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Premier League

Saturday 26th September 2009

As Spurs prepare to face their League Cup semi-final opponents of last season, Burnley, the two managers have differing selection problems.

Harry Redknapp has a surfeit of options in some positions, while injuries to key players has given Owen Coyle a dilemma about where he plays the players he has available.  With the squad depth being tested already, it might not bode well with last season's top scorer Paterson and midfielder McCann ruled out long term with knee injuries.  However, they have brought in striker David Nugent from Portsmouth and he will line up against a few players he knows and one or two who kept him out of the starting line-up at Fratton Park.  A double on his debut was enough to put the points in the Clarets bag and robbed Sunderland of what they thought would be a good chance to collect some points themselves.  But that was at Turf Moor, where they have already beaten Manchester United and Everton, so it will be interesting to see if they can take that type of performance on the road against Spurs.

Spurs were knocked back a bit by two defeats against Man U and Chelsea, but their were parts of the performances that show that they can hold their own with the top sides, but have to extend that to taking the lead and holding it as well as being more consistent for the 90 minutes.  With Burnley being a side who will play a physical game at the back and in midfield, but with a passing, ambitious style once they get on the attack, Spurs will need to make sure that they use the ball well and utilise the players who will cause Burnley the most trouble.  Tom Huddlestone's passing could be a major weapon and with Aaron Lennon's pace, the two could open up the visitors' defence to create chances for the two I would start with - Defoe and Crouch.

With the travelling team hoping to have first choice keeper Brian (The Beast) Jensen back in goal after succumbing to a dead leg last week, because his presence is an inspiration, despite the fact that he can drop rickets every now and then.  A big frame puts off strikers and he is a good shot stopper, but if Tottenham can pull the defence out of position, it might leave him exposed.  The defence might feature Michael Duff, who had a mare at the Lane in the first leg of the semi-final last season, scoring an own goal before getting sent off.  Maybe he will miss the scene of one of his horror matches, as he has been replaced in the middle of the back four by Andew Bikey, the former Reading centre-back, who is a rugged character, but has a strength and keeneness to do well, which sometimes makes him a hard man to get round.  Also rock-like in the middle of defence is Clarke Carlisle as the long ball will suit him, as he loves to head the ball (at both ends of the pitch).  If Tottenham are going to play this way, they will have to be cute about it and make sure Crouch takes him into areas he doesn't want to be in to knock the ball down for colleagues he has made space for.  Stephen Jordan is another option for Coyle and has been used a lot so far this season.  A former Manchester City youth product, he has a good reading of the game, but lacks the physical presence of the other two centre backs.  On one side of the back four will be new boy Tyrone Mears, who has had Premier League experience with Derby County and West Ham United, but has failed to realise his early promise.  Good in attack, he can be rash in the tackle and caught up-field if Spurs break quickly.  On the other side is veteran Graham Alexander, who is a dead ball and penalty expert, so, Spurs will need to make sure they are disciplined enough not to give away free-kicks around the box.

Owen Coyle has also brought in young defender David Edgar from Newcastle United, Brian Easton from Hamilton Academicals and Richard Eckersley from Manchester United, all of whom have barely featured.

The Burnley midfield work hard and get amongst their opponents, not allowing them to settle and play, so a pass and move technique will leave them chasing after the Spurs players, so this is where Lennon and Huddlestone come in.  Players such as Joey Gudjonsson and Robbie Blake have been around a few years now, so making them move around will remove some of the potential threat they pose.  On the other hand, Wade Elliott likes to get forward and possesses a fearsome shot like the one that took them into the Premier League in the play-off final last summer.  Given the space, both Gudjonsson and Blake can change games, with astute runs and both being decent scorers from distance, while Chris Eagles is more of a runner with the ball, as Spurs found out last season in the two matches with the Turfites.  He would like to be Cristiano Ronaldo, but, while he might have the tricks, he lacks the pace and power of the Real Madrid man, making him a more containable asset.

