Looking Forward

 

BOLTON WANDERERS (Away)

Premier League

Monday 24th March 2003

With two poor performances preceding the Liverpool match, I feared the worst against a resurgent Scouse side, but the Spurs team put in a creditable, if eventually 'pointless' showing.

In this match against the third bottom side, Spurs will need to show as much effort and some more guile if they are to return South from this televised match with anything at all.  Much depends on the presence of Robbie Keane you feel.  Gary Doherty has battled away manfully up front, but has found it hard going on a 90 minute basis, rather than just being shoved forward for the last ten minutes as a final fling to get something from a game.  Slabber is likely to keep his position in the squad and did show he wasn't over-awed by the Premier League.

They will face a side who have also had a few good results themselves in the run-up to this match.  Wins over Leeds, Newcastle United and Sunderland, with a draw against Manchester United, they have done well.  However, it has shown that they have to do more to pull away from the bottom of the table, as West Ham's win over Sunderland dropped the Trotters back into the bottom three.  Their results against the other teams fighting relegation could be vital in their quest for survival and the 5-2 win over Birmingham City would have helped them in that respect.

Jussi Jaaskaleinen is the regular keeper for a club who don't have a number 1 in their squad !!  He's pretty hot on shot stopping, as he gets plenty of practice, but is a quick and agile keeper and will make it hard for anyone to get past him.  In defence, there is our old friend Gudni Bergsson, who is in his last season at the Reebok.  Gudni is an honest central defender, who has scored a few goals for his side, normally from set-pieces.  He plays alongside Bruno N'Gotty, who has been brought in on loan and has showed a resolve in the defence that has been missing on occasion.  They are flanked by two of Simon Charlton, Ivan Campo or Anthony Barness.  Charlton has been around a long time, works the line well and plays tight on his man, so Simon Davies might find him in the way when he makes forward forays.  He would have been edged out by Mike Whitlow had he been fit, but a knee injury will deprive Bolton of his services.  The other slot will no doubt be filled by Campo, who has had mixed reviews since his arrival at Bolton from Real Madrid (who would have thought that sentence would have been written over the last couple of seasons ??).  He has experience at the top level of the Champions League, but sometimes forgets he is where he is ... in the Premiership, allowing players to get away from him.  Acts as the general at the back with his distribution being vital to starting attacking moves.  Barness is an attacking defender who has scored a couple for Spurs in recent years.  He's suspect and Spurs might be able to play on hi if he gets on the pitch.  Bernard Mendy has also featured lately, but can be prone to lose his position, while Andre Laville is another Frenchman and an unknown quantity.

Per Frandsen is the free-kick expert in the side and works hard in midfield, but his mantle as set-piece specialist might be threatened by Youri Djorkaeff.  The Frenchman has shown that he can turn it on, but there have also been matches when he has disappeared without trace.  The same cannot be said for Jay Jay Okocha, the Nigerian who loves nothing more than getting the ball and trying to make the opposition look silly with it.  Full of tricks and flicks, he can turn a game ... either way.  He can be a liability and therefore, Tottenham need to keep a tight rein on his runs.  Dispossessing him could turn the play to our advantage by launching an attack with Bolton players caught upfield.  With Tofting out of favour and Farrelly on loan to Rotherham United, the others likely to play in midfield are Ricardo Gardiner and Kevin Nolan, who has a leg injury, but played some of a reserve game in midweek.  The Jamaican enjoys running at opponents with the ball and can dribble well, although his final ball is often a bit wayward, while Nolan is a tough battler, who, despite his callow experience, can stand toe-to-toe with the best of them.  has a knack of scoring important goals too, but can let his impetuosity get the better of him.

Former Wimbledon striker Dean Holdsworth has gone on loan to Coventry City, leaving Henrik Pedersen as a lone striker with Okocha and Djorkaeff to support from behind.  Pedersen took along time to get off the mark, but now seems to be happy finding the target with his new mates supplying him better than before.

Having sacrificed both cups, Bolton were concentrating on the League, but things haven't gone to plan.  Sam Allardyce will make sure that this is one match his troops will want to win, having been upset by Spurs supposed "tapping up" of Michael Ricketts, so we should be prepared for a fight.  With the games running out for both clubs to realise their ambitions, the need for a home win could open the game up from Tottenham's point of view.  If Keane plays, they might be able to turn that to their advantage, with his speed being a great asset. From the Spurs point of view, they need to make sure they put in enough hard work to stem the fury that will hit them.  A televised match means only one thing for Spurs usually, but on this occasion, I take the following to be the result at the end of 90 minutes ...

