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Premier League

Tuesday 14th August 2007

Yep, it's early days, but when people talk about Manchester United losing two points in their first game meaning they might have lost the league title, surely something must be wrong with the league.

Spurs having lost all three on Saturday must battle to keep in contention for fourth place and need to readjust to the fact that teams are now regarding us as an even bigger scalp as previously.  With the media bigging Tottenham up as a possible contender for a top four finish, it will make other sides more willing to go the extra mile to take anything from us.

Everton are already three points better off and while they had to withstand a late surge by Wigan on Saturday, they travel to London with the points in the bag.  Spurs, on the other hand, have to regroup and get on track quickly.  Perhaps a better balance to the team might be required and it will need to be one which puts in 100% as the Toffees always get stuck in.  It is not easy for Spurs to play the way they want to against battling sides, who are well organised.  That is where the need for some flair in midfield is required.

Without Leighton Baines and Tim Cahill, the Merseysiders will be missing one of their most expensive signings ever and one of their most effective players.  James McFadden, who was just starting to exert his influence on the side last season is also ruled out and young striker James Vaughan's dislocated shoulder is also missing from the starting line up.

With Mikel Arteta the main man in midfield, Everton have a player with strength and artistry, who cannot be given the opportunity to start pulling the strings for the forwards of Andy Johnson and Leon Osman.  Johnson is a little man, who bustles his way through and has good finishing ability, while Osman pops up in good positions and is good in the air despite not being the tallest of players.  Victor Anichebe is strong and pacy and might make an appearance form the bench. 

The midfield has a good roster of players.  I don't know much about new signing Anderson de Silva, but he will be behind a number of established Premiership players such as Lee Carsley and Phil Neville.  They are both coming into he twilight of their careers, but still ply their trade making life difficult for the opposition.  Dutchman Andy van der Meyde is not one who might be among the fans' favourite value for money signings, having failed to make too much of an impact on the side since coming in from Internazionale.  Another overseas signing in midfield (and a former team-mate of van der Meyde at Ajax), Steven Pienaar was a young protge at Ajax, but since moving to Borussia Dortmund, he has failed to carry on his early progress.  A strong South African, who has boundless energy and a good passing range, he can match the likes of Didier Zokora for his box to box running.  A more attacking midfielder, he will need the likes of Neville and Carsley to sit in behind him.

With a defence of veteran Alan Stubbs, Joseph Yobo, Joleon Lesscott and Tony Hibbert, the visitors have a fairly well established back four, with Nuno Valente in reserve.  The main defensive picks are a solid combination, who work and play together well, but there is a little question mark over Stubbs' mobility and if Tottenham had someone wide, they could get after Hibbert.

However, Tottenham lack the pace of Lennon and they may go for strength and speed through the middle with Bent and Defoe, rather than the guile of Keane and Berbatov.  I feel that perhaps the pairing of Berba and Bent might have the best chance of opening up the centre of the Everton back line.  We lack true width and there will not be the sight of Adel Taarabt step-overring against ace step-overrer Phil Neville just yet.  Jol will want to introduce him gradually, probably through the League Cup games.

I think Tottenham will be more up for this one, in front of their own crowd, but Everton have built a side capable of producing a shock, but on this occasion, I think honours will be even ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  1    Everton  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); Gareth Bale (thigh); Young Pyo Lee (knee); Aaron Lennon (knee); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee)

EVERTON :  -  Leighton Baines (hamstring); James Vaughan (shoulder); Tim Cahill (foot)


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Tottenham Hotspur   1    Everton   3      (Half-time score : 1-3)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Tuesday 14th August 2007
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,716
Referee :  Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
Weather :  -  Raining at first, drying up later
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1   Robinson

  2   Chimbonda
  5   Kaboul (33  Rocha 19)
30   Gardner 
  7   Stalteri (21  Routledge 68)

15   Malbranque   
  8   Jenas   
  4   Zokora
10   Keane (c)

  9   Berbatov
23   Bent (18 Defoe 62)

Unused subs: 
12   Cerny
22   Huddlestone


Everton :

24   Howard

  2   Hibbert
  5   Lescott
15   Stubbs
  4   Yobo

10   Osman
  6   Arteta
18   Neville (c)
26   Carsley

  8   Johnson
28   Anichebe (16  Jagielka 81)

Unused subs: 
30   Ruddy
11   McFadden
19   Valente
20   Pienaar

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

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Gardner 26


Lescott 3
Osman 37
Stubbs 45

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Malbranque (foul) 12
Jenas (foul) 58






Match Report : -  
With an early goal conceded and a sloppy defensive performance, Spurs ended up bottom of the table after two games after succumbing to Everton at White Hart Lane.

