Manchester United (Away)
Premier League

Sunday 26th August 2007

 
 

I don't suppose a match against Manchester United could come at a worse time for Martin Jol.

With his counterpart Alex Ferguson having had an even worse start to the champions' season, Spurs sit above Man U in the table, but this is no consolation as the Press and the Spurs board do their best to oust Jol from his post.  But Tottenham should surely look at their opponents today and see where Ferguson was before the board stuck with him and they went on to future success.  Possibly a couple of games away from losing his job, the Manchester United manager won a cup game against Nottingham Forest and from there, it is all history.

While nobody is suggesting the same will happen to our Head Coach, it might serve as a warning against sacking a manager too early.

The Salford club will be looking to hit back and with just two draws and a derby defeat in their three games, United will be looking to add to their total of one goal so far this season. 

But then again, perhaps it is the best time to be playing them.  No Rooney or Ronaldo or perhaps Rio after the England game midweek, with a vulnerability shown so far.  Spurs have their own injury problems, with twin strikers Berbatov and Bent meaning they are missing 26.5 million worth of goalscoring talent themselves.

If Gareth Bale plays after his 45 minutes for Wales in a friendly international and Michael Dawson is fit once again to return to the heart of the defence, then Tottenham will have a better chance of bringing home something from an unhappy hunting ground for Spurs over the years.

van Der Sar has shown that he can be beaten in goal, while the back four is missing Gabriel Heinze (now with Real Madrid), Gary Neville (injured) and with Ferdinand limping off for England in midweek, you would think we have a chance, but without our twin strike-force and with United still being able to field Vidic, Silvestre, O'Shea, Wes Brown and Evra, it will need something special from our little duo of Keane and Defoe to get through.

That is why the midfield might be a crucial area for Tottenham to break from.  Malbranque showed his goalscoring ability last week and with Tom Huddlestone pulling the strings against his former team-mate Michael Carrick, it will be an interesting comparison between the pass masters.  I am not sure that Jol will start with Hud, perhaps preferring the industry of Zokora with United still potent in attack with Nani and Tevez leading the line, supported by Scholes from behind them.  The need to track the forward runs form the United midfield will be key to stopping shots raining in from distance as both Scholes and Carrick like to hit long range efforts and get forward with late runs.  For that reason, BMJ might go for more athletic midfielders to work box to box, so, Zokora, Jenas and with Bale providing an outlet on the left and Steed working the right hand line, the four would pick themselves.  Maybe Tom could come on later on to open up the game if we needed the goal he might be able to lay on.  Almost most lip-smacking would be the introduction of Adel Taarabt from the bench in the absence of Ronaldo to take the limelight with his arrogance and his step-overs.  To do it on the doorstep of the new darling of the Premiership would really be something.

With King out long term and Kaboul not ready to return just yet, I imagine the most experienced  pairing will start and that will see Daws (if fit) playing with Rocha alongside him.  Gardner will be the choice if Michael is still troubled by his ankle.  Lee did well on Saturday and with Bale in front of him, they could cover each other when they go forward.  On the right Chimbonda needs to step up his game and look a more potent threat going forward from open play to peg United back on that flank.  His battle with Nani will be a key one in the overall contest to stop United.

While it is frightening to look at the wealth of riches United have, Tottenham have been there in recent years and come away with a draw against the odds and with both sides having had a faltering start, I feel that it might be possible to bring back a point from Old Trafford.  Which, in the greater scheme of things, would be a very good result for us.

PREDICTION : -  Manchester United  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.

 
 
PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

MANCHESTER UNITED :  -  Wayne Rooney (foot); Cristiano Ronaldo (suspended); Anderson (hamstring); Gary Neville (calf); Owen Hargreaves (knee); Ben Foster (knee); Ji-Sung Park (knee); Louis Saha (knee)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee); Gareth Bale (thigh); Aaron Lennon (knee); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Dimitar Berbatov (groin); Younes Kaboul (hamstring); Darren Bent (thigh)

 
 
Coverage

TV
Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here
.

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  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, Caribbean)  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
BBC London -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2005/10/12/live_commentaries_feature.shtml
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.

