|DATE||Saturday 9th February 2013|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
What two weeks ago looked a formality for Tottenham now is a very
different proposition, as Newcastle United arrive at the Lane
bolstered by their French foreign legion and Spurs are scratching
around for a striker to play up front.
There is no doubt that the arrival of new recruits has breathed new life into Newcastle's wheezing season. Flirting with relegation before Moussa Sissoko, Mathieu Debuchy, Massaido Haidara, Yoan Gouffran and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa have all come in as reasonably cheap signings or loan players and while a couple have been in the media in the past, some are relative unknowns. The power of Sissoko has been mentioned, but Debuchy adds an attacking options with his over-lapping runs wide on the right.
Adding these players to the string presence up front of Papiss Cisse may compensate for the loss of Demba Ba a little. The out and out scorer had put Cisse in the shade a bit, but now with a new line-up, he may once more become the focus of the side. A player who is not afraid to shoot from anywhere, his awareness of the goal in relation to his own position is sometimes uncanny. While the Ameobi brothers - Shola and Sammy - are available it may be that they are overlooked, as they have not done the business regularly enough for the Toon and Nile Ranger is in trouble off the pitch again.
While the attacking side of the Magpies game had been stuttering, the defence had also been having it's weaker moments, with the midfield suffering the loss of Chiek Tiote through injury. With Tiote back now, United are still missing Danny Simpson, Hatem Ben Arfa, Dan Gosling and Ryan Taylor. The midfield isn't too badly served with players, as Cabaye and Guttierez add some experience while the likes of Marveaux and Obertan have an ability to thrill and frustrate in equal measures.
Stephen Taylor has been at the club a long time and has not really developed as many thought he might, but he is a big strong central defender, along with Fabricio Collocini, who is still there at Newcastle, despite rumours he might want to leave. Perch has been converted into a defender from being a midfielder at Nottingham Forest, so, while he has lots of energy, his transformation into a fully fledged Premier League defender has not yet been realised. David Santon, the former Internazionale full back and centre half Mike Williamson are also available if needed.
While Tottenham should take this game with ease, it has become a harder task, especially if Newcastle set up with a congested midfield and aiming to hit Spurs on the break, as they did to Chelsea last week. While I think Bale is having a golden period of form and Spurs have goal sin them, it may be that this match is one in which they get bogged down in an over-crowded midfield. Thus I reckon it might end all square, unless Spurs find goals form someone other than Gareth in the midfield.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Newcastle United 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
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2 (1) Newcastle United 1 (1)
Saturday 9th February 2013 Kick off 12:45
White Hart Lane
CABAYE (foul on Dembele) 90
AMEOBI (dissent) 90+6
|Crowd : 36,244||Weather : Drizzly rain, chilly|
|Referee : Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. S. Long (-); Mr. G. Beswick (-)|
|Fourth Official : Lee Probert||-|
|Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Newcastle United :||kit|
Mousa DEMBELE (29
Jake LIVERMORE 90)
11 Gareth BALE
James PERCH (24
Chiek TIOTE 82)
|Manager : Andre Villas-Boas||Manager : Alan Pardew|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Virgin Money|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : Puma|
A match that could easily have seen Spurs equal last season's winning score against Newcastle United, ended up a tight 2-1 victory, but that does not reveal the true story of the game against a time-wasting Toon side, who are thrown back into the bottom third of the table by this defeat.
In my view, it is where teams like Alan Pardew's side belong. The manager whose players started time wasting early in the first half, was sufficiently duplicitous enough to start pointing to his watch when a Spurs player was down injured and his goalkeeper Tim Krul transmogrified from a sloth when his side were behind or drawing into a cheetah when it came to taking goal kicks when they slipped behind. But Tottenham's own bolt of lightning - Gareth Bale - had enough in it himself to beat Newcastle all on his own. Two goal sand a performance bursting with pace left the crowd as well as the visiting defence breathless.
