Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 5th May 2001

It seems like Leicester City have really gone to pieces after their FA Cup exit at the hands of Wycombe Wanderers.  They have had their worst ever run in the Premiership with eight straight defeats, which could be made worse on Saturday when Tottenham travel to Filbert Street.

With Tim Flowers suffering what seems to be an arthritic condition in his hip, Simon Royce has been handed the gloves to keep goal and has done alright, but he does not command his defence as well as the number one choice.  If Flowers is selected, then Spurs should work him to see how mobile and flexible he is.  Royce can produce stunning reflex saves, but looks vulnerable in the air.

In defence the Foxes will miss the solid, but slightly "over exuberant" Gerry Taggart, who is missing with an injured knee.  Matt Elliott is another pillar of the defence, adding height at set pieces and taking everything in the air in central defence, but he is out for the rest of the season - a knee injury victim.  This leaves them a bit light in the centre of defence and as  Les' hat trick in the home match this season showed, he can still cause problems for defenders.  Gary Rowett started the season quite well, but appears to have lost his way a bit lately.  While Spurs are short up front, this might not be of great consequence, but Rebrov could play on his shoulder and would be better suited to that tactic than trying to win balls in the air against Elliott.  Calum Davidson has also played in the middle of the back four, but may be out with an injured ankle.  Frank Sinclair could feature in the back line, as could youngsters Tommy Goodwin and Damien Delaney, who have played lately in the absence of more experienced staff.

Hopefully, Robbie Savage will be playing as it will focus the fans energy into getting behind the team and at him too.  The blonde tart has one line of attack and that is to try and wind players up into getting sent off.  He is, in my opinion, a very ordinary player who has been fortunate to play at the top level.  Alongside him, Matthew Jones, signed from Leeds United, will be missing with an injury aggravated while playing for Wales (thanks for that info Chris) and Steve Guppy is getting a game every now and then, but looks a shadow of his self from a couple of years ago, when he worried defences and put in dangerous crosses.  Muzzy Izzet is out too with a calf injury, with Stefan Oakes (out of favour) and Andy Impey (adding some width) as possibles, but Taylor's most recent signings Lee Marshall and Junior Lewis are almost certain to be fielded in the middle of the park.  It is the transfer of players like these that have infuriated some of the Leicester fans as they see them as not of the quality they deserve.

Ade Akinbiyi was Peter Taylor's big money signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers that hasn't really hit it off (yet).  He has strength and pace, although perhaps his touch isn't quite good enough for the Premier League, while his partner up front  - Trevor Benjamin - has fallen on his feet ... or more precisely his backside more often than he has hit the target this season.  The partner most likely to play with him is Dean Sturridge, who still possesses damaging pace and a good finish despite not being the player he was five years ago at Derby County.  Darren Eadie is a decent player, although he has been out injured of late, as he has been for much of the time since his move from Carrow Road.  Arnar Gunnlaugsson is more often used as a substitute, but can surprise teams with his long range and powerful shooting.   Beyond this there is only Lawrie Dudfield, whose  experience has been while on loan at Chesterfield earlier in the season.  Having sold and put out on loan quite a few players this term, the squad has suffered both in quality and quantity.

Tactically, Taylor might know how Glenn will play this game, but he will not be overly familiar with our young team.  Meanwhile, Leicester have shown how fragile their squad is.  On Saturday, they could be further decimated as injuries have struck an already thinning group of players, so it will be fairly evenly matched with Spurs fielding a fair amount of reserves.  With a lack of firepower being Tottenham's problem and because Leicester will be happy to take anything from this match, I conclude that our last away game of the season will end ...

PREDICTION : -  Leicester City 1  Tottenham 1

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



Leicester City  4   Tottenham  2  -  Saturday 5th May 2001

Weather : -  Dry, sunny.
Crowd : -  21,056
Referee : -  Mike Dean (The Wirral)
Scorers : -   Leicester City  -  Rowett 42, Sturridge 56, Guppy 82, Savage (pen) 89.
                       Tottenham  -  Davies 54, Carr 61

Leicester: Flowers, Impey, Sinclair, Rowett (Delaney 81), Guppy, Davidson, Lewis, Savage, Marshall, Sturridge, Akinbiyi (Benjamin 78).
Subs not used: Royce, Jones, Gunnlaugsson.

