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League Cup semi-final First Leg

Wednesday 24th January 2007

With a chance to make a name for themselves, Arsene Wenger will field his youngsters with just a couple of players who might be regarded as regulars in this first team squad.  But they will not be an easy side to turn over and Tottenham will need to put in a decent performance and if they get the chance to kill the game off, they need to take it, with the second leg just seven days away.

Ledley King is still out injured and Teemu Tainio sidelined as well, the replacements Gardner and Zokora need to step up to show that they are ready to make their places their own and help Tottenham through to a first leg win to set up a fiercely contested second leg.

I would not be surprised if Jol starts off with Robbie Keane up front and brings Jermain Defoe off the bench at some stage to partner Dimitar Berbatov, but the key to Spurs doing anything in this game will be the players who can run at the Arsenal midfield and defence.  Getting Aaron Lennon into the game and allowing Didier Zokora to run at speed at the Gooners to commit them and make space for the forwards.

It will be a tough match for Dawson and Gardner, who will face Baptisita, who will be full of confidence after bagging four goals at Anfield.  Young prospect Theo Walcott is likely to start and his blistering pace will pose problems for the Spurs full backs, although Anthony Gardner is no slouch.

Being a local derby and a cup semi-final, it is likely to be a no holds barred affair and while the Gooners have the benefit of a 3-0 win over Spurs already this season, that was with a very different team.  Being at home, I take Spurs to edge it ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Arsenal  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jermaine Jenas (ankle); Paul Stalteri (knee); Mido (groin); Ledley King (foot); Edgar Davids (groin & flu); Teemu Tainio (ankle)

ARSENAL :  Robin van Persie (foot)


Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
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Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
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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
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South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
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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
BBC London - click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




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

League Cup Semi-final First Leg
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Wednesday 24th January 2007
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,495
Referee :  Graham Poll (Tring)
Weather :  -  Dry, clear, very cold
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson (c)



Berbatov (Keane 18)
Defoe (Mido 81)

Unused subs: 
YP Lee

Arsenal :


Toure (c)

Diaby (Hleb 56 (Flamini 81))

Aliadiere (Eboue 60)
Julio Baptista

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 12
Baptista (o.g.) 21


Baptista 64
Baptista 77

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Defoe (foul) 34




Baptista (foul) 30
Toure (foul) 32
Traore (foul) 81  


Match Report : -  
Just as in the game at the Pirates stadium, it was a great opportunity to beat Arsenal, but once more, Tottenham blew it and blew a two goal lead in the process to leave the semi-final on a knife edge as it goes to the second leg next Wednesday.

Martin Jol could not have asked for a better start to the game, but what appeared to be a lack of tactical nous let the initiative slip to the visitors, whop took full advantage, as Tottenham hardly got out of their own half in the second period.

Within two minutes of the start, Aaron Lennon was ripping up the right wing to give Traore the first of a nightful of runs past him with great ease.  Nut-megging Diaby, Lennon put in a fierce low cross that Hoyte just managed to clear before it reached Dimitar Berbatov inside the six yard box.  When Berba did get on the end of the ball he nearly scored.  In the fourth minute, he played a one-two with Defoe and stretching to get the ball, he took it past Diaby and struck a low shot that had Almunia rooted to the spot, but hit the foot of the post and went wide.

In what was a frantic start, the ball was suddenly at the Spurs end and Fabregas managed to get on the end of a ball into the Tottenham penalty area and he took it past Robinson as he came out to claim the ball.  Just as it looked like he would put it into the gaping net, he found himself too wide and crossed the ball, which was cleared straight to Denilson, who hit a shot that Michael Dawson threw himself in the way of to take the ball wide of goal.  Hardly having time to draw breath, Spurs attacked and from a deflected Berbatov shot got a corner, which was headed towards goal, but hit a defender with claims for handball ringing out, but to no avail. 

Within two minutes, Spurs were ahead.  Some neat work from Malbranque worked the ball out to the right, where Jermain Defoe popped up on the wing, putting in a dinked cross, which looked harmless enough.  That was until Toure ducked underneath it and Almunia had stayed stuck on his line, leaving Berbatov the simple task of ghosting between them and nodding the ball past the static Arsenal keeper from close range.  It was just the early goal that Tottenham needed to settle them down.

