Looking Forward

 

MIDDLESBROUGH (Home)

Premier League

Sunday 26th October 2003

With Boro sitting below us in the League, everyone will expect a resurgent Tottenham to ease to a win in this match without too much trouble.  But trouble is exactly what Middlesbrough have caused us over the last couple of seasons, especially at White Hart Lane.  Although on Tottenham's side, Steve McClaren has received a vote of confidence from his chairman recently.

Tall Aussie keeper Mark Schwarzer has a great reach, but often fails to make use of it, although his shot-stopping is good.  His back-up keeper is the former Man. City glove-man Carlo Nash, who swapped a place in the Citizens reserves for a place on the Boro bench.  He had a very good spell in the City first team when Nicky Weaver went through an uncertain spell, but got pushed down the pecking order by Schmeichel and the return to favour of Weaver. 

Defensively, Boro have been not been very tight this season, conceding 15 goals, while the attack has only netted seven at the other end.  A more rigid performance will be demanded by Steve McClaren, but he has limited options with Robbie Stockdale has gone on loan to West Ham, Ugo Ehiogu being out injured long term with damaged cruciate ligaments until the middle of November and David Murphy is out for another week with a broken foot.  That does leave him the choice of players from French left back Franck Queudrue, central defenders Chris Riggott, Gareth Southgate and Colin Cooper, while Danny Mills and Alan Wright usually play wide on the back four.  Mills has picked up four yellow cards this season already and this might reflect his frustration at his treatment at Leeds and his subsequent year long loan move to Boro.  A fierce tackler, who sometimes oversteps the law, he can be effective going forward, but at the moment, his best form is not with him.  The same can be said of promising centre half Chris Riggott, who is not a first choice, usually having to settle for a place on the bench behind Cooper and Southgate.  Both are having a bit of a renaissance, but they would have been given a run around by Kanoute's movement and Keane's guile.  Now it might fall to Zamora, who would provide more of a typical, physical threat, which they might prefer to the continental approach.  Queudrue is awaiting a personal hearing for a disrepute charge brought on TV evidence for treading on Kevin Phillips.  Well, it is an easy mistake to make, he's so small !!  The fact that the red card went to the SCBC player made the FA take notice on re-watching the game on video.  Alan Wright was eased out at Villa and planned to link up with former team-mates Southgate and Ehiogu in defence, but the little man has been in and out the side so far. 

The midfield enforcer George Boateng appears to be missing his partner of last season Geremi (now with Chelsea via Real Madrid), so has been joined on loan by Gaizka Mendieta from Barcelona for a year.  A stylish player, who is noted for his long range shooting, Mendieta is still finding his feet in English football.  That is something that Juninho did a long time ago and he has become a respected figure in the Boro midfield for it.  His darting runs and prompting play has endeared him to his own fans and made him a player other sides would like in their team ... including Tottenham, who came close to singing him a few seasons back.  Jonathan Greening is another midfielder Tottenham looked at before he went to Manchester United and then again before he moved to the Riverside.  Tall and rangy, he has not quite lived up to expectations as he had a great future predicted for him at Old Trafford, but he slipped out of the side and moved to Boro.  Another loan player Doriva is a bit of a mystery to me, so I can't say too much about him any more than he is likely to play as Stuart Parnaby is two weeks away from overcoming his knee injury and Carlos Marinelli is carrying a thigh injury that will rule him out for another week at least.  That leaves another loan player Boudewijn Zenden from Chelsea to play out side of midfield and use his pace to attack on the flanks.  A player who has been playing top flight football all over Europe, but he disappointed at Stamford Bridge and is trying to resurrect his career at Boro.

Slovakian striker Szilard Nemeth has been leading the attack with Malcolm Christie, in the absence of Joseph Desire Job, who is out for three months with an injured knee.  They seem to be a lively pairing with good movement, but their finishing power is obviously lacking in the number of goals the team have scored this season.  Recently restored to full fitness Massimo Maccarone could be brought in to add some pep to the forward line, while big money buy (Boro pipping Spurs for his signature - thank goodness) Michael Ricketts is not around the squad and has been hit by injury since signing for the North-East club.  

