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Premier League

Saturday 15th September 2007

Sometimes in football, matches come along at the wrong time.  Having just had a week's break for internationals and off the back of the 3-3 draw at Fulham, which we should have tied up much earlier, another London derby, this time against Arsenal is not quite what the doctor ordered.

Any game against the old enemy is one which needs to be won, but perhaps for the manager, the players and the fans, this one will mark a change in fortunes.  Not having beaten them for such along time, even though they do not have an outstanding record at the Lane, the disappointing run of results from the start of the season when so much was expected, a win would kick start the team and give the fans a fillip.  It would also boost the manager's stock and make the board think twice about destabilising the club by bringing in a new man in charge at this time of the season.  With some of the injured players returning to action, it might give Jol the chance to play something approaching his strongest team.  The continued loss of captain Ledley King is one which eats at the heart of our defence, but Dawson coming back alongside Kaboul will provide a strong centre to the back four.  The full backs will need to work hard to stop any supply coming in from wide positions and so far Chimbonda has been failing to reproduce the sort of performances he turned in last campaign.

Arsenal have lost Henry, but appear to be trundling along in much the same vein as they always have, with the midfield the area which is where the game might turn.  Jenas needs to turn in the sort of performance he did against Derby, but against the better players of Arsenal and impose himself on them, rather than let them dominate.  The same goes for Tom Huddlestone, whose huge talent must now be twinned with the mentality to go on to force himself on the match to win games for the club.  With rumours of Lennon's return, the out ball to him might allow the defence to relieve the pressure from time to time and I suspect that BMJ will start with the tried and trusted Berbatov-Keane partnership.  With Darren Bent fit again, I think his pace would trouble the Arsenal defence, with a lack of pace there among Toure, Eboue, Clichy, Senderos or Hoyte.  The players coming through fro our own midfield might help out-number the Arsenal back line.

Fabregas and van Persie are the two players who are key to the visitors success and the closing down of the little Spaniard would stultify the ability to set up the latter, but Tottenham need also to be aware of the breaking forward of Rosicky and Hleb, with the full-backs enjoying getting forward, meaning the likes of Lennon and Malbranque will need to track back to stop any raids up the flanks.

An early goal would be the ideal way to help the Spurs side settle and then push on from there.  I think that Spurs are definitely second favourites, because of the relative positions and the start the two sides have had, but without reverting to cliché and saying the form book goes out of the window, the nature of the match means that the Spurs players should be up for it, otherwise we might witness a repeat of last season's game at Highbury.  However, I think the players here now realise the requirements for such a match and although we don't normally do well in early kick offs, I reckon with that early goal we might see a score-line like ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Arsenal  0

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)



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Tottenham Hotspur   1    Arsenal   3      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 15th September 2007
Kick Off :  1.30 p.m.
Crowd :   36,053
Referee :  Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
Weather :  -  Bright, warm, sunny
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1 Robinson

  2 Chimbonda    
20 Dawson
  5 Kaboul
  3 Y P Lee

15 Malbranque  (23 Bent 82)
  8 Jenas    
22 Huddlestone 
16 Bale    (25 Lennon 69)

  9 Berbatov 
10 Keane (c)

Unused subs: 
12 Cerny
33 Rocha
  4 Zokora

Arsenal :

24 Almunia

  2 Sagna    
  5 Toure (c)
19 Gilberto
22  Clichy

16  Flamini
  4  Fabregas
  2 Diaby (  7 Rosicky 56)
13  Hleb      (17 Song 90)

25  Adebayor
11  van Persie (15 Denilson 85)

Unused subs: 
21 Fabianski
32 Walcott

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Bale 15


Adebayor 65
Fabregas 80
Adebayor 90

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Jenas (foul) 35
Chimbonda (dissent) 45 



Sagna (foul) 63
Hleb (feigning injury)   


Match Report : -  
There are games you got to where you get no luck.  There are games you go to where you get no decisions going your way.  There are games you see which do not bear analysis.  There are games you go to which are best forgotten.  There are games like this.

In the final analysis, Arsenal deserved to win.  they had more possession, Spurs had the more clear cut chances, but they scored goals out of nothing, while we could not score the good openings we created.  While taking the lead is a very suspect situation for Spurs these days, it did look as though we might away with it for a while.

Bale's well placed free-kick around the wall and to the foot of Almunia's right hand post gave Spurs a lead with almost their first meaningful attack of the game.  Bale fed Berbatov, who was taken down from behind by Toure and the Welshman curled the ball accurately into the net on 15 minutes.

Robinson has needed to arch backwards top palm over an Adebayour viciously dipping shot from 25 yards out and he also kept the same player out straight after the goal with a smart block from a quickly taken throw-in.  He also dived low to block a Hleb shot when he had been freed on the left hand side of the area and was left with only the keeper to beat.  While he was culpable for the equalising goal in the second half, coming for, but not reaching, a free-kick flung into the box, he did make a couple of vital saves at the end and was helpless to stop the other two goals.

Arsenal misses two sitters.  Diaby ran onto a pull back from Adebayour and hit it over Robbo, but struck the bar from eight yards out, while the tall Togo striker himself missed from a similar distance in the second half, with a shot after Sagna dragged the ball back to him from the by-line.  Keane let a ball dinked in by Berbatov run, but it went past him rather than him getting something on it or bringing it down and drawing a challenge.

