Daniel Sturridge’s goal – Chelsea take a quick free kick, feed the ball into Drogba, who lays the ball off to Cole. It runs kindly off his arm, and he crosses well for Sturridge to finish at the back post.
Chelsea are wrongly awarded a free kick for a Modric foul in midfield – he takes the ball cleanly, and Webb has a good view of this, so it is surprising that he blows for a foul.
Chelsea take the kick quickly – note Spurs’ 4-5-1 shape, with van der Vaart on the far side, and Walker dashing forward to pick up Mata.
The ball is fed forward to Drogba, who has dropped off Gallas. He could turn, but instead plays a first-time flick to Cole, still tracked by van der Vaart. Notice Walker, who in trying to close Mata, has ended up out of position.
Also at this point, note Assou-Ekotto’s positioning, and Sturridge just starting to make a move in behind him. Assou-Ekotto is positioned quite wide to deal with Sturridge, but he is so intent on watching the ball, that he hasn’t spotted Sturridge making his move.
Van der Vaart goes to ground, probably knowing that he will be out-run by Cole. He dives in with his wrong foot, and only manages to glance the ball upwards towards Cole. The ball does strike Cole’s arm but, as his arm is not in an unnatural position, there is no way that it can be deemed handball, especially as it comes from such close range.
The ball runs really kindly for Cole. Notice King, central, with his arm up appealing for handball (and therefore caught on his heels), and Assou-Ekotto, who has rather embarrassingly afforded Sturridge yards and yards.
Sturridge is left with an easy tap-in at the back post.
Really poor defending from Spurs, but it was a poor free-kick award (so we lost possession when we should not have done), and Cole got a stroke of luck with the way the ball ran kindly for him. Still, Gallas standing off Drogba, van der Vaart going to ground with his wrong foot, Walker charging up-field and committing himself, King wasting time appealing when the game is still going on, and Assou-Ekotto’s criminal ball-watching is a pretty ugly combination.
Etherington’s first goal – a deflected Shotton cross loops up, and is helped on by Walters. Crouch controls it (with the help of his hand!), and squeezes the ball back across goal for Etherington to stab home.
Spurs clear the ball from a long throw-in, but Adebayor plays a one-two with Modric, and tries to dribble out with Stoke players converging around him.
He could turn back and play it safe, but he tries to press on, and eventually loses the ball.
Stoke get it wide, and work a two against one, with Shotton eventually getting clear.
Assou-Ekotto makes up ground well, and is able to half-block the cross, causing it to loop up into the air.
The ball is in the air for around three seconds and, personally, I think that Friedel should be coming to punch this away. Instead he leaves it for Gallas to battle it out with Walters – a battle that he struggled with all game.
Walters inevitably wins the flick on, and a better striker than Crouch, who has somehow ghosted into space over Kaboul’s shoulder, would volley this home first time.
Instead,he awkwardly controls it on his arm, before Gallas gets a foot in and pushes him wide of goal.
In fairness to Crouch, he does well to keep the ball alive, and he squeezes it back across goal.
Kaboul and Walker between them should be able to clear this, but Etherington anticipates well.
He gets to the bounce of the ball before both of them, and prods the ball in.
As Shotton prepares to take the throw-in,Spurs have ten players in the penalty area, against Stoke’s City’s four (with three just outside). The eventual goal-scorer, Etherington, is close to the edge of the box, between Modric and Bale.
As the ball is in the air, Walters gets up early (he has that Kevin Davies-like ability to hang), and Etherington makes his move towards the back post, anticipating a flick-on.
Parker has his eye on Etherington, and backs away to mark him.
Walters wins the header, and Parker just doesn’t get close enough to Etherington to stop the ball dropping to him. The finish is quite fortuitous – he hits it into the ground, and it loops up over Friedel.
Overall, the first half was pretty poor from Spurs, but had the first goal been disallowed for handball, we would have gone in at 1-0. Redknapp was very pro-active at half-time, making two substitutions, and moving from a 4-4-1-1 to a 3-5-2. It worked well, with the team creating a number of excellent goal-scoring opportunities and good situations. On another day, the referee would have given us three penalties (the one we got, the hauling down of Kaboul, the handball on the line), and there could easily have been two red cards for Stoke as well – Woodgate committed a second bookable offence on the edge of the penalty area in the first half, and handball on the line is a red card offence too.
