Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spurs Home Record Against Swansea

Tottenham meet Swansea in the League at White Hart Lane for the first time since season 1982-83.  It will be the first Premier League meeting and only the third game played in the top flight of English football.  They have met on thirteen previous occasions in the League with eleven of the matches being in the old 2nd Division.

Swansea have never won in the League at White Hart Lane - Spurs have won their last ten home matches against Swansea and will be hoping to maintain that record as they endeavour to hunt down Arsenal and a third place finish to the season.  Swansea were difficult opponents on New Year's Eve at the Liberty Stadium and will again be looking to upset Spurs in their first season in the Premier League which sees them in tenth position with 39 points.

Added interest to the game is the media speculation that the Swansea manager, Brendan Rodgers, may be a candidate for the position at White Hart Lane, should Harry Redknapp accept an offer to manage England.  My view on such an appointment is that while Rodgers has had an excellent season with Swansea, I'd prefer to see how he copes next season when opponents have a better understanding of how his team will play.

Home League Record against Swansea 
P  13  W  11  D  2  L  0  For  42  Ag  10  

Last Home League Match against Swansea 
Feb. 1983  1st Div.  Won  1 - 0  Crooks
Swansea were relegated after only two seasons in the 1st Division while Spurs were to finish fourth behind Liverpool, Watford and Manchester United.  Having lost in Swansea earlier in the season Spurs were grateful to the Garth Crooks goal which gave them the three points, heading in from a cross by Terry Gibson.

Previous League Matches at White Hart Lane
May, 1982  1st Div.  Won 2 - 1  Brooke (2) (1 pen)
In their first season in the 1st Division Swansea, after winning promotion in three successive seasons, had a very credible year, finishing in 6th position.  Spurs were fourth behind Liverpool, Ipswich and Manchester United with Arsenal fifth.  Spurs had lost at Swansea in late September but two Garry Brooke goals won them the points at White Hart Lane.  

Dec. 1949  2nd Div.  Won 3 - 1  Bennett, Duquemin (2)
Spurs won promotion as Arthur Rowe's 'Push and Run' side with Bill Nicholson, Ron Burgess, Eddie Baily and Alf Ramsey started out on their way to two successive championships.  Spurs fans were hard to please even in those days as they felt the team had an 'off-day'.  Spurs hit the woodwork twice and had two near misses before Len Duquemin headed them into the lead after fifteen minutes.  Swansea drew level after an hour but two rather fortunate goals, resulting from goalkeeping errors, scored by Les Bennett and Duquemin gave them the win.

Jan. 1947  2nd Div. Won 3 - 1  Bennett, Dix, Whitchurch
Swansea were relegated at the end of the season.  Charlie Whitchurch was a winger who made eight League appearances for Spurs, scoring twice and his goal against Swansea was the second of these.  He played in the next match which was to be his last for Spurs, being released at the end of the season.

Three Memorable Wins
Nov. 1931  2nd Div.  Won 6 - 2  Davies (2), Hunt, O'Callaghan, W.Evans (2)
Spurs and Swansea first met in season 1928-29 and on two of their first three visits to White Hart Lane, Swansea earned a point.  That changed, however, in 1931-32, when they suffered a heavy defeat to a Spurs side which scored 87 League goals that year.  It was a memorable day for Willie Evans who made his debut at outside-left (left wing), scoring twice.  George Hunt, 'Taffy' O'Callaghan and Willie Davis (2) scored the other goals.  It could have been worse for Swansea, Port Vale were the next visitors and they lost 9 - 3.

Dec. 1932  2nd Div.  Won 7 - 0  O'Callaghan, Hunt (2), Greenfield (2), W. Evans (2) (1 pen)
Swansea's next visit was even worse as Spurs headed towards promotion, finishing second behind Stoke City. George Greenfield who scored twice was a young player but having become established in the team, he broke his leg in the next match against Fulham and never fully recovered.  Willie Davies scored 28 goals in the League, eleven from the penalty spot.

Nov. 1935  2nd Div.  Won 7 - 2  Fulwood (pen), Morrison (2), G.W.Hall (3), W.Evans
Swansea were not finding White Hart lane a welcoming ground with their third successive heavy defeat.  Although the personnel had changed from the earlier matches, Spurs remained dominant and were 3 - 1 ahead at the interval.  Willie Davies who had scored twice for Spurs in 1931 was now with Swansea and played on their right wing.  This wasn't Spurs biggest home win of the season as they defeated Southampton 8 - 0 the following March.

Spurs will be looking for a win tomorrow to draw level on points with Arsenal but a win similar to the 1930s results would be very acceptable and enable them to reclaim third on goal difference.  Here's hoping.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tottenham 3 Bolton 1 FA Cup 6th Round

Spurs progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Cup with an impressive win over Bolton, although it took quite some time for the goals to arrive.  Chelsea await at Wembley and Spurs will be looking to improve their disappointing record in FA Cup semi-finals, having lost five since defeating Arsenal in 1991.

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Bolton Wanderers 1
Scorers: Nelsen, Bale, Saha                        Davies
Team: Cudicini; Walker, Nelsen, King, Assou-Ekotto; Modric, Livermore, Parker (Defoe), Bale; Van der Vaart (Rose); Adebayor (Saha)  Subs: (unused) Friedel, Kaboul, Kranjcar, Giovani

With only sixteen minutes remaining it was incredulous that the match remained without a goal.  Tottenham had totally dominated the match and peppered the Bolton goal but were unable to get past goalkeeper, Adam Bogdam.  He kept Bolton in the game with a series of saves and blocks while Spurs also managed to hit the bar, put shots narrowly past the woodwork or simply failed to capitalise on the chances they created as they continued with their tendency in recent games of  numerous attempts on goal without actually scoring.  In the end the breakthrough goal came from an unlikely source and player.

Pre-match, both clubs and supporters acknowledged the work of the medical staff and emergengy services at the previous meeting when Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during the match.  There is much relief from the footballing community that he is making steady progress on his road to recovery.  Harry Redknapp had put out a strong team, Carlo Cudicini continued in his role of FA Cup goalkeeper while Ledley King and Ryan Nelson took over in central defence.  Jake Livermore replaced Sandro in midfield and Jermain Defoe remained a substitute as the rest of the team which drew with Chelsea re-appeared to maintain the momentum gained from that performance.

The first seventy minutes were a catalogue of missed chances by Spurs - Gareth Bale had shots saved and past the post, Livermore had a shot saved and the rebound from Luka Modric was also saved by Bogdam.  Scott Parker had a shot saved after he worked his way into the heart of the Bolton defence. Rafael Van der Vaart had a free-kick hit the bar and he also has a shot saved when put through by Emmanuel Adebayor who was also thwarted when put through one on one with the goalkeeper by Modric.  Ledley King had a header saved and so on top were Spurs that at times from before half-time Ryan Nelsen was even pushing forward to support the attack.  

Bolton rarely threatened and had all eleven players back defending as the pressure increased and at times Spurs had four players spread across the pitch in attack - Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto wide on the wings with  Modric, Bale or Van der Vaart alternating in support of Adebayor.  