PREDICTION : -   Bolton Wanderers  1   Tottenham  2

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

COVERAGE : - 
TV  -  Match Live on Sky TV - Sky Sports 1
Radio  -  Radio Five Live
Webcast  -  www.spurs.co.uk

 

 

Bolton Wanderers  1     Tottenham   0            (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League
Monday 24th March 2003
Venue : -  Reebok Stadium
Kick Off : -  20.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Cold, clear
Referee : - Graham Poll (Hertfordshire)
Crowd : - 28,084
Teams : -  
Bolton Wanderers : -  Jaaskelainen; Ngotty, Bergsson, Laville, Gardner (Barness 46); Campo, Frandsen, Okocha, Djorkaeff; Pedersen, Mendy (Andre 74)
Unused subs: Poole, Nolan, Ballesta

Tottenham : - Keller; Carr, Thatcher (Doherty 22), King, Taricco;  Bunjevcevic, Poyet, Anderton (Etherington 87), Davies; Sheringham, Keane
Unused subs: Sullivan, Slabber, Etherington, Toda

Colours : -  
Bolton Wanderers  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks

Tottenham -  Navy blue and black shirts, white shorts, navy socks with a black turnover

Scorers : -  
Bolton Wanderers  -  Okocha (pen) 90

Tottenham -  None

Cards : -  
Bolton Wanderers  -  None

Tottenham -  Doherty (foul) 63

Just like Spurs ... they pull defeat out of the hat, just when it looks like they might hold on to a point with Keller playing out of his skin.  On this performance, it's not hard to see why Hoddle is still being linked with central defenders, even though he was without Dean Richards tonight because of a back injury.

Early on it became clear that Spurs were playing deeper than they needed to and that there would be little rush to support any forward break.  As usual, Poll (and his linesman sidekick) gave nothing to Tottenham who were playing pretty square at the back and quite high up the pitch.  It would be a tactic that would catch them out in the end.

Davies was making the early running and on a breakaway couldn’t quite pick out Keane, with Teddy in an even better position just behind him.  Then the Welshman broke into the box, only to be tackled well by Laville, but Ledley King had to be equally alert as he cleared a back header from his own man into the six-yard box.

Anderton missed out Sheringham from their favoured corner routine and Gus had a free header, which he put wide from 10 yards.  Then 20 minutes in, Thatcher done a calf and was ready to be substituted, when a Carr cross caused panic in the Bolton box and a Keane shot was blocked.  Then the home side broke and Okocha blazed high over the top when Pedersen was clear on the other side of the box.

Carr was finding space on the right side and his crosses were forcing the Trotters to clear hurriedly.  However, Spurs defenders got sucked into the middle of the pitch and when the ball fell to Mendy in the clear, they were fortunate that he hit it over the bar and again when Pedersen broke with Mendy pulling players away, but his shot was straight at Keller.

Poyet had a half chance when a long throw dropped to him and he hit it on the turn, but over, swiftly followed by Teddy setting Carr away, but his touch took the ball towards a Bergsson, who nicked it away for a corner.  It was from a set piece that Sheringham’s header was blocked, then Keano missed the ball and the action ending with Frandsen kicking Bunjy’s shot off the line.

A lot of what Bolton was trying was too straight and too hurried, but their breaks showed Gus struggling to keep up with the opposition midfield.  Into injury time, the old corner routine nearly paid off, but it was too high as Teddy got under his shot.

Spurs had played on Gardner in the first half, but were stopped from getting forward so much with Barness replacing the Jamaican at the break and stiffening the defence.  It changed the game, as Spurs were unable to break out of their own half and surrendered possession too readily.

The turning point of the match came in the 58th minute, when Djorkaeff threaded a neat pass through the middle of the Tottenham defence and it was a brave stop by Keller that denied Mendy.  The American was injured in the incident, but was determined to keep Bolton out.

Campo had a shot from a melee in the box and claims against Anderton for handball was waved away.  A free-kick for Spurs was fed to Doc on the left of the box and his cross was deflected onto the top of the net.  Keller fielded a couple of shots straight at him and his opposite number had to be swift to get to the ball before Robbie.

King did just enough to put off Pedersen as he closed in on a shot at goal, then Barness cut inside to hit a low shot that Kasey kept out and the rebound bounced up to Okocha, whose header went over the bar.  With the pressure building, old boy Bergsson hit the post with a header from Djorkaeff’s free-kick, then Keller tipped a Djorkaeff drive just over the top.  Then Keller kept the ball out from Andre with a strong wrist.  Keane had a chance to win it for Tottenham, when he got away from the offside trap, but his first touch took the ball to Jaaskaleinen, while play switched to the other end once again and King just got in front of  Pedersen to make him miss the bal just three yards out.

Doherty’s last minute tackle on Djorkaeff from the wrong side earned a penalty, which Okocha converted to win it at the death. 

Tottenham wasted too much possession with Bunjy and Teddy guilty, which let Bolton build up a head of steam and Spurs were happy to get out of their own box most of the second half.  Anderton was not as effective as he can be, Gus contributed little and Doc had a mare.  Robbie Keane looked tentative and might not have been fully fit, while Keller did well even with one arm, after his injury.

