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Premier League

Saturday 13th December 2008

With Cristiano Ronaldo injured and Wayne Rooney suspended, surely this gives Tottenham a chance of getting something out of this match with Manchester United ?  Well, they only have Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez as possible replacements, with Nani and Anderson as well.  But the one player who might be missed more than the absentees named above could be Michael Carrick, who is the sort of player who makes the team tick and has been coming up with the odd important goal for United recently.  Darren Fletcher has improved in the last year, but he is no Roy Keane and he is no Carrick either.

But then they have quality throughout the squad and some youngsters might be in the mix.  Vidic and Ferdinand will be paired at the back, while Scholes and Park might be put in midfield.  It is unlikely that Ferguson will risk playing Gary Neville against Aaron Lennon, who is in good form and might run the elder statesman of the United side ragged.

The return of Berbatov will be an interesting one.  Having seen Robbie Keane being booed already this season, Berbatov's attitude at the start of this season and comments made by some departing management means he might be in for a rough ride from the fans.  A class act, but one who is moodier than the man who played Fagin in the Lionel Bart version of "Oliver".  Berbatov is still yet to shine for United and perhaps he is not relishing the role of smaller fish in a bigger pond.  If Ledley King plays, it will be an interesting battle between the two. 

With the movement United possess, it will need a concentrated display for Spurs to keep them at bay, but last season showed they are capable of that, at a time when the side were going through the motions.  It could be a marker of the progress being made, if only against a less than 100% Manchester United team.

Much as I would like to see Spurs repeat their performance of last season, when United got a last minute won goal equaliser, we are still a way off our best form and might do well to get a point, but more realistically, I think it might end ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  1    Manchester United  2

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Alan Hutton (foot); Giovani Dos Santos (ankle); Paul Stalteri (ankle); Fraizer Campbell (calf/ineligible); - (-); 

MANCHESTER UNITED :  -  Wayne Rooney (suspended); Patrice Evra (suspended); - (-); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   0    Manchester United   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 13th December 2008
Kick Off :  5.30 p.m.
Crowd :   35,882
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Wet throughout
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
20  Dawson
39  Woodgate (c) (  6  Huddlestone 10    )
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon
  8  Jenas  (24  O'Hara 62)
  4  Zokora
  5  Bentley

14  Modric

  9  Pavlyuchenko (10  Bent 54)

Unused subs: 
21  Sanchez
  3  Bale
16  Gunter
23  Boateng

Manchester United :

  1  van der Sar

21  Rafael    
  5  Ferdinand (c)
15  Vidic
22  O'Shea

  7  Ronaldo
16  Carrick
23  Fletcher  (18  Scholes 69)
13  Park

  9  Berbatov
32  Tevez  (11  Giggs 69)

Unused subs:
29  Kuszczak
  2  Neville
  8  Anderson
17  Nani
27  Evans

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Manchester United
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur


Manchester United


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Huddlestone (foul)   


Manchester United

Rafael (foul)     


Match Report : -  
The press seem to think that Spurs stole a point off Manchester United, but in the first half Tottenham had the clearer chances and in the end they came to be thankful to keeper Heurelho Gomes for some smart saves that kept the score-line goal-less, while United were thankful to a deflection late on that took Modric's shot just over the top.

From the start, it was going to be difficult for Tottenham, with Ledley King missing and United starting on the attack with a couple of corners in the first two minutes putting pressure in the Tottenham back four.  An early foul by Rafael on Lennon went unpunished and the first clear shot on goal came in the ninth minute, when the ball dropped between two red-shirted defenders, but David Bentley got between them to make the ball his just outside the left hand corner of the penalty area.  He took one touch with his right foot and then hit a left foot volley that looked like it was creeping inside the far post until van der Sar leapt full length to tip the ball to safety.

Straight after, Jonathan Woodgate collapsed in a heap on the floor.  It seemed an innocuous incident, but the man with the captain's armband had to leave the field, not to return, meaning the Huddlestone came on in his place, with Corluka shuffling across into the middle alongside Dawson and Zokora filling in at right back.  It was not what Tottenham needed, but the change seemed to work, with all the back four and the goalkeeper turning in a solid defensive performance to take the plaudits.

