Blackburn Rovers (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 5th April 2008


Having capitulated to the Magpies, now Spurs meet a team who really have something to play for in Blackburn Rovers.  With a UEFA Cup slot up for grabs and maybe two depending on who wins the FA Cup, the Lancashire side are aiming to finish the season with a flourish.

On top of having European football, it might also help keep some of their more ambitious players, who could be looking around enviously at other sides, who have already qualified for the UEFA Cup or Champions League.

David Bentley is one such player, who has made cryptic comments about where or not he will stay or go.  he is a talented player, who might be being built up into something he is not (i.e. the next David Beckham).  He is a different player to the LA Galaxy star, but can open up defences with either his passes or a well timed run with or without the ball.

There is no doubt he will be the main creative threat, although Morten Gamst Pedersen can also produce a good cross with his left foot and a fierce volley with either one.  The main target up front will be Roque Santa Cruz.  A surprise move from Bayern Munich for the Paraguayan saw him transferred to the North-West, where he has made a big impact this season.  Tall and rangy, he has good skill and the obvious advantage of his height makes him a threat in the air.  Alongside him will be either the skilful Benni McCarthy or the tireless work of Jason Roberts, who has returned looking fit and full of goals.  Both have talents which can trouble opposition defences.  McCarthy's pace (although not what it used to be) and trickery on the ball is in contrast to Roberts' direct running with the ball and good aerial and physical power.  Whether Mark Hughes is keeping the powder dry with Matt Derbyshire, I am not sure, but perhaps the difficult second season is the reason he is used more as a substitute to run the legs of tired defenders than having a place in the starting line-up.

David Dunn is back at Blackburn after an injury ravaged time at Birmingham City and his use form the bench can cause late problems with his accurate delivery. 
Brett Emerton has been deployed at full back this season, but his more natural position is as a wide midfielder and his ability to put the ball into danger areas has to be stemmed.  Veteran Turkish midfielder Tugay still gets a look in at Ewood Park and when paired alongside someone like Stephen Reid, who can do his running for his old legs, he can still be an effective presence; spraying the ball around from a central position.  Aaron Moekoena is another who enters play late on to stiffen up the midfield if the game requires it.

The defence of Andre Oojier, Christian Samba, Stephen Warnock, Ryan Nelsen and Zurab Khizanishvili is strong, but might lack a little in pace and movement, whereas it gains in strength and height.  It should be a back four that Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov can pull around, so perhaps the return of Jermaine Jenas might see him getting into the box to catch Rovers out.

Oojier is a Dutch international and he is slight compared to the others in the defence, but he needs to concentrate more, while both Nelsen and Samba are good in the air and tough in the tackle, but turning and movement are their disadvantages.  Khizanishvili is another approaching the veteran stage, so his presence might be a useful time to field Aaron Lennon up against him to use his pace and practice his crossing.  Stephen Warnock is a solid defender, who might like to get forward and any raids up front might see him caught upfield, if the ball can be switched quick enough.

With Spurs likely to have had Juande Ramos' words ringing in their ears this week, they might have found it plainly evident that he will not tolerate such performances as they put in against Newcastle, with the ultimate sanction being a route out of White Hart Lane for anyone who shows the wrong stuff.

I think it will be a game which lacks sustained intensity, but will be more of a tactical game and the sides will cancel each other out in a draw ...

PREDICTION : -  Blackburn Rovers  1   Tottenham Hotspur   1

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


BLACKBURN ROVERS :  - (-); - (-); - (-); 

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


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Blackburn Rovers   1   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 1-1)

Premier League
Venue : -   Ewood Park
Saturday 5th April 2008
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   24,592
Referee :  Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Weather :  - 
Teams : - 
Blackburn Rovers :

Friedel (c)

Ooijer (Emerton 46)

Reid (Mokoena 86)
Pedersen (McCarthy 73)

Santa Cruz

Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :


Chimbonda (Gilberto 72)

Malbranque (Huddlestone 72)

Keane (c) (Bent 78)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Blackburn Rovers

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Blackburn Rovers

Pedersen 30

Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 7

Cards : -  
Blackburn Rovers

Warnock (foul) 77
Santa Cruz (diving) 68
Samba (foul) 89 


Tottenham Hotspur 

Zokora (foul) 27  


Match Report : -  
Tottenham never seem to learn from their mistakes in previous games and the lack of a killer instinct cost Spurs two points at Ewood Park, as Blackburn Rovers came back to grab a draw and could have walked off with all three if the referee had not turned down a definite looking penalty claim.

