Sheffield United (Home)
Premier League

Tuesday 22nd August 2006

Having been in the Premiership at the start, it has taken a long slog to get back after relegation in 1994, but passionate manager Neil Warnock has persevered with the Blades to restore them to the top flight.  His time in charge has been a tempestuous one and he will surely carry on in the same vein in the Premier League, but his charges (playing staff not FA ones) will take that fire onto the field and as they showed on Saturday, they will not show much respect for anyone, leaving Liverpool to leave with a fortunate draw.

Having tasted defeat on Saturday, we are playing catch up and need to win to hurdle over United.  It will be no easy match for Spurs, with an expectant home crowd wanting to see them put right the result at the Reebok stadium.  There are some players who need to show their true form, as this early in the season, two consecutive defeats will cause some concern.  It failed to happen regularly last season, so to start this season in that manner would be very disappointing for all concerned.

Irish keeper Paddy Kenny is the first choice, but will be pushed all the way by Ian Bennett who has Premier experience with Birmingham City.  Neither can claim to be the biggest of keepers, but both can be difficult opponents to beat.  Kenny is brave, to the extent of being a bit injury prone because of it, while his footwork is not of the highest quality, so closing him down at back-passes might be a good idea.  Bennett is good with his saves, but lacks inches if crosses come in, which might help Spurs if they can get their delivery right.

This might be why Warnock brought in some hulking great central defenders to stop any aerial threat from the opposition.  Craig Short will miss out with a torn thigh muscle, but Chris Lucketti, Claude Davis, Leigh Bromby and Chris Morgan can all fill the centre-half position.  Lucketti had flitted around the lower leagues, but has struck gold at Bramall Lane.  Whether he will get much playing time remains to be seen, as ex-Preston defender Claude Davis  has been brought in as he was one of the best in his position last season.  Tall and able to dominate in the air, he also has good skill on the floor, so Warnock will no doubt hope for him to initiate attacks from his deep position.  Bromby was a talented youngster at Sheffield Wednesday and was looked at by Spurs at one stage, but has settled at the Blades and is still a good ball-player for a defender. while some might recall Morgan from his Barnsley days in the Premiership.  Unkindly best known for his hot-headed approach which has earned him regular rests thanks to the FA Disciplinary committee, he is solid defender, who Spurs will need to pull out of position to make the most of the space in defence.  Out wide the highly rated Phil Jagielka has just signed a new deal and has been in the England Under-21 squad, so his attacking raids up the line will have to be watched, as will his part in dead ball situations, as he has a good shot.  A similar future was hoped of Rob Kozluk, but injuries and lack of form have held him back a bit, so Crystal Palace's Mikele Leighertwood was brought in to add strength in the full back position.  Veteran Alan Wright is still there, but has dropped a long way down the list of defenders at the club.  Another who was snapped up in the summer was David Sommeil, who Young-Pyo Lee will remember as he got a kick out of Sommeil at Manchester City last season.  A strapping defender, his pace may be lacking, but that may be said for many of the United defenders, which could expose them to real speed and may open them up with Lennon's runs.  Derek Geary is a defender I don't know much about, but he started against Liverpool, as did another vet, David Unsworth.  Another who keeps going into his late thirties, but his legs are not what they were and there is a reliance on his experience on reading the game and Chris Armstrong (no not that one) also featured in the game to add height and power to the back line.

The midfield looks a little light with wide men Keith Gillespie and Phil Ifill providing an option to get forward from the flanks.  They will rely on them to defend too, but mainly hope that they can ping balls into the middle for the forwards to capitalise on.  Both have been around for some time, with Gillespie starting at Man U and going through Newcastle United and Leicester City to get to Sheffield, while Ifill started at Millwall, but has found a system he gets on with at Bramall Lane.  Michael Tonge was the main man in United's FA and League Cup runs a few seasons back, but he has settled at the club after initial interest from Liverpool.  Still dangerous at distance and from free-kicks, he pulls the strings and will need to be shut down quickly by our own midfield.  Alongside him, he could find Jagielka or Unsworth, both of whom have played in this area of the team.  Everton's Chinese defender Li Tie was signed to add to the midfield roster, but has yet to prove his fitness, although Alan Quinn will be a tricky alternative, as he is good at running with the ball and can thread through a pass for one fo the front line to seize on.

