Portsmouth (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 15th December 2007


With the African Nations Cup coming up, it is just Tottenham's luck that one of the final games that Portsmouth play with their full complement of internationals would be against us.  The start that the team has made has been surprising, but when you see the side, they are a big bunch of players.  Strong and athletic, they put in a lot of effort to close teams down and hit on the break with good pace.

Benjani Mwaruwari is the focus of their attack, with some good hold-up play and a sharper finishing ability than he showed last season.  He is the out ball from the defence and he gets support from the midfield very quickly, so Tottenham must not get caught with too many players up-field, otherwise they will find themselves out-numbered very quickly.  With the likes of Croatian Nico Krancjar, Bouba Papa Dioup and Sulley Muntari getting forward behind Benjani, the match can very quickly move from one end to the other.  the first and last have been hitting the net, while Dioup tends to be the rock that the Pompey midfield is built on.  Not as fast as the others, but quick in the head, former Spurs midfielder Pedro Mendes can string play together with his short passing, but he also can hit the longer passes and also the longer shots.  He will be keen to prove to Tottenham that they got rid of him too soon.  John Utaka has come in this season and is a new name to me, but he looks like he is a mobile midfielder, who is still finding his feet in the Premiership a little bit.

David James is challenging Paul Robinson for the England goalkeeper gloves, but has been held back from being a world class goalkeeper as his career has been strewn with high profile mistakes, which have caused him to be dubbed "Calamity James."  His size makes him a good shot-stopper and you would have thought good on crosses, but this has not been the case.  With him at one end and Robbo at the other, there are bound to be comparisons on their relative merits, with the goalie on the winning side probably being given the plaudits.

The back-line also looks familiar to Spurs fans with S.Cumball and Noe Pamarot lining up alongside a former Spurs transfer target - Sylvain Distin, as well as ex-Chelsea right back Glen Johnson, who has settled down since his fiesty days at Stamford Bridge.  They are a big back four to try and get around, although they lack a bit of pace - apart from Johnson, so the likes of Defoe and Lennon might be able to get past them if we keep the ball on the floor.  To pump high balls up to the first three would be meat and drink to them.

With Portsmouth being better away from home at the moment and with Spurs still struggling to find a rhythm to their play, but picking up the odd point away from home, it would be a major achievement for Tottenham to bring anything home.  However, things seem to be coming together a bit more now, so, I am hopeful that they will be able to bring back a draw ...

 PREDICTION : -  Portsmouth  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.


PORTSMOUTH :  - Linvoy Primus (knee); Lauren (hamstring); Martin Cranie (broken leg); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee); Ricardo Rocha (knee); Anthony Gardner (ankle); Gareth Bale (foot); Robbie Keane (suspended - 2 of 3); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); - (-); - (-);


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Portsmouth   0   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  Fratton Park
Saturday 15th December 2007
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   20,520
Referee :  Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Cold,
Teams : - 
Portsmouth :


Pamarot (Hreiddarsson 74)

Papa Diop
Pedro Mendes      (Davis 46)
Muntari (Nugent 65)


Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :


YP Lee

Boateng (O'Hara 78)
Lennon (Tainio 86)

Bent (Defoe 74)

Unused subs: 

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

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  


Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 81
Cards : -  

Pedro Mendes (foul) 29
Krancjar (foul) 73
Distin (dissent) 90   


Tottenham Hotspur 

Malbranque (persistent fouling) 61
Bebratov (goal celebration) 82   


Match Report : -  
It's been a long time coming, but at last Tottenham earned an away win and a clean sheet to boot, as Juande Ramos' tactics start to kick in, despite the ever-lengthening defensive absentee list.  1-0 might not sound that exciting, but it closes the gap on the two clubs above us, who are four and six points away from Spurs, but are now within credible catching distance.

Lining up with Zokora as part of the back four in place of the illness-affected Michael Dawson, it was once more, an unacquainted defence who took the the field.  With Keane's suspension still running, Darren Bent lined up alongside Dimitar Berbatov in attack.   On a bitterly cold day down on the South Coast, it was Tottenham who made the more confident start, with some winning tackles in midfield, then a good period of passing.

The first shot was a fairly comfortable one straight at Robinson from Utaka from about the penalty spot, while Bent hit back with an 18 yard effort that went wide.  Pedro Mendes was putting in a lot of running, but much of it was of the headless chicken type, whereas Tottenham were pacing themselves better.  Replacing Zokora in midfield was Kevin-Prince Boateng, who fired in a shot that James could only push aside, but as Steed Malbranque roared in, he was flagged offside and Jenas was pushing up in support of the front two, but could not keep his long range shot down, as it flew over the top.

When Pompey did go forward and won a couple of corners and threw some crosses into the Spurs area, they were poorly delivered, leaving the Spurs players an easy task of clearing the ball.  It was refreshing to see the team working hard as a whole to shut down the home players.  For example, when Papa Bouba Diop crashed in a shot, it was Zokora who flung himself to block it.  The Ivorian was the victim of the first bad tackle as he broke forward and it saw ex-Spur Pedro Mendes get a yellow card.

