Middlesbrough (Home)
Premier League

Tuesday 5th December 2006

Rookie manager Gareth Southgate has had a tough baptism in the Boro manager's job, but he will have to learn quick, as there are many bosses who have been in charge for less games and have been sacked already this season.

Boro have enjoyed success under the now-England boss Steve McClaren, but this side lacks the big money signings that have typified Boro teams of the recent past.  Mark Viduka might be back to add some weight to the attack, while Malcolm Christie will be hoping to maintain his comeback and Yakubu is a tough player to dispossess.

At the back Schwarzer always looks dodgy, while without Riggott and Davies and with Woodgate getting over an illness and Abel Xavier just back from his one year suspension for testing positive in a drugs test, the defence might look a little patched up.

With wide-men James Morrison and Stewart Downing, the visitors will look to get the ball out to the flanks as soon as they can and play the ball in for the front two to attack, so the onus will be on our full-backs to stop the ball getting across our box.  Benoit Assou-Ekotto needs to be closer to his man when he tries to play the ball in, as a few goals have come where the winger has had too much time to put the ball in.

For Spurs, it will need a major improvement on Saturday's poor showing, but the test of a decent team is the ability to recover from a bad result and put it behind them with a good one.  Players like Berbatov and Zokora need to impose themselves on the game more than they did on Saturday and the other players must get in the right mindset to take on the challenge.  While Boro are not the most exciting team around, I think that there will be goals and that Spurs will come out on top ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    Middlesbrough  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Anthony Gardner (knee); Jermaine Jenas (ankle); Hossam Ghaly (suspended -  3 of 3); Mido (knee); Edgar Davids (eye); - (-); 

Middlesbrough :  Chris Riggott (hamstring); Andrew Davies (calf); - (-); 


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Internet :
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Tottenham Hotspur   2    Middlesbrough   1      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Tuesday 5th December 2006
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   34,154
Referee :  Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
Weather :  -  Chilly, dry
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


King (c)
Y P Lee

Malbranque (Keane 81 [Murphy 90])

Defoe (Tainio 89)

Unused subs: 

Middlesbrough :



Taylor (Arca 46)
Cattermole (Viduka 57)

Christie (Morrison 46)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 48
Keane 84


Huth 80

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  



Zokora (violent conduct) 88


Arca (foul)  
Pogatetz (violent conduct) 
Huth (elbow)

Boateng (violent conduct) 87

Match Report : -  
What had been a dull game in the first half really kicked into life with ten minutes to go when Middlesbrough equalised, but ultimately, the points went to Spurs.

And the fact that a quick winner from Robbie Keane decided the scoring,  obviously was too much for Boro to take and their fighting spirit spilled over into a number of ugly incidents.  At the forefront was the double sending off of Boateng and Zokora.  Lennon's clash with the Dutch midfielder looked harmless enough, but the Boro man was incensed and he got up ready for a fight with Tottenham's mini-marvel.  Unfortunately for him, he was confronted by Didier Zokora and threw an arm into his face.  Riled by this, Zokora found his way to Boateng barred by about twenty players who had steamed in, but the Ivorian pushed the maul until they fell over the advertising hoardings and he had his short ripped as they clung to him as they fell.  After consulting both linesmen, the referee produced red cards for them both.

What should have happened after than is something I will come back to.

It had all started so tamely.  Boro were desperate for a point and defended deep and in great numbers, with Woodgate head and shoulders above the Tottenham attack and in ability, the rest of the Middlesbrough defence.  Spurs did carve out chances, but failed to take any of them.  From Lee's cut inside from the left wing to hit a shot that was always going wide, through to Huddlestone's 50 yard run and 20-yard shot that ended in the same place as Lee's, Spurs showed the most attacking intent.  However, it was Boro who had possibly the best chance of the first half when a corner found Pogatetz, but he failed to find the target (unlike later in the game) and missed with a six yard header

Spurs peppered the Boro goal from distance, with Zokora missing wildly and Hud smashing a shot that swerved all over the place, causing Schwarzer to have to push the ball out and luckily for him it went safe.  Defoe and Berbatov were linking well and Jermain had the bulk of the chances in the first half, but was thwarted by Schwarzer.   He had a shot blocked by Woodgate, a free-kick just over the top, was denied by a good save from the keeper when he thrashed a shot on goal and when out in by Malbranque, he hit one wide.

Lennon didn't see too much of the ball in the first half, but still managed to trouble the Boro defence.  He put a good cross in from the right that nobody attacked, then Zokora laid him in after running 50 yards with the ball, but Woodgate was there again to block his shot.  The crossing was better, today, helped by Huddlestone's and Malbranque's delivery into the area, but Lee got into a good position, only to hit it chest high across the box, when a low ball would have caused a lot more trouble.

