|DATE||Sunday 28th August 2011|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
With Manchester city's record at White Hart Lane, you would think
that this is a fairly straightforward task for Tottenham in the
Sunday lunch-time Premier League match, but nothing could be further
from the truth.
The mere fact that City have loaned Emmanuel Adebayor to Spurs and are paying the bulk of his huge weekly wage indicates that they no longer see Tottenham as any sort of threat to stopping their master plan of world dominance. With the wealth available to the Eastlands club, there is little not to be optimistic about. It is even highly unlikely that FIFA will do anything about the financial fair play aspect of the funding of the club.
But money is not the only thing that brings success. The players that City have brought in are not all world class, as for every Aguero, there is a Boateng who does not fit into the sky blue thinking. Players will be used up and spat out to achieve where the club wants to go and for some (like Bellamy, Adebayor, Bridge, Tevez, Wright-Phillips) the dream becomes a nightmare. They will just be replaced by others, but in the long run, it may deter players signing for them. The money is all well and good, but the prospect of not playing might put some players off.
But those that are there now are probably as good a squad as anywhere in the world, with Redknapp proclaiming they are better than Barcelona. So the game comes at a time when Spurs sit in the bottom three courtesy of having only played one game and that against the opposition's city neighbours. Needless to mention that we could be rooted back at the foot of the table by half past three Sunday afternoon.
And Spurs have their own problems without City imposing even more on them. Modric's wrong-headedness, a lack of goals and some poor marking combined with an injury crisis in midfield means that the start that looked very tough, now appears even harder.
The pairing of Aguero and Dzeko seems to be paying dividends with a big and little combination that Spurs could take heed of. By concentrating on their own strengths, as they are not great at the back, they build belief like Spurs did a couple of seasons back when we qualified for the Champions League. Now Tottenham play with effectively five in midfield and hand the initiative to the opposition.
We need to res-establish Defoe's striking rate and he needs support up front, with van der Vaart's roving role not the best partnership for him. Maybe Adebayor is the man to pair with him, but he can't play against the club he is on loan from, so will sit out Sunday's game, leaving a choice of Pav or Crouch to play alongside JD, but more likely, Redknapp will put VDV behind him and put in place a combative/fast midfield four (Livermore, Bale, Modric and Lennon), although Jenas is fit again, so he might come in for Livermore.
Walker has got over his stomach bug and will be a choice for right back, but Harry might go with experience by picking Corluka, with BAE returning on the left and Dawson paired with Kaboul in the centre. I expect Friedel to be between the posts.
City's defence is their soft spot and if Spurs can get the ball wide to attack them down the flanks, they might have some joy, but there has to be players supporting to get into the box to get on the end of the supply. The passing that opened us up against United might come back like a recurring nightmare against City and the team will need to be at peak fitness to close them down.
The only hope would be that Mancini does still have some regard for the way we have played in previous seasons and put his negative head on, leaving his side to hold out, but with the array of talent available, I would have thought he might only do that after going a couple of goals up.
Thus, I think that after Sunday's match we will still be, as Alexander Armstrong might say, Pointless.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester City 2|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS : Spurs are still injury hit, with some players still not anywhere near playing. Sandro, Steven Pienaar, Ledley King and William Gallas out. Peter Crouch has had an ankle problem and Harry will hope he can be ready for selection, although Wilson Palacios is in talks with Stoke City about a move and will not feature. Kyle Walker and Jermaine Jenas were hit by a stomach bug and are now over that, with Luka Modric almost being forced to play against his will, as he still mopes around after failing to get his dream move to Chelsea. Emmanuel Adebayor can't play against his parent club, so will be in the stands for this one.|
|MANCHESTER CITY TEAM NEWS : Nigel de Jong's foot injury rules him out and Carlos Tevez has just to do a 90 minute stint with City, so he will be on the bench for the match at the Lane. Mancini's only problem is how to fit all his players into the team, so a selection problem of a positive type. Samir Nasri is likely to make his debut, with James Milner expected to stand down.|
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
1 (0) Manchester City 5 (2)
Sunday 28th August 2011 Kick off 13:30
White Hart Lane
|Kaboul 68||Dzeko 34
Assou-Ekotto (foul) 10
van der Vaart (foul) 31
Barry (foul) 20
Zabaleta (foul) 23
Toure (kicking the ball away) 25
Savic (coming on without ref's permission) 76
|Crowd : 36,150||Weather : - Sunny, dry, with one late shower|
|Referee : Phil Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent)||Assistant Referees : P. Kirkup, M. Mullarkey|
|Fourth Official : A. Marriner||-|
|Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Manchester City :||kit|
11 van der Vaart
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Roberto Mancini|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : El-ithad|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Umbro|
A humiliating 1-5 defeat to Manchester City in our opening home Premier League season game must be tempered with the realisation that teams like City and United are now playing at a different level to Spurs and that the league may soon get polarised like Scotland, where only the biggest (i.e. in terms of cash availability) can win the title.
