|DATE||Sunday 2nd May 2012|
So, a few short weeks after the shocking FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane and Fabrice Muamba is set to make his first public appearance when Spurs run out at the Reebok. I hope this is not just a way of stirring up the local support - meagre though it might be, as the young mans health should be the primary concern.
Since that day, Spurs have gone downhill with the news that Harry Redknapp might be England manager. Hopefully, as one of these factors has proved to be false, I hope that the other will also not continue and last weekend's stroll to beat Blackburn Rovers was a start I suppose.
But Rovers' performance will not be replicated by the Trotters, who will be up for the game and will not sit deep like Blackburn and will attack a lot more than their Lancashire rivals.
While Owen Coyle initially won some plaudits for getting Bolton to play a bit of football, his results have seen the wave of media attention turn against him and he needs something from this game and maybe one more before the end of the season to ensure survival. And they might be able to summon up enough effort to do that, as they are the sort of team Tottenham don't like to play against ... especially away from home.
The type of player who do well against us are Kevin Davies (a string of goals v Spurs), Nigel Reo-Coker (a player we allow to run the midfield) and Adam Bogdan, who usually has a stormer against us. But Tottenham will need to be at their best to win this one as Bolton will battle for every ball and we can't afford players to be pulling out of challenges. Thus Sandro could be an important player in midfield for Spurs, as he will most likely be the only combative player we have in there unless Scott Parker recovers form his sore Achilles.
It will need a determined effort and a team effort to earn the right to play and if Spurs can do that, then they stand a chance, but coming after a game at the weekend, they might be carrying some knocks and might not fancy a cold North-West night, as if often the case when we play at Bolton.
Bogdan is a good shot-stopper and has had plenty of practice this season, although he has let in the soft goal this season and Spurs need to test him out and get the efforts on goal on target. The defence in front of him can be penetrated, with Zat Knight not the most aware of central defenders nor the best on the floor, while Marcos Alonso and Gretar Steinsson are not the best on the turn nor in a foot race, so there could be some joy to be had there, but if Lennon is missing from the right, the side will lack balance. Sam Ricketts might be detailed to stop his Welsh team-mate Gareth Bale and it will be up to our wing-back to devise a way around the defence to make some chances for our forwards.
The midfield of Bolton will probably feature Reo-Coker if fit, Mark Davies, Martin Petrov and Chris Eagles. Darren Pratley might be in place of Petrov if he passes a late fitness test and his energy and tackling will be missed otherwise. Reo-Coker goes flying into tackles and came out worst in one on Saturday, so he might have to watch himself and Pratley can sometimes fall into the same bracket, while Mark Davies is a creative runner with the ball and likes to get forward. Petrov has a rocket of a shot and Brad Friedel will need to be on his toes if he gets in range and he can also cross the ball accurately. Eagles is a flair player, who can run with the ball, hit a long pass and also likes to pop up in the box every now and then, but can be a little light-weight sometimes.
Up front, I expect Bolton to play two from the start, as their experiment at the Lane with one up front failed in every sense, with Ivan Krasnic stranded and unable to hold the ball up. In this match, I think he will play off Kevin Davies, who will act as the target man. A physical player, Younes Kaboul could be in for a tough night, but he must keep his discipline and stay focused to deal with the player who regularly notches against us.
With the three points at stake needed by both sides for different reasons, it will be another vital match this season for Tottenham and with Harry Redknapp knowing where he will be for the coming season, it is hoped that he can get his depleted side to give it one more push, before they give tow more pushes over the next two Sundays.
Maybe they might be able to push Spurs over the line, but this game will be the hardest of them all I think and Bolton might get something out of it for their effort, as I can't imagine them trying to park the bus and not attack.
|PREDICTION||Bolton Wanderers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
Gretar Steinsson (illness), Darren Pratley (virus) and Nigel Reo-Coker are all doubts for Bolton for the Spurs match. Fabrice Muamba continues his recovery from the cardiac arrest he suffered at White Hart Lane and long term injured Stuart Holden (knee), Ricardo Gardner (hip), Chung-Yong Lee (broken leg) and Tyrone Mears (knee) will all miss playing in the match.
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Tottenham are definitely without Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone (both ankle), Niko Kranjcar and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (both knee). There are also doubts over Aaron Lennon (ankle), Scott Parker (Achilles) and Louis Saha (groin).
