March 25, 2010
Firstly, you can now follow me on Twitter: @WindyCOYS.
Secondly, I’ve had a number of comments recently criticising me for always focusing on the negatives. In order to disprove this (I am generally very positive, honest!), I will endeavour to analyse some goals scored in the future, but for now (time is limited), here is my take on the goal conceded against Fulham.
Damien Duff carries the ball forward having received it from Etuhu. I have made no attempt to cover up the fact that I don’t think Modric works in the middle of midfield in a 4-4-2, and this sort of explains why. Palacios is a destroyer, very much defensive-minded, but he doesn’t hold. Therefore, when Modric is caught upfield (as he is here), Palacios needs to have held position. He hasn’t, and therefore Duff has a totally free run at our defence. This wasn’t the first or last time in the first half that it happened.
Due to our midfield players having gone walkabout, Bassong has to come out to close Duff. By the time Palacios has got close to Duff, Zamora is alive and ready to make his move. Note at this point that Assou–Ekotto has his eyes firmly on the ball. Many full-backs in this position would have an arm on the attacking player to feel where they are.
I overuse the phrase “ball-watching” on this blog. But then our defenders overuse the act! Lovely little ball from Duff, but the way Assou–Ekotto has just switched off and let Zamora run off him rather sums up the 45 minutes that he had last night. The follow two shots illustrate better how Zamora gives Assou–Ekotto the slip.
Now you see him.
Now you don’t.
Zamora is on the crest of a wave, and has the confidence to take it early and first time – it’s a cracking finish, and Gomes has absolutely no chance.
But what a comeback, eh? Most unlike Redknapp to make changes so early, but it worked a treat. Huddlestone for Assou–Ekotto was a no-brainer; Benoit was having a shocker, and Modric is shackled by the defensive duties (which he’s not that good at by the way) in the centre. Bentley for Kranjcar was a stroke of genius, and Bents was inspirational in the second half.
March 21, 2010
The only other Premier League teams to win at Stoke this season are Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal and Birmingham. Aston Villa, Man City and Liverpool all failed to win there. To get that result with 7 first team players out (Defoe, King, Lennon, Woodgate, Bentley, Jenas, and Hudlestone, all out, plus Cudicini, Walker and Rose, who would have been on the bench) is a massive, massive achievement, and Redknapp should get a lot of credit.
The only real negatives to come from the game revolved around Assou–Ekotto. Firstly, the argument with Corluka – raising your hands can get you a red card, so that was inexcusable. He was very lucky to get away without a yellow.
And then the penalty, which he was booked for.
Stoke are down to 10 men at this point, and Kitson has moved to the right of midfield as a result. Danny Collins has the ball on the left, and is about to deliver a cross.
Assou–Ekotto allows Kitson to get goal-side of him.
He clambers all over his back in his attempts to win the ball.
It looks a soft penalty in real-time but, when you see it from this angle, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a correct decision.
Matthew Etherington steps up and sends Gomes the wrong way.
I’m pleased to say that Assou–Ekotto made up for his error with the cross from which Kranjcar scored but, strictly speaking, he probably shouldn’t have been on the pitch at that point…
A big week coming up – hopefully some of our injured players will be back in contention for the Fulham game, because we’re really down to the bare bones now, not helped by Pavlyuchenko picking up a knock yesterday.
March 14, 2010
Currently we have the following players out on loan:
Jon Obika – Millwall
David Button – Shrewsbury Town
Adam Smith – Torquay United
Adel Taarabt – QPR
Steven Caulker – Yeovil Town
Mirko Ranieri – Ipswich Town
Giovani dos Santos – Galatasaray
Jamie O’Hara – Portsmouth
Kyle Naughton – Middlesborough
Alan Hutton – Sunderland
Robbie Keane – Celtic
Now returned from loan:
Adam Smith – Wycombe Wanderers
Ben Alnwick – Norwich City
Lee Butcher – Grays Athletic
Dean Parrett – Aldershot Town
David Button – Crewe Alexandra
Sam Cox – Cheltenham Town
Danny Rose – Peterborough
Lee Butcher – Leyton Orient
Oscar Jansson – Exeter City
Sam Cox – Histon
Jake Livermore – Derby County
Andros Townsend – Leyton Orient
Calum Butcher – Barnet
Jamie O’Hara – Portsmouth
John Bostock – Brentford
Troy Archibald-Henville – Exeter City (now joined Exeter permanently)
Kyle Walker – Sheffield United
Sam Cox – Torquay United
Jake Livermore – Peterborough United
Andros Townsend – MK Dons
Ryan Mason – Yeovil Town
Jonathan Obika got a 7 minute cameo for Millwall, who were 4-0 up. Millwall Town Official Site report.