Just before half time, there was one hilarious incident that nearly led to a Spurs goal.  Huddlestone won the ball off Boateng and then just took too heavy a touch on the ball, which ran away from him.  He was determined to win it and Lee Cattermole came in for the challenge, saw it was Hud and completely bottled out, leaving Tom to walk on with the ball and hit a shot that went wide.  Cattermole was not having a good half, as he tried to control a fiercely struck cross-field ball on his chest.  The only problem was, it wasn't intended for him, but a team-mate 20 yards behind him.  As the ball dropped for Steed, who took off towards goal, the Boro midfielder could hardly run, he was so winded by it !!

The game had 0-0 written all over it.  Boro showing little willingness to go out and win it, with Spurs not being able to.  However, within two minutes, Tottenham were ahead.  A Hud free-kick was headed back to Berbatov from outside the far side of the penalty area by Pascal Chimbonda.  As the ball dropped Berbie swung a lugubrious boot at it and it arced over the diving keeper to give Spurs a 1-0 score-line.  it wasn't hit hard, but  expertly placed out of Schwarzer's reach.

The defence had opened up with Arca coming on at left back to be a bit more attacking, which gave Aaron Lennon the space he needed to operate.  He took a free-kick that Michael Dawson got to first, but couldn't direct on goal, while Zokora slipped a well weighted pass into the path of Defoe, but Woodgate denied him with a well-timed tackle.

Spurs worked an ingenious free-kick routine, when the Boro wall encroached to within about five yards of the ball.  It was touched to Defoe, who chipped it to the far post, where Chimbonda was unmarked, but he could not control his volley and it hit the side netting, when he should have tested Schwarzer.  Malbranque hit a couple of efforts over the bar and the keeper had to throw his legs at Defoe's shot after Berbatov's back-heel put him clean in on goal.

In between, Huth hit a free-kick from the edge of the box that the wall offered him a lot of the goal to aim at.  Robinson had obviously lined it up right, as the shot was really powerful, but straight at him and although he could not hold it, he could get enough on it to get it to the edge of the area and Morrison hit the rebound towards goal, but missed the target by a few inches.

Then, without any particular warning, Boro equalised.  A corner came in from Stewart Downing, about the only thing he did in the game and on this showing, I hope Martin Jol spends his money elsewhere, because my eyes tell me that he was to blame for England's poor result against Macedonia if he played anything like this.  Malbranque got the ball off the line from Huth and then a couple of Spurs players headed the ball straight up in the air, but when it dropped, it fell to the German defender again and he struck it into the net through a crowd in the box.  At that stage, you couldn't see Tottenham coming back to get all three points. 

But ... on came Robbie Keane.

Arca got a yellow card with 82 minutes gone, for a cynical foul on Lennon, but when another foul gave Spurs a free-kick 30 yards out, Tom Huddlestone quickly slipped a short forward pass to Keane, who wasted no time in lashing it past Schwarzer and into the net to put Spurs back into the lead at 2-1.  He put so much power in it and Boateng felt it deeply, as he sank to the floor with his shirt half off (a bookable offence surely).

However, this was not the end of the excitement.  The Boateng/Zokora bout ended and then almost immediately after Chimbonda and Pogatetz clashed after Spurs had been given a free-kick.  You could see that the Austrian had a throbbing vein in his temple and when the free-kick was played short, the Boro defender was not too particular about how he was going to take out.  Unfortunately for him, it was Hud who was fouled and then stamped on, but once more Mark Halsey did not see it and consulted his linesman, before producing a yellow card ... for something much worse than two players had been sent off for.

Then Halsey made another gaffe.  A high ball saw Huddlestone rise again for a header, but Huth decided that an elbow in the head was what Tom needed.  Much worse than Hossam Ghaly's offence against Blackburn three weeks ago, so what do you think happened ?  A yellow card !!

It was all a sign that Boro's ineptitude was exhibiting itself in other ways.  Gareth Southgate does not have the qualifications to be a Premier League manager and it is showing.  With many more performances like this, West Ham and Newcastle won't have to worry, as Middlesbrough look like they might implode.

For Tottenham, the game should have been wrapped up in the first half.  Only Woodgate and Schwarzer stopped that.  And our profligate finishing.

Another win against Charlton on Saturday would propel us up towards the UEFA Cup places.  but a win against Charlton should not be taken for granted and the fight shown tonight (in footballing terms) us what we need to get into those positions.




Reaction : -



The last ten minutes of this match were completely at odds with the preceding 80 as the game erupted into a Tarantino-esque orgy of violence.

The nudge by Lennon on Boateng didn't look likely to spark what followed and the way the Dutchman got up prompted Zokora to get in to defend his little mate.  Boateng threw an arm up into Zokora's face and then when everyone else piled in, Zokora steam-rollered everyone into the crowd.  The red card for them both was probably about right, but what happened next was a disgrace.

Pogatetz looks like he is a volcano ready to blow at the best of times.  After facing up to Chimbonda, he then set about the next Spurs player (it didn't matter who it was) who was on the ball.  He launched himself at Tom Huddlestone and then, having floored him, stood on his chest.  This was a real red card, but Halsey wouldn't have had a chance to even things up if he had sent a second Boro man off, so just pulled out a yellow.

