West Ham United (Home)
Premier League

Sunday 9th March 2008

A depleted West Ham United squad arrive at White Hart Lane, where the two out of form teams will meet.  Having lost 1-4 to Birmingham City, Spurs will face a West Ham side who have just come off the back of a 0-4 home defeat by ten man Chelsea and a Fernando Torres inspired 0-4 defeat at Liverpool.

While Spurs have been goal-happy at both ends of the pitch, the Irons are parsimonious, with only Chelsea having had less goals feature in their games this season.  What that means for this game, who knows !!

Tottenham need a win to go into Wednesday's UEFA Cup second leg against PSV with some sort of form and a goal or two would help the side believe that they can overturn the first leg loss.  But in the league we will be going nowhere if we win, as West Ham sit above us with an eight point cushion in tenth place.  They had a good first half of the season, have picked up some good results by the odd goal here and there and have beaten Manchester United, but their recent form is no doubt a result of the long injury list they have had.  That will keep a couple of former Spurs players out; namely Matthew Etherington and Calum Davenport.  Etherington will not be missed as he was unpopular here after making a gesture to the crowd before he left, but Davenport was unlucky in not getting much opportunity to show what he could do and then falling down the pecking order behind other central defensive signings.

One ex-Spur who might play is Bobby Zamora, who has been doing well in the reserves, but with Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole the regular choices up front, it would take a sea change for Curbishley to split the front two.  Ashton looked a great prospect before breaking his ankle with England in training, but since he has come back, there has not been the same buzz around him and rumours of unhappiness and a move away surround the striker.  His current partner Carlton Cole was much touted when at Chelsea, but he failed to make it as a regular starter there and now he has been reinstalled in the Irons front line, he has scored a few good goals and provides a physical threat to any opposition.

Just behind the front two, Luis Boa Morte, David Noble, Scott Parker and Freddie Ljungberg are the most likely to feature in midfield.  Ex-Gooners and a Spurs fan, with a local boy will face us and Boa Morte is upsetting as many people as Lampard these days.  His general demeanour does nothing to endear people to him and the thought that we were interested in buying him at one time was dreadful.  Ljungberg has joined him and the Swede has a few glimmers of his past form, but has struggled, as he is now a fading star, while Noble's fame is in the ascendancy, as he is an England U-21 regular and is being touted as a summer signing for Arsenal.  Another player who has been injury-hit is the returning club captain Scott Parker, who supported Tottenham as a youngster, but when he had the chance to play at the Lane on a regular basis, after an unsuccessful spell at Chelsea, felt that moving to Newcastle United would be one to a bigger club.  Combative and a good passer, he moves the ball through the midfield and covers for his colleagues, while Noble tends to be a more offensive player.

Robert Green has been picking up plenty of plaudits with some good performances in goal and is always being mentioned in the papers as a potential England keeper, although his rash move from his line left Michael Dawson an easy goal at the Boleyn.  His decision making is a little suspect, although he has good hands and good reactions.

His defence have not always protected him that well this season, especially more recently.  Lucas Neill has caused a bit of a problem for the Irons, with a huge wage being paid and others wanting parity with him.  However, his rash tackling can affect the way the side have to defend, with players needing to cover for him if he dives into a challenge.  Aaron Lennon might have some joy against the Australian full-back and the central pairing of Anton Ferdinand and probably Jonathan Spector (if Upson doesn't recover from his calf injury) might have a torrid time if Berbatov turns it on, with Robbie Keane taking on the defenders too.  On the other flank George McCartney will work the line and he likes to get forward, but on the break he might be caught out of position.

Others who might feature could be Jon Pantsil and Norberto Solano.  Pantsil is still at Upton Park despite falling out with the manager, but he has been giving the team a bit more in defence and now his main critic Nigel Reo-Coker has left, he probably feels a bit more welcome in the side.  Solano is good from dead-balls and is also a good passer of the ball, but he has lost some of his pace over the years, although he does read the game well.

With Spurs a potent scoring outfit on their day and West Ham struggling to find some form, I think the game will go Tottenham's way, although the Irons will be up for the game, as for them it is a big thing.  Having won a trophy already this season to secure European football next season, Tottenham should be able to relax and play their football, but this has not been the case in the last couple of matches.  I am not sure it will be a beautiful game, nor that it will be a flowing performance by Spurs, but I can see them running out winners ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    West Ham United  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Gareth Bale (foot); Jermaine Jenas (ankle)

WEST HAM UNITED :  -  Matthew Etherington (groin); James Collins (knee); Kieron Dyer (broken leg); Julien Faubert (leg); Lee Bowyer (groin); Craig Bellamy (groin); Nigel Quashie (ankle); Calum Davenport (neck); Daniel Gabbidon (groin)


Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)
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Tottenham Hotspur   4    West Ham United   0      (Half-time score : 2-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 9th March 2008
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   36,062
Referee :  Chris Foy (St. Helens)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Wet before the game, but dry and bright when game was being played
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Robinson