Up front Nugent will give the Burnley side a new lease of life, as he ahs good ability in and around the box. It makes it surprising that his time at Portsmouth yielded such a poor return and maybe he will be wanting to prove his worth to Harry Redknapp, who signed him for Pompey.  Pairing him with former Hibernian forward Steven Fletcher makes a strong and tall forward duo.  Fletcher missed the cup ties against Spurs last season, as he was cup-tied, but he is a strong player on the ball and when he is attacking aerial balls.  With central defence a weakness at the moment for Spurs, he is the sort of player they might not relish facing.  Against such opposition, it might make more sense to play Gomes in goal, as he has the height to add to the defence, whereas Cudicini is a little short when coming for crosses.

Steven Thompson is a former Glasgow Rangers and Cardiff City striker, being used mostly from the bench so far this season, but he is a straight replacement for Fletcher, while Jay Rodriguez had a big impact in the League Cup run last season, being fleet-footed and tricky on the ball, with a confidence that allowed him to shoot on sight.  Out wide, Burnley can deploy Fernando Guerrero, who arrived late last season from Ecuador and looked sharp on the ball, but failed to impress referees with his tackling.  A rough talent, which might need some more honing.

Burnley played some good football to get as far as they did in the cups and into the top flight, where they are proving they might be able to do enough to achieve their aim for this season in staying up.  However, Spurs are playing well too and unless they have an off day, they should give Burnley a work out at the back of the line-up ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur   4     Burnley   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 (out - hamstring); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Luka Modric (out - broken leg); Sebastien Bassong (doubtful - knee); Roman Pavlyuchenko (out - Achilles); Michael Dawson (doubtful - Achilles); Giovani dos Santos (out - ankle); - (-); - (-); 

BURNLEY :  -  Chris McCann (out - knee); Martin Paterson (out - knee); Stephen Caldwell (out - groin); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   5    Burnley   0      (Half-time score : 2-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 26th September 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,462
Referee :  Mike Dean (The Wirral)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Very warm, bright sunshine
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

23  Cudicini

22  Corluka
19  Bassong  (20  Dawson 88)
  6  Huddlestone
32  Assou-Ekotto

21  Kranjcar
12  Palacios     
  8  Jenas   
  7  Lennon  (  3  Bale 84)

18  Defoe  (15  Crouch  57)
10  Keane  (p)       

Unused subs: 
  1  Gomes
  2  Hutton
  5  Bentley
16  Naughton

Burnley :

12  Jensen

14  Mears

23  Jordan
  Blake (32  Guerrero 81)

  9  Fletcher (30  Thompson 72)
22  Nugent (33  Eagles 63)

Unused subs: 
  1  Penny
  4  Duff
  6  Caldwell
  7  MacDonald

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

White shirts, navy shorts, white socks

Claret shirts with light blue sleeves, white shorts, claret and blue hopped socks

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Keane (p) 18
Jenas 33
Keane 74
Keane 77
Keane 87



Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Palacios (foul) 69    



Bikey (foul) 67 
Carlisle (foul) 90


Match Report : -  
With the regulation five goals stuck away in mid-week in the League Cup away tie, it was back to Premier League action and following two defeats, it was expected that Burnley would provide a tough challenge, but under the warm late September sunshine, it failed to materialise and Spurs ran out easy 5-0 winners.

While the Burnley manager Owen Coyle seems to think that his team controlled long periods of the game, in reality, Tottenham could have racked up double figures, while they might have conceded a couple of goals, but that is often likely to happen with the way Spurs are playing at the moment.  And with a tough decision to keep Robbie Keane in the side against recalling hat-trick hero Peter Crouch, Harry proved that his insistence for competition for places is keeping everyone on top form.

While Burnley got an early corner, their attacking rarely brought any periods of pressure and in this division, it is necessary to keep pressure on if you intend to score, as few teams are capable of grabbing wins without doing so.  When they got through they failed to seriously test Cudicini and with ten minutes gone, Keane should have given Tottenham the lead, when Jenas put a pass that cut through the defence and left the Irishman one-on-one with Brian Jensen.  The Beast spread himself and the Tottenham skipper could not get the ball past his bulk on this occasion, but you felt that had Defoe been the recipient of the chance, that he would have had the ball nestling in the back of the net.