Huth's elbow into Huddlestone's head was just as bad and the precedent for giving red cards for such incidents has been set in recent games.  Not in Halsey's mind, as it was just another yellow.

I thought Zokora had his most influential match for us before getting sent off.  His powerful running from midfield commits opponents and allows team-mates to get some space and while his shooting is as bad as Stefan Freund's, it might improve one day !!

Huddlestone was immense and looks to have so much time.  With him and Zokora in midfield, it will be different to having Carrick there, but the mix of skills they both possess should give Tottenham lots of options.

Defoe did miss quite a few chances, but he was in the right place to create them, so it is not too much of a worry, but getting that second goal earlier is and would have meant that it would not have been so nervy at the end.

As for Boro, they have no right to expect anything from a game when their players were going through the back of Tottenham players from the first whistle.  They got away with so much and then Boateng gets off his red card too !!  Unbelieveable.  Still, they have to live with the fact that they are not very good and with Southgate in charge, it is all turning into a bit of a circus.

For Spurs, it was a good reaction to the previous loss, but they will need to ensure that they don't undo the good work by losing points to Charlton on Saturday.



You’ve got to feel for Robbie Keane.

The ever-popular striker and club vice-captain is in and out of the starting eleven as he battles with three other strikers for a place in the team.

Against Middlesbrough, his cameo appearance couldn’t have started any better.

Replacing Steed Malbranque in the 81st minute, his first contribution came three minutes later when he latched onto the excellent Tom Huddlestone’s quick free kick and buried it into the net from 25 yards.

White Hart Lane erupted, but his night ended in misery when he was substituted in injury-time and now faces a six-week layoff with a medial ligament strain in his left knee.

A stale first-half, noticeable only for the wasted chances presented to Jermaine Defoe, was quickly replaced after the break with a decent game of football.

Two minutes after the restart, Pascal Chimbonda cushioned another Huddlestone free kick at the back post and Dimitar Berbatov hit a spectacular volley over Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer.

Defoe and Malbranque both had chances to extend the home side’s lead before, in typical fashion, they conceded when they failed to clear a corner.

Robert Huth smashed the ball in from ten yards on 80 minutes and a 1-1 draw looked on the cards as Tottenham’s revival began to fade in the final quarter of the match.

Before the restart, Keane entered the fray and three minutes later, wheeled away in delight after a superb effort rippled the back of the net. Schwarzer might have saved it but the power took it beyond the keeper’s reach.

The Lane was jubilant, three points were secured and memories of the 3-0 drubbing at the Emirates Stadium only three days earlier had been erased from consciousness.

But all of a sudden, a red mist descended onto the pitch that left both teams with 10 men.

Aaron Lennon went in with a strong shoulder on George Boateng, who reacted angrily.

Before the confrontation could develop, Didier Zokora jumped in front of Lennon and pushed Boateng away, before he was pulled away by Chimbonda and ended up on the floor.

The resulting scrum of at least 20 players, the referee and both assistants was completely out-of-character for the previous 85 minutes and Zokora and Boateng were both sent-off. Boateng’s card has since been rescinded.

By the time the final whistle went, Emanuel Pogatetz was also lucky not to have been shown red by the official for a nasty lunge on Huddlestone.

It was an energetic finish to a largely unexciting affair but on a chilly night, it was a well-earned result and three points in the bag.





Other scores this mid-week :
Charlton Athletic 1 Blackburn Rovers 0 Tuesday
Newcastle United 3 Reading 2 Wednesday
West Ham United 0 Wigan Athletic 2 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 16 13 2 1 35 8 41 +27
2 Chelsea 15 11 2 2 25 8 35 +17
3 Arsenal 15 7 4 4 25 12 25 +13
4 Portsmouth 16 7 4 5 21 14 25 +7
5 Reading 16 8 1 7 19 21 25 -2
6 Everton 16 6 6 4 20 15 24 +5
7 Aston Villa 16 5 9 2 19 15 24 +4
8 Bolton Wanderers 16 7 3 6 15 15 24 0
9 Liverpool 16 7 4 5 19 15 22 +4
10 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 16 6 4 6 15 20 22 -5
11 Wigan Athletic 15 6 3 6 19 21 21 -2
12 Manchester City 16 5 5 6 13 17 20 -4
13 Fulham 16 5 5 6 16 23 20 -7
14 Blackburn Rovers 15 4 4 7 13 18 16 -5
15 Newcastle United 15 4 4 7 12 17 16 -5
16 Middlesbrough 16 4 4 8 13 21 16 -8
17 Sheffield United 15 4 4 8 11 20 16 -9
18 West Ham United 16 4 2 10 10 20 14 -10
19 Charlton Athletic 15 3 3 9 10 20 12 -10
20 Watford 15 1 7 7 10 20 10 -10



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