|DATE||Saturday 3rd December 2011|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
So, having lost to PAOK at home in Europe, what could be better for
Tottenham than to play a struggling Bolton Wanderers side at home
three days later ??
Well, it doesn't appear as easy as it might look on paper with Bolton deep in the bottom three, but despite their poor results, they have beaten QPR 4-0 and Wigan 3-1 away and Stoke 5-0 at home, so they have goals in their team, but they have struggled to find any sort of form. However, they have had trouble keeping them out at the other end, with Gary Cahill finding it tougher this season than last when he was an outstanding performer.
Having most recently lost to Everton and West Bromwich Albion, you might imagine that the Trotters will be easy pickings, but they always make it hard for Spurs, with their all out physical approach, although that has changed under Own Coyle and it might have just taken the edge off their game..
Kevin Davies is still there, bumping into centre halves and veteran Paul Robinson is still in defence, but the other players are not all household names. Chris Eagles has a bit of a Waddle about him, with good dribbling skills and a good finish, but he is a little lightweight, while alongside him in midfield, the ageing legs of Nigel Reo-Coker are caught out by nimbler opponents and Fabrice Muamba is finding it difficult to cover the large amount of ground he is being required to do. The Korean winger Lee is a tricky winger, but his broken leg keeps him on the sidelines, along with Tyrone Mears, who has the same injury and Stuart Holden, who is ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
Darren Pratley is still adjusting to the top flight after signing from Swansea City in the summer and Martin Petrov and Robbie Blake are both into the veteran stage of their careers. Mark Davies is their big hope and his energetic performances have drawn some favourable reports, but he is not able to do it all on his own.
The defence is stretched most games and with David Wheater still to show the form he made his name with at Middlesbrough (although suspended for this match) and Zat Knight also not in the best nick, Spurs might find some joy with attacks down the flanks and with Defoe and Adebayor down the middle. Sam Ricketts and Gretar Steinsson can both play at full back, with one having to be called upon on Saturday to replace Wheater.
Up front in addition to Kevin Davies, they have Ivan Klasnic, Turkish striker Tuncay and on loan from Chelsea Gael Kakuta. Klasnic can be good on his day, but does miss a fair proportion of the chances that come his way, while Tuncay has lots of skill, but perhaps not the legs to trouble the top defenders. Kakuta may well be thrown in against Spurs to mix things up and he has pace and good footwork, but might find himself up against Ledley and other Spurs defenders who also possess a turn of pace.
Coyle has been under pressure since the second game of the season and while Bolton looked set for a mid-table place at least, they are under-performing and will be wanting to start picking up points before they get cut adrift at the bottom.
However, should they commit too many players forward, it would leave Spurs scope to hit them on the break and with less pace in their defence than in our attack, it could play into Tottenham's hands.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 3 Bolton Wanderers 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :|
|BOLTON WANDERERS TEAM NEWS :|
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3 (1) Bolton Wanderers 0 (0)
Saturday 03rd December 2011 Kick off 15:00
White Hart Lane
Boyata (foul) 59
Robinson (dissent) 44
|Crowd : 35,896||Weather : Mild, dry|
|Referee : Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton)||Assistant Referees : C. Breakspear; S. Long|
|Fourth Official : D. Whitestone||-|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Bolton Wanderers :||kit|
van der Vaart 73)
14 K. Davies
(21 Pratley 62)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Owen Coyle|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : 188 Bet|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Reebok|
As the chances went begging in front of the Bolton Wanderers goal in the first half, the one goal lead Spurs had, courtesy of Gareth Bale's seventh minute goal, looked fragile, despite playing against just ten Trotters, with Gary Cahill having been sent off after 18 minutes. But within ten second half minutes, Tottenham put the game to bed with two more goals and then proceeded to to canter through the last twenty minutes without breaking sweat.
The minute's applause for former Bolton midfielder Gary Speed was the prelude to a great deal more applause throughout the game, as Spurs fluently tore holes in the Bolton rearguard and should have go into the turnaround at least eight goals ahead.
While Cahill had missed a free header when he put it wide following Kevin Davies' flick on, Spurs won a corner when Knight blocked Lennon as he moved in on goal. The corner was taken by Luka Modric on the right wing, but it was played in low to the near post and it looked set to be cleared, but it reached Gareth Bale, who got the outside of his left foot to it as he moved towards the ball and it went across Jaaskelainen and into the net to put Tottenham ahead in the seventh minute.
When Bale made a left wing run in the tenth minute, Defoe got to it at the near post, but his back-heel touch at waist-height, could not get a proper direction on it and the ball went a couple of yards wide.
