|COMPETITION||FA Cup 4th Round|
|DATE||Sunday 27th January 2013|
An interesting FA Cup tie for Tottenham. Away from home, but against a side in the middle of the Championship, who are struggling to put together a decent run of results under a manager who knows Premier League sides well. So, will AVB put out a full strength side or hold some of the first choice players in reserve on the bench in case they are needed ?
With some of the younger players going out on loan, there are less to choose from, but then Leeds have that problem too. The revolving doors have been in place at Elland Road for a while now, with players coming and going and loanees filling the side, which makes consistency a big problem. The fact that clubs can call players back and that they might be excluded from the team, as their parent club might not want them to be cup-tied, leaves the manager Neil Warnock a tricky task when it comes to team selection.
Things have been further complicated by star striker Luciano Becchio putting in a transfer request in the week leading up to the match.
There are a few ex-Sheffield United players as you might expect in any Warnock side. Paddy Kenny, Leigh Bromby, Michael Tonge and Michael Brown (our former terrier-ish midfielder) have all rocked up at Leeds and have not had too much animosity from the home fans despite their previous experience. Alan Tate from Swansea was on loan, but has returned to the Liberty Stadium and Ross Barkley of Everton is there for the next month, but whether his club will allow him to play we will have to wait and see. Panto villain El Hadji Diouf is a regular up front and he is an offensive player in most senses of the word. David Norris (ex-Ipswich) and Luke Varney (ex-Charlton) are both old heads, who can help the younger lads breaking into the team.
And it could be one of their former youngsters - Aaron Lennon - who might be a chief tormentor if he starts for Spurs. It is unlikely that AVB will field both Lennon and Bale, with Townsend likely to get a look in I would hope, but there may be few starting berths for younger players, as some older ones are now back at the club, while others need playing time.
Last time at Elland Road, Spurs stuck three past Leeds with Defoe netting a hat-trick. This time it might be a bit closer, but the end result could be the same.
|PREDICTION||Leeds United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
LEEDS UNITED TEAM
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Jan Vertonghen has recovered form his illness enough to train and may be in the squad, but the same may not be the case for William Gallas, who is training again after a calf muscle injury ruled him out for nearly a month, but he may not be quite ready for this match. The only long term injured are now knee surgery victims Younes Kaboul and Sandro.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
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Leeds United 2 (1)
FA Cup Fourth Round
Sunday 27th January 2013
Venue : Elland Road
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (0)
Kick off 14:00
Diouf (time-wasting 80)
Brown (foul on Parker) 90+5
Vertonghen (foul on McCormack) 79
Assou-Ekotto (foul) 89
|Crowd : 29,943||Weather : -|
|Referee : Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)||Assistant Referees : -|
|Fourth Official : -||-|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the South Stand end in the first half.|
|Leeds United :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
7 Paul GREEN
21 El-Hadji DIOUF ( 5 Jason PEARCE 90+1)
2 Clint DEMPSEY
|Manager : Neil Warnock||Manager : Andre Villas-Boas|
|Sponsor : Enterprise Insurance||Shirt sponsor : Investec|
|Kit Supplier : Macron||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
With a number of key players starting on the bench or rested completely, Spurs were knocked out of the FA Cup by a determined Leeds United side in this Fourth Round tie at Elland Road. Tottenham could not really complain as, although they had more possession and more shots at goal, they looked ill at ease from the start and failed to pick up a tempo to their play that they looked comfortable with. Too many player made Leeds look like world beaters and in truth, the winning margin for the home side might have been bigger.
It was a day when Benoit Assou-Ekotto looked like he was out to prove that he didn't like football and while Brad Friedel made two very good saves, the centre-backs in front of him looked nervy all afternoon and you have to ask if this was attributable to them not having Lloris behind them. Playing AVB's preferred high line caught them out for both goal sand on the first one, Brad might have done better by coming out a bit to narrow the angle for Varney. Both goals also came when possession was handed over to Leeds by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
While isolating some who were at fault, there are other players who need to take a look at their performances today.
The side had a little of a lopsided look to it when news broke that Dempsey would be our lone striker, with Defoe not in the 18. With Parker and Huddlestone as the defensive two, there were some concerns about how much protection they would give the back four as a pairing. And with Brad in goal, the sweeping role that Hugo fulfils might not be quite up to the Frenchman's level.
From the kick off Leeds were quicker into the tackle and were quick to close Tottenham down when they were on the ball. This lead to some easy turnover of possession and Spurs were having difficulty finding their targets with passes. When they did work some space on the left, Jan Vertonghen's cross to the near post was met by Gylfi Sigurdsson's head, as he lost his marker, but the direction on it took it straight into the goalkeeper's arms in the seventh minute. In the next attack, Parker's ball from the halfway line put Clint Demspey away inside the full back,. but he chose to shoot with few team-mates up with him and the ball was hooked way wide, as the American failed to get a decent contact on it.
