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Premier League

Sunday 26th November 2006

Wigan arrive at White Hart Lane on a good run at the moment, having recorded five games unbeaten since losing to Manchester United.  Paul Jewell's side are a functional outfit, who play decent enough football with some pacy strikers and some strong defenders.  Their success has been built on the work ethic and any team wishing to do well against them must match their effort.

With Mike Pollitt being recalled from his loan spell at Ipswich Town, there are obvious worries about Chris Kirkland's fitness.  The former Liverpool keeper has had a run of injuries that saw him fall from a real England prospect to one who has just managed to get into the squad behind Robinson and James.  His reflexes are sharp and his handling good, but he does lack positional sense sometimes and Pollitt has more or less the same abilities.  Slightly taller and with a longer career behind him, Pollitt has enjoyed his Premiership experience.

In front of the keeper, the defence will most likely consist of Emmerson Boyce, Arjan De Zeeuw, Paul Scharner and Matt Jackson unless Leighton Baines and Fitz Hall recover from their injuries.  Baines is likely to be out for a while, but Hall might make it and replace Jackson, the former Luton defender, who has a lot of experience, but lacks the sharpness necessary to deal with Premiership strikers.  De Zeeuw also has misjudgements and one let in Keane for the first goal at the JJB stadium last season.  He will win most things in the air, but can be found out on the ground.  Boyce came from Crystal Palace and is speedy and likes to get forward, while Scharner is good in the air too and dangerous from set-pieces.  Other options at the back include David Wright, signed from Crewe, but lacking opportunities in the first team and Andy Webster, who Wigan broke new ground in signing, as he was the first player to move on the FIFA rule where it allowed a player to join a club in another country as his contract had already expired with a compensation fee to be agreed by the ruling authority.  Since signing, he has made just three appearances.

The forward line will be missing Emile Heskey, who is suffering with a calf injury, but Henri Camara and Lee McCulloch will team up to torment Spurs.  Camara has had a chequered career in Britain with SCBC and Celtic.  He is pacy and sharp around the box, making it important that King and Dawson stick close to him, while McCulloch is strong and tall, possessing a good shot from distance.  Botha re good at taking free-kicks, while the big defenders are the men who cause trouble on the end of them.  Recent signing from Cheltenham David Cotterill has the middle names George Best, but has no other resemblance to the Irishman, while former West Ham United forward Svetoslav Todorov is currently on loan from Portsmouth.  Todorov is a poacher of a forward, although injuries have taken their toll on his speed, his speed of thought helps him out to compensate. 

In midfield Gary Teale provides some speed and guile on the wing, while Kevin Kilbane does the same on the opposite flank.  Kilbane returns to the scene of shame earlier this season, when he was dismissed early on for two yellow cards playing for Everton at the Lane.  He is a deceptively nippy winger, as is Teale and both can provide good service into the front two, while Kilbane has a better finishing ability than Teale.  Dutchman Danny Landzaat is a new recruit and his bustling style has suited the Wigan midfield since joining from AZ Alkmaar.  Spotted at the World Cup, Ecuador winger Luis Valencia was snapped up and his work on the flank, plus his ability to cut inside to shoot on goal makes him a dangerous opponent.  Spurs might be happy if Andreas Johannsson does not feature, as it was his brace that earned the Lactics a draw at the Lane last season, while Aussie Josip Skoko provides a strong tackler in the midfield to accompany some fo the more fluent players.

For Spurs, we will most likely see Defoe and Mido up front, with Lennon and Malbranque wide in midfield, with Zokora and Tainio in central midfield, having a back four of Chimbonda, King, Dawson and Assou-Ekotto.  Pascal will be facing his old team-mates, but being on home  territory should help him overcome any issues about his leaving at the end of last season.

As long as Tottenham can manage to convert a greater ratio of the chances created, then I think it will be possible to take all three points, btu it will be a tough match and the team will have to be up for it ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Wigan Athletic  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jermaine Jenas (calf); Anthony Gardner (knee); Paul Stalteri (knee); Hossam Ghaly (suspended - 1 of 3)

WIGAN ATHLETIC :  Emile Heskey (calf); Leighton Baines (calf); Fitz Hall (ankle)


Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - 22.00 (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.




