the middle to partner Mellberg and he does lack pace, which might let his fellow countryman Keane in, should he manage to get away from him.  Alternatively, ex-Man U defender Ronnie Johnsen might fill in there, but he also lacks a great turn of speed.  To add pace to the defence, J Lloyd Samuel has been preferred at right back.  An athletic defender who is attack minded, sometimes gets caught too far forward and with Tottenham likely to play a 4-4-1-1 formation, there might have to be a player ready and willing to break into the space left behind the marauding Villa defender.

The home midfield will feature a familiar face with Oyvind Leonhardsen there.  He was not going to get much of a look in at Spurs and his free transfer to villa allowed him to continue to gain first team football.  He has the ability to move the ball forward and still has the legs for the occasional run into the box, so will have to be watched, especially as he will want to prove to Hoddle that he still has something to offer.  Young German Thomas Hitzlsperger has been a real hit for Villa, especially as he hits the ball very hard ... into the goal from distance.  He is a hard worker and within range of goal (that's anywhere from 35 yards out), he will have a pop and he has a very accurate strike rate.  Another veteran, Mark Kinsella could feature and he does the dirty work in the midfield ... picking up the ball, tackling and running down his marker.  He always plays well against Spurs, but he will be hoping that someone like Lee Hendrie might be better employed doing that sort of work on younger legs.  The Villa youngster has been up and down since his entry into the side a few years back, but appears to be trying to establish a consistency to his game.  He might be small, but his heart is big and his lungs allow him to run endlessly.  Our aged midfielders might need to pit one of our younger stars against him !!  Mustafa Hadji gets the odd game, but fellow Moroccan Kachloul is right out of the first team picture.

The front pairing of Dion Dublin and Darius Vassel has the traditional tall and short look, but they are effective.  Vassell provides the power, with a quick off the mark runner and a fierce shot, while Dublin is the archetypal target man, who wins most things in the air.  We will have to hope that Deano is fit to provide some resistance to Dion's aerial presence. Either that or Anthony Gardner returns, as he will also provide some pace to match that of the England striker Vassell.  One other option would be to put Ulysses De La Cruz in, who is also a strong wing player, who can take people on well.  However, Taylor might have Juan Pablo Angel on the bench to come on and try and get some on-pitch time, as he is usually used as a bit part player.  Swede Marcus Allback, signed in the summer, is so out of favour that he is talking about a move already.  Also available, if Taylor wants to use revenge as an incentive, is former Spurs reserve striker Peter Crouch.  Another tall forward, he could prove difficult to handle if we can only put out our shorter defenders and that would make it hard to deal with an aerial bombardment.

With Tottenham playing poorly away from the Lane and Villa finding goals difficult, it could be a close call this one.  Spurs do not have a good record at Villa, but with a studied approach to the game, they could frustrate the home team and then strike on the break to snatch an unexpected win ...

PREDICTION : -   Aston Villa  0   Tottenham  1

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



Aston Villa   0    Tottenham   1                       (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League
Saturday 18th January 2003
Venue : -  Villa Park
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Clear, chilly
Referee : -  N. Barry (Scunthorpe)
Crowd : -  38,576
Teams : -  
Aston Villa : -  Enckelman; Delaney, Johnsen, Mellberg, Samuel; Barry, Hitzlsperger, Taylor, Hendrie (De La Cruz 46); S. Moore (Vassell 46), Dublin (Crouch 78)
Unused subs. : - Postma, A. Wright

Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Richards, King, Taricco; Davies, Bunjevcevic, Anderton, Poyet (Freund 82); Sheringham, Keane
Unused subs. : - Sullivan, Perry, Acimovic, Iversen

Colours : -  
Aston Villa  -  Claret shirts with light blue sleeves and trim, White shorts, claret socks with light blue turnover

Tottenham -  White Shirts, Navy blue shorts, White socks with navy blue turnover

Scorers : -  
Aston Villa  -  None

Tottenham -  Sheringham 70

Cards : -  
Aston Villa  -  Delaney (foul) 37

Tottenham -  Anderton (foul) 61, Bunjevcevic (foul) 84, Keane (time wasting) 90

What started off as a dour first half opened up in the second half and Tottenham just about deserved to return home the victors, albeit by a narrow margin.  Anyone who gets one goal against Aston Villa has a good chance of victory, as they are not the most prolific scorers in the league, but Teddy Sheringham's volley ended up enough to settle the destination of the points.

