Looking Forward

 

BIRMINGHAM CITY  (Home)

Premier League

Saturday 28th August 2004

Manager Steve Bruce has got Brum performing very well as a unit since he took over at St. Andrews and their league position shows this consistency, which means the City side will be hard to beat.

Chelsea got a 1-0 over them and before that they got a 1-1 draw at Pompey in the first two matches, then their first win over Man City by Heskey's single goal.  The former Liverpool man will miss the match through injury and the nuisance that is Savage will miss it because he innocently elbowed Kezman in the head, so the side will be patched up to fit the vacancies.

Ex-Fulham goalkeeper Maik Taylor rarely has a bland game against Spurs.  Sent off, scoring own goals or playing a blinder, Taylor is always involved.  Back up keeper Ian Bennett is a decent custodian, but is short in stature and might be vulnerable to crosses, while Nico Vaesen is back from Palace where he was on loan last season and is a capable goalie if he needs to be called upon. 

The defence is built in Bruce's own image with Matthew Upson and Kenny Cunningham making up the pairing to replicate Bruce's partnership with Pallister.  Upson is a good central defender and Cunningham the sweeper upper, but he lacks some pace and Defoe might need to concentrate his efforts on taking on the former Wimbledon man.  Former Celtic big man Oliver Tebily can play central or right defence and he is a strong runner with the ball and good in the air, so it will be hard for Spurs to get around him.  However, it is more likely that Mario Melchiot will feature and he has been a very good player in the Premier League at Chelsea and has athleticism and ability to tie up his opponent and also he loves to get forward.  Again, this might leave room behind him for our forwards to get into and pull another defender out to his side.  With Jamie Clapham injured, the two Martins - Taylor and Grainger - will be vying for a place on the bench.

New signings in midfield have bolstered the middle of the team at Birmingham, with Julian Gray, Muzzy Izzet and Jesper Gronkjaer all coming in.  They will all play and Gray has been played at left back in recent games, while the others have found their normal place in the team.  Gray is a skilful wide man, but has an attitude on him and sometimes appears to give up in games if things are not going his way.  Izzet is a nasty piece of work, having put Kanoute out for quite a few weeks last season when he was playing fro Leicester City.  He can pull out a good pass and hit a sweet shot, but he lacks pace and against a hard working midfield, he might find it difficult to track back if Tottenham break with speed.  Gronkjaer is a player blessed with fleet feet, but his ability to make the most of the ball when he gets into good position is not all it should be.  Another who can pout in a reckless tackle, the ex-Chelsea winger has the ability to find himself in goal-scoring positions by ghosting in from the touchline and he is someone who needs to be closely watched.
Irishman Damien Johnson has been in the side and he is a diligent worker and he has the nous to get into dangerous positions and also to produce a good cross, as does Stan Lazaridis, the ex-West Ham man who plays out wide on the flank.  Missing hamstring victim David Dunn will be a loss for Brum, who is an inventive player, but sometimes loses the ball through his tricks and flicks.  Young Darren Carter is in and out the side and former Spur Stephen Clemence will be hoping for a spot in the team (or at least on the bench) so that he can prove that he would have made a decent midfielder at the Lane.
One more ex-Tottenham player is in the Birmingham ranks and that is Darren Anderton.  He hasn't been selected for his new team yet, but it wouldn't be beyond Bruce to put him in to give him the arena to prove a point to Spurs who let him go.

The game might hinge on the forwards in this match taking whatever chances come their way.  I think there might be some despite the tightness of the units the teams have become.  On loan Mikael Forsell has proved last season that he can be a fine goal scorer, being ahead of all the high price strikers at Stamford Bridge.  Fast, tricky and one of the players who invariably hits the target, Forsell will provide a tough test for the Tottenham back line.   With Emile Heskey out injured, Stern John might replace him as he is a similar type of player and can also score the odd goal.  Strong and fast, he can muscle defenders out of the way , so it will need some equally strong work from our back four.  The options are limited up front with Clinton Morrison out until mid-September, so it might mean that someone is pushed up front to play alongside Forsell if need be.