28  Hutton
20  Dawson
39  Woodgate (  6  Tainio 77)
  2  Chimbonda

25  Lennon
  4  Zokora
22  Huddlestone
15  Malbranque (11  Gilberto 58  )

  9  Berbatov 
10  Keane (Bent 69  )

Unused subs: 
12  Cerny
17  Boateng

West Ham United :

  1  Green

  2  Neill
  5  Ferdinand
18  Spector
  3  McCartney

  7  Ljungberg      (14  Pantsil 71)
  8  Parker (16  Noble 76)
17  Mullins
34  Boa Morte               

  9  Ashton (12  Cole 77)
25  Zamora

Unused subs: 
21  Wright
15  Solano

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

  West Ham United
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 8
Berbatov 11
Gilberto 85
Bent 90

West Ham United


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  




West Ham United

Boa Morte (persistent fouling)  23
Ljungberg (dissent)  70   

Boa Morte (second yellow - foul) 44

Match Report : -  
Well, that was easy, but then perhaps we should have known that Spurs would win 4-0, as West Ham had lost their previous two matches by that exact score.  It was perhaps the absolute nature of their capitulation that was unexpected and the lack of fight associated with some of the toughest names in football was shocking.

For the likes of Ferdinand, Neill, Parker and Ashton, it looked like they were going through the motions as Curbishley got the chant of "You're going to be sacked in morning" from his won fans.  Contrast their attitude with that later in the day of Bristol Rovers fans, who were 1-5 down and were singing "We're Going To Win 6-5" as opposed to the Irons supporters, who, at 0-2 down, were telling their team that they were "Going To Lose 4-0" !!  The famous "Bubbles" anthem had long popped off with most of their fans by the end, whereas "Goodnight Irene" was being sung lustily until the end by the Gasheads.

But then, West Ham had nothing to play for.  Safe from relegation and with 40 points, in a much preferable position to last season, maybe those accusations about Curbishley having a "Charlton mentality" of staying up had been adopted by his players.

Indeed, apart from the first five minutes and a short spell in the second half, when they had a go at the Spurs goal, they rarely threatened to break their duck.  With four minutes of the game gone, Freddie Ljungberg cut inside from the right wing to hit a shot at Paul Robinson, who seemed to take his eye off it.  The ball squirmed from his grasp and dropped in front of him and in front of goal.  Ashton followed up, but a combination of Dawson and the recovering Robbo blocked his effort and then Robinson came out at Zamora's feet to deny him, with the ex-Spurs striker shot flying off Boa Morte, but the referee made his first mistake of the day by giving a corner.  Luckily for Spurs it came to nothing.

And all of a sudden, it was 1-0 to Spurs.  Spector clattered Berbatov from behind (whatever Curbishley says about him going down easily) and Huddlestone stepped up to play a firmly struck free-kick into the area from a wide area on the right found Berbatov rise, although not having to jump that high, to head the ball down and past Green for the opening goal.  He was helped by the fact that Ferdinand ducked as the ball arrived and made Dimi's job easier.

It was the same again, when Malbranque was felled by Ljungberg and Hud once more swung the ball across for Berbatov to meet it with his head before anyone near to him could get to it.  Once more, Ferdinand was at fault and Neill was also at fault, failing to cut it out at the near post.  So 11 minutes gone and 2-0 ahead !!  It was the start that Spurs could only have dreamed of and it all came after they had played slowly for the first five minutes, but then stepped up the pace.

The deficit was too much for some West Ham players to bear and Boa Morte, as the main culprit took his frustration out on the Spurs players, with Hutton being first to receive a kick after the ball had gone.  When Aaron Lennon was presented with the ball by George McCartney's slip on halfway, the winger raced forward and chipped a cross to Tom Huddlestone on the penalty spot, but his early jump saw the ball headed over the bar, with the goal at his mercy.  In the 22nd minute, Boa Morte's succession of fouls caught up with him and Foy put his name in the book.

With a two goal lead, the confidence ran through the Tottenham side and Steed Malbranque cut in from the left wing to hit shot wide, while Huddlestone played a corner that dropped for Berbatov to volley at goal, but straight at Green.  As half time approached, Lennon went on another run down the line.  With the ref having played on a few minutes previously, when Boa Morte had fouled a Spurs man, his crude attempt to tackle Lennon was this time noted by the match official and he pulled out a yellow card and then a red to dismiss the ex-Gooner.

With no changes during the half-time break, which saw Martin Peters take to the field to make a raffle draw for an Opus (will they be giving them away with programmes soon ?), the teams lined up with Spurs one man and two goals up.

It was almost three goals to the good a few minutes in, when Hud smacked a fierce left footer just over the top from outside the area, but Dean Ashton managed to get around Dawson to fire a rising shot across the goal and Robinson that just flew past the far post.  Spurs were playing exhibition football and passed the ball around using the space they had.  One spell of passes saw the back four manoeuvre the ball between them, with Ashton running from one to another to try and get it ... unsuccessfully.

Keane almost got a decent volley to Huddlestone's neat clip over the defence and then there was a short period of panic at the Spurs end, with Zokora getting in the way of Ljungberg's drive, before our keeper saved Neill's 25 yard shot and held on well with Zamora lurking.  Lennon could have added to the lead, during a spell when the next goal was going to be crucial to the outcome of the match.  However, his effort was hacked away from beyond Green by Ferdinand.

