Looking Forward

 

ARSENAL (Away)

Premier League

Saturday 31st March 2001

And what were the odds that Spurs would be playing Arsenal in a week when Sol Campbell looks like staying at White hart Lane under the new management of Glenn Hoddle ??  And they say that fairytales don't come true ??  We must hope that there is a happy ending to all this though.

David Pleat ends his most recent period in charge of the Spurs team with a tough away trip to the other (dark) side of North London.  He goes boldly without Rebrov, Campbell, Taricco, Thatcher, Carr, Leonhardsen and Sherwood.  So, there could be chances for some youngsters to stake a claim in the bright new future and show the watching Hoddle what they are capable of.  The chance to learn at the master's foot must be very appealing to all those who are currently at Tottenham.

But I imagine that Pleat will not change things very much.  Doherty in at the heart of the defence, with Gardner detailed to man mark Henry should he play as his pace will be dead useful against the flying Frenchman.  Wiltord is a more likely selection as they will not want to risk too many players this weekend.  Bergkamp is probably another cert to start or maybe even the forgotten Kanu.  Ljungberg will play just behind them, alongside Parlour, Lauren and Pires.  Edu is out injured, while a number of players can be expect a rest, including Vieira no doubt.  Hey, if things are really surreal, Stefan Malz might even get a game ... and nobody remembers who he is !!  Jermaine Pennant, who starred for England Under-18's at White Hart Lane last week might get a look in too, if Arsene really wants to give the young kids a good go.  It wouldn't surprise me if Pleat showed off some of his young signings and gave Davies and Etherington a chance to play together in the first eleven before the reins are snatched back off him.

The Arsenal defence is rumbling at the foundations with Adams, Keown and Upson all out injured for long periods and the first two are unlikely to be risked in Saturday's derby .  Grimandi (by name grim defender by nature), Luzhny, Silvinho, Stepanovs, Vivas, Cole and Dixon are all dodgy in one way or another.  Any combination of these could leave openings to be used to crack the back line, but Spurs will have to make the most of the possession they get and create enough for our forwards to have a go.  As always, it will be tight n terms of a battle rather than in terms of goals, although I don't  consider this to be set for a glut of them.

With Wenger having been Hoddle's mentor at Monaco, it is just as well that Glenn will not be there to show his hand before the FA Cup semi-final.  But, that may well leave Spurs open to being beaten which will mean nothing in terms of the following week, as there will be sides out there on Saturday which bear no resemblance to those who will run out at Old Trafford on Sunday 8th April.  Lots of passion, lots of energy and lots of unfamiliar faces, leading to ...

PREDICTION : -  Arsenal 1  Tottenham  0

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

 

 

Arsenal  2   Tottenham  0   -  Saturday 31st March 2001

Weather : -  Mostly dry, sunny, some light rain.
Crowd : -  38,121
Referee : -  Paul Durkin (Poole)
Scorers : -  Arsenal:  Pires 71, Henry 89
                      Spurs : None

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon (Luzhny 82), Keown, Adams, Cole, Vieira, Parlour, Lauren (Kanu 67), Pires, Henry, Wiltord.
Subs Not Used : Manninger, Ljungberg, Edu.

Tottenham: Sullivan, Gardner, Young, Doherty, Perry, Thelwell, Freund, Iversen, Davies (Etherington 78), Korsten (Piercy 66), Ferdinand.
Subs Not Used : Walker, Hillier, Ferguson.

The return of God as the new Tottenham manager was one of a number of events that overshadowed this game.  The semi-final next week was clearly in everyone’s mind.  David Pleat in his caretaker role as manager was forced to line up with a very inexperienced side due to the already extensive injury list being added to during the midweek Internationals.  The day started with the sad announcement of the death of former Arsenal hero David Rocastle.  A minute’s silence in his memory was observed before the kick off by both sets of fans.  The Highbury announcer thanked the Tottenham fans for their participation and respect.  Glenn Hoddle and his assistant John Gorman took their places in the stand to rousing cheers from the Spurs fans and jeers from the home support. For Tottenham Gardner made his full debut on the left side of a back three with Doherty and Perry. There was an unfamiliar look about the midfield where Freund in his central holding role was supported by Davies and Thelwell. Young and Iversen were the wingbacks. Korsten was back to partner skipper Les Ferdinand up front. The bench was dominated by youth with Etherington, Piercy, Hillier and Ferguson all getting a chance to sample the North London derby atmosphere.