The Birmingham match will be a tough one.  It will be interesting to see what team Santini puts out, but with some of the bigger, more physical specimens he has bought recently, there might be an untypical Spurs side facing Bruce's side.  With Robbie Keane back to fitness and options available in midfield with Carrick's signing, the side should be able to keep ahead of the injury-hit Brummies ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    Birmingham City  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

MEHSTG could not find a Birmingham City site to take part in our "View From The Other Side"

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Simon Davies (shin); Lee Barnard (collar bone); Dean Richards (ears); Mauricio Taricco (hamstring); Rob Burch (ankle)

BIRMINGHAM CITY :  Emile Heskey (thigh); Robbie Savage (suspended); Clinton Morrison (knee); Jamie Clapham (knee); David Dunn (hamstring)

COVERAGE

TV :  
No live coverage.
Sky Football First - 20.15 p.m. onwards.

Radio :  
-

Internet :   
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
Planet football - http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs_match_new.ram (free - only available when match is on)

 

 

Tottenham Hotspur   1    Birmingham City   0      (Half-time score : 1-0)
Premier League Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 28th August 2004 Kick Off :  15.00 p.m.
Crowd :  35,290 Referee :  M. Clattenburg (County Durham)
Weather :  Warm, dry
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :  

Robinson

Pamarot
King (c)
Naybet
Edman

Brown
Davis
Mendes
Jackson (Gardner )

Defoe (Redknapp )
Keane (Kanoute 64)

Unused subs:  
Keller
Ifil

Birmingham City : 

Taylor

Cunningham (c)
Melchiot
Upson
Gray

Izzet
Johnson
Gronkjaer
Clemence (John)

Forssell (Morrison)
Heskey

Unused subs: 
Bennett
Taylor
Tebily

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)

Tottenham Hotspur

Birmingham City

Scorers : -  

Tottenham Hotspur

Defoe 36

Birmingham City 

 

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

       

Brown (foul) 30
Defoe (simulation) 38
Jackson (foul) 69
Mendes (kicking ball away) 90

     

Birmingham City

       

Heskey (simulation) 84


     

Match Report : -  

Birmingham came with a reputation of working hard and being strong, but they met their match in Spurs, leaving with nothing.  One shot on target was scant evidence that the Midlands club could penetrate the Tottenham defence and with one piece of opportunism by Jermain Defoe, we took the three points and looked good doing so.

Starting with Keane and Defoe up front, it was perhaps a weird way to approach the game, as Birmingham do not possess two strapping centre-halves, rather one tall and mobile and the other canny, but lacking pace.  With Atouba injured, Jackson came in on the left and Heskey made it for the visitors to give Tottenham's defence a testing time.  But it didn't happen.  The difference between Spurs and Brum showed in the finishing ability of the two English front-men.

The game's opening exchanges saw Mendes trying to knock the ball back past the keeper from 45 yards when he cleared it out, but Taylor easily gathered the effort and the Portuguese midfielder's next try was well wide.  Keane found the same billboard behind the goal as Mendes after 25 minutes.

Spurs were defending as they have done this season so far.  With numbers and bravely.  Naybet threw himself in front of a Forssell shot and players were getting back from midfield to place themselves goal-side of the Birmingham players.  It was something that City failed to do on 34 minutes, when Defoe created the opening to score.

Pamarot, who had a solid match, passed the ball inside from the right back position to Defoe, who skipped away from two men and then twisted Cunningham around and hit a powerful shot that would have flown into the goal without the aid of Upson's intervention.

It looked even better for Tottenham when Defoe was tripped on the edge of the box, but being a newbie, he booked Jermain and let Birmingham off the hook.  I suppose that he was at least consistently inconsistent as he booked Heskey later in the game for a similar certain looking penalty, as Robinson charged out.