Tom's first couple of pieces of action saw him sticking a foot into tackles with Berbatov, who might not have expected it from a player who often is criticised for his lack of aggression.  He wasn't the only one getting stuck into the sulky striker, as every touch was accompanied by a chorus of boos, which started with his name being read out in the team line-up.  Conversely, Michael Carrick received a polite round of applause when he was announced pre-match.  Even comedian Michael McIntyre had a pop at half-time with a hilarious appearance including the "Berbatov has nothing to offer - we were right to dismiss him" claim.

Showing nice touches to bring the ball down, the former Spurs forward was limited to a weak header in the first half, as Spurs got to him quickly when he got on the ball.  Just before the half hour, it was Tottenham who were giving United something to think about.  Lennon darted to the edge of the box after being released by the Hud and his low shot was kept out by van der Sar's full length dive once again.  When Pavlyuchenko followed up, he was offside from the first phase of play.

The Spurs defence were throwing themselves in the way and Corluka was reading the game well from his new central position, but ten minutes before the break, Tevez managed to wriggle through on the left hand side of the Tottenham penalty area and he hit a shot, but it went off for a throw-in on the opposite side of the pitch.  Play switched up to the other end and Bentley put Zokora away on the right and the Ivorian checked back to hit a left foot cross that Modric dived in front of Vidic to meet with a header, but it went wide, with van der Sar beaten if it had been on target.  Or, as McIntyre put it, "Modric rose like a salmon to head the ball ... and missed."

It was then United's turn to attack and it was Tevez again, who was causing problems.  Taking the ball from Ronaldo, after some of his trickery, the Argentinian hit a low cross into the six yard box, but Gomes was alert to it and palmed the ball away, with Berbatov lurking behind him.  It was enough to encourage Tottenham into one last chance of the half, with Jenas picking up a ball in the area and laying it into the path of Huddlestone, who hit a trademark rocket of a shot.  it might have just been going wide, but Roman Pavlyuchenko didn't know that.  In fact, he didn't know much about anything as the effort from the big man pole-axed him after striking him firmly on the Mansion logo on his shirt.  There was still enough added time for Ferdinand to stride forward and with the way opening ahead of him, he struck a low shot that Gomes got down well to hold.

The half-time entertainment lived up to the on-field action and kept spirits high, as Michael McIntyre said that Spurs had United where we wanted them.  We had been 3-0 up and lost 3-5 before, so at 0-0 he hoped the score would stay at 0-0 until the end.  The early signs in the second half were that United would step up their game and Berbatov's shot that went high into the Park Lane brought jeers, but the worry was there, especially when he went on a bit of a run from 35 yards out and only Michael Dawson's well-timed tackle as the Bulgarian entered the area stopped his progress.  From the corner, the ball dropped to Cristiano Ronaldo around the penalty spot, but his shot that beat Gomes had been assisted by an arm bringing the ball down and the whistle clearly went before he struck the shot.  He wasn't happy, but then he wouldn't be as he doesn't like anything going against him.

The tactic of playing the ball long to Pavlyuchenko wasn't working particularly well, so ten minutes into the half, Redknapp brought on Bent for the Russian, who had worked hard up front on his own.  Huddlestone received a yellow card for his first foul - a trip on Park as a Spurs attack broke down.  Interestingly, Lennon was brought down by Rafael later and the same application of the laws by Dean might have seen that be the Brazilian defender's second rather than first yellow card.  But then we were playing a different set of rules, as it was Manchester United.

Jenas limped off to be replaced by Jamie O'Hara and the armband went to the third Tottenham captain of the day, ending up with Michael Dawson.  From the foul on Lennon mentioned above, Bentley stepped up and hit a shot on goal that was much more accurate than his previous two efforts.  It arrowed over the wall and down towards the top corner, but van der Sar rose to tip it away for a corner with a good save.  Ferguson was getting anxious, bringing on the old school of Scholes and Giggs for Tevez and Fletcher, in an attempt to add some wily old heads to the side.  it did, as some chances started to open up for the visitors.

Firstly, a header from Vidic was aimed down, but Gomes flopped on the ball, when really it should have had more power in it, then Ferdiand had a free header from a corner and could only put it over the bar from a few yards out.  With a break at the other end, a corner was worked short on the Tottenham left and Lennon cut inside to curl an effort a couple of feet wide of the far post and a corner at the Tottenham end dropped for Corluka to kick away, but it was charged down by Carrick and could of gone anywhere, but luckily it ended up in the prone Gomes' midriff.  Tiring from his effort sin the first hour of the match, Bentley left Park from a throw and he cut inside Zokora to hit a shot across Gomes, but the goalie stretched out to palm it wide with a very good save to keep his goal intact. 

