Last night I heard a West Ham fan on 606 saying what a fantastic match Daniel Gabbidon had at left-back. I couldn’t help but think that Aaron Lennon had made things easy for him.
Since returning from a spell on the sidelines last year, Lennon has struggled to re-find his brilliant form. So far this season he has looked nervous – he doesn’t seem keen to take on the full-back with regularity, and yesterday was a prime example.
Check out Lennon’s passes from yesterday – he frequently got into advanced areas, and yet passed backwards. This when he was up against a centre back playing out of position, who he clearly had the beating of (the cross for Modric showed him skipping round Gabbidon with ease).
Redknapp needs to put all of his famed man-management skills into action here, and attempt to coax Lennon back into form. I personally think the best way to do this is to use him as an impact sub in the short term, as against Wolves. Whether this means giving Rafael van der Vaart the right-sided berth for the time being, or bringing in David Bentley, I’m not sure, but things are not working out on our right at the moment, with Corluka also performing timidly.
That was a horribly frustrating game to watch as a Spurs fan – yet again we struggle to break down a team that defends deep and in numbers, and we looked slightly vulnerable on the break (as with the Wigan game).
With Crouch totally ineffective, we were badly lacking in the final third, and bar a brilliant Modric volley, a couple of efforts from Jenas and van der Vaart, and Huddlestone’s poor miss, we didn’t create enough chances. We need one of our forwards to step up and find some form.
West Ham’s goal came from one of their 14 corners – they were shooting from anywhere, and enjoying the rewards, with Cudicini generally rooted to his line at most dead ball situations (we probably miss Gomes most when defending set pieces).
On this occasion, it’s Corluka marking Piquionne, and he gets rather caught under the flight of the ball, whilst Piquionne gets a bit of a run on him.
Corluka and Piquionne are both positioned centrally. Notice that we have Modric on the near post, but nobody on the far.
Piquionne starts to make a run, and then checks – in this time, Corluka has stood still, trusting his standing jump.
Piquionne gets up well, helped by a slight run; this gives him the aerial advantage over Corluka.
He angles the ball well into the corner which is unguarded – whether that was intentional or otherwise, it was sloppy.
With Bale forced to play at left back in Assou-Ekotto’s absence, and Lennon lacking form and confidence, we lacked width for the majority of the game. Redknapp’s changes did nothing to solve this, with Keane coming on for Lennon, and then Pavlyuchenko and Giovani replacing van der Vaart (who had moved wide), and Crouch.
It’s easy to say in hindsight, but I think it would have made more sense to switch to three at the back – Hutton right, Corluka central, and Bassong left, giving Bale freedom to get forward on the left.
Two local derby defeats in a week – not a good one for us.
I don’t want to dwell too much on this, primarily because it’s not nice to lose, but also because I personally think Redknapp made the correct decision with his team selection (loosely correct anyway – I wasn’t a fan of the initial 4-3-3 formation), and I am not too worried about being out of the League Cup.
This is an excellent move from Arsenal, but it’s yet another defensive switch-off from Spurs, which is very frustrating. Eboue picks out Gibbs with a cross-field pass, and Gibbs cuts inside. Spurs seem fairly well set to defend.
Gibbs shifts the ball outside to Nasri, who has plenty of room to operate. Notice Bentley – doing a good job of tracking Lansbury – and also Assou-Ekotto, who is central.
Nasri is overlapped by Wilshere, and plays him in. As Wilshere crosses, Lansbury is clearly onside, although is now ahead of Bentley, who has inexplicably stopped running! Also note Assou-Ekotto, totally unaware of Lansbury’s run.
Great ball by Wilshere, and Lansbury is left with the simple task of tapping home, thanks to Bentley and Assou-Ekotto leaving him totally unmarked.
Arshavin lifts the ball into the box, where Caulker has Chamakh, and Bassong has Nasri.
Bassong has got too tight to Nasri, who turns him cleverly.
However, I can’t work out what the penalty is given for – there is certainly a very slight contact with Bassong’s chest on Nasri’s back, but I think it may have been given for the above. It’s very difficult to see whether Bassong makes contact with Nasri’s back leg (left hanging in the hope of contact). Regardless, Nasri is quick to go to ground – a soft decision.