Then out of the blue, Bolton got forward, with King trying to play offside, but Cudicini dealt comfortably with the situation.  As time went on fans were getting resigned to Spurs not getting the breakthrough their play deserved and when Defoe appeared on the touchline their was an appreciative roar.  Within a minute of coming on Defoe with his first meaningful contribution was to be the key which unlocked the visitors' defence.  He didn't score but his shot was touched away for a corner by the goalkeeper.

The pressure had been building but that corner was the beginning of the end of Bolton resistance as they conceded three successive corners, unable to clear the ball successfully.  From the third Spurs scored - a collector's item - a goal from a corner, a rarity for Spurs, a headed goal, not too many of those this season, and the scorer was Nelsen who rose through a crowd of players at the back post to head past the goalkeeper - his first goal for Spurs.

Two minutes later  as Spurs broke quickly from defence, Adebayor and Defoe linked with Defoe setting up Bale to score the second.  Bale had another shot just wide but with a series of substitutions, Spurs were content to play out time with little threat from Bolton.  Then with three minutes left, a cross from the right was touched by Nelsen and Kevin Davies knocked it back past Cudicini.

No real alarm and Louis Saha showed Spurs how to score in the final minute with a goal in the final touch of the game.  Against Chelsea, Van der Vaart at the interval and Bale at full time had the opportunity of a late score but failed.  This time Saha receiving the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the penalty area, turned and shot past Bogdam - the last action of the match.

Spurs deserved their win, it was, in the end, quite comfortable even if we did have to wait a long time for the goals to arrive.  Spurs were much more purposeful in their play with their passing and movement back to something like what they were producing earlier in the season.  Chelsea now await in the semi-final and with the Merseyside clubs contesting the other semi, it it's set to be a London/Liverpool final at Wembley.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Tottenham v Bolton 1948 FA Cup Match Report

Tottenham and Bolton meet on Tuesday at White Hart Lane in their re-arranged FA Cup 6th Round tie which was abandoned  a week ago on Saturday because of the cardiac arrest suffered by Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton midfield player.  At the time as the medical staff worked with him on the pitch and as he was carried to the ambulance, there were very grave concerns about him but thankfully he has taken remarkable early steps in his recovery and all wish him continued progress in the coming weeks.

Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur  FA Cup 3rd Round 1947 - 48

While writing the previous article for this blog, Spurs FA Cup Record against Bolton, I came across this match report for their 1948 meeting in an old scrapbook which I had bought in an auction at Sportingold.  That season, Spurs who were in the old 2nd Division progressed to the semi-final where they lost out in extra time to Blackpool who had only equalised in the final minutes of normal time.  To reach that stage Spurs had defeated Bolton (a) 2 - 0 (aet), West Bromwich Albion (h) 3 - 1, Leicester City (h) 5 - 2 and Southampton (a) 1 - 0.
Bolton were in the 1st Division and the match was played at their old ground, Burnden Park, where Spurs had won the FA Cup Final in 1901 in a replay against Sheffield United.  In season 1947-48, the football authorities decided to dispense with replays so as to avoid unnecessary absenteeism from work in the early post war years.  As the game was level after ninety minutes, extra time was played.

The following is a transcript of the match report from a newspaper of the time.
10th January, 1948 
Scored When 
On His Knees  
Bolton Wand.  0  Tottenham H.  2 (aet)
Extra time produced the goals and 
most of the thrills at Bolton.  Up
 to the end of the first 90 minutes
 the game was of a rather mediocre
 kind with Spurs definitely revealing
 the greater craft and understanding.
Bolton put in plenty of pressure, 
but made no real impression on a 
strong defence in which Ditchburn 
and Woodward were in masterly form.
When extra time started Spurs 
would have taken the lead on their 
merits but for Brook heading Baily's 
shot away with Hanson yards out of goal.
Almost immediately afterwards, 
however, Atkinson missed his 
tackle and let in Duquemin who 
shot from a splendid goal after running 
30 yards with the ball.
Bolton's strenous efforts to get 
on terms and the constant danger 
from Tottenham breakaways made 
the game end on an exciting note 
and there was a dramatic finale 
when Duquemin went almost on his 
knees to head a second goal almost on time. 
Spurs's only fault was that they 
allowed this match to last too long.  
They were obviously superior to 
Bolton in football art, but with their 
greater speed in attack they should 
have had Bolton's shaky defence 
beaten well inside 90 minutes.
Baily, at inside right, was the 
cleverest forager on the field, and 
both Cox and Stevens were good on 
the wing although the latter faced 
Bolton's best defender in Roberts.

Team: Ditchburn; Tickridge, Buckingham; Nicholson, Woodward, Burgess; Cox, Baily, Duquemin, Bennett, Stevens 

The team contained five of the players who would be part of the successful Tottenham 'Push and Run' side at the turn of the decade - Ted Ditchburn, Bill Nicholson, Ronnie Burgess, Eddie Baily and Len Duquemin. 


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chelsea 0 Tottenham 0

Spurs took a deserved point from Stamford Bridge as they maintained their five point lead over Chelsea.  Although scoreless, after a quiet first half Spurs finished the stronger and had the greater opportunities to win the three points at a ground where they haven't won since 1990.

Chelsea 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Team: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Modric, Parker, Sandro (Livermore), Bale, Van der Vaart (Saha); Adebayor  Subs: (unused) Cudicini, Rose, Nelsen, Kranjcar, Defoe

Tottenham had three changes to the team which took a point from their home match with Stoke City in mid-week.  William Gallas replaced Ledley King with Sandro and Emmanuel Adebayor returning in place of in Niko Kranjcar and Louis Saha.

Spurs started cautiously in the first half, an understandable approach taking into account their recent lack of form and their record at Stamford Bridge. Neither side created many openings in that first period and although Chelsea had a couple of chances which Spurs dealt with, it was Spurs who had the best opportunity of the half in added time.  

Lampard went down as he went through on goal but the referee waved play on and then Drogba got behind the Spurs defence but with three defenders surrounding him, Younes Kaboul recovered to get a foot to the ball and knock it away from danger.  Adebayor made a good break but his cross was too high for an advancing Kyle Walker.  Then in added time, Modric worked his way into the penalty area and pulled the ball back, it was deflected to Rafael Van der Vaart whose powerful shot was blocked by Cech as was the rebound and the next rebound was headed over by Adebayor for the last action of the half.  Van der Vaart's first shot was hit too centrally and straight at the goalkeeper, giving Cech the chance to make the block - a great opportunity missed by Spurs.

Gradually, through the second half the game came more open but apart from a couple of scares, Spurs were quite untroubled and became more positive in their approach and had the best chances to take the points.  Early in the half, Gallas misjudged a high ball from Cech, allowing Drogba to head it on for Sturridge whose shot went across goal and wide - the home team's first attempt on goal after fifty one minutes.

Gareth Bale was starting to have greater influence on the game - he had a shot which went wide and then after a patient build up his run forward and across goal, released Walker whose powerful shot went just past.  Another Bale cross found Adebayor but he slipped as he went to shoot.  From a free-kick Gallas headed just over and then with ten minutes remaining Adebayor was put through by Modric, he rounded the goalkeeper but his shot was blocked by a defender.  From the corner, Bale's header hit the bar and Adebayor headed the rebound over.  Chelsea's response was limited but they did hit the post from a free-kick. 

