We truly are the comeback kings this season! In a rather bizarre match, in which neither team seemed to play to their true capabilities; in many ways it became a game of “who could make the least mistakes”. We got our first win away at a “big 4 club” (*spits*) in three thousand and forty five attempts. A wonderful result, and one which will hopefully be a load off the mind for players and fans alike.
I am incredibly jealous of all who were there, but must compliment you all on the wonderfully vocal support. Our away fans are second to none.
Fabregas has the ball in the centre circle – he decides to go uncharacteristically direct, seeing Nasri on Assou-Ekotto’s shoulder.
The run is what makes this goal – you can’t see it in this image, but he angles it superbly, and Assou-Ekotto has a tricky decision to make – step up and play offside, or drop off. He gets caught in two minds, and so when the ball does bounce, he’s not close enough to compete.
Nasri’s first touch is heavy, and Gomes should be coming out and taking this. He hesitates, and when he finally does decide to come, he’s not quite brave enough.
Nasri manages to touch it round him – Gomes seems to get something on the ball, but really needs to be taking the lot here – ball and man. It’s his hesitation that has cost him, and that is probably caused by a few shaky moments this season, including his sending off at Inter.
Nasri is left with an empty goal, but a difficult angle.
Two things to mention in regard to the second goal. Firstly, Hutton is smashed in the ribs by Clichy just prior to this, and goes down. Spurs have possession, so the advantage is played. We throw bodies forward – Bale, Pavlyuchenko, van der Vaart, but also Jenas, who ends up on the goal line as Lennon over hits his cross. Pavlyuchenko does well to keep it in, but it falls nicely for Nasri who has the opportunity to counter. Modric should have seen Jenas bombing on, and just held his ground. Instead, he decides to go after the ball.
When Arsenal win the ball back, Modric is now in no-man’s land (centre of image), and we have a gaping hole in the middle of our midfield.
Between Nasri and Denilson, they work it quite nicely to Fabrgas, and he’s now running unchallenged at our back four. Hutton is back up on his feet, but running gingerly.
Perhaps Hutton still has the whack he has just taken in the back of his mind, as he simply doesn’t mark Arshavin. Instead, he leaves enough room for Fabregas to easily find him…
…and then stands off and lets him put a cross in.
Chamakh has a lot to do – he has to get ahead of Kaboul, and steer the ball goalwards. He makes it look easy – a nice subtle finish, but could Kaboul have done better? Always tricky when you’re facing your own goal.
Full credit to our players for not giving up and, when you have top quality players in your side (as we do nowadays), you always have a chance to get a goal. When the chances came, we took them wonderfully – from Bale’s exquisite touch and finish, to van der Vaart’s clinical penalty, to Kaboul’s intelligent back header – great finishing.
But please, Spurs – stop giving us fans heart attacks, and start defending like we know you can!
A Blackburn free kick is cleared out to David Dunn, who heads back in to the danger area. Pavlyuchenko at this point decides to leave him, and is instead positioning himself to receive the ball for a counter.
Crouch gets up above Samba to win the header (which he did fairly well for most of the game).
He doesn’t manage to get much distance on the header, though, and it drops to Jenas’ feet. He adjusts quickly, and manages to divert the ball away from Roberts.
But Dunn has followed in, and we don’t have anyone protecting the edge of the box. He strikes it well, but the shot is going wide of Gomes’ left-hand post.
Ryan Nelsen sticks out a foot, and manages to divert the ball into the corner.
Between the two goals, Blackburn had a couple of chances, including Kaboul clearing off the line from Diouf. On 89 minutes they got a second to give us a slightly nervous finale.
Nelsen fires a long ball forward.
Samba and Crouch compete in the air again, with Gallas covering behind.
This time Samba wins the flick on, and the ball comes to Gallas quite quickly. In my opinion, though, he should either be leaving this for Gomes, or nodding the ball to Hutton.
Instead he heads the ball weakly to the edge of the box, where Givet is waiting – again, not enough protection in this area. He is a very clean striker of the ball, and connects well.
But it is literally straight at Gomes.
And he makes a mess of it – diving out of the way, only able to divert it slightly.
A real shame that we gave up the opportunity to improve our goal difference, through sloppy defending and missed chances (I’m looking at you, Mr Pavlyuchenko). On the whole, though, it was a positive performance, with plenty of good attacking football.
As an aside, it was a game featuring two former-Spurs – Paul Robinson, who got an excellent reception, and Pascal Chimbonda, who didn’t. Chimbonda was right in Pavlyuchenko’s face before and after the missed penalty, so I was pleased to see Bale beat him so well for the second goal.
I went to Finchampstead, home of Reading FC on Saturday morning to watch the Spurs U18 side. Unfortunately, the game kicked off at 11:30am rather than 11, so I only got to see the first half (before heading home to watch the Bolton game).
The first 45 minutes (the game is described in full by Ray Lo, writing for Spurs Odyssey here) was very one-sided, with Reading hitting the woodwork twice, missing the target from close range, and finding Jordan Archer in top form.
Reading’s strikers, Gozik Ugwu and Lawson D’ath, caused our back four (which was changed again) no end of problems physically, and Reading’s midfield didn’t let us play – pressing high up the pitch. It was my first look at a couple of players – Freddie Champion, who will be disappointed with his performance, but he is only 16, and so allowances can be made, and Alex McQueen, who played at left back, but had played in central midfield last week. He looked more comfortable with his right foot, and also more at home going forward than defending.