Not sitting back on the goal lead, Spurs went looking for more.  Defoe smacked a shot that Almunia blocked but could not hold, leaving Senderos to mis-kick it to Berba, whose shot was also blocked and then Malbranque volleyed the loose ball over from just outside the area.  And that was the last action that Berbatov was involved in, leaving Tottenham to bring on Keane instead of Mido, to have the two small men up front and the impact of losing the Bulgarian so early was one which might have cost us the win.

Initially, it didn't seem to have done us much harm, as Huddlestone fired in a low free kick from the left wing in the 20th minute.  Dawson raced to the near post, but unable to do much with it, he jumped over the ball, leaving it to be dragged back into his own goal by Baptista leaving Almunia helpless.  2-0 with 20 minutes gone and Spurs were in the driving seat.  But somewhere along the road, the plan crashed.

It might have been the cynical way that Arsenal defenders chose to hack Lennon down when he skipped past them and Toure took the yellow rather than allow Aaron to burst clean through on goal.  That came after a late tackle by Baptista on Zokora saw him similarly punished, while Defoe got a caution for his first tackle, a late one on Denilson, who had got away with a similar challenge early on in the game.  A number of people have said that Graham Poll is just out on the pitch for himself and thus makes a lot of decisions that do not show any consistency.  A scythe down from behind by Traore on Defoe saw him get a ticking off, but this is surely a booking ?  Not in Mr. Poll's eyes.  Mind you, when it was reported the next day that he had to ask someone from Sky TV who should kick off the second half, is it surprising that some fans have little faith in him officiating matches.

When Lennon was allowed to kick the ball without getting kicked himself, he played in a low corner to the near post, Fabregas sliced his clearance and the ball flew into Almunia's midriff without him knowing a great deal about it.  As the game came to the end of the first half, Dawson flicked a header wide from Huddlestone's cross and Arsenal could have got back into the match when a corner fell to Baptista, but he mis-kicked right in front of goal and the chance vanished.

There was a period in the middle of the first half when Spurs looked happy to drop off to their 18 yard line and let Arsenal come at them.  It led to a period of pressure that saw the white shirts clear the ball to nobody in particular and with Berbatov off the pitch, there was a lack of a target to play the ball out.  Spurs defenders kept giving the ball away and inviting the opposition to attack them.  This perhaps led to their downfall.

From the start of the second half, Arsenal looked willing to have a go at the Tottenham defence.  With Spurs dropping back into their own last third, Fabregas found the time to dictate the play and the space opened up for his colleagues to find room to get around the home players.  With Malbranque having put in a hard shift, Lennon being starved of the ball, Zokora not playing his normal running game and with Huddlestone limping, but carrying on, after two late tackles from Fabregas caught him on the ankle, the Arsenal midfield took over.  The real change in the flow of the game came ten minutes into the second half, when Hleb came on and then five minutes later when Eboue was introduced.

This gave the visitors the opportunity to use two players who could run at a tired midfield and push onto the Tottenham back four.   Robinson has come in for some criticism of late and he didn't help his case when he came to punch a Fabregas free-kick and missed it; the ball hitting a head on it's way towards goal, where Michael Dawson nodded it off the line.  However, Paul was in the right place a minute later when Baptista's free-kick fell nicely for the little Spanish midfielder to head at goal, but he couldn't get any power behind it and it was straight at the England goalie.

But two minutes after, Arsenal were back in the game.  Eboue got in behind Assou-Ekotto and his low ball into the area got to Baptista and his close range finish, after the ball had bobbled about made it 2-1.

The pendulum swung Arsenal's way and Robinson had to dive full-length to hold a low Fabregas shot, but that was just before he had a rush of blood and rushed off his line towards Hoyte as he got behind Benoit again.  This time the ball reached Baptista in space in front of goal and Dawson's despairing effort could not reach the ball before it hit the net to make it all square.  So, the Brazilian competed an interesting hat-trick, but was probably lucky to still be on the pitch, as after his initial booking, he fouled Defoe again and once more Poll decided to talk instead of wave the yellow again.  Perhaps he had thought he got enough stick the last time he sent someone off at the Lane ??

Spurs did try and get back into the game, but with Lennon now holding the back of his thigh, his effectiveness was limited.  He was keen to come off, although Jol resisted all signs that the winger would want to be substituted.  Chimbonda picked out a neat pass through to Defoe, who went on and hit a shot that looked like it might just clear the diving Almunia, but the keeper got a touch on it and then it was cleared by an Arsenal defender.  With Keane having a bit of a mare, it was a real surprise when Mido came on for Defoe, who had looked lively.

