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Premier League

Saturday 19th March 2005

The new manager syndrome might make itself felt in this game with Stuart Pearce taking control of the side after Kevin Keegan parted company with City last week.  There is never a dull moment at Eastlands these days and it looks like player power might have eased Keegan out after he announced that he would be going anyway in summer 2006.

One of the main protagonists appears to have been David James, England's Number Two keeper behind Robinson.  He has had a chequered career with a failure to step up from his potential that was hailed at Watford and at Liverpool and has failed to become the keeper that people imagined he would be.  Prone to the odd clanger, he can be a very capable shot-stopper, although still not totally convincing on crosses.

The defenders have been built around the improved Richard Dunne.  While not a player with great pace, he uses his skills to the best effect and he has cut some of the errors out of his game these days.  Spurs old boy Ben Thatcher might be missing at left back as he has a hamstring problem, so Stephen Jordan might feature there.  A new name to many, he is highly rated at the light blues club and has come into the side this season, without looking out of place.  Sylvain Distin will provide the leadership in the middle of the back four, because he is a winner of the ball in the air and has the most experience in the defence.  Former Leeds and Boro right back Danny Mills is well known to all Spurs fans.  A player who upset a lot of fans while on loan at Boro and scoring a penalty in the League Cup shoot-out by thrusting a fist at the Paxton Road end, he will add  determination and fight to the City defence in a sort of reincarnation of Pearce himself.  

With Shaun Wright-Phillips and Trevor Sinclair both missing the midfield will be selected from Claudio Reyna, Paul Bosvelt, Joey Barton, Antoine Sibierski, Kiki Musampa, Steve McManaman and Willo Flood.  Flood is an Irish lad who the club have great hopes for, as he has scored in the League Cup already this season, while Reyna is just returning from injury.  The American international is a dynamic midfielder, who can cover a lot of ground, but sometimes gets lost chasing tackles and getting pulled out of position in the process.  Barton is a terrier who will chase all day, while Musampa and McManaman are both more laid back in style, producing the killer ball from a standing start, but this does not lend itself to the modern game and the former Liverpool wide midfielder has been a fringe player, while Musampa is a bit more hard-working, but only in comparison to Macca.  Sibierski is a strong player, who is good in the air both at set-pieces and as a late runner into the box.  He also has the ability to slide passes through for the forwards to feed on.  That leaves the rock in the midfield - Bosvelt, who will sit in behind the attacking colleagues in the middle of the park and destroy anything that the other side tries to create.

There are a number of choices Pearce has available up front.  Robbie Fowler is still a fine finisher given the opportunities.  One of the most gifted English goal-scorers of the last decade, injuries and off-field distractions have conspired to reduce his effectiveness, but he needs watching as he not only scores, but is also capable of setting up others.  Jonathan Macken has had a little difficulty in stepping up from the old First Division, but he knows where the goal is and is a tricky player to mark, because he has good movement off the ball and only needs the slightest glimpse of goal to get a shot away.  Young, leggy and taller than his brother, Bradley Wright-Phillips is a handful to mark.  All arms and legs, he has pace and is good in the air, so if he gets the chance to play, he will make life hard for our back four.

Pearce's comments in the early part of his tenure indicate that he feels ready to throw youngsters into the side, as he has watched them grow in the Academy.  The most likely to feature are Flood, Jordan and Bradley Wright-Phillips, so they will be trying to pay the manager back for his faith in giving them the chance to shine.

While this will be a lot different to playing against a Keegan side, there will be elements of Forest in there from Pearce's time under Clough.  It might give Tottenham enough space to make the most of the possession we do have this time and Pearce's response to how the game develops will be interesting to see.  I think that he might find it tougher than he imagines, even with his experience at the City Ground and he could head North with the score-line reading ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    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 : -  Pedro Mendes (broken toe); Dean Richards (Achilles); Michael Dawson (shin);

MANCHESTER CITY :  Shaun Wright-Phillips (cartilage tear); Ben Thatcher (hamstring); Sun Jihai (knee); Trevor Sinclair (broken thigh); Geert De Vliger (Achilles)


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Tottenham Hotspur   2    Manchester City   1      (Half-time score : 1-1)
Premier League Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 19th March 2005 Kick Off :  15.00 p.m.
Crowd :  35,681 Referee :  Barry Knight (Orpington)
Weather :  Bright sunshine, hot
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


Naybet (Gardner 77)
King (c)

Reid (Keane 80)

Mido (Kanoute 66)

Unused subs: 

Manchester City :


Onuoha (Mills 84 )

Bosvelt (Macken 90)
Sibierski (Flood 77)


Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur Manchester City
Scorers : -  

Tottenham Hotspur

Defoe 18
Keane 85

Manchester City

Reyna 44

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  


Atouba (arguing) 87
Defoe (kicking the ball away) 90


Manchester City


Dunne (arguing) 87
Fowler (dissent) 87
Barton (foul) 90 


Match Report : -  

After three games of domination, this flat performance was won by a late Robbie Keane goal that left Manchester City's new manager tasting defeat in his first game in charge.  For Spurs, it was an ugly win that earned three points where previous numerous more attractive efforts had fallen on stony ground.