As the game ended, Spurs finished much stronger with a series of free-kicks and corners increasing the pressure on Chelsea and in added time a Bale free-kick was saved by Cech for a corner.

Tottenham had nineteen attempts on goal with seven on target compared to Chelsea's ten and five on target.  Cech was the much busier goalkeeper being called on to make crucial saves while Friedel had quite a comfortable afternoon.

Tottenham are still seeking their first win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 1990 but at least they took a point with a well organised display which is a bonus in light of recent performances and should boost their confidence for future games as they chase Arsenal for third place and automatic qualification for the Group stages of the Champions League.  If they defeat Bolton on Tuesday evening, Spurs will meet Chelsea at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final tie in mid-April.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Spurs Away Record Against Chelsea

Tottenham's record at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea is horrendous.  They have not won their in any competition since 1990, a total of twenty four matches, twenty one in the League.

Spurs have not won at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League era, they have lost thirteen of the nineteen Premier League matches played but prior to this period Spurs' away record against Chelsea was very good.

Premier League Record at Chelsea
P  19  W  0  D  6  L  13  For  12  Ag  37  

Away Record at Stamford Bridge pre-Premier League (Old 1st & 2nd Div)
P  44  W  19  D  7  L  18  For  67  Ag  56

Overall League Record: 
P  63  W  19  D  13  L  31  For  79  Ag  93

The stats clearly show the dramatic  change in fortunes that has occurred since the arrival of the Premier League.  From a ground where Spurs had a good record, it has become one not to be discussed and will be wheeled out once again on Saturday by commentators and Chelsea fans alike as a reason why the three points are Chelsea's for the taking.  It is hard to argue against such comments but perhaps this is the time to turn it around as both clubs battle, with Arsenal, for the final two places in next season's Champions League.
Gary Lineker's Winning Goal in 1990
Last Season's Match:
Apr. 2011  PL  Lost 1 - 2  Sandro
This match is typical of what has happened to Spurs when facing 'top 4' opposition in recent years.  Spurs had taken a deserved first half lead through a great shot from Sandro, his first goal for Spurs.  It looked as if they were going to have the advantage at the interval until with a minute to go Lampard took a speculative shot from distance.  It should have posed little threat for the goalkeeper, but Heurelho Gomes let it slip through his grasp and roll towards the line.  He managed to retrieve the situation and stopped it crossing the line but the referee's assistant signalled, incorrectly, that it was a goal and Chelsea were level.  This was just the lift that the home team needed, Spurs never regained the ascendancy of the first half but were looking set for a point with a minute to go, only for Chelsea to score from an offside position

Recent Matches at Stamford Bridge
Sept. 2009  PL  Lost 0 - 3
Hopes were high that Spurs could get a result as they had started the season well, suffering only one defeat in their first five matches.  Spurs created early chances without taking any of them but after half an hour Chelsea went ahead.  Early in the second half, Ledley King went off injured and after Spurs were denied a penalty for a foul on Robbie Keane, Chelsea scored two goals in five minutes to secure victory.

Aug. 2008  PL  Draw 1 - 1  Bent
An unexpected result, one of Spurs points in their '2 points from 8 matches' start to the season under Juande Ramos before Harry Redknapp was appointed two months later.  Spurs had lost their opening two games and were behind after half an hour.  They drew level through Darren Bent just before half-time and held on for a point.

Jan. 2008  PL  Lost 0 - 2 
According to Assistant Manager, Gus Poyet, "It was a tight match with not many chances.  Chelsea controlled the game and they are a team that will find a way to score and get the points even when they are not playing well."  A goal in each half secured the points for Chelsea.

Apr. 2007  PL  Lost 0 - 1
Martin Jol's side had played in Seville on the Thursday evening in the UEFA Cup quarter-final match and returned to play the early kick-off game on Saturday.  They lost to a hopeful shot from distance, early in the second half.

Mar. 2006  PL  Lost 1 - 2  Jenas
Another sad tale of so close but so far for Spurs who were trying to hold on to fourth place in the League.  Chelsea were ahead with fifteen minutes but Jermaine Jenas equalised on half-time from a free-kick.  In the final minute of added time, William Gallas, scored with a spectacular shot from distance to deny Spurs.

Sept. 2004  PL  Draw 0 - 0
In the words of Jose Mourinho, Jacques Santini 'parked the bus' in front of the Spurs goal and took a point as Spurs remained undefeated in the opening six matches of the season.  The result demonstrated the defensive strategies of the newly appointed manager.

Sept. 2003  PL  Lost 2 - 4  Kanoute (2)
Spurs took the lead and were comfortable until Chelsea scored twice in two minutes before the interval.  They added a third but Kanoute scored a second with three minutes remaining, only for the home team to score in the final minute.

Feb. 2003  PL  Draw 1 - 1  Sheringham
Teddy Sheringham gave Spurs an early lead but Chelsea drew level direct from a free-kick just before half-time.

Mar. 2002  PL  Lost 0 - 4
Spurs had beaten Chelsea 5 - 1 at White Hart Lane two months earlier in the Worthington Cup semi-final but they extracted ample revenge winning 4 - 0 in both the FA Cup and League in consecutive matches.  This was Spurs third successive four goal defeat in  a week having also lost to Manchester United.

We Can Win There!
Enough of this doom and gloom, Spurs last won at Stamford Bridge in 1990.

10th February, 1990  1st Div.  Won 2 - 1  Howells, Lineker
David Howells and Gary Lineker scored the goals with Lineker heading the winning goal from a Nayim cross with two minutes remaining.  Spurs finished the season in third place.

Nov. 1970  1st Div.  Won 2 - 0  Mullery, Pearce
One of the most enjoyable wins at Stamford Bridge, not for the quality of the football or the game but for the nature of the win.  On a wet day, on a very muddy pitch Spurs scored twice in the final minutes through Alan Mullery and Jimmy Pearce to take the three points.

A Memorable Encounter but Spurs Didn't Win (from ESPN site)
Chelsea 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League, 1993-94)
This was a match that had everything bar quality - a seven-goal thriller decided in the dying seconds between a Chelsea side that had not won for four games and a Spurs side that had lost their previous six.  "There were so many soft goals that it was possible to walk away from Stamford Bridge with the impression both sides had lost," The Guardian reported.

Spurs opened the scoring on 18 minutes through Steve Sedgley, and an unmarked Jason Dozzell instantly doubled their advantage, but goals from Mal Donaghy and Mark Stein - again, unmarked - had made it 2-2 by the 33rd minute, and seven minutes later Chelsea were in front when John Spencer was given the space he needed to strike.

Andy Gray netted an equaliser from the penalty spot on 73 minutes but nine minutes later, presented with his second penalty, Gray's effort was saved by Dmitri Kharine.  To add salt to Gray's wound, Spurs defender Dean Austin fouled Gavin Peacock in injury time, and Stein stepped up to give Chelsea the three points.  "The lasting memories will be of two sides committed totally to attack in the image of their respective managers Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles," the Express said, "although it would contravene the Trades Descriptions Act to say either team fielded a defence."

