Looking Forward

 

Blackburn Rovers  (Away)

Premier League

Wednesday 24th August 2005

Blackburn seemed to start the season as they had been going on from last season.  Not the last game, when they played out a dull 0-0 draw, but the self-destruct style in which they handed the FA Cup semi-final to the Gooners with a tough approach that didn't pay off.  Dickov's dirty tackle isn't something they want to air in public, but just a few minutes after coming on at West Ham was a real leg-breaker and rules him out this week.  Along with him will be Craig Bellamy, who has a thigh problem, along with his anger problem.

It is never easy going to Ewood Park and this will be no different.  The chill of the Lancashire wind will make the Blackburn ground as welcoming as any ground that hosts a Mark Hughes side.  It will be a tough task and Spurs will need to meet the home midfield head on (although not literally).  Davids v Savage is already shaping up to be a meeting with red card written all over it.  Michael Brown is in with a chance of playing and he might be brought back, as he had such an effective game last season there.

The wide men of Blackburn are their two most dangerous weapons - Pedersen and Emerton.  They have pace and skill and both are capable of scoring.  Shefi Kuqi has been added to the front line, but he might take a little while to adapt to the Premiership after being at Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday before that.  Strong and a good finisher, he is not a bad buy, but one might have expected more quality from a Blackburn signing.  Last season Djemal Johnson came on at Spurs, showing a turn of pace for a little fellow, which might prove useful for Rovers.

The midfield could still be competitive with Gary Flitcroft still at the club, although out of favour and Stephen Reid there, who will not shirk a challenge.  Tugay and David Thomson provide more evidence that there might be more os a policy towards commitment than quality at Ewood Park.

Kiwi defender Ryan Nelsen, South African Aaron Mokoena, Aussie Lucas Neil and Andy Todd are all rugged defenders, so the need to play around them will be necessary.  No joy will be gained if Spurs try to play through them.  Dominic Matteo is about the most stylish defender at the club. 

It has been a fall from grace for Blackburn from the heady days when they won the Premier League.  We seem to be on the up and it will be an interesting test of our credentials to play a 100% style side like Rovers at this stage.

We have the determination in midfield to match what we will face, but will there still be enough to make the chances for Mido and Defoe to convert ??  I think this will be the first glimpse of Jol's away tactics coming into force and it might even mean an appearance for Keano up front with a decidedly workmanlike midfield being selected.  If Routledge had been playing, it might have made Tottenham's task easier, but there is still enough ability in the side to grab three vital league points.

PREDICTION : -   Blackburn Rovers  1   Tottenham Hotspur  2

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

Two games in ... so how has it been so far ?

Interesting to say the least. We started off very well against West Ham and took a first half lead, I have absolutely no idea what happened at half time, but we managed to concede three goals in 45 minutes, which is something we don't tend to do very often.  Last week's game against Fulham saw two of the finest goals to have graced Ewood Park in some time. Pedersen had the goal of the season award in his hands for about 60 minutes before a Tugay thunderbolt snatched it away from him.  A good performance against Fulham was definitely needed after the second half showing down at Upton Park, hopefully Sparky can keep the team playing with the conviction shown on the weekend (and hopefully Kuqi will put his boots on the right feet this time).

Who do you think is playing best for Rovers at the moment ?

Pedersen is playing well, he whips in some very dangerous balls from set pieces.  I guarantee you that it is only a matter of time before he scores direct from a corner, he tested Warner a couple of times on Saturday.  Lucas Neill had one of his best games in a Rovers shirt on the weekend, hopefully he can continue in the same form.

Which player would you happily do without ?

In Emerton we seem to have a player living off his past reputation.  He was seen as one of the hottest properties in football whilst playing in Holland, he now seems to have become nothing more than average. One trick and one pace and that's the lot.

Any new faces we should know about ?

We have been very quiet in the transfer window so no real new faces to speak of.  I suppose Pedersen may be a new quantity to some teams as he only came in to the team towards the second half of the season.

Craig Bellamy ... a popular signing or a curse on your house ??

If anyone can control him, I'm sure Mark Hughes can.  They seem to have a bit of a mutual respect for each other.  From comments I have heard during interviews with other players, Bellers seems to be very popular with his team mates.

How has Mark Hughes' work during the summer impressed you ?