Tottenham Hotspur   3    Wigan Athletic   1      (Half-time score : 2-1)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 26th November 2006
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,205
Referee :  Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
Weather :  -  Rainy before game, dry and mild during match
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


King (c)


Defoe (Keane 82)

Unused subs: 

Wigan Athletic :


Wright (Hall 67)
Baines (c)

Kilbane (Cotterill 78)
Teale (Heskey, 28)


Unused subs: 

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

  Wigan Athletic
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Defoe 43
Berbatov 44
Lennon 90

Wigan Athletic

Camara 25

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Zokora (dissent) 58
Dawson (foul)  71 



Wigan Athletic

Boyce (foul)  8
Baines (kicking ball away)  33
Heskey (foul)  56
Skoko (foul)  77


Match Report : -  
Will Spurs have to go a goal behind every game before going on to a home win ?  Having let Henri Camara have the freedom of the penalty area, Tottenham struck twice before the break to go in ahead and then had to wait until injury time to hit the their to seal their victory.

Having started slowly, but they could still have been ahead, Spurs let Wigan in for a soft goal.  A long cross from the right was headed down into the heart of the penalty area by Lee McCulloch, rising above Pascal Chimbonda, leaving striker Henri Camara time to size up where he wanted to put his shot and leaving Paul Robinson with little chance of stopping it.  This was 25 minutes into the match and Tottenham had enough openings to be at least a couple of goals to the good before then.

In the opening exchanges, Lennon lifted the ball over the defenders in front of him and it got to Berbatov at the far post, where he managed to get a toe to the ball and get it going at goal, but Kirkland was there to take the ball easily in his chest.  Wigan hit straight back with Camara's pace taking him away from the Tottenham defence and his shot was well held by Robbo.

Berbatov's early movement was causing problems for the visitors and he put in some tempting balls across the face of the goal, but most went begging.  Chimbonda got clattered by Kilbane's forearm when heading away a dangerous cross aimed at the former Everton winger.  This was just before the Wigan goal came.

Then Spurs hit back, with Malbranque hitting a low effort that was deflected and forced Kirkland to push the ball aside, only for Defoe to seize on it and looked likely to score.  However, England's Number Four (as Kirkland was christened by the Park Lane) was quick enough to get up and block the Spurs striker's shot.  Malbranque also had another chance when Lennon pulled the ball back to him and he switched it to his left foot before slicing it well wide with a Wigan defender in close attendance and Steed appealing to the ref that he was too close.

Today's referee is very few people's favourite down N17 way in Mark Clattenburg.  His early booking of Boyce for a foul set a tone of disquiet as he had little grasp of what was going on in the game.  When he booked Baines for a foul on Lennon, it looked like he was more concerned about the kicking away of the ball.  A late shot blocked from Zokora left him pointing for a goal-kick while his assistant signalled a corner, which he had to cede to.  With Heskey already having been walking a tightrope, with a very late tackle on Ledley, his flailing elbow on Dawson was similar to that of Ghaly's last week at Blackburn for which the Spurs midfielder saw red.  So this week ... a yellow.  His bizarre booking of Zokora who was hurt in a crunching challenge with Heskey left me perplexed and I can only think it was because he said something to the official.  But when a man can't get a decision right like a goal when the ball is substantially in the back of the net, what respect can you have for him ??

With the wet surface, you would hope that the shooting might have been on the ground to gain some speed off the turf, but when given a shooting opportunity came along, Huddlestone swerved a long range effort, but couldn't keep it down and the ball went over the top with Kirkland having it covered.  That was in the 41st minute, with the decisive moment in the game following 120 seconds later. 

Berbatov played Defoe in on the left hand corner of the penalty area.  With Boyce tight behind him, Jermain performed a skilful little turn to leave the defender standing and as Kirkland came out, he aimed his shot over him and high into the roof of the net.  It was Defoe at his best and showed he can still be a deadly predator in the area.  He enjoyed his goal with a corner flag goal celebration.

It had looked as thought Wigan would go into the break 1-0 up, but at 1-1 things would look brighter for Spurs.  However, it was even brighter a minute later, as Benoit Assou-Ekotto played a ball into the same channel for Berbatov and he turned Matt Jackson easily and with David Wright trying to tap his ankles as he bore down on Kirkland, the Bulgarian kept his cool and placed his shot past the keeper and into the top right hand corner just under the bar.  It was the finish of a master goal-scorer and the crowd went wild with excitement with the way things had been turned around so quickly.

