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Premier League

Saturday 29th August 2009

Alex McLeish did well with limited resources to get Brum back in the top division, but with lots of manoeuvring behind the scenes, he has been left with an unenviable task to keep them there.

With Carson Yeung looming in the takeover stakes and current owners taking their money to West Ham by the looks of it, there might be some new money coming in to aid the survival cause.  Christian Benitez has been brought in already to shoot the goals to take the Bluenoses to safety, but as yet he has not been a big hit.

Among the other members of the squad are somewhat more familiar to Premier League fans, as they are old stagers who had the experience to get the team into the top flight, but might be a bit too long in the tooth to do much now they are there.  Lee Bowyer, Lee Carsley, Marcus Bent, Barry Ferguson, Kevin Phillips and ex-Spur Stephen Carr, who came out of retirement to play for City might struggle as the season goes along.  Many of these players were shed by top teams and they will be keen to show they still have one last hurrah in them, but their legs might not last the course.

McLeish has brought in keeper Joe Hart and Cardiff's Roger Johnson to shore up the defence, while Ecudorian Giovanni Espinoza will also help in that area, but it will be a big step up for him in the PL.  Cameron Jerome is a Carlton Cole style centre forward, who might prove a handful for one of our defence, but there are few other creative players in the side to make opportunities for him.  As they found last time around, it is goals which ultimately keep you up, so they will need to find them from somewhere.  Sebastian Larsson is one player who can score out of nothing, but it is a lot of pressure to rely on one player to chip in with goals from midfield, when some players aren't notching their fair share.

Spurs will be brimming with confidence and should make sure that the good run continues, but will need to approach the game with the same attitude of the others played so far this season.  McLeish will ensure that his team fight for everything and with some of the players in his squad that might be a little more literal than we would like.

With some of Tottenham's layers rested during the week and others having proved a point to the manager in the win over Doncaster, it will be a dilemma for Redknapp in what eleven he fields from the start, but hopefully, the rest will have benefitted the first teamers and Spurs can come out of the game with a win ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    Birmingham City  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Michael Dawson (out - Achilles); Gareth Bale (out - ankle);  Jermaine Jenas (out - calf); Heurelho Gomes (out - thigh); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (doubtful - ankle); - (-); 

BIRMINGHAM CITY :  -  Gregory Vignal (doubtful - hip); - (-); - (-); 


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




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

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 29th August 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,318
Referee :  Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Hot, sunny
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

23  Cudicini

22  Corluka
19  Bassong
26  King (
  2  Hutton 46      )
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon 
12  Palacios
  6  Huddlestone     
14  Modric  (15  Crouch 49  )

18  Defoe    (  9  Pavlyuchenko 80)
10  Keane (c)

Unused subs: 
35  Button
16  Naughton
  5  Bentley
17  dos Santos

Birmingham City :

25  Hart

  2  Carr     
14  Johnson
20  Quedurue
21  Parnaby

  4  Bowyer 
12  Ferguson
25  Carsley  (11  Benitez  73)
  7  Larsson  (19  McSheffrey  90+2)

16  McFadden
  8  O'Connor     

Unused subs: 
  1  Taylor
17  Espinoza
24  O'Shea

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur



  Birmingham City
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Crouch 72
Lennon 90+5

Birmingham City

Bowyer 75

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Hutton (foul) 87
Huddlestone (foul) 89 


Birmingham City

Carr (foul) 54
O'Connor (foul) 60


Match Report : -  
A Birmingham City team that came to stifle Spurs and waste time had their plan back-fire in  their faces when Aaron Lennon added to Peter Crouch's goal, five minutes into the four minutes added time to secure Tottenham's 100% record start to the season.  The first lead only lasted three minutes, the second lead needed to only last seconds before the final whistle blew and when Lennon's shot hit the back of the net, eight Birmingham players were prostrate at the thought that their gamesmanship had not won a point.

For Alex McLeish's men came to kick the ball away from where free-kicks were to be taken from the first minute and the manager himself tried to see time out by making Sebastian Larsson go as far away from the bench before being substituted to make the long, slow journey to the bench.  Luckily, the best thing that referee Peter Walton did in the game was to stop his watch while the Swede dragged his heels off the pitch and the extra time added onto the added time for this was enough to fashion a winner for Tottenham.  It was some form of ironic revenge for Larsson's winner in the same fixture two seasons back.

