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Premier League

Sunday 18th January 2009

This Premier League meeting will attract a lot of attention for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, it will be under the microscope after obscene chanting from Spurs fans saw 11 charged by Hampshire Police.  Secondly, it will feature a meeting of many familiar faces on both sides, with former players being up against their old clubs and finally, and most importantly, it will be a vital three points to play for, with Spurs sitting in the bottom three and Portsmouth in the midst of a poor run of results.

Harry Redknapp will know how they play and so will Jermain Defoe, but whether that will be enough for Tottenham to get the win they need will be up for debate.  The number of ex-Spurs players in the opposition squad will be up for the match and it will need Tottenham's personnel to match their desire.

With David James in goal, he has been known to make the odd mistake or two and has done so at the Lane through the years.  Chances of him doing so on Sunday ... Zilch.  It will need some good effort son goal to get past him, as he will have a stormer.  Glen Johnson has just decided to stay at Pompey and that might undermine his long term success, as a move to a bigger club would have seriously increased his profile, but he is a solid defender and one who is good going forward.  Belhadi will try to emulate his attacking instincts, but lacks the defensive side of his game that Johnson has in his locker.  Sol Campbell will be determined to show his strength after the game at Fratton Park, but he has crumbled under the legitimate stick he has been given over the years for leaving for Arsenal.  Sylvain Distin has also put in the odd slip against Spurs when playing for Manchester City, but he is the rock of the centre of defence at the moment, so whoever partners Defoe will need to make life difficult for him in the air.  Former Tottenham full back Noe Pamarot is still at Portsmouth and his strength is the power he possesses in running and tackling, but he is another one who could cause problems from set-pieces.  Linvoy Primus is an old fashioned centre-half, but lacks some pace and Herman Hreidarsson wants to get out of the club, but if he plays, his height and long legs could provide a difficult object for the Spurs players to get past.

Younes Kaboul left Spurs as a centre half who needed to mature, but we might find him playing against us in midfield, where he could have featured for us.  A tough tackler and a player who is dangerous from dead-balls, he will be out to show Spurs fans what we are missing.  And Sean Davis could also play after suffering from a virus.  He was never given much of a run at Tottenham, so will be keen to impose himself on the game, possibly alongside the inventive Niko Krancjar, who is a good wide player, with a trick or two in his armoury.  Kanu is still knocking around the Fratton Park corridors, although Adams is at a bit of a loss as to where to play him.  Good on the ball, his long legs can bamboozle, but do not have the go in them that they used to have.  Others who might be up for consideration include John Utaka, who has not made the impact it was hoped he might when he first joined Portsmouth, but he is quick and has the ability to get forward; Armand Traore is on loan from Arsenal for the season and his raids up the right wing can provide chances for his forwards; Glenn Little is a tricky winger, who gave us problems when with Reading last season, but he has suffered injuries that have seen him lose a bit of his pace.  Arnold Mvuemba is a nippy wide midfielder, who likes to go past full backs and with Gareth Bale not having the best of times, it might be a tough afternoon for him.

Tony Adams has been playing five in midfield with Crouch alone up front.  Tall and a good ability to hold the ball up until support arrives, the former Spurs striker can expect to give our defence a tough afternoon.  Another option would be to introduce David Nugent up alongside Crouch, as he would add a bit more strength, but his skill is mainly close control and finishing.  Too often he gets pushed out to the fringes of the action and Spurs will need to keep him away from the penalty area.

As far as Spurs are concerned, they need to keep the ball out of our last third and if it does get there, not to concede corners or free-kicks.  The height in the Portsmouth side will mean that Gomes will need to come and be strong for any crosses into the box, so a fast start, which continues through the game, might take the game to Pompey and put them on the back foot.  Lennon must start, as he will push their wide midfielders back and with Defoe in the team and itching to score his first goal on his return, Aaron can provide some problems for the visitors and some chances for our players.

Missing Jenas is a disappointment, despite his lack of favour among some sections of the White Hart lane crowd, as we need people who will keep going for 90 minutes (although he failed to pick up Figueroa in the last minute last week).  Concentration and effort might be the buzzwords for the day and while I can't see us holding out for the 90, if we get far enough ahead, then if we concede one, then it does not matter as much.  I go for a narrow and squeaky bum victory ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Portsmouth  1

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

I can't stress how important today's game is.