 
 
 

Ma

 

Manchester United   1   Tottenham Hotspur    0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  Old Trafford
Sunday 26th August 2007
Kick Off :  4.00 p.m.
Crowd :   75,696
Referee :  Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)
Weather :  -  Sunny, warm
Teams : - 
Manchester United :

  1 Van der Sar

  6 Brown    
  5 Ferdinand
15 Vidic
  3 Evra

17 Nani 
  4 Hargreaves
16 Carrick (33 Eagles 57)
18 Scholes

11 Giggs (c)    
32 Tevez (24 Fletcher 77)

Unused subs: 
29 Kuszczak
21 Dong
22 O'Shea

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1 Robinson

  2 Chimbonda
33 Rocha ( 4 Zokora 83)
30 Gardner    
  3 Y P Lee (19 Taarabt 75)

15 Malbranque
  8 Jenas
22 Huddlestone    
16 Bale

  9 Berbatov    
10 Keane (18 Defoe 75)

Unused subs: 
12 Cerny
  7 Stalteri

 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Manchester United

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Manchester United

Nani 68

Tottenham Hotspur

None

Cards : -  
Manchester United

     
Giggs (foul) 42
Brown (foul) 54
  

    

Tottenham Hotspur 

    
Huddlestone (foul) 63 
Berbatov (dissent) 70
Gardner (foul) 75

     

Match Report : -  
While it was never going to be an easy task to get anything out of the visit to Old Trafford, Tottenham's performance was admirable even though there was no reward for it, mainly because there was no award from Howard Webb, the referee.

I am not sure what you have to do to get a decision at Manchester United, but the chances were that when Berbatov hade hurdled over van der Sar and shot towards goal, that the falling Wes Brown did move an arm towards the ball to keep it out of the net.

Replays did not seem conclusive, but then the referee should have had a good line of sight to the incident and if not, then he should have consulted his linesman.  However, in the tradition of all good linesmen at Old Trafford (and some crap ones), giving no decision is better than giving one at all.  I am not saying that there was any collusion between the officials, just a lack of decisive action.

While it is common nature for the offended against to be up in arms, much like Brown was, but the number of them who complained made it seem reasonably clean cut.  I idly wonder what would have happened if it had been the other way around ??

Much was said about United missing the attacking duo of Ronaldo and Rooney, but little was said about the absence of King, Dawson, Kaboul, Bent and Assou-Ekotto from the Tottenham side.  It was pleasing to see Gareth Bale out there in a Spurs shirt and he put in a terrific performance seeing as how he has had so little football.  When he has a few more games under his belt, he will be a great asset and his ability to play left back or midfield, allows Jol more flexibility to change things around if needed.

It would be churlish to complain about losing the game to such a fine goal as Nani hit, even if it did flick off Tevez slightly as it went past Robinson's outstretched arm.  For the second time in a week he was beaten by a belting effort.

But the game had started so well for Spurs, with a loose ball being won and Berbatov leaving it for Keane to run onto and open his body to dink a shot over van der Sar.  With just 25 seconds on the clock, he was unlucky to see the ball flick off the top of the bar having beaten the Dutch keeper's dive.  But unlucky was the order of the day for Tottenham.  When they keep rolling out the stat about Spurs not having won at Old Trafford since 1989, you can see why after a match like this.

Bale soon showed his ability to use his pace and stamina, when he ran almost 2/3 of the length of the pitch to earn a corner off Rio Ferdinand after taking the ball from a cleared corner at his own end.  When Jenas flighted the corner in, Pascal Chimbonda rose to flick it across goal and Anthony Gardner was inches away from making contact at the far post.  After a quarter of an hour Tom Huddlestone's free-kick picked out Chimbonda and the ball dropped to Ricardo Rocha, who fired well over, when it might have fallen more advantageously to one of our forwards.  In fact Chimbonda won a large majority of headers from set-pieces, but little came from them, which is something we need to improve on to give the forwards more opportunities to score. 

A ball blocked by Bale was chased down as van der Sar came well out of his area and when it hit the corner flag, he had to put it out for a throw-in.  From the second phase of play after it had been taken, Ferdinand left the ball (supposedly for van der Sar to come a long way to get it) and Berbatov was alert enough to nip in and it needed Vidic to dive in to clock his shot on goal.  It was one of the few moments in the first half when Berba looked to get involved, as Spurs played him almost alone up front, with Keane dropping deep or wide to try and shore things up.

