|DATE||Saturday 10th September 2011|
Spurs travel to the West Midlands to face fifth placed Wolves looking up from the bottom of the table. A game behind already and with the two top teams having been faced too, Spurs have it all to do with a need to get points on the board before too big a gap opens up. I am not talking about a relegation battle just yet, but we have seen three years ago what can happen if too many points are lost early on.
Wolves have made a good star to the season with two wins and a draw in the Midlands derby against Aston Villa. Coming up against former Spurs midfielder Jamie O'Hara will pose an interesting clash of styles, with new midfield battler Scott Parker probably in line to pick up a starting place in direct conflict with the player who was on loan at Molineux last season before making the move permanent.
In fact, the way Spurs have played in recent times could be re-shaped by new players and injuries. Losing Rafael van der Vaart for a few weeks with a hamstring tear means Harry might have to adopt a more familiar 4-4-2 with Defoe partnering loan signing Adebayor, while in midfield, Modric and Parker might form the centre of the four, with Bale and Kranjcar on the flanks.
By taking the game to the Old Gold side, Spurs might have their best hope of getting something from the game. Solid at home all last season, there is no reason to believe it will be anything different this time around and Tottenham need to put them under pressure to keep them form having their own attacking intent.
With key players of their own missing, Wolves will be a little light up top with Matt Jarvis missing as a provider and Ebanks-Blake also out as one of their finishers. Kevin Doyle is a handful, but I would hope that the Tottenham central defensive pairing will have honed their concentration to keep an eye on him and Steven Fletcher, who will both be sharp and full of confidence.
Midfield is also an area where Wanderers have been injury hit. However, O'Hara will be joined by hard workers Karl Henry, Stephen Ward and Stephen Hunt, with an option of more guile using Adam Hamill or Michael Kightly. Their defence has looked more resolute with Roger Johnson coming in from Birmingham to form a good partnership with Christophe Berra, but they are not infallible and it will be interesting to see how Harry plays it, but Adebayor needs someone to play off and Defoe could be the one bussing around that gives two big centre0halves a problem they are not comfortable with.
Elokobi and Stearman make it a very tall back four and the need to get in behind the full backs will provide chances, especially with a considered pull-back low into the box, as high balls in might well get eaten up quite easily. Keeper Wayne Hennessey has looked good this season after a dip in form that saw him drop behind Marcus Hahnemann, but now the American has left the club, the responsibility of being number one seems to have been taken on by the Welsh goalie.
I think that there will be goals and that it will not be a dull game, with both sides looking for the points, but with a decent performance from Tottenham, they should be able to nick the win despite the home team's fervent support urging them on.
|PREDICTION||Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
WANDERERS TEAM NEWS :
Winger Matt Jarvis and striker Sylvain Ebanks-Blake are both out with ankle injuries, while D Edwards (back, Steven Mouyokolo (knee) are both sidelined too, along with Adlene Guedioura (ankle). New signings Jamie O'Hara and Roger Johnson should both play from the start.
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs are still without Ledley King (groin), Sandro (knee), Steven Pienaar (groin) and William Gallas (calf). Joining them are Rafael van der Vaart (hamstring) and Aaron Lennon (groin), but the rest of the squad appear to be available for selection, including new signings Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker.
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Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 (0)
Saturday 10th September 2011
Venue : - Molineux
Tottenham Hotspur 2 (0)
Kick off 15:00
Stearman (foul) 78
Hamill (foul) 79
Johnson (foul) 83
Walker (dissent) 35
Parker (foul) 70
|Crowd : 25,274||Weather : - Warm, rainy in second half|
|Referee : Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)||Assistant Referees : - (-)|
|Fourth Official : -||-|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the Jack Harris Stand in the first half.|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
|Manager : - Mick McCarthy||Manager : Harry Redknapp|
|Sponsor : - Sporting Bet||Shirt sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : - Burrda||Kit Supplier : Puma|
A 2-0 away win achieved in good style against a Wolverhampton side set up in a defensive manner was the way Spurs would have wanted to get their season underway ... albeit three matches late. Mick McCarthy's side had made an unbeaten start to the season in their three games, while Spurs had lost the two they had been able to play, making them the underdogs on their trip to Molineux.
However, the introduction of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor, along with the surprise return of Ledley King in defence gave Tottenham a stronger look throughout the spine of the side. Despite some instances where the ball was given away needlessly, Spurs controlled the game and Wolves had few decent chances, with most of them being from set pieces.
Spurs started well, passing the ball around and making Wolves go backwards, with Gareth Bale starting in his Welsh role on the right of midfield and Niko Kranjcar on the left. Inside them, Scott Parker and Luka Modric formed a little pairing in side of height, but a good mix of abilities and Jermain Defoe partnered Emmanuel Adebayor in a little and large striking duo. At the back, Kyle Walker was at right back, with King and Kaboul in the middle, as BAE assumed his customary left back role, all playing in front of Brad Friedel ... and Carlo Cudicini on the bench, leaving Heurelho Gomes right out of the picture.
