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Sunday 8th February 2009

 
 
With his first real game in charge earning Spurs a point at Highbury with the 4-4 draw, it was hardly surprising that things have been tough to match that high.  However, that is what is needed from Harry Redknapp if Spurs are to pull away from their current predicament.

But then Arsenal will be seeking the three points to salvage some semblance of a challenge at the top of the table, although the title seems to be out of their reach now.  A London derby is therefore set up for a nervy and feisty meeting.

Spurs will feature their new signings, with Robbie Keane making his first appearance back in the side, leading them against the side from up Seven Sisters Road and facing Andrei Arshavin, who is the Gooners record signing.  Palacios and Chimbonda may also be making their first appearances at the Lane since signing in the recent transfer window.  So, there are lots of individual issues going on, but for Tottenham three points would be a massive boost in the challenge of the last fourteen games.

A good record against the top four teams this season hints that the side can do well when they put their mind to it, but the record against the other 15 clubs suggests there is a fundamental flaw holding up their progress up the table.  Concentration for 90 minutes and making the best use of the ball during that time will make sure they achieve what they are capable of.

Arsenal have been frustrating their fans this season, so, with injuries in some key positions, this is why Harry Redknapp probably sees it as a good time to play them.  However, in the last couple of weeks, they have started to play more as a unit, but it will be down to Tottenham to expose the cracks in the side and make sure that their strong points are nullified.

Robin van Persie is not a likeable player, but he is in good form up front, while Adebayour usually scores against Spurs.  Conversely, Robbie Keane has a good scoring record against the Woolwich Wanderers and the use of him up front with Pavlyuchenko will be an interesting mix, as they try to pull defenders out of position to make space of the other. 

With Fabregas and Rosicky out and Walcott having a long term shoulder problem, a little of the creativity has disappeared from the Arsenal midfield, but there are still players there who can open up defences, with Samir Nasri, Denilson, Vela and Aaron Ramsey capable of either passing past or running past opponents.  As you would expect with Arsenal, the full backs are strong, but unusually, they are suspect through the middle, where Toure is back, but has failed to establish a partnership with anyone.  The experienced Mikael Silvestre is injured and William Gallas has been fragile at times.

The only doubt in my mind is the light-weight nature of the Tottenham midfield, as the line-up will probably feature Lennon, Modric, Jenas and Palacios.  That gives two players who are attacking minded (with Lennon having the pace to get back and tackle) and two who will run all day.  There is no particular ball-winner there and that is what Tottenham have been lacking for a while.

Because of that and the fact that we have just lost to the team who were directly below us in the table, I think the score will sadly be ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  1    Arsenal  2

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

 
 
PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  David Bentley (suspended - 1 of 1); Alan Hutton (foot); Ledley King (knee); Jamie O'Hara (hip);  - (-); 

ARSENAL :  -  Eduardo (broken leg); Mikael Silvestre (knee); Theo Walcott (shoulder); Cesc Fabregas (knee); Tomas Rosicky (hamstring); Abou Diaby (suspended); - (-); 

 
 
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TV
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If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
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Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London - http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2005/10/12/live_commentaries_feature.shtml
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.

 
 
 

Ar

 

Tottenham Hotspur   0    Arsenal   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 8th February 2009
Kick Off :  1.30 p.m.
Crowd :   36,021
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral)
Arsenal kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, bright, chilly
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

23  Cudicini

22  Corluka (21  Chimbonda 74)
20  Dawson
39  Woodgate
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon (19  Taarabt 87)
  8  Jenas
12  Palacios
14  Modric 
    

  9  Pavlyuchenko (10  Bent 64)
15  Keane (c)

Unused subs: 
  1  Gomes
  3  Bale
  4  Zokora
  6  Huddlestone

Arsenal :

  1  Almunia

  3  Sagna
  5  Toure (c)
10  Gallas
22  Clichy
      (40  Gibbs 87)
27  Eboue
             

17  Song
15  Denilson
  8  Nasri

21  Adebayor (26  Bendtner 38)
11  van Persie

Unused subs: 
21
  Fabianski
  9  Eduardo
16  Ramsey
20  Djourou
23  Arshavin

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur

  Arsenal
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

None

Arsenal

None

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

    
Modric (foul)
   

    

Arsenal

    
Eboue (dissent)
Clichy (foul)   

    
Eboue (retaliation - second yellow) 37 

Match Report : -  
A game, which wasn't quite a full-bloodied derby, but one which had enough tough tackles and chances to make it a good one ended all square in terms of the score at 0-0 if not in terms of personnel on the pitch at the end.

