Looking Forward



Premier League

Monday 23rd December 2002

Whenever you play a Kevin Keegan managed team, you stand a good chance of a win.  Alas, with Tottenham, you also stand a good chance of getting a hammering.

The 1-6 loss in the FA Cup at Newcastle is still one that hurts.  Mind you, the Magpies were a better all round team than City are at the moment.  They have had some good results ... 3-1 win over United was enthusiastically received ... but they have also lost out to Villa and Charlton too.  There have been plenty of goals in their games.  They are strong going forward with the speed of Anelka and the height of Goater, but at the back, there is a lack of understanding in the ranks that means they are prone to concede quite a few.  You have ot get past Schmeichel, but that isn't as hard as it used to be.  Getting past Howey, Distin, Jensen and Dunne is far easier.

But having said that, they are compact in midfield.  Benarbia and Berkovic provide the flair, while Tiatto and Foe are hard workers, tough tacklers and forward breakers.  Their industry makes the cotton workers of East Lancs. look like shirkers.  The Tottenham performance against Arsenal was based on closing down the opposition further up the pitch than we usually do, but this will need to be repeated to shut Anelka out of breaking positions and to keep the wing backs of the home side pegged back in their own half.

It is the start of the testing Christmas and New Year set of games and Hoddle will no doubt shuffle his pack, but with Redknapp and Gardner out, Les suspended from 1st Jan. and Taricco only just coming back, there are fewer options than he would have hoped for.  However, with Teddy laying off the back four, they might find themselves pulled out from their usual zones and that could release space for Keano to run into.  he has already scored one fine goal against the Citizens so far this season (for Leeds) and another would not go amiss as Tottenham need to improve their away record.  Davies would also be a useful player to have in midfield to break and keep up with Robbie, as any chances that come along cannot be squandered like last week.

With City looking to attack and Tottenham prepared to hit on the break, it could be a real stalemate, which might please Keegan for a change.  However, goals are the currency in this fixture and many have flown into wither net over the last few meetings, so with a repeat of the effort shown against Arsenal, I believe that we could see a scoreline of ...

PREDICTION : -  Manchester City   1   Tottenham  3  

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



Manchester City  2  Tottenham  3   (Half-time score : 1-1)
Monday 23rd December 2002
Venue : -  Maine Road
Kick Off : -  20.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Rain, breezy
Crowd : -  39,563
Referee : -  J. Winter (Whitley Bay)
Teams : -  
Manchester City : -  Schmeichel; Dunne, Howey, Distin, Horlock; Sun Jihai (Benarbia 58), Tiatto, Foe, Berkovic; Anelka, Goater (Huckerby 84)
Unused subs. : - Nash, Jensen, Wiekens

Tottenham : -  Keller; Perry, King, Richards (c); Carr, Freund, Davies, Anderton, Ziege; Iversen (Poyet 71), Keane
Unused subs. : - Sullivan, Thatcher, Bunjevcevic, Clemence

Colours : -  
Manchester City -  Light blue shirts, white shorts, Light blue socks

Tottenham -  Navy blue shirts with black arms, Navy blue shorts, white socks with navy blue turnover.

Scorers : -  
Manchester City -  Howey 29, Benarbia 90

Tottenham -  Perry 38, Davies 48, Poyet 84 

Cards : -  
Manchester City -  Tiatto (foul) 56, Foe (foul) 64

Tottenham -  Freund (foul) 9, Ziege (dissent) 72, Ziege (dissent) 86, Perry (foul) 90

For Tottenham to come out of this match with a 3-2 win was surprising after being under pressure for the first 30 minutes by a rampant home side.

It was hard for Spurs to get out of their own half in that opening period, as City did to us what we had done to Arsenal last week.  A fast start set them up for long sessions with the ball and Tottenham seemingly unable to hold on to it.  Without the injured-in-training Sheringham, Spurs treated the ball like a hot potato which would have been welcome in this blustery, wet Manchester night.  However, the home side moved the ball around better and could have gone ahead within 90 seconds of the start, when a ball over King's head found Berkovic who lobbed Keller, but the ball didn't find the target.  Keller had to be alert in this period as the ball was flying across the Spurs goal with great regularity and he saved a couple of headers and a shot.  The scariest moment was from a corner, when Foe headed down and Keller palmed the ball away.  It fell at the feet of Anelka and his shot was hacked away from the line by Carr.

Freund picked up an early booking for a late challenge on Berkovic and was found guilty of a similar tackle, but this time only punished with a free-kick.  It was to be more costly, when Horlock put the ball from the right wing with pace and Howey was the first man to the ball.  He glanced it into the danger area, but the ball zipped off the wet grass and was past Keller and in at the far post before he knew it.  The goal was just reward for a flying start the Citizens made and Tottenham had barely troubled the home defence.