It Could Only Happen to Spurs
Dec. 1990  1st Div. Lost 2 - 3  Gascoigne, Lineker
This is the first game in that losing sequence, ten months earlier Spurs had won at Stamford Bridge but for this game the signs were not promising from the outset.  On the way to the match the team stopped for lunch at a hotel in Central London.  Their coach was parked illegally, clamped and towed away with the team kit inside.  Subsequently, they arrived late, handed in their team sheet late and were later fined by the Football Association.  On the pitch it wasn't much better as Gascoigne and Lineker's goals weren't enough to take the points.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tottenham 1 Stoke City 1

It took an injury time goal from Rafael Van der Vaart to rescue a point for Spurs after Stoke had taken the lead fifteen minutes from time.  The dropped points mean that Spurs are now in fourth place behind Arsenal who won at Everton.  Late goals by Manchester City hindered Chelsea's assault on fourth and a Champions League place - they are now five points behind Spurs. 

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Stoke City 1
Scorers:   Van der Vaart                     Jerome  
Team: Freiedel; Walker, Kaboul, King (Nelsen), Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar (Defoe), Parker, Modric, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Saha (Giovani)  Subs: (unused) Cuducini, Rose, Sandro, Livermore

A stunning goal from Rafael Van der Vaart in the second minute of added time earned Spurs a point against Stoke and brought to an end their run of three successive Premier League defeats.  It was a moment of rare class and precision as Gareth Bale's cross was met by Van der Vaart who headed into the net, getting in front of the Stoke defenders who to that point had blocked everything that Spurs had put before them.

Spurs started with four changes from the team that faced Bolton in last weekend's abandoned FA Cup tie.  Brad Friedel returned in goal, Younes Kaboul and Ledley King were in central defence while Niko Krnajcar replaced Jermain Defoe.  Stoke were captained by Peter Crouch who was returning to White Hart Lane for the first time since his summer transfer with Wilson Palacios who also started.  The biggest surprise in the Stoke team was the absence of either of their long throw specialists, a tactic which caused Spurs such problems in the game in December.

Stoke started the brighter with Jerome firing in two shots from distance.  Spurs then took control of possession as they did for most of the evening as the statistic of 71% possession over the game illustrates.  In the first half Spurs threat on goal came from a Van der Vaart shot which was just wide and then Luka Modric had two efforts across goal which also passed wide.  Kaboul had a header from a corner which hit the bar after half and hour but Louis Saha was adjudged to have blocked off a defender - quite ironic as Stoke are past masters of such tactics.  Late in the half Saha tested the goalkeeper with a powerful effort but it was saved comfortably.

Defoe was introduced at half-time for Kranjcar and initially seemed to bring some urgency to the team as Bale had a shot deflected for a corner but that quickly faded and for all Spurs possession they weren't really threatening the visitors defence.  Stoke defended in depth with defenders throwing themselves into tackles to block and deny Spurs any sight of goal or the time to create an opening.  

Stoke were always looking to get onto a knockdown from Crouch who constantly provided the outlet for them.  As Spurs built up the pressure with more men pushing forward in attack, Stoke broke at pace to try to take advantage.  Van der Vaart shot wide, Bale's dipping shot hit the bar with the goalkeeper beaten. 

Immediately after this, with fifteen minutes remaining, Stoke were awarded a free-kick on the left.  Huth won the ball in the air and a fortunate deflection off another Stoke player enabled Jerome to touch it past Friedel for Stoke's tenth away League goal of the season.  Spurs were staring at a fourth consecutive defeat for the first time since November, 2004 and Stoke were determined to hold on to their led.  In response to this setback, Bale's shot was blocked by the goalkeeper but Van der Vaart was unable to reach the rebound.

Into injury time and for the first time this season Spurs scored a late goal to salvage something from a lost cause (any other late goals had just consolidated victory).  Bale's excellent cross fizzed on to the head of Van der Vaart who arrived at the near post ahead of the defenders.  The point gained wasn't enough to hold onto the third place which Spurs have filled since their win over Aston Villa in November but it increased the gap over Chelsea whom they meet at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

A memorable season which has promised so much is slowly slipping away from Spurs.  The team, at the moment, seem incapable of rousing themselves to a performance akin to the flowing football that they produced earlier in the season.  The loss of Aaron Lennon to injury has restricted their options and is making it easier for opposing teams to marshal Bale's marauding runs.  Lennon's presence wide on the right, stretched defences and created more space for Bale while, in Lennon's absence, Bale is more prone to roam away from the left wing.  With Lennon and Bale wide on the wings, Spurs are at their most effective and Lennon also contributes defensively to allow Kyle Walker to attack on the right.

Tottenham had 18 attempts on target last night but only scored once, Stoke had two for their only goal.  In the past three games Spurs have had 68 attempts on goal for just two goals - a major cause for concern.

A lack of imagination and urgency in the January transfer window has left Spurs squad short, hit by injuries, Saha and Ryan Nelsen have failed to provide the quality which was needed to take the club that step forward and consolidate on what was then a chance of the title rather than what has now become a scramble to hold on to fourth and Champions League qualification.

This has been a season of many distractions - it started with the Luka Modric saga and the Tottenham riots, there has been the Redknapp court case and the possibility of him leaving at some point for the England manager's role.  At this point the team and manager seem distracted - the team lack inspiration on the pitch and Redknapp seems to have have lost that motivational impetus for which he is highly regarded.  Tottenham teams have so often lacked a player to lift the team on the pitch and that once again seems to be the case.  Rooney, Van Persie, the Chelsea '3', Gerrard and Tevez have all done it in the past and more recently for their teams but Spurs lack that player to step up and lift the team at a time of difficulty.  In last night's only positive, Bale and Van der Vaart combined at the death to rescue a point but it came just a little too late. 

Once again, the next two games against Chelsea and Bolton in the FA Cup are crucial games for Spurs season.  Someone needs to shrug off the disappointments of the past weeks and step up and put themselves forward as the player to lift the team.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spurs v Bolton FA Cup Tie Re-arranged

Spurs  FA Cup 6th Round match against Bolton Wanderers has been re-arranged for Tuesday, 27th March, 2012 with a kick-off time of 7.30pm.  The game is to be televised live on ESPN.

It has been confirmed that the FA Cup 6th Round tie between Tottenham and Bolton Wanderers will be played at White Hart Lane on Tuesday, 27th March at 7.30pm.  The good news that Fabrice Muamba continues to make a remarkable recovery has allowed the clubs and the Football Association to re-arrange the game.

Muamba is still recovering in hospital from his cardiac arrest which caused the original game to be abandoned after 41 minutes last Saturday.  Doctors and medical staff had worked with Muamba on the pitch for over six minutes before he was carried off on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance which rushed him to hospital.

Tottenham's game against Stoke City at White Hart Lane goes ahead as arranged but Bolton's Premier League match with Aston Villa has been postponed.  Bolton will play Blackburn Rovers at the weekend while Spurs meet potential FA Cup semi-final opponents, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

There had been talk of bolton withdrawing from the FA cup so as the players would not have to make such a quick return to White Hart Lane, other suggested on message-boards that the match should be played at a neutral venue but given time, the sensible decision was arrived at with the competition's rules being followed for the re-arrangement of an abandoned game.

The original match which will not included in the record books was standing at 1 - 1 when it was brought to a premature end.  Bolton had taken an early led through a Gareth Bale own goal, when a header from a corner, inadvertently bounced off his right shoulder past Carlo Cudicini.  Spurs were level within five minutes when Bale's left wing cross was headed home by Karl Walker at the back post.

