Manchester United (Away)
FA Cup Fourth Round

Saturday 24th January 2009


With both teams being way below strength, this might have been a better matched tie than it first seemed when the draw was made.  However, with Tottenham's present precarious place in the Premier League, the tie will still probably go with the home side, as expected by most pundits.

A long list of injuries to first teamers, some players he won't play because he doesn't rate them and some who are being rested for more important matches to come, means Harry Redknapp is playing into Alex Ferguson's hands.  With a good personal record against the Man U manager, Spurs have not won at Old Trafford since the days of Lineker and Howells.  Don't expect that to change too much.

Some of the Spurs players who will feature have not played in the first team for some time.  Taarabt has only had a few minutes here and there, while Rocha has not played all season, Alnwick will still be shell-shocked form Wednesday night's match at Burnley and Giovani Dos Santos will be playing under Redknapp's management for the first time.  Whether we will see some of the ones who Redknapp doesn't fancy such as Huddlestone and Bale, will be a question of how many walking wounded he can get ready for the game.

United will no doubt utilise their crop of youngsters, who have been introduced gently into the side.  Welbeck looks a powerful striker, who might be preferred to Fraizer Campbell when he returns to the club and Rafael has looked good, so his brother Fabio will have the chance to show if he is equally as talented at full back.  With some other names, not familiar to me (like James Chester and Richard Eckersley), being touted as possible starters, it will be an interesting spectacle to see how the youngsters on both sides get on in the game.  The Red Devils will still be able to call on the likes of Ronaldo, Berbatov and Carrick, so don't expect them to be without all their big stars.

With so many changes in the Tottenham team, it will be a lot of unfamiliar faces trying to play as a team and I do not think that there will be much linked play, so the chances of putting the United back four under pressure are thin, thus I think Redknapp will get his wish of a FA Cup exit ...

PREDICTION : -  Manchester United  3   Tottenham Hotspur   1

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


MANCHESTER UNITED :  -  Wayne Rooney (hamstring); Nani (groin); Anderson (ankle); Jonny Evans (ankle); Wes Brown (ankle); Rio Ferdinand (back); Ji-Sung Park (hamstring); Rafael (hamstring); Patrice Evra (ankle); Owen Hargreaves (knee)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Heurelho Gomes (thigh); Jonathan Woodgate (back); Jamie O'Hara (hip); Aaron Lennon (groin); Darren Bent (groin); Alan Hutton (foot); Jermaine Jenas (calf); Vedran Corluka (thigh); Ledley King (hamstring); Luka Modric (back); Michael Dawson (calf/shin) 


ITV 1 - (live coverage)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW

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




Manchester United   2   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 2-1)

FA Cup Fourth Round
Venue : -  Old Trafford
Saturday 24th January 2009
Kick Off :  5.15 p.m.
Crowd :   75,014
Referee :  Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Weather :  -   Dry, cold
Teams : - 
Manchester United :

12  Foster

20  Fabio  (42  Eckersley 53)
  2  Neville (c)
15  Vidic     
22  O'Shea

18  Scholes
16  Carrick
  7  Ronaldo  (14  Tosic 72)
 19  Welbeck  (24  Fletcher 86)

32  Tevez     
  9  Berbatov 

Unused subs: 
29  Kuszczak
11  Giggs
34  Posseban
39  Chester

Tottenham Hotspur :

27  Alnwick

32  Assou-Ekotto
20  Dawson (c)
22 Corluka
16  Gunter

  5  Bentley  (25  Defoe 72)
  6  Huddlestone  o.g.
  4  Zokora
  3  Bale  (19  Taarabt 67)
14  Modric  (17  Dos Santos  46)

  9  Pavlyuchenko 

Unused subs: 
  1  Gomes
11  Gilberto
33  Rocha
35  Dervite

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Manchester United

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Manchester United

Huddlestone (o.g.)  34
Berbatov 36

Tottenham Hotspur

Pavyluchenko 5

Cards : -  
Manchester United

Vidic  (foul)  60
Tevez  (foul)  90


Tottenham Hotspur 



Match Report : -  
Two minutes cost Spurs the game when a lucky deflection and a well-crafted goal put Manchester United through to the FA Cup Fifth Round after an early shock from Roman Pavlyuchenko's goal.