Jon is struggling to get into the Millwall side, with Morison, Batt and Harris ahead of him and playing well. Millwall are in good form, and I have my doubts over whether there’s any point in him being there at the moment – he’s played just over 70 minutes for them so far, and that’s across 10 matches.
David Button played another 90 minutes for Shrewsbury Town yesterday, conceding once. Shrewsbury Town Official Site report:
Dave Button had been having a steady game as normal and had been dealing with what Dale could throw into his box.He did have to be at his best though when the ball was played in behind the Town defence to put Dagnall in, Button was down quickly to pull off a great save and then reacted superbly to get back up and wrap himself around O’Grady to smoother the rebound shot.
He’s now started 18 games in a row, and has kept 6 clean sheets. The move has certainly been a good one for him.
Adam Smith was an unused sub again for Torquay United – since getting injured, he has lost his place in their side. Still, he has featured 16 times for them this season, so it’s not all been bad.
Adel Taarabt is back in the QPR side under Neil Warnock, and yesterday played 87 minutes and scored for the second time in a week. QPR Official Site report:
In midfield, Taarabt and Hogan Ephraim started out wide, while skipper Mikele Leigertwood and Alejandro Faurlin lined up in the centre.
From the resultant kick, Faurlin played a lovely centre into the path of Taarabt, whose header – although going wide – was cleared away to safety.
Rangers were looking dangerous in the early stages of the match.
This time, after Faurlin touched the ball into the direction of Taarabt, the magical Moroccan beat one man before firing a centre across the face of goal that somehow managed to miss everyone in the box.
Moments later, Simpson and Ephraim combined, and when the latter played Taarabt through on goal, Bunn came rushing out of his net to come and claim the ball.
Taarabt found the ball midway into the United half before he slid Ephraim through on goal. Under pressure from his marker but with only the keeper to beat, the midfielder could only shoot straight at Bunn.
The R’s had an opportunity to level the scores just before the half-time whistle when Taarabt played Simpson through on a goal, though the frontman could only fire straight at Bunn in the Blades net.
After a ball was played from deep, Taarabt stole possession from Marcel Seip as the ball bounced up in the air.
Through on goal with only keeper Bunn standing in his way of the net, Taarabt was coolness personified to slide the ball home for the R’s.
QPR playmaker Taarabt was causing the opposition problems aplenty, and he soon came close to adding his second goal of the match.
After being fouled on the edge of the Blades penalty area, Taarabt dusted himself down before bending an effort at the top left-hand corner that forced a fine save from Blades keeper Bunn.
Moments later, Faurlin’s clever pass up to Simpson ended with the forward touching the ball back to Taarabt, who from the edge of the box fired straight at keeper Bunn.
Some interesting comments from Neil Warnock in the week:
Rangers boss Neil Warnock has told Harry Redknapp he’s the man to turn Spurs loan star Adel Taarabt into the finished article.
The talented but frustrating Tottenham Hotspur forward scored QPR’s opener from the penalty spot and set up Damion Stewart’s clincher from a free-kick as Warnock recorded his second straight win in charge – against Plymouth.
On Taarabt’s display, Warnock said:”I know he’s got a lot of skill but I’ve spoken to Harry Redknapp at Spurs about him and he’s the sort of player who’ll make you pull your hair out at times.
“He’s a gifted lad who’s working harder than he’s ever done and he’s going to do that to get into Harry’s Premier League squad.
“But I think I’m the right manager for him. He knows he doesn’t mess around on the half-way line – if he does he knows what he’ll get from me!”
Steven Caulker played 90 minutes for Yeovil Town yesterday – he has played every minute of every game for them, and has yet to receive a yellow card. Quite remarkable, really.
Ryan Mason, of whom much has been spoken this week, wasn’t involved for them because he has returned to Spurs:
Attacking midfielder/striker Ryan Mason is to return to parent club Tottenham Hotspur permanently. The 18 year old has gradually drifted out of Yeovil Town’s first team line-up and has not completed 90 minutes of football since the turn of the year, and manager Terry Skiverton admitted in the build-up to this afternoon’s match that Mason was struggling with injuries and the state of various League One pitches.
