Sunday 21st October 2001
Robert Lee causing a bit of fuss in Newcastle this week with his
transfer request (which has been knocked back), the preparation for this
game has been slightly overshadowed. However, the Magpies have
been creeping up the League after their exit from the InterToto Cup at
the hands of French club Troyes on away goals.
Their form has featured big wins when they have won. 4-0 over Bolton and Boro (away), coupled with a 4-3 at home to Man U show that on their day they can be formidable opponents. However, as they showed on their recent visit to London to play lowly West Ham, they can be crap and got spanked 3-0. Partly that could be because they cannot play in London, not having won in the capital for something like four years. The home defeat by Liverpool and a narrow 1-0 over bottom side Leicester City shows that the Toon Machine sometimes misfires.
As for the Newcastle side, Shay Given has won back the goalkeeper's position from Steve Harper. The diminutive Irishman lacked the confidence of the gaffer early on when Robson arrived, but now he has re-established himself in the side, despite an awful clanger in their first game of the new season. His allowance of the soft shot from Zenden to go through him and in left him red faced. Although short, he is brave and has good reflexes, which were demonstrated in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final against Spurs.
Gooner Warren Barton is surprisingly still at St. James Park and we must hope that he is fit to play as he is, in my opinion, not the most feared defender in the Premier League. I think with our new style, he could be given a good chasing. In central defence, Andy O'Brien came in from Bradford City and has settled down well, but Les might be able to get in on him and use his physical presence to unnerve the young man. Nikos (Handball) Dabizas is still hanging about in the middle of the back four there and although he can be a danger from set-pieces at the other end, he can be just as dangerous in his own box. He may well be detailed to man mark Sheringham, but Teddy should be too clever for him. Where was Dabizas when Ted scored for England against Greece ?? With Andy Griffin being declared fit, he will fill the other full back position and provides an outlet on the flank to start attacks, as he is pacy and enjoys getting forward.
Others who might feature are Sylvain Distin, who Spurs were rumoured to be after for quite a time, but chose to go on loan to Newcastle for a year; Robbie Elliott, who returned to United from Bolton in the summer and Aaron Hughes, who got good reports when he featured in the side last year, but has slipped out of contention this season. Not to forget Marcelino, as Bobby Robson seems to have done. £5.8 million well spent !!
Lee is in the squad after he was not granted his transfer request and he is a ninety minutes player who will cover lots of ground and has a fierce shot if he gets in range. Same goes for Norberto Solano, who is a creative little player, who can take a mean free-kick. Bassedas and Acuna also came in from South America and have failed to set the scene alight, but have made contributions to the development of the team. Keiron Dyer is the Magpies' big hope, but since signing for them, he has suffered injury after injury and although he fulfils a vital role in the midfield area for Newcastle, he has yet to prove he can do it on a regular basis. Old lag Gary Speed will no doubt feature and despite his advancing years, he still has the ability to pop up in the box and profit from any chances that are made.
You need look no further than Shearer and Craig Bellamy, a new addition to the side, for the strike partnership. The former England captain has regained fitness and is knocking goals in once again, which is worrying, as he has a penchant for scoring against us. Bellamy is a non-stop runner, who will have to be watched carefully by the Spurs defence. Expect King or Perry to take Bellamy, while Richards will be left to concentrate on Shearer. Robson has other options in Shola Ameobi, the young lanky forward who is making a name for himself as a potential replacement for Shearer when he retires and Robert Laurent, signed from Paris St. Germain and impressing the Press as a new Ginola. His pace and running off the ball will need constant attention from our defenders.
One mystery is Carl Cort. The signing from Wimbledon has not fulfilled his potential yet, due to almost constant injuries depriving the club of his services, but once again he is on the sick list, out until Christmas with a knee injury. Then there is Lomano Lua-Lua, the Colchester United wing man who was so impressive, a host of clubs, including Spurs were chasing him. Newcastle won his transfer, but have used him fleetingly, thus whether he can make it at this level or not is still to be proven.
Robson will tend towards a trusted 4-4-2 and therefore, we might find that Tottenham mirror that formation to try and stifle the attacking intentions of the home side, thus leading to the fervent Newcastle support becoming frustrated and quiet. The way Tottenham are playing at the moment, there is a need for defensive strength allied with the flowing forward play they have demonstrated so far this season. However, as in recent games, where Spurs have had plenty of opportunities to score, but have failed to take them, this could cost them dearly.
With some determined play, Spurs should be able to prevent Sullivan being exposed too often and to open up the Magpies rearguard and thus, I reckon it will end up ...
PREDICTION : - Newcastle United 1 Tottenham 1
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
|Newcastle United 0 Tottenham 2 (Half time score: 0-2)|
|Sunday 21st October 2001|
|Weather : - Heavy drizzle, chilly|
|Crowd : - 50,593|
|Referee : - Mr. A. Wiley (Staffs)|
Scorers : - Newcastle
United - None
Newcastle United : Bellamy (dissent) 25, Dabizas (foul) 82
Spurs : Freund (foul) 71
Newcastle United : Given;
Dabizas, O'Brien, Distin, A. Hughes (Ameobi 81); Speed, Solano (Bassedas
75), Acuna (Lua Lua 75), Robert; Shearer, Bellamy
Spurs : Sullivan;
Taricco (Davies 49), Perry, Richards, King; Anderton (Sherwood 89),
Poyet, Freund, Ziege; Sheringham, Ferdinand (Rebrov 79)
Trips to the North-East used to be about as welcome to Spurs fans as a trip to the dentist. In fact, the man in the white coat was often the more enticing option, as at least he was only ten minutes from home.
But oh, how things have changed. A new manager, new players and a new belief have lead to a new approach to matches. Both for the players and the fans. No longer will Spurs fans travel away with a heavy heart and a long, miserable journey home, because even if we lose, there will be something to talk about in the way we have played.