Spurs, with the confidence of a great start to the season, began on the offensive and King narrowly missed getting on the end of a Modric free-kick, while seven minutes in, Modric took the ball off Larsson and although his pass for Keane was intercepted, it fell into the path of Aaron Lennon, who hit a shot from inside the box.  The low drive was parried by Joe Hart, but before Defoe could get there to tap it in, new signing Roger Johnson booted it away.  A minute later, the winger's corner was cleared as far as Tom Huddlestone, who hit a shot across goal and it went in the direction of Jermain Defoe, but he was too far off it to get a touch.

With some good passing and movement, Tottenham were opened up by sliding passes inside or outside the full backs to get players in behind.  The ball was being pinged across the box, but Spurs were not getting anyone on the end of them, but there were also a number of good forward passes into the area.  Benoit Assou-Ekotto produced a delicate chip into the penalty box, but Robbie Keane tried to bring it down, but only allowed Hart to pick it up.  With 13 minutes on the clock, BAE got on the end of a slide-rule pass to the left and the Frenchman's cross found Keane and his shot dropped to Defoe.  The in-form striker turned, but could not get his shot away, with defender Parnaby getting in the way to block it.

Around a quarter of an hour into the game, Birmingham ventured forward and Gary O'Connor hit a shot from outside the box, which did not trouble Carlo Cudicini too much.  Lennon had one shot straight at Hart before a skilful turn by Luka Modric tight to the line on the left wing took him away from Parnaby and his ball across the face of goal missed out Defoe and Aaron came running in at the far post to shoot at the goal, only to see ex-Spur Stephen Carr block his effort as the last man in defence.  The first real test for the Spurs defence came in the 22nd minute, when Bassong allowed Larsson to escape his attention and once the wrong side of the French centre-half, he could not be touched.  He took aim and fired a shot that went across the goal without Cudicini needing to get a touch.

With play moving from end to end, Huddlestone's exquisite pass released Defoe and through on goal, with the money on him to score, Jermain managed to pull his shot wide, with Keane running through into a good position alongside him.  Larsson had again tested Cudicini with a shot that the keeper had to push out and in the closing minutes of the half, it was Tottenham pushing for the breakthrough, with Modric swerving a shot past the Brummie post.

The Croatian's importance to the side was noted by Birmingham and a kick to Modric's calf a minute after the break ended his involvement.  Having lost King in the half-time interval following a groin pull in the last fifteen minutes of the half, it was not what Spurs needed, with Hutton having replaced King and Corluka moving into the middle of the defence and Crouch being the sub for Luka, as Robbie dropped back into midfield.

At the start of the second half, Spurs defenders were prone to slice the ball up into the air, causing more panic.  Once such instance saw the ball come out as far as O'Connor and his pacy cross into the near post was met with a powerful, if ill-directed header by Carsley, who should have done better from close range.  Defoe almost took Keane's pass, but let the ball get away from him in the area.  Tottenham might have gone closer, but a rapid sprint through the heart of the Birmingham side by Aaron Lennon was cut short by most cynical foul by Stephen Carr, for which he really deserved more than a yellow card, as the only intent was to stop the winger's progress.

The few Bluenoses in the away section howled for a penalty eleven minutes into the second half, when James McFadden hit turf when he was alongside Palacios and Hutton, but the referee waved appeals away.  Meanwhile, at the other end, Spurs were using the height of Crouch to terrorise the Brummie defence.  A Hutton cross from the right hit Peter Crouch at the far post and his downward header nearly caught Hart out at his post, with the keeper just managing to get down to keep the ball out at the cost of a corner.  When it was cleared, it came out to BAE and his ball in to the opposite far post found Crouch again and this time his header got past the keeper, but not Johnson who was on the line to knock the ball away.

Peter was not only going for goal himself, but when a long corner was won in the air, his header was nodded on by Vedran Corluka, to Defoe, who performed a scissor kick that rocketed over the bar on the hour.  Four minutes later and Crouch was in the right place to meet Keane's cross from the left wing and his header arched over Hart and bounced back off the bar.  It looked like being one of those days when Spurs just would not score.  That was reinforced a minute later when another Crouch header was kicked off the line by Lee Carsley.

