Portsmouth (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 17th October 2009


A lot of people will think that third place against 20th will mean only one thing, but in this case, it is unlikely to be as straight-forward as that.  And there are a few reasons why.

Firstly, there is the Pompey generated hatred towards Spurs.  Not content with blaming Tottenham for stealing their manager (who Tottenham paid good money for), they seem to think there is a one way stream of traffic of players to White Hart Lane, with Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar making the journey to North London.  The perilous financial state of the Portsmouth finances did for Harry Redknapp and their twice bought in the space of a couple of weeks club are now supposedly on firmer financial ground. 

But the abuse Harry got on his return to receive the Freedom of Portsmouth shortly after moving to Spurs might indicate that the home fans will not forget or forgive.  In addition, the former Portsmouth player swill no doubt get some stick and I for one, hope that it doesn't get out of hand, as the Police in that part of the world are very hot ion identifying fans who step out of line.

Lest that we should forget ourselves, the transfer trail to Portsmouth from N17 has not exactly been lightly trodden.  Pedro Mendes, Sean Davis, Noe Pamarot, Kevin Prince Boateng, Younes Kaboul and Jamie Redknapp (currently on loan, so not eligible to play in this match) have all made Fratton Park their new home.  So there will be an incentive there to show the Spurs fans what they can do, but it is now a manager or two down the line since they moved on (apart from Boateng).

And there is the small fact of Portsmouth having won their first league match of the season last time out, at the eighth time of asking.  Luckily the international break came at the right time and it might be tougher to get their rhythm back, whereas a game straight after the win might have had them more focused on carrying on that run.  The introduction of the experienced Avram Grant adds some assistance to the beleaguered manager Paul Hart.

The side are a rag bag of small money transfers and players that the club managed to hang on to, but it was not only Spurs raiding them, but Distin has gone to Manchester City, Glen Johnson to Liverpool, Sean Davis to Bolton and a number of players that they released to get them off the wage bill.

What is left is David James in goal, who, on his day, can be tough to beat, but when it is not his day makes life easier for the opposition.  Talk of him coming to Tottenham in January might make him put in a performance to impress Harry.  At the back, Younes Kaboul has been solid in the air, especially in the opposition box and he has been deployed in midfield more often. 

Tal Ben Haim and Belhadj have been playing well, but both are not quite out of the top drawer, so are prone to mistakes, which the Spurs forward might thrive on.  Anthony vanden Borre has come in from Belgium, but may still be sorting out what English football is all about.  Steve Finnan has been brought back to England from Spain to give some experience to the back four, but he has been troubled by injury, as has Aaron Mokoena, who is another defender who has been around and signed from Blackburn.  Watford defender Mike Williamson has been snapped up and he might find the Premier League a different kettle of fish.

Richard Hughes has been with the club for quite a while, but has not made the impact that was once thought after he joined Juventus as a junior.  Their will be fight in the midfield, as Michael Brown got to Fratton Park from Spurs via Fulham and Wigan and will want to make his mark in the match.  Hassan Yebda scored the winning goal at Molineux, so he can be expected to keep his place, but I know little of him.  Bouba Papa Diop is still there, with a big presence in midfield and Hayden Mullins might play in the middle to add some energy to the midfield, with Boateng there for his passing and lining with the attack.

Frederic Piquionne, John Utaka, Tommy Smith and Kanu are options up front, as among other departures in the attacking sense, Crouch and Defoe left and having let David Nugent leave to go on loan at Burnley, the South Coast team are slightly bereft of forwards.  Piquionne is finding his feet, while Tommy Smith has played in the top league with Watford and Derby, but not with any great success.  Kanu is old, even by his own standards, so might not be able to do it any more.  That might be why they brought in Danny Webber on a free.

Spurs have been good against the bigger teams, without any luck and have had to deal with the clubs at the bottom of the table in a way we are a little unused to.  But Harry has had it planned out well so far and his knowledge of the Portsmouth side will help his preparation for this match.

With options and Ledley and Woody maybe back for this match, the side he fields and the changes he can make from the bench should give Tottenham the winning edge, although expect Pompey's best effort of the season so far ...