Ramos started to make changes to rest players for Wednesday's UEFA Cup tie and Gilberto came on for Steed and had a poor passage of play, when he gave the ball away too cheaply.  There was also a scare when Alan Hutton got his face trodden on by Zamora and he had the magic sponge before returning to the action.  Keane went off to be replaced by Darren bent and it was not a bad idea to give the striker a run out, as he has not played that often recently.

Gooner Ljungberg got booked before leaving the action with Pantsil replacing him, as Curbishley went two up top.  Not that it made a big difference, as the ball kept coming back down the West Ham end, even after the poor Scott Parker left the field for Mark Noble to come on.  Woodgate rampaged forward after Noble slipped and when he crossed from the right wing, he began to limp and not taking any chances, he was substituted by Tainio, with Zokora moving into the centre of defence, with Tainio going into midfield.

As our free-kicks direct on goal have been a bit rubbish lately and with Berbatov on two goals, when one was awarded centrally with little time remaining, Dimitar claimed it and struck it over the wall, but over the bar too.  Shame Konchesky wasn't on the line to give him something to aim at !!

With five minutes left, Chimbonda played a low ball in and Lennon stepped over it for the Brazilian to take it on the left hand side of the goal, turn and strike a low shot past Green and in for his first goal for the club.  The whole team were over to congratulate him in a show of strength to take away the memory of his mistake on Thursday and it shows the camaraderie at the club under Ramos.

Two minutes from time, it looked like Lennon had set up Darren bent for the 100th goal of his career, but Ferdinand did just enough to block it and then Aaron once more raced down the right, to pull the ball back for Alan Hutton to shoot.  The Scot pulled back his right foot, but got under it and that reduced the power in his effort, but it was still too much for Green to handle safely and as it dropped, Berbatov raced in and almost got it down, but the difficult bounce allowed him only to hit the side netting.

Two minutes of added time saw Tottenham on the attack once more and they made West Ham's misery complete and continued their 0-4 losing streak, as Hutton broke away on the right and his pacy cross into the area saw Bent time his run to get to the ball first in front of Spector and head it down into the ground and past Green for the goal he has been waiting for since November.

It was as convincing a performance as you could ask for from Tottenham, who will gather a lot of confidence ahead of their trip to Eindhoven in the week.  PSV will be a different kettle of fish, but something is starting to smell very fishy down E6 way.



Reaction : -



For Wyart Lane's Fanzine Fanzone piece on the match, click here.
Great songs at the match that summed up the game.

"You're not very good" was about right, with "West Ham's our feeder club" being a bit more worrying, as I certainly wouldn't want any of this current crop.

Perhaps best of all was "4-0 in your Cup Final" summed up the importance in which they hold this match and how totally outclassed they were.

The lack of their fans at the end of the game showed their own disgust with their team and coming two weeks after Spurs cleared the Chelsea end at Wembley, I find it all a bit disrespectful when Spurs fans are called fickle.

The club are famous for a song about bubbles and fortunes fading are summing up their club's current predicament quite nicely at the moment.





Other Premier League scores this weekend :
Blackburn Rovers 1 Fulham 1 Saturday
Liverpool 3 Newcastle United 0 Saturday
Reading 2 Manchester City 0 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Everton 1 Sunday
Wigan Athletic 0 Arsenal 0 Sunday
FA Cup quarter finals
Barnsley 1 Chelsea 0 Saturday
Manchester United 0 Portsmouth 1 Saturday
Middlesbrough 0 Cardiff City 2 Sunday
Bristol Rovers 1 West Bromwich Albion 5 Sunday
Other midweek Premier League scores
Chelsea 6 Derby County 1 Wednesday
Portsmouth 4 Birmingham City 2 Wednesday
Aston Villa 1 Middlesbrough 1 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 29 19 9 1 57 21 66 +36
2 Manchester United 28 20 4 4 58 15 64 +44
3 Chelsea 28 18 7 3 48 18 61 +30
4 Liverpool 29 15 11 3 53 20 56 +33
5 Everton 29 17 5 7 47 24 56 +23
6 Aston Villa 29 13 10 6 52 37 49 +15
7 Portsmouth 29 13 8 8 42 31 47 +11
8 Blackburn Rovers 29 12 10 7 38 35 47 +3
9 Manchester City 29 12 9 8 34 33 45 +1
10 West Ham United 29 11 7 11 31 34 40 -4
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 28 9 8 11 53 45 35 +8
12 Middlesbrough 29 7 9 13 26 43 30 -17
13 Wigan Athletic 29 7 7 15 25 40 28 -15
14 Reading 29 8 4 17 34 55 28 -21
15 Newcastle United 29 7 7 15 30 56 28 -26
16 Sunderland 29 7 6 16 26 47 27 -21
17 Birmingham City 29 6 8 15 33 45 26 -12
18 Bolton Wanderers 28 6 7 15 28 42 25 -14
19 Fulham 29 3 11 15 26 49 20 -23
20 Derby County 29 1 7 21 14 63 10 -49


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