Middlesbrough (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 28th April 2007

 
 

Historically, goals in this match are not in plentiful supply.  There have been some high-scoring games, but more often it is nip and tuck, with this game probably following the same theme.

With Boro having just completed the signing of Jonathan Woodgate for 7 million, their defence will be boosted by his regular presence. But there are still deficiencies in the North-East teams back-line, with Pogatetz a defender who seems unable to keep his calm on a regular basis, thus leading to a number of suspensions through lack of control and with inexperienced Andrew Davies making the full back positions vulnerable if Arca and Xavier are not available.  Both are getting on, with Xavier lacking the pace of his younger years, while Arca gets caught out of position as he likes to maraud up the line.  It seems both might miss out with injury, thus proving their veteran status.
Chris Riggott has been plagued by injury since moving to Middlesbrough from Derby County and has not progressed to fill the potential he showed as a youngster. while Stuart Parnaby has been making some people sit up with his performances, although he is prone to the odd mis-judgement of balls.  Giant German central defender Robert Huth has missed a large number of games with injury which perhaps is not that surprising when he failed his initial medical for the transfer from Chelsea.  This has allowed young Andrew Taylor to have a run in the side and he has grabbed it with both feet.  Energetic and willing to go forward from the back, Spurs might find that he has the youthful exuberance to get back should Tottenham hit on the break.

The midfield options are a little limited and with the combative qualities of George Boateng, the supposed left wing mastery of Stewart Downing (husband of sulky Wag Boutique Michaela Twistelton-Thynne - or so I am told), the strong running of James Morrison, Lee Cattermole's determined central role and the enigmatic Fabio Rochemback and his flitting in and out of the game might provide some opposition in the middle of the park for Tottenham.  With our midfield missing the injured Tainio and with Lennon looking tired, it could rest on the willing legs of Zokora and Jenas to try to stretch the Boro midfield.  There should be enough ability in our four to meet the challenge of the home four and the flanks will have to be shut down to ensure that no supply is fed in to Viduka and Yakubu.

Mark Viduka most people know about.  Not the most mobile of strikers, but one who knows the game and knows where the goal is.  A strong player who holds the ball well up front and can bring other players into the game, which is much like his partner Yakubu.  Perhaps possessing a bit more pace, the Nigerian turns well in the box and is a handful in the air.  Dong-Gook Lee is a new name to many, but Young-Pyo Lee will be able to give the Spurs defenders the low down on the new Korean striker for Boro.

A string of draws has hampered Tottenham's move for a top seven place and the goals have dried up a little, but in this game, they might find a bit of joy, as Boro will want to try and finish the season in style (unlikely I know), but with them attempting to play a more offensive game, Spurs have the players to catch them on the break.  If we can keep it (relatively) tight at the back, then I believe that the forwards can get the goals we need to secure three points ...

PREDICTION : -  Middlesbrough  1   Tottenham Hotspur   3

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

 
 
PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

MIDDLESBROUGH :  -  Abel Xavier (back); Ross Williams (pelvis); Seb Hines (broken arm); Matthew Bates (knee); Julio Arca (groin)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Teemu Tainio (knee); Young-Pyo Lee (knee); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Anthony Gardner (broken leg); Dorian Dervite (knee); Mido (groin)

 
 
Coverage

TV
Match of the Day  (BBC 2) -   Saturday 22.30 - 23.20 (highlights) -  repeated Sunday 07.30
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) -  Sunday 22.30 - 23.20 (highlights)
Sky Sports 1 -  Goals on Sunday 10.30
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
Planet football -
http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs-pl04-kean0.ram (free - only available when match is on.)
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.

 
 
 

 

 

Middlesbrough   2   Tottenham Hotspur    3      (Half-time score : 0-1)

Premier League
Venue : -  Riverside Stadium
Saturday 28th April 2007
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   27,861
Referee :  -   Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Weather :  -  Bright, sunny, warm
Teams : - 
Middlesbrough :

Schwarzer

Davies (Arca 64)
Woodgate
Pogatetz
Taylor

Cattermole (Johnson 40)
Boateng
Rochemback
Downing

Viduka
Yakubu (Lee 70)

Unused subs
Jones
McMahon 

Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson

Chimbonda
King (c)
Dawson
Rocha

Ghaly (Lennon 72)
Zokora
Jenas
Malbranque

Berbatov
Keane

Unused subs
Cerny
Defoe
Huddlestone
Ifil

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

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Middlesbrough

Viduka 66
Pogatetz 89

Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 12
Berbatov 47
Keane 83

Cards : -  
Middlesbrough

    
Yakubu (foul) 68 

    

Tottenham Hotspur 

    
Malbranque (foul) 50

     

Match Report : -  
While it was a gem which Spurs should have wrapped up with ease, some tired play in the second half gave Boro hope of getting something from the game and left Spurs reliant on the excellence of Paul Robinson's reflexes and the goalscoring sharpness of Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane.