With Tottenham having the confidence of a good run of results and Boro needing to get on the winning trail ,this match might be tighter than the relevant positions of the teams would indicate.  With Kanoute out, Spurs will have to mend and make do up front, but at least the purchases in the summer do give us options.  I think that with Dalmat and Mabizela in the side, it will be strengthened in front of the defence and also given attacking possibilities by Stephane's creative abilities. While Fredi might have helped us run away with the game, I reckon that Tottenham will edge it ...

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham   2     Middlesbrough   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 was unable to get a Middlesbrough site to contribute.

Players unavailable ...

Tottenham Hotspur -  Frederic Kanoute (ankle), Jamie Redknapp (knee), Simon Davies (hip)

Middlesbrough -   Ugo Ehiogu (knee), Carlos Marinelli (thigh), Stuart Parnaby (knee), David Murphy (foot), Joseph Desire Job (knee), Robbie Stockdale (on loan to West Ham United), Allan Johnston (foot)

COVERAGE : 
TV :  Live on Sky Sports 1
Radio :  
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast    

 

 

Tottenham   0      Middlesbrough   0     (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League
Sunday 26th October 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  16.05 p.m.
Weather : -  Cold, clear
Referee : -  M. Dean (Wirral)
Crowd : -  32,643
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  
Keller; Carr (c), Richards, Gardner, Taricco; Dalmat, Poyet (King 68), Anderton, Konchesky (Ricketts 84); Zamora (Postiga 65), Keane
Unused Subs : -  Burch, Mabizela

Middlesbrough : -  
Schwarzer; Davies, Cooper, Southgate (c), Queudrue; Mendieta, Boateng, Doriva, Zenden (Greening 90); Christie (Maccarone 79), Nemeth (Junhinho, 79)
Unused Subs : - Nash, Riggott

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Middlesbrough
Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  None

Middlesbrough -  None

Cards : -  
Tottenham  -  Taricco (foul) 29, Gardner (foul) 69, Anderton (foul) 75 

Middlesbrough -  Mendieta (foul) 40, Doriva (foul) 81

Sometimes, just sometimes, you wish that you were doing something better with your time.  This dull, score-less match promised much before it started and little once it got going ... if it ever really did.

From Mendieta's early shot that swirled over the bar to the injury time substitution of Zenden, it looked as though Boro would be happier with the point than Tottenham, but for all the first half possession and pressure Spurs had, they never really looked like breaking through.  And in the second half, Boro took the initiative when Spurs frequently gave them the ball and caused a few problems of their own.

Schwarzer always strikes me as a keeper who should dominate in the air, but rarely does.  His dodgy handling dropped his defence in trouble a couple of times, but generally the crossing was of a poor quality from Tottenham today and Konchesky was guilty of much of it.  With a keeper who is tall, it needs the ball to be whipped in with a bit of pace on t rather than lofted into the centre of the goal, where he can pick it off at will.  The balls into the box along the ground were producing more trouble for the Middlesbrough defence and Davies had to clear hurriedly when faced with his own goal in front of him.  The two efforts form Spurs that came closest came from Zamora and Konchesky - one wide and the other grabbed by the Aussie keeper, although it might not have gone in anyway.

The first bit for the crowd to get worked up about was a booking for Taricco, who once more lost it for a spell, where he took Mendieta's legs from under him right under the ref's nose and right in the middle of the goal but about 25 yards out.  Despite receiving a yellow card and being lucky to do so, he was luckily in the way of the free-kick and it went for a corner.  He doesn't learn though and five minutes later, the ball was running out of play and he threw an arm up into Mendieta's face.  That could have been a straight red in itself, but he got away with it.  Only in the ref's mind, as the Spanish midfielder soon got his own back with a hack at Taricco that left him hamming it up in a pile, while Mr. Dean waved the yellow at the Boro loan player.

Like many Premiership refs, Dean liked to concentrate on the minutiae of the game, rather than the major incidents and thus his consistency was dropping as the game went on.  His performance was a bit like the Parson's Nose and although he retained some grip on matters, he seemed very keen on booking Spurs players, while similar offences by the visitors went unpunished.  Having said that he had sussed Zenden early on and had nothing to do with his diving ... not even a yellow card for it.