This result showed that Spurs are not yet ready for Europe.  If we can't keep a clean sheet against West Ham and Bolton, then imagine the mayhem top sides would cause us.  Our away form is still pitiful and we are now in tenth position, not much better than last season.  The only good thing about Bolton winning is it puts West Ham back in the relegation zone.  Frankly, that is the least of our concerns, as we should be making our way up the table, not glancing at the bottom.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEDLEY KING

Sean O'Carroll

 

TOUGH TO TACKLE

 

So, another abject second half performance has left us having lost to three of the bottom four clubs in the league now, with the other still to play.

The question that arises must be how the team can change for the better for next season.  Perhaps this performance will encourage Hoddle to lose the older legs in the team to make sure we don’t get over-run in midfield.  Perhaps it will make him see that even in his preferred position of defence, Gary Doherty is not the player he was before his injury. Perhaps the need for a player to create from midfield will be noted.  Perhaps even that Bunjy does not play a major part in the team structure, leaving the point of him being there up for discussion.

It is not just that at the moment, but even the bench begs questions.  Etherington is one of the quickest players in the squad, but is not deemed suitable for a place in the side, except for a couple of minutes at the end of the game.  Surely his pace would complement Robbie Keane’s and give him some support until we purchase a proper partner for him ?  Acimovic has been at the club since August and has yet to make an impact.  When he has played, he looks well off the pace of the Premier League.  So where does he fit into the jigsaw ?  Toda will not make a significant difference to the team at this time.  His play is haphazard and there will need to be a greater degree of understanding before he gets on the pitch.  Blondel, young though he is, must be pulling his hair out in frustration at not being given an opportunity.

The team needs the average age brought down and rapidly.  Gus looked his age tonight and Teddy did some nice things and some that weren’t as nice.  When Bolton attacked, Spurs were left trailing in their wake.  Anderton showed that his best days are gone, when he pushed the ball past N’Gotty and couldn’t (and never looked likely to) get past him to retrieve it on the other side.

Of the others, Carr played better than he has done in recent matches, with Ledley King playing solidly in the middle.  Thatcher got injured, so couldn’t really get into the match and Taricco looked at odds with what was going on, but his intention to get involved in any petty squabble going (and those that he creates) mean that he is becoming a liability.  Simon Davies was trying to cover as much ground as possible and would be much more effective with some more willing runners inside him and he and Kasey Keller were the ones who impressed the most.  The keeper kept us in it until the final minute.

Up until then, Spurs had the best of the first half and the home side the best of the second.  The post had helped out on one occasion, when Bergsson headed against it, but most of Bolton’s efforts were within Keller’s reach.  He saved well from Barness and Okocha, but had no chance with the penalty.  That was conceded by a lapse in Doherty’s concentration allowing Djorkaeff to get away from him and then he had to fall on top of him to stop him scoring.  There wasn't time for anything more than Keano to tap the ball to Teddy, who hit the ball away in anger as the final whistle went, aiming for the ref I think, but only succeeded in hitting a Bolton player in the midriff.

The prospect of Europe frightens me.  We need to bed down with a side capable of achieving that first and not try to run before we can walk.  There are some tough subjects for Hoddle to tackle.  Let’s hope that he wins them better than the team have been doing.

 Kirk Hammerton

 

 

Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal

2 Everton 1 Sunday
Birmingham City 1 WBA 0 Saturday
Chelsea 5 Manchester City 0 Saturday
Liverpool 3 Leeds United 1 Sunday
Manchester United 3 Fulham 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 1 Charlton Athletic 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 5 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
SCBC 2 Aston Villa 2 Saturday
West Ham United 2 Sunderland 0 Saturday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 31 20 6 5 66 33 66
2 Manchester United 31 19 7 5 51 27 64
3 Newcastle United 31 19 4 8 54 35 61
4 Chelsea 31 15 9 7 57 31 54
5 Liverpool 31 14 10 7 47 31 52
6 Everton 31 14 8 9 39 36 50
7 Charlton Athletic 31 13 7 11 40 39 46
8 Blackburn Rovers 31 12 10 9 38 37 46
9 SCBC 31 11 11 9 34 32 44
10 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 31 12 7 12 43 44 43
11 Middlesbrough 30 11 8 11 38 34 41
12 Manchester City 31 12 5 14 40 49 41
13 Fulham 31 10 8 13 35 40 38
14 Aston Villa 31 10 6 15 33 37 36
15 Birmingham City 31 9 8 14 28 42 35
16 Leeds United 31 10 4 17 38 45 34
17 Bolton Wanderers 31 7 11 13 34 47 32
18 West Ham United 31 7 9 15 34 53 30
19 WBA 32 5 6 20 21 47 21
20 Sunderland 31 4 7 20 19 50 19

 

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