All the claims about the "Fantastic Four" and finishing in the fantastic four top places seem a bit hollow now.  But it is still only two games into the season, so not all is lost although six points have been.

With Dawson still ruled out, Younes Kaboul and Anthony Gardner started in the middle of defence, with Marcus Bent coming in up front, with Robbie Keane dropping back into midfield on the right for the injured Tainio.  The team had hardly had a chance to get a kick when s rash foul on Arteta lead to the Spaniard swinging in a free kick from the right wing and Gardner got under the ball, with his man Lescott rising unchallenged to head past Robinson to open the scoring with just over two minutes on the clock.  It was just the start to the game that Tottenham did not need after their abysmal start to the season.

While Spurs had set up in quite an attacking formation, the service to Berbatov and Bent was not of the quality expected and neither threatened enough in the first half.  The lack of width also led to a few opportunities to get wide, which were not able to be realised and the full backs in blue had a reasonably easy time of it.  One good break from his own half by Kaboul saw him enter the final third and after playing a pass to Malbranque, the French midfielder's ball to Berbatov was easily picked off, leaving the young defender out of position.  Some sloppy work when we were in possession meant that we gifted Everton a fair amount of possession and their ability to break quickly was a constant threat.

When the ball was finally passed ahead of Bent to run onto, his pace took him beyond Stubbs and his low drilled effort was kept out by a diving Howard and as the ball was left by the dithering Everton defenders Yobo and Hibbert, Berbatov closed in, but a defender blocked his shot.

I am not sure if there is history between Steed and Arteta, but the Spurs man went right through him from behind in the 12th minute to earn a clear yellow card.  It seemed as though Halsey had got his anti-Spurs head on, as Anichebe, who is a difficult opponent, kept backing into Tottenham defenders and also committed a string of offences, leading to two talking tos by the ref, but no card.  Strange that.

The Toffees were in the ascendancy and Johnson chased down a long ball before pulling it back to Anichebe to hit a low shot that Robinson got down to save, but it was shortly followed by Kaboul limping off with a pulled hamstring, thus precipitating another change in personnel.  Rocha came on to play alongside Gardner in central defence.

It seemed that this inspired Tottenham to push forward and keep the ball at the right end of the pitch.  A throw-in near the corner flag saw Keane pop the ball over Carsely's head in the area and just reach it before Yobo to touch it back for Dimitar.  Unfortunately, it was a bit behind him and his shot went too high.  As Spurs were enjoying their best period of pressure in the game so far, Malbranque won a corner, which Jenas played into the heart of the box and in a reverse of the first goal of the game, Lescott left Garner for a free header which he headed down and into the roof of the net, although for a while it looked as if it might go over the bar.

The goal gave Spurs some impetus and a coupe of crosses almost found white shirts, but the closest they came was from a cleared Everton corner, which went up to Steed, who held it up well and his cross was just a bit too fierce in front of Darren Bent.  As it all seemed to be going well, the ball was moved out to the right of the Everton midfield, where Arteta crossed to the far post and Rocha did really well to appear from nowhere to nod away as Anichebe looked favourite to head in.  The ball came back out into the penalty area about 12 yards out to Leon Osman, who stood unmarked and he had time to take a touch and fire past Robbo, who was still getting out of the back of the net.

At this point, you could almost see the Spurs heads drop.  Free kicks were being given away and given to Everton by Halsey, something we cannot afford to do, as there are difficulties for the side defending them.  This time, Arteta curled his shot over the bar, but into the one minute stoppage time, a dodgy award for a challenge between Malbranque and Anichebe resulted in a dead ball situation 30 yards out, as the Everton striker lay holding his leg.  It was generous to say the least in my opinion and when Stubbs strode up to strike the ball, an Everton player on the end of the wall pulled Zokora away and he stuck a leg out that deflected the ball past Robinson, who probably had the drive covered.

Another injury time goal and another one which turned out to be the winner.

