COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 16th September 2012
VENUE Madjeski Stadium






The Reading side that takes the field against Spurs will bear little resemblance to that which gained promotion to the Premier League.

During the close season, Reading have spent money pumped into the club by their new owner, which has seen Danny Guthrie (Newcastle United), Nicky Shorey (West Bromwich Albion), Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest), Adrian Mariappa (Watford) and Pavel Pogrebniak (Fulham) all coming in during the summer.

These players will add some legs and some experience to a side that won through to the Premier League, but lack the top flight background to fight to stay up.  Gunter was a Spurs youngster, who rarely got a chance and while he left to go to Forest to play first team football, he did not look as good in that league.  Hopefully, Chris will get to show what he can do at the top level.  Shorey returns to Reading and will add an old head to the back four, which now includes Mariappa from Watford, who was much sought after, but Reading dived in to secure his signature ahead of the likes of Newcastle.  And that was where combative midfielder Danny Gurthrie joined on a free transfer, as did Pogrebniak, who was not retained by Fulham at the end of the season.  Strong and physical, he scored some notable goals last term for the Cottagers, with Reading hoping he will be able to score the goals that help them retain their place in the Premier League.

Also up front are two goal-getters in young Welshman Simon Church and the diminutive Adam Le Fondre.  Church is more of a typical centre forward, who is strong on the ground and in the air, while Le Fondre is more of a player who plays in the hole, but scores some very useful goals, popping up in the right place at the right time.

Midfield is an area where Reading lack a lot of experience, with wide man and tricky customer Jimmy Kebe one to watch.  Jem Karacan is a creative schemer, while Jobi McAnuff and Hal Robson-Kanu are wide players, who like to try and get behind the full-backs.  Mikele Leighterwood is a strong ball-winner, but lacks a little in pace, with Brynar Gunnarsson having spent seven years at Reading and now entering the veteran stage of his career.

The defence may be tested, although they stood up to a battering by Chelsea a few weeks back before succumbing.  Left back and free-kick specialist Ian Harte has been there and done it with Leeds United and Kaspar Gorkks has knocked around the lower leagues before making it to the top with QPR, although the Latvian didn't spend more than a couple of weeks with the R's there before leaving for the Madjeski.

So without a three point weekend so far this season, will this be Super Sunday for Tottenham fans ??  Well, with the team having been spread over the globe for the last two weeks since the transfer window shut, it is hard to tell how integrated the new signings will be and how AVB will deploy them.  They will provide him with options from the bench and with Jermain Defoe in good form, I guess he will start, but who will be around him ??

Surely, a game like this is now a must win for a number of reasons, if nothing more than to take the heat off the Head Coach, so I would like to see Dempsey up there with Defoe, three just behind them and a man in front of the back four (maybe Jake Livermore).  This will allow Spurs to attack in numbers and to have a defensive midfielder there to shield the defence.

I would assume that AVB will field his 4-2-3-1 formation, which may play into the hands of  a Reading side that will flood the midfield and try to stifle the life out of the Tottenham team.

It won't be pretty and it could end in a narrow win for Spurs.

PREDICTION Reading    1      Tottenham Hotspur   2
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.
Adam Federici is likely to start for the Royals despite pulling out of the Australia side in mid-week, but Jimmy Kebe's hamstring injury rules him out, as Jason Roberts' leg injury does for the striker.
Spurs will be without Scott Parker, who is regaining fitness after an Achilles tendon operation and Younes Kaboul is out long term after having an operation on his knee.   Clint Dempsey may be ready for an appearance after being away on international duty, but Hugo Lloris has had only one training session with the team and could miss out on a place in the match-day squad, as will ankle injury victim Heurelho Gomes.  Tom Huddlestone is available after having his red card against Norwich City over-turned.  Brad Friedel looks set to continue in goal.

Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)  Also available online.

For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152  (live coverage)
Commentary may be found on
>   BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW
TalkSport (DAB or 1089 MW)
Absolute Radio  (1215 AM/MW)

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia - Fox Sports Australia
Canada - Rogers Sportsnet
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Finland - MTV 3 Finland
France - Canal+ France
Hong Kong - iCable
Malaysia - Astro MEASAT
Middle East - ADMC
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North America - Fox US
Norway - TV2
Pan Asia - ESPN STAR Sports

You could also try ...
Australia (Melbourne)
SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday
Australia (Sydney) 
Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI
Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI
South Africa 
SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) 
Sirius Satellite Radio 

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London - click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.

