|DATE||Tuesday 31st January 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
After the dismal FA Cup win over Watford, Spurs will be hoping to
produce a more dynamic performance against Wigan Athletic in this
Premier League meeting.
The Latics hover in the relegation zone and have been flirting around the fringes of it all season, mainly due to their lack of goals. 19 in 22 games is not enough to help you stay up. While Roberto Martinez is trying to play the right way with a passing game reliant on skill and not muscle, it is not paying off at the moment and a lack of quality throughout the side is having a detrimental effect on his philosophy. You can see how it can work, as Brendon Rodgers has taken his initial work at Swansea City on to be effective in the top league.
You would think that some of the players that Wigan have bought would fit the model nicely. Tricky winger Victor Moses, Spanish midfielder Jordi Gomez and Scot James McArthy, while Hugo Rodellega should be hitting the net up front, but his goals have seemed to dry up. Having signed Jean Beausejour from Birmingham City, they must hope that he can provide and produce goals to help stave off relegation.
Keeper Ali Al Habsi is a good shot stopper and has produced some good displays between the sticks this season, but he is also fallible to the odd mistake and this is not ideal when your team are not scoring freely. The defence is not f the top drawer and although there is experience there, it lacks pace and a solidity you would hope for. Gary Caldwell, Manuel Figueroa, Antolin Alcaraz, Emmerson Boyce and Steve Gouhori are all decent enough defenders, but would not find a place in the back four of teams in the top half of the table.
In midfield Ben Watson is the driving force who can get forward to score, but is being expected to do a lot of work there, while Mohamed Diame and Hendry Thomas are good players, but are finding it difficult against top flight opposition. And the defending should start from the front, but only Franco Di Santo works hard at chasing back as well as trying to get forward. Rodellega and Sammon lack the pace to do both. One bright light in their season has been Callum McManaman, who has been doing well on loan at Blackpool and has now returned to the JJB to rejoin the squad.
I expect Spurs to be more like full strength going into this match, although Bale had a thigh strain last week and others picked up knocks on Friday, so hopefully, not too many will be missing. Having width in Lennon and Bale gives Spurs the ability to stretch defences and their pace allows the team to stretch the opposition from front to back. With a decent side out, I can foresee a win to get the team back on track in the league.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 3 Wigan Athletic 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs will be without Tom Huddlestone (ankle) and calf injury victims Sandro and William Gallas, while Ledley King faces a late fitness test. Both Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon suffered tweaks to their hamstrings on Friday and are doubtful, but there is better news as Gareth bale is fit after suffering a thigh strain in training before the FA Cup tie at Watford.
WIGAN ATHLETIC TEAM NEWS :
David Jones and Shaun Maloney return from injury, but Antolin Alcaraz is still unavailable for selection. New signing winger Jean Beausejour could go straight into the Wigan side for this match.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
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3 (2) Wigan Athletic 1 (0)
Tuesday 31st January 2012 Kick off 19:45
White Hart Lane
Crusat (foul) 90+4
|Crowd : 35,801||Weather : Dry, very cold|
|Referee : Lee Probert (Wiltshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. S. Burt; Mr. A. Watts|
|Fourth Official : N. Swarbrick||
Match Delegate : G. Mackerell
Professional Game Match Observer : W. J. Norbury
|- kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Wigan Athletic :||kit|
28 Walker (30
11 van der Vaart (29 Livermore 31)
10 Adebayor (53 Lancaster 78)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Roberto Martinez|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : 123Bet.com|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Mi-Fit|
What turned out to be a run of the mill win in the end, threatened to turn sour on a couple of fronts. Firstly, on the pitch, when a late goal by Wigan almost turned into a second which might have produced a nervy ending to what was a game against a poor Wigan side. While I like the fact that the Latics try and play football, their passing and organisation was sloppy tonight and allowed Spurs to dominate the game. The second thing that might have gone against Tottenham was the rumours about the transfer deadline that approached an hour after the game.
With players leaving on loan and Roman Pavlyuchenko being sold to Lokomotiv Moscow, the Tottenham fans were looking for the big name to replace the Russian, but instead, the club were linked with a number of inferior targets, including one sat on the Wigan bench, before they had to settle for the free transfer of Louis Saha from Everton. More worryingly was the name of Ryan Nelsen being the defender from Blackburn Rovers that Tottenham wanted to bring in, rather than Christopher Samba, who had been strongly touted as the player Harry Redknapp wanted.
It hinted that the cash was not there for a big signing, when players were linked and although a lot of this was press speculation, a player here and there now could boost our chances of a top four or higher finish. Where Spurs will finish up could be determined over the next few weeks with some tough games coming up, so it was important to get the three points from this match before thinking about them.
Spurs started brightly, but Wigan had an early chance when a cross from the right flicked off Assou-Ekotto's back and headed for the near post, where Di Santo failed to get a touch on it and it flew into Friedel's grateful arms. Before that Kaboul had one of Tottenham's two best opportunities - surprisingly from corners, which we rarely profit from. The tall defender rose unchallenged on each occasion and the first, in the eleventh minute, brought a save from Al Habsi, diving to his left to push the bal away at the post and the second, twenty minutes later was hacked off the line on the other side of the goal with the keeper beaten, but McCarthy was not. Shots by Kranjcar and Modric were blocked or too high, then Niko had a shot saved and Adebayor put a header over the bar when he should have hit the target.