Nasri he steps up and sends Pletikosa the wrong way.
Spurs Lodge attracted a decent crowd for the London derby, and I had to park in the overflow car park. I was looking forward to seeing the younger lads for the second time, and was surprised when the team sheets were handed out – this was easily our most experienced line-up of the season, with two overage players (Carroll and M’Poku) starting, as well as Oyenuga, who has recently been playing for Tim Sherwood’s development squad.
We initially started in the standard 4-1-4-1, with Dombaxe the (surprise) holding player, but it didn’t take long for Carroll to drop back to make it a fashionable 4-2-3-1. Chelsea played a 4-3-3, with Prosenik leading the line, supported by Devyne and Loudoun.
Spurs started the game well, with Carroll dictating the tempo, and Oyenuga and M’Poku making good attacking headway. Two Chelsea players comically took each other out in the opening moments, with one requiring fairly lengthy treatment – they didn’t seem to be the best of friends! The opening goal came after only 4 or 5 minutes -a Waller-Lassen run was halted on the edge of the box, but Pritchard arrived, and thumped the loose ball cleanly beyond Jemal Blackman, who had no chance.
Chelsea’s first real chance came when James Yeboah misjudged a cross, letting it bounce over him to the advancing forward. He got back to make the block, and when the ball was swung back in, he stooped to head clear. Unfortunately, a Chelsea player challenged with his foot high, and caught Yeboah in the face. He was clearly in a lot of pain – and it wasn’t long before both physios were on, and a stretcher was called for. After quite a long break in play, Kevin Stewart was brought on – he went to left-back, with Francis-Angol (who is not the tallest) shifting inside to partner Durojaiye.
Blackman made a couple of excellent saves, notably one from Pritchard and a double-save from M’Poku, who had been played in by Oyenuga, and really should have buried one of the chances. Chelsea were semi-threatening, although largely restricted to shooting from distance – Bobby Devyne had a couple of strikes that were easily saved by Miles.
The second Spurs goal was a beauty – M’Poku made a break down the left, and fed the ball in – Waller-Lassen intelligently left the ball, and Pritchard finished cleverly first time. The game was relatively even in midfield at this point, but Spurs had so much more cutting edge in the final third, with Oyenuga a constant thorn in the Chelsea defence’s side, and Caroll keeping things ticking diligently. Just before half-time, Stewart got forward well, and after a patient build up on the left, M’Poku worked the ball to him on the edge of the box. It opened up nicely for him, especially as a right-footed player playing from the left, but he scuffed his shot wide.
Chelsea’s big Austrian striker, Prosenik, headed in from a free kick at the end of the first half, but was given offside. Chelsea seemed rejuvenated after the break, helped by the introduction of the pacy Adam Nditi, and Prosenik forced Miles to make an excellent save, and it wasn’t long before they had pulled one back. A fine move ended with Prosenik heading on for Toddy Kane to slam home.
Spurs took control again, and Pritchard should really have had a hat-trick after M’Poku showed some great skill to get to the by-line, and stood up an inviting ball, which Pritchard headed straight at Blackman from 6 yards.
The chances kept coming, with Oyenuga and M’Poku both having efforts saved by the impressive Blackman, who seemed to be putting up a one-man defence at times. Unfortunately for him, he did make one error – Waller-Lassen showed a neat touch, and went round the keeper, who duly took his legs. Pritchard stepped up for his hat-trick, but Blackman made amends with an impressive save to his right (it wasn’t the best penalty).
M’Poku was having a slightly mixed game, but nearly found Pritchard with a beautiful through ball – arced around the defence with the outside of his boot. Blackman anticipated it well, and slid out at Pritchard’s feet. M’Poku played a near identical through ball moments later, this time to Oyenuga, but again the keeper saved his effort.
Spurs made a change, bringing on Jack Munns for Laste Dombaxe – presumably to close the game out. However, from out of nowhere, Bobby Devyne found himself on the end of a long ball, and finished well into the bottom corner. It looked like the missed penalty was going to be costly.