Emmanuel Eboue's continued protests at having a goal disallowed and a free-kick given against Sagna for a flying cross-press on Luka Modric got him his first yellow and then he was ridiculous enough to aim a kick at Modric after the little Croatian had fouled him.  That left the visitors with 53 minutes to fend without the makeshift wide midfielder.

The early exchanges in this meeting of two sides needing points for different reasons were muted.  Spurs had a couple of free-kicks which got beyond the last Arsenal defender and dropped invitingly, just yards out with nobody there to convert them.  With Palacios doing lots of the hard labour in the middle of midfield, Luka Modric was freed to use his skill in causing problems for Arsenal and that was what he did well in the first half and the early part of the second half, before tiring. 

The returning Robbie Keane caused a ripple of nervousness in the Gooners penalty area, when he nipped in ahead of William Gallas and the Arsenal defender took the new Spurs captain down as he played the ball, but any appeals for a penalty were waved away.  After just three minutes, it was highly unlikely that a spot-kick would have been awarded.

Eboue had a shooting chance in the sixth minute, but Dawson made a challenge that pushed him wide and he pushed his shot across goal, but then Keane played in Lennon, who got to it ahead of Clichy.  The winger struck his shot on target, but Almunia was equal to it and then in the eighth minute, Palacios brought a diving save from Almunia, but the shot was not going in.  Arsenal felt hard done by and Wenger none harder, as he raged when Eboue's 'goal' was ruled out in the 14th minute.  He had got in down the left side of the penalty area and as Woodgate and Cudicini combined to deny him, the ball ran loose and he knocked it into the net.  What he did not realise was that the whistle had blown for him pushing Woodgate out of the way to get the ball.  The 'scorer' took the opportunity to let Mike Dean know what he thought of the decision.

When Spurs returned the ball to the other end, a clearance fell out to Benoit Assou-Ekotto and he helped the ball back into the box with a hook forward.  Luckily, it fell to Roman Pavlyuchenko just inside of the penalty box and he hit it first time with great power, but little accuracy and it flew five yards over.  The next attack came with a high ball down the right on the halfway line.  As Modric jumped for the header, Sagna flew in and hit him hard with no hope of getting the ball.  It was one example of how Arsenal were trying to intimidate Spurs and the three time verbal lashing given to the referee proved too much for his tolerance, seeing Eboue issued with a yellow card, but the perpetrator Sagna allowed to get off scot free.

Just as they had last week, Tottenham accrued a number of corners and failed to make any decent chances from them.  The best chance of the half for Tottenham came when a ball by Modric saw Lennon second best to reach it, but he got ahead of Clichy and breaking into the right side of the area, he rushed his shot and scuffed it across Almunia and wide of the mark.  A Modric shot, taken early, on the half hour produced a save from the Arsenal keeper to push it wide away from danger, then Corluka got caught trying to let the ball run out of play, but EBoue and Nasri contrived to put a ball into the six yard box, but only to Assou-Ekotto, who cleared the ball up-field.  When it came back, Woodgate was running for it, with Adebayour alongside him and the Togolese striker suddenly hit the floor in comic style.  Holding his thigh, it was clear that his hamstring had gone and he had to be stretchered off the pitch and around the perimeter, getting little sympathy from the Tottenham crowd.

While his progress around half the pitch was going on, it was all going off on the pitch.  Eboue cleared the ball and as play continued, Luka Modric hit the ground after the Arsenal midfielder aimed a kick at him.  Firstly, the ref showed the Croatian a yellow card, presumably for the first tackle, then, after awarding the free-kick to Arsenal, he pulled out another yellow and then a red for Eboue.  Quite why there was a need for a second yellow, I am not sure, as Matthew Etherington got a straight red for less yesterday.  The usual Arsenal indignance that they can never do anything wrong went on with Wenger leading the finger-pointing.  Perhaps he should start with looking in the mirror for picking such a liability as Eboue in the first place.