The second half was a more laid back affair.  not in terms of effort, but in terms of efforts on goal.  Spurs knocked the ball about confidently, with the 'Olés' ringing out as the ball went from white shirt to white shirt, but there were few clear cut chances and even when Heskey did get his head to a corner, Robinson was saved from saving by Brown's clearance in front of the post.  Another, better, chance fell to Heskey's head, but the big man put it over the bar in injury time.  Perhaps the visitors best chance came when a long cross found Gray at the edge of the box on the left, but his volley again flew harmlessly over the top.

It was a strange performance by Birmingham, like they were beaten before they arrived.  Spurs did what they had to do in a perfunctory manner and were not stretched, but they might need to up their game to match other teams waiting in the fixture list (which we are unable to bring you obviously).

While Mendes was outstanding alongside Davis in the heart of the midfield, Ledley King was imperious in defence and for that he gets my Man of the Match nomination.  The whole team look good at the moment and we will have to hope that the international break allows them to re-group after they have played for their countries and not that it disrupts the flow they have got into.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  LEDLEY KING

Blake Hall

1789 And All That

Spurs maintained their unbeaten start to the new season with a solid win over the Brum, helped by a little bit of magic from Defoe and some dreadful finishing by former England striker Heskey. 

Despite some fairly lively support from the travelling fans before the game kicked off, this was never going to be a classic and the only real high point of the game was a lovely individual effort from our most diminutive front man. 

Jacques Santini had chosen to drop 17 year old YTS Phil Ifil following two solid performances in favour of new acquisition Pamarot, and Redknapp also found himself on the bench as Brown stepped in as unlikely cover in right midfield.  I have to say I thought this was an encouraging selection from Santini - Redknapp, although occasionally pulling his weight, has been mostly ineffective this season (although played out on the right, which he clearly wasn’t overly comfortable with) and giving Brown a chance seemed fair.  It would have been good to see someone more creative filling the fourth place in midfield in the absence of Davies, and hopefully Hargreaves will arrive in the January window having been fully convinced by the French Revolution.  His recent comments in the Press suggest that he is much keener on the idea now he has seen us win a few games and given the frequent injuries to Davies, he would be a welcome addition to the squad as Wright-Phillips seems bafflingly committed to Citeh. 

The game started with a fairly long period of Brum possession, as we did a pretty good job of conceding corners and very little else in the opening ten minutes.  It was the kind of start that would have seen us let in at least a goal last season, but the improved organisation in defence weathered the storm, although it was slightly longer than I would have liked.  King, wearing the captains’ armband in place of Redknapp, dealt with everything that was thrown at him and Pamarot was a solid option to his right, with Edman again looking assured on the left.  The first effort of any real note came from Mendes, who let fly from 20 yards after some solid build up, but it was well wide.  Robbie Keane, back in place of Kanoute, was the next to try his luck from range, but his low shot went a yard wide of the post without ever worrying Maik Taylor.  Keane wasn’t really having a good game and looked distinctly un match-fit.  His touch let him down a few times and he lost possession in a couple of our more promising attacking moves, so it was no real surprise when Freddie replaced him just after the hour.  More midfield possession followed and Forsell, who was fairly well marshalled all game, had an effort well blocked by the dive of Naybet, again solid in pairing with King.  It was good to see a back four that looked solid and comfortable, rather than the frantic stumbling of D’oherty which made us all ask ‘how is he a Premiership footballer ?’ in disbelief  last year.  

The only person on the pitch who looked like doing anything to raise our voices was Defoe, who produced a quality strike on the 35th minute.  Picking the ball up in the middle of the pitch he looked going nowhere, but he casually side stepped the attentions of two defenders and sent a 20 yard effort just inside the post.  A fairly cynical Steve Bruce claimed that the shot was ‘going well wide’ before it took a slight deflection from Upson, but in reality it was another great finish from the striker, who is already seeming a bit of a bargain at 7 million. 

The rest of the game was, to be honest, a fairly dull affair which saw Spurs sit back and defend for an hour as we held out for the three points.  Defoe got booked for a seemingly legitimate claim for a free kick just outside the area, before Heskey got the same treatment at the other end for gracefully thumping to the ground under minimal contact from Robinson in the box.  The big former England man then sent a free header from a few yards out over the bar as the South Stand happily saw the ball glide to safety. 