Callum Tapping then made an excellent run inside his man, and the defender went into his back – the free kick was awarded, with the Chelsea players furious. It was, even with my Lilywhite spectacles on, a nailed-on foul, and I thought at the time that the Chelsea lads ought to pay more attention to the ball and stop mouthing off at the assistant referee. No sooner had I thought this, then M’Poku sent a clever free kick in, catching Chelsea unaware, and Oyenuga lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper and into the corner. 3-2!
Saville, still riled from the free-kick decision, then went in dangerously on Carroll, and was lucky to only be booked. Oyenuga settled things with a wonderful solo run – he got the ball on the half way line, and set off on a trademark determined run, dancing past tackles, before slotting a finish into the corner clinically. A great ending!
Miles 6 – wasn’t tested too often, but generally dealt well with anything that came his way. Tapping 6 – did well to win the free kick, which lead to the decisive goal, but was a little shaky in his positioning. Right-back doesn’t seem to be a natural position for him. Yeboah – the game was cut short for him, after a kick to the head – I hope the injury isn’t too serious. Durojaiye 8 – unflappable, and strong – he has improved so much since I first saw him. Francis-Angol 7 – filled in really well at centre back, even winning headers against Prosenik, who is much taller than him. Dombaxe 6 – was a surprise pick in the holding role, but drew plaudits from the bench throughout (McDermott shouted “great position, Laste” on one occasion, and gave him the thumbs up for some useful passes). His passing was a little off at the start of the second half, and he tended to go in for more tackles than, say, Kasim, Nicholson, or Hawkins, but it’s early days for him in the holding role. Carroll 8 – calm, clever on the ball, with neat close control, and a great range of passing. A player I enjoy watching. Waller-Lassen 6 – not really his game, but his pace causes teams problems. Pritchard 7 – two excellent finishes – he seems to frequently be in the right place at the right time. Aside from that, I wasn’t overly impressed with his all round game, although he did work hard for the team. M’Poku 7 – he is so talented – close control, dribbling, and a real box of tricks. However, rather like Bostock, he does tend to hang on to the ball for far too long – whether that’s poor decision-making, or greediness, it’s hard to tell. His team-mates tend to get quite frustrated. Oyenuga 8 – he has a habit of trying to plunder his way through gaps that aren’t there, when the light touch may be a better option, but he is aggressive, strong, and scores goals. I can’t help but think that he now needs a loan spell.
Stewart 6 – did a reasonable job at left back, but was caught out by Devyne running in behind him a couple of times. Munns – was only on for a short time, but looked composed, and played some clever passes.
Final word goes to the referee. He wasn’t too bad at all, but his use of the advantage role was comical – as well as the “both arms out” motion, he screamed ADVANTAGE! Brilliant.
Alan Hutton, what an unlikely hero! I am not his biggest fan – primarily because I think he’s a poor defender – but he did well yesterday after replacing the equally impressive Kaboul. It was his driving run which drew the penalty, and then he also got the fortuitous third goal with another determined piece of play. On the whole, I felt Spurs dominated, and will be disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet -the goal we conceded was yet another sloppy one.
David Jones comes off the touchline, tracked by Assou-Ekotto. At the bottom of the picture is Gareth Bale, who should be responsible for following the right-back, Foley, who is already well clear of him, and about the make a break to the by-line.
Jones tempts the challenge from Assou-Ekotto, and then slides in the full-back, who is in acres of space (Huddlestone has had to take up a more central position to stop the shot), with a nice reverse pass.
Gallas tries to step up and play offside – he has not only got that wrong, but has no idea of what is going on behind him. As a result, Foley is played on by both Gallas and Kaboul.
Foley gets his head up, and he has Fletcher making a dart from far to near post. He is goal-side of Kaboul, but is surely Gallas’ responsibility, with King near post. Having tried to play offside, Gallas is in no-man’s land.
It’s a good ball in but, and I say this yet again, I would fancy Gomes to deal with it – his anticipation and reach would have seen him palm this one out in my opinion. Cudicini makes a move for it but doesn’t get there and, with Fletcher unmarked, leaves a tap in.