PREDICTION : -  Portsmouth  1     Tottenham Hotspur   2

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


PORTSMOUTH :  -  Jamie O'Hara (on loan and cannot play against THFC); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -   Luka Modric (out - broken leg); Roman Pavlyuchenko (doubtful - Achilles); Giovani dos Santos (out - ankle); - (-); - (-);


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

Premier League
Venue : -  Fratton Park
Saturday 17th October 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   20,821
Referee :  Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
- kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
Weather :  -
Teams : - 
Portsmouth :

  1  James

26  Ben Haim
  3  Kaboul
35  Wilson
16  Finnan    (17  Utaka 90)

26  Ben Haim
  4  Mokoena  (39  Belhadj  78)
11  Brown
23  Boateng 

24  Dindane
20  Smith  (
  9  Piquionne 63)

Unused subs: 
21  Ashdown
16  Williamson

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
26  King 
19  Bassong
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon
  6  Huddlestone (20  Dawson 87)
  8  Jenas      
21  Kranjcar (12  Palacios 66     )

18  Defoe       
10  Keane  (15 Crouch 56)

Unused subs: 
24  Cudicini
  2  Hutton

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of

blue shirts, white shorts, red socks

white shirts with yellow trim, navy shorts, white socks

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  

Boateng 59

Tottenham Hotspur

King 29
Defoe 45

Cards : -  

Mokoena (foul) 51 
Yebda (foul) 72  
Brown (foul)  90+2


Tottenham Hotspur 

Jenas (foul) 23  
Palacios (kicking the ball away) 89 
Assou-Ekotto (retaliation)  90+2 

Defoe (foul) 61

Match Report : -  
A fiery game saw Portsmouth push when Spurs were down to ten men with former Portsmouth striker Jermain Defoe being sent off, but in the end, Tottenham held out with ten men on the other side too, seeing former Spurs midfielder Michael Brown also dismissed, as his side went down 1-2.

Jermain Defoe caused early problems with a 30 yard run and shot straight at James, then closing the Pompey keeper down as he dithered on the ball and blocked the clearance,, although referee Dowd said with his arm.  He had a better opening after Aaron Lennon had got past the left back, but the cross was not met with a full forehead and it slipped across the face of the goal.

A Portsmouth corner was missed by everyone once Dindane glanced it on at the near post with seven minutes gone.  The post came to the home team's rescue a minute later, when Tom Huddlestone slid a pass outside the Portsmouth defender for Jermain to run onto and strike a low shot against the base of the keeper's left hand post.  Ten minutes in, it should have equally been a goal, but to Tottenham's opponents, when Tommy Smith got away on their left and crossed low, taking Gomes out of the game and the ball was in front of goal a few yards out and Arune Dindane managed to spoon his shot over the top.  Opportunities at both ends, but none finished as the strikers would have liked.

With a number of ex-players all over the pitch, Kevin-Prince Boateng gathered the ball by the corner flag and turned back on himself and cut infield to unleash a shot form 20 yards out, but Heurelho Gomes caught the ball on the dive.  After 23 minutes, the former Spurs midfielder struck a fierce free kick that had Gomes diving, but it took a flick off Smith's foot and sent the ball upwards.  The Brazilian keeper made an outstanding save by throwing up an arm to turn the ball high and wide.

Play swung from end to end without a great amount of clear chances being made.  The home support were content with booing the Spurs players who used to ply their trade at Fratton Park, but appeared to be a bit slow in starting the abuse when they got the ball.

It was one of the returning Pompey players who set up the opening Tottenham goal in the 29th minute.  Kranjcar took a corner, won when Corluka got Lennon in behind Ben Haim and it was flighted to the penalty spot, where Ledley King got above Kaboul and Mokoena to power a header past James.  There was little apart from some scrappy play in the middle of the pitch before Spurs went 2-0 up a minute before half-time.  A neat one-two on the right wing between Jenas and Huddlestone opened some space and Jermaine played a low ball into the heart of the penalty area where Jermain Defoe got ahead of his man to stretch and poke the ball into the net to give Spurs a comfortable half-time lead.

Interestingly as the teams came out for the second half, Peter Crouch was having a chat with David James and all the Spurs players were greeting KPB.  Robbie Keane lasted only ten minutes of the second half, during which Gomes twice seemed hesitant in his handling, but produced a fine save when Smith got free on the left of the box and tried to bend a shot over the Tottenham keeper.  Dindane missed another chance in front of goal when Smith pulled a low ball back to him, but a minute later the ball did beat the Brazilian when a Belahdj cross from the right eluded everyone except Boateng, who was at the far post to thump a right footed shot past the goalie.  It was what Spurs didn't need, as the vocal crowd started to get behind their own team and not at ours.