Once more, the game moved from end to end.  A loose pass was picked off in the centre circle, with Huddlestone putting Modric away and his jinking run on the edge of the box ended with a shot that might have gone in had it not taken a deflection off a defender and agonisingly loop just over and onto the roof of the net.  Then Bent had an opportunity, but he put Assou-Ekotto's ball in wide with his head.

As the game entered the last minute, Tottenham were on the back foot.  Vidic took the ball into Tottenham territory and went down under challenge, with Giggs then adjudged to have been fouled when he drew his foot back and it hit Corluka, thus determined to be a foul.  It was all set to be a repeat of last week's United match with a last minute winner against Sunderland.  The free-kick was this time left to Giggs, who curled it expertly over the wall and the ball was heading into the top corner until Gomes used his feet well and his long reach better to push the ball over the bar for a corner.

The final one of the 14 United corners was cleared away and with the added time played out, a chorus of cheers greeted the point, which repeated the feat of last season against the same opposition.  Last year they were lucky to get away with a draw, but this year it was more even and continues not only the good run under Harry, but also the good run that has left us with three draws and a win against the top four so far this season.  The point wasn't good enough to lift us too far up the table, as all those around us picked up points too, but with some winnable games coming up, we will just have to hope that the squad can cope with them.

It was Spurs fans who left happier than United supporters, but then results went their way and they couldn't take advantage.  Now, who would have thought that of such a swaggering outfit ??



Reaction : -



It was significant that Ronaldo's major contribution to this game will be remembered as the petulant kick he took at Michael Dawson after he had been cleaned out with a tackle that took the ball into touch and the Portuguese prima donna into the running track.  Dean allowed this to go without comment and he let United get away with a lot, although he did spot the important handball by the European footballer of the year.  Maybe next season, he will be up for the European handballer of the year.

Berbatov played one of those games you might recall he had for Spurs, where he plays around the edges of the match and not in the hub of it.  Nice skills, but no end result and I am sure Ferguson left him on in the vain hope he would score ands teach the Spurs fans right for being nasty and booing him.  Like other psycho-games he tried ot play on Harry, it didn't work. 

Really, the success of the point for Tottenham came from the team working really hard and the defence putting in a performance where they all worked together.  Even when they were disrupted by injury.  Corluka had his best game so far and Zokora was very good against Ronaldo at right back.  Assou-Ekotto also showed that he can defend well in combination with getting forward.

While the one-one up front hasn't truly clicked just yet, there were still signs of it working, with chances created and Modric getting into more advance positions.  Pavlyucehnko looked like he still needs some time to adapt to it, as the playing of long balls up to him in the air, were always going to go United's way today.

However, it was nice to take a point of them and it helps us in our plight too.  Now we need to start playing like this every week and we should win more than we lose.





Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 4 Bolton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Hull City 2 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Everton 1 Saturday
Middlesbrough 1 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Stoke City 0 Fulham 0 Saturday
Sunderland 4 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 3 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 0 Newcastle United 3 Sunday
Chelsea 1 West Ham United 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 17 11 5 1 26 11 38 +15
2 Chelsea 17 11 4 2 36 7 37 +29
3 Manchester United 16 9 5 2 27 10 32 +17
4 Aston Villa 17 9 4 4 29 20 31 +9
5 Arsenal 17 9 3 5 29 20 30 +9
6 Hull City 17 7 6 4 26 27 27 -1
7 Everton 17 7 4 6 23 25 25 -2
8 Portsmouth 17 6 5 6 19 26 23 -7
9 Wigan Athletic 17 6 4 7 20 19 22 +1
10 Fulham 16 5 6 5 13 12 21 +1
11 Bolton Wanderers 17 6 2 9 20 23 20 -3
12 Middlesbrough 17 5 5 7 17 24 20 -7
13 Stoke City 17 5 5 7 17 27 20 -10
14 Newcastle United 17 4 7 6 22 24 19 -2
15 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 17 5 4 8 19 21 19 -2
16 West Ham United 16 5 4 8 18 25 19 -7
17 Manchester City 17 5 3 9 30 25 18 +5
18 Sunderland 17 5 3 9 17 25 18 -8
19 Blackburn Rovers 17 3 4 10 17 34 13 -17
20 West Bromwich Albion 17 3 3 11 12 32 12 -20


Position before the match :  15th
Position after the match :  14th
Position after the weekend :  15th


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