It all nearly started so badly.  Atouba decided to take a throw-in back to Robinson, who had to kick it out as it bounced up waist high and he only succeeded in slicing it straight up in the air.  As it came down, the Spurs keeper realised that he could not pick the ball out of the air, so had to tower over Fowler to head it and the ball fell to Reyna, who's shot into the ground was headed out from in front of goal by Ledley King.  The aftermath saw a furious "debate" between Robinson and Atouba, who would not let go of it and continued the argument with Robbo as the corner was being prepared to be taken.

It was not to be the last incident that involved Thimothee and the other members of our team.

Defoe had tested James with a low shot in the 14th minute, before he scored a minute later.  James threw the ball out to right back Onouha, who was robbed by Reid and his cross in was missed by Defoe in the six yard box, but Simon Davies latched onto the ball at the far side of the penalty area and lashed in a shot from the right.  His shot seemed to be heading wide, when Jermain headed it in at the left hand post, where he had ended up after missing the initial opportunity.  It was an opportunist goal and one which we have scored all too few of this season.  For all the build up play in the last few games, it was a misdirected shot that resulted in a goal.

Strangely enough, after this, Tottenham withdrew into their shell and let Manchester City play the ball around a bit.  Their passing was crisp and to feet and they created work for Robinson, who dived at Barton's feet, saved Sibierski's volley and then kept out Barton's shot at the end of a run past three Spurs players with his legs.

Michael Brown fired in a low shot that James had to grab on the ground, after Mido had set up the midfielder, but his next action was at the other end, where he first fouled Barton and then rushed from the wall to block the drive from the fouled City man.  Just as half-time was approaching, City equalised.

The move started in their won half and they played a succession of passes that took them into the Tottenham area and Reyna hit a half-volley past Robbo from 12 yards out.  Fingers of recrimination were pointed and most pointed at Atouba, who had left his marker to run through and score.  It was a deflating end to an uninspiring half, with Jol needing to gee the team up again for the second half.

The team came out to attack the Paxton Road end in the second 45, but Reyna almost broke through when Robinson rushed from his line to smother the ball at the American's feet.  Stephen Kelly was having a good game and his run in behind the City left back Jordan was picked out by an astute ball from Simon Davies.  The Irish youngster chested it down and it got away from him, but James could not cleanly gather the ball, but alas, there was no Spurs player on hand to convert it.

Mido had struggled to get much out of Distin and Dunne, so Kanoute came on and when the ball was cleared out by Robinson, Fredi won a header and when a defensive header it fell to Reid and his fierce shot was well tipped over by the Manchester City keeper.  James also had to be aware when Michael Brown drove in a shot and Defoe deflected it off the outside of his foot, making it pop up in front of him and causing him to flop on the rebound off his chest.  Carrick was having a quiet game, but he won a tackle in midfield and slid a ball through to Defoe, but it was just too firm for the Tottenham forward.

It looked like it would end a draw, when Jol brought on Keane to play the three forwards together.  Before they got a chance to link together, Fowler drilled in a low free-kick from the right, which Robinson did well to hold as the ball pitched right in front of him in the 81st minute and then came the goal that won it for Spurs.

Kanoute did well when tight to the right touchline and passed inside to Simon Davies, just inside the box.  Fancying his chances, he hit another shot, which hit Dunne and flicked up, over the diving James, to the far post, where Robbie Keane was on hand to knock the ball over the line, with what must have been his first touch after coming on.

Just behind play as the goal was scored, Joey Barton dropped to the floor and there was a cut above his eye.  Atouba had been in the vicinity when this happened, with many of the City players whingeing to the ref after the goal, but he had not seen it, much as he had not seen Jordan put his head into Jermain Defoe's earlier in the half.  This set the tone for the last few minutes, as it all kicked off.  After viewing the blown-up pictures on Match fo the Day, it looked as though Barton stuck out a leg to kick Atouba as he went past him and Atouba then flung an elbow at him.  Neither player is blameless and later when Atouba was on the floor, Barton looked perilously close to stepping on him.

As a Man City free-kick was about to be taken, Dunne obviously said something to Atouba and a stand-off occurred between them, until everyone else piled in and Atouba had to be dragged away with the other players hauling Dunne in the opposite direction.  At the end of it and after the ref had consulted with his linesman, both the protagonists got yellow cards and Robbie Fowler also was cautioned.

The ref had a shocking game.  He allowed fouls to go unpunished, while not being able to get goal kicks and corners right (this is getting to be a recurring theme).  One goal kick was given to Man City and was so obviously a corner that flicked off a City defender's head, even Robinson at the other end of the pitch was asking the ref how he had given it.

