|DATE||Sunday 29th April 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
what should have been a straightforward run-in, Tottenham's season
has taken a turn for the worst. from challenging for the title
to hanging on for a Europa League place has not been the finish that
many associated with Spurs were hoping for.
Even fourth place now might not be enough as Chelsea have reached the Champions League final and if they win it, they will take the fourth slot in the competition even though they are unlikely to finish in the top four.
But then again, better that than a season full of spite and hatred aimed at your manager who has had to make do with what chicken feed his owners have given him to spend on the team. Steve Kean has remained dignified in the face of some rabid reaction to the team's position and that has been all he has had to hang onto some times. Blackburn looked like they had pulled out of the drop-zone a couple of weeks back, but they find themselves second bottom, just above already doomed Wolves, with some tough matches left. After this, they meet Wigan Athletic in a six pointer and finish away at Chelsea.
They need to start winning matches and soon, but then so do Spurs.
For Tottenham to break the bad run they will have to beat former keeper Paul Robinson. A loyal servant of the club, his game suffered after Gary Neville put a back-pass to him in Croatia that was on target and when the ball hit a bump, it left him helpless to react. After that, his form dipped and he was eventually replaced at Spurs moving on to Blackburn, where he has re-established his confidence and a reputation as a solid keeper. A good shot stopper, he does suffer by being beaten from long range and he is not great on crosses for a big man.
The defence may be missing Gael Givet, who has had problems with the manager after "not being in the right frame of mind" to play at Swansea, although the player said he did not refuse to play. The defence is made up of players who might not have made it as regulars at the top level, with Scott Dann, the summer signing from Birmingham City, struggling for his best form, while Bradley Orr stepped up from QPR and has also found the transition difficult. Martin Olsson features at the back or in midfield and he has a bit about him, but he can struggle when faced with tricky wingers. Grant Hanley has been drafted into the first team and the youngster has shown he has promise, but being thrown into a relegation struggle is not the ideal grounding for a player in his first season, thus he has found it tough playing against top strikers. Former Real Madrid full back, Michel Salgado has played over 550 matches, but few of them have been this season, as he ahs dropped out of favour.
In midfield, David Dunn battles on despite an on-going hamstring problem, with his desire to do well for Rovers a real asset, but his legs are not what they were, so he has to rely on his passing to open sides up and while he can still cross good ball, everyone needs to get behind the ball when it is lost. Marcus Olsson - brother of Martin - has played a few matches, but is not a regular and there remains a reliance on the likes of Morten Gamst Pedersen, Steven Nzonzi and more recently Mauro Formica. Pedersen is known as a player with a terrific shot, but he can quite easily be side-lined from the action by keeping him wide, but he still can provide ammunition for the strikers from there. Nzonzi is the ball winner and enforcer in midfield, which is a useful asset when you are looking to launch attacks, but that is not always that useful when you are up against it. His tackling can be fair but firm and sometimes, it can earn him cautions and also concede free-kicks in dangerous positions. Not that this will help Tottenham much, as our dead ball routines are rubbish.
Formica is an Argentine, who likes to get forward and contribute with goals, but that has been the domain of Yakubu lately, with his strikes keeping Rovers from sinking without trace. The former Everton forward can take a goal with a well-placed shot and can also produce powerful finishes if required, so he needs to be watched, even though he does not appear that mobile. Playing up with him will be the widely-touted Junior Hoilett. His pace and fierce shooting have brought hi to the attention of teams in the top flight in this country and elsewhere. A young player with a very good future ahead of him, Hoilett has been looked at by Spurs and a number of other sides, obviously impressed by his ability to hold the ball and to get into scoring positions.
Tottenham might benefit from the fact that Blackburn have to win this match to have any chance of staying up and they might fancy getting points form this game rather than the others, knowing Spurs are brittle at the moment.
For Spurs, the season is ebbing away on a tide of despair. Whether they can rally to win the last four games, looks highly unlikely after the last nine, so the real test of Harry Redknapp's management (for maybe his last four Spurs matches) will be his legacy should he go off to manage England.
Frankly, I am too ground down to see anything more than a scrambled point from this match for Tottenham.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Blackburn Rovers 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :|
|BLACKBURN ROVERS TEAM NEWS :|
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
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2 (1) Blackburn Rovers
Sunday 29th April 2012 Kick off 16:00
White Hart Lane
van der Vaart 22
|Crowd : 35,798||Weather : Sunny; Rain before the game|
|Referee : Mike Jones (Cheshire)||Assistant Referees : A. Halliday, C. Breakspear|
|Fourth Official : Anthony Taylor||
Match Delegate : G.
Professional Game Match Observer : George Parrish
|Blackburn Rovers kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Blackburn Rovers :||kit|
11 van der Vaart (18 Defoe 88)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Steve Kean|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Prince's Trust|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Umbro|
Spurs were not at their fluent best, but were good enough to win this match with Blackburn Rovers 2-0, when the final score should have been many more.
Whatever the travelling Blackburn Rovers fans must have thought of their team's performance, one can only wonder. While there were not many of them, their dedication to go to an away game which was live on TV is remarkable ... and they weren't just there to get after the manager of the owners, but they would have been justified, as Blackburn's showing was as woeful a performance as I have seen at the Lane for a long time. For a team second from bottom with three games left, there was little fight to get anything from this game from start to finish. And the fact that they did not have a shot on goal (on or off target) seemed to hint that in their minds they are already relegated.
With Ledley starting on the bench, Sandro in for Parker and Kaboul back at the back, Spurs had width with Lennon and Bale and Adebayor up front ahead of van der Vaart. And from the kick off they got at Rovers. Within the first minute, Modric got through on the left side of the box after being put through and his low ball across the face of the box popped up off a defender and flew past Robinson at the near post, but coming in at pace on the far post, Aaron Lennon could not get it in the net, instead hitting the side netting from close in.
