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Premier League

Sunday 2nd December 2007

Tottenham faced an unknown in Aalborg, but soon found out that they were a much better side than anyone suggested.  Playing some neat football and featuring some slick passing, Spurs were left flat-footed by the Danish side's start.

With Birmingham City being under new management, they will be keen to impress, but are less likely to be shaped in the same footballing image as Aalborg, with Alex McLeish being hewn out of the rock of Scottish football, making the national side hard to beat and utilising a flash of flair from anyone who could provide it.

Birmingham might have such a player in Olivier Kapo, who has had an interesting start to his Premier League career, with some good displays and a couple of goals.  His background includes some time at Auxerre and also a spell at Juventus, where he didn't get too much time on the pitch.  Among the other players at St. Andrews who might cause problems are Daniel De Ridder - a former Ajax prodigy who Spurs looked at a few years back and can produce moments of good skill - and midfielder Sebastian Larsson, who was at Arsenal, but signed after a loan spell in January.

City are on a four game winless run, while Spurs are gaining some stability under Ramos and seem to be getting things together, although the defence is still a bit wobbly.

With players like Liam Ridgewell in their defence, Tottenham will have chances, as he has always looked shaky when I had seen him play for Villa and Stephen Kelly might provide a more difficult proposition at left back.  Jaidi is a giant at the back, but might not be playing, while Muamba (another Gooner) is a huge presence in midfield, but can be player around.  The strike-force of McSheffrey, Jerome and Forssell looks good on paper, but they have not hit it off just yet and will be without the battering ram of Gary O'Connor who is out injured.

Having made it back to the Premiership, the team have hardly set the scene alight and even though Spurs are not hitting top form yet and the fact that the visitors will have a new man at the helm, I take Tottenham to win ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    Birmingham City  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee), Ricardo Rocha (ankle), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Anthony Gardner (ankle); Jermaine Jenas (ankle); Younes Kaboul (groin); - (-); - (-); 

BIRMINGHAM CITY :  - Wilson Palacios (visa trouble); - (-); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   2    Birmingham City   3      (Half-time score : 0-1)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 2nd December 2007
Kick Off :  4.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,635
Referee :  Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Wet before and during the game, chilly
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


Kaboul (Huddlestone 46)
Bale (Lee 75)

Keane (c)     

Bent (Defoe 46)

Unused subs: 

Birmingham City :


Schmitz      (Parnaby 63)

De Ridder (Forssell 66)

McSheffrey (Kapo 77)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Birmingham City
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Keane (p) 48
Keane 53

Birmingham City

McSheffrey (p) 24
Jerome 62
Larsson 90

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  


Keane (foul) 68

Birmingham City

Schmitz (foul)   


Match Report : -  
I am not sure how many more last minute goals or ones which will feature in the Goal of the Month competitions I can take.  Sebastian Larsson's strike from 25 yards fell into both categories and condemned a Tottenham side, by then reduced harshly to ten men, to another home defeat, after a spirited come-back.

In what was a game that saw some see-saw scoring, the pivotal point of the match was the red card decision by referee Dowd to dismiss Robbie Keane from the field after he caught Muamba on the ankle.  Being too far away from it at the ground, it was only on TV that I saw Keane play the ball and then make contact with the ex-Gooner on his follow-through.  Keane is not the sort of player to put in the sort of tackle that would deliberately injure an opponent, which makes it all the more confusing a decision, when some of the Birmingham tackling was cynical to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Lennon was regularly halted when past his man, but Dowd waited until nearly an hour had passed to caution Schmitz.  His inconsistency over time-wasting was also a frustrating issue, as it was deep into added time that Birmingham scored the winner and his lecturing of some player about kicking the ball away, was at odds with others, who he let get away with it. 

Not that the refereeing decisions lost us this game on their own.  Kaboul's challenge on McSheffrey looked innocuous enough until Dowd pointed to the spot, with the Scot getting up to hit the ball straight down the middle to give Birmingham the lead with their first shot on target.  Too many times Spurs are in the ascendancy and one incident leads to them losing a goal and the impetus is then taken away from them.

By that time, Tottenham might have been 2-1 up.  De RIdder flashed an early shot across goal and when Jerome dinked a cross to the far post, Muamba wasn't tall enough to reach it.  And that was all in the first five minutes.  Keano took a ball down on his thigh and smashed a volley at goal, but it went well over and Zokora put a shot into his usual place ... row Z of the Paxton.  Berbatov took the ball as it dropped beyond Djourou and hit a skidding volley off the turf, but straight at Taylor, while a tenth minute link up between Bent and Keane put the Irishman in, but he lashed his shot and it flew over without troubling Maik Taylor.

Too often this season, the Spurs forwards have wasted the chances that have come their way and it is costing us, as we have defensive frailties which need goals at the other end to compensate for them.  Two Lennon crosses, which actually found a Tottenham head, saw Berbatov twice win the ball, one a weak one and the other over the top.  He did the same to a Bale corner later on too.  The Bulgarian is starting to frustrate the home crowd, as his touch appears to have deserted him in front of goal.  His build-up play was good though and he put Bent in for a shot, but the Birmingham keeper was out quickly to block his effort with his legs and the ball bounced into Ridgewell's leg and went past his own post.  You had the feeling that if it had happened at the other end then it would have hit a Kaboul and gone into his own net.  That's the way things are going at the moment.