The team shaped up in a 4-4-2 formation that gives them more stability and a basis to launch attacks without leaving themselves to be over-run in midfield.  Keane and Davies threatened the Villa goal in the first fifteen minutes, but there was no concern from Enckelman, who was only called on a minute before half-time, when Stephen Carr struck a well placed shot, that got deflected. On one of those days, it rebounded out from the keeper's save, just the wrong side of Robbie Keane !!

Villa had been reasonably dangerous, with Keller dealing better with a snorter of a bounce from Barry's long range effort than he did at the New Dell, while Dublin's volley from Moore's cross was deflected wide by Dean Richards, who showed what Spurs had been missing in his absence.  In fact he and King looked comfortable together, although Moore got away once more, but this time it was Bunjevcevic who put the ball out for a corner.

This followed an appeal for a penalty, when Sheringham headed the ball down for Simon Davies, but Ronnie Johnsen got a hand in the way.  Referee Neale Barry (obviously not Gareth's Dad !!) waved away Tottenham's appeals.  He did pull out the yellow card for a foul on Bunjy by Mark Delaney, but then over-compensated in the second half, by booking Bunjy and Anderton for fouls and Robbie Keane for time-wasting !!

The closest that the game came to a goal in the first half was the header that Dean Richards put against the bar from a corner by Darren Anderton.  As the ball bounced out, Bunjy lobbed the ball back into the danger zone, Ted headed down and Robbie hit it  into the net, but the ref took the lineman's advice and gave a free-kick for off-side, thus denying our hat-trick hero from last week.  But as I said, Keano was having a day like that.  A couple of balls into the box he just was unable to get on the end of and in the second half, he was presented with a great chance, only to over-run the ball off for a goal-kick.  Still, better that he saves the goals for when we need them !!

With Graham Taylor taking off Hendrie and Moore to be replaced by the more direct running of De La Cruz and Vassell, it looked like Villa were intent on giving the Spurs defence a testing.  However, it never really transpired that they were put under a great deal of pressure.

In fact, an intricate move early in the half saw Tottenham open up the home back line and somehow Robbie managed to pick out Enckelman with his cross with Poyet and Sheringham both waiting in the area.  In the 51st minute, it was Villa's turn to be denied a spot-kick, when Richards produced a marvellously timed challenge on Vassell as he burst past the Tottenham central defender.  Keane wriggled his way through once, but his effort was easy for the goalie to hold and then Poyet had two shooting opportunities, which he pulled wide and then when Keane was denied by Enckelman's header, the ball fell to him, but he unsuccessfully tried to curl a lob over the Finn.

The young German Hitzlsperger was one who was interesting to see. All hustle and bustle, with a great reputation for his shooting, but the only opportunity he had was nearing the hour, when he turned his way past Gus, but his attempt at goal was way off target.  The same problem was befalling Keane, as he went through on the left, taking Davies' pass on, but he got his shot wide of the mark as the keeper rushed out at his feet.

Aston Villa should really have taken the lead in the 68th minute, as De La Cruz went past Taricco, not for the first time, pulled the ball back for  Ian Taylor, who was about five yards out.  Somehow, the veteran midfielder contrived to miss the ball altogether and the chance was gone.  Luckily for Tottenham, their own vet., Teddy Sheringham had a better pair of shooting boots.  As Carr put in a wicked cross from the right, Teddy hit the ball sweetly from a similar distance to Taylor and the volley flew into the bottom left corner of the goal with Enckelman helpless.

The tall figure of Peter Crouch was thrown into the action as a possible saviour and Freund came on for Poyet to toughen things up in midfield.  A melee in the Tottenham box ended with the ball dropping kindly for De La Cruz and his shot from the right hand side of the goal was kicked away by Keller's feet.  once again, Tottenham had nearly thrown points away at the death, but the game petered out with cheers from the away fans and cries of "Ellis Out" from the home supporters.  It was a chant started by Spurs fans when the side had gone ahead, but one they knew would inspire the Holte Enders to pick up on.