There was still time for Paul Scharner to get past Assou-Ekotto and take a 30 yard pot shot that caused Robinson to plunge to his right to block and grab at the second attempt.  The whistle came at just the right time and Spurs were on a high going into the break and Wigan must have been highly deflated.

Spurs appeared to have killed off any ambition that the Lactics might have had with the two goal burst.  They started to knock the ball about comfortably and with Huddlestone and Zokora in midfield providing a nice mix of strength, passing and running, the combative Wigan engine room foundered on their tackles.  Chimbonda had been roundly booed every time he touched the ball, but was determined to be on the winning side.  When he clashed with Camara late in the game, he showed the Wigan fans that Spurs were winning 2-1, but at the end, he was pulled away from going to that corner of the ground to celebrate the win by Ledley King.  The French full back produced a neat chip down the right wing, which held up despite the wet grass and provided a chance for Berbatov to fire a low cross into the goalmouth.  With no Tottenham player nearby, Jackson got a foot to it on the stretch and was relieved to see Kirkland grab the ball before it entered the net.

With some silky passing, Spurs were opening up Athletic easily.  Berbatov produced some good moves to leave his marker and played the ball inside to Lennon, who played in Defoe, who tried to hit the shot too hard and it flew over the goal.  Emile Heskey had been press-ganged into service and his blundering bulk regularly crashed into Michael Dawson and when the Spurs centre half ended up on the floor after an aerial challenge, we expected to play out the game against ten men, but not with Clattenburg in charge.  Dawson had to extract his own justice and waited until Heskey was by the touchline and went through him, earning himself a yellow card.

While Wigan hadn't given up, their shooting opportunities were limited and ended up wild.  Camara hit a shot across the face of goal, McCulloch hit one over the bar and then Leighton Baines, the England Under-21 forward really hit one over the bar and almost struck the screen of the Jumbotron !!  He had always wanted one of his shots on the big screen !!  The closest they came was a Heskey header that went over from a free-kick.

At the other end, Keane curled an effort inches wide of Kirkland's far post after running at the defence and right at the death Aaron Lennon put the game beyond doubt.  Assou-Ekotto played the ball down the line to the impressive Malbranque, who set Berbatov down the line.  He beat his man and produced a pass of true class for Lennon to run onto and under challenge, he put his left-foot shot past the keeper to make it 3-1.

It was a professional performance by Spurs after a sloppy start, but once more it begs the question why we can play like this at home, but struggle away so often.  It is one that Martin Jol needs to look at and if we can get that right, we can move on four fronts.



Reaction : -



Well, well, well.  So much for my so-called 'column' daring to suggest that Spurs may
well be better off without Hossam Ghaly.  Perish the thought.  Oh no, wait, that's two
wins on the spin without a certain someone's favourite player.  Do correct me if I'm
wrong on that particular point.

Then we come to the new 'messiah/saviour/whatever I'm supposed to have called him',
Tom Huddlestone, rightfully restored to the starting line-up.  Hoddle he may not be,
but strong, dependable and the future, he most certainly is. Well done to Malbranque
as well, as he looked very sharp from what I saw and could've had a brace.

And finally, well done to Defoe who scored a cracker and generally looked lively.
Maybe he'll come good of my expectation that the goals will start to fly in for him

Last but not least, big thanx to Lemmy and the Motorhead boys, superbly supported by Crucified Barbara and Clutch, who took the roof off the Carling Academy in Brixton last night. Awesome gig and the best way to see in my birthday.  Beats going to the Lane every time.