The winners of the tie, which would go to a replay at the Reebox Stadium if this game were drawn, will meet Chelsea in the semi-finals at Wembley on Sunday, 15th April.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Spurs Home Record against Stoke City

After three consecutive defeats in the Premier League Tottenham are looking to get their season back on track by retaining third and the Champions League place it assures.  Having shown recent defensive frailties, the team Spurs would least like to face in such circumstances is Stoke City.  That, however, is exactly what the football fixture computer has decreed for the men from White Hart Lane.

Stoke City are always a difficult side to play with their high energy and forceful style, both defensively and offensively.  Their use of long, high ball tactics are always a source of worry for Spurs and in the first half of the match at the Brittania Stadium in December it was such play that caused Spurs to be two goals down at the interval.  Spurs recent defensive errors and poor marking at set-pieces will be an encouragement to Stoke who prosper at all set-pieces, including throw-ins near the penalty area, with their tall defenders making life very difficult for the defending team.  Former Spurs players, Peter Crouch and Matthew Etherington, will again be looking to do well against Tottenham.

Spurs' greatest motivation for a win, however, will be the way in which they were denied the opportunity to make a fighting comeback after the interval at Stoke and so lost their long unbeaten run as numerous questionable refereeing decisions went against them.

Last Meeting at White Hart Lane:
Apr. 2011  PL  Won 3 - 2  Crouch (2), Modric
Peter Crouch scored twice as Spurs won their first League game since mid-February.  All five goals were scored in the first half with Spurs two ahead through Crouch and Luka Modric within eighteen minutes.  Etherington then ran from the half-way line to pull one back for Stoke after twenty seven minutes.  Crouch scored his second eight minutes later, only for Stoke to score again, four minutes before the interval.  Relief for Spurs to have the win but it didn't mark the start of an exciting end to the season as Spurs struggled to beat teams in the lower regions of the League.

Home League Record against Stoke:
P  36  W  28  D  6  L  2  For  80  Ag  30

Premier League Record against Stoke at White Hart Lane
P  3  W  2  D  0  L  1  For  6  Ag  4

As can be seen, White Hart Lane is not Stoke favourite ground, with only three wins in thirty nine previous visits.  

Previous Games in PL:
Oct. 2009  PL  Lost 0 - 1
Stoke defended in depth with their reserve goalkeeper, Simonsen, who was only drafted in at the last moment, having a match to remember.  Spurs had many opportunities to score but as time wore on they ran out of attacking ideas and with four minutes left Stoke snatched the win. The only other home defeat was in February, 1975 when Stoke won 2 - 0.

Jan. 2009  PL  Won 3 - 1  Lennon, Defoe, Dawson
In their first League game at White Hart Lane since October, 1984, Stoke were three down after twenty five minutes.  Spurs dominated the first half with Aaron Lennon scoring after eight minutes. Jermain Defoe added a second after twenty one and Michael Dawson scored the third four minutes later.  In the second half with over half an hour remaining Stoke pulled one back.  Carlo Cudicini made his Premier League debut for Spurs.

Previous Meetings:
Oct. 1984  1st Div.  Won 4 - 0  Roberts (pen), Chiedozie, Allen, C. (2)
It was Peter Shreeves' first season as manager.  Glenn Hoddle and Clive Allen returned to the Spurs team against bottom club Stoke.  Within six minutes they had combined with Allen putting Spurs ahead.  A few minutes later John Chiedozie scored after a good run and shot.  Stoke were reduced to ten men before the interval and in the second half, Allen scored his second with Graham Roberts scoring a late penalty after a foul on Mark Falco.  The four goals brought Spurs total of League goals at White Hart Lane to 19, from five matches, more than any other team in the four divisions of the Football League.  This is Spurs largest home win over Stoke.

Mar. 1984  1st Div.  Won 1 - 0  Falco (pen)
Spurs were without Hoddle and Steve Archibald but did all the early attacking.  Late in the first half they had their reward when Falco scored with a penalty awarded for a handball offence.

May, 1983  1st Div.  Won 4 - 1  Brazil, Archibald (3)

Oct. 1980  1st Div.  Won 3 - 2  Hughton, Archibald, Taylor (pen)

Mar. 1978  2nd Div.  Won 3 - 1  McAllister, Lee (2)

Oct. 1972  1st Div.  Won 4 - 3  Pratt (2), Gilzean, Coates


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tottenham 1 Bolton 1 (FA Cup Match Abandoned)

The worrying sight of the Bolton player Fabrice Muamba being carried off the White Hart Lane with medical staff working to revive him, overshadowed everything that happened in the previous forty two minutes.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 (Abandoned after 41 mins.)
Scorers:   Walker                             Bale (o.g.)
Team: Cudicini; Walker, Gallas, Nelsen, Assou-Ekotto; Van der vaart, Parker, Modric, Bale; Defoe, Saha  Subs: (unused) Friedel, Rose, Kaboul, Kranjcar, Sandro, Livermore, Giovani

Fabrice Muambe(Bolton W) - all Spurs supporters wish him a speedy recovery
The thoughts of the football world are with Fabrice Muamba and his family as the Bolton player fights for his life in a London hospital.  The coming days are critical for the twenty three year old who collapsed after forty one minutes of the game at White Hart Lane.  The medical staff immediately rushed onto the pitch to work with him and try to revive him.  Players and spectators from both sides were visibly upset by the events that occurred at White Hart Lane.  After treating him on the pitch for six minutes, Fabrice was carried of to a waiting ambulance as both sets of fans chanted his name.

In the match which will now be expunged from the record books, Bolton took the lead after fsix minutes from a corner, the ball deflecting off Gareth Bale's shoulder and into the net.  Spurs threatened and within five minutes were level as Bale's cross to the back post was headed in powerfully by Kyle Walker.

Referee, Howard Webb, abandoned the game having consulted with both managers and players.  A possible date for the match to be played is Tuesday or Wednesday 27th or 28th March, the dates set aside for replays.

All Tottenham fans pray that the news about Fabrice Muamba in the coming days will be positive and that he will make a full and speedy recovery.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Spurs' FA Cup Record Against Bolton

Spurs recent loss of form in the Premier League has brought a greater focus on the FA Cup, with the 6th Round home tie against Bolton Wanderers bringing the possibility of a trophy at the end of an exciting season another step closer.  A win is essential to end Spurs recent disappointing results and to set them up to retain third place in the League and to strive for possible Cup success at Wembley.

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Spurs and Bolton have been drawn together in the FA Cup on seven occasions.  Of the previous six, four have required replays but Spurs have progressed on four occasions.  This is the first time that they've been drawn to play in the 6th Round.

Last FA Cup Meeting:
The most recent meeting was two years ago in the 5th Round as Spurs progressed to the semi-final stages of the competition.

Feb. 2010  5th R. (a) Draw 1- 1  Defoe
Bolton took the lead after thirty five minutes at the Reebok but Jermain Defoe equalised after an hour.  Tom Huddlestone had a penalty saved which should have set Spurs up for a deserved win.