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Bolton Wanderers 1 (0)
Wednesday 2nd May 2012
Venue : Reebok Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur 4 (1)
Kick off 20:00
van der Vaart 60
Vela (foul) 71
Eagles (foul) 73
Walker (foul) 53
|Crowd : 22,349||Weather : Mild|
|Referee : Mike Dean (Wirral)||Assistant Referees : D. Cann; S. Ledger|
|Fourth Official : Jon Moss||
Match Delegate : Richard Jobson
Professional Game Match Observer : S. Bennett
|Tottenham kicked off and played towards the North Stand in the first half.|
|Bolton Wanderers :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
K. Davies (c)
11 van der Vaart (29 Livermore 79)
|Manager : Owen Coyle||Manager : Harry Redknapp|
|Sponsor : 188Bet||Shirt sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : Reebok||Kit Supplier : Puma|
What on paper should have been a difficult game for Spurs was swung in their favour by two goals in a minute that killed Bolton Wanderers off, just when it looked like the home side were about to over turn a one goal deficit. The fact that Tottenham ran out comfortable 4-1 winners overlooks a sticky spell they suffered just after the break when the Trotters equalised and looked like they might go ahead.
The appearance of Fabrice Muamba on the pitch was an emotional moment, as last time we saw him on the grass, it looked like we would never see him again. It certainly got the home fans fired up, but they were spectacularly quiet and then absent the further the game went on.
The same team took to their field as started against Blackburn Rovers on Sunday, hoping to inflict a similar fate on the Lancashire club's neighbours and maintain Tottenham's own aim of a top four finish, while condemning the hosts to a nervy final two games at the bottom of the table. And while it was always going to be a different game to the one on Sunday, Bolton showed more attacking intent in the first five minutes than Rovers showed all match. But the game soon settled into one where Spurs dictated the play and they had a large amount of possession, which they failed to make much of. Adebayor was having trouble holding onto the ball, some neat passing was ended with a final ball that was too short and got picked off and then the last ball into the box was not quite good enough.
Not that it mattered too much in this period of the game, as Bolton were content to sit deep and try to hit on the break, but their forward passes were always way off target. An early break produced a corner and VDV's ball in found Sandro at the far post, but it was a bit to high for him, as he back-pedalled and he could only put a free header wide. Aaron Lennon was finding Sam Ricketts to his liking and went past him at will, but early on, his crosses failed to find their target. In the 12th minute, Bale ran at the defence and hit a shot from the edge of the box, but Bogdan beat it out, into the path of the in-coming Rafael van der Vaart, who could only hit the keeper as he made himself big.
Juts over a quarter of an hour in, Adebayor played Lennon in and from 18 yards, he fired in a first time shot that came off Ricketts and went just over the bar. A Bale break saw the ball fizz across the face of the goal and then, the ball was taken off Boyata as Bolton went forward, but Tottenham over-played it and the move broke down. A couple of VDV free-kicks saw one miss by a couple of yards and the other claimed by Bogdan, as Kaboul looked to get his head on the end of it.
It took until five minutes before the half-time whistle for Bolton to threaten and Petrov, for once, got away from Walker and put a low ball across the box that missed out everyone, but dropped to David Ngog on the far post and turned to shoot at goal, but by that time Friedel was on top of him and the ball bounced away off the keeper's chest.
But then, suddenly, Spurs were ahead. Another good break saw Rafa in on Bogdan and it looked like the Dutchman would finish to put Tottenham ahead, but Bogdan saved again, with the ball bouncing up as Sandro came in and touching his hand, before it was put away for a corner. Claims of handball were still echoing around the half empty North Stand, as Rafa took the corner, pulling it back to Luka Modric on the left hand edge of the box and taking a touch he hit a lopping half-volley that swung away from the keeper and hit the top left hand corner of the net in his goal to put Spurs into the lead with 37 minutes gone. It was a perfectly struck shot and one that Modric really needs to do more of, as his goal contribution could be improved. But this one would do for starters !!
Interestingly, there were claims for a handball against Gallas when the ball popped up between him and Ngog, with it getting stuck between their bodies or for Kaboul having a tug on his shirt, but I failed to hear anyone mention the pulling of Kaboul when he went forward at the other end for each corner ... mainly by Wheater, who I have never rated, even in his Boro days.
But Bolton had two chances as the half entered added time, with Eagles dragging a shot well wide and then a free-kick was headed back across goal to the far post dropped to Dedryk Boyata and the loaned out Manchester City full back, snatched at the shot before it had properly come down for him and got it all wrong, skying it over the top. Much to the relief of the Spurs fans behind that goal.