Diop was trying to beat Spurs from range, as he hit another effort wide, while Bent was getting most of Tottenham's chances, firing a shot on the half hour straight at James, followed a couple of minutes later by Berba, who hit a shot over the bar.  The succession of free-kicks that Mr. Atkinson awarded stemmed any flow that the game might have had, but gave Jenas the chance from 25 yards, but he hit the wall, while Muntari's free-kick at the other end saw a header from Utaka go wide from close range. 

At the other end, S.Cumball was often caught out of position, as he did the week before at Villa and to think this is the man Steve McClaren called into the England squad for the vital Euro 2008 qualifiers !!

It was hardly any surprise that the teams went down the tunnel at the interval without any score on the board, as, while the game had been exciting in a fiercely contested manner, with some good passing moves, there were few direct efforts on goal.  As the players left the field, there was the strange sight of Kevin Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari exchanging shirts for some reason.  When the teams -re-emerged, there was one change with one ex-Spur Sean Davis replacing another Pedro Mendes.

An early rush from his goal saw Robbo foul Muntari outside the box, but the free-kick came to nothing, but the free-kicks kept coming for niggling fouls, with Krancjar finally getting a shot on target on the hour mark, but once more, Robinson caught it safely.  Steed finally tested the ref's patience once too often and got a booking for a series of fouls, then the game burst into life a bit.  Malbranque put a shot wide, before Krancjar forced Kaboul to block his drive on goal and from a corner Nugent put a free header over the bar, landing the ball on the roof of the net.  The Croatian midfielder's cynical foul on Aaron Lennon as he sped past the Pompey man brought another caution and it was followed by Defoe coming on for Bent, while Herman Hreiddarsson entered the play for the injured Pamarot, who had suffered at the hands of Lennon (yes, hard to believe isn't it !!). 

With 77 minutes gone, Boateng, who did not have a great game, was taken off for Jamie O'Hara to come on for his Spurs debut.  Operating on the left of midfield, he began opening up the Portsmouth right side with some running with the ball and some neat passing.  He played in Defoe, who hit his shot too high, then nicked the ball off an opponent in midfield, before playing in Lennon on the right.  Aaron took a touch and dinked a delicate cross to the far post, where Dimitar Berbatov was lurking to administer the finish that rippled the net and gave Spurs the lead.

Having taken a late lead, Spurs had lost winning situations like this in the recent past, so Ramos' belief that they should play the same way whether they are winning or losing saw them press on towards David James' goal.  Defoe let fly and his shot went wide and then, after Lennon had been substituted for Tainio, Jamie O'Hara tried his luck, but saw his shot strike a defender. 

With seconds left, the urgency of Portsmouth's situation got to Glen Johnson, who fired a shot hopelessly over the bar, but when the ball went to the other end, Jermain hit the top of the post with a rocket of a shot from close range that had James beaten.

With the decisions going against Portsmouth, Distin picked up a nonsensical booking for dissent in injury time, as the game ended with the Spurs faithful, who had been noisy all afternoon, expressing their joy at a long awaited away win.

With the three points under their belts and with two consecutive wins for the first time this season, the team can go into next week's match with more confidence, although it will be a different proposition to playing Portsmouth.





Reaction : -





Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 1 Reading 1 Saturday
Derby County 0 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday
Fulham 0 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Manchester City 4 Bolton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 5 Blackburn Rovers 3 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Everton 2 Saturday
Arsenal 1 Chelsea o Sunday
Liverpool 0 Manchester United 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 17 12 4 1 34 14 40 +20
2 Manchester United 17 12 3 2 30 8 39 +23
3 Chelsea 17 10 4 3 24 10 34 +14
4 Manchester City 17 10 3 4 24 19 33 +5
5 Liverpool 16 8 6 2 27 10 30 +17
6 Everton 17 9 3 5 31 16 30 +15
7 Portsmouth 17 8 6 3 28 15 30 +13
8 Aston Villa 17 8 4 5 28 20 28 +8
9 Blackburn Rovers 17 7 5 5 23 24 26 -1
10 Newcastle United 17 7 4 6 24 26 25 -2
11 West Ham United 16 6 4 6 20 14 22 +6
12 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 17 4 6 7 29 29 18 0
13 Reading 17 5 3 9 22 34 18 -12
14 Middlesbrough 17 4 5 8 16 28 17 -12
15 Birmingham City 17 4 3 10 18 27 15 -9
16 Bolton Wanderers 17 3 5 9 18 27 14 -9
17 Sunderland 17 3 5 9 16 32 14 -16
18 Fulham 17 2 7 8 18 27 13 -9
19 Wigan Athletic 17 3 3 11 17 33 12 -16
20 Derby County 17 1 3 13 6 39 6 -33


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