Crouch did get another one on target in the 66th minute, but it was stopped by the back of a Birmingham defender's head and when it came down, Robbie Keane could only hook the loose ball over the top.  But he needn't have worried, as a cynical foul on Lennon by McFadden out on the Spurs right was given as a free-kick and when Huddlestone flighted it in to the far post, The lanky striker nodded a high header back over Hart and into the far side of the net to put Tottenham ahead at last.

No that it lasted for long.  A ball in from the Birmingham right saw Benitez running in with Hutton, but Cudicini failed to dominate his area and the ball fell between the two of them for Lee Bowyer to stroll in and plant the ball into an empty net.  It was a slack goal to give away, with the ball spinning away from the defender and nobody making it their own.  It was a blow for Spurs, who had taken the lead and from this point on, it was Birmingham who had the best chances to win the game. 

Tottenham had brought on Pavlyuchenko after Defoe took a heavy challenge from Queudrue, but the ball was not able to stick in the Blues half and when a partial clearance fell to Larsson, he set-up O'Connor on the left side of the box with a clear shooting opportunity.  The Scot fired his shot at goal, but rather than aiming at the target, he went for power and the ball hit the outside of the netting rather than inside and Spurs escaped.

Just a few minutes later, McFadden was out wide on the left and hit a cross that was nowhere near any City player, but almost caught out Cudicini as it flew just over the crossbar.  Two minutes from time, they came even closer, when  long free-kick was headed back into the six yard box by O'Connor and Johnson got onto the knock on and luckily for Spurs, he could not control his volley and the ball rocketed over the bar.

With added time slipping away and Birmingham pressing for the first time in the game, it looked that Spurs might have to settle for a draw.  But then Stephen Carr took a pass in his own half from Barry Ferguson, as the play went backwards.  The former Spurs defender trod on the ball on the halfway line and with Pavlyuchenko and Huddlestone robbed him of the ball, Pav went down the right and picked out a run by Lennon, missing out Keane with his pass across the face of the penalty area.  Taking the ball inside two defenders, who thought Aaron was going outside, he made space for himself on the D to strike a low shot that beat Hart inside the left hand post.  The team and the crowd exploded in joy, as there was no coming back from this and the blue-shirted players were devastated by the goal.  The kick off saw the City players hitting a shot at goal but Cudicini nervously got behind the ball to keep the score at 2-1 and the whistle went to keep Spurs unbeaten.

One of the talking points of the game was the erratic display by referee Peter Walton.  He was not down as the original ref for the game and maybe he was unprepared for it, but his booking of Hutton near the end of the game was no different to that of the "challenge" on McFadden for the penalty claim and one which Birmingham perpetrated on Hutton himself, which wasn't even given as a free-kick.  His decision to award free-kick to City when Bowyer kicked Modric in the back of the calf a minute into the second half was bizarre. 

While the results echo those from last season, it is the performances which are more impressive.  Playing well and scoring goals is great, but it is perhaps the wins against West Ham and today that show the progress Tottenham have made in coming back from setbacks to win games.  Testing games lie ahead, but the team's good run rolls on and with that confidence builds.

the heathrow spur


Fan Reaction : -



The loss of Modric with a fracture to his fibula will set Spurs back a bit, as the style of play the team have adopted this season works because the little magician flits in and out of the midfield, with his touches taking him where he can do most damage.  With the two biggest games of the early season matches coming up, his darting runs and deft passes would have been very useful against Chelsea and Manchester United. 

Still it gives one other member of the squad the opportunity to come into the side and make a name for themselves.  Will it be Bentley, who can deliver a good ball into the front men or will it be Crouch, with Keane dropping into midfield or Naughton or Hutton, playing in midfield.  Additionally, we could see the return to the team of Giovani, who might take the role Modric has vacated, as he is perhaps the one player who can run with the ball and use his skill to open up defences as the injured man can.

Hopefully, if the chances can be taken, then it might keep the good run going.

benny the ball

Aaron Lennon is on fire and I am not surprised he is in the England squad.  Can anyone tell me what Shaun Gooner-Phillips or Theo Watnott have done recently to deserve even getting a sniff of being in the squad. 

Aaron's pace and his rapid improvement in both his final ball and his ability to score must make him a more potent weapon for Capello's side at the moment.  His part in the Spurs start to the season has been immense and I hope that he has a great time and does really well to secure a place in the squad for South Africa.

Taking Watnott this time would be more of a disaster than last time.

phil gleeson








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



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


Position before the match :  1st
Position after the match :  2nd
Position after the weekend :  2nd


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