In that attack are Ade Akinbiyi, Danny Webber, Rob Hulse, Neil Shipperley and Christian Nade.  Akinbiyi was unlucky to be signed for big money by Peter Taylor at Leicester and his reputation with fans has never recovered.  His big build has not stopped him banging goals wherever he has been since his early success at Gillingham, meaning that his physical presence might unsettle our new pairing at the back.  The same could be said for Shipperley, but his legs are lacking the pace and spring they had and he is a back-up striker these days.  While Webber got rave reviews at Man U and Watford, he has stayed at Sheffield United for some time now and operates behind the front two on occasion, breaking forward to add to the attack.  Short, stocky and powerful, he can sniff out a chance and is a good finisher too.  As is Rob Hulse, who arrived at the Blades from Crewe via Leeds United.  Another goal-scorer, he was surprisingly sold by Leeds and United will be hoping he will be the one who nets the goals to give them survival.  Not sure about the French striker Nade, who is 21 and is a tall man.  Might provide a target if they are losing with time running out, I suppose.

As for Spurs, this will be a test of character as much as anything.  Having done well last season and having achieved a place in the UEFA Cup does not mean we have it made.  there is still a lot of work to be done to get the side challenging regularly and it must start on the pitch.  There is still time left before the transfer window closes for another four months, so I think Daniel, Damien and Martin will be busy to bring in classy reinforcements (and by that I don't mean Boa Morte) to add to the positions we need strengthening.

As for this game, Spurs must play cleverly.  Humping the ball forward to the Sheffield United central defenders will lead to the ball coming straight back.  It will be necessary to get the ball down and play some quick passing one touch football to get around the physically able United players.  But the visitors will also be looking to get the ball wide and hit the front men early, so the defensive side of the Spurs game must be tight too.

I think that an early goal might help Spurs settle, but they have to learn to be patient (as do our fans), because come the European games, it won't all be wham bam, it will be long periods of possession and making a forward move when the opening appears.  United will give it the gun for the first twenty to try and break through and then if they get a goal, try to sit back and defend it.  For Spurs, it will be an interesting contest of styles, but they need to come through it and I think with Tainio back in midfield, it might turn the game in our favour, to give us a win ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    Sheffield United  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee)

SHEFFIELD UNITED :  Craig Short (thigh)


Match of the Day (Wednesday) 22.40 - 23.55 (Highlights)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here

Radio :  
BBC LONDON Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra (live coverage) 
online or on Digital Radio

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only




Tottenham Hotspur   2    Sheffield United   0      (Half-time score : 2-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Tuesday 22nd August 2006
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,287
Referee :  Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Weather :  -  Warm, dry
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :



Tainio (Zokora 70)

Keane (Defoe 82)

Unused subs: 

Sheffield United :


Unsworth (Montgomerie 61)
Sommeil (Nade 61)

Gillespie (Quinn 80)


Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Sheffield United
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 7
Jenas 18

Sheffield United


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  



Sheffield United

Bromby (foul) 64  


Match Report : -  
With a spell of slick football in the opening minutes, Spurs took an early 2-0 lead that never looked threatened by newly promoted Sheffield United.  In fact, Tottenham used the remainder of the match to practice their ability to retain possession and open up the Blades defence when the opportunity arose.

Aaron Lennon ran the visiting defence ragged and with Berbatov's movement off the ball causing the many United defenders to be pulled out of position, Spurs found this game easier than many might have thought.  Sheffield United failed to trouble Robinson and the nearest they came was with a Tonge drive that flew wide across the face of goal, a cross from Nade along the six-yard box that Akinbiyi could not reach and a late Quinn free-kick that flew a couple of yards wide, without troubling the Spurs keeper.

More was expected from the Blades, as Neil Warnock usually fires up his team to get stuck in and apart from Sommeil taking a dislike to Tainio's ankles and Unsworth clipping Keano'e ankles, there was little of the physical approach the Yorkshire side are renowned for.  Their passing was slack and their players were arguing amongst themselves over where they should have been running as early as the 20th minute.