The half time entertainment was ab-zorb-ing, as fans inside giant inflatable balls raced up the pitch, but the talk was of the 1-0 lead also held by Newcastle at Chelsea and whether Spurs would be able to win here to stay ahead of the Toon.
With no changes to personnel, it was Bolton who started the second half brighter. Spurs looked sloppy and were being put under some pressure by Bolton further up the field, making hard to get the ball out of their last third. The sloppiness extended to a throw-in on the Spurs left that saw a routine ball to Kevin Davies touching the ball on to Ngog, who flicked it behind him to Nigel Reo-Coker, who volleyed low past Friedel from eight yards out to level the scores up. it was a blow to Spurs, who hadn't got going this half.
They found themselves under more pressure, as Bolton sensed they might be able to make it pay. Chris Eagles took a first time shot at a ball that dropped to him outside the box and while it packed plenty of punch, it lacked accuracy and it flew close enough over the top to ripple the top of the net as it went into the seats behind the goal. But that was about as far as it went, because the pace in the Spurs side carved out two chances either side of the61st minute to put the game beyond Wanderers.
Firstly Bale raced up the left and leaving Boyata and Wheater behind him, he pulled a low ball back to van der Vaart just inside the box. The ball seemed to take an eternity to get to him and when it did, he seemed to slightly scuff his first time shot, that went wide of Bogdan and across him to find the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-1 to Spurs. It was a well finished move and was reminiscent of Spurs at their potent attacking best of the tail end of last year.
That was on the hour and two minutes later, a perceptive pass form Modric in the centre circle opened up the Bolton defence by threading it inside Ricketts for Lennon to race onto it and he repeated Bale's trick by firing a low ball across the six yard box for Emmanuel Adebayor to tap in from a yard out. Up until that point, Ade hadn't had a great day and was only occasionally chasing down defenders, but his ability to be in the right place at the right time was vital to put Spurs two goals ahead.
With Bolton now dispirited, there was little response from them until Gareth Bale went on a run through the middle from the left and slipped a pass through to Adebayor, with Ricketts playing him onside out on the Bolton left, allowing the striker to go one-on-one with Bogdan and shimmying around him, slipped his shot into the goal (although it looked worryingly too close to the post for my linking). So, with 20 minutes still to play, it was 4-1 and Spurs were on course for their first away win of 2012 with two pieces of opportunist finishing by the Togo forward.
News of a second Newcastle goal was a blow, when we would rather have heard about a Chelsea equaliser, but with Bolton offering less and less to do with football and more to do with some UFC event, the leniency of Mike Dean was a little surprising as Vela almost took Lennon's leg off and Kevin Davies (the Premier League with most yellow cards and most fouls against him) stuck an elbow into Sandro's face getting away with it once more. I think next season, Championship defenders will be more than willing to give him as good as they get, as he finds his true level.
There were a couple of chances for Adebayor's hat-trick. One weak effort to chip Bogdan was not deep enough and the keeper claimed it easily, while the other attempt was way to high after good work by Bale. And it was Gareth who almost added another in the final minutes, with a pacy break and a ball across the goal (or was it a shot) that hit Wheater and then Bogdan's foot going out for a corner without either Bolton man knowing much about it.
In the end a 4-1 victory was more than what was expected by most Spurs fans and as the sparsely filled Bolton sections showed, they are contemplating a life in the second tier, with a top flight team's stadium. For the Tottenham side, it was a return to the incisive play on the break which had lit the Premier League so brightly earlier in the season.
Now, if they can only produce for two more games ...
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|What you thought|
Wonderful performance at Bolton tonight. The momentum is with us although Newcastle beat the big time Charlies 2-0 at the Bridge.
Two more wins should hopefully guarantee Champions league football provided Bayern do the business in two weeks time.
|Steve, Cheshunt||While it was good to
see Muamba up and about, it seems his club mates have forgotten all
the tributes they paid to the midfielder about how they would like
to see the game played in future.
Owen Coyle was involved in a heated exchange with Joe Jordan over a foul by one of his players on a Spurs man, Josh Vela could easily have damaged Aaron Lennon by going in with excessive force way after the ball had gone and Kevin Davies. Well, Kevin Davies ... what more should we expect. Unable to get any change out of Sandro, he planted his elbow into the Brazilian's cheekbone. So no change there.
Perhaps Bolton should look to their conscience, but then they may well have to give that a miss, as they will be too busy looking at the Championship fixtures next season with any luck.
|Other scores during this mid-week :|
|10||West Bromwich Albion||36||13||7||16||41||47||46||-6|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||36||9||7||20||40||63||34||-23|
Position before match :
Position after match : 4th
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