Tottenham: Sullivan, Carr, Gardner, Young, Thelwell, Leonhardsen, Clemence, Davies, Sherwood, Doherty, Ferdinand.
Subs not used: Walker, Etherington, Toner, McEwen, Piercy.


Although Spurs only had a shadow of their first team out today, they should have had enough nous in the side to hold out for at least a draw against a Foxes side who came into this game on eight straight defeats.  The fact that they were dominating the game when the score was 2-2 and then let it slip to a 2-4 defeat raises a few questions.

The weakness on the left side showed up again, with two of the goals originating from that area.  Young has done well, but Spurs were exposed down that flank and much of that must be put down to Leonhardsen, who spectacularly disappeared in the second half.  Low crosses into the box lead to both goals from Sturridge and Guppy, which also meant that the players were not closely marked.  The first goal was also a result of a number of players not playing to the whistle and asking for a goal kick, believing that the ball had gone out from the cross.  When it was fed onto Rowett, he had space to sweep in a shot that went past Sullivan.  The Spurs keeper did make one other outstanding save from Akinbiyi in the first period to preserve Spurs' goal and Leicester failed to capitalise on the possession they had as Spurs stood off them and let them dominate.

The goal had come at the other end of a half that had seen Sturridge hit the bar with a header within a couple of minutes, but it bounced down and out.  Apart from that there was not a great deal to get excited about.  Sherwood hit a 20 yard shot low towards the Leicester goal and Flowers got down to it, but most of what Leicester did was through long balls to Akinbiyi, who was well shepherded by Gardner.  Apart from the linesman doing the half Spur were attacking in getting his flag up more often than the Buckingham Palace flagpole, there was little to get het up about.

The second half was in contrast to the first.  Spurs had started so slowly against a team that had been on a losing streak and that allowed the home side to take some of the initiative.  The start of the second period saw Spurs get a corner and keep up a bit of pressure, which eventually paid off when Carr got the ball on the right and passed to Davies standing on the edge of the area.  He turned into the box, past his man and hit a shot across Flowers for the equaliser.  The joy didn't last more than a minute though.  A break down the Tottenham left led to an unchallenged Impey putting in a low cross that Sturridge converted with a back-heel at the near post.  It was a poor goal to concede, especially just after we had scored and it was to be a warning of things to come.  Even more so when the same player was unmarked in front of goal and Sully turned his two yard volley away.

Spurs had to steady the ship and a long ball out of defence saw Ferdinand get climbed all over, but this time Mike "The Wirral" Dean, actually gave Spurs a free-kick.  This was greeted by the petulant Savage Welshman by kicking the ball away.  Seeing as how he had got away with a scything challenge on Sherwood ("that could have finished his season" one wag behind us said !), it was amazing that he went into the ref's book for this "dissent".  Of course, this meant that the ball was moved ten yards nearer to the goal and with Clemence and Carr over the ball, I didn't have much hope that anything would come from it.  I was so wrong when Clemence ran over the ball and Stephen Carr bent it over the wall and into the top left hand corner of the goal !!  It was a very good free-kick and I think that should sort out who takes them in future.

At this stage, it looked like we would go on and win the match as the ball was being passed around nicely and players were moving into space to receive it.  Another foul gave Carr the chance to repeat his goal and he tried for the other corner this time, but the ball flew about six inches over the bar.  Without creating many clear chances, Spurs were on top, but a breakaway down the Spurs left again ended with Impey putting in a low ball, which was cleared to Sturridge.  His first time swinger across the six yard box found it's way to the far post, where Guppy nipped in without a Spurs man on him to score from three yards out.  Another sloppy goal conceded and now Leicester were in front for the third time.  Making the game safe was certain when the Foxes got a penalty in the last minute; Davidson going down under challenge from Carr and Thelwell that looked nothing more than obstruction.  Even then, Spurs could have pulled one back, but Les produced an unbelievable header to an invisible team-mate, when he was unmarked right in front of goal.  Someone asked "Are we in for another two years of that ?"