Neither side was quite as weak as the managers had suggested that they might be and there was a respectable smattering of regular first-teamers among the 22 taking the field at the start.

With United making an uncharacteristically sloppy start with Scholes presenting the ball to Pavlyuchenko, he played in Bentley on the right, but his cross was blocked away for a corner by young full back Fabio.  But in the next attack, Spurs went against the script for the match with a goal that stunned large sections of Gold Trafford into silence. 

Huddlestone chipped a neat ball down the left wing to put Benoit Assou-Ekotto away and his low cross to the middle of the box was cleared away, but only back to Hud.  Taking the ball to the left of the left hand corner of the penalty box, he put in a left footed cross to just outside the six yard box.  Roman had dropped off Vidic and then, as the ball came in, he darted across the Serbian defender to glance a header from the near post across a static Ben Foster in goal to give Spurs a most unexpected lead.

With all the talk about Spurs not being bothered about going through in this competition, they all looked pleased enough with the goal and it echoed the goal that Les Ferdinand scored when Manchester United had to beat Spurs to win the title on the last day a few seasons ago.

But much the same as what happened that day, United came back with lots of possession.  Firstly, United manufactured a chance for Dimitar Berbatov on the right hand side of the box, which he drove across goal and wide of the far post.  Then Dawson threw himself in front of a Scholes shot, the woodwork denied Tevez a goal when his dipping drive from outside the box beat Alnwick and Chris Gunter slid in to deprive Welbeck a shooting opportunity as he pulled his foot back to shoot.  Ronaldo hit a shot too high, but when Fabio pulled a low ball back from the left wing, Tevez struck a powerful effort that was going into the top corner until Ben Alnwick rose to get a strong wrist on it and palm the ball over the bar with a fine save.

Despite a brief respite from the pressure when Bale's high looping cross saw Foster some off his line and not get the ball, the mina action was down the end  where Spurs defended their goal and it was looking like they may get through to the break with an unexpected lead.  However, we should know better, as the players ignored Paul Scholes dropping off outside the middle of the penalty area, so when a corner was played back to him, he smashed it into a crowded penalty area.  His shot was going wide, but caught Tom Huddlestone and the deflection took it on target, confounding Alnwick, who had little chance to react and stop it as it flew past him for the equaliser.

Before he knew it he was picking the ball out of the net again.  Less than two minutes later, Carrick played the sort of delightful first-time pass we know he is capable of to put Berbatov away, having just stayed onside.  He took the ball down, moved into the penalty area and as Michael Dawson came across, languidly stroked the ball past Alnwick into the opposite corner of the goal from a position just right of centre.  It was the sort of goal we all liked to see him score for Tottenham, but it brought boos from the Spurs contingent and mainly because it hurt that we are in our current predicament thanks to his (and other players) leaving White Hart Lane.  Added to that, he failed to celebrate a goal he scored for Tottenham in Leverkusen, but he was happy to extend his arms, rather than walk away as he did in Germany.

Spurs had a chance to get back into the game before half time, when Bentley got away and struck a shot that went comfortably over Foster's crossbar.

At the break, Redknapp removed Modric, perhaps saving him for Tuesday's match, with Giovani Dos Santos coming on in his place for a first outing under Harry's management.  It should have added a bit of a spark to the attack, with his more direct running testing the Manchester United defence.  It did on occasion, but with Spurs not trying to force the game to leave themselves open at the back and United happy to maintain possession, it became difficult for him to get too involve din the game.

A minute into the half, Bentley did what he should do more often, in putting a pacy, deep cross in that picked out the run of Gareth Bale.  Unfortunately, as he got behind his marker, his shot came off his shin and went wide of the goal as he burst onto the ball on the corner of the six yard box.  It was followed ten minutes later, when Tom played in Benoit down the left and his cross was knocked out by Vidic to Bentley on the right side of the box and his first time shot crashed into the side netting.