Within the first couple of minutes, Parker showed what he can add to the Tottenham team, by taking the ball off Karl Henry and slipping it forward for Defoe to move to the edge of the box to shoot, but a defender got a block on it and the ball flew just wide. Spurs were using the width of the pitch and Benoit putting Defoe away up the left to put a ball in for Adebayor that was just too far away from him and then the Cameroon full back doing the same, but Stearman was almost forced into an own goal, with Hennessey having to save. The ball fell to Kranjcar at the far post and his shot looked to be going just inside the post when Berra got a touch on the ball to take it off the line. That was in the ninth minute and four minutes later, it was the Spurs keeper in action, when Stearman knocked over Modric in midfield and with no free-kick given, he moved forward with the ball and although he didn't really know what to do with it, a tackle on him took the ball into the path of Jamie O'Hara. The former Spurs midfielder hit a first time shot that Friedel awkwardly punched away, even though it was at head height and coming straight at him. You had the feeling that had Gomes done that he would have been criticised for it, but the American managed to get it to the edge of the box, where it was hacked away.
Whenever Tottenham get a free-kick around the edge of the box, it is usually going to end in a disappointing way and with no van der Vaart, Kranjcar stepped up to curl on at goal, but only succeeded in hitting the wall and getting a corner. From it, Ledley rose to win a header, but the ball came from behind a Wolves defender and he probably didn't have a clear sight of it, so headed into the ground and over the top.
Tottenham faced a spell of pressure with ten minutes left to half-time, when a Kightly corner came in and Steven Fletcher and Roger Johnson both missed the ball that went just wide of the far post in the end and then five minutes later, an O'Hara free-kick was bent in from the left only for Johnson to win a header at the far post, but he failed to get a good contact on it and the ball slid wide from a yard out.
There were two late openings for Spurs as the half drew to a close, with Defoe nicking the ball off O'Hara and stepping forward to shoot at goal from 20 yards out, with Hennessey diving to his right to push the ball wide and then in injury time, Adebayor played the ball to Bale on the right and he wanted to move the ball onto his left foot to shoot rather than his right and ended up trying to beat Hennessey at his near post, but only hit the side netting.
It was a solid first half performance and while there was no score at the break, Spurs had shown a good shape and moved the ball well with Modric back to his influential best. The second period started well, with Tottenham on the offensive, but with little potent threat on Hennessey's goal, while at the other end, O'Hara volleyed Walker's clearing header at goal, but what it lacked was power, leaving Friedel a simple task of claiming the shot. He was more troubled by his own defender, with Assou-Ekotto hacking a ball away from a Wolves player near halfway, but high and back towards his own goal, requiring the goalie to come out of his area and head the ball clear as Fletcher closed in.
Adebayor tried to manufacture a shot on goal, when he received the ball in the 'D' with three players right in front of him, but only hit one of them as his shot went over the bar. Walker headed a passable chance over the bar when the corner came in.
in the 67th minute, Parker broke up play in midfield and moved forward, exchanging passes with Niko Kranjcar, before slipping a ball into the right hand channel in the area with the outside of his foot, threading it through two defenders for Adebayor. The striker took the ball wide of Hennessey as he came out and calmly slid the ball inside the near post as Johnson slid in to try and clear. It was a neat piece of finishing and one that you wondered if Peter Crouch would have been able to effect had he been playing. Maybe Adebayor's more natural goal-scoring will benefit Spurs more than Crouch's awkward effectiveness.
So, Spurs were ahead and expected a response from the home team, who had set up for the draw with both their formation and their approach to the game. But it didn't come. A weak shot that went wide from Fletcher and a cross from Hamill that almost caught out Friedel were their main efforts, but Hamill, Johnson and Stearman were all booked for late tackled, as they realised they were second best to the ball on most occasions.
One such free-kick was quickly taken by Luka Modric, who found Bale and he played the ball onto Jermain Defoe just to the right of centre outside the box. The striker knocked it wide right to Kranjcar, who played it back to him and with his marker Johnson having slipped, darted forward to shoot across Hennessey from eight yards out to make the score 2-0 to Tottenham. it was the sort of goal you want to see Defoe scoring and with both strikers on the score-sheet, it was a welcome sight after last season's lack of goals from the front men.
The remainder of the game was played out without too much incident, other than referee Walton warning Walker for wasting time, which could have resulted in him being sent off for a second yellow. But the way Spurs played, it was not as commanding as Man City's performance against us a couple of weeks ago, but had enough about it to justify some confidence that the squad is shaping up nicely for the season ahead.
Now Modric's head might be on properly, it gives us a fighting chance to move forward, as the little man does so often and with Parker alongside him, the destroyer role in anchoring the midfield might be secure. The only thing is that Parker will need to ensure that he doesn't pick up too many yellow cards, as his effectiveness will be reduced should be be suspended too often.
Adebayor and Defoe didn't link that well, but they didn't get in each other's way, so there are advantages to their pairing and the experiment to play Bale on the right didn't really work, as his crossing was hampered by having to check back onto his left foot all the time. I can see that he can bend crosses in towards goal from that side, but his pace will not be used to it's best effect, if he has to stop and turn to put the ball in.
Generally a good three points earned by a good show by the team. Nobody had a bad day, although we do get caught in possession sometimes and Ledley's use of the ball wasn't always great, but then he hasn't played and has rarely trained, so hopefully that will improve with time.
Liverpool are up on Sunday next week and even though they lost at Stoke today, it will be another marker as to how our squad shapes up against big spending clubs.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Bolton Wanderers||0||Manchester United||5||Saturday|
|Manchester City||3||Wigan Athletic||0||Saturday|
|Norwich City||0||West Bromwich Albion||1||Sunday|
|Queens Park Rangers||0||Newcastle United||0||Monday|
|11||Queens Park Rangers||4||1||1||2||1||6||4||-5|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||4||1||0||3||3||5||3||-2|
Position before match :
Position after match : 13th
Position after the weekend : 14th
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