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Premier League

Sunday 22nd February 2004

The arrival of the Foxes at the Lane would not usually garner a great deal of interest ... especially as they have a decent record against us there.  But they come laden with ex-Spurs to spice up the proceedings.

Les Ferdinand is in good scoring form, so will need to be watched, while the return of the midfield genius that is Steffen Freund means we will have to make sure he doesn't do what he failed to in all of games for Tottenham ... and that is score !!  One thing Ian Walker has been unable to do is stop the goals going in, so his main aim will be to keep his sheet clean at WHL, although after the way the goal shave flowed in recent Tottenham matches, he might have his work cut out !

Alan Rogers has gone back to Forest on loan to help them fight their way out of relegation, while Frank Sinclair, Callum Davidson and Matt Elliott have been out of favour of late.  That leaves lumbering central defender Gerry Taggart, another ex-Forest defender Riccardo Scimeca, new signing from Kilmarnock Peter Canero, Ben Thatcher and  former Newcastle centre-half Nikos Dabizas to vie for the defensive berths.  There is not too much there to deter Tottenham, as all are rugged defenders, but with the movement and pace of our forwards (whichever ones play), they should be able to stretch them across the edge of the box to make spaces to break through

The midfield has a familiar look with Craig Hignett, Muzzy Izzett, Keith Gillespie, Steffen Freund, Steve Guppy and Billy McKinlay all having knocked around for a long time.  Lilian Nalis came in from Italy, but apart from a cracking long range volley against Leeds early on in the campaign, he has done little and was last seen playing against our reserves, with highly rated youngster Jordan Stewart, a pacy wide-man, to put in some fresh legs among the old lags.  Again, Tottenham should be able to dominate here and the only respite that Leicester might get is if Poyet and Anderton are preferred, as they might be able to rough them out of the game.

The forward line will be missing new signing Lee Morris, who is injured, as is Marcus Bent.  Then latter is a decent enough goalscorer, while Morris is a hard working winger, who had been a goal-scorer in the First Division, but is unproven in the Premiership.  Someone who is a proven scorer in the top flight is Les Ferdinand, so if Deano plays, we might be needing his aerial resolve, but on the ground, les might leave him standing, so perhaps Doc would be better matched against Sir Les.  Jamie Scowcroft is a strapping striker, but has been playing off the front two in midfield for a while now.  Deadly at the far post at free-kicks, hw ill be another one who needs to be picked up at dead ball situations.  Paul Brooker is unlikely to make an appearance, as Adams has bought him as one for the future, while former Gooner Paul Dickov is most likely to be Les' partner up front, as he provides the little in the partnership.  Dickov is an annoying type of forward who never gives defenders a minute's rest, so he will be nipping at ankles and closing defenders down at every opportunity, but as  long as we can keep him doing that rather than getting the ball in dangerous positions, we should be satisfied.

Leicester have been shipping goals lately and since Walker's crisp action to thwart a pitch invader, he has gone off the boil, leaving Leicester desperate for some points.  As I said earlier, they have a good track record at White Hart Lane, so nothing should be taken for granted, but the way Defoe and Keane have gelled instantly gives great cause for hope, despite a week's break since our latest win.  With Kanoute waiting on the bench and putting the pressure on the front two to do the business, it might spell trouble for Leicester ...

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham  3     Leicester City   1

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

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE

MEHSTG has not had time to gain an alternative view of the match.

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

TOTTENHAM : -  Jamie Redknapp (not match fit); Anthony Gardner (hamstring); Helder Postiga (hamstring)

LEICESTER CITY : -  Lee Morris (thigh); Marcus Bent (hamstring)

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Tottenham   4      Leicester City   4     (Half-time score : 3-1)
Premier League
Sunday 22nd February 2004
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  16.05 p.m.
Weather : -  Very cold, windy, but dry
Referee : -  N. Barry (Scunthorpe)
Crowd : -  35,218
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr (c), Doherty, Richards, Taricco; Davies, Brown (Kanoute 79), King, Jackson (Anderton 62); Keane, Defoe
Unused Subs : - Burch, Dalmat, Poyet

Leicester City : -  Walker; Taggart (Davidson 50), Thatcher, Dabizas, Nalis, Guppy, Scimeca, Freund, Ferdinand (Bent 79), Scowcroft, Dickov (Sinclair 87)
Unused Subs : - Coyne, Stewart

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Leicester City
Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  Brown 6, Defoe 13, 89, Keane 28

Leicester City -  Doherty (o.g.) 9, Ferdinand 51, Thatcher 74, Bent 79

Cards : -  
Tottenham  -      Taricco (foul) 84

Leicester City -      Taggart (foul) 46,     Dabizas (foul) 57,     Scowcroft (foul) 71,     Dickov (foul) 77

Never a dull moment with Spurs is there ??  Sometimes you just wish there were and this was one of them, when three points against Leicester would have set us apart from the bottom half of the table and helped propel us towards the heady heights of the European qualification places.