Spurs started well and Dawson flicked on Jenas' early free-kick making Friedel make a save, but when the ball went up Tottenham's end, all hell broke loose.  Cerny, in for the injured Paul Robinson (who officially has an ankle injury), rushed out to clear when Chimbonda let a through ball run to the keeper.  His clearance didn't go far enough and only succeeded in reaching Andre Oojier, as it hit David Bentley.  The Dutchman crossed, but luckily, Cerny had recovered his ground and he managed to punch the ball away from danger. 

It was Tottenham who took the lead, with a well worked goal.  Malbranque and Jenas worked a good position on the left and the midfielder, back after an injury and illness, played the ball through to Dimitar Berbatov standing a couple of yards out.  He applied the finishing touch with an outstretched leg to put Spurs ahead. 

The movement from the players was causing Blackburn problems and the home side lacked their usual "tenacious" approach.  The same combination that made and scored the goal almost made it 2-0, but the striker failed to take the ball under control and then Berbatov was put through on Friedel by Malbranque, but his shot struck the American goalie's chest and was cleared with 18 minutes on the clock.

As usual, Spurs fans were getting a bit jittery, as we know that one goal is never enough ... or that sometimes two or three might not be enough either.  While Blackburn were crap, there was always the possibility that they would find a move to drag themselves back into the game.  Or it doesn't always have to be a move of their own making.  When Hutton tried to head the ball out and it hit Morten Gamst Pedersen, the winger saw the ball drop kindly for him to lash a shot at goal that fortunately was straight at Cerny.

The frustrating part was that we had enough possession and opportunities to add to the lead, but wasted them.  Jenas makes good runs, but doesn't always pick the right thing to do at the end of them and Lennon gets past his man so easily because of his pace, he should be making more of the space and time he has to add to his assists total.  Blackburn just couldn't live with him and it would have been a great chance to show what he is truly capable of, but once more that didn't happen.  Games like this should be the ones that Ramos comes away impressed from.

Well, if he wasn't going to get rid of Pascal Chimbonda before, he might now, as he gifted Blackburn the equaliser.  He failed to get close enough to Bentley to make him go the way he wanted and let him get past him and feed Pedersen, who had the simple task of putting the ball past Cerny with a side-foot from around the penalty spot.  I know Chimbonda is playing out of position at left-back, but his defending is laissez-faire to say the least.  He might need his normally active agent to find him one of the moves away from White Hart Lane he keeps going on about.

At this point, Rovers had been given hope, where little before existed.  They made some chances before the break, with Roque Santa Cruz being set up by Jason Roberts to fire a shot straight at Radek Cerny and the Czech had to move smartly to read a free kick from Bentley just before the break, which he caught well.  The only half chance Spurs had was when Lennon got a yard on the edge of the box and smashed over the bar.

The half-time break once more came with Tottenham supporters wondering how the game was not already won, as has happened a number of times this season.  It was hoped that it wouldn't end up like last week's game by the time the final whistle went.

With Woodgate and Dawson in the centre of defence, it should have been an opportunity to develop some understanding between them, but Michael showed he is still suffering a bit of a nightmare run.  he got completely under a through ball (as he did last week) and Roberts was through on Cerny, only for Walton to bring play back for a foul ... which it wasn't.  But then, Nelsen was having an equally torrid time and when Dawson hit a long ball through, the Kiwi could only nod it down to where Dimitar was standing and he took the shot first time, on the volley, but Friedel was equal to it and saved well.  Cerny made a similar save a minute later as Roberts struck the ball on the turn.