While neither team was really dominating, Leeds' goal came out of the blue. Michael Brown played a long ball forward, which El-Hadji Diouf tried to back-heel forward. With Kyle Naughton expecting him to touch it on, he let Luke Varney run in behind him, but the Senegal striker missed his attempted flick and Varney ran through onside. Taking the ball on and with nobody catching him up, he waited until he was about eight yards out and over towards Friedel's right hand post before curling the bal past the keeper and into the opposite side of the net with 15 minutes gone.
Tottenham's response was a couple of long shots that were off target and a couple of crosses that were too high for the men in the middle. Leeds fashioned a shooting chance for Varney from the edge of the box, but this time it was too high and then Dempsey could not get the ball wide of Ashdown in the Leeds goal when Lennon set him up. A similar move saw Tom Huddlestone shift the ball onto his left foot to hit a first-time half-volley that the keeper did well to push wide, just before Bale beat two defenders on our right wing to get to the by-line, but tried to beat Ashdown from a tight angle and he blocked the shot.
There was space being made in wide positions, but the final Spurs ball lacked the precision to provide a decent chance. When Tom found Clint outside the area, Dempsey's shot forced Ashdown down to push the ball away again. but then Friedel was called into action when McCormack got away from Assou-Ekotto after Caulker was beaten to a ball in the air by Diouf. The Leeds man was closed down by Friedel this time and his shot hit the keeper, when a dink over him might have brought more reward. Luckily for Tottenham, the ball spun back into Brad's arms.
Half time brought the chance for AVB to gird the loins of his troops and for them to come out fired up, but it was the home side who posed the questions at the start of the half. And it was from a Spurs attack that Leeds scored their second. Four minutes after the restart, Spurs released Sigurdsson down the left. With space and momentum, he dallied and looked as though he didn't know what his best option was, so ended up crossing the ball against the defender in front of him and it fell for Leeds, who quickly turned defence into attack as Diouf played McCormack in and he went around Caulker to curl a left footed shot from the right side of the box across Friedel and into the other side of the goal.
The score could have been reduced shortly after the goal, when Lennon beat a man on the right wing and fired a low ball across the face of the six yard box, beating all but Dempsey at the far post, but he was stretching and put the effort wide, with the goal seemingly gaping in front of him. But Clint was on the target in the 58th minute, when Bale took on two defenders (as he had to most of the day) down the left wing and put in a neat cross to the near post, where Dempsey got across Lees and glanced a header across Ashdown and into the far corner of the net.
Was there a way back for Tottenham ?
Well, they tried, but there appeared to be a lack of cutting edge. Even when Jon Obika was brought on to play up front alongside Dempsey for Sigurdsson, the supply lacked quality most of the time. Dembele also entered the play for HUd and almost broke through, when a low shot took a deflection and went wide after Bale had tricked Byram into a rash tackle that completely missed the Welshman (luckily, as it might have damaged him if contact had been made with his two footed jump).
Jan Vertonghen was booked for a foul on McCormack, which was a bit rich, seeing as Michael Brown had been niggling all day (at players and the ref) and Rudolph Austin had been late with a few nasty challenges. But just before the 90 minute lark was reached, a long ball from left back from Benoit went over the Leeds defence and Obika was onto it, but as he waited for the bal to come down, Peltier got a foot to the ball to take it away from him. With only the keeper to beat, Jon didn't get the ball under control before he reached the box and the amount of time you have in the top flight is less than in the Under-21s.
With Leeds trying to kill time by taking the ball into the corner, kicking it away at every award against them and making added time substitutions, the clock ran down until Michael Brown brought down Parker on the edge of the box, way out to the right. With it being last gasp, Friedel came up and got his head to the ball as it came in from the free-kick, but it dropped for Leeds, who passed to Austin and from inside his own half, he hit a slow shot up-field towards the empty net and into it. But by then the final whistle had gone and with Parker and Brown exchanging views on the game, the FA Cup run for this season was over.
There was a simple reason Leeds won, which was they weren't as bad as us. They finished their two goals well and while we had many more opportunities, we had nobody who could find the net in the same way. It was no shock, as on the day we played poorly and Leeds played as well as they could. It doesn't mean that next season Leeds will be in the Premier League taking us all by storm and neither does it mean Spurs will take a nose-dive into the Championship. There were other more notable cup shocks that need explaining away by Messrs. Hughton, Rodgers, Lambert and Benitez.
I am not sure how far up the club's agenda the FA Cup was, but we might have gone out in the next round anyway, with Leeds being drawn away to Manchester City.
With Everton and Arsenal going through and Chelsea needing a replay, it means more games for them, so here's to concentrating on the leagues !!
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|What you thought|
|Other scores in the Fourth Round :|
|Brighton and Hove Albion||2||Arsenal||3||Saturday|
|Huddersfield Town||1||Leicester City||1||Saturday|
|Macclesfield Town||0||Wigan Athletic||1||Saturday|
|Derby County||0||Blackburn Rovers||3||Saturday|
|Norwich City||0||Luton Town||1||Saturday|
|Queens Park Rangers||2||MK Dons||4||Saturday|
|Stoke City||0||Manchester City||1||Saturday|
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