The Newcastle fans were stunned into silence and then booing (of their own players) after Spurs raced into an early lead. The free-kick that was played short to Anderton to drill in, at the second attempt off Gary Speed, gave Spurs a flying start. Then about ten minutes later, Dazza's cross was met by Gus Poyet to loop a header over the keeper's head to put Spurs two up and give just reward to the slick passing on a slick pitch. Taricco hit a shot wide, while Ziege just failed to reach a delicately flighted Sheringham ball into the box. Tottenham's dominance meant that it was just on half-time, when Newcastle had their first shot on target, which Sullivan saved easily.
The second half started in much the same manner, with Les having two opportunities, but was thwarted by Given. As might have been expected, the home side came strongly in the second half and put more of their game together, but there was a lot of possession, without too much to trouble Sully. They also lost hold of the ball on many occasions and that helped Spurs to try and peg them back by pushing forward. Twice the ball had to be headed away from under the Spurs bar - once by Davies and once by Taz, but there was little direct threat until Lomano Lua-Lua came on and ran directly at the defence. One mazy run near the end almost saw him grab a wonder goal, but he only found the side netting. Bellamy had the best chance near the end for the Magpies, but slid his shot past Sullivan and past the post too.
While the Tottenham legs tired, there were chances and Ted hit the top of the bar with a free-kick and Sergei (on for Les) had two clear cut chances. One volley he shot wide when one-on-one with the keeper and then when put through by Ziege, he was on target, but Given blocked his effort.
So the match ended with the Spurs contingent cheering away, like they always used to at away games. The Hoddle way is certainly going down well. Almost as well as Southampton !!
|MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DEAN RICHARDS|
SINGING IN THE RAIN IN NEWCASTLE
An early start was required for the long drive to Newcastle, in time for the 2 o'clock kick off. This was not made any easier by the foul weather. Why in the last few seasons has it always rained heavily on our trips to Geordie land? After parking close to St. James Park, we made our way to the ground and noticed that we stood out as even in these conditions the locals only wore their teams' shirt ! Since the ground was enlarged away supporters are placed high up in the west corner, not a place for anyone who suffers from vertigo or is unfit.
The game kicked off and almost immediately Taricco was presented with a half chance, but his attempted chip went wide. Newcastle responded with an attack down their right, a low cross from Solano was put just past the post by Bellamy. That was the last time Newcastle threatened the Spurs goal in the first half, as Spurs took control with some superb incisive passing movements. Initially, Spurs tried to hit long diagonal passes from right to left, but these were repelled by the Newcastle back line. Then after clever play by Spurs down their right flank, Newcastle conceded a free kick near the corner flag. Ziege came across to take it, he spotted Anderton in space just inside the penalty box who controlled the ball before shooting. The shot was blocked but rebounded back to Anderton. He tried again and this time the ball flew into the net, with the help of a slight deflection off the boot of Gary Speed. Suddenly all the noise in the ground was coming from the Spurs contingent.
The pattern of the half had been set with Sheringham and Anderton very much to the fore, while in defence Richards and King were easily able to pick off any Newcastle attacks before setting up further pressure on the home team. As the half progressed it became increasingly obvious that Newcastle's plan of man marking Poyet and playing three at the back was giving Spurs acres of space, particularly behind Robert on their left. Therefore, it was no great surprise when a flowing move down that flank culminated with Taricco passing to Anderton and his far post cross was met by a Poyet header, which looped over Given into the net, to double Spurs' lead.
During this period Sheringham was at the centre of Spurs attacking moves, particularly when he played a one-two with Anderton, whose shot from the edge of the area was charged down and went for a corner. Then he played a very clever ball down the inside right channel, which Poyet just failed to take in his stride.
The half ended with the home supporters letting their team know what they thought of their performance, which was in total contrast to the response of the travelling fans, who had clearly enjoyed every minute and did not want it to end.
Unfortunately though football is a game of two halves, as Spurs fans know only too well, surely Newcastle would change their system and roared on by their fanatical supporters they might get back into the game. It was at this point I began to wonder if the altitude was getting to me. This was a game Spurs should already have won and lighting doesn't strike twice!
Almost before the second half had started Taricco was injured, as he tried to put in a cross. This meant Spurs had to bring on Davies and revert to a flat back four with Perry at right back and Ziege on the left. The changes seemed to effect Spurs' control a great deal, as they could not retain possession for any length of time, this allowed Newcastle to push forward more. In the space of a few minutes Davies headed away a dangerous cross, that had gone over Sullivan and then he headed a Robert corner off the line when guarding the far post. Shortly afterwards Davies was in his more accustomed role of provider when his flighted pass was nearly controlled by Ferdinand, with only the keeper to beat.
Rebrov replaced Ferdinand in the 79th minute and was involved almost immediately, after he was fouled Sheringham curled the resultant free kick on to the bar, with Given beaten. Then a sweeping move involving Rebrov, Davies and Sheringham which went from left to right and back again ended with the final pass slightly behind Rebrov forcing him to shot too high.
For all the extra possession the home team enjoyed in the second half, compared with the first period, they only managed to create two clear cut chances the first fell to Bellamy, who selfishly shot wide when two team-mates were better placed and finally, deep in injury time, Sullivan made a very good save low down to his left from a Dabizas header. There was also time for Rebrov to be denied by Given, when he ran on to a long ball over the top.
The game ended with a good away win for Spurs, with many good performances, particularly Richards and King. In the first half Sheringham was outstanding, but he was less influential in the second period. Anderton was very effective in the middle and Davies continues to improve with every game.
The long wet journey was well worth it, much more enjoyable than watching the game on Sky.
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