In the 29th minute, Spurs had the ball on the left hand corner of the penalty area. it was quite tight with Wigan players doubling up to stop Benoit and Adebayor working space, but the ball came to Luka Modric and he lifted a ball diagonally across the box, where Gareth Bale ran in to take the ball on his chest as a defender stood watching the ball come in. But it was the stretch Bale made to knock a high ball past the keeper that impressed, as it was a neat finish from the edge of the six yard box.
So, a goal up and with the bulk of the play, Spurs settled into a passing rhythm that saw Wigan without the ball for long periods. Harry had to make a change when Rafael van der Vaart limped out of the match in the 31st minute, with what looked like a calf pull as his sock was pulled down on his right leg. Jake Livermore came on and seemed keen to get into the action in an attacking sense, with a run into the box that produced a poked effort at goal that Al Habsi saved low to his left. But by then Spurs were 2-0 ahead, with Luka Modric scoring in the 34th minute. Spurs had the ball on the edge of the Athletic box on the left side and a shot came in that hit a defender as it was cleared and it dropped to our Croatian midfielder, who took a touch and fired a low shot first time past the keeper and into his right hand corner of the net. It was a well struck effort and one the likes of that he should score more of.
Wigan defender Ronnie Stam was spending a lot of time on the turf, with one challenge from BAE, with his back to the player, leaving him needing treatment as the Spurs man's studs were claimed to have mad eocntact with his ankle. More of which later.
But Spurs kept going forward and Bale had a shot blocked, then came Livermore's effort before the half-time whistle.
Straight away in the second half Spurs went forward, with Bale on the right wing providing an inviting cross for Emmanuel Adebayor to head over. it was another very acceptable chance and I started to wonder if we will ever see Adebayor score a header for us ? He got two against us last season in the Champions League for Real Madrid, so he can do it.
Wigan started to push further up the pitch and Moses hit a shot just over before having another blocked and then Jordi Gomez hit a hard shot straight at Friedel. Suddenly, Tottenham realised that there was a chance Wigan could get back into the match, so they stepped things up and when the ball was worked to Bale on the left hand corner of the area, he shimmied into the box past his man and flashed a low shot across Al Habsi that flew into the far bottom corner of his net to give Tottenham a 3-0 lead. The goal came out of the blue, with the keeper getting his angles as wrong as Bale got them right, with a fine shot well-placed beyond his reach.
It had been hard to realise that new signing Jean Beausejour was on the pitch, so little did he do in an attacking sense for the first hour, but he started to get involved on the left wing and he created a shooting chance for McCarthy that was blocked, then substitute McArthur made a chance for Ben Watson, but his shot was saved comfortably.
Just as the news came through that Everton had gone ahead, a big cheer threw the Spurs players and you felt that such celebration might go a bit awry, so, with ten minutes to go, that was exactly what happened. Some passing between Wigan players on their left wing worked McArthur running into the left hand channel in the area. As he went to shoot, Scott Parker slid in to block, but the ball flicked off his leg and looped over Friedel and went into the goal off the far post. So 3-1 with not too long left, but long enough.
With attack being Tottenham's best form of defence, they went upfield again and Bale turned defenders inside out before firing a low shot on goal that the keeper pushed out to his right, then Bale did the same, but hit a shot into the side netting, before a third attempt was kept out with a save to Al Habsi's left and Cameron Lancaster (making his debut as a sub for Adebayor) ran in, but could not get his foot around the ball enough to get it on target and the ball once more was embedded in the side-netting.
With Assou-Ekotto lucky not to get punished for another look-away challenge where his suds did make contact this time, with Franco Di Santo's shin taking the force of the tackle, Spurs were riding their luck. So, when Stam went down the right wing and put in a low cross into the six yard box, it took out the Spurs defence and Friedel, so when Conor Sammon managed to allow the ball to travel between his legs without getting a touch right in front of goal, we all breathed a sigh of relief. A goal then would have made the remaining minute or so of added time very tense.
As it was, the final whistle went and Spurs were still third, with the benefit of Chelsea only getting a draw at Swansea and making ground on Manchester City, who lost at Everton. It just goes to show that there are more twists and turns to come in the title race and the race for a top four placing.
Spurs played well enough, but worrying lost van der Vaart, Walker and Adebayor injured, just at a time when the transfer window was about to slam shut and players have been allowed to go out on loan. With testing games coming up, we need a full fit squad available and making the most of these games will determine where our season goes, as we have what looks a straightforward run in at the end of the season.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this mid-week :|
|Aston Villa||2||Queens Park Rangers||2||Wednesday|
|Blackburn Rovers||0||Newcastle United||2||Wednesday|
|Manchester United||2||Stoke City||0||Tuesday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Fulham||1||Wednesday|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||23||7||5||11||23||32||26||-9|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||23||5||6||12||24||39||21||-15|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 3rd
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