When Jenas cracked a volley high over the bar from a difficult volley when a free-kick was headed out, it looked as though the chances being created would not be taken, especially when Fletcher evaded Assou-Ekotto and Kranjcar's attentions and hit a shot that Huddlestone and Bassong did well to get in way of.  But with Spurs breaking quickly, Corluka slipped a pass down the right side of the penalty area, with Defoe getting to it first and as he moved towards the goal-line, Andre Bikey closed in for a tackle, but awkwardly knocked Defoe off balance and the linesman crossed his flag over his chest to indicate a penalty.  Keane took the responsibility and slid the ball into the opposite corner to Jensen's plunge to his right to make it 1-0 in the 18th minute.

Burnley could have got back on level terms had Fletcher got over his free header from a corner, but he could only nod the ball over the bar and the same player appeared disappointed to see his "goal" wiped off for offside, but he had planted the ball in the net some time after the whistle had gone.  The joyous Lancashire fans were to be sadly disappointed too !!  The only other effort that brought a save from Cudicini was when Corluka tried to shield the ball out of play, but didn't succeed (how often does he do this without learning) and Nugent got away from him and Huddlestone to shoot at the near post, but Carlo got his body behind it.  So it left the chances to come from Tottenham. 

In the 27th minute, Spurs could have scored a finely crafted goal, with Keane linking with Jermaine Jenas to play a back-heeled pass through to Jermain Defoe and one-on-one, he took it with his left foot and put the ball a few yards wide from just about five yards out.  Jensen was busy again, as he grabbed a cross from Lennon on the right that was coming in under his bar, but with 33 minutes on the clock, he could only stand and watch the second Spurs goal go in.  Kranjcar's shot came back off a defender and Jenas took a snap-shot, that came off Jordan to foil any movement the keeper could have made, so he didn't bother.  The ball went in the far corner to Jensen's right and it was just reward for the midfielder's hard work between the boxes.

Defoe hit a tame shot straight at Jensen after Huddlestone, who had a fine match, played him in on the edge of the box and the striker had turned Carlisle with ease, then Lennon caused havoc on the left after exchanging passes with Keane, before crossing low to the near post and forced Bikey into a hurried interception that brought a fine reflex stop from Jensen, who managed to grab the ball as it popped up off him.  Then Defoe hit a weak shot at Jensen and Kranjcar played the ball to Jenas, who tried to curl it, but it would have needed a bigger bend in it than two Roberto Carlos free-kicks to have troubled the goalkeeper.  Just before the half-time whistle, Burnley did create an opening on the edge of the box for David Nugent, who was said to have a point to prove to Harry Redknapp, who failed to play him for Portsmouth.  However, the pint he proved was that Harry was probably right not to give him a regular starting role, with a powder puff shot straight at Carlo Cudicini, who gathered comfortably.

No celebrity at half-time was a little disappointing, as we all had our money on Ralph Coates coming out and talking about "us" again - with him referring to Spurs, although he was brought through by the Turf Moor club.  But a successor to his wing play showed he is fast becoming a more effective performer, as Aaron Lennon produced a ball into the gap between keeper and defenders that no Spurs forward had read.  His final ball had been much criticised in the past and now it seems he has learned to utilise the damage that his pace can cause. 

Four minutes after the break, Tyrone Mears was allowed to get forward down the right and his cross to the far post was struck by Robbie Blake, but Cudicini got down well to stop the midfielder's shot.  In the 53rd minute, Defoe and Keane swapped passes and the England striker struck a fierce shot at close range into Jensen's chest and the ball bounced away, when perhaps a more delicate or placed effort might have beaten the goalie.  It was Defoe's last action in the match, as he was taken down the tunnel, with what later transpired to be a finger injury.  On came Peter Crouch and we all sat back awaiting a goal onslaught.

Spurs had to withstand a break into their box by Fletcher, who was shadowed by Sebastien Bassong and he held off the attacker for Cudicini to come and gather the ball, but the Italian keeper didn't do so well when Palacios conceded a free-kick outside the box and received a yellow card for it.  As the free-kick was hit at goal by Mears, it cleared the wall, but Cudicini took the ball without to much trouble.  However, he somehow managed to fumble the ball out of his grasp and Blake was quickly onto it and poked a shot against the post with Cudicini getting it on the way out before the ball was hacked away.  It could have been a costly slip had it lead to a goal.

