Birmingham City (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 1st March 2008


With an injury crisis hitting Birmingham City, it is perhaps a little ironic coming a week after the furore over Eduardo's broken leg following Martin Taylor's challenge.  The defender's third minute expulsion means he will not be available for this game against Spurs, with other regulars also missing from the line-up.

Spurs will be on a high after winning the League Cup, but will be much changed from Sunday's team.  Expect Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate to be rested and Pascal Chimbonda might be admonished for his show of dissent at his substitution against Chelsea.  Expect Darren Bent to start too, perhaps in place of Robbie Keane, who felt his hamstring as he was brought off on Sunday.

Birmingham are still fighting for their Premier League place and will scrap for points, with their new signings James McFadden and defender David Murphy adding to the squad available for selection.  With some tough games ahead, Brum will be going out to get something from this match, which might suit Tottenham if they are set up to hit on the break.  That was what happened at the Lane, with Birmingham winning 3-2 in the last minute.

With Maik Taylor being a good shot stopper, his ability will be put to the test if we can get our efforts on target.  The defence feature sour old right back Stephen Kelly, who might have to double up in central defence because of injuries.  Liam Ridgewell might make it over a sprained ankle and Radhi Jaidi could come in if the ex-Villa man doesn't make it.  With Murphy and Kelly regular starters on the flanks of the back four, midfielder Stuart Parnaby might be shoe-horned into defence.

As there was plenty of space for the midfield to play in during the first meeting of the season, Spurs will have to put their new found fitness to good use to shut down the home side's midfield players and try to dominate the play, using the possession they have to open up the defence.  Damien Johnson works hard and has a good pass on him, but losing Kapo will decrease the creativity from this area of the side, so Madhi Nafti might be drafted in to add some incisive passing through to the forwards.  Fabrice Muamba provides a solid presence in the centre of the four across the park, playing a Viera type role, as he was touted to replace the Frenchman at Highbury, before he moved on.  Alongside him, Daniel De Ridder gives width to the team and he has good skill on the ball and can cross well from tight positions.  Sebastian Larsson can provide a supporting role to the front two as he is an attacking midfielder, who has an eye for goal, as we saw at the Lane.

The striking department is one area where Birmingham have a good rota, with Cameron Jerome proving a handful up front, with his height and strength being used to it's full potential, as is the case of Gary O'Connor, who came in from Scotland via Russia.  Both will give a physical work-out to whoever plays in the middle of our back four.  Gary McSheffrey offers other assets, with a nippy movement, which can draw defenders out of their comfort zone, while Argentinian striker Mauro Zarate has come in recently and Mikael Forssell can always be relied on to bring his top flight experience to the team.  Both players are capable of scoring, so will need to be well marked by our defenders.

With Spurs keen to close the gap on West Ham United, the team just above us but seven points out of reach, the win will be Ramos' aim from this game, but Birmingham showed last week, that, even down to ten men, they are keen to fight for their place in the Premier League.  They were still brave enough to be going forward in added time, so Spurs will need to play for 90+minutes, although they should be used to it after 120 minutes last week.

The use of the flanks could pull the City defenders out of position and good use of the ball, primarily from Huddlestone, who I expect to start, will provide the ammo for the forwards, who will need to finish the moves off.

Although Birmingham will be looking for the double over Spurs for the first time in 30 years, I take Tottenham to edge a toughly fought game ...

PREDICTION : -  Birmingham City  1   Tottenham Hotspur   2

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


BIRMINGHAM CITY :  -  Olivier Kapo (hamstring); Martin Taylor (suspended); Liam Ridgewell (ankle); Franck Queudrue (hamstring); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jonathan Woodgate (ankle); Ledley King (knee); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Gareth Bale (foot); - (-); 


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Birmingham City   4   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  St. Andrews
Saturday 1st March 2008
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   26,055
Referee :  Lee Probert (Gloucestershire)
Weather :  -  Sunny, chilly wind
Teams : - 
Birmingham City :

Maik Taylor


Johnson (c)     
McSheffrey (Parnaby 70)

McFadden (Zarate 84)
Forssell (Jerome 84) 

Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson (c)

Zokora (Gunter 73)

Malbranque (Keane 46)
Tainio (Jenas 46  )


Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Birmingham City

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Birmingham City

Forssell 7
Larsson 55
Forssell 59
Forssell 81

Tottenham Hotspur

Jenas 90

Cards : -  
Birmingham City

Johnson (foul) 45 


Tottenham Hotspur 



Match Report : -  
After the Lord Mayor's parade fore Spurs, as they submitted to an energetic Birmingham City side, who showed they had more hunger for the points than Tottenham, who still need a few more wins to make sure they will be safe from being dragged into the battle at the bottom of the table.

