Looking Forward

 

Middlesbrough  (Away)

Premier League

Sunday 18th December 2005

Having played in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, this match has been put back a day and Boro will be hoping that they can change their post-European form in this match at the Riverside.  For Spurs, we will be looking for a result to keep going the good run we have had in the League.

For many, the sight of Boro in Europe playing in front of crowds of 9,000+ are an embarrassment.  Spurs would surely find themselves with an over-subscription for tickets should we ever get to Europe and to see swathes of empty seats can do little for the team either.  In games in the league so far, they have not been at their best at home, but have beaten Fulham, Arsenal and Manchester United, so we had better watch out, as they look like they enjoy playing the top sides.  Especially, as traditionally, we are not always hopeful of winning when we travel to this part of the world.

With Mark Schwarzer having regained the gloves from youngster Bradley Jones, who had stood in for him when away on international duty that took his country through to Germany.  Tall and rangy, Schwarzer is a decent enough keeper, but as has been proven in the last few games against Spurs at the Lane, his frailties can be exposed.  Crosses are a surprising weakness compared with any other keeper of his height and kicking is an area that needs improvement.  Jones is an athletic goalie, but will mostly be confined tot he bench.

Frank Quederue has been getting good reviews this season, after calming down his temper, which has seen him readily dismissed on occasion.  Former England defender Gareth Southgate still can read the game well, but his pace is receding and with Ugo Ehiogu being blighted by injury, his speed is not what it was.  For Ehiogu, he will probably start as a sub and if not him then Matthew Bates, who is a promising central defender.  Emanuel Pogatetz came in from Russia in the summer and his impetuosity lets both him and his team-mates down.  He is seen by some as a weak link in the side and it may be that Tottenham can play on him to make the break-through.

The midfield terrier George Boateng usually has a good game against Spurs, but with the Brazilian Fabio Rochemback has not shown an understanding of the energy levels required for the Premier League, which leaves his colleagues more work to do.  His walking pace performance in the first half at Liverpool was amazing in it's pedestrianism.  Without winger Stewart Downing, it might leave an opening for James Morrison, who looks like a lively wide-man, who has a good appreciation of where his team-mates are.  Another engine in midfield to be used could be Doriva, who is another Brazilian, but this one is more workmanlike than some of the others who have come to the Premiership.  Not a Ronaldinho, but someone who might break things up as Spurs try to attack.

The attack is shorn of Malcolm Christie, who has succumbed to another injury ... one in a long line ... but the front line could be made up of two from Szilard Nemeth, Massimo Maccarone, Mark Viduka, Jimmy Hasselbaink and Ayegbeni Yakubu.  Nemeth is a player who darts around the box and gets in on the end of through passes, while Viduka tries to use his guile to get into the same positions.  Yakubu has a mixture of skill and strength and is hard to shake off the ball, while Hasselbaink is likely to lean on his strength more to stay on the ball and will use his ample size to keep defenders away from the ball.  Maccarone has hardly had a look in, but with the two goals in their UEFA Cup tie over Liteks Lovech, he might come into the reckoning.

It is another one of those games that Tottenham have to do well in if they are to prove progress and if they want to show their consistency. With Defoe coming on and scoring, it gives Jol another option and with Mido doing OK alongside him, they could both start at the Riverside.  Missing Tainio might leave a little bite missing from midfield, especially away from home, it could be that Routledge starts from the kick off or Reid is deployed deep in midfield with a brief to get forward if he can.

The resilience of the side these days is a great asset and if they can reproduce that, I think Tottenham can come out on top ...

PREDICTION : -   Middlesbrough  1   Tottenham Hotspur  2

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

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

MIDDLESBROUGH :  Gaizka Mendieta (calf); Ray Parlour (knee); Stewart Downing (knee); Anthony McMahon (dislocated shoulder); Malcolm Christie (leg); Chris Riggott (suspended);

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Mounir El Hamdaoui (shoulder); Dean Marney (Achilles); Goran Bunjevcevic (broken toe); Teemu Tainio (knee); - (-); 

Coverage

TV :
Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
If available on BBC radio, it can be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Syndey)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Carribean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
Planet football - http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs-pl04-kean0.ram (free - only available when match is on)

 