Sandro was making headway with runs into the last third and there were some early desperate tackles on him and Lennon to stop them. the visitors' defence and midfield seemed keen to get behind the ball with nine men often stacked between Spurs and the goal, but this meant that the out ball rarely kept it away from their goal for long, as Hoilett and Yakubu were finding it difficult to get much change out of Gallas, Kaboul and Sandro, who was winning every tackle. With eight minutes gone another Sandro run into the Blackburn half ended with him smacking a shot at goal that flew past Paul Robinson and rattled the crossbar and came down the right side of the line as far as Rovers were concerned and their defence hacked it away.
Spurs were doing all the forcing of the play and when they did get around the defence, they failed to put in many telling crosses, with Rovers happy to try and channel all our moves inside, with the Spurs crowd once more unhappy that Bale and Lennon switched positions as they did last week at Loftus Road. As the sun came out after rain for most of the pre-match period, the crowd were basking in the golden rays, almost forgetting the game was going on at times, such was the quiet ... a result of the recent bad run Tottenham have been suffering.
But then 22 minutes in and a controversial moment gave Spurs the lead. Well, many will say it is our luck being levelled up after the "ghost goal" in the FA Cup semi-final, but replays at the ground (and they wouldn't have shown them if they were controversial) gave us a clear view that the ball had crossed the line. It all came as a result of a scramble and Lennon's cross started it. Scott Dann headed against his own bar, the ball came down, but the pitch side of the line and Dann went into the back of the net. Adebayor couldn't bring the ball down and Rafael van der Vaart smacked it into the net, but it was kicked out by Dann - re-emerging from the netting - although it was only after the ball had crossed the line by a fair margin. This time the referee and linesman were on the same wavelength and gave the goal, with Rovers not protesting too vehemently.
Having missed a few chances, it was a goal that Spurs needed to settle their nerves and to build on. That didn't happen straight away and the rest of the first half was spent battering away at the Blackburn goal. A good low ball in was skied over the top by Lennon; Sandro was so gutted, he threw up on the penalty spot and Rose was put into the box by Modric, but Robinson came out to gather at his feet. Then four minutes before half time, a corner was swung in from our right with William Gallas meeting it at the near post and glancing a header against the bar.
With half-time hardly spent discussing the finer points of the first half, but spent enjoying the break in the rain and the warm sunshine, it was more of a case of hoping that the missed opportunities would not cost us again. With the second half starting the same way as the first, with Rovers sitting back, it looked like thee was little need to worry. Spurs were enjoying a large amount of possession and the only concern was that they had not tested Paul Robinson more than they had. Too often the side tried to be too intricate around the edge of the box and Rovers had enough players back to get something in the way.
Modric and Bale hit shots from outside the box wide, with Lennon being a threat with his pace that was recognised by Rovers and he was the victim of a couple of heavy tackles. It looked like he was going to have to go off with him signalling to the bench that he couldn't carry on, but after a touch of Geoff Scott's magic sponge, he played on.
Bale hit a shot into Robinson's arms and then, when Lennon was brought down again, this time by Dunn, a free kick was given central and about 30 yards out. van der Vaart and Walker stood over the ball and we expected nothing more than our usual outcome from free-kicks. But surprisingly, rather than pulling rank on the younger team-mate, it was the PFA Young Footballer of the Year who ran up and curled a beauty of a shot around the wall and past Robinson to hit the top corner and make it 2-0 in the 75th minute.
Substitutions were made for both sides, with Modeste making a bit more of an effort than some of the Blackburn players, but it didn't result in anything of note. Defoe came on and fired a shot over the bar and that was Tottenham's 18th shot at goal in comparison to Blackburn's none. The old aphorism of Ron Atkinson's that if you don't buy a ticket you won't win the raffle was never truer for Blackburn and another game has slipped by without a whimper or a point. .
While Tottenham needed all three points too their recent form would not have guaranteed them and Rovers failed to capitalise on that. Tottenham still have a number of players not firing on all cylinders. Bale and Modric both played well, but were pale shadows of their early season selves. van der Vaart scored, but was not as influential as he can be, while Adebayor did not look like scoring and often lost the ball when in promising positions.
What will happen in the remaining three matches is hard to predict, but I imagine that Spurs will get a bit more opposition to their play than they got here, so nothing is cut and dried yet. If Tottenham can win them, then they are there. If not, they are relying on others to slip up.
I know which I would prefer to happen, but then this is Tottenham Hotspur we are talking about..
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|What you thought|
|The Funky Phantom||I know Walker was
given the Man of the Match award, but there is only one word for
Sandro's performance today and that was "Immense". The biggest
compliment I could say was that we didn't miss Scott Parker and his
forward runs and shooting is more what I associated with the
Brazilian before he arrived at White Hart Lane.
I hope we see more of this from Sandro, as I feel he has been asked to have a more defensive role up until now and his overall play deserves greater recognition.
Maybe Bale and Modric can take a few lessons from him ... and stop thinking about their futures to start thinking about the present.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Swansea City||4||Wolverhampton Wanderers||4||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Aston Villa||0||Saturday|
|Wigan Athletic||4||Newcastle United||0||Saturday|
|Chelsea||6||Queens Park Rangers||1||Sunday|
|Manchester City||1||Manchester United||0||Monday|
|10||West Bromwich Albion||36||13||7||16||41||47||46||-6|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||36||9||7||20||40||63||34||-23|
Position before match :
Position after match : 4th
Position after the weekend : 4th
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