By then Spurs were two ahead.  Lennon's electric run down the right wing left three United players in his wake and three more came to him.  He found space to put a low ball across the six yard area from the by-line through three more defenders and found Dimitar in the centre of the goal for the easiest of tap-ins to open his Tottenham goal-scoring account.  The joy of his goal was evident, but a few of the Spurs players flocked to Aaron to congratulate him for his set-up play.  It was the early goal Spurs needed and one which will give confidence to the Bulgarian and also to Lennon, who produced the final ball to match the run he made.

Berbatov had been inches away from sliding in behind a central defender after five minutes, when Keane floated a cross over the head of the United man.  Dimitar's link-up play was on display and his deft header left a shooting opportunity for Teemu, but he could not keep it down, although his next header lead to a more profitable outcome.  With 17 minutes on the clock, Keane's diagonal cross was headed into the path of Jermaine Jenas running into the box and he deftly lifted the ball over Kenny, as he went to ground, then put the ball into the empty net before running off with his "guitar" celebration.  His finishing and ability to get on the end of moves has improved since he joined Spurs and his goals from midfield will be most welcome.

Robinson saved low from a Webber drive, while Davenport had looked a little hesitant in defence, none more so than when a pass from Dawson saw him and Assou-Ekotto leave the ball for each other and Calum just got there before a United player nicked the ball away.  However, he used his head when Tonge let fly and hit a 30-yarder and got his head in the way of the pile-driver to stop it reaching the goal.  His attacking instincts carried him forward on a 40 yard run with the ball to the edge fo the United area and he swapped passes with Assou-Ekotto and Robbie Keane dragged his shot, but it fell to Berbatov and his shot on the turn brought a palm wide from Paddy Kenny.  Back in defence Davenport was more comfortable, as he blocked a Jagielka effort on goal just before the break, then another later in the game when he stopped a Nade drive after fellow centre-half Dawson blocked Akinbiyi's shot.  A second half excursion into the opposition area in the second half saw him in unchartered territory.    When he received the ball from Berbatov with the chance of shot on goal, he hesitated and played the ball square, where it was cleared away.

After the break, Spurs seemed content to keep the ball and pass it around.  While doing so, they looked for the chance to add to the score.  Lee hit a shot too high, when he only had to hit the target after Dimitar had unselfishly laid the ball back for him (although it was slightly behind him) instead of going for goal himself, then later Lee had a go with his left foot that went wider still.

United claimed a penalty on the hour, when Sommeil went down under challenge from Tainio, but there was no penalty and although it looked like the ref might have given the Blades a spot-kick, he had given a subsequent offside.  When Tottenham broke forward again Lee took a quick throw-in that put Lennon away down the touchline and his low ball into the near post was missed by Keane as he ran to meet it.  Tainio had taken a bit of a kicking and Bromby was booked for a foul on him, but Martin Jol thought he had taken enough and Didier Zokora came on to replace him.

Sheffield United were throwing themselves in the way of the Spurs efforts with Montgomerie getting in the way of Jenas' shot and Morgan stopping Edgar Davids' attempt on goal, but by the time the Dutchman had engineered his shooting opportunity, he lacked the force in his shot to cause too much concern.  Assou-Ekotto got in on the act with a shot from 25 yards which was just deflected for a corner and Jagielka just got to a low ball in from Lennon, after he had tricked his way past Bromby, to deny Keane.

The passing was crisp and when Jenas got the ball in the area, his first time pass to Keane saw him get off a first-time shot, which made Kenny dive, but failed to have sufficient power in it.  When Robbie was taken off and Jermain Defoe brought on, you could not accuse him of lacking power in his shooting.  His drive four minutes from the end was reminiscent of the goal he scored against Sociedad, but Kenny managed to keep the ball out as it swerved.  His early effort saw him run at the defence and try to hit a curling shot around the defender in front of him, which the keeper kept out at the expense of a corner.

It wasn't only his shots on goal that caught the eye, as Defoe played in Davids for a last minute drive that Kenny once more tipped over the top.

At the end of the game, there was a sigh of relief, because, at 2-0, it would have only taken a goal from United to make it a nervy finish and the three points were most welcome after the opening day defeat.  With Everton coming to the Lane on Saturday, it will be another testing match and one which Tottenham will go into with a bit more confidence.