Eboue made it down the tunnel before Adebayour and with Bendtner waiting to replace the striker, eventually made it on, with a different role to fulfil now.  A couple of minutes before half-time, Arsenal were fortunate not to be reduced even further, as Aaron Lennon picked up the ball wide of the right of the Arsenal half and made towards his own goal when Clichy scythed him down with a tackle that had a great deal of intent and was somewhat worse than what Eboue had effected.  However, what Arsenal had failed to realise was that Spurs now have their own tackling machine in Wilson Palacios.  Three times the Gooners tried to break out of their own half, but each time, Palacios broke up their moves with tough tackles.  Sometimes, he appears to slide in with studs up and will obviously pick up more than his fair share of bookings, but his industry was very impressive today.  Indeed, he also managed to get forward in injury time and crack a shot from outside the area that dipped and forced Almunia to push the ball over the bar.

The children in the crowd who had dressed up for World Orphan Week were paraded at half time and there were only five of them.  Most other people were doing reasonable impressions of eskimos despite the sun's rays being in the faces of the North and East stands for most of the first half.

Pav had the first chance of the second half, with a free-kick touched to him by Modric and shot at goal with a rising effort that has typified our set-pieces this season.  Five minutes into the half, our Russian forward had a better opening, when Toure messed up a clearance, leaving Roman through on the left side of the penalty area, but the moment went to his head and he blasted high wand wide, with players waiting for a pass across the six yard box to finish it off.  On the day, Tottenham's final ball and the choice of whether to shoot or pass were lacking and it lead to the goal threat not being as potent as it should have been.

Spurs moved the ball around well and created space on the right wing, but failed to use Lennon enough in the second period, as he could have had free rein to attack Clichy, who had the yellow card already.  With 52 minutes gone, Lennon got past Clichy in the box and pulled the ball back to Corluka, who hit a tame left foot shot at goal and Almunia had little trouble collecting it.  Then four minutes later, a better ball from Lennon saw a pacy cross played into the six yard box and with Almunia nowhere, Keane rose highest and glanced a header onto the roof of the net.

Bent came on for Pavlyuchenko and Arsenal started to move the ball about better, making problems for the Tottenham defence.  van Persie was lurking when Bendtner chipped a ball into the heart of the penalty area and it was Michael Dawson's acrobatic clearance that prevented the in-form Dutchman from capitalising on the chance.  A rare corner for Arsenal produced a clear chance, which Song wasted, blasting well wide when the ball fell kindly for him just a couple of yards out from goal.  Keane went closer with a turn and a shot that looped a yard wide of Almunia's post from inside the box.

Five minutes remained when Darren Bent went for a header in the Arsenal box and Clichy went with him.  The ball was going out for a corner, but was kept in and Arsenal broke away, with a cross into the area from Denilson catching Michael Dawson's head, almost wrong-footing Cudicini, who grabbed the ball at the second attempt after fumbling the ball.  Hid throw sent Tottenham on the attack, but referee Dean blew his whistle so that Clichy could get treatment for his head wound.  It was inconsistent officiating, with Arsenal allowed to attack (and nearly score), while we were then penalised by the game being halted, with the visitors being caught up-field and vulnerable.

Anyway, while Clichy hobbled off, Adel Taarabt came on for Tottenham to replace Aaron Lennon, who had taken one kick too many.  It may have seemed a risky tactic with just minutes left and the score 0-0, but the French Ronaldo seemed to have appreciated the importance of the match and used the ball quite well.  None more so than when Cudicini rolled the ball out to him and he ran forward, slipping a pass to his right, into the path of Modric, who took a touch and then hit his shot that Almunia blocked with his body as he closed him down.

The throw to him had come when Cudicini caught and did very well to hold a cross from a corner at the far post, having conceded the original corner with a touch over from Bendtner's late 20 yard shot that looked as though it might dip in. 

