Bolton Wanderers (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 19th August 2006

You know what you are going to get from Bolton Wanderers.  Lots of effort and lots of closing down and a tough time all round.  It's a reflection fo the attributes fo their manager and although they might have tried building a new style with exotic signings for not much money, the hub of the team revolves around hard-working players who don't let the opposition settle.

Spurs will need to match that and with Tainio injured and Davids lacking the legs to keep going for a full ninety, it might be tough on the others in the team to keep Bolton pegged back.  With good passing, we might be able to keep them at bay and keep them going back towards their own goal.

With Assou-Ekotto and Lee keen to get forward in wide positions and Lennon's speed on the right, it should mean that the wide midfielders are pushed back and this might limit Bolton's attacking intentions.  Spurs will need to ensure that the Bolton midfielders are not given time to launch attacks themselves. 

The goalkeeping roster at the Reebok runs with Jussi Jaaskalainen, Ian Walker and Ali Al-Habsi as the men with the gloves.  Jaaskalainen looked poised to leave at one stage at the end of last season, but has signed on, leaving Walker to kick his heels on the bench and now fight off the challenge from Oman keeper Al-Habsi.  Al-Habsi came via Norway, but I don't know much about him, while the other two goalies have been around long enough to have built up solid reputations.  Jaaskalainen does spill the odd shot, so Defoe needs to be on his toes to snaffle any fumbled shots and Walker is dodgy on crosses, so there are weaknesses to be exploited.  Berbatov might test whichever keeper takes to the pitch between the posts.

The defence has had a bit of a clear out with N'Gotty and Jaidi going to Birmingham and leaving the options a little short at the back.  Nicky Hunt, Ivan Campo, Tal Ben-Haim and newcomer Abdoulaye Meite make up the four at the rear.  Hunt has just recovered from an injury and Ben-Haim from being sent home from Israel's recent training camp, so there are some question marks over the defence.  Meite was looked at by a number of clubs, but he has gone to Bolton and his first game in the Premiership might take him by surprise.  Campo is an experienced campaigner, but he is not getting any younger, relying on his reading of the game to save his ageing legs.

Spurs were rumoured to be looking at Kevin Nolan as a replacement for Michael Carrick, but instead have settled for Didier Zokora.  Their battle in the middle of the park should be a crunching encounter, with neither player likely to pull out of a tackle.  Without Ricardo Gardner and Joey O'Brien, Wanderers might fall back on Gary Speed and Stelios, with new signings Idan Tal and Quinton Fortune looking to make their mark on the Bolton side.  Speed lacks a little of that now, but still times his runs into the box well and Stelios buzzes around, so if Spurs play the ball right when these two are out of position, it might give them a numerical advantage moving forward.  Fortune has had his injury problems and Tal has been around, including playing twice for Everton in the Prem about five years ago.  It looks like it is a midfield full of effort anf not a lot of art, although Nolan poses problems and Stelios likes to get into the box.

With Dane Henrik Pedersen out of contention with an injury, it leaves Kevin Davies, Jared Borgetti, Ricardo Vaz Te and the volatile El-Hadji Diouf to keep the attack going.  There is a lack of finesse in the finishing department, with Diouf not a regular scorer and Vaz Te still finishing his way in the team, Borgetti and Davies will shoulder the goal-scoring load.  Borgetti had a good World Cup while it lasted and Davies is an old-fashioned style forward, but hopefully, Michael Dawson will be able to shackle him.  If there is any lack of concentration, the defence might be punished. 

For Tottenham, the movement off the ball will be the deciding factor in this game.  With Zokora breaking things down and starting them up, there will need to be outlets for him to pass to.  Dimitar has shown he is more mobile than Mido was and he will drag players out of position to create space for Defoe and the breaking midfielders.  I hope that there is a bit more of an attacking policy away from home, this year, as those points will make a big difference in where we finish.

A poor pre-season with four out of five matches lost has not been the best build-up for Bolton, but fat Sam will have them fired up and our record in this part of the North-West is not great.  However, I feel that the added goal-scoring power of Berbatov will make the difference and Spurs will just edge it.

PREDICTION : -  Bolton Wanderers  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.