Spurs fans forget about Sol Campbell and get behind the team ... it is a must win game - as we sit at the bottom of the league, lose today and it really could be curtains as its another home game gone.  Our away record is appalling.

We need a bit of luck.  I hope the ref is strong.

West Bromwich Albion, Blackburn, Stoke are showing grit and determination so we have to win our next three games to stand a realistic chance of survival - and hope Pompey, Boro, West Bromwich Albion or Stoke fall apart.

I have this terrible feeling that we will get relegated this time and can't seem to shake it off.  Call it negativity or what but we have to start pulling together and fight for 90+ mins.  Win ugly for god's sake.

Possible scenario -- last game of season Liverpool away we need to win to stay up -- they need to win to be champions.
Who's your money on ?

I hope in 6 hours+ time we look a little healthier.



TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Benoit Assou-Ekotto (suspended 4 of 4); Alan Hutton (foot);  Jermaine Jenas (calf); Gareth Bale (foot);  - (-); 

PORTSMOUTH :  -  Papa Bouba Diop (knee); Richard Hughes (groin); Jerome Thomas (back);  - (-); 


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click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




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

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 18th January 2009
Kick Off :  4.00 p.m.
Crowd :   36,011
Referee :  Steve Bennett (Beckenham)
Portsmouth kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, but clear and cold
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
26  King (c)  (20  Dawson 44)
39  Woodgate 
  3  Bale

  7  Lennon
14  Modric  (
  5  Bentley58)
24  O'Hara
  4  Zokora

25  Defoe
  9  Pavlyuchenko (10  Bent 28)

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
  6  Huddlestone
19  Taarabt
18  Campbell

Portsmouth :

  1  James

  5  Johnson
23  Campbell (c)
15  Distin
29  Belhadj

30  A. Traore
25  Davis     
  3  Kaboul      (35  Wilson 88)
19  Krancjar (  7  Hreidarsson 90)

  9  Crouch
10  Nugent (17  Utaka 73)

Unused subs: 
31  Begovic
16  Pamarot
25  Little
27  Kanu

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

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Defoe 70


Nugent 59

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  






Match Report : -  
A poit from a battling display earned Tottenham 16th place in the Premier league on goal difference, but it could have been much more had Darren Bent not contrived the miss of the season by a Spurs player from a close-range header.

As it was, it was left to former Pompey striker Jermaine Defoe to capture the headlines with a goal that brought about a late charge that could have seen Spurs take all three points.

The game started off quite open, with both side finding space and breaking to make it end-to-end stuff, which was strange, considering both sides were on bad runs and needed the points.  Traore broke through on the left, but severely sliced his shot into the crowd in the first minute, then Bale hit a shot with the same result, only he didn't slice it, just blazed it over the top.  Vedran Corluka popped up on the other side to cut in and have a shot blocked by a defender before it could get to James, then a great opening was presented to Defoe by a Sean Davis pass across the front of his penalty area, but the Spurs striker took it too far left and smashed a left foot shot wide, when perhaps concentrating on placement might have brought him the goal against the side he recently signed from.

Lennon replicated Corluka's effort, but it did bring a low save from the Portsmouth keeper and then Gomes was called into action at the other end, with a palm away from Glen Johnson's low cross-shot and then he had to react quickly to knock the ball away with his hand, as Peter Crouch looked set to pounce at the far post.  However, James was the busier of the two goalies and a snapshot from long-distance by Pavyluchenko kept him on his toes, then Lennon repeated his shot and brought another save from the goalie in the 15th minute.  It had been a hectic opening quarter of an hour.

Fortunately for Spurs, a lot of the Portsmouth attacking came down their left, where on loan from the Gooners Armand Traore was more intent on showing off his tricks than damaging the Tottenham defence.  He did get into a shooting position, but hit the side-netting and when the ball dropped from Modric for Aaron Lennon, he hit a first time effort at the other end from 20 yards and had James scrambling across his line to turn the shot away, after not seeing too much of it until late on.  Then Defoe blocked Pavlyuchenko's volley at the far post from O'Hara's near post corner, that Woodgate flicked on.  Spurs went even closer in the 23rd minute, when Lennon raced away from former team-mate Kaboul and crossed from the right, straight onto the head of Jermain Defoe, a couple of yards out and central in the six yard box.  He rose to head the ball at goal, but James dived upwards to tip the ball over the top.  As predicted, he was having a stormer of a match.

