Espanyol (Spain) 1 (1)
Saturday 10th August 2013 Kick off 17:30
White Hart Lane
|Soldado (p) 29||David Lopez 44|
Townsend (foul on Clerc) 86
Victor Sanchez (foul on Huddlestone) 80
|Crowd : 35,739||Weather : Warm, dry|
|Referee : Andre Marriner (West Midlands)||Assistant Referees : Mr. D. Cann; Mr. M. Perry|
|Fourth Official : Mr. N. Davies||-|
|Espanyol kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Espanyol (Spain) :||kit|
Aaron LENNON (31
Andros TOWNSEND 72 )
9 Roberto SOLDADO (18 Jermain DEFOE 61)
|White shirts with blue trim, Navy blue shorts and socks||
|Grey shirts with black yoke, light blue shorts and socks|
|Manager : Andre Villas-Boas||Manager : Javier Aguirre|
|Sponsor : Hewlett Packard||Shirt sponsor : Cancun|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : Puma|
Tottenham's first team completed their pre-season friendly programme with a 1-1 home draw against a physical Espanyol team, who showed little intent in going forward, but still managed to leave without being beaten. Some of that was due to our injury crisis at the back, but some was due to the reliance on zonal marking, which has cost us a few goals in pre-season and needs to be rectified before the serious stuff starts.
With the three summer signings being brought on to meet the fans, there was a feeling of optimism, despite the absence of the soon to depart (if Real can find a couple of tens of millions down the back of their sofa) Gareth Bale. But he might find that his place in the hearts (registered trademark) of Spurs fans could be ousted by Roberto Soldado, who showed what he is all about and got off to a scoring start. Paulinho looked like Sandro with even more stamina, while Chadli worked the line and looked strong on the ball and showed a good touch.
The game started at an unexpectedly furious pace and it was mainly Spurs who were setting that pace. Walker slipped a pass accurately inside the left back and Aaron Lennon darted between him and another Espanyol player to get to the dead ball line and pull it back, but it was blocked for a corner at the near post. It came to nothing, but a throw-in a minute later found Soldado in the box, with his back to goal and a defender right behind him, the Spaniard turned and held off the opponent to win a corner. The way Tottenham were attacking, Espanyol had to resort to some rough-house stuff and throughout the game, referee Marriner was more than lenient.
The crowd erupted in the fifth minute, when Paulinho had the ball in the net. A foul on the left hand corner of the penalty box was curled in by Gylfi Sigurdsson, with Paulinho timing his run to head the ball low past Casilla. However, Mr. Cann's flag was raised to indicate the Brazilian midfielder was offside, but TV replays later showed it was marginal to say the least. Perhaps 'Hotspot' might have shown up something on this warm day ?
Soldado was still looking for the space to terrorise defenders and a run between two grey shirted defenders saw his intervention bring another corner. As usual it came to nothing and then play moved to the other end for Espanyol's first serious foray on the Spurs goal. Two visiting players went for same ball in the Tottenham area, but Pizzi got a low ball into the goalmouth, where Dawson cut it out and Rose cleared it away. This lead to Spurs storming up to other end and Rose getting to the line to win a corner. This was headed out for another corner, which again failed to trouble the Spanish team's defence. Espanyol were similarly, or so I thought, inept at dead ball situations, with former Barcelona and Benfica winger Simao getting up from being fouled by Walker on the left edge of the Spurs box to take a free kick that he blazed over Lloris' bar in the 11th minute.
There were some petty fouls and late digs going in from the Espanyol players, who were obviously out to show Spurs that even though this was a friendly, they could still get injured. Simoa fouled Walker in a manner that indicated he was getting even with him, but this allowed Gylfi to swing in another free-kick that Soldado got to with his head at the near post to glide just over the bar. Rose was coming in for a bit of treatment from skinny winger Stuani, but he is Uruguayan, so perhaps his approach to the game is a little more understandable because of that fact.
In the 19th minute Mousa Dembele engineered himself a shooting chance as he often does, shifting the ball onto his left foot just outside the box, but then, as he often does, he failed to get a clean hit on the ball and the low drive was easy for the keeper to dive to save. Lloris had a similar easy save to make at the other end three minutes later, but it should really have resulted in Espanyol going ahead. A corner from the Spurs right was headed back the way it had come by Colotto and David Lopez snuck in behind Paulinho to volley at goal from a couple of yards out, but couldn't get any weight on it and it dropped for Lloris to dive on the ball on the line. It was a lesson Spurs did not benefit from later on.