A hat-trick for Forssell left Paul Robinson gutted, but he was blameless, as was Jamie O'Hara, who worked hard on the left side of midfield (to start with) and Tom Huddlestone, who kept trying, without a lot of success.  Unfortunately, too many players seemed to be suffering a post League Cup hangover ... or was that from their post-match celebrations ??

Whatever the reason, it was no succour for the travelling Spurs hordes, who supported the team throughout as dismal a performance as has been seen for quite a while.  But for Birmingham, a double over Spurs was just the ticket after taking a point off the Gooners last week.  With an important UEFA Cup tie coming up on Thursday, some of the players were holding back from getting injured, while other just did not perform, leaving the team a shadow of the side who won a trophy just six days ago.

It had all started pretty well with a Berbatov chance, Steed almost getting onto a flick from the Bulgarian and Bent having a close offside given against him.  However, the first set-piece Birmingham got, they scored from.  Still not picking people up from corners, Tottenham will always concede goals unless they cut this out of their game.  With the corner being won by the head of Liam Ridgewell, it fell to McFadden to play the ball back into the mixer with pace and from inside the six yard box, Mikael Forssell headed in past Paul Robinson with just seven minutes on the clock.

The lack of concentration had been missing on Sunday, but here, the first opportunity was lost and the team were then chasing the match.  Huddlestone set up Jamie O'Hara straight away and his shot flew wide from 20 yards out before Alan Hutton narrowly avoided heading Gary McSheffrey's free-kick past Robinson, as it went inches wide of the post.  The closest Tottenham got to equalising was in the 20th minute, when Dimitar Berbatov took the ball off Patrice Muamba and moved forward to hit a shot against the post from 20 yards.  The ball bounced away to safety.

Spurs had a spell where they had the home side on the back foot, but the positions they created in wide areas were wasted, as the ball flew too high, failed to beat the first man or flew off the Tottenham players' heads to go wide of the target.  Maik Taylor saved an O'Hara shot at his near post, while Robbo held Johnson's bouncing shot safely.  If only Malbranque could have found Berbatov with a cross, Spurs could have got back in it, but there was an interception by Ridgewell at the expense of another corner, which Spurs failed to make the most of.

O'Hara's industry kept Brum on their toes and he forced another save from Taylor, before he drew a foul on the right wing, where he had moved to.  It was obvious that Ramos had to change things and with Jermaine Jenas and Robbie Keane spending the half-time interval warming up out on the pitch rather than just kicking around, they made their appearances at the re-start with Malbranque and Teemu Tainio making way.

The change failed to make an immediate difference, as McFadden hit Robinson with a clear shot and then McSheffrey played in a shot that Forssell volleyed into the ground and the Spurs keeper showed good footwork to get to it and push it up over the bar.  A shooting opportunity opened up at the other end, when Keane was fouled and Younes Kaboul stepped up to rifle the free-kick just wide from 30 yards.

It was a free-kick that Zokora conceded on the edge of the Spurs box in the 55th minute that created the next chance.  In a well-worked routine, McFadden left the ball for Larsson to curl it over the wall and out of Robinson's reach to double the lead.  It was just what Spurs did not want and it looked at this stage that some of the players realised that this game would realise no points.

When a third goal came four minutes later, it left Tottenham wide open.  Robinson performed a lightning reflex save to keep out Didier Zokora's touch on Larsson's cross.  However, it was typical of his luck that after making such a fine stop, the ball fell for Forssell to shoot into the net to make it 3-0.