The disappointing thing about this game is that it was there for the taking.  Leicester are a poor side at the best of times and Spurs should have gone at them from the off.  Sherwood did OK today, but as the game went on his stamina waned and he was found out when he couldn't keep up with one of the decidedly one-paced Leicester midfielders.  Leo had a decent enough first half, but I can't remember him making a notable contribution in the second and Davies and Clemence both buzzed around with varying degrees of success.  Thelwell looked reasonably sound, but was out-muscled on some occasions, something that happened to Les a lot and shouldn't with someone of his physique.  Luke Young made a good impression, but had his problems with defending the left flank on his own, while Doherty did well enough up front, but his best position would seem to be in defence.  Standing head and shoulders (literally) above his Spurs team-mates was Anthony Gardner.  Cool and calm he collected most of the balls played forward by City and also used the ball well.  Indeed, when one intended pass came off the side of his boot and went into touch, it was quite a shock.  He could perform well either in place of or alongside Sol in the defence and his growth into the position has been a real bonus for Tottenham.

Although, it may have been typical of Spurs away this season, it was a shame that they couldn't have held on for at least a draw, but still, with all the new players that Hod is looking at, this Spurs side will be back next season and I am sure that, even if only on paper, they will be stronger for it.


Wyart Lane


The City That Time Forgot


An away trip to Leicester is like going back in time about 30 years.  Apart from away Cup ties against teams from lower divisions, when was the last time you heard fans go "Oooooooooooooh, you're S**t !!" when a goalkeeper takes a goal-kick and then keep it going for up to 3 minutes afterwards ??  This is only one example of the fine repertoire of songs and chants that the Leicester City fans came out with during our visit there.  Perhaps it is just an attempt to recreate their glory days of the 70's and 60's, as many of them were wearing retro shirts, especially the child of about 17 who was in the front row and spent most of his time standing on the advertising hoardings and shouting indecipherable (perhaps due to his local accent) taunts aimed at the Spurs fans.  He was out of his head on something, much like his two friends who 
a)   shouted into his mobile phone for the majority of the match
b)   stood swaying for the whole of the first half, before disappearing below the line of sight and then had to be carried out by the stewards after half-time, despite him trying to fight the three men in fluorescent bibs who were trying to help him.    Hs friend a) stood there a full three minutes before realising that b) had been removed and retro man had gone with him !!  The day was only brightened when the Northern Comic behind us (who at one stage I thought was Bernard Manning form the sound of him) made a series of cutting remarks - mainly about our captain for the match.  Obviously not one of Tim's greatest fans !!

To a certain extent they were more entertaining than the match in the first half.  Sturridge hit the bar early on and they scored near the end of the half, but apart from that, we had to content ourselves with singing "Robbie Savage, Robbie Savage, he's got foot and mouth" (to the tune of "He's got a big fat wife").  It was also nice to hear another chant from the past - the 80's reprise of "Sex case, Sex case, Hang him, Hang him, Hang him", which was also aimed at our favourite Fox.  The assistant linesman was sharp with his flag and there were a procession of offsides, but little else to brighten the proceedings in the spring sunshine.  In fact, the "Tony" who left our block with 33 minutes gone to go to the pub, as he couldn't stand the nail-biting tension of whether Spurs would get a result to finish 10th or 11th, did the right thing.

The second half started better for Spurs with a period of pressure paying off when Carr fed the ball onto Davies, just inside the box.  He turned and smashed the ball past Flowers in the Leicester goal.  However, it was like the bad old days, when we let Sturridge back-heel another at the near post straight away.  Homme Savage let Spurs back into it by kicking the ball away after a free-kick had been given and Carr curled the dead ball over the wall into the net after the ref had moved it ten yards closer to the goal.  Spurs then started to knock the ball about a bit, although Stephen Carr's next free-kick went narrowly over the bar and failed to give us the lead, but it was the home side who went on to win.  Another right wing cross found it's way to the far post, where Guppy was allowed to run in unmarked to score their third.

It was disappointing that at 2-2, there only looked like one team who would go on to win it, but that wasn't the side who eventually did.  That was infuriating enough as Leicester are nothing more than an average team and they only had half their normal side out too !!  To add to that the Leicester Tigers egg-chasing team were also playing at home, just up the road and getting out of the god-forsaken place that is Leicester took an hour.

The imperfect end to an imperfect day.  At least the sun was shining and our future, although Hod has a lot of hard work to do, looks brighter than that of the Foxes side, who probably wish they could turn the clock back, like their Police, who made sure some Spurs fans missed the start of the game and then we saw them marching them to the station after the match.  Come on Leicestershire Constabulary ... that's soooooo 1970's !!

Benny The Ball


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