Then Doriva and Keane had some handbags, which the ref didn't do much to calm down and Keano went seeking revenge and took it out on Mendieta !!  However, Boro carve out two late chances in the half,as Zenden makes a run down the left wing and his low ball is sliced over by Boateng and then, in injury time, Nemeth hits a thirty yard drive straight in the middle of the goal, making Keller's tip over easy.

The second half started with a panache that warmed the cockles of our heart on a cold day.  An Anderton corner was headed goalwards by Poyet and with Keano unable to get a diverting touch on it ends in Schwarzer's arms on the line.  At the other end, Keller made a fine save from Zenden, as his shot came from behind a defender and the Yank managed to have strong wrists to push the ball away.  Kasey also did well to tip a Mendieta free-kick over the top, just as it looked like it might dip under the bar.

A nice move by Spurs opened up Boro and Postiga laid back the ball to the edge of the box for Mabizela ... oh, no. Not this week unfortunately.  It fell to Dalmat, who had started the match with his flowing runs, but faded in the second half and he pulled his shot that skimmed a couple of yards wide.  Anderton fired a similar chance as wide, while Postiga produced the last effort of the match with a half-hit shot straight at Schwarzer.  back in our own goalmouth, a cross from the right into the Spurs area a few minutes before the end brought a timely interception form Stephen Carr, who had one player on him and another free behind him, but the danger was cleared.

A disappointing performance and one that must be turned around quickly with West Ham United on Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.  Pleat will have his work cut out to change things

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  KASEY KELLER

Pete Stachio

 

DO YOU THINK IT'S SEXY (football) ??

 

This game had everything ... that the man who has everything wants ... nothing !!

One of the best parts were the Alan Biley/Rod Stewart look-a-like Andrew Davies, who really thought that tonight's the night, but although Boro weren't sailing to a win, the scene at the end of the match when Boro celebrated their point proved that every picture tells a story.  Well, they say that blondes have more fun !!  His cramp filled muscles proved that he did have hot legs and perhaps he didn't wanna talk about it at the end, but his barnet was certainly something that I couldn't realistically say that he wears it well.

The high-point of the match for me was when a Middlesbrough player hit a cross-field ball straight into touch and someone behind me gave a Nelson Muntz style "Ha Ha".  Well, that and the cry of "No, not another four minutes" when the fourth official held up the board at the 90 minute mark !!

My word, this was dull.

Spurs had two shots that made Schwarzer save in the second half.  One was in the first minute, when Poyet headed on target and the other was in the last minute.  Not good enough to break down the side who were second bottom before the start ... nor any other side in the League you would imagine.

The first half had been better, with a few chances for Spurs, but none that really threatened to sneak in, while Zenden twice made Keller dive to save in the second period.  My favourite was one by Christie in the first half, that he took early to catch Keller out, but it failed to hit the target and didn't even go off for a goal-kick ... or a throw-in ... it was so weak, it stayed on the pitch !!

I must admit, I have seen worse games, but not many spring to mind ... although most of them do happen to feature Middlesbrough !!  Pleat will have his work cut out to change things and we will have our work cut out to stay awake if this goes on for much longer !!

Wyart Lane

 

THE HAS-BEEN DERBY

 

Surely no one could have expected Tottenham to follow up two wins and five brilliant goals with more of the same ?  Those who did were unpleasantly surprised.

Spurs gave a performance reminiscent of the Christian Gross/George Graham years.  They couldn’t keep the ball for more than three strained passes and Keano and Zamora would have received more service in a disused motorway service station on the M4.  The only Ginolaesque ray of light was the superb Stephane Dalmat who orchestrated the little Tottenham did do.