I think all Rovers fans were impressed with the way he dealt with the Bellamy signing.  We were not even linked to him in the press and the next thing you know he is being presented to the press.  We went about it quietly not like Steve Bruce at Birmingham who came out in the press and said that they were going to sign two England players this summer, and then promptly missed out on pretty much all of his transfer targets.  It's also a nice change from the Souness era of talking about players before any deal is done.

How will Rovers line up ?

Friedel, Neill, Todd, Nelsen, Matteo, Pedersen, Reid, Tugay, Savage, Emerton, Kuqi

Any views on Spurs so far this season and the new signings ?

Yet again Spurs seem to have a fairly strong squad and should be challanging the top 4 or 5 teams, but how often have we said that about Spurs. Two good results but I don't think Spurs fans should get too carried away just yet. In Jol I think you have a very good manager.

Your prediction for the match ?

I think it all depends which Rovers team turns up.  If we play like we did against Fulham I think we may surprise you a bit (we certainly surprised Charlie Nicholas on the weekend with our slick passing game).  I would probably be happy with a draw on this one so I am going for 1-1.

And where do you think our respective teams will end the season ?

I would like to think Rovers can push on into the top half of the table, a top 10 finish is possible if we can keep our better players fit.  I think Spurs will finish in a European place probably either 5th or 6th.

Thanks to
Ricky Clarke
www.brfcs.com

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

BLACKBURN ROVERS :  Craig Bellamy (hamstring); Paul Dickov (suspended); Matt Jansen (knee); Matt Derbyshire (suspended); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Noe Pamarot (knee); Sean Davis (knee); Michael Brown (foot); Mounir El Hamdaoui (ankle); Ledley King (groin); Tom Huddlestone (knee); Erik Edman (Achilles); Wayne Routledge (broken foot)

Coverage

TV :
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
No live coverage.

Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs-pl04-kean0.ram  - Free live webcast

 

Bl

Blackburn Rovers   0    Tottenham Hotspur   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League Venue :   Ewood Park
Wednesday 24th August 2005 Kick Off :  20.00 p.m.
Crowd :   22,375 Referee :   Dermot Gallagher (Banbury)
Weather :  Cool, wet
Teams : - 
Blackburn Rovers

Friedel

Neill
Todd (Mokoena 81)
Nelsen
Matteo

Tugay
Emerton
Savage
Reid

Pedersen
Kuqi (Johnson 88)

Unused subs: 
Enckelman
Jansen
Gresko

Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson

Stalteri
Dawson
Gardner
Edman

Tainio
Mendes (Defoe 81)
Brown
Reid

Mido (Davids 53)
Keane

Unused subs: 
Naybet
Cerny
Carrick

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

None

Tottenham Hotspur

None

Cards : -  
Blackburn Rovers

    
Neill (foul) 40 
Savage (foul) 58
  

     
Neill (foul - second yellow) 77 

Tottenham Hotspur

       
Dawson (foul) 25
Davids (foul) 59

     

Match Report : -  
Perhaps the flying start the club has made meant that a scoreless draw earning a point away at Blackburn is now perceived as a poor result, but three games unbeaten and no goals conceded sounds pretty good to me.  

There is no hiding that this was a lack-lustre performance from Spurs and Blackburn looked more up for it.  With a defeat at West Ham and a win over Fulham, they needed to show they were back on track and they closed Spurs players down very quickly, while not holding back on their force of tackle.  Twice in the first five minutes, Paul Robinson had to be quick out of his box to clear from an on-rushing Shefki Kuqi, who was chasing down long passes.  The build-up play from Rovers wasn't bad and we could not match it, as we failed to put a supply of possession in the direction of the front two - Keane and Mido.

Morten Gamst Pedersen is a lively one and was involved in a lot of the most threatening moments (where goal chances were concerned).  He second guessed Stalteri, who was trying to let the ball run out and fizzed the ball across the six yard area, without finding a halved shirt to convert it.  Then, when Tottenham gave away one of the numerous free-kicks around the box, curled an 19th minute dead ball narrowly wide from the right corner of the area.  The Norwegian set up Reid with a nod down to allow a shot from 20 yards out, but it came off the side of the boot and went wide.