They were 1-0 up when Cahill was somewhat surprisingly, but correctly in my opinion, sent off. Spurs had successfully harassed the Bolton defence all day and when Adebayor and Parker hunted the ball down, the Spurs skipper took it away from Cahill after a bad touch similar to Gallas' on Wednesday and was away from the England defender, who was stretching on the floor. As he advanced, Cahill made the conscious decision to haul him down with a rugby tackle and the free-kick was given. While it was expected that the Bolton man would get a card that would be yellow, controversial referee Stuart Atwell pulled out a red one and the visiting players surrounded him with their complaints.
While it may have seemed harsh, as Parker was not in a "goal-scoring position", the foul itself was crude, cynical and designed to prevent the attack that Parker was about to launch a move forward and it was a professional foul nonetheless. Coyle was going mad on the touchline, but then he proceeded to do so for the rest of the afternoon, as his position comes under an ever more magnified microscope.
Anyway, Spurs just kept on playing the way they had been and Parker took Modric's pass, lifting the ball just over the keeper and the bar with his second touch. A passing move down the right ended with Lennon playing a low ball into the six yard box from the right and Defoe met it, getting his shot on target, but being denied by a block from Jaaskelainen. In a rare break, Kyle Walker slid in to try and cut out a pass wide to Chris Eagles, but didn't get there, leaving the former Burnley winger to cut inside and then hit a shot that flicked off Younes Kaboul and flew high in the air and Brad Friedel had to back-peddle to tip it over the bar, colliding with the post in the process.
Coyle decided to put a proper defender on in Cahill's place, sacrificing Muamba and moving Reo-Coker back into midfield, but Steinsson was given a roasting by Bale and Lennon as they swapped sides. Jaaskelainen also stopped Adebayor, as he took his time in turning two players from Parker's pass, but the keeper beat the ball away, then Bale rocketed the ball at goal, powerfully but too high as he broke into the box in the 33rd minute. The Finn then produced a double stop to beat out Bale's shot from the left side of the box out to the penalty spot and Lennon turned it to his right, where Defoe had to take his shot quickly, but got it on target, only to see Jaaskelainen divert it wide with his leg. nine minutes before the break, Bale's raking pass picked out Adebayor, who took a touch on the edge of the box and then fired in a right foot shot that went a foot wide of the right hand post.
Twice Spurs could have had goal from balls played low across the six yard box. Defoe just missed Luka's cross with seven minutes to go to half-time and then in added time, Bale's ball eluded both Defoe at the far post and Adebayor before him. In between Lennon's burst up the right onto Parker's pass set up Adebayor and Jaaskelainen did very well to throw up a hand and keep out the Togo striker's effort. Parker fired in a shot that looked as if it flicked off the top of the bar and despite a break that ended with mark Davies hitting a low shot with no power straight at Friedel, Tottenham finished the half on the attack.
The half time entertainment was meant to be a member of the crowd trying to score without the ball hitting the floor from certain distances out, but it was overtaken when the competition was done and Carlo Cudicini did it from the centre spot.
The second half was much the same as the first with non-stop attacking from Spurs, until the latter stages. Jermain Defoe did Bolton defence's work for them when Modric fired in a shot from Walker's pull back by getting his body in the way and some Bolton players also appealed for handball, perhaps wanting a red card for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity !!
As it turned out, Jaaskelainen cold not stop everything thrown at him, as in the 50th minute, Spurs scored with a move starting from a Bolton corner. Walker headed out, Parker flicked it down the line back to him and as Kevin Davies tried to wipe him out, he played the ball forward to Emmanuel Adebayor. His ball inside to Defoe saw him take it inside and played it left to Aaron Lennon, who stepped back inside, took his time as players got in front of him, then drilled a shot between the keeper and his near post to make it 2-0.
It should have been three in the 56th minute, when Benoit Assou-Ekotto broke into the box on the left, leaving Kevin Davies behind him, from where he caught the defender's leg and brought him down. With the option of giving a penalty and potentially sending off Davies as BAE looked to shoot, he waved away appeals for a spot-kick and awarded a goal kick instead.
Kyle Walker had a shot that fizzed a couple of feet over the bar and then set off on a lung-busting run that ended with Paul Robinson conceding a corner. From it, Modric's ball in was headed into the danger zone from a near post position by Bale and Defoe was on hand to turn it into the net, standing unmarked just a yard out and it was 3-0.