                Mi

Middlesbrough   3    Tottenham Hotspur   3      (Half-time score : 2-1)
Premier League Venue :   Riverside Stadium
Sunday 18th December 2005 Kick Off :  13.30 p.m.
Crowd :   27,614 Referee :   Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)
Weather :  Cold, bright
Teams : - 
Middlesbrough

Schwarzer

Bates
Southgate (c)
Ehiogu
Queuedrue

Morrison (Maccarone 89)
Doriva
Boateng
Rochemback

Yakubu
Viduka

Unused subs
Pogatetz
Jones
Wheater
Johnson

Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson

Stalteri
King (c)
Dawson
Lee

Jenas (Rasiak 82)
Carrick
Davids
Reid (Defoe 57 [Brown 90])

Keane
Mido

Unused subs
Cerny
Pamarot

 

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

Yakubu 30, 43
Queuedrue 69
 

Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 25
Jenas 63
Mido 83

Cards : -  
Middlesbrough

   
Doriva (foul) 15
Bates (foul) 41

     

Tottenham Hotspur

   
Dawson (foul) 6
Davids (foul) 19
Robinson (dissent) 70

     

Match Report : -  
This point saw Spurs secure another better result than the corresponding fixture of last season in a pulsating that took a bit of time to get going.

The first twenty minutes of this game was pants.  Scrappy, full of fouls and the ref (wrongly) booking people for their first challenges (which weren't that bad), misplaced passes.  It was a mess and hardly prepared us for what was to come.

Things changed when Reid ran down a loose ball and knocked it back to Lee, who hit a first time cross high into the box.  Keeper Schwarzer leapt for the ball and collided with Mido, dropping the ball in the process and Robbie Keane trickled the ball into the net as it fell to him.  Calls for a foul were ignored by the ref, as it looked like Schwarzer bumped into Mido and not the other way around.  The lead didn't last too long, as a cross from the left by Queuedrue was knocked on to the far post, where Yakubu sliced across his volley to take the ball past Robinson.  The Nigerian striker had been left totally unmarked at the back stick and had time to line his shot up and leave Robbo with no chance with half an hour gone.

Robinson was in for a busy time and he dived forward to grab a volley from Viduka that bounced awkwardly in front of him and then a minute before the break, Morrison was allowed to cut inside from the right.  As he let go of his shot, which seemed to be heading wide, it hit Yakubu on the way and flew past our keeper to give Boro the lead.

There had been more attacking potency from the home side, but it had been close in the first half and the attacking continued in the second period.  Ten minutes in, Morrison put in a cross and Yakubu got between Dawson and King to power a header goalwards, with Robbo tipping it over the top.  The ball was straight at Robinson, centrally positioned in goal, but the ball would have ended up under the bar if he hadn't got a good hand to the ball.  Martin Jol made an early change to bring Defoe on for Andy Reid, who had battled well, but failed to cause too much of an attacking threat.

Spurs started to hit back and Lee's cross went too long, but Robbie Keane picked it up and put the ball back in.  Schwarzer knocked the ball down and Mido put the ball just wide five minutes before Spurs equalised.  63 minutes were on the clock when the goal came.  Defoe was fouled on the edge of the box by Boateng and the first free-kick was played to Davids, but too short and luckily, a foul earned another one, a bit more near the middle of the goal.  This time, it was left to Jermaine Jenas, who let fly and curled his shot in off the far post.

Robinson was sharp enough to keep out a Morrison shot that tried to sneak in at the near post and then he got down when a Doriva shot came through a thicket of legs to beat it out for a corner.  Unfortunately, from the corner, Queuedrue rose above Dawson to power a header that hit the underside of the bar bounced down and out and caused Robinson to be booked for disputing whether it went over the line.  It had crossed the line, although the linesman was not in the best position to see.

Spurs went for the goal that would earn them a point when Jol brought Rasiak on for Jenas in the 81st minute and his brave move paid off within two minutes.  Having won a corner, Carrick swung the ball into the six yard box and Mido rose to head a simple goal past Schwarzer.  It was a goal that saw poor marking in the Boro defence, but a neat header from Mido who timed his jump just right.