The reaction from the Spurs side in the second half would be the key to the rest of the game.  At the start of the second period, it looked as thought hey might stage a comeback, with Keane cutting inside Carsley to hit a low left foot shot that Howard had to fall on.  Then two minutes into the half, Chimbonda produced a cross that saw Berbatov get away from Lescott and thud a header past Howard, but against the post and as the ball came back, bent was bustled off the ball as he went for a low header.

It was becoming end to end stuff now, as the visitors moved up to the other end and the ball bounced off a Spurs defender to Arteta and only a flick off Gardner took the ball wide of the goal.  In the vital areas, the ball dropped kindly for the Blues and they almost scored another in the second half when it happened.

A rare free-kick close to the Everton penalty area gave Keane the opportunity to curl a shot on goal, which went just over the bar and on 65 minutes, another deep cross from Chimbonda found Defoe beyond the far post.  His first time effort from an acute angle was heading in until Howard did well to beat the ball out with a very good save.

With 24 minutes left, Jol had introduced Wayne Routledge to the action and although he did not have much chance to use his pace, he managed to produce some good crosses from the right wing, where he combined well with Chimbonda.  One from the full back saw Defoe sneak in front of his marker and turn the ball towards goal, but it did not have sufficient pace on it to beat Howard, who took it comfortably.

Jermaine Jenas seems to be the player in the team at the moment who can do no right in the eyes of the boo boys among the Tottenham crowd.  The free-kick he swung to the far post that went narrowly over the bar with Howard back-pedalling brought jeers and surprisingly, a similar one to Chimbonda at the far post saw the ball headed back, but only to the keeper's hands.  Jenas does himself no favours sometimes, losing the ball inside his own half, but he did get back to tidy things up, so he doesn't give up.

In fact, the nearest Tottenham came to a goal towards the end was when Robinson's kick up field caught Stubbs running backwards and he headed the ball up in the air, but it almost went over the stranded Everton keeper.  With Tottenham's luck, it obviously went wide.

It was left to Paul Robinson to maintain some semblance of decency with the score-line, as he stopped Johnson on three breaks.  Once after it fell to the England forward and Robbo jumped up to keep the ball out, secondly when the England Number One dived low to keep out a shot and finally, his legs came to the rescue with a block to keep it at 1-3 at the end.

While it is disappointing not to have registered a point so far, I cannot see why there is such doom and gloom among Spurs fans.  Yes, there are problems with the balance of the team and there are players yet to come back from injury.  Yes, there are problems with creativity from midfield and getting the right kind of supply to the front men.  Yes, there are issues with the way teams appear to be able to get through our defences, but after last season's lack of clean sheets and this season's injury hit back four, perhaps that it is not surprising.

The way I try and determine progress is who we have fared in comparison to last season's corresponding results.  So, last season we lost to two of the three promoted sides away - so losing to Sunderland can be counted as one of them - and we lost to Everton at home last season.  So on those two results  - no change.  I know that results will not follow from one seasont o another, but we need to start turning losses into draws and draws into wins to add to our points total.

We are looking to improve, but with the arrival of Derby on Saturday perhaps mimicking the visit of Sheffield United early last season, we could be in the same position points-wise, but it will need an improvement on this performance to do so.




Reaction : -



Having just watched the Everton nightmare, I feel we as Spurs fans should take the bull by the horns and try to instigate a managerial change and bring in one of the most decorated and experienced European managers, Fabio Capello (assuming his still available!)
Whilst Villa and Sunderland were playing Juventus and Inter Milan in pre season, we were playing  St. Patricks and Leyton Orient !! and still letting in goals........ we are obviously woefully unprepared and unfortunately the next 4 games will in effect be our pre season. Add to that a non-existent midfield, dodgy keeper, 11 individuals instead of a team and sadly I think its time Martin Jol should go, (but only for Capello, or someone with a better cv.) Even with injuries taken into consideration........
How often does a manager of Capello's stature and experience become available?? Martin has done a very good job. the best in the league for 25 years. However as a club, we are ambitious, rich, have the talent and personnel, we just need someone who has been there and done it to lead us into the champions league.
I am far from a knee jerk, fickle Spurs fan.  It's about opportunity and realism.  Today was like Sevilla at home.  What's changed ??  Nothing.  Everton were an averagely organised side who all knew what there job is, and it was basically embarrassing ...
I propose Spurs fans email, text, write to the media and anyone who cares, preferably at WHL - CAPELLO FOR SPURS ...

TUNDE E14.    