Things turned for the worse for Tottenham when Defoe stupidly stepped on Mokoena's leg after he had been tackled and Phil Dowd pulled out a red card, although not where the South African was holding his leg.  It left Spurs on the back foot, but with the recently introduced Crouch on his own up front, he took one ball and beat Wilson and Kaboul to fire a shot a foot or two wide of James' goal.

With the extra man, Portsmouth were closing Spurs down quickly and Kranjcar was replaced by Wilson Palacios to try and add some industry into the Tottenham midfield.  When a cross came in from the Pompey left, it went over Assou-Ekotto at the other side of the box and Yebda hit a volley which Gomes did well to beat out.  While Portsmouth had the advantage, it was eight minutes from time when they made another good chance, with Boateng's right wing cross headed back across the six yard box by Piquionne, with no-one available to tap the ball in. 

Right on 90 minutes, a pass from halfway inside the Spurs half by Wilson Palacios freed Aaron Lennon, who took his time going forward and then finished wide and tamely when faced only by James.  Two late yellow cards for former Spurs midfielder Michael Brown, the second that made sure Aaron couldn't get away from him again brought a red card from Dowd.  With Boateng heading away a great cross from Kaboul, the last danger was averted and Tottenham took the three points despite the late pressure when Pompey were a man up.

It was a match in which the first goal was going to be important and with Defoe and Dindane spurning good openings, the converted corner by Ledley King put Tottenham ahead and the second by Defoe proved just enough.  While Defoe's "stamp" on Mokoena's leg was not as bad as the South African made out, it left Tottenham facing an onslaught that had the nerves jangling, especially with five minutes added time to see out.

It was always going to be a tough trip with all the media surrounding the defection of the management and players from Fratton Park to N17.  But they were focused on what was needed and that was a resolute performance, with the only down point being Defoe's impending ban for three games.  Some of the bookings Phil Dowd handed out were soft, while he let things like Balhadj's elbow to the head of a Spurs player go without punishment.

But the victory keeps Tottenham in third place, with the away form drastically improved and that was necessary if the club were to push up the table.  I am not sure that Harry would be pulling up the same trees had he stayed at Portsmouth, but the Tottenham fans who sang his name and asked him what the score was during the match are pleased he is.

kirk hammerton




Fan Reaction : -



Just as well Harry picked Heurelho Gomes today, as the saves he made were the result of the extra inches he has over Cudicini.  While the Italian is a good enough keeper, he lacks the height when up against big sides and while Gomes has his own weaknesses, the ability to stretch and reach efforts like Smith's attempted lob and the deflected free-kick off the ex-Watford man made a big difference to the outcome.

I hope Harry has the will to stick with the Brazilian.

barry levington





Other League scores this weekend :
Arsenal 3 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Everton 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Manchester United 2 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Stoke City 2 West Ham United 1 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Liverpool 0 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 3 Burnley 2 Sunday
Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester City 1 Sunday
Fulham 2 Hull City 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 9 7 1 1 21 9 22 +12
2 Chelsea 9 7 0 2 19 8 21 +11
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 9 6 1 2 21 13 19 +8
4 Arsenal 8 6 0 2 27 11 18 +16
5 Manchester City 8 5 2 1 16 9 17 +7
6 Aston Villa 8 5 1 2 12 7 16 +5
7 Sunderland 9 5 1 3 17 13 16 +4
8 Liverpool 9 5 0 4 22 13 15 +9
9 Stoke City 9 3 3 3 8 11 12 -3
10 Burnley 9 4 0 5 9 19 12 -10
11 Everton 8 3 2 3 10 12 11 -2
12 Fulham 8 3 1 4 8 10 10 -2
13 Blackburn Rovers 8 3 1 4 11 17 10 -6
14 Wigan Athletic 9 3 1 5 9 16 10 -7
15 Bolton Wanderers 8 2 2 4 11 13 8 -2
16 Wolverhampton Wanderers 9 2 2 5 8 15 8 -7
17 Birmingham City 9 2 1 6 6 11 7 -5
18 Hull City 8 2 1 5 8 20 7 -12
19 West Ham United 8 1 2 5 9 13 5 -4
20 Portsmouth 9 1 0 8 5 15 3 -10


Position before the match :  3rd
Position after the match :  3rd
Position after the weekend :  3rd

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