Aside from Archer, Pritchard looked the best player in the first half, showing a decent touch and awareness, but none of the other Spurs players really stood out.
We seem to be persisting with a very young team this year – be that through injury or choice, I’m not sure – and as a result we aren’t winning as many games. Hopefully the wins will start to come as the young players get used to the physicality required but, of course, the focus is on individual player development rather than team results.
Below is a round-up of our fixtures/results, and the teams that we have put out so far.
14 Sat Away Manchester United Friendly 3-1 Won 21 Sat Away Derby County Premier Academy League 2-1 Won 28 Sat Home West Brom Premier Academy League 2-4 Lost
04 Sat Home Norwich City Premier Academy League 2-4 Lost 11 Sat Away Charlton Premier Academy League 4-0 Won 18 Sat Home Chelsea Premier Academy League 4-2 Won 25 Sat Away Leicester City Premier Academy League 0-1 Lost
02 Sat Home Bristol City Premier Academy League 3-3 Draw 09 Sat Away Watford Premier Academy League 1-3 Lost 16 Sat Away Birmingham City Premier Academy Leagu 6-0 Lost 30 Sat Home Coventry City Premier Academy League 2-2 Draw
06 Sat Away Reading Premier Academy League 1-0 Lost 13 Sat Home Cardiff City Premier Academy League 11:00 20 Sat Away Aston Villa Premier Academy League 12:00
04 Sat Home Milton Keynes Dons Premier Academy League 11:00 11 Sat Home Birmingham City Premier Academy League 11:00
08 Sat Away Coventry City Premier Academy League 11:30 15 Sat Home Reading Premier Academy League 11:00
05 Sat Home Aston Villa Premier Academy League 11:00 12 Sat Away Milton Keynes Dons Premier Academy League 11:00 19 Sat Home Leicester City Premier Academy League 11:00 26 Sat Away Bristol City Premier Academy League 12:00
05 Sat Home Watford Premier Academy League 11:00 12 Sat Away Fulham Premier Academy League 01:00 19 Sat Home West Ham Premier Academy League 11:00 26 Sat Home Arsenal Premier Academy League 11:00
09 Sat Away Southampton Premier Academy League 11:30 30 Sat Away Ipswich Town Premier Academy League 11:00
FA Premier Academy League Sat 21 Aug (at Derby) Derby County U18s vs Tottenham Hotspur U18s Scorer: Kane 2
FA Premier Academy League Sat 4 Sep (at Spurs Lodge) Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-4 Norwich City U18s Scorer: Dombaxe 2
Jordan Archer (17) Jack Barthram (17) William Ekong (17) Ramil Sheriff (16) Zaine Francis-Angol (17) Callum Tapping (17) Kevin Stewart (17) Jack Munns (16) Laste Dombaxe (16*) Jesse Waller-Lassen (17) Shaquille Coulthirst (15)
Subs: Alex Pritchard (17) for Jack Barthram, 46. Darren McQueen (15*) for Zaine Francis-Angol, 46. James Yeboah (16) for William Ekong, 75.
FA Premier Academy League Sat 11 Sep (at Charlton) Charlton Athletic U18s 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur U18s Scorers: Dombaxe, Pritchard 2, Waller-Lassen
Jonathan Miles (17) Kevin Stewart (17) Zaine Francis-Angol (17) James Yeboah (16) Daniel Day (16) Callum Tapping (17) Jesse Waller-Lassen (17) Jack Munns (16) Laste Dombaxe (16*) Alex Pritchard (17) Shaquille Coulthirst (15)
Subs: Freddie Champion (16) for Alex Pritchard, 64. William Ekong (16) for Zaine Francis-Angol, 64. Lee Angol (16) for Shaquille Coulthirst, 74.
FA Premier Academy League Sat 25 Sep (at Leicester) Leicester U18s1-0 Tottenham Hotspur U18s
Jordan Archer (17) Callum Tapping (17) Ramil Sheriff (16) Zaine Francis-Angol (17) Kevin Stewart (17) Laste Dombaxe (16*) Jesse Waller-Lassen (17) Jack Munns (16) Alex Pritchard (17) Lee Angol (16) Shaqille Coulthirst (15*)
Daniel Day (16) for Lee Angol, 70. Freddie Champion (16) for Kevin Stewart, 80.
The idea that Crouch is a good option as a lone striker in away games is based on his ball retention and ability to help out when defending set pieces. I would argue that his lack of goals (and shots) negates the positive elements that he may bring to the team.
Against Bolton, the only shot he managed in the 90 minutes that he played was an effort scuffed straight at the goalkeeper. Pavlyuchenko had one shot in his 45, scoring a spectacular goal.
Crouch’s shooting was a 100% improvement on the United game, where he didn’t manage a single effort – Pavyuchenko had two efforts (one deflected narrowly wide) in his 28 minutes.
And in the previous away game against Fulham, Crouch again managed just one effort during his 20 minutes on the pitch, whereas of course Pavlyuchenko started and scored.
Whilst I don’t rate Pavlyuchenko as highly as many, I personally feel that whilst Defoe is out, he is our best bet to start games. We are struggling for goals, and he has managed 3 despite only starting 3 league games. In his 8 league starts, Crouch is yet to find the net, and only has 3 assists. Is that enough to warrant Redknapp’s faith?