Saturday, April 21, 2012

QPR 1 Tottenham 0

Spurs lost at Loftus Road to an Adel Taarabt goal scored directly from a free-kick in the first half.  With ten minutes remaining QPR were reduced to ten men when the goalscorer was shown a second yellow card but Spurs never looked like saving a point and now find themselves in fifth place in the Premier League, three points behind Newcastle United.

Spurs Season Continues to Capitulate

Queen's Park Rangers 1  Tottenham Hotspur 0
Scorer: Taarabt
Team: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, King, Assou-Ekotto (Rose); Sandro (Lennon), Parker (Giovanni); Van der Vaart, Modric, Bale; Defoe  Subs: (unused) Cudicini, Livermore, Smith, Khumalo

After a minute of the game at Loftus Road, Chris Waddle commented that Spurs had started brightly - it was a comment he was to regret as Spurs' play quickly lost momentum and direction, faced with a determined Queen's Park Rangers team.  Tottenham once again lacked anyone to lift the game and make an impression on behalf of the team and it quickly became a re-run of what has happened for the past two months as Spurs have seen their Champions League aspirations slowly disappear in an unprecedented capitulation.

Injuries to Emmanuel Adebayor and Louis Saha meant that Jermain Defoe started the match as the lone striker with Sandro and Scott Parker in central midfield behind a three of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart.  William Gallas and Ledley King again played in front of the returning Brad Friedel.  Injury to Ryan Nelsen and Younes Kaboul saw Khumalo and Adam Smith on the bench.

Spurs had an early strike when Benoit Assou-Ekotto shot over following a free-kick but almost immediately, Mackie on the right caused the left back problems with a powerful run and shot which went past.  Kyle Walker was playing wide on the right and Assou-Ekotto was also looking to get forward with Bale and Van der Vaart drifting infield.

A period of QPR pressure showed the first signs that the Spurs defence was looking shaky and uncomfortable as they played themselves into trouble when Friedel delayed in clearing a back pass.  Spurs then had the greater possession but were making little headway against a well organised home team who defended in numbers and looked to attack on the break.  Spurs constantly tried to play through the middle where QPR had greatest numbers but their passing was too slow and ponderous.  

The next threat came from a Van der Vaart corner which Bale headed goalwards but Kenny saved. From the resulting corner the ball came back out to Van der vaart and Kenny saved his powerful shot at full stretch.

Queen's Park Rangers were awarded a soft free-kick when Sandro touched the ball with his hand as he fell backwards after making a good tackle.  From the free-kick, the former Spurs player, Adel Taarabt, lifted it over the wall and past a slow to react Friedel who was troubled throughout the first half with the low setting sun.  It was a poor goal to concede and the home side's only real threat on goal.

Spurs continued to cause themselves difficulty in defence but on the half-hour another Van der Vaart shot was saved by the goalkeeper with Defoe heading the rebound over.  Spurs had the more possession but QPR coped well with the limited threat they posed.  In the final minutes before the interval a dangerous run by Modric saw Van der Vaart back heel an effort towards goal and then in the final minute Barton shot over.

Aaron Lennon replaced Sandro at half-time but it was the home side who started the better with Spurs only effort on goal being a Defoe header from a Van der Vaart free-kick which was saved by Kenny.  The home team were growing in confidence and with their hard work were comfortably holding on to the lead.  

With thirteen minutes remaining there was confusion as Taarabt was sent off after being shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away.  A few seconds later the referee then produced a red card, realising that it was the goalscorer's second yellow card.  For the rest of the match QPR were encamped on the edge of their box to deny Spurs with only the occasional break.  For all this possession, Spurs didn't actually look like getting an equaliser as their only efforts on goal were shots from Modric, Van der Vaart and Giovani which Kenny dealt with easily.

Three points greatly enhance QPR's hopes of retaining their Premier League status for another season but no points for Spurs looks as if their hopes of Champions League football next year are all but over.  This loss of form is a mirror image of the way Spurs ended last season and once again Harry Redknapp seems incapable of turning it around.  The loss of what earlier in the season had seemed a certainty will be even harder to accept than the last day defeat at West Ham which denied them a Champions League place under Martin Jol.

None of the players are playing with any confidence.  Their play which was so bright and quick earlier in the season is now ponderous and easy for a team to defend against.  No-one comes out of this match with any credit and with only one Premier League win since thrashing Newcastle in mid-February, that is only one win in nine games, Spurs look incapable of winning any of their final four matches even though they are against teams at the lower end of the table.  There is every likelihood they will slip below Chelsea in a season which was being heralded as one where they were playing the best best since the 1960s - a disappointing end to the season which had held such promise.


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