Taarabt had the last say when he found a yard of space on the right of the penalty box and shot, but it was wide of the goal and the final whistle followed shortly afterwards.  It was disappointing that we had not taken all three points against ten men for such a long period of the game, but in hindsight a point before the game would have sounded good.

While there were aspects of the game which looked better - Palacios' strengthening of the midfield, Woodgate and Dawson's partnership at the back and Lennon's first half mastery of the Arsenal full back, some still need attention.  The ball into the box must be better and for the majority of the second half, Lennon was left unused.  There is still a long way to go and the result preserves our record against the top teams this season, but now we need to play with the same vigour and enterprise against the teams in the lower reaches.  That might move us away from them, rather than having to rely on their results to help us out.

BURTON BRADSTOCK

 
 
 
TU
 
 

Reaction : -

 
 

TUNNEL VISION

 
 
An important point gained but it should've been all three in the end. I couldn't believe Modric didn't square the ball when through on Almunia.

And Pavyluchenko ? Dear, oh dear ... did the nerves get to him or have we just been sold a pup ?  Over 30m worth of talent and neither could force a decent save from a dodgy keeper that conceded four goals against us last time out.

Palacios did OK though; given time he will be a good player for us.

Simon Wightman

 
   
 
Happy , Happy - didn't lose - kept a clean sheet - could have won it with Modric - could have lost it but for Cudicini's save from Bendtner - Eboue sent off - Aadebayor carried off - vital point.

That's seven points from the so called big clubs this season - remember there is a big gulf in Arsenal and Spurs at this moment in time - the key is to play with this passion every
week.

Looking better Spurs, just need to be more polished and cynical in front of goal.

4-4 and 0-0 - Spurs win on away goals this season. 

Adam

   
 

What exactly is it with Wenger ?  It was obvious that the man with worse vision that Mr. Magoo wouldn't have seen Eboue kick Modric right in front of him.  

But then he had a perfect line of sight through players on the other side of the penalty area from his dug-out to see Eboue's goal be ruled out for a push. 

It's about time the Premier League took action against Wenger for bringing the game into disrepute, as anyone so short sighted would surely be unable to pass a driving test, let alone any coaching badges.

Thought we were on for a point even before Eboue got his marching orders.  It was just a shame that the worst player in their side was the one who had to go !!  The link-up play between Robbie and Pav looked promising and Palacios was everywhere. 

If only we could play like this every week.

Stanford Rivers

   
 
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Other scores this weekend :
Blackburn Rovers 0 Aston Villa 2 Saturday
Chelsea 0 Hull City 0 Saturday
Everton 3 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Middlesbrough 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 2 Liverpool 3 Saturday
Sunderland 2 Stoke City 0 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 2 Newcastle United 3 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 0 Fulham 0 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Manchester United 1 Sunday

   

 

League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 24 17 5 2 41 10 56 +31
2 Liverpool 25 15 9 1 42 17 54 +25
3 Aston Villa 25 15 6 4 40 24 51 +16
4 Chelsea 25 14 7 4 44 15 49 +29
5 Arsenal 25 12 8 5 38 26 44 +13
6 Everton 25 11 7 7 34 28 40 +6
7 Wigan Athletic 25 9 7 9 26 24 34 +2
8 West Ham United 25 9 6 10 31 32 33 -1
9 Manchester City 24 9 4 11 42 32 31 +10
10 Fulham 23 7 9 7 22 19 30 +3
11 Sunderland 25 8 6 11 27 33 30 -6
12 Hull City 25 7 8 10 31 46 29 -15
13 Bolton Wanderers 25 8 3 14 27 37 27 -10
14 Newcastle United 25 6 9 10 33 42 27 -9
15 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 25 6 7 12 26 31 25 -5
16 Portsmouth 24 6 6 12 25 41 24 -16
17 Stoke City 25 6 6 13 21 40 24 -19
18 Blackburn Rovers 24 5 8 11 27 40 23 -13
19 Middlesbrough 25 5 7 13 18 36 22 -18
20 West Bromwich Albion 25 6 4 15 24 47 22 -23

 

Position before the match :  14th
Position after the match :  15th

 

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