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Premier League

Saturday 21st April 2007

As Arsenal battle to gain a Champions League place without the need to qualify, their board-room have a fight of their own, against the invading American investors, that has already seen the demise of Chief Executive David Dein.

On the pitch, the side have also lost one of their talismen - Thierry Henry - and along with it their scoring ability.  Their profligacy has rivalled that of Spurs, costing them points in their first defeat at the Pirates Stadium against West Ham United and then other games have seen them miss numerous chances.  The Champions League match against the Russian side also saw them miss a boot-ful of opportunities.  Will their bad luck in front of goal hold until 3.00 p.m. on Saturday ??  Here's hoping !!

There are few better strikers in the league at the moment than Dimitar Berbatov, although he will have to batter down the Arsenal defence without his partner in crime Robbie Keane.  You are never sure whether Berba enjoys playing with Robbie.  When it comes off it is fine, but when it doesn't, he appears frustrated and his body language shouts at Keano if the ball isn't delivered properly.  How he will fare against the Arse with Defoe alongside him, we will see.  This pairing looked good early on and hopefully, they will hit it off on Saturday.

With Ledley at the back, it may allow Dawson a bit more time to concentrate on his own game.  It should also return Chimbonda to right back, where he is more comfortable, with a left back of Tainio, to add some bite.  The weakness at left back, where we have players playing out of position ... whoever plays there, could come to haunt us, as Arsenal's second goal came from there in the League Cup semi-final first leg.  It will mean that the left sided midfielder will have to work hard to cover in front of the full back.

Aaron Lennon has been looking tired in recent matches, with Spours unable to get him on the ball, he has had to come looking for it and has tired with the additional work he has been doing.  With Zokora and Jeans eating up the grass in midfield, it is time for them to dominate and push onto the Arsenal back four to pressure the defence.  This will take the onus off our defence.  Baptista might be a threat with his strength, but perhaps all we have to do is get close to him and hit long balls.  He doesn't seem to like that !!

Gilberto in midfield will try to dominate, so it is necessary to give the visitors middle players little time on the ball.  Especially Fabregas, who is a very good passer of the ball.  With the full backs looking to overlap on the outside, Spurs will need to cover their runs.

Martin Jol will enjoy pitting his wits with Wenger, with the spoils for Tottenham perhaps a bit more valuable than for Arsenal.  Neither side really wants a London derby at this stage of the season, least of all this one, but hopefully, it will be full of excitement, not too full of goals like the last lunch-time kick-off at WHL on Sky against Arsenal and maybe, it will feature the return of the FOG chant.

More than anything, the three points would come in handy for Spurs ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Arsenal  1

For Richard Kelly's preview, click here.

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Young-Pyo Lee (knee); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Anthony Gardner (broken leg); Robbie Keane (knee); Dorian Dervite (knee)

ARSENAL :  -  Thierry Henry (groin); Theo Walcott (shoulder); Robin van Persie (foot)


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

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 21st April 2007
Kick Off :  12.45 p.m.
Crowd :   36,050
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral)
Weather :  -  Bright, sunny, dry
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


King (c)

Lennon (Huddlestone 72)
Zokora (Defoe 82)
Tainio (Malbranque 60)


Unused subs

Arsenal :


Toure (c)

Hleb (Senderos 90)
Rosicky (Julio Baptista 66)

Ljungberg (Fabregas 39)

Unused subs

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 30
Jenas 90


Toure 64
Adebayor 78

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Berbatov (ungentlemanly conduct) 30
Zokora (foul)   33



Diaby (ungentlemanly conduct) 30
Lehmann (violent conduct) 30  


Match Report : -  
It was another anaemic showing by the Lilywhites against a lass than red-bloodied Arsenal, but a cracker from Jermaine Jenas with almost the last kick of the game earned Spurs a point that they did not deserve.

For those who had castigated Jenas for his performance, it was ironic that they were dancing up and down as he salvaged a point with a crisp low drive into Lehmann's bottom right hand corner out of the reach of the obnoxious German keeper.  That gave me a double reason to be happy.  One, Jermaine deserves to be recognised as the goal-scoring midfielder we have been seeking for some time.  He needs to sharpen up his passing, but his energy on and off the ball is outstanding, while he is a player who does not hide and will always try to spark Tottenham to go forward.  Secondly, it was the goalkeeper that the shot beat that was an ironic schadenfreude as he is the most objectionable of all the Arse players.  His booking for elbowing Berbatov in the head must have made the Bulgarian thought he was seeing things, when he also got a yellow ... for being elbowed in the head !