Spurs started well enough and had their fair share of early exchanges. It was however difficult to see this young side coping with the threat from Henry and Wiltord. With some good fortune, dogged and determined tackling and hard work all round Spurs kept a clean sheet in the first half. Indeed but for a last ditch tackle on Davies when he had weaved his way through to create an opening the visitors could have nicked the lead. Sullivan made a number of solid saves. The second half saw Arsenal gradually up the tempo. Spurs had a short spell of pressure and Young was put in by Ferdinand only to see his effort spiral past the post from another last gasp deflection. Gradually the young Tottenham side was forced to defend deeper. Sullivan continued to stop everything coming at him. Chris Perry made some excellent tackles and interceptions playing in a head bandage administered at half time. The deadlock was finally broken when Pires surprised everyone by cutting inside and curling a shot into the net. Arsenal continued to waste chances. (I hope their forwards are as poor next week) With only three minutes left Etherington was dispossessed by Vieira in a situation where the referee could have given a foul. He didn’t and Gardner in his attempt to tackle played in Henry. The Arsenal man teased Perry before sliding past Sullivan. A disappointing result, but plenty for the Spurs youngsters to take from the game. Gardner had a promising debut and Davies created some openings. Thelwell did well in an unfamiliar position. It was however annoying to see Korsten still not putting in the effort demanded and after his vain attempt to beat Seaman to a through ball Pleat decided enough was enough and replaced him. I can not understand Korsten. Here was his big chance to impress his new manager in a North London derby and he again played as if it didn’t matter. The Spurs fans did not seem too upset by the defeat realising that next week is more important to them. They are also clearly looking forward to the Hoddle era and David Buchler's objective of galvanising the fans behind the club looks a viable one. As for the Arsenal fans they were at their worst. The Library was quiet for long spells and only when they took the lead did they come to life. Then we were taunted with chants of “40 years” and "You’ve got your Tottenham back”.  I am sure those taunts would have hurt the players and Glenn as much as it did the fans.  Sooner or later revenge will be sweet.  Let us hope it starts next week in Manchester.  Finally it is good to report that a song which has been missing from the Tottenham faithful is now back.  I refer of course to “Glenn Hoddle’s blue and white army"

MEHSTG TOP MAN – NEIL SULLIVAN 

Eric the Viking

 

Can You Come Back Next Week ?

 

For all the excitement of the North London derby, this match was played out in near silence a lot of the time.  The well observed minute's silence (by both sets of fans) for the Arsenal midfielder David Rocastle who had died that day set the tone for the home crowd.  Not that there was a lot to get excited about.  Henry hitting the post after optimistic appeals for a penalty after the ball ran into Gary Doherty's back while he was on the floor.  Sullivan pulling of a number of easy saves and a couple of difficult ones.  Davies having a shot deflected wide by a Gooner defender and Seaman having a pretty easy afternoon when it came to shot stopping.

With Spurs reduced by injury to playing a subs bench consisting of Ian Walker, one player who has made a handful of appearances, another who has made a few less and couple of players who have yet to get a taste of first team action, it was always going to be a struggle.  Arsenal had most of their first team out on the pitch and so, it was all a matter of timing.  The time of the first goal that is and it was a surprise and a tribute to the stolid defending of the Spurs team (not just the back line) that it took so long coming.  When it did, the second was also on the cards and when Matty lost the ball in the centre of the pitch, Henry was set free one-on-one with Perry (wearing a fetching hair band for the second half after a clash of heads in the first).  The rest is history and that is what this game will be consigned to.  With all eyes on Hoddle in the stand (where he was sitting with former chairman Irving Scholar and John Gorman) and the FA Cup semi-final next week, the match didn't really mean as much as it normally should.

No psychological advantage will have been gained by the Gooners for taking this match, especially as few of the Spurs team will be running out at Old Trafford next week.  That is the match that matters to Spurs and if Glenn is in charge, then it will start a bright new future if we win and a new future if we don't.

Good performances from Neil Sullivan in particular, Anthony Gardner, Chris Perry, Simon Davies and Gary Doherty helped buoy the spirits a bit.  Korsten started and it took me while to notice that he had been substituted - that's how much I missed him !!  The only thing to get annoyed about was Freund's booking, when he won the ball against Pires and picked up a  yellow card from Paul Durkin.  Just before that, Vieira had gone down like a sack of spuds in the box after getting past two players, even though he was nowhere near a defender.  Surely that was worth a yellow Mr. Durkin ???

It was only left for Olympic Gold medal boxer Audley Harrison to make a substitute appearance for his loving Arsenal ... oh, no.  He was still in the crowd and it was actually Kanu who came on.  Still, you wouldn't be surprised to see a boxer in the Arsenal team now would you ??

East Stan

 

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