In keeping with the majority of the match, Yakubu broke and hit a low shot that Robbo pushed wide and as the corner came in, Robinson made a vital touch to get it out of danger.  But Doriva put the ball back in for Morrison to hit a goal-bound shot that Stalteri got in the way of.  As Morrison hit his shot, Robbie Keane tried to get the ball away with an overhead kick, but only made connection with the Middlesbrough winger's head, knocking him out cold.  The urgent treatment that the players called for was lengthy and he was carried away on a stretcher.

With the added time being played, Rasiak flicked the ball through to Jermain, who took the ball clear of the defence and hit a low shot as Schwarzer came out.  The Aussie keeper did well to get his foot to the bal and keep it out, while many thought Defoe should have score.  His day got worse when he ran into the box to take on Southgate and Ehiogu, but fell and twisted his ankle, leaving him to be substituted by Michael Brown.

When the final whistle sounded, it was a relief as the heart might not have been able to take much more !!  A point was a fair result, although the last chance might have seen Spurs nick it.  Still, the unbeaten run continues into Christmas and with fourth place consolidated, the side will want to take as many points as they can from the next three matches.  Let's hope it will be a Happy Christmas all round !!

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - PAUL ROBINSON

East Stan

            CH

CHRISTMAS TURKEYS WITHOUT THE STUFFING

 

Although my heartbeat is still erratic following the game, I'll try to cobble together my senses for some sort of match report and reaction.  I'm very disappointed with the result because we really should have won it in the end, with Defoe put clean through, only to squander the best chance of the game for either side.

The ex-Hammer would soon trip over himself and indicate a twisted ankle, although I suspect he just wanted out of the battle.  It had been very difficult for him to get into the game, having replaced Reid, with Boro regaining momentum.  They had us pinned back for awhile and Defoe saw little of the ball and perhaps frustration got the better of him once that great chance finally came his way.

On the plus side of things, Keano was industrious and kept running for the 97 minutes, taking his goal very well.  Jol is a clever manager, as I didn't see him sticking with Keano after his horror show against Portsmouth last week.

It was smart because Keano must've known that he was in the last chance saloon, following Defoe's cameo and he had to do something special to keep his place.  That he managed to do so shows his desire and commitment for the club and I hope that Levy and Commoli can sort an extension to his current contract, as we mustn't lose the Irish hit-man.

Jenas finally showed me just why Jol has stuck by him all this time, with a busy display and a brilliant free-kick.  I feel that we may have found our own Beckham, but with a better engine and some pace. 
All he's got to do is show a bit more urgency and run at the opposition a bit more, rather than passing the buck.

Carrick did his usual efficient job in front of the back four, but had his work cut out in the second half, with Davids on a yellow and unable to steam in with his usual ferocity.  The Pitbull himself was unable to stamp his authority on the game and found it difficult after his needless booking after 25 minutes.  I thought that Howard "The Duck" Webb was a little too fussy today and very quick to add Davids to his list of famous scalps, stopping the game for almost every challenge by a Spurs player.  I'm surprised we didn't get more bookings from him.

Reid started in place of Tainio and it showed, as we were physically dominated for the first time since Bolton, with the Irish winger extremely ineffectual before and up to his departure.  I can't help but wonder if he will exit in January, maybe on loan and Reto Ziegler will be recalled from his loan spell at Hamburg.  Mido did well, but I would like to have seen a bit more from him, 'cos it's almost like he's not really trying, only doing the minimum required of a target man.  However, the Egyptian weighed in with a bullet header to make it 3-3 and ensure a point for us.  Despite his refusal to dribble the ball into the box, as I believe he could, Mido is great in the air and strong on the ground and will be missed next month.

His understudy, Rasiak looked sharp when introduced late in the game and was the man that set up Defoe for the wasted chance, so maybe he can do a job for us.  The big Pole won a few headers and was good holding the ball up, so if he can add goals to his game, we may not need to spend 12m on Dirk Kuyt after all.

As for our much vaunted defence, well, they had a bit of 'mare now didn't they.

King was as reliable and powerful as ever but Dawson never settled and his panic continued throughout.  The ex-Forest man has a bad habit of putting the ball out for a corner when he doesn't have to and sometimes it proves costly.  Remember the West Ham game, anyone ?  He was doing it a lot again today and Queudrue grabbed his goal from one of those needless corners.