BOLTON WANDERERS :  Joey O'Brien (knee); Ricardo Gardner (knee); Abdoulaye Faye (knee); Henrik Pedersen (ankle); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee); Teemu Tainio (ankle); - (-); 


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Bolton Wanderers   2   Tottenham Hotspur    0      (Half-time score : 2-0)

Premier League
Venue : Reebok Stadium
Saturday 19th August 2006
Kick Off :  5.15 p.m.
Crowd :   22,899
Referee :  Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Weather :  -  Chilly, wet
Teams : - 
Bolton Wanderers :


Ben Haim

Speed (c)
Vaz Te (Stelios 87)


Unused subs: 


Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson (c)

Lee (Huddlestone 75)

Lennon (Keane 60)


Unused subs: 


Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Bolton Wanderers

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Bolton Wanderers

Davies 10
Campo 14

Tottenham Hotspur


Cards : -  
Bolton Wanderers



Tottenham Hotspur 

Lee (foul)    


Match Report : -  
I know the end result of this match was the same as last season, a loss, but it was the way it happened that disappointed.  Last year we were in with a shout for at least a point, but this year, the two early goals killed Spurs off and although there was a bit of a comeback, it never looked likely to yield anything.

Having done so well in pre-season, it was perhaps an over-confident Tottenham that took to the field, against a Bolton side who struggled in their friendlies.  However, the physical approach adopted by Real Sociedad was nothing compared to the Sam Allardyce driven Trotters side.  Set up with one lone striker and five in midfield, Jol's tactic of playing Lennon behind the front two from the start failed to pay dividends, as the congested midfield made both Lennon and space hard to find.

The first goal was a killer coming from a set-piece, butt here was an element of doubt about it's legality.  Having watched again on TV, Meite did block Davenport, but the new Bolton signing's shirt was being held by Berbatov too, so perhaps it all cancelled each other out.  The ref and lineman either didn't see it or did and thought it was six of one, half a dozen of the other and allowed Kevin Davies to rise unopposed to nod home past Robinson.

Robinson had already been barged into the net by Davies as he took a cross that lopped up high and from an early corner Dawson managed to get enough on his header to take it wide after Meite's near post flick.  So, it wasn't as though Spurs didn't know what was coming. 

However, I don't suppose anyone saw what was coming next ... least of all Robbo, who went one way, tried to recover, but the ball sped off the wet turf and hit the net as Campo unleashed a shot from 30 odd yards out.  It was a bolt out of the blue and set Spurs a big task in trying to get back into the game, let alone get anything out of it.

it took until 20 minutes in to get a move going and Zokora and Berbatov both linked to provide Defoe with an opportunity to try a curling shot that Jaaskelainen had to dive to save.  Defoe was also getting into some wide positions, but his crossing failed to find Berbatov and with someone like him in the box now, we must make the most of the opportunities we have to give him chances to score.

Whether Robinson was at fault for the second goal was questionable (I think he saw it late and the swerve seemed to do him), but with 35 minutes gone, he made a fine leap to push Speed's free kick from outside the box aside.  While play got bogged down in the packed midfield sometimes, Spurs did  manage to get the ball and Hunt was required to dive in front of Davids' shot to stop it troubling Jaaskelainen.

At the break, Jol moved Lennon out to the left and he made a good move inside after being fed by Zokora, but as he went past Meite and his shot looked like it make Jaaskelainen work, Ben Haim produced a sliding block to stop it.

Tottenham were looking unsettled in defence and ten minutes into the half, Bolton should have added to their lead.  When Vaz Te crossed, it looked innocuous enough, but Dawson sliced the ball for Davies to shoot, but with the goal gaping in front of him, he missed the target.  Berbatov had a header at the far post that Ben Haim again knocked away, then Dawson got his head to the cross from the subsequent corner, but hit the keeper.

On the hour, Martin Jol made a change to add a little to the forward department, when he brought on Robbie Keane for Zokora, who looked unhappy at the decision.  Within a minute, Keano had put Berbatov through, past a defence appealing for offside, but Jaaskelainen took the ball off his feet.  Robinson was called into action to make a fingertip save when Diouf got on the end of a free-kick that Davenport had got a touch to and his diving header was destined to head inside the post until Robbo's touch saved the effort.

The last quarter of an hour saw Bolton dominate and were the most likely to score, although Berbatov managed to get a head to Assou-Ekotto's cross, but couldn't direct it.  The match petered out with Spurs failing to do themselves justice and there will need to be an improvement, as early points are useful in building confidence and making sure we don't have to play catch-up.

Jol's admission that we failed to match Wanderers' physical approach is one which rings down the years.  It also doesn't bode well for Tuesday's game, where we face a similar style from Sheffield United.  Let's hope the lessons were quickly learned.