This was the sort of game that we would have lost last year - we worked hard, and although it wasn’t pretty, we defended very well as a team and Robinson didn’t have a save of note to make.

Davis and Mendes are proving a solid pairing in midfield, but Jackson had a fairly poor game on the left, losing out all afternoon to Melchiot and not really getting forward effectively.  He looks a bit lost this year but he certainly has potential to improve under the new management set-up.  Brown worked hard and a few times got clear of the Brum defence, but again was ineffective in the final third as we struggled without any real quality on the wings.  Perhaps this was why Santini chose to defend the lead rather than risk anything too creative, but overall I think he’ll be pretty happy with 4th place at the international break.  Not too bad for a month he thought he’d have to ‘write off’.  

Hopefully we’ll score more than a goal each game when we have some better attacking support from midfield, but for now I’m more than happy to sit back and sing ‘Are you Watching Eriksson?’ 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - Ledley King

Andy McCaughrey

 

NEW REF; NO CHANGE

 

Well, some things never change.  A new ref in Mr. Clattenburg, but the same old poor officiating that spoiled what was not a dirty game.  Thank goodness some things do change and Jacques Santini has had a galvinising effect on the Tottenham side.  Gone are the days of being blown away under a barrage of pressure and physical onslaughts and a more resilient side who are doing well despite the influx of new players to the team.

The 1-0 win was hardly the most exhilarating experience we have had down the Lane, but the nature of the win showed what good teams do.  Win when they are not playing fluently.  That is not to say that the side didn't play well, but the chances were few and far between and only the goal-scoring brilliance of Jermain Defoe turned this into a win, when it looked like we would have trouble scoring at all.  That was particularly true when Kanoute came on, as he looked lethargic and not the player we saw this time last season.  Even the pairing of Keane and Defoe did not appear to work and the lack of a decent supply to them meant that they were restricted to fighting for scraps off high balls pumped forward.

Luckily for Spurs, the defence have become a compact unit with Naybet doing the simple things well and Ledley King dominating in the middle of the back four.  Both Pamarot and Edman are tough tacklers and use the ball well out of defence, but they will become even better as they become more accustomed to their team-mates and the style of play Jacques and Martin Jol want.  

With Naybet taking over from Gary Doherty by throwing blocks in front of shots (preventing Forssell this time with a last ditch effort) and King winning the majority of balls in the air, the pairing look solid and they are obviously helping each other out there.  In midfield there is also a solidity with Davis and Mendes in the middle sewing up the loose balls and getting back in front of the defence when need be.  Mendes is settling in well and he is showing the expansive passing that opens play up on the wings, while Davis demonstrates the skill of holding onto the ball in tight situations and running past players with it.  He made several very perceptive runs through the Birmingham defence, but was not spotted by the player in possession and once he gets the supply to match those runs, I am sure more opportunities will come his way.

The side seemed happy enough to sit back and get two rows of four in front of the ball when Brum attacked.  This made things very difficult for them, especially when Jackson and Edman doubled up on Gronkjaer to make it difficult for him to get crosses in.  It showed that Chris Hughton and the management had done their homework well in tying up the wide men for the visitors.  This did allow Birmingham a lot of possession in the final quarter of the match and as Fredi failed to hold the ball up front, it meant  a lot of pressure on the Spurs goal, but Robinson did not have a shot to save all game and the best opportunity for Heskey was a headed kicked away on the post by Brown with Robinson having it covered anyway.  Brown had a very good game.  Although rumour indicates that Forest want him as part of the Andy Reid deal, I would be more inclined to offer Jackson, who looks out of sorts at the moment.  Michael Brown is not a flashy player, but in the context of the side being assembled, he is vital in the amount of work he gets through and the tackles he gets in.  We don't have another player like him (although Mark Hughes might become one), so to let him go would be a mistake in my opinion.