With the game being so stretched, there were large gaps in the middle of the field and when Nugent got clear away on the Tottenham left, he took the ball too wide to shoot and instead pulled it back into the middle for Traore, but Corluka had tracked his run superbly and got a block in as he hit a shot that would have given Portsmouth the lead.  It was conflicting feelings for one of the Spurs forwards, as Roman was hit late from behind by Davis, who got booked, but it was a much worse foul than some recent sending offs have been.  The Russian left on a stretcher and was replaced by Darren Bent.

Just after the half hour, Corluka had switched sides to cover for Bale taking a corner on the right wing, but the ball came out to him and he put a cross in that arrowed towards goal and it only took a flick from Ledley King to produce a fine diving stop from James, who kept it out and Bent was denied the follow-up as he was offside.  Too often, Spurs were giving the ball away in midfield, with Zokora and O'Hara both being guilty and these turn-overs of possession quickly lead to chances.  O'Hara's mistake gave the visitors the chance to put Kaboul away and he hit the side netting, when he should have done better.  Then, a few minutes before the break, Kranjcar set Nugent through, with King struggling with a hamstring pull.  The striker got away and through with only Gomes to beat.  The keeper had obviously come into the game with his groin injury playing him up, so with a forward bearing down on him, it looked for all the world that Pompey would go ahead, but the goalie made a very good stop with his leg, as it should have been 1-0 to Portsmouth.

O'Hara had almost done the right thing at the other end, with a quickly taken effort that had James worried, but it hit the side-netting, luckily for the keeper.  King's hamstring meant he could not continue and Dawson came on for him, with just 44 minutes gone.  Two subs used already and a keeper limping from minute one.

The injury time added on for all Tottenham's woes brought Portsmouth another good chance, but as Nugent was priming himself to shoot, Dawson dived in to put him off and make him shoot over the bar.  Even then, Lennon produced another shot on target with James being required to dive to his left to stop the low effort.

Unfortunately for Darren Bent, most of what happened with Spurs going forward involved him.  An early Lennon cross that was missed by central defender Distin found our forward not anticipating it and the ball hit him on the heel and bounced away from him.  But that was least of his contributions to Spurs failing to win.

Within the space of a minute around the 57 minute mark, Spurs could have been 1-0 ahead, but ended up 0-1 behind.  Zokora went on a run into the heart of the Pompey defence and slipped a neat pass out towards Lennon.  Aaron cut past Belhadj and crossed low, but the bal hit Distin and went towards goal, where David James changed direction rapidly and bundled the ball out at the foot of his post.  He threw the ball to Traore, who raced towards the Spurs penalty area and when Corluka slid in to tackle him, the ball went across the face of the Tottenham box and straight into the path of David Nugent, who hit it first time and it flicked off the leg of Gareth Bale before beating Gomes' dive and giving the visitors the lead.

It was a gutting feeling, as it was against the run of play and demonstrated that when the luck is against you, it is really against you.  One deflection at one end stopped a goal and one at the other brought one about.  So, how would Tottenham react ?  Crouch has a header, but couldn't get it on target.  O'Hara won a far post header to Lennon's cross, but the bal went harmlessly wide.  Harry made his last substitution and it was not one which gave you lots of hope, as David Bentley replaced Bale, with O'Hara dropping to left back.  The signing from Blackburn Rovers had not done a lot to enthuse the Spurs fans, but injected a bit of forward running and indicated that if he played like this more often, he might be a useful part of the team.

In fact, it was only a couple of minute after his entrance that Modric linked with Corluka, took a return pass from Zokora and prodded sideways into the path of Jermain Defoe to rifle a low shot through Sol Campbell's legs from outside the area and past James to celebrate his first goal back with a roll on the floor and a yell to the skies.  He wasn't alone in the relief of his goal.

The goal breathed new life into the Spurs side and Corluka made another advance on the right and cut inside to curl a left-footer just outside the post with James beaten with twenty minutes left.  Bentley had already put a free-kick over the bar and into row L, when he stepped up for another one.  Much the same result was expected, but as it cleared all the Spurs shirts in the box it also almost cleared James, who had to tip it over the bar as it looked as though it might drop over him.  From the corner, Corluka met it with a header that looped over everyone in the goalmouth, but Davis was stationed on the far post to head the ball off the line.

