Blackburn Rovers (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 19th December 2009


With a straight-forward win over Manchester City on Wednesday, Spurs travel from whence City came and go to the North-West to play Sam Allardyce's Blackburn Rovers in another game that will be a test for their credentials as they seek a top four finish.

You know what you are going to get to a certain extent from any team that Allardyce puts out.  They will contain a smattering of cheaper end foreign imports, some talented players left over from the previous manager and generally, a number of fit, athletic players who will be in your face and will run for 90 minutes.  As it comes to Christmas, the toll that can take on a team is shown by Mick McCarthy's decision to field a changed team against Manchester United from the one that beat Spurs.  But Alladyce will want his best team available out after losing to Birmingham City on Tuesday.

Three draws prior to the defeat at St. Andrews saw them take points from meetings with Hull City and Liverpool as well as taking Chelsea to penalties and gaining a place in the League Cup semi-final.  With Spurs unable to beat Wolves, but then taking all three points off Manchester City, they are as up and down as Rovers.  And they will be coming up against some familiar faces in the shape of Paul Robinson and Pascal Chimbonda.  Robbo has been the number one choice in goal for Rovers since his arrival and he needed to get playing regularly again to stake his claim for a place in the England squad.  He has turned in some good performances for the Ewood Park side, but still has not regained the form that made him such a formidable keeper at Spurs.  Suspect from long shots and free-kicks, Paul should be much better in the air than he is and Spurs might benefit from having Crouch in the team, although Harry seems to prefer Keane away from home.

Chimbonda has also found a home where he can get games, with some consistency now he is first choice left back following Stephen Warnock's departure for Aston Villa.  He is perhaps often more notable for his forward forays, but much depends on whether he has one of those days where he can't be bothered to chase back when a move breaks down.  If Spurs put Lennon on him, that will at least curb his attacking tendencies and might give Tottenham the chance to gain some ground up his side of the pitch.  On the other flank Gail Givet was signed permanently from Marseille and has had a rocky time as he has been sent off a couple of times and looks a little suspect in the timing of his tackling.  The middle of the defence features the towering Ryan Nelsen and Christian Samba.  Hulking centre-halves tend to be a stamp of the Allardyce brand and they are both dangerous from dead ball situations or can move up into attack should they need to replace a striker or chase a goal near the end of the game.  While Crouch might struggle against either of them, especially Samba, Defoe might get more joy being nippy around the two of them.  Other options at full back are former Real Madrid's Michel Salgado, who was a rampaging over-lapping full back in his day, but is now in the twilight of his career and Lars Jacobsen, who was on loan at Everton last season, but failed to make much of a mark.  Both have played about half the games this season, so may be on the bench to give Allardyce some variation if needed.

The midfield is likely to be hit by the problems with Emerton and Grella, but Morten Gamst Pedersen can be an effective winger with a fearsome shot on him, although he has not always been a regular.  Andrews is hard-working, but in my opinion lacks the quality required for the Premiership.  David Dunn is a talented player, who has been hit by a string of injuries over the years, but can still influence a game, so needs to be watched closely, while it may be necessary to draft in Steven Nzonzi, who arrived from Amiens in the summer.  I don't know much about him, but he will probably be a hard-worker, as Big Sam demands from his players.

The attack still packs a punch, even though they lost Roque Santa Cruz to Manchester City.  Benni McCarthy wants away, but when his mind is in the right place, he can be a useful striker and alongside him, El Hadj Diouf is a handful in all sorts of ways.  Better known for his contributions of a negative nature, he doesn't score as many goals as he should, but can be a useful provider.  Other forwards to choose from are Jason Roberts, who gives the side a physical presence up front, making it difficult for defenders to lose concentration, with young Croatian Nikola Kalinic has missed some sitters, but is getting more used to the Premier League now.  Chelsea have loaned out their promising striker Franco Di Santo to Blackburn for the season to give him first team experience, but his chances have been limited, but he has shown good skill when called upon.

A tough test in terms of travelling to a bleak Ewood Park with snow on the ground, which is not traditionally a good scenario for Spurs, as well as facing a tough tackling side, who will close Spurs down in the way Wolves did last week.  Being away from home might help Spurs, as the onus will be on Rovers to come out and play, allowing the counter-attack to hit Blackburn on the break, but considering the players we have out, it might be a hard task to take all three points and Harry might have to settle for one ...