These kind of games will always happen, and I think it’s important not to get too down-heated – the team battled back well in the second half, and did enough to get something from the game. Redknapp also deserves praise. I have long-criticised him for his lack of pro-active substitutions and tactical changes, but he made some bold moves yesterday. Bale had a stunning second half, and Modric/van der Vaart schemed behind the two forwards, with Adebayor frequently pulling over to the left and causing havoc with his good close control.
Salpingidiss goal – Gallas loses the ball in central midfield and when the ball is played into the box, it’s headed home by the unmarked forward after Bassong had stepped up.
Gallas tries to bring the ball out from the back but gets in a muddle and, rather than turning back, tries to cut inside a player… unfortunately his touch is heavy and he is dispossessed.
The ball is played forward down the left channel and, as Gallas charges back, there are two men running towards the box, with Rose caught out and trying to make up ground.
The winger backs Corluka into the box, before looking up and seeing Salpingidis in the centre, with Rose having tucked in a bit, and Bassong in front of him.
Bassong takes a stride forward as the ball is delivered – is he, bizarrely, trying to play the striker offside?! Either way, it leaves the eventual scorer totally unmarked, with Rose having one eye on the runner behind him. Gomes doesn’t even make a despairing dive – he just stands and watches as the ball finds the corner of the net. A very ugly goal from our point of view.
Athanasiadis’ goal – a good pass inside Corluka has the full-back treading water, and Bassong’s man gets a yard on him to finish as the ball is slid across.
As Livermore and Kane attempt to press the ball, it is played forward between Gallas and Corluka.
Corluka’s lack of acceleration on the turn shows (even more so than usual, possibly as he is coming back from an injury), as the winger gets to the ball before him despite him having a clear head-start.
As the ball is played across the face, Bassong hasn’t marked his man tightly – if you actually watch the video, Athanasiadis is trying to play on the shoulder, and Bassong never really gets to grips with him as the move unfolds.
As a result, he is left unmarked to slide in…
…and prod the ball beyond Gomes and into the corner.
Spurs’ back four were at sixes and sevens for the majority of the first half, with all four caught out on a number of occasions. It is understandable to an extent that they might be rusty after injury/irregular appearances, but such basic mistakes were quite concerning.
Youssuf Mulumbu’s goal – A long ball down-field is held up by Long – we seem to have cleared the danger but Brunt finds Gera, who holds off Assou-Ekotto, and waits for support from Reid, who crosses for Mulumbu to score with a header across Friedel.
A long ball is played forward and Younes Kaboul, who has been a man-mountain in the air this season, looks set to clear away.
Long, however, is deceptively strong, and manages to not only hold Kaboul off, but chest it down and bring a team-mate into play. Personally I think Kaboul should do more to stop this happening.
West Brom now have useful possession in our defensive third. Note Mulumbu making the break forward from his defensive starting position, un-tracked by either of our strikers, who should be picking him up (when playing 4-4-2 against 4-2-3-1, one of the strikers has to take responsibility for the deepest lying player).
Gera tries to thread a reverse pass through for Mulumbu, but King blocks, and Sandro clears…
…but with Defoe and Adebayor not picking up Brunt, either, he has the opportunity to play a first-time pass to Gera, who has made an intelligent run into the left-back area. Also worth noting that West Brom actually have four other options, all unmarked, with too many of our players ahead of theirs – especially considering that we’re the away side!
Gera beats Assou-Ekotto to the ball easily…
…but as he slides in to control it, Assou-Ekotto has an opportunity to get tight and make a challenge.
He doesn’t, though, and Gera has the time to hold the ball up, and wait for support from Reid, who has not been tracked by Bale, who has other concerns.
Due to the nature of the two formations, Spurs are a man light in midfield – in this image, I have circled the midfield players (although Mulumbu is in the box, and Long has pulled wide to their left, you can still see the nature of the problem). Due to Defoe’s position centrally (not near a West Brom player), Bale is left with two players to keep an eye on, plus Reid, who is out of shot.