Skiverton has said in tonight’s post-match interview that Mason will be returning to White Hart Lane, having also missed today’s match. He made 29 appearances for Yeovil Town, scoring six goals along the way. Skiverton told BBC Somerset the circumstances that had led to the move:
“Ryan Mason will be going back to Tottenham now. He’s come to the end of his spell and it’s been quite hard for him because he’s had a few niggles and a few little injuries. I think he’s going back just to get himself fit and flying for next season. He’ll be going on a weights programme. So he’ll be going to the next step in his career. They’ll be taking him out for I think what will be mostly strength training.“
Despite Mason tending to drift out of the side towards the end of his loan spell, Skiverton paid tribute to what the Tottenham player had achieved during the first half of the season:
“He’s been fantastic for us. I can’t speak highly enough of him. The performances that he has put in were like Gavin Williams did for us today. Ryan has done that for us on numerous occasions this year. He’s a fantastic player with a bright future, and who knows, I might go back in for him next year – if I can get him!”
All the best to Ryan for the future and let’s hope this is not the last we have seen of him.
I am impressed by the way the club have handled this – they’ve been in close contact with Yeovil, and have been monitoring Ryan’s progress carefully. It’s very clear that he needs to bulk up, but this comment from a thread on Mason on the Yeovil forum is telling:
Had an chat with him today as it goes.
He’s exhausted and Spurs felt he had done wonders thid year, as do I.
He’s going back, won’t play for 4 months and is going on a weight and putting on weight programme. He, and Spurs, think he’ll feature for them next year and would also have taken Caulker back if they didn’t think he was integral to our survival.
Caulker staying is Spurs thank you to us for looking after them.
You see it’s not all bad!
Kyle Naughton played another 90 minutes for Middlesborough. He seems to be doing well there, having played 7 times so far. He is impressing the Boro fans – some comments from a Boro forum:
“Kyle Naughton v Tony McMahon
The difference in quality is monumental.
Hopefully, we can do a deal with Tottenham in the summer to sign the lad permanently.”
“If were still in this league next season I cant see Spurs having a problem loaning him to us again. He has been good for us but he doesnt look top 4 prem material yet which is what spurs want. Im not sure if he would want to come on loan again though.”
“Naughton is a different gravy, too rich for us I’m afraid”
Robbie Keane played 90 minutes for Celtic in Scottish Cup quarter final against Kilmarnock, and took home the match ball. Celtic Official Site report:
ROBBIE Keane scored his first hat trick for Celtic as the Hoops triumphed to a 3-0 victory against Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup quarter final.
An inspired substitution just before the hour mark changed the game as Celtic ran riot in a late show at Rugby Park.
The introduction of Georgios Samaras and Marc-Antoine Fortune fired up the away side as they created the goals for Keane to send the Hoops into the semi-final of the cup.
Tony Mowbray made two changes to the side who faced Falkirk last Sunday, with Georgios Samaras on the bench and Artur Boruc having to return to Poland for family reasons. Lukasz Zaluska was handed his chance between the sticks while Scott Brown returned to the first team for a one-off cup appearance in the middle of his three-match league suspension.
And it was the captain who started the match brightly with a good solo show in the middle of the Kilmarnock half. He turned on the ball before moving to the edge of the box and firing in a shot but his effort went just wide of the post.
Kilmarnock had the best opportunity of the half on the 13th minute when Allan Russell collected a deflected pass in the box and cracked a powerful shot off the top of the crossbar.
But Celtic turned up the heat on the 21st minute when a Robbie Keane effort in front of goal was stopped by Cammy Bell’s foot. Scott Brown attempted to make something from the loose ball but it was eventually cleared by the Killie defence.
McGeady’s inch-perfect pass across the field then met Keane but the striker’s deflected shot was easily collected by the Kilmarnock goalkeeper.
Not long after the half-hour mark Liam Kelly chipped a ball over the Celtic defence and onto the feet of the outstretched Craig Bryson, but he couldn’t make contact with the ball in time and Zaluska gathered it with ease.
Darren O’Dea had a good chance on 39 minutes when his header skimmed past the face of goal following a good cross from McGeady.
The home side continued to press but Celtic controlled the pressure until the half time whistle and the sides went into the break level.
McGeady tore apart the Kilmarnock defence right from the start of the second-half with two blistering chances in quick succession.
The first came when he latched onto a superb Keane cross and volleyed first-time straight at Bell in the Kilmarnock goal. He continued to pressure the back line with another shot two minutes later, but his effort skimmed over the top of the crossbar.
Kilmarnock settled back into the game and came agonising close to taking the lead on the 55th minute when Russell’s attempt on the edge of the six-yard box hit off Zaluska’s right-hand post.