Unsurprisingly, the first booking involved Robbie Savage.  Surprisingly, it was Michael Dawson who picked it up for a foul on the former Welsh international. It took until the 17th minute for Spurs to get an effort on target, when Reid curled a harmless shot at Friedel and it was our keeper Robbo who closed down Kuqi again as he was found in the area by Pedersen, thus forcing him to hurry his shot and miss the goal.  It looked like a replay of the incident against Villa at the end of last season, when Robinson got his injury, but luckily (?) it was only a flesh wound of some studs in his chest this time !!

Savage might not be a bad player if he cut out the fouls and the histrionics, but we will have to live with that.  His ability from free-kicks is very good and when he bent on into the box, it was a close thing as two home players went for it and missed the ball.  Lucas Neill didn't miss Robbie Keane when he went into a tackle and fouled our Irish forward.  It brought a flash of yellow from the ref.  As Robinson launched the ball downfield, Keane took the ball down and looked clear, but was halted by the referee's whistle.  Not for any infringement, but because it was half-time.

Spurs had not got things together and the missing Carrick and Davids in midfield had let Blackburn get a grip there.  Michael Brown, returning for his first match in the first team this season did OK and Mendes tried to hold play up, but the energy of the Rovers four in midfield produced more chances.  At the back, Dawson and Gardner are proving a tight unit in the middle of the defence and seem to work well together.  They block shots and win a lot in the air ... so much so, that we have hardly missed Ledley King ... and when did you think you would say that ?? 

Ten minutes after the break, Jol brought on Davids for Mido and played Keane alone up front and had Tainio just behind him.  It prompted Savage to show that he has earned the nickname of the "Welsh Borzoi" compared to the Dutchman being the "Pit Bull".  A foul on Tainio earn Lily a yellow and then Edgar joined him after clashing with Emerton.

Kuqi looked every inch a Championship player, as he put another header wide of the mark when he should have at least hit the target and then the ref leniently let off Emerton for a flop to the ground as Edman went in with him in the area.  Dermot Gallagher did get his card out in the 77th minute when Neill put in a two footed tackle on Davids from behind and it looked to me as though it was a straight red card.  It left the home side up against it at the end, but apart from holding the ball well, there was only Brown's low drive to speak of in terms of shots on goal in the last 12 minutes, even though Defoe came on for Mendes as Spurs sought a late winner.

There were few other talking points apart from Todd's header on Reid's forehead.  it is quite amazing how officials miss this sort of incident, even though it was off the ball.  I think that whoever watches the videotape back will see it clearly enough and Todd will get his just desserts.

It is a shame Tottenham didn't tonight, but they didn't really deserve it.  The hard work put in by Blackburn made it hard for Spurs to play as they have done and with the changes to the side, they looked a little disjointed, but as long as we keep picking up points.  it is the points away from home that could decide where Tottenham finish at the end of the season though.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  MICHAEL DAWSON

Eddie Black

 

Bump and grind

 

A disappointing result in a tough game, as we expected and the approach that Mark Hughes' side does him little credit, when they have the players to play a good style of football.  But a point is a decent result away from home and it keeps us unbeaten, with a big game against Chelsea to come on Saturday.

Spurs will need to be on top of their game then and today they never quite attained that level of play.  Much of that had to do with the changes Jol made to the side, with Brown and Mendes coming in for Carrick and Davids, while Keane replaced Defoe up front.  It might have disrupted the side, but I think the changes reflect Martin's thinking on the way the team needs to be constructed away from home.  It was a little negative, but without the speed of Routledge, it was perhaps the best that he might have fielded with solidity uppermost in his mind.

The ball hardly ever reached the front pairing in a way they wanted so chances were at a premium.  Rovers had the better opportunities, with Pedersen curling an early free-kick narrowly wide and then, in the second half, nearly scoring direct from a corner kick, but Robinson did just enough to keep it out.  Robbo had to be quick off his line to put Kuqi off, when he was well placed to score, but shot wide under pressure from the England keeper.  Another aspect of our defending seems to be the lack of decisiveness in attacking opposition free-kicks, when another one passed right across the face of goal and two Rovers players came in at the far post, but could not finish it off.

The Spurs defence in front of him stood firm, with Stalteri doing some good covering, while Dawson and Gardner got bits of their bodies in the way, although this did cause a high number of corners for the home side.  And the giving away of free-kicks will be a dangerous failing against better teams.