With too many goals flying in our own net, the time was ripe to tighten up at the back, while letting our forwards do what they do best.  But while that might have been partly true in the first half, the second was pure hell from a defending point of view.  Richards had done most things simply before the break and Doherty had recovered from ticking one past his own keeper, but when the obligatory goal went in within five minutes of the half time interval, then the jitters set in and we presented Leicester with a procession of goals their general play didn't really deserve.

Not that Spurs had to be at their best to take a 3-1 lead inside half an hour.  The back four had already been embarrassed when Dickov turned between Richards and Doherty as the ball was allowed to travel beyond them, but Keller made a brave block with his body.  A minute later and Michael Brown had opened his Spurs goal-scoring account with a fifth minute free-kick that bounced in front of Walker, but the former Spurs goalie helped by diving under the ball and getting a hand to it as it flew into the net.  "You're Spurs and you know you are" chorused the Park Lane !!

It didn't take long for the comedy cock-ups to start at our end.  Again Doherty let a long ball bounce and with Dickov buzzing around, he stretched out a Ginger Pele leg and poked the ball past Kasey, despite the keeper's best efforts to stop it going in for an equaliser after 9 minutes.

Then Tottenham went up the other end and a neat move involving Davies and Keane ended with the Welshman setting Jermain Defoe free in the 18th minute and as he ran into the right side of the area, he looked up, saw Walker ill-positioned and hit the ball across him to make it 2-1.

Robbie Keane was determined to get in on the act and although Walker denied him, he nearly spilled the ball at Davies' feet.  He only had to wait until the 29th minute, when Taggart was pressured into a back-pass that Walker picked up, giving Tottenham a free-kick 16 yards from goal.  Teams never score these, but the ball hit the wall from Jackson's drive, it was half cleared, before dropping out to the right of the goal, where Keano was waiting and his low drive ripped past Walker, leaving him with no chance.

Almost equally as keen as Keane to score was Steffen Freund, returning for what he thought might be a dream scoring performance.  His shooting has got no better since he has been away and two efforts ended up in the North Stand; the second being at least closer than the first that was about 20 yards wide !!

Kasey Keller had to be alert to keep out an effort from Dickov, who was having a running battle with his equally abrasive marker Taricco.  It was obvious that at some stage the ref would be required to bring out a card to them.  The half ended with Jackson bringing Keane into play with a neat knock-down and his shot was pushed away by Walker for a corner, which Tottenham dithered over and ran out of time to take.

The dithering was symptomatic of what was to come.  Lack of decisive action caused Tottenham's own downfall.  The last thing Spurs wanted to do was to let one in just after the break ... so what happens ??  Five minutes in and Johnnie Jackson refuses to use his right foot to dispatch the ball into Row Z and gets caught spinning around trying to manouevre the ball onto his favoured left foot, allowing Les Ferdinand to hit past Keller from the edge of the box.  It was again, blindingly obvious, that Les would score on his return to the Lane ... as much as Freund wouldn't !!

Tottenham started to rock.  A long cross was headed narrowly wide, when Scowcroft got on the end of it, while Keller was rooted to his line.  A goalkeeper who dominated his box would have annulled the danger by making the cross his in the first place.  Similarly at the other end, Walker was all at sea with a great cross whipped in by Defoe, that fell to Gary Doherty, but his header sailed over the bar.

The game seemed almost destined to slip away from Tottenham when Scowcroft went in for a tackle on Taricco, studs up and over the top, which earned him the red card.  The reduction to ten men could only mean on thing ... the Man. City Cup tie all over again !!  So the goal that came from a corner (conceded when Keller failed to some for a cross) was no surprise to pull it back to 3-3.  The shocking thing about the goal was it was scored by Ben Thatcher !!  He never did that for us, but he became the second ex-Spurs to get his name on the score-sheet.

The fact that Leicester managed to take the lead was annoying, but not unexpected.  More fannying about with the ball at the back saw Doherty sell Keller short with a back-pass, which Dickov made fall for substitute Marcus Bent, who knocked it in to give the Foxes an unlikely lead.