Reid, in space, whips in a superb first time cross…
…and Mulumbu heads expertly across Friedel and into the far corner, but is afforded the space to do so by King and Kaboul.
In the first half there were numerous examples of West Brom using the extra man in midfield to their advantage, with Mulumbu causing havoc with some of his movement and his high-energy pressing. He was winning the ball back frequently, and then making bursts forward, with our players unsure of who should pick him up. Many of us were calling for a change to a 4-3-3 at half-time but, credit to Redknapp, he stuck with his side and played to our strengths.
In the second half, Defoe worked harder to stick with Mulumbu and we worked harder to get the ball forward quickly into the wide areas, where Bale and especially Lennon were finding space and using the ball brilliantly. Both created numerous chances and, on another day, Adebayor may have scored four.
The game was a little too open for my liking and, despite our dominance of possession and chances, it could have easily gone either way, but Redknapp’s positivity was there for all to see, and for that he should be applauded.
Jonathan Miles (18) Jack Barthram (18) Milos Veljkovic (16) Jake Nicholson (19) Kevin Stewart (18) Massimo Luongo (c) (19) Laste Dombaxe (17) Kudus Oyenuga (18) Harry Kane (18) Alex Pritchard (18) Souleymane Coulibaly (16)
Ronnie Hawkins (17) for Laste Dombaxe, 60.
James Yeboah (17) Billy Granger (16) Cameron Lancaster (19)
Spurs secured qualification to the quarter-finals of the NextGen Series with a 1-0 win over FC Basel. The result was not as comfortable as the previous two home games – 7-1 against Inter and 4-1 against PSV Eindhoven – and, in truth, we made quite hard work of this against a physical and talented Basel team.
Spurs set up in what was effectively a lop-sided 4-2-3-1 formation, with the right-footed Stewart at left back, Luongo and Dombaxe in deep midfield, Pritchard towards the left, Oyenuga primarily on the right but very advanced, and Kane playing in behind the Ivorian Coulibaly.
The opening to the game was quite frantic, with a lot of congested play in the middle of midfield, and a few hefty challenges from Basel players. Our first chance came after just a couple of minutes, when Luongo broke forward and swung in a shot from the right hand side of the penalty area which flew just wide of the far post. Soon after this, Alex Pritchard darted through and rounded the goalkeeper, only to be pushed wide and the shot to be saved.
Basel were quick to press our midfield, often going to ground in the challenge, but our centre backs were having a fair amount of time on the ball, with Tim Sherwood encouraging them to bring the ball out from the back (“Take it forward, Milos”).
Coulibaly crossed well for Oyenuga, but he wasn’t able to bring it down cleanly, and it was cleared, whilst Miles made a solid save from an effort from left winger Vuleta. Luongo made a superb bustling run past a number of players, only for the final player to nick the ball away just as he was opening up to shoot.
With Basel keen to challenge, Spurs were winning a lot of free kicks in similar positions – first, Kane slipped as he looked to strike one, and then Pritchard picked out Coulibaly beautifully at the back post. Unfortunately it took an awkward bounce, and he could only knee it into the hands of the goalkeeper. At the other end, a dangerous cross narrowly evaded the Basel striker, before Spurs took the lead through another Pritchard free kick. He flighted it superbly to the back post, where former Basel player, Veljkovic had found some space, and powered a header in from close range.
Soon after, Harry Kane charged forward and was fouled from behind – Pritchard spotted the ball, paced out his run-up, and hit the target, but the goalkeeper saved well. The action moved straight to the other end, and Zarkovic played in Zwimpfer, but he was too close to Miles and the goalkeeper smothered. Zwimpfer had another great chances minutes later – a Veljkovic error let him through, and he rounded Miles, but Kevin Stewart anticipated brilliantly and slid in to clear off the line.
Dombaxe dummied cleverly on the edge of the box to create space to shoot, but his low left-footed effort was saved. I felt sure that Vuleta would go into the book after hacking down Barthram, but the referee gave him a final warning, before Pritchard had another effort saved after he was found by an excellent Kane pass.