The football City were able to play might have been possible by Tottenham's lack of midfield presence, but more is down to the players they have been able to bring in to form a formidable line-up that few teams will be able to counter. With one up front and with Modric and Kranjcar in centre midfield it was never going to be an easy task to threaten City. The failure in the first half to use Bale or Lennon effectively allowed City to pick the ball off and then hit Spurs in wide positions, where all of their goals came from.
It was Lennon who had the first chance of the game inside the first minute, but when Assou-Ekotto's low cross came to him at the far post, he seemed unprepared for it and his shot was pulled wide of the goal. In fact, Lennon had a disappointing game once more, with his wing play limited to hitting crosses against defenders and only getting into those positions when he was on the move, not being able to beat a man from a standing start, so when he went off with a groin strain, stretching for a ball, his own disappointment showed as he trudged off down the tunnel.
In a lively Tottenham opening, Modric, playing despite the rumours of a £40 million bid from Chelsea coming in and Harry Redknapp revealing that he had asked not to play at 11:30, slid a pass through to Niko Kranjcar and the midfielder curled a shot just wide from the left corner of the box. City hit back, with Friedel touched a Samir Nasri shot wide and then he had to beat out a drive from David Silva, relying on his defence to stop the follow up from Aguero and then Nasri screwed his shot wide.
In the ninth minute, Lennon put Rafael van der Vaart in for a shot from the edge of the box and although partially unsighted, Joe Hart got down to his left to touch the ball narrowly wide. Friedel was called upon to repeat the save he made from Cleverley on Monday last week, but this time to a Samir Nasri shot in the 18th minute and a couple of minutes later, Spurs had a good chance from a free-kick, when Barry was booked for a foul on van der Vaart and the Dutchman got up to take the kick from the left edge of the area and curled it left-footed to the near post, where Joe Hart flew across to push it wide, even though it looked like it was about to go outside the frame of the goal.
Lennon did get a decent cross in with 27 minutes gone from the right, but Crouch did not get a good contact on it in front of goal and close in, so the ball ran through to Bale at the far post. Unfortunately, the ball did not sit nicely for him, but even so, it was a presentable opportunity and the wing back couldn't get over the ball and his shot rose over the bar. Spurs had a shout for a penalty, when Joleon Lescott cleared from a ball into the box and it hit Kompany on the way out, but it wasn't intentional or avoidable. This came just after Barry had smacked a shot a foot wide with Friedel rooted to the spot and then in the 35th minute City took the lead.
Aguero linked with Nasri on the City left and the former Arsenal midfielder put a cross into the box that was knee high. Nobody cut it out and Kaboul was slow off the mark, allowing Edin Dzeko to get across him and meet the ball on the volley to divert it past Friedel. Spurs looked like they might fold, as Aguero found space in the box on the right, but dragged his low shot wide. Rafa was unlucky when he was played the ball in space by Bale centrally on the edge of the area, but his low drive was blocked by Clichy diving in to stop the ball getting through. And in the 40th minute, Tottenham could have been level, when Bale was found by a good ball from Assou-Ekotto and he hit the waist high ball across the box with it finding Crouch coming in, but his stretching header went a ball's width wide, when it looked for everything that it was in.
That cost Spurs, as from that move, City attacked up the left once more and Nasri dinked a cross to the edge of the six yard box, where Dzeko and Kaboul were alone, but while the French defender stood without getting a jump on the ball, Dzeko improvised and headed the ball back across the goal, leaving Friedel standing as the ball drifted into the net. Spurs had not learned from the United game, when Ashley Young missed a similar chance. so, 0-2 down and looking a safe bet to still be bottom of the table come 3:30. Could things get worse ?
Well, only a Friedel save from Dzeko and Silva planting his shot just wide prevented it being any worse at the break, although a late Bale run and shot that was deflected by a City defender for a corner showed there might be some fight left in the Spurs team.
Huddlestone's replacement for Kranjcar seemed a like for like swap, as Niko is not as quick as he used to be, but hopefully, Tom's range of passing might have been able to open up the City back line a bit more. Spurs opened the half with Corluka putting Aaron in with a ball inside Clichy, but having a chance to cross the ball (albeit with only Crouch in the box), he delayed and the cross was blocked when it did come in. A couple of corners resulted, but nothing came from them, as is the case with most of Tottenham corners. It was Lennon's last action, as Spurs brought on Jermain Defoe to replace him and went 4-4-2.
Dzeko had a free header from Toure's 53rd minute cross, but put it wide and in the next minute, when Toure-Aguero one-two opened Spurs up on the left of their defence, the Ivory Coast midfielder's low ball across the face of goal was tapped in by the big Bosnian striker for his hat-trick from a foot out. On the hour, it was 4-0, as Nasri played an innocuous ball down the left for Aguero, who was one-on-one with Dawson and as little Kun looked to go inside, Dawson went that way, but the Argentine took the ball to his left and smashed a rising shot past Friedel that the keeper might have done better with. It was a shot of immense power though and it was getting to the point for Spurs where it was just damage limitation.