Thanks to my train being delayed an hour in the Slough area I didn't get to Tottenham until 10 minutes to kick off, so unable to meet up with lads as promised (sorry Pete), so it was straight into the ground to settle down.
Spurs flew out straight after kick off and mounted a pretty decent attack. This is more like it I thought.
I did worry that the midfield played a lot higher than the defence and as a result we were unable to get the ball in the second phase possession, every 50-50 ball was going against us, never mind our luck would change, and before I could finish saying that it was 0-1.  Camara, that's right, their centre forward and top scorer stood all alone on the penalty spot, if not closer as the ball neatly fell to his favourite foot. The reaction, or lack of it from Robinson said it all.
Spurs were having, another off day, with Lennon and Zokora being particularly bad. On the plus side Steed Malbranque was having a storming game. The cost was though he was coming inside to collect the ball and break up play, leaving the left flank vulnerable. 
Far too often we played a predictable long ball up for Berbatov to try and win and far too often Wigan just dealt with it comfortably. It was frustrating because sometimes there were better options open but the long ball was obviously today's game plan.
And then it happened 89 wonderful seconds with two top drawer goals in every aspect.
Wigan must have been gutted!
Second half then and you could see it coming, Spurs needed that third as too often in the past we have lacked the killer touch. By now Heskey was on and he was getting closer and closer.
The best part of the day was Chimbonda being cheered loudly by the Spurs fans every time he touched the ball.
Yes Wigan had a couple of chances but then so did we, and then Robbie Keane started warming up, my only question was who on earth would he bring off? It was to be Defoe, and not long after the switch Robbie had a shot that curled round the post missing by millimetres. Had he of scored that would have given Mr Jol a real headache!
Wigan became more tired, they had peaked, and Spurs carried on with their attacks and again Berbatov was involved in number three.
To many he will have man of the match but I would vote for Malbranque, who was busy all game and had two great chances to score.
All in all a great game as it gets us into 10th spot; best birthday present I have ever had, thanks Di.

(Photos from the trip to the game to come !!)



SJ, you didn't mention how Berbatov was the one who set up Defoe and how good
his finish was !  Mmmmm I wonder why ?

I never said that Ghaly was irreplaceable - just that I was impressed with him and you can say what you like but he DOES create scoring opportunities (it's just a pity he doesn't finish more of them off!).

Huddlestone - I like Huddlestone and one day he'll be a very fine player but I don't understand why everyone seems to want him to be thrown in at the deep end ?  We all realise we are missing Carrick and he's a direct replacement, but it doesn't mean he should be 'thrown in' - I have great faith in MJ and if he feels the game is right - he will play him I'm sure and let him develop at his own pace - not yours!

Ahhhh !  Apparently Malbranque was quite good which is encouraging - I'm looking forward to the wing pairing of Malbranque/Lennon really hitting top form and putting in the crosses for Mido/Berby - I wonder if we'll see a Mido/Berby partnership - that may well answer our differences once and for all ...

Another three points at the Lane - all we have to do now is roll over the filth next week and we can really get the ball rolling !





Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 1 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 3 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 1 Everton 1 Saturday
Fulham 0 Reading 1 Saturday
Liverpool 1 Manchester City 0 Saturday
West Ham United 1 Sheffield United 0 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Chelsea 1 Sunday
Newcastle United 1 Portsmouth 0 Sunday
Scores from midweek games
Watford 0 Sheffield United 1 Tuesday
Fulham 2 Arsenal 1 Wednesday
Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 3 Wednesday
Liverpool 0 Portsmouth 0 Wednesday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Chelsea 1 Wednesday
Manchester United 3 Everton 0 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 15 12 2 1 33 7 38 +26
2 Chelsea 15 11 2 2 25 8 35 +17
3 Portsmouth 15 7 3 5 19 12 24 +7
4 Bolton Wanderers 15 7 3 5 15 14 24 +1
5 Aston Villa 15 5 8 2 17 13 23 +4
6 Arsenal 14 6 4 4 22 12 22 +10
7 Liverpool 15 6 4 5 15 15 22 0
8 Reading 14 7 1 6 16 18 22 -2
9 Everton 15 5 6 4 18 15 21 +3
10 Fulham 15 5 5 5 16 21 20 -5
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 14 5 4 5 13 16 19 -3
12 Manchester City 15 5 4 6 13 17 19 -4
13 Wigan Athletic 13 5 3 5 17 17 18 0
14 Middlesbrough 14 4 4 6 11 17 16 -6
15 West Ham United 14 4 2 8 10 16 14 -6
16 Blackburn Rovers 13 3 4 6 11 17 13 -6
17 Newcastle United 14 3 4 7 9 15 13 -6
18 Sheffield United 14 3 4 8 9 19 13 -10
19 Watford 14 1 6 7 10 20 9 -10
20 Charlton Athletic 13 2 3 8 8 18 9 -10



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