|OPPONENTS||Queens Park Rangers|
|DATE||Sunday 30th October 2011|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
With a 1-0 win over Chelsea's nine men last week, hopefully Spurs
can keep their full complement on the pitch to see how QPR will fare
in another London derby.
it is a long time since last Rangers were last at the Lane for a league match and that ended in a Teddy Sheringham goal winning the game for Tottenham.
Things have changed a lot since then.
QPR are one of the richest clubs in the league and Spurs have been in the Champions League for one season. With a squad packed with big names, Rangers have risen to the top flight without spending tons of cash. Bringing in Championship specialist Neil Warnock as manager has worked for the West London side, but he now has to pit his wits with other top bosses to keep them there.
He has assembled a team with Premier League experience and younger legs, as the likes of DJ Campbell, Anton Ferdinand, Daniel Gabbidon, Luke Young, Joey Barton, Kieron Dyer, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Heidar Helgusson all having participated in Premier League teams. Jamie Mackie, Adel Taarabt, Armand Traore and Hogan Ephraim give the side a youthful energy, while other experienced players such as Danny Shittu, Fitz Hall, keepers Paddy Kenny and Radek Cerny, Jay Bothroyd, Rob Hulse, Tommy Smith and Shaun Derry add some old heads to the exuberant approach of the youngsters.
But there is a steel core to the QPR team, with Derry and Barton taking no prisoners in midfield, with Hall and Ferdinand solid in defence, but these players perhaps lack the pace that might be necessary to keep tabs on the quicker players in the league. Shaun Wright-Phillips is the only player in the Hoops side who is approaching the pace that is needed to open defences, but there are wily players who have the reading of the game to counter their aged legs. However, it will be an interesting contest with the passing and movement game that Tottenham play against the more Championship style play of the visitors, with a direct attacking style.
It might be that Rangers have not met a side how are quick on the break and the wide play of Bale and Lennon might cause their full backs problems, with Rafael van der Vaart in good scoring form at the moment partnering Emmanuel Adebayor. The team will be safe in the knowledge that they will not be playing again for a week when they play Fulham next Sunday, with a young team heading out to Russia to meet Rubin Kazan in midweek.
Spurs will need to be wary of Helgusson, who is a player who twists and turns and wriggles his way through defences, so must be pushed away from goal when he is on the ball, with Alejandro Faurlin and Adel Taarabt being the players who create in midfield. Taarabt we have seen flit through the Spurs first team before being allowed to leave for Rangers, with no guarantee that he could make a consistent contribution in the top division. I am sure he will be keen to prove Tottenham wrong and will be fired up, but sometimes, when playing like that, his temperamental nature becomes his most difficult opponent. Faurlin was the player who almost coast QPR their promotion with the wrangle over his third party ownership, but he ticks the team along by passing the ball simply and effectively, not trying anything too fancy and then slipping through players to have a chance at goal.
For Tottenham, this is a chance to extend their good run, but they will need to be wary of a side who can defend on their day, but are also capable of letting in six against Fulham. They hung on against a Chelsea side who had two players sent off and for Tottenham to win, they will need to capitalise on the openings they make and put the game out of reach, rather than keep the interest going until the end of the match as they have done in the last two games.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Queens Park Rangers 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS : Steven Pienaar, William Gallas, Sandro and Ledley King, could all be fit for Sunday's game at White Hart Lane. Still unavailable for Tottenham are Michael Dawson (Achilles), Tom Huddlestone (ankle), Vedran Corluka (foot) and Niko Kranjcar (thigh).|
|QUEENS PARK RANGERS TEAM NEWS : Rules out for Rangers are Kieron Dyer, Matthew Connolly and DJ Campbell, while Daniel Gabbidon and Rob Hulse have been injured, but might make the squad for Neil Warnock's side. Armand Traore is doubtful with a thigh inury.|
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
3 (2) Queens Park Rangers 1 (0)
Sunday 30th October 2011 Kick off 16:00
White Hart Lane
van der Vaart 33
|Crowd : 36,147||Weather : - Drizzly rain, mild|
|Referee : Howard Webb (Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : - (-)|
|Fourth Official : -||-|
|QPR kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Queens Park Rangers :||kit|
11 van der Vaart
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Neil Warnock|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Air Asia|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Lotto|
With a sublime first half behind them, Tottenham were pushed back at the start of the second half, which lead to a QPR goal and a nervy twenty minutes, before the home team re-asserted their dominance and gained another goal to see out the game as 3-1 winners.
Tottenham's play in the first 45 minutes was as complete a performance as you might hope to see. The only thing missing was the finishing that saw Spurs missing too many openings and leaving Rangers just two goals adrift at the interval. Some fine goalkeeping by Paddy Kenny surprised me, but he made several very good stops to keep Spurs out, while others were guilty of not hitting the target in the first place.
With Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon wide, the pace in the team was designed to give Rangers problems, but it was Kyle Walker rather than Lennon who more often threatened to go past the visiting defenders. With Scott Parker anchoring the midfield against the likes of Shaun Derry and Joey Barton, who both tried to disturb his influence, but failed, Spurs had a platform that allowed Modric and van der Vaart to roam and pull QPR players out of position.
From the start Spurs threatened and Modric's shot fell kindly to Rafa, whose first time shot was well saved low to Kenny's left inside the first three minutes. From the resulting corner, VDV hit Gareth Bale at the near post and his header was again beaten out by the keeper. An interesting contest occurred shortly after, when Tottenham got a free kick on the right hand corner of the box, with Benoit Assou-Ekotto pushing van der Vaart away to grab the ball to take the kick. Unfortunately, Benny's effort was a yard over the top and no better nor worse than the Dutchman's have been recently, leaving another chance going begging.
Rangers lost Fitz Hall with an injury in the tenth minute, but replacing him with Daniel Gabbiodon in a like-for-like switch was not something that would have disrupted their pattern of play, which was mainly back towards their own goal for the bulk of the first half. After Barton had tried an early "frightener" on Benny and lost out to both the referee and the Cameroon defender, he put in a few more foul tackles, with one on Bale on our left wing resulting in a VDV free-kick that Adebayor rose to head at the far post and unopposed, he put his header wide, while a header in a straight line with his approach to the ball might have beaten Kenny. Thirteen minutes gone and it could easily have been 3-0.
The much awaited return of Adel Taarabt was nothing more than a damp squib, but it was nothing to do with the constant drizzle that showered through the first half. his passing was sloppy, with a few heading straight off the pitch rather than to the feet of their intended target, while he rarely took the ball at the Spurs players to commit them. his most notable contribution was an outrageous attempt at a volley from the right hand corner of the box that was flying towards the corner flag until Heidar Helgusson stuck out a leg and deflected it goal-wards, but over the bar and slightly off target. It was the only real effort worth mentioning that QPR had all half.
And it lead in a strange way to Tottenham's opening goal. Friedel took the goal-kick, Adebayor own a header to VDV, who fed it on to Aaron Lennon, coming in from the right wing. He took the ball to the 'D' and played it left to Bale, who didn't have to break his run to strike the ball left footed with great power past the sliding challenge of Anton Ferdinand and the dive of Kenny. It was a great piece of technique by Gareth and a route-one ish goal but a sign that Spurs can score all sorts of goals.
Bale could have had a second when Spurs broke down the right, Emmanuel Adebayor crossing the ball across the box to be returned back in by Assou-Ekotto for the Welshman to scoop it over form the edge of the six yard box with the ball slightly behind him as it came in very quickly in the 28th minute. But the wait for the second goal wasn't too long after that.
It was a comical build-up with a Spurs attack, with the ball in the area being brought out by a Rangers defender, who was hassled by Adebayor, resulting in his clearance going straight to the returning Ledley King. The Spurs skipper moved forward, with the QPR defence opening up in front of him, so he decided to let go a shot from 25 yards out. Unfortunately, it was going well wide for a goal-kick, until it picked out van der Vaart just inside the area and his quick thinking sent Kenny the wrong way, as he netted the ball to the keeper's left.
Spurs were in their pomp now and Rangers could do little to stop them. A VDV corner on the left picked out Modric on the left hand corner of the box and his chest control and instant volley had Kenny left standing as the ball whizzed a foot beyond his far post, with what would have been a Goal of the Season contender if it had been a little more to the left. Five minutes before the break, the little Croatian had another chance, when Benny's low ball into him was toe-poked at goal, but surrounded by defenders, he could not get it on target and then Adebayor was set free down the left, but he tried to curl his shot around Kenny from a wide position and failed to get enough bend on his effort, so it went wide.
At half-time, Neil Warnock had seen enough of the erratic Taarabt and the labouring Derry, replacing them with Bothroyd and Mackie - two forwards. This seemed to suit their game more and some good passing movements didn't necessarily get them further forward, but built confidence in being able to hold onto the ball. However, still the chances came for Spurs. Five minutes into the half, a throw-in on the right wing was allowed to travel to the edge of the box - right of centre - and van der Vaart hit a first time shot with the outside of the foot that looked like it was fading away from Paddy Kenny and into the net, until he reached out to tip the ball wide.
Spurs were almost undone by Shaun Wright-Phillips for the first time in the match when a long ball was being shepherded out, until the little winger flicked it up and back over Walker, pulling it back for Helgusson, whose shot was blocked for a corner. But in the 62nd minute, Rangers did score and it was a sloppy goal to let in. A shot was deflected for a corner on the Tottenham left. As Barton played it in, Helugsson won an easy header and put his effort towards the near post, where Bothroyd jumped unimpeded inside the six yard box to nod into the net. So, the lead was reduced to a single goal, when Spurs had been so dominant for so long, but it was the same old story ... not taking chances looked like it might cost us again. The goal was also a bit worrying, as Friedel had stayed on his line for the corner and then not really challenged for the second ball, leaving Bothroyd an easy task.