The only other chances Birmingham created were a header by Heskey from a dead ball that flew inches over and Johnson had a long range shot that dipped just over the bar.  Spurs did make a few chances, but the one that should have ended up with a free-kick right on the edge of the area finished with the rookie ref booking Defoe for diving.  Not sure that was the case, as it looked on first viewing as though he was caught and a goal then, just after the first, would have sealed the win and made the second half a lot more comfortable for Tottenham.  Two further shouts for penalties after fouls on Keane went unnoticed by the referee (although I hesitate to call him that).  Brown shot wide when he had wriggled through and Jackson failed to connect properly with a cross from the former Sheffield United midfielder that flew over Taylor's head.  The keeper did enough to get in the way of Jackson's effort though.

The goal when it came just past the half-hour was class.  Pamarot played the ball infield to Defoe 35 yards out.  He moved neatly between two markers and then ran inside to towards the 'D'.  He ten spun away from Cunningham and hit his shot as Upson stuck out a leg, which flicked the ball, but nothing was going to stop it being buried in Taylor's left hand corner of the net.  Jermain showed he ahs the talent to make a goal out of nothing and he also put in a hell of a lot of work in closing down their defenders when they had the ball.  No wonder he has been tired !!

A really good team performance and I am sure that the need to get early points on the board has been stressed to the players and that is why they are battling so hard.  They will need to keep that up as the season progresses and with two games against Chelsea and Man U to come in the next month, it will show what progress we have made against the top sides.

Pete Stachio

30.09.04

There were two things I loved on Saturday.

1.    When a long kick upfield by Robinson (and boy can he kick the thing) found Defoe on the 'D' outside the Birmingham penalty area and Jermain killed it instantly and almost made chance for himself, before Melchiot made a very well-timed tackle.  It just shows how important Defoe will be for us.

2.    Jamie Redknapp's appearance as substitute produced a glance at Ledley King, who was wearing the captain's armband and Ledders responded by pulling it further up his sleeve !!  I think that said a lot.

A solid performance and although it is not the Tottenham of old, it is something to witness our team not getting muscled out of it and games like this one, we would have lost in the past.  Long may it continue.

Martin Baddeleigh

30.09.04

Going into this game unbeaten put a lot of expectation onto the Spurs team.  Jackson returned on the left in place of Atouba and new boy Pamarot, the place of the young Ifil.  The start of the game was very reminiscent of two boxers sparring in the opening rounds trying to find out each others weakness.  This can be very boring until a moment of magic, supplied by Defoe made the score one nil to Tottenham.  Defoe jinked past a couple of players, then unleashed a shot that no one could have stopped, deflection or not.  The game ebbed and flowed in both teams' favour after the goal.  Half time arrived and it is now that Tottenham seem to spring into life.

It was however, Birmingham who had got the rocket and they really went for it.  At the end they had three strikers on the pitch and the only real chance Birmingham had was cleared off the line by Brown.  

The defending by Tottenham was solid.  King and Naybet both complementing each other.  If only Naybet was a few years younger.  Edman had another good game, while new boy Pamarot also did well.  The second half saw Arse*al reject Gray push on down the left, but Davis and Pamarot did well to nullify him.  

The squad still needs a few additions and this is borne out by the players on the subs bench.  

Spurs need Davies to come back to play on the right to give the team more balance.  

This was a good game for Tottenham.  In previous seasons we would have succumbed to an equaliser and we might have even lost it, if it had been away from home.  

Things are looking up, but Santini still has a lot of work to do. 

Deano the Yiddo   

 

Other scores this weekend :

Norwich City

1 Arsenal 4 Saturday
Aston Villa 4 Newcastle United 2 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Manchester United 1 Saturday
Chelsea 2 SCBC 1 Saturday

Everton

2 West Bromwich Albion 1 Saturday
Manchester City 4 Charlton Athletic 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 2 Crystal Palace 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Liverpool 0 Sunday
Manchester United 0  Everton 0 Monday
Portsmouth 4 Fulham  3 Monday

 

 

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

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