There was the usual game-plan that Pardew employs when he comes to London, but having been soundly thrashed by Arsenal, it was doubled in intensity, as his side were determined to leave with come credit. Unfortunately for the manager and his players, they had to make the long trek back to the snowy North with nothing in their balance apart from a drop down the table even further. With the players they have at their disposal, they should be willing to give more to a match than they did here and frankly, if they play with such limited ambitions, they might well get pulled into the dog-fight at the bottom again.
For Tottenham, things could not have been more different. Not that Newcastle's tactics made things easy, but the Spurs side showed belief in the teachings of their coach, which did not dwell on the negative, but accentuated the positive and it was the continuation of playing the AVB and the Tottenham ways that brought about the win that briefly saw them move into third place in the league, only to be re-replaced by Chelsea when they won later in the day.
Spurs kicked off with Caulker coming in for Vertonghen and Naughton replacing Assou-Ekotto, who had been involved in a friendly action in Africa in mid-week. And there was an attacking determination about their play. An early move saw Holtby, starting for the first time, get the ball wide to Bale on the left and Gareth put a quick ball along the edge of the six yard box, with a stretching Clint Dempsey just unable to reach the ball. Then Kyle Walker's ball to Dempsey saw him move towards the penalty area, but his turn to progress forward was brought to a stop by Collocini bringing him down about five yards outside the box. Free-kick. up steps Gareth Bale and with the ball to the right of centre and perhaps just level with the post, his Ronaldo style free-kick, dipping the ball quickly after it goes over the wall deceived Krul, who perhaps should have done better but could only dive in vain as the ball bounced in front of him and darted inside the post. It was a fantastic dead ball goal and one which we have longed for as we don't score many goals direct from free-kicks.
With a goal in the bag after five minutes, it looked as though Spurs might go on to dominate the match, but Newcastle gradually got their passing game going and with swift first time passing and good movement off the ball they were coming back into the game. But only after Lewis Holtby had hit a first time shot that dipped over Krul's bar after good work from Mousa Dembele and then Dempsey charged down a clearance from the Newcastle keeper and it broke to Bale, but he was put off as he was about to shoot from 35 yard sand the ball went wide. Twice more Holtby found himself on the edge f the box with shot son goal; one from Dempsey's pass which went wide and a similar one to his earlier effort when Lennon came in from the right and played him in, but again, his shot was too high. it was a promising sign though, as he was happy to put in the hard work as well as get forward to join in with the striker.
In between the German's last two efforts, Newcastle should have equalised. A cross in from the right wing by Collocini found Cisse unmarked between Naughton and Caulker and the Senegalese striker managed to put his tame header wide from right yards out. When Parker had to rush out to block Cabaye's shot, the pressure was building and that came to fruit for Newcastle in the 25th minute. A move down the right saw Moussa Sissoko get in behind Kyle Naughton and pulled the ball back low to the edge of the box for Yoan Gouffran to shoot home with the aid of a deflection off Michael Dawson's back as he tried to throw a block in front of the ball. The touch took it past Lloris as he dived to over the trajectory of the original shot. The barcodes were jumping as they sensed an end to their London misery.
After that, the game died down and there were few chances of note, with Dawson blocking Cabaye's shot and Dempsey shooting wide the most notable efforts.
With no half-time entertainment (apart from them watering the pitch !!), it was interesting to note that when the fans came back after the interval, that Newcastle failed to fill their section in the Director's box. So much for the Cockney Mafia at St. James' Park. Unless they were all inside enjoying the London hospitality !!
The second half started with Tottenham piling pressure on the Geordie goal, with Lennon and Walker working the right wing channels well, but the final ball was lacking accuracy and Newcastle were let off the hook. Ten minutes into the half, scorer Gouffran had to be stretchered off with Oxygen being applied, as he was caught by Walker's boot on the follow-through as he went into challenge the Spurs full back. After nearly 70 minutes of all action play, Lewis Holtby made way for Emmanuel Adebayor, who had finally made it back into the country and onto the Spurs bench. He nearly made an immediate impact, as Walker played him in, but the Togo striker let the ball run off his foot to the keeper.