Lennon kept giving problems to the Arsenal defence and another cynical chop when he glided past Traore would have seen him sent off had Poll booked him for his earlier offence as well as this one.  However, nothing came of that free-kick as Assou-Ekotto curled it over the bar.  The closest to a goal was always likely to come form Arsenal and Fabregas put in a cross from the right deep to the far post and it fell to the anonymous Theo Walcott, who should have done better than volley it five yards wide from close range.  Lennon showed why he is the more natural choice for England, as he skipped past Traore and he put it back into Keane's path.  Robbie knocked in a low cross to the near post and it flew across the goal with Mido behind the play.  It was just another one of the chances we made that just wasn't played quite right.

The final pass on the night was lacking and the early missed chances left us rueing the opportunities we had to kill off Arsenal.  At the moment, we have to face it, we are still a way off the top four sides.

There is still the second leg to come, but away from home, where we play like rabbits in the headlights and at a ground where we got embarrassed last time out, as we forgot to turn up.  Maybe we can get there early and start playing before the Gooners know what has hit them ?

Michael O'Brien


Reaction : -



Tonight vs. the Gooners, was I'm afraid the straw that broke the camel's back.
Jol is obviously a lot better than the last few Tottenham managers, but i do believe he is not the man to take us to the next level. He is too negative - at 2-0 up tonight we panicked and backed off them (just as we did vs Newcastle).
Jol's subs baffle me, and a lack of a Plan B is hurting us.  Keane stuck out on the left ?? No response to Hleb and Eboue coming on, and dominating us ??  We have to be honest - Arsenal's passing in the second half was a joy. 

What summed us up in 2007 ??  At 2-1 our fat goalie holding onto the ball in the net and time-wasting - there was still 25 minutes to go !!

Talking of the fat goalie, he has been a nightmare this season.  He's carried on from his poor World Cup.  He needs dropping as a wake-up call.
Still we have nobody on the left, and nobody coming in the transfer window.  After singing Huddlestone's praises a few weeks back, he's believing his own hype and going backwards at a pace.
We will obviously progress in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, until we come up against someone half-decent. This season has been a disaster after the promise of 05/06.  Failure to qualify Europe will be the latest in too many false dawns.  Failure to qualify for Europe after the money we've spent, must signal the end of Jol.

Kevin Coaker

Spurs blew it.  I knew they would.  At half time I had the same feeling in the pit of my stomach as I did against Man City a few years back in the FA Cup and knew the game wasn't over.  I said to my son, 'If they get one, they'll get two' - I was even tempted to bet on them getting back to a draw !

It's clear we have some major problems, and they've been coming for a while.  It's just this game has highlighted them.  Zakora cannot play with Huddlestone - they both want to do the same thing which is to sit off, get fed the ball and make passes, we have no leader in midfield to marshal the shape of the team and no energy to get the ball back when we do lose it so how are they going to achieve this ?

Result = Zakora and Huddlestone both standing off Fabregas while he stands with the ball and waits a full six seconds before picking his pass.

Malbranque is no more a left winger than I am.  Oh for Ginola back on the left wing now !  Bought as a replacement for Robbie ?

Defoe is lost !  Eriksson ruined him by trying to coach him into the new Michael Owen and make an all-round player out of him.  Well I don't know about you but I was a lot happier when he simply got the ball, ran at defenders and blasted it in !

It's looking sketchy at best for the return leg.  We've only won once away from home all season and have a team without any kind of clout at all.  To make matters worse I think Lennon was injured in the second half, as he didn't make one forward, penetrating run from deep and never broke into full pace apart from at the end of the second half (when he had to) and even then only over 5-10 yards.  Very worrying, as without him we are simply a dead-duck.

We need some energy back in the midfield if we are to do anything at the Immigrants next week and a large slice of luck as they are going to come right at us.

Hopefully this new Centre Back (Rocha) can come in alongside Daws and give us some stability - I thought Gardner had a decent game although he still lacks the class that we need in that position.