3-4 down, so that was it.  Ten minutes left and Kanoute thrown on for Brown in an attempt to boost the firepower available.  King drove in low, as did Carr, but both times Walker kept the ball out.  Dickov and Taricco finally  exhausted the ref's patience and got their yellow cards, with Dickov lucky not to get another shortly after to see red.  And that led to the game changing with a Leicester substitution.  Adams took Dickov off before he got sent off and brought on defender Frank Sinclair.

This seemed to upset the massed ranks of blue shirts in the Leicester defence and a perfectly judged forward pass by King, just over Thatcher's head dropped at Defoe's feet.  Before almost anyone knew what had happened, he had lashed it past the kneeling Walker into the roof of the net to grab Spurs a point that perhaps their second half performance did not deserve.

Although Doherty had a last gasp header go over, the Tottenham crowd were grateful for the point in the end.  Anything more or less would have been embarrassing for entirely different reasons, but again it highlighted the need for tactical decisions to be made earlier in the game and also for the side to show some fortitude in such situations.  It might be three weeks before the next game, but the time they get out on the training pitch to work on defending cannot come too soon.

 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - JERMAIN DEFOE

Burton Bradstock

 

WHO'S MORE GUTTED ?

 

The goal-fest that is Tottenham Hotspur these days keeps us "entertained" as Mr. Pleat puts it !!  I don't know about him, but I will need to see a doctor.  But then I would rather see a decent defender or two in the way of the opponents' attacks  !!

The game at WHL these days resembles some 1950s replay of flat capped crowds being thrilled with 7-6 score-lines with little or no heed paid to stopping the thing going in the net.  Hell, we got so score-happy that we even started putting them in our own net.  And when we weren't doing that, we were setting them up on a plate for Leicester City. 

For this game I took a different view of proceedings thanks to some tickets from my kind friends in block 23a.  I thought this was some Harry Potter-ish Platform 9 style invention, but it turned out to be a nice sector in the corner of the East Stand/Paxton stands, where we had a good view across the pitch.  In fact, it turned out to be a bit of a nostalgic visit for me, as this was where I used to stand on the Shelf when I was a lad and going down to the toilets, in the way I used to thirty years before, made me realise how much I miss the old raised terracing.  Standing there the night we won the UEFA Cup for the first time ... and annoying all those Spurs fans around me with my constant singing ... it all seems so far away these days.

Still, the nostalgia soon was wiped away when Spurs hit the net early on, thanks to Michael Brown's bending, bouncing free-kick and Walker's half-hearted attempt to push it wide.  Then The Doc gave the Foxes a tonic with an indecisive moment when he wasn't sure whether to let the ball go or leave it for someone else, so decided to stick it where it can't do any more harm ... in the back of his own net !!  Keller got closer to this one than any of the three others he let in though.  His lack of domination of his box is a desperate worry, as he is capable of shot-stopping really well, but he doesn't come for corners (i.e. Thatcher's goal) and his kicking is poor enough to make players want to put the ball exactly where he wants it ... or in some cases exactly where he doesn't.

Things all seemed well with the world when Simon Davies' elaborate flick set Defoe away and his low shot was excellently placed, after a quick look up noted Walker had positioned himself too close to his near post.  Walker's nightmare was complete when he picked up a back-pass from Taggart without detecting it was such.  The ref punished the crime and not many teams score from these sort of situations, so it was no surprise when Jackson's drive hit the wall and brown's follow-up was also blocked.  The weak clearance, however, fell to Keano, who was poised just off the action, waiting for the ball to come in his direction.  His drilled effort ripped past Walker for 3-1.

The lack of Jackson's right foot lead to him being tackled by Freund and the ball fortunately diverted into Ferdinand's path for him to slot the ball past Keller and it was game on.  I think Freund would have liked to have scored in this match, even though he said he wouldn't celebrate, but his dodgy mullet-style hairstyle was more in keeping with Leicester than Tottenham.  les showed he still has the ability to unsettle defences, but seeing him and Richards run for the ball made the others look like they had been digitally added to the scene, moving at a different speed to the two old timers.  Les had avoided being knocked out and Deano won a lot in the air, but on the ground, he is suspect (number one).