Kirk Hammerton


Reaction : -



It was the easiest of wins I can remember for a long time.  Sheffield United were not in the game at any stage and it left Tottenham with the opportunity to practice for the UEFA Cup by passing the ball around and awaiting a suitable opportunity to have a go at the United goal.  A prime example was the passing move that must have contained about 20 passes, which lead to Berbatov setting the ball into the path of Young-Pyo Lee, but he could not keep his shot down.

In fact, the amount of efforts on goal could have been greater, but with bigger games to come, it was understandable that they did not want to over-exert themselves.  There was enough movement and good passing to enjoy, but Spurs should really have taken the opportunity to practice finishing teams off.  At 2-0 it was comfortable, but you always felt that another goal would not have gone amiss. Mind you, 3-0 is not a good score for Spurs !!

With Berbatov scoring so early, you would have hoped he would be greedy for more, but his pass for Lee to shoot instead of going for goal himself might indicate an appreciation of knowing when someone else is in a better goal-scoring position.  The only thing he needs to add to that is appreciating whether that person is a better goal-scorer than him or not !!

There were a few minutes of hilarity on the way out, mainly thanks to the Yorkshire coach driver who must have been trying to get to the Worcester Avenue via Park Lane and got his coach stuck over the hump in the road to stop vehicles going that way.  The two truck was just hoisting the coach into the air when we came past !!  Goodness knows what time the United fans who were on that coach got home.

All things considered, it was a good win and Tottenham were well worth the points.  Here's to a repeat on Saturday.

Spikey Mikey

Obviously, this was a massive improvement on the non-performance against Bolton but, then again, it was against Sheffield Utd, a very ramshackle outfit indeed.  I only saw the highlights and from what I saw we battered them thoroughly, although there was an alarming lack of goals following such domination.

Although the side is still not perfect, as it could and should be, we still had the quality (on paper) to grab at least three more goals and, in the event, could've won it by six or seven.  You can't fault the effort of the boys but there still seems to be a distinct lack of urgency and ruthlessness.

Even with an appalling record that stretches back 21 years, Everton will fancy their chances of getting something at White Hart Lane this weekend.  Who can blame them ?  With LYP as our right-back, anything can happen and any side with decent wingers will fancy their luck.  Everton certainly have some tricky players, such as McFadden, Arteta, Cahill, Van Der Meyde, Kilbane, and also Andy Johnson, who often drifts wide to pick up possession.  I'll be praying that LYP has one of his better games. In my estimation, the season really starts for Spurs against Everton because, unlike the Blades, they will push us and have the quality to hurt us if we lose concentration.

This is usually a home banker but the Toffees seem a far stronger proposition now, especially with AJ leading the attack.  The ex-Palace man has proved (against us) that he can grab goals from anywhere, so Davenport and Dawson must stay focused.  In front of them, in the holding role, Davids will have be slicker with his passing and especially his close control, which seems to have deteriorated alarmingly since joining Spurs from Inter Milan.  Davids did well on Tuesday and will likely keep his place, as will Tainio, at the expense of Zokora.  The African star will just have to be patient, as he'll get his chance soon.

Defoe is another one that must now bide his time, as Robbie Keane and Berbatov appear to gel a heck of a lot better than Berbatov/Defoe or Keane/Defoe.  It's a shame because it suggests that Defoe is a weak link, despite clearly being England's best striker after Rooney.  He looked very lively in his 10 minute cameo, so must keep working hard and another chance will beckon. Keane was terrific but should've netted a brace and generally needs to be more clinical in front of goal, like our man Berbatov, who looks the business and could just be man that scores 20 goals or more this season for us.

I fancy him to grab a brace on Saturday, as long as Lennon keeps pinging in those crosses, otherwise there may be little creativity.  Spurs have to win and do it convincingly to truly impress, to show that they are back in business and ready to kick Man Utd's arse next week.  Beating Sheffield Utd proves nothing, just three points. 

S J Wightman




Other scores this mid-week :
Watford 1 West Ham United 1 Tuesday
Aston Villa 2 Reading 1 Wednesday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Everton 1 Wednesday
Charlton Athletic 0 Manchester United 3 Wednesday
Fulham 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 Wednesday
Manchester City 0 Portsmouth 0 Wednesday
Middlesbrough 2 Chelsea 1 Wednesday


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