Knight made things worse for himself when he booked Defoe for kicking the ball away, when similar incidents by City players when they were wasting time went unpunished.  Then Barton entered the book for a hack on Keane as he took the ball upfield and ran past him.  While Tottenham hoped to hold the ball up in the blue half of the pitch, it got quickly transferred to the Spurs end and there was some defending to do.

Substitute Jonathan Macken joined the action and with his impact on last season's FA Cup tie, it was a worrying introduction.  He almost did the trick again, when he got a toe to a through ball and the ball was lifted towards the goal, Robbo was pleased to see it going wide.  A Mills free-kick fell to Musampa and his rising shot was helped over by Robinson's hand and then from the corner, the ball came to Mills who hit a shot across the face of goal and Dunne was just unable to get a touch on it at the far post.

It was a spirited rally by City at the end, but they produced as few efforts on goal as Spurs and the controversy surrounding the alleged Atouba elbow has shrouded the win for Tottenham that keeps them in touch with the top six.  Europe is a long shot, but if the team can show some consistency over the latter stages of the season, it may be possible.



Benny The Ball




With losing three games on the spin, it was imperative that we win this game, to keep our fading hopes of qualifying for Europe alive.  With “Psycho” a.k.a Stuart Pearce taking the Manchester City hot seat, the signs were there that we would lose this game. 

The way the game had started I had changed my mind.  This game would end in a draw, as both teams did not want to lose, and neither really put a pass together that would equate to what we would call “a move”.  Not until David James rolled the ball out to Nedum Onuoha, who had the touch of an elephant and Andy Reid went in, and robbed the ball from the defender, and put in a great cross, that Defoe failed to connect with.  The ball ended up at Davies’s feet and he hit a shot that was going wide but Defoe managed to head the ball into the net.  The Park Lane boys had already let James and Sven know that he was England’s number two.  

We let the City boys back into the game by a combination of Reid and Atouba making a right hash of tackling a City player.  The ball was played into our box and with a pass here and there the ball was finally lashed into the net by Reyna, with Robbo not having a chance to save it.  

The second half Spurs started the brighter and took the game to City.  This stretched the game and Kiki Musampa was making young Kelly really work.  Jol finally took off Mido who was not having his best game and replaced him with Kanoute, followed by Keane on for Reid, even though Reid had a great shot saved by England’s number two.  

The breakthrough came when Kanoute managed to cross the ball to Davies.  His shot took a deflection, past the floundering James, for Keane just to tap the ball in.  City really did come forward now.  With Musampa hitting a vicious shot that but for the intervention of England’s number one would have scored.  With seconds remaining, a Mills drive across the Spurs goal had everybody holding their breath as it just missed the post.

Atouba again was getting some flak, not only from our “Supporters” but from the City players, notably Barton and Dunne.  For his trouble Barton received a cut to his eye and this resulted in some retribution. It came towards the end of the game with handbags to the fore, with Atouba and Dunne were booked.

This was not a great game but sometimes you win when things are not going your way and vice versa.  Atouba, I thought had a reasonable game linking up with Reid well.  I do think that our midfielders do not chip in with their fair share of goals to help the forwards.  It keeps our hopes of European football alive with the results going our way.

Dangerous Dave


Other scores this weekend :
Blackburn Rovers 0 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Norwich City 0 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 1 West Bromwich Albion 4 Saturday
Chelsea 4 Crystal Palace 1 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Fulham 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Birmingham City 2 Aston Villa 0 Sunday
Liverpool 2 Everton 1 Sunday
Middlesbrough 1 SCBC 3 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 30 24 5 1 58 10 77 +48
2 Manchester United 30 19 9 2 48 17 66 +31
3 Arsenal 30 19 7 4 68 32 64 +36
4 Everton 30 15 6 9 35 32 51 +3
5 Liverpool 30 14 5 11 43 31 47 +12
6 Bolton Wanderers 30 13 7 10 38 34 46 +5
7 Charlton Athletic 30 12 7 11 35 42 43 -7
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 30 12 6 12 37 34 42 +3
9 Middlesbrough 30 11 9 10 44 42 42 +2
10 Aston Villa 30 10 8 12 34 39 38 -5
11 Newcastle United 29 9 11 9 41 45 38 -4
12 Manchester City 30 9 9 12 35 34 36 +1
13 Birmingham City 30 9 8 13 33 37 35 -4
14 Blackburn Rovers 30 7 11 12 24 37 32 -13
15 Portsmouth 30 8 7 15 32 46 31 -14
16 Fulham 29 8 6 15 33 47 30 -14
17 SCBC 30 5 12 13 33 45 27 -12
18 Crystal Palace 30 6 8 16 33 49 26 -16
19 West Bromwich Albion 30 4 12 14 29 51 24 -22
20 Norwich City 30 3 11 16 29 59 20 -30

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