Reading  1 (0)     
Premier League
Sunday 16th September 2012                              
Venue :  Madjeski Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur  3 (1)

Kick off  16:00
Robson-Kanu 90 Defoe 17
Bale 71
Defoe 74


Defoe (foul) 90+3 


Crowd :   24,160 (Record crowd for Reading) Weather :  Dry, warm
Referee :  Howard Webb (South Yorkshire) Assistant Referees :  -  Mr. G. Beswick; Mr. P. Bankes
Fourth Official :  N. Swarbrick -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the North Stand end in the first half.
Reading : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
21  Alex McCARTHY

  2  Chris GUNTER
  5  Alex PEARCE
17  Kaspars GORKKS
23  Ian HARTE

  4  Jem KARACAN (Adam Le FONDRE 46)
11  Jobi McANUFF (c)
20  Danny GUTHRIE (19  Hal ROBSON-KANU 84  )
12  Gareth McCLEARY

  7  Pavel POGREBNYAK (10  Noel HUNT 83)


Unused subs: 
41  Stuart TAYLOR
  3  Nicky SHOREY
  6  Adrian MARIAPPA

  24  Brad Friedel

28  Kyle WALKER
13  William GALLAS (c)

19  Mousa DEMBELE

  7  Aaron LENNON  (31  Andros TOWNSEND 87)
22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON  (  6  Tom HUDDLESTONE 72)
11  Gareth BALE  (  2  Clint DEMPSEY 78)

18  Jermain DEFOE        

Unused subs: 
25  Hugo LLORIS
20  Michael DAWSON
33  Steven CAULKER
10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR

Manager :  Brian McDermott Manager :   Andre Villas-Boas
Sponsor :   Waitrose Shirt sponsor :  Aurasma
Kit Supplier :  Puma Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

In many ways, this was a strange game and in some ways very familiar, but a 3-1 win giving Spurs their first three point haul of the season was very welcome.  Jermain Defoe was the deciding factor in the game, with two striker's goals, but with nine of the 20 shots Spurs had, he could easily have doubled his total.

Spurs surprisingly left out Benoit Assou-Ekotto (until we found out he has some floating bone in his knee joint ... painful !!) as Kyle Naughton deputised and last minute signings Clint Dempsey and Hugo Lloris sat on the bench, while Mousa Dembele came in for another injured party, this time Jake Livermore.  It looked more like a 4-3-3 formation, but it could easily switch to the favoured 4-2-3-1 set-up.  Reading started with one man up, with Pavel Pogrebnyak leading the line on his own.

Starting the game, Spurs kicked off and it was really the kick off of their season.  With a new man in charge and new players coming in three games into the season, then having an international break, things are just starting to settle down as we face another four games before the end of the month !!  Then another international break will interrupt things, but by then, the squad may be a little more acquainted with each other.

Things looked to have started clicking, with the ball being moved sweetly, but then there was the odd stray pass, which let Reading have the ball for a short while.  Players were working hard on and off the ball, getting back to tackle and regain possession.  An early chance came in the fifth minute when Lennon was tripped 25 yards out and while Gareth Bale lined up to take the free-kick, he didn't try and replicate his goal for Wales in mid-week, but curled a cross in for Gylfi Sigurdsson to get on the end of.  His low header was well-saved by the debutant keeper Alex McCarthy, who reacted well in getting up to beat away Jan Vertonghen's follow-up shot at his near post.

Bale was unlucky when a long ball through the middle of the Reading defence dropped and he took a touch that took it away from the advancing McCarthy, but too wide of the goal.  On ten minutes a cross from Danny Guthrie on the right flew to the far post and Kyle Walker came in with his hand up which made contact with the ball.  Howard Webb was well-placed to see what happened, but he awarded a free-kick to Tottenham for a push on Walker by Alex Pearce.  Spurs seemed to have escaped that one, as it was an odd way for Walker to go for the ball.