With Boro sitting near the relegation zone, this match saw both sides need the three points available. For Tottenham, the need to get back amongst winning ways would be the ideal preparation for the remaining there games of the season.

The game was not the greatest technical extravaganza, but it did contain enough entertainment to keep you gripped right to the end.  But then that is typical of Tottenham !!

An early Robbo clearance nearly set Keano away, but the offside flag pulled him up as he prepared to run onto it.  One thing Spurs have been guilty of this season has been the lack of concentration in maintaining possession and a loose Didier Zokora pass let in Yakubu for a shot that didn't unduly trouble Robinson and Ghaly set up Dimitar for a curling shot that went within Schwarzer's reach.  The Bulgarian should have done better with his next effort in the ninth minute, but he hit his shot wide, when an on-target one would have beaten the Boro goalie.

Twelve minutes into the match, Steed Malbranque played a delicate little pass through to Berbatov, who showed his languid style by going past Pogatetz and Woodgate on the left and then dragging the ball back square for Keane to side-foot in past Schwarzer from about ten yards out.  It was a well-crafted goal and maintained Robbie's good scoring record at the moment. 

It might have been 2-0 moments later when a corner was headed back at the far post by Chimbonda, but Schwarzer grabbed the ball before it got to Keane.  Middlesbrough started to get the ball down and play, using Viduka to hold up play and trying to play Yakubu in off him, but the Tottenham defence was bolstered by Ledley King, who helped marshal the back four effectively.  Spurs were now hitting Boro on the break and Ghaly nearly set-up Berbatov for a goal, when, halfway through the first half, he took on Taylor before powering his shot over the top from a narrow angle.  The distribution from Paul Robinson has been a feature of our build-up play this season and his quick throw-out put Steed away on the left of midfield and he almost put Hossam Ghaly away, had Downing not tracked back to intercept.

While the home team got into some promising positions, their crossing was poor, with a high percentage of them ending up in the crowd, Robbo's hands or on the heads of the Tottenham defenders.  With Boateng and Pogatetz trying top unsettle the Spurs midfield with their tough tactics, the passing game made them run a lot in the heat and Spurs manoeuvred the ball around quite well.  Berbatov's first touch gives him a great advantage over defenders, as his bringing down of a Dawson clearance showed and he was an inch or two away from providing Robbie Keane with a second goal, as his cross edged agonisingly out of the Irish striker's reach.

The two starting up front seem to be developing a good understanding, but there were times when Dimitar looked at his partner in disgust when the ball failed to arrive when he was in space or it sis not arrive in time.  However, ten minutes before the break they combined to play in Zokora, but his shot was curled wide of the goal, as he sought his first Tottenham goal.  A couple of second half chances went the same way, as Freund Mk II looks like the bookies safe bet for "goals scored at any time" !!

Boateng had a shot blocked and Cattermole headed a corner wide, with that being his last contribution to the game, as Southgate hauled him off with 39 minutes gone, as he was having such an atrocious game.  Straight away the new line-up struck, with a spell of pressure that saw three crosses cleared before Yakubu laid the ball back for Mark Viduka to hit a low shot that grazed the outside of the post as it went off for a goal-kick.

As the teams trooped off at half-time, thoughts of last week's derby match came back, wondering if it would be a hollow second half performance by Spurs, that would allow Middlesbrough back into the game and leave us with nothing from another trip up to the North-East (as is Tottenham's wont).  Within two minutes of coming back out, it was Tottenham who took the initiative.

Jenas spread the ball out to Hossam Ghaly on the right wing and his cross was met by Berba with a falling volley on the edge of the box and the shot nestled neatly in the bottom corner of the net, leaving Schwarzer helpless to stop it.  It was a fine goal and Ghaly's ball was similar to that which set up Huddlestone's goal at Manchester City.  It makes it all the more frustrating when the Egyptian shows he can do something like this, yet, a lot of the time, he concedes possession and does not bother to chase back that hard.  As for Berbatov, he is making a habit of scoring fine goal and let's hope he continues doing it for us !!

Malbranque's crude challenge on Taylor earned him a yellow card and from the free-kick, Downing tried to beat Robinson with a curler, but failed to make him make a save.  Boro started to get a bit desperate, so when Rochemback smacked a long range free-kick way over the bar, the home crowd started to get a bit restless.  They did try to get their team to attack a bit more, with Spurs looking like they might be starting to flag in midfield.  King got in the way of a Viduka drive, before Tottenham moved the play to the other end.