At 3-2, Scowcroft went for a ball on the touchline in front of the dug-outs and he brought his studs down on Taricco's shin, with the ball having gone some moments before.  Micky Adams said the following day that Taricco needs to be sorted out, as his acting got Scowcroft sent off, making reference to Taz being Argentinian, which is almost tantamount to racism or xenophobia at the least.  We all know about Taricco's antics and none of us like to see them, but in this instance, I would not have thought that Scowcroft had much to complain about and Adams would have done better to keep his own counsel (seeing as the same day he received a 500 fine and a warning about his future conduct from the FA over an incident when they played Birmingham).  The reaction of the Spurs players indicated that it was a bad tackle and if Adams is so sure about the way Taricco conducts himself and would tell him that there is no place for those actions, I look forward to his public pronouncement about Paul Dickov's part in the proceedings.  From the start it was obvious that both he and Taricco were winding each other up and it was a red card waiting to happen.  Neither got one, but Dickov came closest with two bad tackles ... only one of which saw a card produced.  perhaps it was for the best.  I wouldn't have wanted us to play a team who had gone down to nine men.

With ten they went from 2-3 down to 4-3 up.  A corner went unclaimed by Keller and Thatcher went unmarked by any defender, running in for a free header past the prone keeper.  Then Doherty decided to play a ball back to Keller when it would have been better dispatched into the crowd, but Dickov got there first and bent picked up the pieces to knock in the fourth goal.  Cries of "We want Ledley at the back" rang out to prick Pleat's pomposity in playing him in midfield, but then one moment and you could see why the stand-in manager does that.

Picking up the ball 25 yards out, Ledders clipped a precise ball over the Leicester defence to Jermain.  The ball came down off his thigh and like lightening it was past the helpless Walker and in off the underside of the bar to make it 4-4.  Previous to this the high ball policy to our little men up front had only succeeded in bouncing the ball back in the direction of our goal.

In the end we were glad of the point and the visiting fans must have been sick to lose two points in the final furlong, but the same old problems keep recurring and something must be done to sort it out.  We might escape with it against the likes of Pompey and Leicester, but come the Man Us and Chelseas, we will get slaughtered.  The new manager ,whoever he is, will be watching this from afar and I am sure will have players in mind to put it all right.

Mind you with the score-keeping of the Tottenham Hotspur website we might not need new defenders, because despite recording the score as 4-4, it put five goals down for Spurs and three for Leicester.  Doherty's own goal was added to the Tottenham tally !!

Wyart Lane

 

PS In an article in the Independent on Sunday interviewing Stephen Carr he said "One thing's for sure, we'll never take it for granted if we're ever three-nil up again. We'll never think, 'That's it, it's over' because it ain't ever over, even against 10 men."  Hmmm !!

Am I alone in thinking that David Pleat is just as inept as his predecessor when it comes to reacting to changing circumstances?

In each of the nightmare games where we have had a big lead and thrown it away, it seems to me that the manager must go in at half time and simply say "well done lads, keep it up".  Surely any manager worth his salts should be thinking about what his opposite number will be saying and doing, anticipate a change in tactics and prepare his team accordingly.  This just doesn't happen. Nor do we appear to have any leadership on the pitch when the going gets tough.

Saturday's substitutions further support my views that David Pleat has lost the plot a little.  In a game which cried out for someone to hold the ball and play it out of defence, why send on an obviously not yet fit Darren Anderton and not Stefan Dalmat (who did so well against Leicester last time around)?  With all due respect to him, I would have bet my life savings that Darren  Anderton was not going to be the man to calm the ship in those circumstances - I have seen too many big occasions in the past where he has failed to stand up and be counted.  

Further evidence of Pleat's own 'loss of form' follows on from his transfer dealings.  We are shipping goals through a defence and goalkeeper that I suspect would struggle in a lower division, let alone the premiership (lets hope we don't find out).  So when the transfer window opens what does he do....buy another striker.   Now I'm not saying Defoe was a bad buy - far from it, what a start, he's already a firm favourite with the fans.  However, he did not address the very big problems we have at the back.  It also  highlights the previous bad choices and wasted cash on Postiga (another Rebrov = failure in the making?) and Zamora (obviously out of his depth in the premiership). As for the foul up over Robinson .. did he not know the league rules to start with?

Anyway, continuing what I started above, we haven't strengthened the defence.  So, we go into the Leicester game having gifted nine goals in the previous three games with an England centre back in the team ... playing in midfield!   Result - another four conceded!  The fans, the England Manager and the player himself all think he should be at the back but Pleat knows best! Even then and having started like that, with Richards and Doherty so clearly struggling and the team desperate to get back in it, the long awaited substitution sees Kanoute come on (good choice) but Brown come off (bad choice).  Why on earth not move King back into defence, keep Brown on the pitch (he was doing ok) and pull off one of the awesome duo (actually I'd have taken both off - it wouldn't have made any difference they were so bad).    There was no shape to start with, the substitutions made it worse instead of better.