Then came the Brum penalty and Tottenham responded with a spell of pressure and corners, the last from Bale found Chimbonda at the far post and as he headed it back into the six yard box, it caused Ridgewell to slice it wildly over his own bar with the ball going safe.

Too many times our final ball was lacking in accuracy and quality and we resorted to the long ball as half-time approached.  The more measured build-up saw Lennon brought down for the umpteenth time and Bale powered the resulting free-kick towards the right hand post and Taylor did well to get across to and parry wide via the post.

Going into the break a goal down, there was a noticeable lack of booing this time.  Perhaps the Spurs fans had learned that there is not all lost at the break and there is still time for something to be salvaged.   But letting in soft goals, as we continue to do, will not always be able to be recovered by scoring more than the opposition.  Ramos' introduction of Defoe and Huddlestone for Bent and Kaboul saw Zokora move to defence and Bale more advanced in what was a 3-4-1-2 formation.

It was another adventurous move by the Spanish coach and when it comes off, like on Thursday, it looks great. It almost did it today, but then the sending off and the injury to Bale confounded any hope we might have had of getting anything out of the match.

Tom's passing more than makes up for his supposed lack of mobility and he opened up the Birmingham defence on many occasions in the second half.  His first pass, through to Berbatov in the left hand side of the penalty area saw Djourou bump him over and as harsh as the first penalty was, this too looked a tough decision, but at least that part of Dowd's performance was consistent.  Keane waited through Chimbonda's treatment for an injury to his leg and coolly stepped up to put the ball the other way to Taylor's dive to make it 1-1.

Then two more moments to remember from Hud.  Firstly, he played a pin-point pass inside the full back to Lennon, but he failed to get the ball to a Spurs man having been released down the right wing.  Then, from the cleared corner, he bamboozled Muamba and lifted a pass over the City back line for Keane to run on and hit a first time volley into the ground and into the back of the net to turn around the situation in the space of five minutes.

What could have been, as in the very next attack and with the Birmingham defence in a panic, Schmitz cleared a cross back across his own are to Berbatov, who hit a low drive that crashed back out off the post.  Five minutes later, we were rueing the opportunity not taken, as Chimbonda lost possession and Jerome was put away, where he held off a challenge from Zokora before planting the ball low past Robinson to equalise.  it was a run that took the England Under-21 striker a long way without a tackle on him and was another cheap goal to give away.

Berbatov had a header at the other end in the wave after wave of Tottenham attacks, but Kelly was on hand to knock it away from the goal-line and in the next attack, Keane battled for the ball, but Dowd saw it as a red card offence.  Then Bale went off and the side was even more unbalanced than before.  Defoe almost capitalised on a blocked effort, but Kelly was there to nick it away from him, while, at the other end, Kapo's fiercely driven low cross saw Forsell get there first, but hit the bar with his shot from a couple of yards out, then Robinson made a fine save to thwart substitute Kapo's volley.

As the corner came in, there was relief when Berbatov headed it out, but it came straight back and instead of clearing the ball up-field, he tired to control it, failed and Larsson took it off him and hit a shot that arrowed into the top corner, whereas his previous two efforts had ended up in the crowd.  It was like James Milner and Adebayour all over again.

This was a game which could have turned our season in the right direction, but instead we find ourselves still down among the dead men.  Mistakes being made all over the field are keeping us down there and the eradication of these errors must be a priority, as we appear to be being punished for them more than we punish those who err against us.

We have a tough programme coming up and need to show what we are capable of, without the services of Bale and Keane it seems.



Reaction : -



What was I saying last week about the difference having a man sent off makes ??

At Upton Park, West Ham get away with Rob Green bringing down Keane when he was the last man and this week it is Keane who sees red for a mis-timed challenge, where he still managed to get the ball before the man.

As Lemar says .. ."If there's any justice in the world" !!


Dowd By Law
Read Wyart Lane's reaction on the Times Online Fanzine Fanzone, by clicking







Other scores this weekend and midweek :
Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 3 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Chelsea 1 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 0 Everton 0 Saturday
Reading 1 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Derby County 0 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester City 1 Saturday
Liverpool 4 Bolton Wanderers 0 Sunday
Manchester United 2 Fulham 0 Monday
Newcastle United 1 Arsenal 0 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 14 11 3 0 31 11 36 +20
2 Manchester United 15 10 3 2 25 7 33 +18
3 Chelsea 15 9 4 2 22 9 31 +13
4 Liverpool 14 8 6 0 26 6 30 +20
5 Manchester City 15 9 3 3 19 15 30 +4
6 Portsmouth 15 7 6 2 25 13 27 +10
7 Aston Villa 15 8 3 4 26 16 27 +10
8 Blackburn Rovers 15 7 5 3 20 18 26 +2
9 Everton 15 7 3 5 26 16 24 +10
10 West Ham United 14 5 4 5 19 12 19 +7
11 Newcastle United 14 5 3 6 20 24 18 -4
12 Birmingham City 15 4 2 9 16 24 14 -8
13 Reading 15 4 2 9 18 32 14 -14
14 Fulham 15 2 7 6 18 24 13 -6
15 Sunderland 15 3 4 8 15 29 13 -14
16 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 15 2 6 7 26 28 12 -2
17 Bolton Wanderers 15 2 5 8 12 22 11 -10
18 Middlesbrough 15 2 5 8 13 27 11 -14
19 Wigan Athletic 15 2 3 10 11 26 9 -15
20 Derby County 15 1 3 11 5 34 6 -29


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