Replay (h) Won 4 - 0  Pavlyuchenko (2), Opp. o.g. (2)
With thoughts on Premier League survival, Bolton fielded a weaker team and Spurs progressed after Roman Pavlyuchenko started the scoring midway through the first half.  The Bolton goalkeeper helped the ball into his own goal, ten minutes before the interval.  Two minutes into the second half, Bolton's woes continued with a second own goal and Pavlychenko added a fourth three minutes from time.

First Meeting in FA Cup:
Jan. 1925  2nd R. (h) Draw 1 - 1  Seed
Both teams were in the 1st Division, Spurs were to finish the season in mid-table while Bolton were third.  The game was described in the following weekend's programme as, "one of the finest Cup struggles ever staged on our enclosure."  Bolton had taken the lead but Spurs, although playing into the wind, forced Bolton back and equalised through Jimmy Seed.

Replay (a) Won 1 - 0  Lane
Spurs were given little chance in the replay and although Bolton had more of the play, the Spurs goalkeeper, Fred Hinton, signed from Bolton the previous year had something to prove.  His display played a major part in Spurs progress thanks to a second half goal scored by centre forward, Billy Lane, his first for the club.

Drawn together in the 5th Round, it took three matches to settle the tie.  Spurs were in the top flight that year but were to end the season at the foot of the table and be relegated after just two seasons in the 1st Division.  Bolton were in the 2nd Division and were to be promoted at the end of the year, the two clubs swopping places.

Feb. 1935 5th R. (h) Draw 1 - 1  W. Evans
Over 70,000 spectators were in White Hart Lane - 70,347 which at the time set up a new record for the ground.  Willie Evans had given Spurs the lead but Bolton drew level with a shot from forty yards.

Replay (a) Draw 1 - 1  G. S. Hunt
The match played on a slippery, rain-soaked surface was a gruelling affair.  George Hunt who later became a Bolton player gave Spurs the lead but Bolton again drew level and with no more goals after extra time, a second replay was needed.

2nd Replay (at Villa Park) Lost 0 - 2
Bolton were comfortable winners at Villa Park on the following Monday, the three games having been played in the space of ten days, with a League game played the previous Saturday, a home draw with Sunderland.

Spurs were still in the 2nd Division, having failed to win promotion following their relegation in 1934-34, while Bolton had retained their top flight status over that period.

Jan. 1948 3rd R. (a) Won 2 - 0 (aet)  Duquemin (2)
In an entertaining game, there were no goals during the ninety minutes.  To avoid unnecessary replays and absenteeism from work in those early post-war years, extra time was played that season at the end of the first game.  Most of the excitement came in extra time as Spurs made their greater craft and understanding count.  Len Duquemin scored with a tremendous shot having run twenty yards with the ball.  Bolton tried to get level but were susceptible to Spurs on the break and the secod came in the final minute, Duquemin almost on his knees to head it into the goal.  For Spurs it was the first step on their way the semi-final, their first since 1922. 

Thirty years later both clubs were battling to win promotion from the 2nd Division and at the end of the season, both were successful, Bolton as Champions and Spurs in third after a nail-biting climax to the season.

Jan. 1978 3rd R. (h) Draw 2- 2  Hoddle, Duncan
Replay (a) Lost 1 - 2 (aet)  Taylor (pen)

Bolton visited White Hart Lane on three occasions in two months, lost all three and conceded thirteen goals - a 3 - 2 loss in the Premier League, followed by a six goal defeat in the Worthington Cup, Les Ferdinand scoring a hat-trick, and a four goal defeat in the FA Cup.

Feb. 2002 4th R. (h) Won 4 - 0  Anderton (pen), Iversen, Etherington, Opp. o.g. 
Spurs, under Glenn Hoddle, were in a purple patch of Cup results, a few weeks away from the final of the Worthington Cup.  Two goals in each half saw Spurs coast through with Matthew Etherington scoring his first goal for Spurs.  Unfortunately, the good run of Cup results was brought to an abrupt halt by Blackburn Rovers in the Final at Cardiff.

Spurs v Cheltenham Town FA Cup 3rd Round: Report
Watford v Spurs FA Cup 4th Round: Report
Stevenage v Spurs 5th Round: Report
5th Round Replay: Report


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spurs and the FA Cup 6th Round

By the 6th Round of the FA Cup supporters of every club are aware that it is only two games away from the Wembley Final and nowadays it's only one win away from a trip to Wembley with the semi-finals being played there.  The the 6th Round has brought Spurs many memorable moments but also times of great disappointment as the hopes of Cup success have been dashed for another year. 


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One memorable occasion was in 1982 when Spurs as Cup holders were drawn to play at Stamford Bridge against 2nd Division Chelsea who had defeated European Champions, Liverpool, in the previous round.  Spurs in an all white strip with yellow socks and as the game progressed everything clicked for them. Chelsea had taken a first half lead but gradually Spurs started to show their superior class with Glenn Hoddle giving a master class of ball control.   It was only a matter of time before Spurs would score and it came when Steve Archibald poked the ball home after the Chelsea goalkeeper failed to hold a Hoddle free-kick.  Spurs immediately stepped up a gear and within ten minutes were 3-1 ahead.  The second goal was a masterpiece.   Hoddle and Micky Hazard cut through the Chelsea midfield with an exchange of passes and, after Hazard's flick had left them wrong-footed, Hoddle crashed a 25-yard drive past the goalkeeper.  Hazard then confirmed Tottenham's superiority with a coolly taken drive and although Chelsea pulled a goal back Spurs coasted home on a wave of possession football.  The performance was even greater as Spurs had to displaying their passing talent on a bare pitch with a very uneven bounce.

In 1901, with fewer teams in the competition, Spurs had already reached the semi-finals but in 1921 they were drawn at home against the FA Cup holders, Aston Villa.  Having had a favourable draw in the earlier rounds, this was the first occasion they had met opponents from the 1st Division.  The clubs had met at the similar stage (4th Round) a year previously when a Tommy Clay own goal had taken Villa through.  This time, Clay and Spurs took revenge and triumphed when right winger, Jimmy Banks, scored midway through the first half, following a run by left winger, Jimmy Dimmock. In his book, Jimmy Seed, the influential Spurs player of the time describes how Banks saved his blushes with the goal.  Seed admitted that on occasions, in big games, he would ‘freeze’ and in this game as Dimmock crossed the ball, that’s what happened.  However, Jimmy Banks sized up the situation and hit both Seed and the ball as best he could.  The ball hit his knee and ended up in the Villa goal.  A freak goal and another piece of good fortune to take Spurs closer to success.

That match was watched by a crowd of 51, 991 spectators at White Hart Lane but it falls well short of the record attendance for the ground which was achieved in 1938.  On 5th March, 1938, Spurs’ record crowd of 75,038 spectators witnessed the team lose by a single goal to Sunderland.  At that time Spurs were in the 2nd Division while Sunderland were from the 1st Division.  However, a controversial refereeing decision denied Spurs an opening goal.  A Colin Lyman shot beat the goalkeeper but Jack Gibbons following up to make sure the ball went in, handled and although the referee gave the goal, a linesman flagged for handball and the goal was disallowed.