Neither side had any notable chances in a dire first half.  Dalmat and Captain Carr worked well on the right and Taricco and Konchesky mirrored this on the left, but Poyet and Anderton looked their ages, and more, in the centre.  The final balls were not of any standard, leaving Keano and Bobby stranded up front.  In fairness, it was really a half that the defences won; Mr. Southgate and his long haired ageing ally Colin Cooper keeping what Tottenham did throw at them, out.  George Boateng controlled the midfield but neither side strung moves together. The long ball was often the only option, and it nearly paid off as Malcolm Christie got behind Deano but pulled his left-footed shot indescribably wide.

Tottenham did have a promising spell with three corners in a row but the nearest they came was with a deflected Richards header which fell two yards wide.  Kasey and Mark Schwarzer had next to nothing to do all half; the Australian dived around a bit in defence of his goal but never really touched the ball.  While Kasey only had to smother a shot from distance from a long-haired Boro player.

Boudghtoidlksieghgn (sic) Zenden summed the half up at the very beginning with a left footed slice from 30 yards out which somberly rolled 30 yards wide.

With the start of the second half came darkness and with the darkness came ... for want of a flashier phrase, not very good play from Tottenham. We simply could not get the ball.  Boro kept it for a sustained 20 minute spell without really making an incisive forward pass, which is credit to Tony and Deano at the back.  The rare times we did get the ball, it was either casually passed back to Boro or ‘bashed’ up to the virtually asleep Schwarzenneger.  I wondered whether Bobby Zamora was in fact Jason Dozzell in disguise.  He certainly didn’t make the most of the opportunity given to him by way of Fredi's injury.  He was replaced by Postiga mid way through the second half, who was as lively as was possible but, again, serviceless.

Ledley also came on, for the abysmal Poyet. Both King and Poyet made no impact on the game.  Middlesbrough only came close with efforts from miles out, Szilard Nemeth forced Kasey into a rare save with a well struck shot from some way outside the area and Gaizka “where did it all go wrong” Mendieta had a free kick well saved.  That was pretty much that, for all the pressure and possession, Boro never looked dangerous.

What about Spurs, surely there was a late flurry I hear you ask ?  Not really.  We had a couple of corners, from which someone, probably tall (I'd given up really looking) headed on target into the ‘keeper’s waiting arms.  Anderton had a snapshot, which skidded just wide and Dalmat pulled his attempt wide of the left post.  And in the dying minutes, Postiga (who incidentally comes from Portugal and hates the Arsenal) had a left-footed shot from a difficult angle, comfortably saved by the Austrian.

It was a match neither side really deserved to win. It seems now Tottenham have reached the heady heights of mid table mediocrity after a poor season’s start; they are content to stay there and draw their way through the rest of the season.

Good to see we’ve got the old Spurs back.

THE SOUL REBEL

 

Other scores this weekend :

Charlton Athletic

1 Arsenal 1 Sunday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 4 Leicester City 3 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Manchester City 0 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
SCBC 2 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 3 Portsmouth 0 Saturday
Liverpool 3 Leeds United 1 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Fulham 3 Saturday
Aston Villa 0 Everton 0 Saturday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 10 7 3 0 19 8 24 +11
2 Chelsea 10 7 2 1 20 8 23 +12
3 Manchester United 10 7 1 2 18 6 22 +12
4 Birmingham City 10 5 4 1 9 5 19 +4
5 Fulham 10 5 3 2 20 13 18 +7
6 Manchester City 10 4 3 3 20 12 15 +8
7 SCBC 10 4 4 2 8 5 16 +3
8 Newcastle United 10 4 3 3 15 12 15 +3
9 Charlton Athletic 10 4 3 3 14 13 15 +1
10 Liverpool 10 4 2 4 15 11 14 +4
11 Portsmouth 10 3 3 4 11 12 12 -1
12 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 10 3 3 4 10 13 12 -3
13 Everton 10 2 4 4 12 14 10 -2
14 Aston Villa 10 2 4 4 8 12 10 -4
15 Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 2 3 5 7 21 9 -14
16 Blackburn Rovers 10 2 2 6 15 19 8 -4
17 Middlesbrough 10 2 2 6 7 15 8 -8
18 Bolton Wanderers 10 1 5 4 8 19 8 -11
19 Leeds United 10 2 2 6 10 22 8 -12
20 Leicester City 10 1 2 7 14 21 5 -7

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