But there was much to this London derby than the last minute, although for those Spurs who stayed to the end, the last seconds will live long in the memory.

With a quick start and Berba taking a sloppy Gallas back-header down before trying to lift over the Arsenal keeper, who clattered him on the way through.  With just seconds on the clock, the lob bounced a yard wide.  Jermaine Jenas hit a free-kick that caused Lehmann few problems and then Tainio delivered a fine pass forward to Berbatov, who won a corner, which was cleared for another, but it came to nothing.  Zokora showed while he has yet to ripple the net for Tottenham, as he worked a good position and then crashed his shot a long way wide.  The Ivory Coast midfielder was making some penetrative runs into Arsenal's last third and causing the defenders to bring him down.

Just after the ten minute mark had been passed, Ljungberg flicked the ball past the Tottenham defence and Adebayor fired his shot past Robinson, but the linesman's flag was held aloft long before the Togolese striker got to the ball.  The top rows of the Paxton cowered in fear as Ljungberg ran onto Adebayor's pass and hit it so high over the bar that it is the closest to launching it out of the ground for some while.

While Arsenal were trying to build, their best opportunity came on their right wing, where Clichy got forward and into a good crossing position, but over-hit his ball intended for Adebayor.  Straight up the other end and Jenas releases Keane, who holds the ball up until support arrived, then chipped it straight into the goalie's hands.  Berbatov does better with the next forward ball, controlling it well before mugging up Clichy and only being denied a shot on goal by a deflection that goes for a corner.  As Jenas was shaping to take the corner, Lehmann and Diaby started bullying Berbatov in the six yard box.  Berba held his hands up to indicate that he was not holding or pulling, but with the Teutonic twat in goal, nothing would have been so straightforward, so he elbows Dimitar in the head.  Dean saw it all, but decided on booking all three players and leaving Lehmann on the pitch.

When the cautioning was over, Jermaine played the ball in, Dawson rose high to head at goal and as it bounced down in the six yard box, Keane was on the spot to nod home past Lehmann and two defenders on the goal-line.  It was a goal from a set-piece which Spurs have not had a lot of joy from this season - at either end.

Zokora got closer with a curling effort that just cleared the crossbar and when Toure missed a header, the ball would not quite sit up for Keane to shoot like he did at Fulham and his effort was tame when the ball did come down for a shot. The game changed with Fabregas coming on for the injured Ljungberg.  His short passing opened Spurs up in a move like that which gave Sevilla their second goal at Tottenham.  This time, the post came to Robbo's aid as Eboue hit a low shot that bounced back and Adebayor was not quick enough to react and could only shoot over the top. 

It was a scorching hot say and the Tottenham team that took the field for the second half was a sluggish Spurs.  There is always much speculation that Martin Jol sends the team out to defend a first half lead, but the two rows of four took their place just like they had in the first half, but maybe sitting a bit deeper.  Some of that was because Arsenal had to push on to get back into the game and therefore, they were further up the pitch than in the first half and the second reason was because Tottenham kept giving the ball away.  It was something that happened last week at Wigan, but against a side like Arsenal you are asking to be punished if you hand them possession.

Tottenham's passing was too rushed and with the midfield not getting up to support the front two, the ball kept falling for Arsenal to make forward moves.  On 52 minutes, a Fabregas corner was headed against the post by Toure, as Spurs failed to mark up in the box from a set-piece and Robbo saves the follow-up shot from Rosicky.  The Czech finished Tainio's part in the game with a late studs up challenge and Arsenal were somewhat guilty of leaving a foot in when they went for the ball, which was something else Mr. Dean failed to make anything of.  Seven minutes later, the ball thudded against the crossbar as Adebayor got a header on a cross from Clichy.

With 64 minutes gone, a free-kick was awarded against Jenas when he ran alongside Rosicky and the Arsenal man dropped as though he had been hit by a train.  The ref indicated that there had been a tug on his shoulder, but it was shoulder to shoulder rather than anything more sinister.  Fabregas stepped up to take the kick and the wall was of three men and it cover the middle of the goal.  The ball to the far post might well have taken Robinson by surprise, as Chimbonda let Toure run behind him and he ran the ball unchallenged.  It was the second week running Pascal's poor marking at a set-piece had cost us a goal.

There was a brief altercation when it appeared that Dawson was showing the referee some stud marks in his stomach that Baptista put there and the Brazilian Beast was trying to wind Daws up.  Instead, all he did was frustrate his own fans with some pitiful finishing that failed to trouble anyone but the fans behind the goal.