In 1961, however, the roles were reversed and the 6th Round draw took Spurs to Roker Park to meet Sunderland who were in the 2nd Division and their young team came closest to ending that season’s all conquering Spurs team’s dream of the ‘Double.’  By the end of that game Spurs were hanging on for a draw.  Cliff Jones had given Spurs the lead after nine minutes with a header from a partially cleared corner.  Bobby Smith hit the post just before half-time, but then the famous ‘Roker Roar’ lifted the home team and they equalised at the start of the second half.  Sunderland pressurised Spurs to the final whistle and tested them to the limit but where weaker teams would have succumbed Danny Blanchflower galvanized Spurs who held out for the replay.  It was a relieved Spurs team who prepared for the replay the following Wednesday and having escaped with a draw, they made no mistakes this time.  Sunderland had had their day and now it was time for Spurs to show their superiority.  Fans had queued for ten hours to get in and they saw Spurs sweep majestically into the semi-final.  Spurs were three ahead by half-time with goals from Les Allen, Bobby Smith and Terry Dyson.  After 65 minutes Dyson scored his second and five minutes later Dave Mackay completed the scoring.  Burnley awaited in the semi-finals.

In 1962, Spurs had to meet Aston Villa.  Spurs had beaten them 2-0 at Villa Park the previous season in the 5th Round and with home advantage recorded the same score this time.  In a typical cup-tie, in slippery conditions due to constant rain, Spurs hit the post twice during the first half, with shots from Terry Medwin and Jimmy Greaves.  However, Villa defended resolutely and the game remained scoreless but sixty seconds in the second half changed all that.  In the 47th minute, Danny Blanchflower scored with a low shot and a minute later, Jones headed home a cross from Greaves.

Second Division, Birmingham City were Spurs 6th Round opponents in 1967.  A visit to the Midlands saw Spurs held to a goal-less draw as the home team battled heroically to ensure Spurs could not play their natural game.  The Spurs defence also had be alert to thwart Birmingham and Pat Jennings had to make a number of important saves.  In the replay, order was restored and Jimmy Greaves threw off the shackles that had been imposed on him in the first game to score twice in the second half.  Terry Venables had scored two early goals and Alan Gilzean made it three before half-time.  Greaves’ brace and a final goal from Frank Saul completed the scoring after the interval and took Spurs to a meeting with Nottingham Forest.

In 1981, the draw was favourable to Spurs, a home game against Exeter City from the Third Division. Spurs couldn’t have been more delighted and were looking towards the semi-finals and beyond. Surely, a team with Perryman, Hoddle, Ardiles, Archibald, Crooks and Georgio Mazzon would have too much class for the lower Division team.  However, it took two goals from the central defenders to take Spurs into the semi-finals.  Exeter made Spurs fight all the way but two moments of Glenn Hoddle magic created the goals for Spurs.  Firstly, a Hoddle cross enabled Graham Roberts to score his first goal for the club and then from his free-kick Paul Miller scored after the goalkeeper had made a mistake.

The two recurring themes from the 1991 Cup triumph are Spurs’ worsening financial situation and Paul Gascoigne.  As the months passed so Spurs’ future outlook grew bleaker by the day but the one bright spot was the FA Cup and Paul Gascoigne’s ability to overcome injury worries and continue to amaze with his outstanding performances.  The 6th Round opponents were Notts County at White Hart Lane and if Spurs were expecting an easy victory over the 2nd Division side, they must have been in a state of shock when County took the lead.  Nayim scored to bring Spurs level and then a winner from the one and only, Paul Gascoigne, took Spurs to a semi-final tie against Arsenal.

Dismissal at the 6th Round is particularly disappointing as supporters watch other teams progress to the ‘big’ games of the semi-final and possibly the Final with all the added expectancy and media coverage that accompanies these games.  Reviewing Spurs’ games at this stage of the competition, it is surprising to find that many have a claim to recognition.  The 6th Round experience in 2005 took them to Newcastle and after conceding an early goal Spurs set about rectifying the situation but a certain referee managed to deny Spurs’ claims for at least two penalties and disallowed a goal which would have provided Spurs with the chance to bring the game back to White Hart Lane.  Undeserved defeat in such circumstances brings such frustration and disappointment.

An unexpected hero emerged from the five goal thriller at Upton Park in 2001 when Sergei Rebrov showed why Spurs had spent their record transfer fee to sign him.  His two goals and one from Gary Doherty gave George Graham’s team a thrilling victory and another chance to play Arsenal in the semi-finals.  Everything was up-beat at Tottenham after that win but behind the scenes all was not well and within seven days Graham was gone with Glenn Hoddle to be his eventual successor.

In 1999, the 6th Round draw took Spurs to Barnsley where they had lost in a 5th Round Replay twelve months earlier.  This time a David Ginola inspirational run and goal was sufficient to overcome the side that had suffered relegation at the end of the previous season.

In 1993 Spurs had to visit Manchester to play City and it was a memorable game, not just because Spurs won, but because of the football that Spurs played, the hat-trick scored by Nayim and the fact that the game had to be stopped due to a pitch invasion by the City fans.  City went into the lead but Spurs were ahead at half-time through goals from Nayim and Sedgeley.  In the second half Spurs took control with Nayim scoring twice.  Spurs had a goal disallowed and direct from the free-kick City went the length of the pitch and scored.  This was the signal for the City supporters to spill onto the pitch.  The game was halted and the players left the pitch for thirteen minutes while the mounted police restored order.

Wimbledon often proved a difficult side for Spurs to beat as they disliked their long ball, high pressured play and often came off second best.  In 1987, however, David Pleat’s side showed their worth in a visit to Plough Lane and with application and commitment went through as the skill of Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle provided the goals to ensure the ‘Diamond Lights’ were still shining for the semi-final tie.

Season 1955-56 was disappointing for Spurs in the League but the team showed great endeavour in the Cup and their 6th Round game against West Ham was one to remember.  At White Hart Lane on a very heavy pitch Spurs came from 2-3 down to earn a draw after captain, Danny Blanchflower, moved centre-half, Maurice Norman, forward to assist the attack.  It worked and Spurs were grateful to Tommy Harmer (pen), Len Duquemin and George Robb for the goals. In the replay Harmer and Duquemin both scored as Spurs won 2-1.

Three years earlier Spurs were involved in a three game thriller against Birmingham City at this stage of the competition. They had already played five games to reach the 6th Round and in those days extra replays were arranged to determine who went through rather than curtail the process with penalties as happens today.  The original match was at St Andrews where Spurs earned a 1-1 draw with a goal from Les Bennett.  In the replay at White Hart Lane Bennett again scored and with Len Duquemin ensured a 2-2 draw after extra time.  Spurs won the third game with a goal from Sonny Walters and went on to meet Blackpool in the semi-final.

In 1995 Spurs gave one of the truly memorable performances of the decade in their 6th Round game against Liverpool. Having fought back at Southampton Spurs had a visit to Anfield as their reward but it wasn’t a ground with many happy memories for them and Spurs weren’t given much chance. Liverpool took the lead late in the first half but Teddy Sheringham managed to equalize right on half-time.  In the second half Spurs played much better and it looked set for a replay but with two minutes remaining, Sheringham put Jurgen Klinsmann through to score the winner.  A great result for Spurs as they went on to meet Everton in the semi-final.