Celtic made their two match-changing substitutions just before the hour mark in an attempt to push further forward and test the Kilmarnock back line. Samaras came on for Morten Rasmussen while Marc Crosas made way for Fortune, who returned from injury.
This meant Keane moved into the loan striker role with Fortune, McGeady and Samaras playing just off them in a 4-2-3-1 formation. And the change paid off as Celtic immediately piled more pressure onto the home side.
The Hoops broke the deadlock on 64 minutes when Edson Braafheid hit a long and well-timed cross into the box. Keane managed to create space away from the defence and turned away from Bell, making it easy for him to round the keeper and slot into the back of the net.
Samaras had a great opportunity to put Celtic two up on 69 minutes when Keane slide the ball into the Greek striker’s path. But his shot was too tight and slid across the front of goal, sliding just past the far post for a goal-kick.
The home side failed to break Celtic down as well as they had in the first half and Tony Mowbray’s side doubled their lead on 81 minutes.
Samaras made a fantastic run down the left wing to win the ball and fed it inside to Fortune. He bided his time before slotting the ball across goal and away from Bell, leaving Keane, who was standing at the far post, with the easiest of tasks to tap the ball into the open net.
And it was the Irishman who popped up a minute later to wrap up the cup tie for Celtic and bag his first hat-trick for the club. McGeady sent Fortune clear on the right and he unselfishly crossed to Keane who had found a space on the edge of the box. The striker fired in his third with ease, much to the away fans’ delight.
Keane had another chance to add to his tally three minutes from the end but he couldn’t get his head onto a Mark WIlson cross.
Keane’s goals from yesterday:
He has now made 7 starts and 1 sub appearance, and has 8 goals and 2 assists – Keane getting his “mojo” back can only be good news for Spurs – either he comes back revitalised, or his stock rises and we sell him on for more than we otherwise would have done. Either way, I’m pleased for him, as it was sad to see him playing as poorly as he was.
Alan Hutton‘s Sunderland play Man City today. He has played all 5 games for them since joining, and has received mixed comments from their fans. I saw his performances against Arsenal (where he was abysmal) and Bolton (where he was much better). I think this one could turn permanent in the summer.
Giovani dos Santos‘ Galatasaray play today at 5pm.
Here are some highlights of Giovani’s performance against Kasımpaşa, as he set up the final goal in a 4-1 win.
“he’s a very talented young player”.
FR wants him to “convince everybody that he is good player”.
“He played some games that he wasn’t good enough, and now he played one game and everyone said “ok, he has to stay” … he really needed the time to train and get better”.
Giovani also won a penalty (although he should have been booked for diving!) as they lost to Eskisehirspor 2-1 in their last match
Jamie O’Hara‘s Portsmouth play Liverpool tomorrow. He has been in sparkling form for Pompey, picking up Man of the Match awards, getting a goal and 4 assists in his last 6 games.
At the end of February, he was quoted as saying:
“Obviously the option for me to stay is not there [Tottenham] anymore.
I will go back to Tottenham for pre-season and hopefully get myself a move to another Premier League club.
I would like to think clubs would be interested in me because of my form for Portsmouth has been some of the best of my career. It is a shame what has happened because I have loved every second of my time here.
Hopefully the club will keep going and come back stronger than ever.”
Hopefully Hutton and O’Hara can both do us a favour tomorrow!
March 14, 2010
A strange game against Blackburn yesterday – probably the most consistently inept refereeing performance seen at White Hart Lane this season by none other than “England’s number one referee”, Howard Webb.
Whilst Webb did his best to take centre stage, Spurs played some good football at times, but also showed moments of vulnerability. With an away trip to Stoke next Saturday, it was a good chance for Gomes to practice his collection of crosses and build some confidence. However, he did rather make a mess of the goal.
I actually think this goal stems from the corner prior to the one which Chris Samba heads in.
Gomes comes for a Pedersen corner, and sort of pushes it two-handed straight out for another, before appealing for a free-kick. Andy Gray (who was one of the biggest defenders of Gomes last season) in commentary questioned him for not claiming it and, on viewing it again, it does seem that he could have caught it, even with the pressure from Dunn. Our goalkeeper does tend to lose confidence very easily, and I wonder whether this slight error meant that he felt he had to do something about the next corner.
As the corner is about to be taken, you can see Samba just making a move on Dawson. Notice Gomes here – he has a line of players in front of him.
When the ball reaches the six-yard box, it has become even more cluttered.
Samba rises well, and meets the ball – Gomes, having attempted to come and claim the ball, is nowhere near it, as there were simply too many bodies in the way.