While Paul Robinson had attracted a large amount of flak after his goalkeeping blooper against Germany for England, he looked more assured today and when Hargreaves shot from a corner that was headed out, the ball fell to Ferdinand at the Spurs end and his shot was well palmed out as the Spurs goalie was going the wrong way.  He was a bit more static when Carrick struck an 18 yard drive without letting Robbo set himself, thus he was relieved to see the ball go past his left hand post, thanks to a deflection from Rocha.  Just afterwards, Giggs played a low ball in from the left and Robinson was under it, but Scholes' first time effort from six yards out on 26 minutes might have been trouble had it been on target.

At the other end, Tom made himself a yard and dragged a left footed effort well wide, while Nani did the same thing from inside the box at the other end.  Approaching the break, Nani burst into the Tottenham area and Chimbonda made a well-timed tackle to take the ball, as he did on a few occasions today.  The half-time interval arrived with the scores level and there had been chances for each side.

During that first half, the Tottenham fans had made their support of Martin Jol obvious, just as they had their opinions of Tevez (just a sh*t Maradona) and Ryan Giggs (just a sh*t Gareth Bale) !!

The second half started sluggishly, with neither side making much headway until five minutes in, a cross came out to Hud on the edge of the area and taking it on his thigh, he volleyed it as it dropped, but under pressure, the shot went quite a way over the top.  The best chance of the game up until the 56th minute should have seen Tottenham go ahead.  Bale played a fierce free-kick in from the right wing and Rocha found himself unmarked on the edge of the six yard box and he had a clean header, but put it a long way wide.  it was a great opportunity to put Spurs in front.

With the hour just past, a ball into the area from Bale gave Dimitar the chance to get there before Vidic, but the two clashed as they went inside the penalty area.  It looked more of an accidental collision, as the United central defender had his back to our front man, but Berbatov reacted first and stuck out a leg to divert the ball under van der Sar and the ball was heading for the goal until Rio Ferdinand salvaged the situation with a clearance off the line before Berba could knock it in.

Then came the disputed incident which should have been a penalty, with Jenas slipping a ball in for Berbatov to threaten.  Anyway, all we got was a lousy corner.  Breaking to the other end, Nani dinked in a cross that fell to Tevez and Jenas was on the post to kick the ball clear as it would have slid in had he not been there.  He wasn't there two minutes later, when Nani took a ball and saw Gardner backing off, before closing him down and by then his shot was on it's way to the net.  It took an exceptional strike to beat Spurs, but that was little consolation.

Spurs sacrificed Keane and Lee for some pace in Defoe and trickery in Taarabt, but they had few moments to shine.  Adel twisted and turned and won a couple of free-kicks which came to nothing, although when Bale laid one square to him he did hit a good shot that Vidic raced out to block.  The closest Tottenham came to levelling the scores was when a ball across the edge of the area was taken down stone-dead by Berbatov and his curling shot flew less than a foot over the angle.

Still Spurs looked for an equaliser, with Hud playing a neat short pass through the oncoming Man U defence to two Spurs players who were onside just inside the area.  One was Berbatov and the other was Gardner.  It fell to the defender and he tried to lay it off, but it didn't work and the opportunity was lost.

United brought midfielder Fletcher on for forward Tevez, while Spurs brought on Zokora for Rocha, as they strove for something from the match.  Zokora's pace was relied upon at the back, as they went three in defence with four in midfield and three up front.  Hud almost picked out Jenas' last minute run to perfection, but the ball just caught him on the leg and bounced back and away from him and then in the four minutes of added time, Bale made a run up the left after linking well with Taarabt, but his pull-back was only to a United defender ... much to the disappointment of everyone in a white shirt ... on and off the pitch.

So another game at Old Trafford, another defeat and another game where nothing was offered to us by the officials.  Alex Ferguson said on the radio on the way home that Spurs were the best team they had played this season, which is something, but some indication of that in terms of results would be good.

No better nor no worse than last season, Daniel Levy was watching down on the fruits of his week's work.  The fact that the team put in a dedicated performance bodes well, as if they can play like this week in and week out, they will get more points as the season progresses.

STANFORD RIVERS

 

 

 
 

 

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

   

 

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

 

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