Basel made a substitution at half-time with the imposing Sulejmani coming on, whilst Spurs made a slight adjustment, with Kane playing primarily from the left, Oyenuga more central, and Pritchard from the right (although they rotated). We started on the front foot, with Coulibaly shooting over from the edge of the box, and then Kane putting his effort well over after we’d worked the ball into a good position.
Jevtic got forward into a great position on the break, but his cross was fortunately wasteful. Miles made the first of his really top saves from Sulejmani, and the resultant corner was headed harmlessly over.
Harry Kane’s slide rule pass found Pritchard, who teed up Oyenuga, but he dallied and his shot was blocked. Sherwood made the decision to freshen up the midfield, bringing on Ronnie Hawkins (an excellent passer of the ball), for Laste Dombaxe, who was starting to tire.
Kane was the instigator again, this time picking out Stewart, who was arguably fouled in the box. The ball came back to him once he was back on his feet, but he put it over on the turn. Then came what could have been a costly miss – Kane was again the provider, getting free down the left and putting the ball on a plate for Kudus Oyenuga, who was about a yard out – he got his feet into a bit of a mess, and the ball came off his ankle and ran out to Luongo, who had a bit to do with defenders converging on him, and he blasted over when accuracy was required.
Basel’s nearest miss yet soon followed – Miles came out to claim a corner, but missed the ball and Corbaz headed beyond the keeper but on to the post. Barthram had an excellent chance to add to our lead at the far post, but put his shot wide after he was well found by the industrious Pritchard. Miles redeemed himself with a solid save from the impressive Nimely, before the substitute Sulejmani, who was a real handful, out-muscled Barthram, and powered beyond Veljkovic, only to be foiled by a fantastic save from Miles with his legs.
Kane won another free kick with a driving run, but it came to nothing, and Oyenuga had one final chance before the referee blew for full time. The first half was a fairly scrappy affair, with the second being much more open once Basel started chasing the game.
Jonathan Miles 8 – one error when he failed to claim a corner, but excelled with some great saves, especially the one with his legs towards the end of the match. Jack Barthram 6 – had a tough time in the second half up against the very physical substitute Sulejmani, but coped well throughout and made constant bursts forward when Pritchard tucked in (although was rarely picked out). Milos Veljkovic 7 – really strong, composed showing from a player who plays like he is ten years older than he is. Jake Nicholson 6 – a steadying influence at the back, and someone who constantly talks to his team-mates. He made me laugh with one comment – Stewart had the ball at left back, and needed to play it forward with his left foot. Oyenuga tried to spin in behind, with Nicholson shouting “where you running to Kudus?!” Ferdinand (I think) chimed in – “it’s on his left foot, he’s hardly going to drop it in there!” Kevin Stewart 6 – a solid display from a player who is not naturally left-sided. Massimo Luongo 8 – if you’ve read my reports before, you’ll know that I enjoy watching him play. Breaks up play, has good one and two touch passing, gets forward well, and is a strong, calm influence in the middle of the pitch. Laste Dombaxe 5 – having seen him play so well on Saturday morning, I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t keep up his performance levels – made a few early mistakes and looked nervous, but after the odd arm around the shoulder from team-mates, he improved as the game went on and used the ball much better. Kudus Oyenuga 4 – as hard-working and strong as ever, but he still doesn’t quite know when to release the ball, and he does make some odd decisions – Sherwood and Ferdinand both focused a lot of their attention on him throughout! Harry Kane 7 – he didn’t seem to have a particularly great match but, in writing my report, I realised just how many times he threaded others in with cleverly-weighted passes. He could have had three assists on another day. Alex Pritchard 8 – a real clever, quick-footed, schemer, who had an excellent first half in particular. His set piece delivery caused a lot of problems, and he is very dangerous when cutting in from the flank. Souleymane Coulibaly 5 – he is a work-horse, but not much came off for him – kneeing his best chance straight into the goalkeeper’s hands. Made good runs, but often chooses to shoot when he has better options. Didn’t get much change out of Kofi Nimely.
Ronnie Hawkins – came on and helped us to keep the ball, with some intelligent passing.