Phil Eastcott



Reaction : -



Well, well, well.  I could've told Big Marty that this would happen if he selected Davids, Jenas and LYP, three players that have no future at the club and showed exactly why.  I've never liked Jenas, even when he was setting fires playing in Nottingham.  What a waste of money, when we could've gotten a midfield destroyer from France, Spain or Holland for 7m or less.  How many tackles did he shirk yesterday ?  How many basic passes went astray ?  Too many is the answer.  Davids tries hard but simply isn't up to the job anymore and I'd sooner have sent
young Jamie O'Hara out there, 'cos at least he'd be at them for 90 minutes+ and without the lapses in concentration.  I cannot believe that Jol would put him in ahead of Huddlestone, who was excellent during pre-season.  I would've had the more defensively-sound Thud playing in the holding role that Zokora struggled in yesterday, with the Ivory Coast man just ahead, where Jenas was.  Zokora is a fine passer of the ball and a great tackler but I don't fancy him in Carrick's place.  That role just belongs to Thud and I'd prefer to see Zokora charging at the
opposition, in a midfield destroyer role, as opposed to backing off, like he did yesterday which gave Campo the chance to unleash that 40-yard fluke. 

The other option for Jol is to put someone a little smarter than Jenas, perhaps Danny Murphy, in front of Zokora to relieve some of the pressure.  I understand totally that MJ's plans went up in smoke with injuries to King & Tainio, two of the best, but you've also got to think about it and use the best players available.  Jenas is NOT one of those, Davids definitely isn't, while I'd have been happier with my 12-year old nephew playing at right-back, or at least Phil Ifil, ahead of the terrible Lee Young-Pyo. The alternative ? Stalteri ? I don't think so.

Spurs really screwed up by not addressing the much-mentioned full-back problem, as a Premiership-standard player should've been drafted in at left-back to duke it out with Assou-Ekotto, while the Cameroonian settled in.  I would've gone for Gareth Barry, seeing as Wayne
Bridge is so picky about where he plays, not IF he plays !  BA-E really struggled yesterday, what with Davids constantly drifting out of position, leaving his mate without cover. 

God knows why MJ didn't go for balance, with Ziegler on the wing, as it would've given Zokora another outlet other than the heavily-marked Lennon, who still gave Bolton a torrid time.  I thought that the strikers did a good job under the circumstances, starved of service (Jenas, Davids?) almost completely, with Berbatov impressing the most.  There were plenty of flicks
and tricks from the Bulgarian and lots of strong running, something we didn't always get from Mido.  It won't be long before Dimitar hits the goal trail and hopefully Defoe will too, as his tame effort seemed to suggest otherwise.

At the back, Davenport & Dawson did OK against an extremely horrible attack in Davies and Vaz Te, although Davenport was actually fouled for Bolton's first goal.  You could say that he was caught out but it's very difficult to mark someone when your shirt is being pulled.  Try it sometime, see for yourself.  Behind them, Robbo didn't exactly distinguish himself in goal, particularly with the second goal.  A better keeper might've seen it and not gone the other way so early, but that's a cheap shot when you think of the times he's saved us before.  However, the time is now. We need clean-sheets and safe-hands from Robbo if we're to have a solid cup-run and maintain our fifth place position.  He had a shaky World Cup and didn't feature too often in pre-season but he's got to get it together now.

I now accept that 3rd/4th place will be beyond us this season, all things considered, assuming that we reach at least the quarter-finals of all three cups this season. Hell, we might even win one of them.  Injuries not withstanding, it's gonna be one hell of a long season for our boys and, as a result, the Champions League places will be out of reach.

I think that MJ will have to get the chequebook out again soon, with a striker, left-winger and right-back all needed. I would like to see Mido back at the club as fourth striker, while Stewart Downing could be the man wide left, with Pascal Chimbonda the much-needed right-back.  I say lets just give Wigan their 6m and see what the lad can do, as he can't be any worse than his predecessors, the likes of post-Graham Steve Carr, Hoddle-era Taricco, Pamarot, Kelly, Stalteri, and now, LYP.  He's not my first choice but surely Chimbonda must be more competent than the aforementioned protagonists. 

Whatever Jol decides, he better make a good choice and make it quick.

S J Wightman



Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Everton 2 Watford 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Wigan Athletic 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 3 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Reading 3 Middlesbrough 2 Saturday
Sheffield United 1 Liverpool 1 Saturday
West Ham United 3 Charlton Athletic 1 Saturday
Chelsea 3 Manchester City 0 Sunday
Manchester United 5 Fulham 1 Sunday



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


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