Lennon was sent away up the line by Zokora and his deep cross found Malbranque.  Steed took the ball down and tried to curl it around the tall keeper, but he got hands to it and managed to get up quickly to take the cross when Lennon got to the ball.  Nelsen did pick up enough to stop Berbatov putting Tottenham back in front, when he managed to get across the Bulgarian as Steed's cross came into the goalmouth.

Things were starting to get a bit desperate for Rovers as Santa Cruz went down easier than Derby County in the box and the ref twigged what was going on, so gave him a yellow card.

Tom Huddlestone came on for Steed and Chimbonda was replaced by Gilberto, who is a more natural left-back, while Benni McCarthy was brought on for Pedersen to run at the Tottenham defence.  But it was Lennon who came in from the left touchline to hit a shot at goal that Samba had to get in the way of to prevent going in.  And when Bent came on for Keane, it didn't quite have the desired effect, with Bentley rushing into the area and Gilberto looking like he left a leg stuck out to bring him down.  Referee Walton looked in a good position to see what happened, but waved play on, when I might have been upset if such a decision had gone against Spurs (and it has and I have).

Cerny repeated his save from Bentley's free-kick of the first half and then was left without anything to do when the same player hit a rising shot way too high.  Bent also brought Friedel into action, but could not get a decent contact as he turned on a through pass into the box, then Jenas put a free-kick in on goal, but the home goalie made an easy save. 

As the game went into added time Lennon once more had a shot blocked by Samba and at the other end, Santa Cruz stayed on his feet long enough to shoot for Cerny to push the effort round the post.

In the end the draw was a fair result, but even before the game got to the stage where Blackburn had a good shout for a penalty, Tottenham should have made their superiority pay and make the gap between the two sides sufficient to not be bridged.  With some of the games we have coming up, the team need to perform and practice their ability to finish teams off, so that when they come across that situation next season, we don't see points slipping away like we did today.

I suppose that now we are at 40 points and the way other results went today, we are all but safe from relegation.  Maybe that thought will allow the players some freedom to play better than they have since we won the League Cup.





Reaction : -



For Wyart Lane's view on the draw at Blackburn, click here.






Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Aston Villa 4 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Fulham 1 Sunderland 3 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 2 Birmingham City 0 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Chelsea 2 Saturday
Newcastle United 3 Reading 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 2 Manchester United 2 Sunday
Everton 1 Derby County 0 Sunday
Midweek fixture
West Ham United 0 Portsmouth 1 Tuesday
FA Cup Semi-finals
Portsmouth 1 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
Cardiff City 1 Barnsley 0 Sunday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 33 24 5 4 70 17 77 +53
2 Chelsea 33 22 8 3 58 23 74 +35
3 Arsenal 33 20 11 2 63 27 71 +36
4 Liverpool 33 17 12 4 57 25 63 +32
5 Everton 33 18 6 9 49 27 60 +22
6 Portsmouth 33 16 8 9 47 33 57 +14
7 Aston Villa 33 14 10 9 56 44 52 +12
8 Blackburn Rovers 33 13 12 8 43 39 51 +4
9 Manchester City 33 13 10 10 37 39 49 -2
10 West Ham United 33 13 8 13 35 40 44 -5
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 33 10 10 13 62 56 40 +6
12 Newcastle United 33 10 8 15 40 58 38 -18
13 Sunderland 33 10 6 17 32 50 36 -18
14 Middlesbrough 33 8 11 14 30 47 35 -17
15 Wigan Athletic 33 9 7 17 29 45 34 -16
16 Reading 33 9 5 19 37 61 32 -24
17 Birmingham City 33 7 9 17 38 51 30 -13
18 Bolton Wanderers 33 6 8 19 30 52 26 -22
19 Fulham 33 4 12 17 30 56 24 -27
20 Derby County 33 1 8 24 16 68 11 -52


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