Never a very entertaining place, Blackburn on a cold Wednesday night is
no place for the faint of heart. And so it proved, as Spurs turned
in a gutsy, is slightly sloppy performance in winning 1-0 at Ewood Park
to take them over 40 points for the season and keep them in fifth spot
in the Premier League table.
all the talk about big money transfers, neither side splashed out too
much in the window and Spurs were without Steven Pienaar, who had been
knocked unconscious in training by fellow South African Bongani Khumalo.
Added to that, Luka Modric has been operated on for an appendix removal
and that left Spurs light in midfield as well as at the back. Jenas and
Palacios were paired in midfield, with Lennon out wide on the left, with
van der Vaart nominally on the right, although he had his usual licence
to roam. William Gallas came back in despite his hip injury and
Corluka replaced Alan Hutton at right back.
From the kick off, Blackburn went
forward, but the move broke down on the edge of the box and Tottenham
moved the ball through midfield, playing out to Corluka, who knocked it
back to Rafael van der Vaart. Looking up, he knocked a diagonal
ball into the box and found Peter Crouch coming in from the far post to
rise above the hulking shape of Christopher Samba, putting his header
from outside the six yard box across Paul Robinson's dive and into the
net to give Spurs a third minute lead. it was the sort of goal
that we all hoped we would see Crouchy score, but too often the ball is
played in flat or at a height that doesn't give him to opportunity to
get a run on his marker.
So, with an early goal and Blackburn not
having come back to win a game they have lost the first goal in, it
perhaps played into Tottenham's hands with their penchant for playing on
the break. Especially as Gareth Bale had great joy against Michel
Salgado in previous meetings and although the Welshman was also missing
with his back injury, Lennon might have thought he was on a good thing.
And so it proved when he took the Spaniard on and beat him on the
inside, but his finish left Nelsen the opportunity to get across him to
get in the way of his effort.
Spurs were expecting a response form
Blackburn and their attacks seemed to come down their left wing, with
Junior Hoilett and Martin Olsson both getting round the back and putting
the ball across the face of goal without any blue and white shirted
striker making a move to get on the end of it. When Corluka got to
a loose ball as Hoilett was poised to shoot, Tottenham were grateful to
the Croat and then a few minutes later, our keeper Gomes hashed a punch
to a long Robinson free-kick and then had to scramble and leap to his
right to push wide Hoilett's volley that he struck into the ground.
Another corner lead to Crouch hacking the ball away as it dropped in the
six yard box in front of goal.
In between Jermaine Jenas had to have
treatment for a head injury picked up when Keith Andrews managed to
stamp down on the back of the Spurs midfielder's scalp.
David Dunn had three good shooting chance
sin the first half, with one set up by Jason Roberts that he side-footed
three feet wide when he should have hit the target, with the second
straight at Gomes and the third curled round the keeper but also wide of
the goal to Gomes' left. During this spell between the 22nd and
37th minutes, Spurs only had one shot on goal, with van der Vaart
hitting a free-kick from just outside the area onto the top of Robbo's
net after Samba had gone right through the back of Defoe.
Nelsen's free-header flew wide when he
was well-placed and Gomes needed to move backwards very quickly and then
did well to push off to dive sideways to push away Roberts' header as it
looked like it might just beat him in the flight. The New Zealand
defender Nelsen had another chance to score an equaliser just before the
break, when Dunn's injury time free-kick was put in with pace and the
centre half tried to divert it on target, but his touch took it wide,
much to the Spurs fans' relief.
There was not a great deal to talk about
at half time, with the game suffering from a malaise where neither side
had a real grip on it. Blackburn did a lot of pushing on and Spurs
had spells of possession and didn't do well enough with it, turning the
ball over far too easily on a number of occasions.
The crappy World Cup samba music of Dario
G is still popular in Blackburn and even on a chilly February night it
could not bring a whiff of summer football to Ewood Park. Try as
they might, Rovers made early second half efforts to get back on par
with Spurs. And so it proved, with American midfielder Jermaine
Jones putting Mame Diouf through the middle with a clear run on Gomes,
but Heurelho stood firm and with the pressure on the striker, he hit his
shot straight at the Brazilian.
With the game getting a bit bogged down,
there were few other openings until in the 58th minute, Aaron Lennon
took a cleared ball on the edge of his own box and set off on a run the
length of the pitch. Reaching the edge of the Blackburn box, he
sipped the ball to his left to put Defoe in on goal, but in keeping with
his recent form, his shot found the body of Robinson as he came out
rather than dinking it over him, which used to be such an easy task for
the little England striker.
Within minutes, Lennon was at it again,
this time cutting in from the left wing inside Salgado and firing a shot
from the 18 yards out that had Robinson reaching up and pushing over the
bar with his outstretched hand. Rovers were thankful to Nelsen,
who just got in the way to deflect Jermaine Jenas' shot wide of the goal
in the 66th minute, as the Spurs man made a good run into the box.
Between the 70th and 76th minutes Gomes
made three very good saves. First off, he got down to his left to
get a hand to push the ball out wide from a 25 yard low drive from
Hoilett and then he was diving the same way to deny Diouf, who spun to
meet Salgado's low ball into the box and his powerful shot was beaten
out by the Spurs keeper. Then, lastly, a crude challenge on the
edge of the box gave Morten Gamst Pedersen a chance to use his free-kick
skills and he thumped a shot that ripped past the wall and Gomes got a
hand and a face to it, but he kept it out and the ball was cleared away.
As the three minutes of added time was
signalled by the fourth official, Spurs knew there wasn't too long to
hang on, but a high ball came in and Samba had a free-header, but the
ball hit Jenas and somehow went over the top. From the corner,
Gomes punched out and although Spurs tried to clear it, the ball dropped
for Andrews, who made a good contact with the ball, but his shot went
head high straight at Gomes and the goalie caught it, but not before it
looked like he was going to throw it into his own net !!
Panic over, the game came to an end and
Spurs had taken a valuable three points that finally took them over the
40 point line for the season. It was not a great performance, but
in a way, it was, with Spurs having to battle against a physical team,
which they will have to do all over again on Saturday against Bolton
Wanderers. A clean sheet was an important boost, with the defence
hit by injury and the way the midfield put in a lot of work to track
back, with players who do the dirty work not always getting recognition,
So, does this herald a new type of
One that can grind out results, as well
as sweep sides away with their attacking football.
Well, probably not, but it is a good
result in isolation.
When results come week after week, then
we know it will be a new Tottenham and one which might bring silverware.