Absolutely no doubt about it, thugh, Samba fouls Dawson. It’s no wonder that Samba rose well – he had two hands on Dawson, and was using him as a spring board. Nine times out of ten, the goal would have been disallowed.
Foul or not, though, Gomes will need to improve his decision-making next week against Stoke City.
Back to the referee – he got virtually every big decision in the game wrong.
- Bale penalty -I noticed that Match of the Day highlighted the foul on Bale, which was as clear-cut a penalty as you’re likely to see but, oddly, they didn’t pick up on the one three minutes later, where his back leg was taken in a similar position. Both pens.
- Samba goal – clear foul, as highlighted above.
- Kalinic goal – there’s no doubt that he touched the ball with his hand, but Dawson clearly pushed him into that movement, and it was unintentional. Great strike by the way,and the goal should have stood.
The other talking point highlighted on Match of the Day and, surprise surprise, by Sam Allardyce, was the apparent foul on David Dunn in the first half. He gets sandwiched between Corluka and Palacios, and Palacios takes the ball, but only after Corluka appears to foul him. I must admit, I initially thought that it was a penalty. However, if you re-watch the challenge (52 seconds in), and focus on Dunn’s arm, there’s no argument; it’s not a foul by Corluka. If anything, it’s Dunn who commits the foul, although I think it’s better to put it down as a “coming together” – the referee got that one right at least.
And finally, I can’t help but end by picking up on Sam Allardyce’s post-match comments. Is there a worse loser in the Premier League than “Big Sam”?
“We had the lion’s share of the play”. Right Sam, I know you’re a stats man – have a look at the possession, shots, and pass completion from yesterday’s game.
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March 5, 2010
Spurs have recalled a second loan player ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Fulham, as injury problems mount.
After Redknapp announced that Jermain Defoe was a doubt through injury, it took our projected injury tally to eight (Lennon, Bentley, Huddlestone, Jenas, Woodgate, Cudicini, Defoe, King), and so Andros Townsend has been recalled from MK Dons.
An England U19 international, Andros has had previous involvement with the first team squad, having joined them on their pre-season tour of Spain lat year, under Juande Ramos. He was actually used as an attacking full-back by Ramos, but his best position, without doubt, is on the left wing.
Having impressed in 10 games on-loan at Yeovil Town last season, he moved to Leyton Orient this year, where he made 17 league starts, and also came off the bench five times. Rather unexpectedly, he was recalled, and then sent to MK Dons, who are hoping to be promoted this year. He was a sub in his first game (as he hadn’t had a chance to train with the team) but has since been involved in every game that he has been available for, and Ince has spoken very highly of him.
As with Livermore, some of my previous articles cover updates on his progress (Spurs loanee update 11/02/10 and Spurs loanee update 17/01/10 for example). Some comments worth noting from the MK Dons Official Site report of their game against Tranmere:
“From the first moment the on-loan Spurs teenager touched the ball, the Dons fans were swooning – in raptures at the pace with which he carried the ball, fearless in his quest to embarrass defenders.
So when the 18-year-old carved through Shaleum Logan and Paul McLaren on the left flank to set up the opening goal just six minutes in, the Cowshed must have been expecting a field day.
It was the game’s outstanding moment – Logan and McLaren left standing as Townsend burst between them, before cutting back the most inviting of drilled crosses. Pinged back at shin-height, it was a gift for any player with the technique to finish it and Puncheon, with the deft touch of Roger Federer proportions, sweetly swept it home on the half-volley.
Townsend fired just past the post after exchanging passes with Jermaine Easter in the 24th minute, but the visitors, who had consolidated admirably, went close with a long-range John Welsh effort.
Townsend went close to a debut goal with 15 minutes to go when he curled onto the roof of the net after good work from substitute Jude Stirling, on to replace the injured Danny Woodards in the first half.
And some high praise from Paul Ince after his debut:
Townsend’s impact was considerable on the stadiummk faithful, who rose to their feet time and again to applaud his dynamic wing play.
And Ince said the teenager set an example for his established players with his approach in the first half.
He added: “He was the only one in the first half, along with (Mathias) Doumbe, who looked like they wanted to be out there.
“It’s not right for me to go in at half-time and tell my players that the only one out there is an 18-year-old kid.
“That’s a lesson to us, but he exceptional, not just going forward but defensively as well. He’s slotted in superbly.”
I’d imagine that, barring further injuies, we’ll line up as follows for this game:
Corluka Dawson Bassong Assou–Ekotto
Kranjcar Modric Palacios Bale
U18 player – probably Harry Kane
Still a relatively strong first eleven, but our bench is pretty flimsy.