Spurs last experience of the 6th Round was two years ago.  Having defeated Bolton Wanderers 4-0 in a replay at White Hart Lane after a 1-1 draw at the Reebox in the previous Round, Spurs again needed a replay to progress.  The first match at Craven Cottage was goalless but in the replay Spurs recovered from conceding an early goal to score three in the second half.  David Bentley came on as a substitute at half-time and within a minute had put Spurs ahead.  Roman Pavlyuchenko scored after an hour and six minutes later Eidur Gudjohnsen added the third.

Progress to the next round, at such a late stage of the competition, is so sweet while failure is so disappointing.  Spurs want to experience more of that sweet taste of success. 



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dramatic Final Minutes Proving Costly for Spurs

Since the events of the dramatic final minutes of the game against Manchester City in late January, Spurs have suffered on the wrong end of similar situations both in their own matches and those of their nearest rivals.

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In the immediate aftermath of the Manchester City game, I received  a text message from my Liverpool supporting son-in-law, "Football can be so cruel!'  And so it has proved for Spurs in the subsequent seven weeks as they've seen results go against them in those final few minutes of added time, removing them from what, only ten days earlier, had seemed to be a position to mount a challenge for the title alongside the two Manchester clubs.

After the home game against Everton in mid-January, Spurs had lifted themselves level on points with United and only three behind City.  The unfortunate draw at home to Wolves rather dented their position of strength but it was the events in added time at the Etihad Stadium which were the start of the season slipping away from Spurs.

Sunday, 22nd January
Level at two all, having come back from two goals down after an hour, Spurs were finishing the stronger.  In added time Gareth Bale's break and cross gave Jermain Defoe the opportunity to put Spurs ahead but as he stretched to reach the ball, he failed to make good contact and poked it wide.  A let off for City but events got worse as in the final seconds Ledley King conceded a penalty and Balotelli whom many consider shouldn't have been on the pitch, scored to snatch the points for City.

Saturday, 11th February
An added time goal from Henry earned Arsenal three points at the Stadium of Light after Sunderland had taken the lead with twenty minutes remaining.

Saturday, 3rd March
Van Persie scored at Anfield in the 92nd minute for another Arsenal win in a 'snatch and grab' performance after they went behind in the first half.

Saturday, 10th March
In added time, having dominated the second half at Everton, Louis Saha's close range shot hit the post, bounced on to the goalkeeper's knee and away to safety.

Monday, 12th March
An added time break away goal at The Emirates against Newcastle and Arsenal had another three points.

It's not just Arsenal who've benefited in such situations, Chelsea won at Wolves with a last minute winner by Lampard who should probably have been dismissed earlier in the game.

After their win over Wigan at the end of January, there was a twelve point between Spurs and Arsenal and after half an hour of the north London derby a month later, with  a two goal lead, Spurs looked set to increase their impressive ten point advantage.  Since, then however, the gap has been reduced to a single point with ten matches remaining.  The race for third place is definitely back on and the swing in fortunes has been dictated by the events in the final minutes of those games.  Where Spurs could have won at City, they lost, while Arsenal turned three draws into victories and a late desperate attempt to snatch a point at Everton failed for Spurs.

Spurs have scored a couple of late goals this season but they only made victory secure, they weren't late match turning moments.  Throw in the late saving tackle that John Terry made for Chelsea at White Hart Lane before Christmas to deny Emmanuel Adebayor in the final moments at White Hart and although, it wasn't in added time, the late opportunity Bale had to score a winner at Anfield after defending stoutly for most of the game and Spurs have not done well out of late dramatic changes this year.  Perhaps, like refereeing decisions, they'll even themselves out over the course of the season, but somehow I doubt it.

In the dark days before Harry Redknapp, we, Spurs fans, called to 'Have our Tottenmham back'.  In recent weeks with late goals conceded, allowing a two goal lead to slip and dominating a match but losing, perhaps, actually, we have got our Tottenham back now. 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Gareth Bale on the Right. Why?

Gareth Bale has been most effective for Tottenham when played on the left wing with the option to roam as the need arises.  On Saturday, he spent most of the match against Everton on the right side of midfield and it was only when he switched to the left side that Spurs started to pose a greater threat to the massed Everton defence.

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On Saturday evening at Goodison Park, Harry Redknapp decided to play Gareth Bale on the right side of midfield with Luka Modric moving out from central midfield on to the left.  This selection was made for three reasons, to enable him to make a tactical change to the starting line-up with Scott Parker and Sandro playing a holding role in central midfield which allowed him to include Jermain Defoe and to cover on the right for the absence of the injured Aaron Lennon.

On all three counts the decisions proved unsuccessful as Everton dominated midfield from the start and it was only after half-time that Spurs really came into the game as an attacking force.  Defoe offered little threat in that first half and rarely linked with his strike partner, Emmanuel Adebayor and with Bale and Modric both playing out of position, Spurs most creative players were restricted and Everton were handed the early initiative.  If the thought of having Modric on the left was that it would create space for Benoit Assou-Ekotto to overlap, then again that failed as in the first forty five minutes the left back rarely ventured forward as would normally be his custom.

Early in the first half, Bale had an opportunity of a break on the right but as he took on the defender at pace, the Everton player knew to force him wide and keep him on his weaker foot.  This he succeeded in doing and any danger was averted.  It was only late in the first half after Bale moved over to the left that Spurs started to play with some greater purpose and cohesion.  Again, in  the second half after Rafael Van der Vaart replaced Sandro, Bale moved wide on the left and his attacking threat and danger to the compact Everton defence became obvious. 

The absence of Lennon, due to a recurrence of his injury created a dilemma for Redknapp but his decision to move Bale to that position, weakened Spurs as an attacking threat on a number of counts.
  • Gareth Bale is most effective on the left, ask Inter's Maicon,  whereas on the right, he prefers to cut in to use his more favoured left foot.
  • Modric has less opportunity to be influential when he is removed from his normal central midfield role.
  • Bale on the right prevented Kyle Walker from playing his normal attacking role.  Both players were wanting to get forward into the same attacking areas on the pitch and this wasn't possible.  Walker and Lennon have developed a good understanding of how to play together just as Vedran Corluka had done previously with Lennon, but Walker and Bale don't have that understanding.
  • Bale and Assou-Ekotto, however, work very well together on the left, both defensively and as an attacking force but that was missing on Saturday especially in the first half.  Only after the interval did, Assou-Ekotto venture forward as Spurs became more dominant and attack minded.
Injuries and loss of form are creating some additional problems for the Tottenham management team.  Adebayor, apart from the Newcastle match, and Van der Vaart have  been less influential of late and even Modric and Parker haven't been such a presence in recent weeks.  Then the defence has been punished for individual errors, Ledley King hasn't been his usual effective self while injuries and players out on loan mean that there are few options available to re-organise.

Having suffered three successive League defeats for the first time since immediately before Harry Redknapp's appointment, the next ten days are crucial for Spurs to get themselves back on track. Progress to the FA Cup semi-final would not make up for a fourth successive League defeat or even four League games without a win so it is essential that Spurs achieve two wins in the next two games in order to prevent any self-doubts taking control.  Whatever, decisions Harry Redknapp makes concerning the team, it is essential that Bale's role keeps him predominantly on the left where he is most effective and feared by opposing defenders.