P.S. I know its only August, and we could be Leeds United
There are five keys issues affecting the start to this season, which I feel are attributable to MJ. In both the Sunderland game, and now the Everton match, all five factors have hindered our performance and resulted in probably the most disappointing start to a season I can remember for a long time (given the pre-season optimism). The areas are

Our fringe players are not good enough. Rocha, Gardner and Stalteri. Unless you buy solid fringe players, youll lose games (especially when youre, supposedly, competing in four competitions). Given all three are for sale too, theyre confidence can hardly be high

We have no alternative solution to 4-4-2. Being so inflexible means we have to play players out of position (e.g. Stalteri whos not much better when in position), when we should be looking at the resource and then looking at the formation

This summer, we should have bought a left winger. Its odd that given every Spurs fan is of this opinion, MJ is so blind to it. Malbranque is not the solution as, and this wont come as much of a surprise, hes not got a left foot. Two seasons on, and were all talking about the same old problem

The left back crisis should not be a crisis. If all three (Bale, A-E and Lee) were fit, would we a strong starter and reserve? No. A-E is dreadful and Lee is a right back playing left back. Both will probably be sold. There should have been foresight Lee was always going to be out for an age, as too A-E, so why not sign loan cover, or someone from a lower division (with a left foot) that could do the job until Bale is fit. This is a problem of our own making

We wont get Champions league with so many players believing the hype. MJ oversold us pre-season, saying the sky is the limit with this team. Sure. Until average players like Jenas start proving themselves, and Berba stops thinking hes the greatest foreigner to ever step on English soil, then were going to struggle

From a winnable opening threesome, Id settle for a point from Derby. Given well get nothing from Man Utd, one or three from a possible 12 points is relegation form. Were only two games in, but losing two so early puts us on the back foot, and whilst I know its early doors, it depresses me to even think about turning up on Saturday when youre rewarded with performances like that.


The season just two games old but MJs persistence in playing players out of position and favouring the same players who clearly were found wanting last season is enough to ask the question how long can the board continue with him ? 

What is the point of pre season games against modest opposition ?  What is the point of playing youngsters in those games and then ignoring them when the season starts?  Why the reluctance to play Huddlestone ?   Has Tainio ever completed a game ?, probably not as even MJ must realise that he is nothing if not mediocre.  But the same could apply to Jenas and others.  The sad part for me is that expectations are raised but then very quickly lowered. 

The other area of concern is injuries.  Is there a jinx at work or are the back room staff failing in their responsibilities ?  It does seem that we are more cursed with long term injuries than many other clubs.  Are the players correctly prepared ?  Is the training schedule good enough ?  All questions for the manager.  Would it be possible to get him to respond through these columns ?


Ed :  I would love to think it would happen, but I don't think MJ would explain himself to MEHSTG. 


Two games in and the Jol out brigade are at it again, I simply can't believe you lot - it's a joke that you can be calling for his head.

He's quite simply the best manger we've had in 17years SEVENTEEN YEARS - think about how long that is, where we were when he took over and where we are now before you call for his head because as hard as it is to improve at this level it's so so easy to fall. I won't get into the Leeds argument, they went down because they were going bust and O'Dreary is a rubbish manager but there's another far more pertinent story.

There was once this side who had a young manager who guided them to fifth in the premiership, but that wasn't enough for the fans who thought they should be doing better, so they hounded him out. The next season the club did worse. Eventually they got relegated. Then they got relegated again!

It took them the best part of five years to get back to the top flight and put them back at least 10 years in competing.

HEED THE WARNING PEOPLE - we don't need to be another Man City, and it's not inconceivable we could do the same if stupid idiots keep calling or his head.


Now, he's taken us so far in two and a half short years, lets not blow it now by losing patience.

We play the best football we've done in years, we've the best players we've had in years, we're in Europe (again) for the first time in years and it's all down to MJ - and the 40 million odd quid he's spent.

Keep the faith and the rewards will be ours.

MEHSTG - and it's big Mart sticking two finger up at Wenger holding the European Cup!





Other scores this mid-week :
Birmingham City 2 Sunderland 2 Wednesday
Fulham 2 Bolton Wanderers 1 Wednesday
Manchester City 1 Derby County 0 Wednesday
Manchester United 1 Portsmouth 1 Wednesday
Reading 1 Chelsea 2 Wednesday
Wigan Athletic 1 Middlesbrough 0 Wednesday



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


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