As an example of it not being Tottenham's day, when Huddlestone fired a free-kick for handball into the wall, it fell for Jenas, who mis-hit his shot.  Even so, it went into the penalty area, where Robbie Keane was sharp enough to latch onto it and try to knock it past the keeper.  Unfortunately, Taylor was alert and grabbed the ball as it came at him.  The City goalkeeper was being kept busy at this stage of the match, with saves from Keane's header and Hud's shot.  When Bent had a free header from the fourth corner in succession, he glanced it wide, when it was begging to be put on target and into the goal.

While Zokora had been playing alongside Kaboul in the middle of the back four, he seemed to be being dragged out of position, although he made a timely block when Forssell was on for his hat-trick goal from inside the area.  His time on the pitch was up though, as Chris Gunter came on for him almost straight away.

Berbatov almost got Spurs something from the game, with a shot straight at the goalie, who pushed it over the top for another corner, which saw another Bent header go wide once more.  There was almost some joy when Keane took the ball away as Ridgewell and Muamba dwelt on the ball and set up Huddlestone, but his shot flew well wide. 

It was the pre-cursor to Birmingham's fourth goal.  A long straight ball dropped kindly for McFadden to play in Forssell, who got away on the left to face the Spurs keeper and slot home past Robinson.  Now, whoever we have played this season, we have not been done by more than two goals, yet we found ourselves 0-4 down to Birmingham.  I am not saying they didn't deserve to be winning by that margin, but we had not been inspired enough to stop them being ahead by that score-line.

O'Hara had not given up hope of getting something out of the game and collected a clearance to take the ball on and curl a shot just wide with Taylor scrambling across goal.  It looked as though that might have been Tottenham's last effort on goal, as McLeish brought on Cameron Jerome and Mauro Zarate to spice things up in attack with six minutes left.  It almost worked, with the Argentinian forward taking the ball round Chimbonda and brought a save from Robinson with his legs to deny him his first goal for the Blues.

Spurs launched one last attack, when Jenas won the ball and brought it forward.  He played a square ball to Keane, who stepped over it and then took the return to him from Bent in the six yard box with a side foot into the net for our consolation goal.  And truthfully, it was about the only consolation we had.

The few good performances were outweighed by the poor ones and the side looked like they were bereft of both energy and ideas.  What the Coach will make of it ahead of the PSV match, I don't know.  I feel that the rested players will be back in action, but we still need a few points to prevent late season worries about relegation.

We have eleven games, so perhaps the management think that there are enough games to pick points up from.  Six are against top half teams and five against those below us.  But, as Juande said after the Prague second leg, we will have to play better than that or we are not going to win many games.





Reaction : -









Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Derby County 0 Sunderland 0 Saturday
Fulham 0 Manchester United 3 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Wigan Athletic 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 0 Reading 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 0 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Chelsea 4 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Liverpool 3 Sunday
Everton 3 Portsmouth 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 28 19 8 1 57 21 65 +36
2 Manchester United 28 20 4 4 58 15 64 +44
3 Chelsea 27 17 7 3 42 17 58 +25
4 Everton 28 16 5 7 46 24 53 +22
5 Liverpool 27 13 11 3 46 20 50 +26
6 Aston Villa 28 13 9 6 51 36 48 +15
7 Blackburn Rovers 28 12 9 7 37 34 46 +3
8 Manchester City 28 12 9 7 34 31 45 +3
9 Portsmouth 28 12 8 8 38 29 44 +9
10 West Ham United 27 11 7 9 31 27 40 +4
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 27 8 8 11 49 45 32 +4
12 Middlesbrough 28 7 8 13 25 42 29 -17
13 Newcastle United 28 7 7 14 30 53 28 -23
14 Wigan Athletic 28 7 6 15 25 40 27 -15
15 Sunderland 28 7 6 15 26 46 27 -20
16 Birmingham City 28 6 8 14 31 41 26 -10
17 Bolton Wanderers 28 6 7 15 28 42 25 -14
18 Reading 28 7 4 17 32 55 25 -23
19 Fulham 28 3 10 15 25 48 19 -23
20 Derby County 28 1 7 20 13 57 10 -44




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