Luckily, Tottenham went further ahead in the 73rd minute, when Lennon got away down the left onto Jenas' pass and waited for the right moment to pull the ball back to Keane, who was about ten yards out and struck a rising shot first time into the roof of the net, with Jensen static.

And it was only four minutes later that Spurs added to that margin, when Huddlestone played a neat chip over the rigid back line of Burnley and Keane ran through with the flag kept down by the linesman this time and hit a low shot across the keeper to complete his hat-trick and he celebrated long in front of the Paxton Road.

Harry Redknapp made a sensible substitution in dispelling the hoodoo surrounding Gareth Bale in the Tottenham side in the Premier League and with a 4-0 lead, he entered the fray and was part of a winning Spurs side in the for the first time out of 21 appearances.  It will be a weight of the Welshman's shoulders and he can now go on to develop as a better player without the weight of that tag hanging over him.

And shortly after his introduction, Tottenham added a fifth, when Cudicini kicked long, Crouch on a header on to Keane and taking the ball on wide on the right, he played a shot that went straight through Jensen and through his legs, in off the post, to embarrass him for the captain's fourth of the game and giving Tottenham a 5-0 score-line.

In the last minute and three added minutes, there was still and opportunity for Crouch to head home from Keane's cross, but he headed wide from a few yards out at the near post and then Kranjcar put in a great cross across the face of goal and Keane slid in but missed getting any decent contact on the ball from a yard out.  The referee showed good form in going back to book Clarke Carlisle, who had blatantly taken out Tom Huddlestone in the build-up to the latter chance.

In truth, Spurs had not been fully functioning in the first half, but in the second, they played ruthlessly in terms of the finishing.  And while last week at Chelsea, they failed to capitalise on the chances they made, this week, the strikers were much better and with even better finishing, Defoe could have had a couple of goals, Keane a couple more and Crouch a header that went wide.

With fifteen pints on the board and with some winnable matches to come in the next few weeks, it is a period of the season when Tottenham need to push on and make it count.

burton bradstock


Fan Reaction : -



With Robbie Keane scoring four in a match for the first time, my favourite moment came when the ball came to Jermain Defoe in the box in the first half.  He took a touch, which might have been a shot, that took the ball up into the air and then tried a spectacular scissors kick, that he completely sliced and hit a good way wide.

In the end, it didn't matter, but it was one of those moments when all the training goes to pot !!

benny the ball




Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 1 Bolton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 2 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Fulham 0 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Liverpool 6 Hull City 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 0 Everton 1 Saturday
Stoke City 0 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 3 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Sunderland 5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Sunday
Manchester City 3 West Ham United 1 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 7 6 0 1 17 6 18 +11
2 Chelsea 7 6 0 1 16 6 18 +10
3 Liverpool 7 5 0 2 22 10 15 +12
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 7 5 0 2 17 10 15 +7
5 Manchester City 6 5 0 1 14 7 15 +7
6 Arsenal 6 4 0 2 18 8 12 +10
7 Aston Villa 6 4 0 2 9 5 12 +4
8 Sunderland 7 4 0 3 14 11 12 +3
9 Everton 6 3 0 3 8 10 9 -2
10 Wigan Athletic 7 3 0 4 7 13 9 -6
11 Burnley 7 3 0 4 5 15 9 -10
12 Stoke City 7 2 2 3 5 9 8 -4
13 Bolton Wanderers 6 2 1 3 8 9 7 -1
14 Birmingham City 7 2 1 4 4 6 7 -2
15 Blackburn Rovers 6 2 1 3 6 9 7 -3
16 Wolverhampton Wanderers 7 2 1 4 7 13 7 -6
17 Fulham 5 2 0 3 4 6 6 -2
18 West Ham United 6 1 1 4 6 9 4 -3
19 Hull City 7 1 1 5 6 19 4 -13
20 Portsmouth 7 0 0 7 3 13 0 -10


Position before the match :  6th
Position after the match :  4th
Position after the weekend :  4th


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