Bale's presence had been worrying Arsenal and they had doubled up on him, but Tottenham had not used the resulting space.  In fact, our movement today was poor and the moves we had sometimes were slowed down, especially by Chimbonda, who looked sluggish going forward and leaden footed in defence.  I am not sure if the Police questioning about his alleged involvement in the pending fraud case was weighing heavily on him, but the questions asked of him by the Arsenal wide men went unanswered.  When Gareth went down under a late challenge from Sagna, he spent the remaining time on the pitch looking less than 100% and he was eventually replaced by Lennon taking over the left midfield berth.  I guess, at some stage, Jol had hoped to introduce Aaron on the right and make it difficult for Arsenal to ignore both flanks.  If they had employed two men on each of the wide midfielders, it would have left Spurs with room to exploit.

However, by the time Bale had exited, the scores were level.  Clattenburg gave one of many cheap free-kicks against us and when it came in, Robinson came for it, but Adebayour got in front of him to head home the equaliser.  But by then it could have been 2-2.  The scorer had missed his close range effort and when Malbranque put Berbatov through, he rounded Almunia, who was outside his area and then tried to be too clever in rounding Toure on the edge of the box and the ball was taken off him.  Arsenal even tried to con a penalty out of the ref, when Adebayour ran into the area, but Robbo got there first and knocked the ball away with his hand before the Togolese forward crashed to the ground.

With Hleb feigning injury to try and break up a Spurs move and Flamini goading the East Stand fans, it was hotting up, but the lack of cool finishing cost Tottenham in the end.

Chimbonda's right wing cross fell to the foot of Tom Huddlestone and his volley whistled a couple of feet the wrong side of the post for Tottenham's liking, while another saw Gilberto get something on it to deflect it wide.

The luck that deserted us up front came back to haunt Spurs in the 78th minute, as Berbatov struck a close range shot as the ball dropped from a corner, but it struck Clichy on the chest on the line and Dimitar put the reaction header over the top.  Almost immediately, Arsenal broek away, with Jenas getting back to stop van Persie's advance, but the second phase of the attack was slackly defended and like Nani before him for Man United, Fabregas let fly from 35 yards and the ball rocketed into the top corner to give Arsenal the lead.

There was only going to be one winner from here, as Spurs tired from the effort put in earlier, but they still made an acceptable chance with five minutes remaining.  Jenas split the Arsenal defence and with Bent racing through, he stumbled as he got into the penalty area and scuffed his shot wide.  It was a sin, as even if he hadn't scored, he should have worked the keeper.  A minute or so earlier, he had been unlucky in not being a yard further up the pitch to take Huddlestone's pin-point pass, but his attempted volley brought about an air shot.

Berbatov slid a header wide of the goal as the game moved into the four minutes of time for stoppages, but then another break left Denilson in the clear and Robinson stopped his shot well with his feet, but again, when the ball fell loose, it was Adebayour who got there first and flicked the ball up and then hammered it past the Tottenham keeper from 25 yards out.  This was the player who moments before tried the same thing and hit the underside of the roof.

It was not a bad performance from Spurs, but they left passages of play where Arsenal passed the ball around and made easy progress towards the Spurs goal.  Every time the ball was cleared by Spurs it came back and every time we got the ball in and around their area, they were able to play it out of defence too easily.

While Robbie Keane never looked like scoring today, he put in an outstanding amount of work and Kaboul and Dawson did well in the middle of defence.

So, Jol's job is back on the line, with Comolli interestingly sitting in Daniel Levy's seat up in the West Stand Upper.  To accede to the chants of the Arsenal fans that proclaimed that Jol was going to be "Sacked in the morning" would only deepen the low opinion of the board that some fans have.  But liek Spurs losing after taking the lead once more, nothing would be surprising.




Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 1 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Chelsea 0 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Everton 0 Manchester United 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 0 Liverpool 0 Saturday
Sunderland 2 Reading 1 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 1 Fulham 1 Saturday
West Ham United 3 Middlesbrough 0 Saturday
Newcastle United - - - -day
Derby County - - - -day
Manchester City - - - -day
Aston Villa - - - -day



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 5 4 1 0 10 4 13 +6
2 Liverpool 5 3 2 0 11 2 11 +9
3 Manchester United 6 3 2 1 4 2 11 +2
4 Chelsea 6 3 2 1 7 6 11 +1
5 West Ham United 5 3 1 1 8 3 10 +5
6 Everton 6 3 1 2 8 6 10 +2
7 Blackburn Rovers 5 2 3 0 5 3 9 +2
8 Manchester City 5 3 0 2 4 2 9 +2
9 Newcastle United 5 2 2 1 6 4 8 +2
10 Wigan Athletic 6 2 2 2 7 5 8 +2
11 Aston Villa 4 2 1 1 5 3 7 +2
12 Birmingham City 6 2 1 3 7 9 7 -2
13 Middlesbrough 6 2 1 3 7 9 7 -2
14 Sunderland 6 2 1 3 5 9 7 -4
15 Portsmouth 6 1 3 2 7 8 6 -1
16 Fulham 6 1 2 3 9 11 5 -2
17 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 6 1 1 4 9 11 4 -2
18 Reading 6 1 1 4 3 10 4 -7
19 Derby County 6 1 1 4 4 15 4 -11
20 Bolton Wanderers 6 1 0 5 7 11 3 -4



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