However, it was Tottenham who took the lead in the 17th minute, with a well-crafted goal.  Aaron Lennon was set free down the right by an inch-perfect pass inside Ian Harte by Gylfi Sigurdsson.  Getting to the dead-ball line, Lennon did well to compose himself and pull the ball back to Jermain Defoe, who was pulling away from goal as the defenders ran back to their line.  Defoe didn't hit the ball too hard, but curled his foot around it to drag it into the far corner with two Reading men and the keeper all on the other side of the goal.

Spurs had deserved the lead, but they still had to work hard to keep Reading from working the ball wide to McCleary and McAnuff.  The pace of the game helped Spurs, as it was not the normal Premier League tempo, allowing Spurs to pick their passes more easily.  This in turn created more chance, with Sigurdsson curling a free-kick in that evaded everyone apart from the goalie, Sandro shot just wide and Defoe took a ball out of the sky and away from two defenders, leaving him with the keeper to beat.  With one of the Royals back four closing him down, he took the chance with the outside of the right foot and put it wide, whereas a left foot shot might have found a large portion of the goal which was unable to be guarded by McCarthy.

The Reading stopper was almost his own worse enemy in the 31st minute, when a back-pass caught him taking a touch and Jermain nipped in to nip the ball off his toe, but the ball went wide to the right and he pulled the ball back to Gylfi, hanging back as Defoe had done for his goal.  It took slightly too long to fed the Icelander, so by the time he got a shot in, there was Pearce on the line to block the effort.  Defoe almost put Lennon in minutes later, stealing the ball from Harte, who dwelt on it too long, but the little winger ran out of space and the ball went off for a goal-kick.  There was still time for Defoe, Dembele and Sigurdsson to fire in shots that missed the target before the half-time whistle rescued Reading.

At the break, Adam Le Fondre came on for midfielder Karacan to give Reading a more attacking 4-4-2 formation, with the first period of the half seeing them contest better, with more opportunity to hold the ball up away from their goal.  but Spurs were still playing the ball well and when Dembele rampaged forward, he played in Sigurdsson on the edge of the box.  Playing against his old team, Gylfi hit s shot that was blocked and came out to Mousa, whose shot suffered the same fate, but the loose ball went quickly to Jermain Defoe, but he couldn't sort out his feet quickly enough and the shot went a yard wide from about six yards out. 

Bale shot wide before making a darting run up the left and pulling the ball back to Defoe, whose shot flew over.  At the other end, Reading were planting balls into the Spurs box, but apart from one corner that dropped just outside the six yard box and caused a little panic, there were few worrying moments.  After this spell of play, Spurs further extended their lead, somewhat against the run of play.  Aaron Lennon went up the right, turned back and played the ball to Kyle Walker.  The full back made more headway, with a run that saw him past two opponents, reaching the dead-ball line and pulling the ball back for Bale to shoot.  His right foot shot went off his standing foot and spun up into the air enough to clear the diving keeper and nestle in the back of the net.  2-0 and the all important second goal had come at last after one goal in each of our games so far.

Just like London buses, after you haven't seen one for ages, you don't have to wait too long for another one to follow.  This time, a throw near our own goal was launched forward by Walker, headed on by Dembele and picked up inside his own half by Jermain Defoe.  As he got to the halfway line, it looked as though he had lost possession, but won it back from Gorkks, but knocking him over, he must have wondered if he would be penalised as he was for England against Ukraine in mid-week.  On this occasion, Webb let him go on and he raced towards the Reading penalty are, with Bale making a run to the right, Defoe went left and smashed a shot from 15 yards across the keeper, who didn't move as the bal hit the back of the net.  Two goals in three minutes and Spurs were heading towards their first win of the season !!

Tom Huddlestone had come on between the goal and Clint Dempsey soon joined him to make his debut for the club, while Noel Hunt and Hal Robson-Kanu came on for Reading, as the changes were rung.  With five minutes left, Reading had their first shot on target, with Le Fondre shooting at goal from 12 yards out and William Gallas kicking the ball away from in front of goal, before Tottenham's third sub, Andros Townsend ran from left to right across the right hand corner of the Reading area to pull back a cross that found Defoe, but the striker's volley was slightly behind him when he struck it and he could not keep it down.