Dawson was the first in the book for a foul on Savage (shame).  He was followed later in the half by a rash tackle by Lucas Neill and things really kicked off in the second half among a string of free-kicks that disrupted any flow there might have been to the game.  It ended with Neill hitting Davids (a substitute for Mido, when Spurs switched to a 4-5-1 formation) very late and seeing red.  not that it made much difference to Spurs, as they struggled to apply any pressure on the Blackburn goal.

Andy Todd might have been in the batch before Neill, as he appeared to head-butt Andy Reid, without the ref or linesmen seeing it, but he might not be so lucky when the Video Review Board look at the tape.  With Savage and Davids getting booked within a minute of each other, Dermot Gallagher must have thought that he needed a hair-trigger on his red card.

With Blackburn trying to ensure that they got something from the game, I think they might find it hard this season, with injuries and suspensions hitting their small squad later in the season.  For Spurs it would have been an opportunity missed to pick up some extra points, but they failed to create a meaningful effort.  Not that Blackburn threatened too strongly.

In the end a point was a fair result.  However, to mount a serious challenge anywhere near the top of the table we need to pick up points away from home.  

Barry Levington

With the reputation of Hughes’ team preceding them, Martin Jol left the crown jewels on the bench. Our glut of central midfield talent means we can lose a fringe player to a few months in traction.

Mendes and Brown did not gel in the centre of midfield, our play was patchy in the first half and the service to Keane and Mido, non-existent. Our only threat on goal before half time was a mis-control by Mido in the opposing six-yard box. 

Despite playing some neat football, Blackburn deserve their tag of Premiership bully boys, wasting no opportunity to tug at a shirt or slide in with studs blazing. Their first half chances, few and far between, a deep cross that went over the head of Robinson and seeing Lucas Neil mis-kick at the far post, only to end up in the goal himself. Pedersen went close with a curling free kick and Robinson save well at the feet of Kuqi.

Jol stuck with his underachievers at the start of the second half, but with Blacburn camped in our half, Jol sacrificed the ineffectual Mido for Edgar Davids on 53 minutes. Davids was promptly booked at the request of Welsh whinger Savage.

The Spurs faithful were roused when Lucas Neil saw red assaulting the Davids; Andy Todd was lucky not to follow his butt on Andy Reid unseen by the ref.  Our best opportunity came soon after, Brown finding space on the right, running in on goal, he was unable to get his cross past Friedel.

And really, that was about it. Defoe made a cameo, but didn’t have a touch of note.

Top Man: Robinson

Paul Boshier

 

Other scores this mid-week :
Birmingham City 0 Middlesbrough 3 Tuesday
Portsmouth 1 Aston Villa 1 Tuesday
Sunderland 1 Manchester City 2 Tuesday

Arsenal

4 Fulham 1 Wednesday
Bolton Wanderers 2 Newcastle United 0 Wednesday
Chelsea 4 West Bromwich Albion 0 Wednesday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 3 3 0 0 6 0 9 +6
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 2 1 0 4 0 7 +4
3 Manchester City 3 2 1 0 4 2 7 +2
4 Arsenal 3 2 0 1 6 2 6 +4
5 Charlton Athletic 2 2 0 0 4 1 6 +3
6 Manchester United 2 2 0 0 3 0 6 +3
7 West Ham United 2 1 1 0 3 1 4 +2
8 Bolton Wanderers 3 1 1 1 4 3 4 +1
9 Middlesbrough 3 1 1 1 3 2 4 +1
10 Liverpool 2 1 1 0 1 0 4 +1
11 West Bromwich Albion 3 1 1 1 2 5 4 -3
12 Blackburn Rovers 3 1 1 1 3 4 4 -1
13 Everton 2 1 0 1 1 2 3 -1
14 Aston Villa 3 0 2 1 3 4 2 -1
15 Portsmouth 3 0 1 2 2 5 1 -3
16 Fulham 3 0 1 2 2 6 1 -4
17 Birmingham City 3 0 1 2 1 5 1 -4
18 Newcastle United 3 0 1 2 0 4 1 -4
19 Wigan Athletic 2 0 0 2 0 2 0 -2
20 Sunderland 3 0 0 3 2 6 0 -4

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