During this period, Spurs had been guilty of letting City players run at them and backing off to concede territory.  Such was the worry of the team play, that Hoddle came down after a quarter of an hour to sort out the team shape.  It did make the side a bit more solid, but after the goal the 4-4-2 helped Carr and Ziege push on, which they had not been able to do. The Irishman got in a low cross that was sliced high into the air, but Schmeichel was able to grab it as it landed.  Iversen had been making little impact, getting shrugged off the ball far too easily and not holding the ball up when it reached the forwards.

However, Spurs had more luck on the other flank, when Robbie Keane put Ziege in for a shot and it was deflected away for a corner on the Tottenham right.  The German wing back trotted across to take it and swung the ball into the box.  The players attacking the near post were all under the cross and it landed on the head of Chris Perry, sneaking in unmarked at the far post.  He doesn't score many, but this was a useful one as it gave Spurs an unlikely equaliser and helped them establish a foothold in the game before half-time.

Straight away Berkovic claimed a penalty for hands against Richards, but he was denied by the ref, but there was a chance when Foe headed for goal, but KK saved.  The Cameroonian midfielder also hit a shot straight at Keller following two poor defensive headers from Richards and Perry.  Right on 45 minutes, Anderton's skidding cross was cleared by the ample belly of Dunne, but only to Ziege on the edge of the box and his shot was tipped away by the keeper.  Into injury time and Anderton unleashed a 25-yarder that forced Schmeichel to save and the play switched to the Tottenham goal, where Anelka blazed over the bar to bring an action packed half to a close.

Spurs started the second half well and with just a couple of minutes on the clock, they went into the lead.  Anderton played a short ball to Simon Davies and his first time pass found Keano on the left wing.  He held the ball up well and with mobile players in the side, it was possible for Davies to run into a far post position to head home Keane's chipped cross that took Schmeichel out of the equation.  It is this sort of movement that is often missing from Tottenham's play.  Just about five minutes after the goal ,Spurs could have gone further ahead, with Anderton playing a long ball forward to find Simon Davies running through the middle of the City half and Keano alongside him, with only Dunne and Schmeichel to beat.  Winter blew in for a free-kick to Spurs for a late tackle by Tiatto on Dazza and brought play back to our own half.  This referee appears to be unable to read the game, as he could have let play transpire and then gone back to book Tiatto.  It was odds on that Spurs would have taken a 3-1 lead there and then.

They could have after two more minutes, when Ziege put in a curling low cross from the left in the 57th minute and Iversen hit his volley across goal.  Even then, Davies almost got a foot to the ball, being just inches away from it.  Manchester City fought back though and as Tiatto broke into the penalty area, Dean Richards, captain for the night, produced a marvellously timed tackle to stop the midfielder getting a shot in.  Funnily enough, Tottenham's next opportunity came thanks to the City goalie, who blasted a back-pass straight into Iversen, who was closing him down and the Dane was relieved to see the ball bounce a foot wide.  He probably would have given someone else a blast had it gone in !!

Following a cynical foul by Foe on Freund, a free-kick was headed over by Richards when unchallenged and Robbie was put through neatly by Iversen, but hit his shot under pressure over the bar.  With twenty minutes left, Carr's cross across the edge of the area got to Ziege and he hit it with his weaker right foot and it went wide.  The rain was falling and Poyet replaced Iversen just before Ziege picked up a yellow card for kicking the ball away after a free-kick had been given against him for off-side. 

Tottenham escaped some sloppy play, when Carr gave the ball away near the halfway line on 78 minutes and Benarbia fed Berkovic, whose shot came off his shin and confounded Keller, but hit the base of the post and bounced off for a goal-kick.  Five minutes later, Spurs made City pay for their lax finishing, when Keane kept the ball along the left wing and won a corner.  Ziege once again hit it in with pace and Poyet bent backwards to head a ball no more than a couple of feet off the floor in past a static defence.  It was an athletic piece of finishing and the poor marking was evident again from Keegan's side.

With just five minutes left of the match, Winter gave a foul throw against Ziege, who foolishly knocked the ball away.  It only went a matter of yards, but ever the pedant, Winter stuck strictly to the laws and pulled out a yellow and a red for the Spurs man.  It was a piece of refereeing by the letter of the law and you could argue that he was right to do so, but it was hardly the most serious of offences and when Tiatto smashed into Davies with a forearm after being booked, you thought that might have prompted a second yellow too, but no.  Let's stamp out dissent from the game first.

The reduction to ten men made the final few minutes frantic and Benarbia's low cross to the near post had Kasey diving full length to stop Huckerby getting in first.  Spurs still had the threat of Keane and his pace put Dunne under pressure enough to make him lose control of the ball and Schmeichel rescued him before Robbie could cash in.

Well into injury time, of which three minutes turned into five, City worked the ball from right to left and Berkovic rolled the ball to the unmarked Benarbia, who put his shot sweetly into the top corner of the net, leaving Keller no chance.  Possession was crucial at this stage and City had most of it.  In the 94th minute they hung up a high cross, which Keller indecisively palmed away, but Carr was on hand to smash it away.  That was the last action and Spurs had needed to hang on at the end, despite having a number of chances to put the game out of City's reach.