So, Tottenham had to put the game to bed, but Rangers had their tails up now and were going forward, rather than being pushed back. Although a van der Vaart free kick was patted own by Kenny for Adebayor to nip and and be denied, then the striker retrieved the ball and played in Bale near the penalty spot and his shot was pushed out by Kenny, Rangers also had openings. Friedel had to dive to push wide a low Faurlin drive from 22 yards out and there was a hint of desperation in some of the Tottenham defending.
So, as is often the case, Spurs' best form of defence was attack and the ball was worked short from a corner to Assou-Ekotto on the right corner of the box and with space and time, he hit a shot that was heading for the top left hand corner of Kenny's goal until he threw himself up to palm it out. Then 10 minutes after Rangers got back into the game, Spurs had their third goal that almost sealed the win. A run down the right from Kyle Walker saw him knock the ball to van der Vaart. As he moved inside, he played the ball to Aaron Lennon on the edge of the area to the left of the 'D'. Two one touch 1-2s between him and Bale gave the Welshman the opportunity to fire left footed high into the net past Kenny's despairing dive to restore the two goal margin for Spurs. it was a well-worked goal that was expertly dispatched by Bale and while Lennon was not having the greatest of matches as he still works his way back into form after injury, he had set up his second goal of the game.
Adebayor should have made it a bigger gap when the ball was played to him eight yards out and his low poked effort went wide, as he scuffed his shot rather than got a clean strike away. it could have been costly, as a free kick on the edge of the D for a foul on Helgusson saw Faurlin step up, but he curled his effort over the wall, but over the bar too. With five minutes left, it should have been 3-2, as the ball was worked across the pitch to Wright-Phillips cutting in from the left and with only Friedel to beat, he curled a shot towards the far post, but like Adebayor in the first half (albeit from a better position), he got too much on it and we breathed a sigh of relief as it flew wide.
As time ticked away, Scott Parker made way for Sandro and he received a standing ovation form the Tottenham crowd. it was well deserved for a performance of tenacity and simple passing that stopped Rangers gaining any momentum in their play. Sandro put in a couple of his long-legged challenges, but when Rangers did open Spurs up near the end, it was left to Younes Kaboul to clear the ball from in front of the goal when Mackie flicked a cross on, with Friedel beaten. The player was there again when the ball came in from the corner, but couldn't get his shot away and then the whistle blew to signal another Tottenham win.
It was never going to be as easy as Fulham's 6-0 win over Rangers, as Warnock's side had learned their lesson. However, the failure to put the game to bed in the first half almost came back to bite Spurs on the bottom and only a very good goal to make it 3-1 put the task beyond Rangers, who must tighten up their defending and get a goal-scorer as eight n ten games is not the sort of strike rate you need to stay up in the top flight.
For Spurs, it is on to Russia for the reserves and on to Fulham next Sunday for the A team. A meeting with Martin Jol, which Spurs will need to win to maintain their position near the top of the table.
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|What you thought|
|Sparky Marky||For what must
seem like the first time in living memory, Spurs fans were heard to
give a prolonged bout of applause to Scott Parker when he ran back
thirty yards and tackled a QPR player to bring the ball away and
launch an attack. It was a moment not usually associated with
praise by the White Hart Lane faithful, more usually reserved for
great goals, passes or saves, but it was one which indicates the
importance of Parker to the side.
Not just that he is a gritty tackler and closer down of the player on the ball, but that he is a vital influence on the team going forward. His short passing, his availability to receive the ball and his strength in holding players off when in possession, make his contributions as important as those of a similar nature of Luka Modric.
To have two such dynamic player sin the midfield makes it very difficult for the opposition to concentrate on their own game, with the Spurs men causing them problems that require the attention of their players.
It will be interesting how Harry plays things when he has (or should I say if he ever has) a fully fit midfield to select from. Sandro is another wonderful player, but he is shaded out of the side at the moment, with Pienaar, Huddlestone, Kranjcar and the emerging Jake Livermore all needing to push for a place in the side.
A nice position to be in and one that leaves the manager the opportunity to switch the team around in other competitions. Hopefully, with some success in them.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Manchester City||3||Wolverhampton Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|Norwich City||3||Blackburn Rovers||3||Saturday|
|Swansea City||3||Bolton Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Liverpool||2||Saturday|
|Stoke City||1||Newcastle United||3||Monday|
|12||Queens Park Rangers||10||3||3||4||8||17||12||-9|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||10||3||2||5||9||13||11||-4|
Position before the weekend :
Position before match : 6th
Position after match : 5th
Position after the weekend : 5th
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