PREDICTION : -  Blackburn Rovers  1     Tottenham Hotspur   1

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


BLACKBURN ROVERS :  - Brett Emerton (out - groin); David Dunn (hamstring - doubtful); - (-); - (-);

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -   Carlo Cudicini (out - broken wrist); Ledley King (out - knee); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin);  Luka Modric (out - ankle); David Bentley (doubtful - calf); - (-); 


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Blackburn Rovers   0   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 0-1)

Premier League
Venue : -  Ewood Park
Saturday 19th December 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   26,495
Referee :  Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the home fans end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Snow, cold
Teams : - 
Blackburn Rovers :

  1  Robinson

  2  Jacobsen
  5  Givet
  6  Nelsen
12  Salgado  (27  Pedersen  74)

37  Chimbonda
11  Grella
  9  Hoilett  (27  Roberts  81)
15  Nzonzi

10  McCarthy
26  Di Santo  (22  Kalinic  72)

Unused subs: 
8  Jones
17  Andrews
18  Diouf

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

32  Assou-Ekotto
19  Bassong
20  Dawson (c)
22  Corluka     

21  Kranjcar
  6  Huddlestone
12  Palacios   (  8  Jenas  58)
  7  Lennon   (  2  Hutton  90)

18  Defoe    (10  Keane  67)
15  Crouch     

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
  3  Bale
  9  Pavlychenko
25  Rose

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Blackburn Rovers

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Blackburn Rovers


Tottenham Hotspur

Crouch  45+2
Crouch 83

Cards : -  
Blackburn Rovers



Tottenham Hotspur 

Corluka  (foul) 35  


Match Report : -  
The sort of game that Spurs traditionally fluff up - Northern side in wintry weather just when we need the points to keep a presence in top few in the division - was reserved for a gritty performance against a physical and determined Blackburn Rovers side that was seen off by two Peter Crouch goals.

Since becoming captain in the absence of both Robbie Keane and Ledley King, Michael Dawson has taken on the responsibility of setting an example to the rest of the side and his early involvement stopped Blackburn's surge from the kick off.  Firstly, the ball popped up off the turf as the snow started to come down and it struck Dawson's arm, giving Benny McCarthy the chance to strike a free kick from a long way out and he hit it a long way over.  Then, he threw himself into a tackle to take the ball and prevent Franco Di Santo's run into a dangerous position in the box.

Still inside the first five minutes of the game, Peter Crouch took the ball as it dropped from a loose bit of play by the Rovers defence and went wide, but did well to spot Tom Huddlestone racing into the area and the ball he pulled back was a little bit too far behind Hud for him to take a shot, when he would have been well placed. 

The game was a lot more open in the first fifteen minutes than I had imagined it may be, with Corluka setting up Defoe on the right side of the box, thanks to Givet's hashed clearance, to test Paul Robinson at his near post and the former Spurs keeper was up to it with a save low down.  Blackburn had a good chance in the ninth minute, as McCarthy went wide to put in a  cross that Dawson cleared away, but Di Santo got a sliced shot on the loose ball and Gomes had to be sharp to make sure he knocked the ball away as Salgado came in.

Rovers came even closer in the 14th minute, when they got a dodgy free-kick for a foul by Dawson according to the ref.  McCarthy took it again and it flew off the back of Aaron Lennon, the one player in the wall and almost foxed Heurelho Gomes, but bounced onto the top of the bar and then went over.  Alongside Dawson, Sebastien Bassong was having another good game, standing up to the physical threat posed by the home attack and he thwarted Di Santo by sliding the ball away in a chase between the two players.

Halfway through the half, Assou-Ekotto picked out Niko Kranjcar, who opened up the Blackburn defence to create the best chance of the game up until then, as he passed through to Jermain Defoe on the right side of the box and as he lined up his shot, he must have misjudged his angles, as he put it wide of the post by about a yard with only Robinson to beat.  At the other end, Gomes was being worked by Junior Hoilett, who came in from  wide position on the left to hit a shot that the Brazilian goalie took comfortably enough in the 26th minute, but two minutes later, Heurelho had to make a better stop to deny Di Santo from about 10 yards out, as he managed to escape the attentions of Michael Dawson.  Gomes did well to beat out the shot, although it was straight at him.

Hud hit a shot wide from 20 yards on the half-volley, while Nzonzi managed to deflect a free kick from McCarthy wide of the target and McCarthy himself tried the outrageous, when he struck a 30 yard volley that dipped but too late to hit the target.  Then into injury time, and much to the chagrin of the Rovers fans (who make a lot of noise, but only about fantasy decisions they think they should have been awarded), Peter Crouch opened the scoring with a weird goal.  Crouchy headed a long ball down for Huddlestone to shoot at goal, but he got it all wrong and shanked the ball that looked like it would go off for a goal kick, but Kranjcar was alert to the ball staying in play and hooked it back across goal for Crouch to get above Nelsen and head past Robinson off the underside of the crossbar to give Tottenham the lead at a great time.