Aaron Lennon had been stuck out on the left and starved of possession, so he made little impact.  He was taken off for Huddlestone to come on, but Tom looked less than match fit and looked a little out of touch.  Steed almost put Berbatov through, but an outstretched Arsenal leg deflected the pass away from the forward.

A cheap free-kick was awarded when Huddlestone mis-timed a challenge and made little contact with the Arsenal full back Eboue, who has been known for simulating in the past.  Fabregas swung the bal into to the far post and Adebayor jumped above Jenas, who was up a little early, to put his header into the top corner past Robinson's outstretched hand.  It had been coming, with all the pressure building towards the Spurs goal.

Baptista missed what appeared an easy header when Adebayor got around the Tottenham defence too easily and pulled a cross back from the touchline.  When the fourth official raised the board to show four minutes left, it sounded as if the Tottenham crowd sighed a sigh of despair.  It looked like we would have to have signalled four days for a chance to score again, but I am not sure how many Arsenal would have got by then.  The assistant got the attention of the referee to allow Wenger to swap Senderos for Hleb, but the change might have just helped Spurs more than the change that saw Ljungberg have to go off and Fabregas come on.  Mike Dean, who's refereeing had been a bit odd all day saved Arsenal in injury time as he rescued Lehmann's weak flap at the ball and Berbatov hooked it back into the goalmouth, only for the whistle to sound as Defoe fouled some giant of an Arsenal defender that defied reason.

As Arsenal got sloppy and Spurs took possession, Jermaine Jenas strode forward.  He played the ball out to Malbranque on the right wing and his return ball was well-weighted in front of his fellow midfielder and allowed  him to strike the ball on the run and his fiercely hit drive flew a couple of inches off the ground and straight into the back of the net, low down to Lehmann's right.

It would be hard to say that a draw would have been a fair result, but the chances that Arsenal created really failed to trouble Robinson.  They hit the woodwork three times, but Robbo only had one save to make, as Lehmann did.  The fact that Jenas had the will and the energy to keep going to the end of the game (something not shared by some Tottenham fans) lead to a pint being salvaged.

It might be an important one in the quest to finish in a position to get a UEFA Cup place, but the team will still need to step up their game to win a couple more (at the very least) before the end of the season.



Reaction : -



Well we nicked a draw, but we probably didn't deserve that. Only 1 win in 26 against the Gooners, and a similar record against all the top 4. It was like watching men against boys today:
  • Arsenal played mid-week, but why did they look so much fitter than us?
  • What does Jol say at half-time? Why try and defend a 1-0 lead for 50 mins at home?
  • A match between a good manager and an average manager. As in all the big games this year Jol has no plan B. The top 4 all have managers who can turn games around. 
  • Why does JJ  take all the free-kicks? He can't keep living off Old Trafford (last season) as he puts it in Row Z.
  • Rocha is awful, we all know that. But why play him or Chimbonda at left-back? We must have a reserve or youth player who can more naturally fill that position.
  • Fabregas came on and dictated the midfield. We have nobody who can seize a game by the scruff of the neck like that.
Re your debate last week, Tottenham have gone backwards this season. 7th is still not guaranteed, and in truth we mucked up our European chances back in August and September.
This summer could be critical. With many Premiership clubs seeing new foreign investment, we risk being left behind in our pitifully small ground. Jol has done well, but he ain't the man to push us onto the next level.





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



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 34 26 4 4 78 24 82 +54
2 Chelsea 34 24 7 3 60 20 79 +40
3 Liverpool 35 20 7 8 54 22 67 +32
4 Arsenal 35 18 9 8 59 33 63 +26
5 Everton 35 14 12 9 46 31 54 +15
6 Bolton Wanderers 35 16 6 13 42 45 54 -3
7 Reading 35 15 6 14 48 42 51 +6
8 Portsmouth 35 13 11 10 43 38 50 +5
9 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 34 14 8 12 49 50 50 -1
10 Blackburn Rovers 34 13 5 16 42 49 44 -7
11 Aston Villa 35 9 16 10 36 39 43 -3
12 Newcastle United 35 11 9 15 37 43 42 -6
13 Manchester City 35 11 9 15 28 39 42 -11
14 Middlesbrough 35 10 10 15 38 45 40 -7
15 Fulham 35 7 15 13 35 54 36 -19
16 Wigan Athletic 35 9 8 18 35 55 35 -19
17 Sheffield United 35 9 8 18 30 50 35 -20
18 Charlton Athletic 35 8 9 18 31 52 33 -21
19 West Ham United 35 9 5 21 28 58 32 -30
20 Watford 35 4 12 19 26 57 24 -31



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