Kevin Davies left the action to be replaced by Darren Pratley and with any luck it may be the last we see of the work-a-day striker who is a regular table topped when it comes to fouls committed each season. Coyle's change was not as good as his constant shrill shouting from the touchline and Tottenham's attacks continued unabated. The Bolton keeper was busy tipping a rising 25 yard shot from Modric over the top in the 65th minute, diving low to his right to keep out Scott Parker's low drive from just inside the box and then beating away a Kyle Walker trademark shot from 30 yards out. Jaaskelainen's performance was about the only bright spot in Bolton's match, after having a torrid season before today's game. He could do nothing when Luka cut in from the left wing and hit a shot a foot wide of the far post as it failed to curl enough to hit the target.
Two substitutions changed the game. David Ngog came on for Klasnic and Rafael van der Vaart for Aaron Lennon, but whereas Harry usually makes changes to have a positive effect, this one lost Spurs some of their impetus and slowed our game down. While VDV was instrumental in setting up Defoe on the right side of the area to come in and hit a shot that smacked against the base of the post, his dropping deep left Spurs short up front and he was not alone in playing possession football whereas a tiring Bolton side might have been more vulnerable with the ball up and around their penalty area.
As it was Bolton managed top get forward a few times in the last twenty minutes. Reo-Coker tried his luck form outside the box and for once, there wasn't a Spurs player throwing themselves in the way, but his effort missed the target by a yard. The closest that Bolton came in the second half was a Ngog header from a corner from the right wing by Eagles, but Friedel was quite content to look at Luka Modric, who was standing on the far post and leave it to him to clear away from in front of goal.
As the game went into time added on, they made one last attack, with Defoe slipped into the right side of the box by Ade and he tried to blast the ball past Jaaskelainen at his near post, but the keeper stood firm and beat the shot out. Jermain picked up the rebound and dinked in a cross that the keeper got a hand to and was grateful that Boyata was there to head away from an empty goal before a Spurs player latched onto it.
In truth, this was never going to be too tough a proposition with the relative teams' positions in the table, but Bolton might have made it harder for Spurs with eleven men on the pitch. Having said that, Cahill was having a bit of a mare before his dismissal and he wasn't the only one who was giving possession away cheaply. It is not difficult to see why they are where they sit in the table. Players who once worried opponents are now nothing more than other anonymous players and watching the game again on Monday, Coyle will need to look at the recording very hard to find any positives.
The tribute Gareth Bale made to his former Wales manager Gary Speed following his goal might have been lost on the Bolton fans in the top tier as the "Gary Speed RIP" embroidered into his boots was hardly visible to them. However, Spurs were already out of sight by then and despite it being against his old team, Speed would no doubt have approved of the way Spurs played the game and he would fear for the survival of his old club as they looked lacking in a number of areas.
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|What you thought|
|Steve Maclean||What your
reporter didn't mention was that a couple of other Bolton players
might easily have accompanied Cahill in his (very) early bath.
Yes, Davies could have gone for the foul on Benny, but Boyata kept having spats in the penalty area from corners with Defoe and Adebayor after he had been booked and Robinson often went into aerial challenges in a very unusual manner, using his hands on players after he was booked for dissent in the first half.
Maybe the sins of Bolton managers past will come back to haunt Coyle this Christmas and we might finally see them banished to a place they deserve to be (i.e. out of the Premiership).
|Jamie, Chelmsford||Was it a telling factor that the Bolton support failed to sell out the top tier, as they won't be in the top tier for too much longer ??|
|Benny The Ball||What a game
Kaboul had today. Alright, he wasn't up against much, but he
was strong, intercepted well, won almost everything that he had to
in the air and used the ball well, not taking any chances with it
when he had to clear it under pressure.
He could become the string centre half partner we have been looking for to play alongside King or Dawson.
Also, Scott Parker is an astonishing player, who ahs a hunger for running. The amount of the pitch he covered was enormous and even when he got knocked down, he just dusted himself down and got on with it. it was only his industry that forced Cahill into the pre-meditated desperate lunge that took him out as he was about to break with the ball.
The whole team look supremely fit at the moment and despite the pace dropping in the last quarter of the game, they keep going to the end.
It may be a significant factor in our success if they can keep going until the end of the season.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Aston Villa||0||Manchester United||1||Saturday|
|Blackburn Rovers||4||Swansea City||2||Saturday|
|Manchester City||5||Norwich City||1||Saturday|
|Queens Park Rangers||1||West Bromwich Albion||1||Saturday|
|12||Queens Park Rangers||14||4||4||6||15||25||16||-10|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||14||4||3||7||13||21||15||-8|
Position before match :
Position after match : 2nd
Position after the weekend : 3rd
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