It was evident that the game meant a lot to United, as an incident in the 60th minute showed.  Giovani closed down Vidic and won the ball which bounced into the United half, but as he ran after it the central defender cynically brought him down, with the ball well away from him.  The foul was perpetrated to stop Spurs breaking away and unfortunately, the ref failed to see it for the calculated effect it would have and only produced a yellow card.  it was not a goal-scoring opportunity, but the sheer contemptuous nature of the foul perhaps should have deserved more.

Anyway, shortly afterwards, it was Vidic who blocked a shot by Bentley, when Spurs had a five man break on the United goal and he would have been better crossing it to the far post.  It was a good opportunity and one which Tottenham might have paid for in the next couple of minutes, as Cristiano Ronaldo produced his one moment of skill in the game, by cutting in from the left and shooting at goal, but Alnwick was equal to it and pushed the ball away with a good save.

Harry brought on Adel Taarabt for Bale and then Defoe for Bentley to try and take the game to the home team in the closing stages.  It worked to a certain extent, but Taarabt failed to get the ball moving when he got in a good position; either having it taken off him or his final pass lacked the crispness to make it's final destination.  With Defoe joining Pavlyuchenko up front, he was not picked out often enough or with the right sort of pass, so his effectiveness was limited.

Six minutes from the end, Assou-Ekotto dragged a ball back from the dead-ball line to the near post, where Giovani met it, but he was coming onto it quickly and he could only poke it over the bar from close in and just wide of the goal.  it was a good, but hard chance to convert and although the play was fairly gentle, Spurs did start to push for a late equaliser as the final couple of minutes approached.  It was all or nothing then.

Tom Huddlestone chucked a long throw into the box and the ball fell out to Taarabt on the edge of the area and his shot hit Paul Scholes' hands and then it deflected wide where Benoit controlled it and was pushed over by Fletcher.  As it was going to be the last action, the ref was unlikely to give a penalty at that stage, so, when the ball was kicked out of the area, he blew his whistle.  And that was that.  Spurs were out of the Cup.

It hadn't been the quite the capitulation everyone had expected and despite the harsh comments mad eon TV by Andy Townsend and Teddy Sheringham, the game was controlled by United for most of the second half and the way Tottenham played was not out of character with the rest of the season so far.  The fact that we could not break them down was demonstrated in the home league game, but we did take the lead, but only a couple of minutes in the first half when they got a flukey goal and a good one saw us defeated.  I guess Harry will demand more effort and attacking in the league game when we play at Gold Trafford later in the season.






Reaction : -



It was a bit disappointing that we did not go for the game more in the last fifteen minutes, as we might have made it a bit interesting.  United seemed happy to sit back and play keep-ball, so it wasn't a great spectacle, but Taarabt must learn to release the ball at the right time with the right pass, otherwise, I fear for his future at the club.  I thought Giovani did OK when he came on, but it is not really a time to judge either him nor Taarabt.  Throwing youngsters into a side struggling to win games and lacking confidence does not provide a real background to assess them.

Thought Pavlyuchenko took his goal well and I am not sure why the pundits keep having a pop at him, as he has scored regularly after a settling in period and his movement for the header against Vidic was classic centre forward play.  He might not be a strong, typically English striker, but then we need to play to his strengths.  I am sure a partnership with Defoe will develop, as four games is hardly long enough for it to show up just yet.

Sad we are out of the FA Cup, but we now need to prove we are worthy of a place in the Premier League.




Other scores this round :
Derby County 1 Nottingham Forest 1 Friday
Chelsea 3 Ipswich Town 1 Saturday
Doncaster Rovers 0 Aston Villa 0 Saturday
Kettering Town 2 Fulham 4 Saturday
Hartlepool United 0 West Ham United 2 Saturday
Hull City 2 Millwall 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 0 Swansea City 2 Saturday
Sheffield United 2 Charlton Athletic 1 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Torquay United 0 Coventry City 1 Saturday
Watford 4 Crystal Palace 3 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 2 Burnley 2 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Middlesbrough 2 Saturday
Cardiff City - - - -day
Arsenal - - - -day
Liverpool - - - -day
Everton - - - -day


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