Richards had an outstanding match, as did Keller, who made some vital interventions, but Anderton worked tirelessly in midfield.  Not all of his passes came off, but he was closing down, making himself available and getting back to defend.  It was a good team effort with only Iversen failing to reach the heights, but even he managed to put some work in, although we really needed him up front.  

The victory here was the first away win of the campaign two seasons ago under another manager.  Let's hope it is not the last of the current season.


Burton Coggles




Heads up.  When was the last time Spurs won a match with three headed goals ??  And when was the last time we went five games unbeaten in the Premiership ??  Who cares.  an away win before Christmas ... it's come two days early !!

The first half was a tale of two headers.  Perry failed to get close enough to Steve Howey on the near post when Horlock's free-kick was swung in, leaving the ball to flick off the City defender's head and across Keller into the far corner.  Nine minutes later and following Ziege's deflected shot, he took a corner on the right, which found it's way to the far post.  This time Howey failed to get a head on the cross and Perry dived in at the far post to nod home his first goal in two years.

While Anderton was heavily involved, his passing had failed to penetrate the City midfield and defence, but after the goal, Spurs had a period of control where Ziege and Anderton both had long shots well saved by Schmeichel.

Keller had to be alert to save from a couple of Foe headers and a couple of shots, but most of Anelka's efforts up until this time were off target.  Spurs could have been behind in the second minute when King lost his bearings and Berkovic stole in behind him on their right wing to lob the ball over the advancing Keller, but luckily for Spurs the ball went wide of the goal.

Freund's early booking made him circumspect for the rest of the match, but he got stuck in and was guilty of a foul equally as bad as the first yellow, but Winter let it go.  However, his German team mate was not so lucky, when he was dismissed near the end for two yellow card offences.  Both were for kicking the ball away.  So, in the letter of the law, the ref was right, but in the spirit ??  It hadn't been a dirty game and as Hoddle said afterwards, common sense could have prevailed, but then refs aren't allowed it these days.  It will probably be a one match ban and therefore, Ziege should miss the Everton league match.

Anderton's passing became more hurtful to the City side and Spurs picked up on the belief that they had gained from the first half goal.  It was just a couple of minutes after half time that Anderton and Davies linked up to set Robbie Keane free on the left wing.  He held the ball very well, while waiting for support and then clipped a cross over Schmeichel and to the far post, where Simon Davies arrived to nod the ball home from close range.  The third followed more good work by Keano, who held the ball up and won a corner that Ziege knocked in for Poyet to head home from seven yards.

It was no more than Tottenham's enterprising play deserved in the second half.  The bulk of possession was always with Manchester City and they did create chances, but like WBA before them, could not put them away.  Twenty efforts on goal, ten on target and two goals is a poor return.  They did get a consolation that made the last minutes grueling for Spurs fans, when they worked the ball nicely across the face of the penalty area and Benarbia lifted the ball over Keller and into the net near the angle.  He looked the one player who could dictate play and pass the ball where his strikers wanted it most of the time.

The last win here was secured by a single Rebrov goal in 2001.  It was the first away win of that season and although there have not been many more this term, the way that the team approached the match after going a goal down, was admirable.  Slow to get going, they picked up momentum and carried the match to City, who couldn't defend the set-pieces that Tottenham made the most of.

With some more games to come in a short period of time, Spurs will need all the players they can get out and also try to take as many points as they can with the league the main priority now.  Charlton will provide a difficult test, but this win will give Tottenham confidence for that game and perhaps to adopt this attitude for more away games in the future.

Keith Mendament


Other scores this weekend :


2 Middlesbrough 0 Saturday
Birmingham City 1 Charlton Athletic 1 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Manchester United 0 Sunday
Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 0 Saturday
Leeds United 1 SCBC 1 Saturday
Liverpool 0 Everton 0 Sunday
Newcastle United  2 Fulham 0 Saturday
WBA 2 Sunderland 2 Saturday
West Ham United 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 19 12 3 4 39 20 39
2 Chelsea 19 10 7 2 34 15 37
3 Manchester United 19 10 5 4 30 18 35
4 Everton 19 10 3 6 22 20 33
5 Liverpool 19 9 5 5 28 19 32
6 Newcastle United 18 10 2 6 29 24 32
7 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 19 9 4 6 27 26 31
8 SCBC 19 7 7 5 22 19 28
9 Blackburn Rovers 19 7 6 6 25 22 27
10 Middlesbrough 19 7 5 7 22 18 26
11 Charlton Athletic 19 7 4 8 21 23 25
12 Manchester City 19 7 3 9 24 28 24
13 Birmingham City 19 6 6 7 18 22 24
14 Fulham 19 5 4 9 22 25 22
15 Aston Villa 19 6 4 9 17 20 22
16 Leeds United 19 6 3 10 24 26 21
17 Sunderland 19 4 6 9 12 26 18
18 WBA 19 4 4 11 15 29 16
19 Bolton Wanderers 18 3 6 9 19 32 15
20 West Ham United 19 3 5 11 18 35 14

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