Ghaly ran through onto a long ball, but Mark Schwarzer headed outside of his box, with the Australian keeper having to make a similar dash from his line as Steed played Keano through.  Robbie tried to lift the ball over the goalie, but in doing so, just failed to get it on target, when it should really have been the opportunity to make it 3-0 just ten minutes into the second half.  Just after the hour, it could have been a Boro goal to record, with Rochemback slipping the ball between two Tottenham players in the area to Viduka.  The Aussie striker did what he does best and turned to strike an early shot that rose over the bar, luckily for Spurs.

Boro brought on Arca for Davies and pushed Boateng back to full-back and within a couple of minutes, Stewart Downing was allowed space and time to put in a right wing cross for Vidula to get onto the end of with his head and the ball looped lazily in from about 10 yards out.  Robinson was furious ... as he should have been.  There was little pressure on the cross and little pressure on the header too.  He wasn't that happy two minutes later, although he should have been.  Going the wrong way as Viduka met Boateng's cross well, he changed direction and managed to palm the ball away with a great save.  It was an important save at the time, but became even more so in the context of the game by the end.

Having left Aaron Lennon on the bench, Martin Jol decided that with twenty minutes left, it was the time to introduce him to relieve the pressure building up on our goal.  It didn't work straight away, as Viduka once more tested Robbo's keeping, but the England Number One pushed aside the fierce drive, then Arca hit the follow-up into a Spurs body and Dong-Gook Lee fired wide.  Another reprieve came when a Jenas foul on Johnson allowed Rochemback to strike a fine free-kick that flicked off Zokora to go just wide, even though the referee awarded a goal-kick.  Keane almost scored when put in by Lennon, but Pogatetz nipped the ball off his toe, but from a following corner, the ball came out to Jermaine Jenas.  He passed inisde the full back to Lennon on the right and although he took the ball tight to the line, he pulled a great pass back for Robbie Keane to lift the ball into the roof of the net as he pulled back from the two defenders running back to the goal and to make it 3-1 to Tottenham.  Lennon's introduction had proved valuable and gave Spurs the cushion they were looking for.

With ten minutes left, Boro would be seeking to make a dent in the lead and then pressure Spurs to get an equaliser.  And so it proved.  The pressure built and when a corner was conceded, Pogatetz rose unchallenged to head home.  For the fourth game running, Spurs had failed to pick up a man and allowed an unchallenged header to lead to a goal against us.  With a minute and then four added minutes left, Boro aimed to make life difficult for Tottenham.  Rochemback let fly and it flew over with the closest the home side came to threatening the Spurs goal.

Tottenham didn't get off easy at the end, but they could have done by not letting in a soft goal and making the last dew minutes hairy.

Once more, going forward, Spurs looked like a team who could challenge for the title, but at the back, we looked like West Ham's poor relations.  With injuries to experienced defenders at the moment, it makes it hard to judge whether there would be a problem when they come back, but more focus and an awareness of who players should be marking at set-pieces might make an immediate impact on our defending.

Still, going away and winning at Boro, where we don't usually come back with much from. is a result and one which would have been beneficial if Liverpool hadn't fielded a weakened side against Portsmouth, allowing the home side to win 2-1 and stay above us.

PURCELL COLE

 
 

 

Other scores this weekend :
Blackburn Rovers 4 Charlton Athletic 1 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Bolton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Everton 2 Manchester United 4 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Aston Villa 2 Saturday
Portsmouth 2 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Sheffield United 1 Watford 0 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 0 West Ham United 3 Saturday
Arsenal 3 Fulham 1 Sunday
Reading 1 Newcastle United 0 Monday

   

 

League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 35 27 4 4 82 26 85 +56
2 Chelsea 35 24 8 3 62 22 80 +40
3 Liverpool 36 20 7 9 55 24 67 +31
4 Arsenal 36 19 9 8 62 34 66 +28
5 Everton 36 14 12 10 48 35 54 +13
6 Bolton Wanderers 36 16 7 13 44 47 55 -3
7 Reading 36 16 6 14 49 42 54 +7
8 Portsmouth 36 14 11 10 45 39 53 +6
9 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 35 15 8 12 52 52 53 0
10 Blackburn Rovers 35 14 5 16 46 50 47 -4
11 Aston Villa 36 10 16 10 38 39 46 -1
12 Newcastle United 36 11 9 16 37 44 42 -7
13 Manchester City 36 11 9 16 28 41 42 -13
14 Middlesbrough 36 10 10 16 40 48 40 -8
15 Sheffield United 36 10 8 18 31 50 38 -19
16 Fulham 36 7 15 14 36 57 36 -21
17 Wigan Athletic 36 9 8 19 35 58 35 -22
18 West Ham United 36 10 5 21 31 58 35 -27
19 Charlton Athletic 36 8 9 19 32 56 33 -24
20 Watford 36 4 12 20 26 58 24 -32

 

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