With the regulation 90 minutes approaching, Adam Le Fondre found space inside the area on the right side and as Friedel came out to narrow the angle, the striker chipped the ball to the far post, where Robson-Kanu stretched out a leg to knock the ball in for a consolation goal, but once more Tottenham failed to keep a clean sheet.

In the overall result, it made little difference, but the psychological effect of a win and a clean sheet would have been good to take on and it would have been just reward for a defence that had looked solid against a flimsy Reading attack, with their side relying on dead ball situations for the majority of their threats.

Without having Scott Parker, Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto available, this was a win that showed the depth of the squad, but the familiar lack of finish to all of our chances meant it was a nervy game, with a single goal lead and then conceding another late goal.  It is all very well doing so against a newly promoted team, but against some of the more established sides, it might be more crucial in the outcome.  But then, AVB has no doubt silenced some of the doubters by equalling Harry Redknapp's number of away wins in the Premier League in the year 2012.  Here's to him keeping them quiet.





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What you thought
Sparky Marky The home team set up in a strange formation, with only Pobregnyak up front, but then Spurs did that last season under Harry Redknapp, although on this occasion, Spurs were the beneficiaries, with lots of space and time on the ball.

Dembele and Sandro sat in front of the back four well and put in a lot of work, both being athletic enough to get up and down the pitch.  This helped drag Reading players to them and make space wide and up front, with them both coming through to support the attackers.

Kyle Naughton did well at left back, where he hasn't played for us before, but he has done previously in his career, while Kyle Walker had a bit of a shaky game, almost giving away an unnecessary penalty.  Gallas and Vertonghen were mostly untroubled. 

The wide midfielders both did well, picking out silver and black shirts most of the time when they got into good wide positions.  While Sigurdsson worked hard and produced the killer ball for Lennon to set up Defoe for the opener.

Bale's mis-hit was a little lucky, but then Tottenham should have been five up by the break and Defoe's half the pitch run and fierce finish was a classy goal from a player well in form.

You can only beat what's put in front of you and with 20 efforts on goal, it is easy to see how fluently we were playing, but the side still has some talent to add to it, as said above, with Parker, Livermore, Assou-Ekotto, Kaboul, Lloris and Dempsey.  That's half another team to come back in !!

It will be different to when HR was in charge, but it could be just as interesting !!



Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 6 Southampton 1 Saturday
Aston Villa 2 Swansea City 0 -day
Fulham 3 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
Manchester United 4 Wigan Athletic 0 Saturday
Norwich City 0 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Queens Park Rangers 0 Chelsea 0 Saturday
Stoke City 1 Manchester City 1 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Everton 2 Newcastle United 2 Monday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 4 3 1 0 8 2 10 +6
2 Manchester United 4 3 0 1 10 5 9 +5
3 Arsenal 4 2 2 0 8 1 8 +7
4 Manchester City 4 2 2 0 8 6 8 +3
5 Swansea City 4 2 1 1 10 3 7 +7
6 West Bromwich Albion 3 2 1 0 6 1 7 +5
7 Everton 4 2 1 1 6 5 7 +1
8 West Ham United 4 2 1 1 4 3 7 +1
9 Fulham 4 2 0 2 10 6 6 +4
10 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 1 2 1 6 5 5 +1
11 Newcastle United 4 1 2 1 5 6 5 -1
12 Stoke City 4 0 4 0 5 5 4 0
13 Aston Villa 4 1 1 2 4 5 4 -1
14 Wigan Athletic 4 1 1 2 4 8 4 -4
15 Sunderland 3 0 3 0 3 3 3 0
16 Norwich City 4 1 3 0 2 7 3 -5
17 Liverpool 4 0 2 2 3 8 2 -5
18 Queens Park Rangers 4 0 2 2 2 9 2 -7
19 Reading 3 0 1 2 4 8 1 -4
20 Southampton 4 0 0 4 5 14 0 -9


Position before weekend :  14th
Position before match :  16th
Position after match :  10th
Position after the weekend :  10th


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