Blackburn tried to get back on level terms almost immediately after the break, when Nelsen tried to reverse the injury time action at the other end, by climbing over Assou-Ekotto, but he couldn't get his header on target.  After Lennon failed to provide the ball in front of Defoe and the ball got caught between his feet, Rovers broke to come very close to making it 1-1.  When Robinson pumped a long free-kick into the Spurs box, Gomes came to punch and got the ball out to Grella, who lifted the ball back into the area.  For once, Dawson got his header wrong and got under the ball, allowing Benni McCarthy to chest the ball down and hot s shot from six yards out, right in front of goal.  Gomes managed to get something on the bal and it proved to be a vital touch, as the ball hit the inside of the right hand post and rolled along the line before Bassong got to the loose ball before Di Santo to hack the ball clear.

Ten minutes into the second half, Di Santo hit a shot from outside the box that bounced just in front of Gomes, but he gathered the ball well and it shows the confidence he is playing with, as last season, the ball may have come out to an on-running opposition forward.

Wilson Palacios had been having a quiet game and was getting out-muscled against a side at a ground where he was sent off for Wigan Athletic and Spurs in recent seasons.  Jermaine Jenas came on to replace him at a time when Blackburn were pushing onto the Spurs defence.  Dawson was doing some sterling work in front of Gomes, who had to push out a Nzonzi shot with players following in for any rebound off the keeper.

As the clock ticked past the 70 minute mark, Spurs started to get back into the game, with Hud engineering space for Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but he put his cross off the pitch when he had time to pick someone out, but a minute later Aaron's run on the right produced a cross for Peter Crouch to easily head home to make it 2-0, but for the linesman's flag ruling it out for offside. 

But four minutes later, Crouch was not to be denied, with a second goal that made it very difficult for Blackburn to get anything from the game.  Corluka and Keane linked on the right and Keane's header put Jenas through.  As JJ stretched, he managed to play the ball into Crouch, who coolly took the ball and finished past Robinson across the keeper to his right for 2-0.  It was a well worked goal on the break and one which Tottenham are becoming good at scoring.

Rovers failed to give in and a minute after the goal, Gomes had to dive full length to push a shot from McCarthy form 25 yards out.  Then four minutes from the end of the 90, a corner found the head of Ryan Nelsen, who got a header on it, but although he did it by the textbook and headed it down, he was two yards out and managed to bounce his header over the top.  

Perhaps it was one of those days for Rovers, but it could have been worse when Kranjcar curled Keane's pass just over well into added time.  The final whistle found a substantial fewer number of home supporters in the ground than were there at the start and the loyal Spurs support that made the trek into the frozen North stayed on to cheer the side with chants of "Jingle Bells".  The away form is bearing up and the points Spurs are gathering on the road are vital to the pursuit of a top four placing.

With the northern visits not always as successful as fans might hope, this was a rewarding experience for those in the crowd and those on the pitch too.

benny the ball



Other League scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 1 Stoke City 0 Saturday
Fulham 3 Manchester United 0 Saturday
Manchester City 4 Sunderland 3 Saturday
Portsmouth 2 Liverpool 0 Saturday
Arsenal 3 Hull City 0 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Burnley 0 Sunday
Everton 1 Birmingham City 1 Sunday
West Ham United 1 Chelsea 1 Sunday
Wigan Athletic - - - -day
Bolton Wanderers - - - -day



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 18 13 2 3 43 15 41 +28
2 Manchester United 18 12 1 5 37 17 37 +20
3 Arsenal 17 11 2 4 44 20 35 +24
4 Aston Villa 18 10 5 3 29 14 35 +15
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 18 10 3 5 40 22 33 +18
6 Manchester City 17 7 8 2 33 27 29 +12
7 Birmingham City 18 8 4 6 19 18 28 +1
8 Liverpool 18 8 3 7 34 25 27 +9
9 Fulham 17 7 5 5 23 17 26 +6
10 Sunderland 17 6 3 8 22 24 21 -2
11 Stoke City 17 5 6 6 15 20 21 -5
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 5 4 9 17 31 19 -14
13 Blackburn Rovers 19 5 5 9 17 32 19 -15
14 Burnley 18 5 4 9 21 37 19 -16
15 Everton 17 4 6 7 23 31 18 -8
16 Wigan Athletic 17 5 3 9 20 38 18 -18
17 Hull City 18 4 5 9 17 37 17 -20
18 Bolton Wanderers 16 4 4 8 23 33 16 -10
19 West Ham United 18 3 6 9 26 35 15 -9
20 Portsmouth 18 4 2 12 17 26 14 -9


Position before the match :  5th
Position after the match :  4th
Position after the weekend :  5th

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