Now I am a Spurs fan to the end but come on David and co, the fans are entitled to be fed up to the back teeth with the same old problems week in and week out.  Pleat makes some useless and flippant comments in the press about 'Groundhog Day' and wanting to see the film to see what its all about.  Better to be serious and use the time to do some work watching films of teams that can defend and then going out on the training ground and sorting this mess out !!!

Steve Gediking

Yet another fiasco this afternoon wasn't it ? 

We were all over them in the first half and should have had more than three goals to show for it.  Walker was spilling the ball like it was a hot cake (no change there!).  

Then comes the dreaded second half and Leicester seemed a totally different team thanks to our own generosity.  I cannot make out what is said at half time (wish I was a fly on the wall), but at times we seemed as bad as Leicester's first half.  Jackson has to learn you do not mess about in front of your own goal, also Doc must measure his passes better.  That was two points we have thrown away today and bearing in mind our fixtures that are left you cannot see many wins at this moment.  I also think that Dickov should have seen red for the foul on Taricco as a second booking.  

Important observation  ...  we do need a proper Captain, as I do not see Carr giving the team any encouragement especially when they are under the cosh by the opposing team.

Eric Penn

Having just re-watched the Leicester game I came up with a few different reasons as to why we are playing the way we are at the moment. 

Firstly, whilst we have a great strike force shouldn't defending start at the front, I'm not slagging Keano or Defoe.  I mean God knows where we would be without them, but I always remember Ian Rush harassing the crap out of defenders so much so that other teams would not get out of Liverpool's half.  Keano is a great player but I sometimes think he tries to much with the ball, Defoe also looks genuine class next to Keano, but how long will either of these two stay if we carry on the way we are.

Midfield is a problem.  I'm right up there with Ledders at the back with Tony, Brown is doing a good enough job in the middle, we should have put in a bid for Butt to go alongside him. Simon Davies looks like he's getting back to form and it would be good to see Rohan get another go. 

So to the back, what a mess; but my main point is this, did anyone notice that the whole second half was played down Taricco's side of the pitch.  Everyone is doing it now, so why did Pleaty take Jackson off and bring on Dazzler, when he could have taken Taricco off and put Johnnie there ?  No point in going into detail about Dean and The Doc, they had a shocker and I would say that at least The Doc knows he did.

In the summer Keller, Richards, Taricco, Anderton, Poyet have all got to leave, possibly even Carr who I don't think is a natural leader.  We need someone in there to put the wind up our players, something like Roberts used to do when he was captain.

Whilst we are an entertaining side (for the neutral anyway) and nowhere near as boring as Liverpool, the players need to know who the new boss is, we do as well.  We have got an excellent young squad that now needs fine tuning and then we can start to believe in our team again, because every week that lot up the road get further away from us.
Cheers

Sean The Yid, Hong Kong Side

 

Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 2 Birmingham City 2 Sunday

Chelsea

1 Arsenal 2 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Manchester City 3 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 3 Blackburn Rovers 2 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Leeds United 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday

SCBC

3 Everton 3 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Fulham 1 Saturday
FA Cup Fifth round replay
Portsmouth 1 Liverpool 0 Sunday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 26 19 7 0 51 17 64 +34
2 Manchester United 26 18 3 5 50 24 57 +26
3 Chelsea 26 17 4 5 47 21 55 +26
4 Newcastle United 26 10 11 5 37 27 41 +10
5 Charlton Athletic 26 11 7 8 37 32 40 +5
6 Liverpool 25 10 8 7 36 27 38 +9
7 Aston Villa 26 10 7 9 32 30 37 +2
8 Birmingham City 25 9 9 7 25 28 36 -3
9 Fulham 26 10 5 10 38 37 35 +1
10 Bolton Wanderers 26 8 10 8 32 40 35 -8
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 26 10 4 12 39 42 34 -3
12 SCBC 26 8 8 10 26 26 32 0
13 Middlesbrough 25 8 7 10 27 31 31 -4
14 Blackburn Rovers 26 7 6 13 38 43 27 -5
15 Manchester City 26 6 9 11 36 38 27 -6
16 Everton 26 6 8 12 31 39 26 -8
17 Portsmouth 25 6 5 14 28 39 23 -11
18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 26 5 8 13 24 52 23 -28
19 Leicester City 26 4 10 12 37 51 22 -14
20 Leeds United 26 5 6 15 24 51 21 -27

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