With the game moving from end to end now, Bale had a shot blocked by Taylor and Cabaye fired high over the top when the ball broke to him five yards outside the area, but London pride was restored when Spurs went back into the lead. When Dempsey hoicked the ball out of his own half and Adebayor got a touch on it, Bale ran past Collicini and touched the ball past Taylor, before shooting form the left side of the area across the keeper, with the ball going in off Krul's foot to enter the net and put Tottenham 2-1 ahead. The pace would have left most players for dead, but with Taylor, it left him looking like a statue.
Within minutes, Spurs could have had another goal, as Bale's corner in was completely missed by Krul and not expecting it, Steven Caulker's header went a couple of feet wide and Newcastle had a lucky escape. It wasn't to be their last. When BAE, who was on as a sub for Naughton, played a ball over the top of the defence, once more Bale got there, took a touch to instantly control it and then smashed a shot at goal that Krul palmed over the abr. He was fortunate that the shot was straight at him, because the power of it would have left him for dead had it been wide of him.
Mousa Dembele was lucky too, but only to escape serious injury when Yohan Cabaye lunged onto his ankle with his studs only after the ball had gone. Dowd only produced a yellow card, when it might have deserved harsher punishment. And with his injury and that to Gouffran, the fourth official showed seven minutes to be played after the 90.
It was time for Newcastle to try and get something they didn't deserve from the match and when a ball into the box was won by a Spurs defender and went across the face of the box, Benoit played it and took the ball back into the Spurs box for Ameobi, running into the left hand side of the goal. Hugo Lloris was quick off his line and managed to put the substitute off his shot, but it was a prime opening to score, but the chance was spurned.
That was their last opportunity and Spurs moved the ball well as Newcastle tried to attack. Bale's right wing run saw him play a ball back for Jake Livermore and his shot was charged down, then it became the Bale show. Dempsey did well on the left of the area and his low ball in caused confusion with Collocini hooking the ball out, but straight into Gareth's face. The ball went to the keeper's left and Bale got there first, but, as the goal lay open in front of him, he had to take the ball with his right foot and it was bouncing up, causing him to shoot over the bar, when a hat-trick beckoned. Then, with the last attack of the match, the ball was worked to him on the right, as Spurs broke with a number of players forward, but he cut back inside and across the 25 yard line infield, hitting a low left footer that Krul managed to get half a hand on and the ball squirted out wide.
For all Bale's importance in scoring the goals, my personal man of the match was Aaron Lennon. A player who does not always get the recognition he deserves for what he does off the ball. Today he ran unstintingly and the tackles he made when tracking back were as vital as the runs he made attacking the Newcastle defence. He is developing into a player who now understands his role within the team and is playing for his team-mates all the more because of it.
A vital three points, as Spurs try to get results with the team struggling with numbers up front. And one that came with the team continuing to play our game rather than worry about what the opposition were planning. The crowd were getting after Parker and Dempsey when the scores were level, but both made contributions to the win and some patience will be needed when things are not going how the crowd might like them to.
Another step in the development of the team under AVB and hopefully another step towards our club's intended target come the end of the season.
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|What you thought|
|The Funky Phantom||I see that Alan Pardew was revealing some of his deepest fears after the game when he said, "I think when you see a big gash it disturbs you as a player."|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Swansea City||4||Queens Park Rangers||1||Saturday|
|Aston Villa||2||West Ham United||1||Sunday|
|Liverpool||0||West Bromwich Albion||2||Monday|
|8||West Bromwich Albion||26||11||4||11||36||35||37||+1|
|11||West Ham United||26||8||6||12||29||38||30||-9|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||26||2||11||13||19||44||17||-22|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 4th
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