I really, really can't believe that there are people calling Jol's head.  Have you forgotten what we were before he took over ?  How far we've come in the space of one (full) season ?  I think you guys need a reality check, although the 4-5-1 idea was a clanger and the players on the field were not equipped to deal with this formation (and he should have known it) I still feel he's the best thing to happen to us in years.  We do however need to start to knuckle down - Zakora needs to show his worth against a true
quality opposition and Defoe needs to get back to basics - put the ball in the net it's a simple game !

I'm desperate for a Spurs victory to really stuff it up the Goons and the 'Arsenals wonderful kids' media love-in thatıs going on ... Call me pessimistic but I can't see it happening.

Come on you Spurs,

Alan O'Brien

I could not tell you the date, but it must be at least 5 years since I felt the need to vent my Tottenham feelings publicly.  Back then, I discussed Tottenham's place in the transfer market pecking order and in all this time I see us making the same mistakes again.
Having watched the promise of last season more or less fade, I sat and watched Arsenal's boys almost rip our first team apart at the seams and why is this ?  Why did we start so poorly this season ?  Why are we so poor on the road and why will we never challenge the top four let alone get in there for the foreseeable future.  For me, it rests upon two words - defensive midfielder.
You will not find a team who has enjoyed success, be it international or domestic who has prospered without one.  Even the glorious Brazil - you think Dunga, Gilberto or most recently Edmilson are the best players in Brazil - nothing like it, but they just are the most effective.  Manchester United's success was built on Roy Keane and Robbo before him, Arsenal rode the coat tails of Vieira and both France and Chelsea have benefited from Claude Makelele.  Look what happened in Madrid when they felt he and Redondo didn't deserve the same wages - thank you and no trophies for you anymore Real Madrid.
And then we come to Tottenham.  Michael Carrick has been a huge loss and even though I adore Tommy H and like his chances for the future, he isn't ready to carry a team just yet.  Likewise, I don't think Carrick would shine in our current midfield.  Last year he played a lot of games next to Davids, and although Edgar faded towards the end of last season, he was the midfield muscle we have for so long and now continue to go without.  And this brings me on to my primary disgust of Martin Jol and Tottenham at the moment.
Didier Zokora !
I sat with a fellow Spurs fan and Zokora fan on Wednesday night and as soon as I saw he was in my heart sank.  The guy offers nothing.  I told my friend I would not slate the guy other than to say the word 'off' every time he made an error.  No lies here, before the clock had reached double digits I was on 8 'offs'.  Go back and check the game if you do not believe me.  The guy points a lot, lets runners go a lot and makes Huddlestone do a lot more than he should have to.  We will win nothing with this over priced pointer in our side.  Why we spent millions upon millions on an unproven Premiership force is beyond me.   Years ago we did the same thing, players like Matty Holland all those years ago would do our shirt proud, and the more recent likes of Scott Parker, Kevin Nolan or George Boateng would have done just fine alongside a classy ball player.  But no, we go for another unknown (see Bunjy, Acimovic and Rebrov).  Please, please, please can we spend some money on proven quality.  And now I read we are looking to spend almost 10 million on a left back - quite frankly I do not care how good the guy is, left backs do not take a middle tier team to the top tier.  I seem to remember Chelsea having some sort of left back issue the two seasons they won the league and now they have that problem position filled with that player from Arsenal, I note they have gone from strength to strength - not as such.
So here we are, we have two left backs, why sign a third ?  A centre half maybe, but not a left back.
The current squad on paper should be challenging for fourth spot.  Robbo is having a train wreck of a season, we are missing Ledders, of course, but who wouldn't miss the captain (defensive midfield as an experiment maybe).  I like Chimbonda and if we can keep Huddlestone, Malbranque and the phenomenal Lennon fit we have the basis of a strong midfield.  But not until we buy that brute to boss the whole operation.  Berbatov is total class and Defoe and Keano equally as capable.
I read a lot about our away form, but that's not the issue, our issue is our away team. Hossam Ghaly on the road ?  Why ?  Lennon on the bench ?  No wonder we aren't creating the chances Jol would like.
Something has to change and fast, sooner or later we aren't going to get a bye or are going to face a team in the top flight and our season could go down the pan sooner than we want.
Come on Spurs, last season's run in was buzzing and the Lane bounced every week - let's not blow smoke up our asses and limp over the line for more underachievement.

Andrew Gill




Other scores this weekend :
Chelsea (win 5-1 on aggregate) 4 Wycombe Wanderers 0 Tuesday


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