Friday, September 09, 2011

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur Preview

Spurs Enter the Wolves' Den

After the mauling they've taken in their opening two League games against the strength of Manchester, Tottenham have to prepare for a trip to Molineux and the combative side that Mick McCarthy will have lying in wait for them.

Of the four matches that these two teams have played since Wolves returned to the Premier League, Spurs have won only one, when three late goals at White Hart Lane last September retrieved a difficult situation for them - a penalty, 13 minutes from time and two goals in the last three minutes gave Spurs the three points.

Mick McCarthy's side have started well this season with two wins and a draw and sit fifth in the early Premier League table.  They defeated Blackburn Rovers 2 - 1 at Ewood and followed that with a 2 - 0 home victory over Fulham who had returned from their Europa League game in Ukraine the previous Thursday.  They played a scoreless draw against Midlands rivals, Aston Villa in their last League match and progressed in the Carling Cup with a comprehensive four goal win at Northampton Town.

Confidence will be high in the Wolves camp where the manager strengthened his side during the summer with the acquisition of Roger Johnson from Birmingham and Spurs will face former player, Jamie O'Hara, for the first time as his loan deal was made permanent for £5 million.  Spurs know what to expect from Wolves - they will be hard-working, denying Spurs time and space to play the ball and they will be looking to hit them quickly to prevent them from settling into the game and with a striker who will work tirelessly constantly looking to keep the Tottenham defence on high alert.   This is exactly how Wolves have played it in the past two seasons and it has been very effective.  Another player with Tottenham connections who was among the Wolves substitutes for their last game is Michael Kightly who was a schoolboy at Spurs but was released.  He worked his was back with Southend United and Gray's Athletic before joining Wolves in 2008 and helping them to promotion two years ago.

Last Season's Results:
Last season's visit to Molineux in March was full of emotion and controversy as both set of fans paid tribute to the late Dean Richards who had passed away and then the match turned up a number of interesting issues.  Wolves showed their never give up spirit, twice coming back to level the score and earn a 3 - 3 draw with a late goal.  This was quite a fortuitous point for Spurs, who could easily have lost.  Wolves went ahead from a penalty but Alan Hutton could easily have been dismissed, having committed the foul.  Later, as Wolves chased an equaliser, they had a goal disallowed for a foul on Gomes which was a decision that went in Spurs' favour.

Defoe - scored twice last year
The match saw two strikers who had a very poor goal scoring record last year, suddenly find their touch.  Spurs were content with Jermain Defoe's two goal strike but disappointed that Kevin Doyle's two goals helped secure Wolves' point.  Doyle and Matt Jarvis who both scored against Fulham always cause Spurs problems.  Pavlyuchenko restored Tottenham's lead just after half-time while substitute Stephen Fletcher headed a late equaliser.

Spurs' home win saw Rafael Van der Vaart score his first goal for Spurs from the penalty spot following a foul on Hutton as he ran into the penalty area.  The other goals came from Pavlyuchenko and Hutton who again, went on a run into the area and his blocked shot, rebounded against him and into the net.

Team News
Tottenham need a good result from this game and after their poor start have ground to make up.  They will be looking to give debuts to their latest signings, Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor.  Parker will give the team a greater solidity and combative presence in midfield alongside Luka Modric who scored for Croatia in midweek.  However, the Modric may have an 'injury'.  Adebayor will look to lead the line either as a lone striker or in partnership with Defoe and as Van der Vaart is injured Harry Redknapp may resort to the 4 - 4 - 2 formation which was the basis of the success in the season before last when they qualified for the Champions League.

In defence, could Ledley King be about to make a surprise appearance.  After playing in the final two matches of last season, he underwent more surgery during the summer and missed pre-season.  He is reported to have played in a behind closed doors match and Tuesday and didn't play for the Spurs XI on Wednesday, so the question arises is he fit to play or injured again?

Last win at Molineux
Tottenham have found Wolves a difficult side since their return to the Premier League two season ago.  However, prior to that they were quite successful on their travels there.

Mar. 2011 PL Draw 3 - 3 Defoe (2), Pavlyuchenko
Feb. 2010 PL Lost 0 - 1
May, 2004 PL Won 2 - 0 Keane, Defoe
Feb. 1996 FA Cup Replay Won 2 - 0 Rosenthal, Sheringham
Oct. 1983 1st Div Won 3 - 2 Archibald (2), Falco
Sept. 1981 1st Div Won 1 - 0  Galvin

Players Who Have Played for Both Clubs
Jamie O'Hara, Robbie Keane, Dean Richards, Steffan Iversen, Alan Nielsen, Andy Sinton, Hans Segers, Steve Sedgley, Vinny Samways, Paul Stewart, Gordon Smith and Mark Kendall.

Glenn Hoddle is a past manager of both clubs.

Memorable Matches
2003 - 04 PL (h) Won 5 - 1 Keane (3), Kanoute, Dalmat
1981 - 82 (1st Div) Won 6 - 1 Villa (3), Falco, Hoddle (p), Crooks Official opening of the West Stand
1971 - 72 UEFA Cup Final (1st Leg) Won 2 - 1  Martin Chivers scored two great goals to put Spurs on road to glory.
1920 - 21 FA Cup Final @ Stamford Bridge Won 1 - 0 Dimmock
1908 - 09 (2nd Div) (h) Won 3 - 0 Morris, Woodward (2)  Tottenham's first game in the Football League, Vivian Woodward scored Spurs' first goal in League football - it all started with Wolves 


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