Then came the moment that could have won the game for Spurs.  Bentley drove down the left wing and got a yard of space to put over a leftfooted cross that left James grasping at thin air.  With no defenders around him and James nowhere, all Bent had to do was put a header straight in front of him from about two yards out.  Unfortunately, from a central position, he managed to direct it wide of the goal and not many who witnessed it could quite believe what they had seen.  To say it was a poor finish is a slight on the poor.

However, Tottenham kept going forward and Defoe hit a shot from outside the box that flew wide and then in added time, Lennon freed Bent on the right, but he lashed his effort straight at James, who made an easy stop.  Earlier in the half, he had been put through the middle of the Portsmouth defence and while he had a defender either side of him, his touch was poor and he put the bal straight through to James without getting a shot in.

Tottenham created enough chances to win a couple of games today, but with wasteful and woeful finishing, they did well to get back into it after going a goal behind to gain a point.  However, in this relegation battle, a point is not enough and we need wins quickly.  With games coming up against clubs around us, it will help pull Tottenham away from the bottom and plunge them back into it, but there will be tougher opposition than Portsmouth to come.

They were poor, but we couldn't find the quality often enough to put them away.

Bellamy isn't the answer.  It has to come from within the players we have already, as I can't see someone coming in and making an immediate difference from the names that have been linked with Spurs.

Either that or Harry has to work some more magic and quick.



Reaction : -



Don't know how I feel, as I went from hope to despair and then relief

It could have been worse, but still feel we have dropped two points - not taking the chances.  Bent again lacking confidence and with two bad injuries with King and Roman taken off.  Thank god Defoe keeps shooting.

Those two games at end of the month now are our cup finals - Stoke and Bolton; we have to win them no question.  So forget about the FA Cup match v Man Utd ... play the reserves.  Wwe cant afford any injuries to Defoe and co.

At least we are out the bottom three for now and we have to build on this, though I think David James was outstanding and was the difference between the sides.  Bad luck again with a deflected goal from Bale (the jinx), but keep it up Spurs - go for the jugular, as it could boil down to goal difference at the end. 



Darren Bent ... pitiful. I can't say anything else.  

S J Wightman


I thought I’d send a quick email because the conclusion of the match report and following reaction is, for me, the biggest worry for our club. 

Not, of course, that it’s you guys so much as representative of us supporters generally.

The simple facts are these:

The league is very tight from middle to bottom

If we were sitting in 12th we’d feel better about ourselves, but would not be in that much better a position because…

… the season has barely passed half way.

Which also means if we are sitting in the relegation zone, we have got a long time to get out of the bottom three, and a realistic chance of climbing up to midtable.

It’s ridiculous to be thinking that we’re going to get relegated now. Of course it’s a danger, but we’re playing pretty well, we’ve signed Defoe, our record has been (overall) pretty good since Harry joined, and if we play like we did on Saturday we’ll win more than we lose – that’s all we need. 

For me, the biggest danger is confidence. And this is where us fans come in. If we think the worst, boo at every opportunity and generally allow a pervasive pessimistic attitude, it will become self fulfilling. We’ve got to support the team.

Ed Lascelles




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



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 21 14 5 2 34 10 47 +24
2 Liverpool 22 13 8 1 36 14 47 +22
3 Chelsea 22 13 6 3 42 13 45 +29
4 Aston Villa 22 13 5 4 37 24 44 +13
5 Arsenal 22 12 5 5 37 25 41 +13
6 Everton 22 10 6 6 30 26 36 +4
7 Wigan Athletic 22 9 4 9 24 22 31 +2
8 West Ham United 22 8 5 9 29 31 29 -2
9 Hull City 22 7 6 9 29 42 27 -13
10 Fulham 20 6 8 6 19 17 26 +2
11 Manchester City 21 7 4 10 39 30 25 +9
12 Portsmouth 21 6 6 9 22 34 24 -12
13 Bolton Wanderers 22 7 2 13 22 30 23 -8
14 Newcastle United 22 5 8 9 28 37 23 -9
15 Sunderland 22 6 5 11 23 32 23 -9
16 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 22 5 6 11 21 27 21 -6
17 Blackburn Rovers 21 5 5 10 25 36 21 -11
18 Middlesbrough 22 5 6 11 18 33 21 -15
19 Stoke City 22 5 6 11 19 35 21 -16
20 West Bromwich Albion 22 6 3 13 20 37 21 -17


Position before the weekend :  18th
Position before the match :  20th
Position after the match :  16th


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