Our full-backs were hit and miss again, with Lee further un-endearing himself to me by losing young Morrison for the second Boro goal, just as he did Lua Lua last week.  The Korean is a big liability and I just wish we could call upon Erik Edman.  What a shame he's gone and Stephen Kelly is right-footed, whilst Marcel McKie is a little too inexperienced for a call-up.

As I said before, I think that Bridge is perfect for the role and we could see it happen very soon.  Stalteri was again solid in defence, but weak in attack and his crossing was appalling.  Having been a right-back and wing-back in my days at school and then college, I know something about crossing the ball properly, so it was hard to watch the Canadian today.

I'm very much in favour of a recall for young Kelly, who has been unlucky to even lose his place to begin with. Spurs haven't had much joy on the flanks since Kelly dropped to the bench.

Finally, we come to that man Robinson, the best keeper in the world ... ENO !  If not for his heroics today, we would've been well and truly stuffed, like the proverbial Christmas turkey.  At 2-1 down, and again at 3-2, Robbo pulled off a string of fantastic saves to keep us in it and allow us to equalise twice. Every match-day, I get on my knees and thank God that we were  able to sign him from Leeds before the likes of Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Juventus and Barcelona came knocking at the cash-strapped Yorkshire club.  Every other Spurs fan should do the same, as those clubs may soon be knocking at our door.

I was annoyed to see dogsbody Michael Brown yet again, when it would've been nice to see the likes of McKenna or O'Hara given an opportunity, but that's only a small complaint.  Overall, Spurs showed a lot of heart to get back into the game and could have won it, but Boro should've buried us today.  They looked stronger and hungrier and don't seem to have lost that much ground on us, as far as a one-on-one confrontation goes and if they could find some consistency in the league, we'd be in real trouble.  Luckily, Spurs are winning the games that Boro don't, so finding themselves in fourth place, while the Teesiders languish in 13th spot.

Jol must continue to drill, drill, drill, and hopefully, as injuries subside, we will improve and challenge for second place.  It's obvious that Spurs are still not firing on all cylinders, but when they do, the rest of the Premiership better watch out.

Last mention goes to one of our young stars, Tom Huddlestone, who's currently on loan at Wolves, under Glenn Hoddle.  Now, Hoddle isn't a great manager, but he knows that he's lucky to have Huddlestone, a marvellous talent, in his squad.  The former Derby starlet can do it all: tough but fair tackling, incisive passing, aerial prowess and goals from set-pieces.  It's no coincidence that Wolves have broken into the top six of the Championship with Huddlestone pulling the strings and breaking up the opposition.  Like Yeates, I believe he will one day play in a Spurs side that challenges for the title.

Sean Jackson

 

Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 0 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Everton 0 Bolton Wanderers 4 Saturday
Fulham 2 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
Manchester City 4 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
West Ham United 4 Newcastle United 2 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 3 Charlton Athletic 0 Saturday
Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 Sunday
Sunderland P Liverpool P -

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 17 15 1 1 37 7 46 +30
2 Manchester United 17 11 4 2 31 14 37 +17
3 Liverpool 15 9 4 2 20 8 31 +12
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 17 8 7 2 25 16 31 +9
5 Bolton Wanderers 16 9 3 4 21 13 30 +8
6 Wigan Athletic 17 9 1 7 19 18 28 +1
7 Manchester City 17 8 3 6 24 17 27 +11
8 Arsenal 16 8 2 6 22 15 26 +7
9 West Ham United 17 7 3 6 25 22 25 +3
10 Newcastle United 17 7 4 6 18 17 25 +1
11 Charlton Athletic 16 7 1 8 21 26 22 -5
12 Blackburn Rovers 17 6 3 8 19 24 21 -5
13 Middlesbrough 17 5 5 7 23 26 20 -3
14 Fulham 17 5 4 8 18 22 19 -4
15 Aston Villa 17 4 5 8 16 26 17 -10
16 Everton 17 5 2 10 9 23 17 -14
17 West Bromwich Albion 17 4 4 9 17 25 16 -8
18 Portsmouth 17 3 4 10 13 26 13 -13
19 Birmingham City 16 3 3 10 11 23 12 -12
20 Sunderland 17 1 2 14 14 35 5 -21

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