When Livermore came on for Modric, who left to a mixture of boos and applause, it looked like Harry was just trying to stem the tide, but the introduction of a player who put in a few tackles and showed some willingness to chase after the ball picked the crowd up. Winning the ball, he fed Defoe, who hit an early shot from long range that was straight at Hart, who touched it over the crossbar. From a corner shortly afterwards, van der Vaart put a decent ball in, getting it over the first man for a change and Kaboul rose about seven yards out to power a header low past Hart and a man on the line to get one back for Spurs.
With Spurs picking up a bit of tempo, a free-kick gave City the opportunity to hit back and Toure fired it a few feet wide, but then Defoe came in from a wide position to smack a fierce shot at goal from the left hand corner of the area and Hart could only beat the ball away with his palms. However, shortly after any chance of a more determined revival disappeared, when van der Vaart stretched for a pass to him and got up holding his hamstring. Rafa limped over to the side and off the field, where Redknapp did not look happy, but the midfielder showed his own frustration with having to leave the field with a vicious swipe at a ball in the tunnel.
A mad moment arose when Aguero was substituted. While he took the longest time for a player to leave the field from one penalty area to the half-way line, substitute Savic raced onto the pitch, probably in an attempt to speed things up and was sent back to the side-line by referee Dowd. While Aguero trudged off at a snail's pace, he finally reached the side-line and Savic came on to see Dowd holding a yellow card up for him for not waiting to come onto the pitch. Surely, Dowd might have been better served by yellow carding Aguero for wasting time rather than Savic for wanting to get on with it.
Anyway., a free kick given away by the wide edge of the box for a foul on Defoe saw Tom fire a shot at goal at the near post, where Dzeko headed it over and from the corner, Huddlestone picked out Kaboul again, with his header not going in, but causing a panic in the City defence before a free-kick was given against Crouch, as so many were for no clear reason. With ten minutes to go, Bale spun away from two players and went on a run, but lacked support and ended up toe-poking a shot at Hart at his near post.
Dzeko was still keen to add to his personal tally and Savic's cross was met at the near post, but Friedel had made himself big to block the striker's effort. Michael Dawson took it upon himself to show the rest of the team how it's done, when he broke up a City break and took the ball forward, but then when he reached the edge of the City area, he tried a delicate chip that ended up going wide by about ten yards.
Entering injury time, City put together one last attack and when Assou-Ekotto made a 'back to the player wrong footed' tackle that did nothing to stop them, Dzeko played the ball to Barry, got it back and then curled a shot into the top right hand corner of Friedel's goal from the edge of the box to score his fourth of the game and City's fifth.
To tell the truth, the result wasn't a false one, as City's finishing and that of Dzeko in particular was top quality. Spurs had chances, but, unless Adebayor changes things, this will be our Achilles heel. Defoe looked hungry when he came on, but the need for a supporting player up front is essential and the tactics that Redknapp set up for this game with looked like he was playing a team to go all out at City and the side didn't function like that. The width that typified our game when we were successful over the last two seasons was not shown and we lack a destroyer in midfield with Sandro injured and Palacios on his way to Stoke. Will one come in during the transfer window ? Parker looks the most likely, but I am not sure he is the answer.
Gloom had descended on a sunny afternoon and dissenting voices could be heard from many Spurs fans who variously blamed Modric, Redknapp, Bale, Levy or Kaboul. I don't think one person is to blame, but the Modric situation ahs cast it's own shadow over the player and the team. The later it is left to resolve his status at the club, the harder it will be to replace him and the later the uncertainty lingers. With international week coming up, it means it will all be sorted one way or another before the next league match, but the tough start suddenly has become diamond hard.
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|What you thought|
|Steve Abbott||Boring this match was not after Thursday's 0-0,
although the way that City cut through us with their snappy passing
was getting a bit tedious.
It just goes to show what money can do as they had only been a maximum of one goal in the last three meetings and the one before that saw us take City apart 3-0 at the Lane.
To get a 5-1 score-line was not expected and not undeserved. Kaboul was once more at fault for two goals, as he was at Old Trafford and although he got one back, City grabbed a late fifth. Dawson was not blameless either, with Aguero getting past him and Friedel not doing as well as he might have to stop the Argentinian striker's shot. It was a bit like Torres' goal here for Liverpool a few seasons back.
We were done in midfield and need to get players in, with Parker seemingly the one Harry believes will make a difference, but he lacks pace and while he might be able to shoot and pass better than Palacios, is he a better tackler ? Livermore made a bit of a difference when he came on, but why did Redknapp start with one up front and why was that one Crouch ? Defoe looked so much sharper when he came on and more of a goal threat.
With Wolves, Liverpool, Wigan and Arsenal coming up, the easiest of those games could be against the Gooners ... and who would have expected that ??
|Other scores during this week :|
|Aston Villa||0||Wolverhampton Wanderers||0||Saturday|
|Wigan Athletic||2||Queens Park Rangers||0||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Stoke City||1||Sunday|
|11||Queens Park Rangers||3||0||1||2||1||6||3||-5|
|18||West Bromwich Albion||3||0||0||3||2||5||0||-3|
Position before match :
Position after match : 20th
Position after the weekend : 20th
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