But it was Tottenham who went into the lead in the 29th minute, with a penalty !! A Dembele shot was blocked, but fell to the left corner of box, where Danny Rose got there first ahead of Fuentes, who brought him down. Marriner pointed to the penalty spot and most of the crowd wondered what was happening, so long had it been since a home penalty came our way. Luckily, Soldado is more familiar with the twelve yard mark and stuttered up to the ball and swept it wide of keeper's dive to the right to give Spurs a 1-0 lead.
Spurs were catching Espanyol out with quick movement and when Lennon picked off a loose pass and played Paulinho in down the right hand channel, the Brazilian went into the box, turned and looked to play the ball square, but it was cut out. Espanyol's efforts were becoming a little more frustrated, with a Sergio Garcia shot from outside of box way wide to the right of Lloris' goal. However, Tottenham were trying to help and when Rose tried to clear from his own dead-ball line, he did so across his box and the ball was pulled down by Garcia, who then moved into the box and Zeki Fryers had to hold him off to allow Lloris to collect the ball on the floor as he came out. Rose's frustration on the niggly winger Stuani boiled over as he scythed his legs from under him and Spurs were not alert enough to stop it being played quickly giving Sanchez a shot at goal, but this was blocked to concede a corner. There was a minute left before half-time when the corner came in and it ended with the score being 1-1. Lax zonal marking allowed Lopez to rise to head into the top corner at the near post, while Sigurdsson and Soldado failed to pick up the defender. It could have been worse, as Garcia hit a low shot as Spurs stood off him and it went narrowly wide, with the striker wanting a corner, but only getting the half-time whistle.
There was mutters of discontent and a few boos as the goal went in and the casual spectator who turns out for these pre-season friendlies showed that they don't like to see things go against Spurs. Well, it is part of the game and the constant chatter about things unconcerned with the game made for an evening of frustration with the people sitting around me as much as the way the game was going.
There were cheers at the start of the second half and it was good to see them being for Younes Kaboul running out for the first time in a year. I hoped that his muscular presence might deter Espanyol from some of their more cynical intent. And that he might tighten things up at the back, playing alongside Daws.
Spurs had a chance from a
corner six minutes into the half, when the ball dropped at the far
post to Soldado, but he couldn't get a proper connection and the
ball bobbled through to the keeper, but a minute later, Walker set
off on a speedy run and exchanged passes with Sigurdsson. He
got wide in the area, but was unable to pull the ball back across
goal. Tottenham were exhibiting some neat touches around the
edge of the box, but couldn't quite get them to come off and
Espanyol got enough players back to break things up. Things
were looking up as we nearly scored from another corner, with Gylfi
playing the ball in and Kaboul rising above a defender to get a
header on it, but he could only direct it down and in the middle of
the goal, where Casilla stood.
Tottenham brought on Andros Townsend on for Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone for Dembele, as more legs were rested. While Lopez moved forward to hit a shot from 23 yards out, it was straight at Friedel, the more worrying thing for Spurs came in the 75th minute, when Stuani got his retribution on Rose for a couple of fouls with an elbow below the defender's eye leaving him bloodied and swollen. He got up to play on, but was soon back on the floor and had to be helped away, with Kyle Naughton coming on in his place.
Two of the subs combined to
almost give Tottenham the lead. Hud won a ball in midfield,
directing it out to the right wing, where Townsend's pace took him
away from the Espanyol players. He cut inside and curled a
shot just inches wide of the far post. When the ball went
dead, Victor Sanchez was booked for a late tackle on Hud in the move
and it was not before time, as he had been doing the same for much
of the preceding 79 minutes. Townsend must learn to curb his
temper, as he picked up another yellow in pre-season for a late
tackle on substitute Clerc, probably borne of him being knocked
about, but he will need to learn to take this as part of the game or
he will be getting suspended regularly at this rate.
I suppose this was a useful exercise. The team got a run out against an experienced Spanish club, who didn't roll over as some opponents have done in previous years (remember Roma ?). The club got a full house, with associated merchandising sales and the fans who don't get a chance to go that often got to boo the team and then cheer the new players going off after 60 minutes. It was sunny, Spurs didn't lose and there were worse things to do on a Saturday evening.
Worryingly, the defence seemed to be the area of most concern, but without Vertonghen and Kaboul just coming back, it is hard to judge how they might fare in the league matches. Younes' return, coupled with Sandro getting a game, helps bolster the squad a bit and no doubt by the end of the month, there will be others coming in, as well as some going. Parker, Assou-Ekotto and Bale were all missing. Will they still be at the Lane come the end of August ?
For that ... and many other questions to be answered ... time will tell.
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