There were some resolute performances in what was never going to be a pretty game, but Hoddle's tactics were right on the day.  Whether this will be the start of a run that sees European qualification, I don't know.  It might remind the boss and the players that there are points to be won away from home if you are brave enough to go out and try and win them.  Previous away performances have been dire and smacked of waiting for home sides to score and then accepting defeat.  With a very good home record, it is necessary to go on the road and take points.  It may be ugly, but look where it has got SCBC.


Burton Coggles




With a sweet volley, Teddy Sheringham made everything right with Tottenham once again.  The first win for fourteen years at Villa Park and not before time, meant that Spurs had won their fourth away game this season.  It was a shot that meant so much to Spurs fans, but the same stadium staged a more moving display of emotion the next day, when the local community came to pay their respects for the two teenage girls shot dead on New Year's Eve.

The goal that Teddy scored helps Tottenham maintain a position that could lead to a push for a European place.  Whether that happens or not could be solely down to our away form, as we have some tough home fixtures including the next one against Newcastle United.  With Man U and Liverpool both to be faced at the Lane, the games away to WBA, Boro, Bolton and West Ham could all have more of a bearing on our final position than those at home to Fulham, Birmingham and Man City.

While Villa have had a good run of home results themselves, they are having trouble scoring, despite having a large choice of forwards to pick from.  And large is certainly the word, with Dublin and Crouch being among the tallest in the Premier League.  However, Graham Taylor has yet to find the perfect match and so it proved once again, despite the lively Moore causing a few problems in the first period.  The best chance fell to a midfielder, Ian Taylor, who fluffed it when just a yard or two out.  Had it dropped to a striker, it might have been a different story.

As it was, a minute later the game was up for Villa.  Carr broke on the right wing and swung in a low cross that Teddy ran on to, looking suspiciously offside when it arrived, but the timing made it seem that way.  Without hesitation, he swung his right foot and sent the ball past Enckelman in the Villains goal.  It was a reward for pressing forward, which Spurs have been prone not to do away from home.  Chances for Keane (about three good ones at least, including the disallowed goal just before half-time), Richards' header off the post and Carr's long shot that surprised the keeper.

Not that Keller was dormant in the Tottenham goal.  He had to be quick at the death to prevent an equaliser slipping by him.  Only some timely interventions by Deano, Ledley and Bunjy stopped further work for the man in green.  The side fared better today, but Taz looked slow against the fleet footed De La Soul and fortunately, Dublin failed to score against us for what seems like the first time ever !!

I hope Glenn uses this as a template for future away matches.

And I hope the killers of the girls are brought to justice.  The only shots we are interested in are those that don't take lives.

East Stan



Other scores this week :
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1 Sunday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Everton 2 Sunderland 1 Saturday
Fulham 1 Middlesbrough 0 Sunday
Leeds United 0 WBA 0 Saturday

Manchester United

2 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Manchester City 0 Saturday
SCBC 0 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 4 West Ham United 2 Wednesday
Newcastle United 1 Bolton Wanderers 0 Wednesday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 24 16 4 4 52 25 52
2 Manchester United 24 14 5 5 40 24 47
4 Newcastle United 24 14 3 7 40 31 45
3 Chelsea 24 11 8 5 41 23 41
5 Everton 24 11 6 7 30 29 39
6 Liverpool 24 10 8 6 32 23 38
7 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 24 11 5 8 35 34 38
8 SCBC 24 9 9 6 27 23 36
9 Blackburn Rovers 24 8 10 6 30 26 34
10 Manchester City 24 10 4 10 32 34 34
11 Charlton Athletic 24 9 6 9 30 32 33
12 Leeds United 24 9 4 11 31 29 31
13 Middlesbrough 24 8 6 10 27 24 30
14 Aston Villa 24 8 5 11 22 25 29
15 Fulham 23 7 6 10 24 27 27
16 Birmingham City 24 6 8 10 20 32 26
17 Bolton Wanderers 24 4 9 10 24 39 21
18 Sunderland 23 4 7 13 16 34 19
19 WBA 24 4 5 14 17 35 17
20 West Ham United 24 3 8 13 26 47 17
17 Bolton Wanderers 22 4 8 10 24 37 20
18 Sunderland 22 4 6 12 15 32 18
19 WBA 22 4 5 13 16 32 17
20 West Ham United 23 3 7 13 24 45 16

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