Odemwingie’s goal – Assou-Ekotto’s injury allows Odemwingie time to get a shot away after an excellent cross-field pass from Vela
Carlos Vela has the ball on West Brom’s left, and William Gallas has pulled over to cover for Kaboul. The gap between our centre backs is already ominous…
Gallas backs off as Vela spots Odemwingie’s run.
It is a fantastic ball and, although Odemwingie’s first touch takes him a little wide, he has time as Assou-Ekotto has been caught up field.
Assou-Ekotto makes a great effort to get back at him but…
…in going shoulder to shoulder, he collapses, having seemingly pulled a hamstring. Odemwingie touches the ball around him as Dawson closes.
Dawson throws himself at the ball, but Odemwingie gets his shot away, and buries it beyond Gomes in the far corner.
Cox’s goal – Wonderful curled finish as Gallas stands off.
It’s 2-1 with 80 minutes on the clock. West Brom have possession high up the pitch, with Shorey on the ball.
Shorey passes back to Brunt under pressure from Kaboul, who is pressing hard to try to force them back.
Brunt feeds the ball into Cox, who makes a run off Gallas.
Gallas snaps at his heels, and forces Cox to play back out to Shorey.
As Kaboul is chasing shadows, Shorey zips a pass into Cox’s feet – he has stayed in his deeper position, but Gallas has dropped back to keep the defensive line.
Cox takes a touch and turns in one motion, and as Gallas backs off, he shimmies to make a yard. Notice how many Spurs defenders are in the shot, but also how many of them are not behind the ball. At this stage of the game we should have two banks of four, and should also be making it much more difficult for West Brom to get a shot away.
Cox takes one more touch to shift the ball slightly more to his right before letting fly.
It’s an exquisite finish – right into the top corner.
What a breathless game! Spurs conceded another sloppy goal inside the first five minutes to leave a real uphill struggle, but this time we immediately hit back. We then showed genuine spirit when coming back from 3-1, and could even have won it when, first, Modric could only side-foot straight at the goalkeeper, and then Crouch couldn’t direct his header downwards.
The first goal, in many ways, illustrated the key tactical discussions leading into the match.
4-3-3 vs 4-4-2. Many fans called for Redknapp to bring in Sandro and match up to Arsenal’s formation. The problem with this is three-fold – firstly, this is not a formation that many of our players are particularly accustomed to. Secondly, it relies on having two wingers who are happy to play very high up the pitch (i.e. we would probably have to leave van der Vaart out). Thirdly, “matching up” often leads to the better side winning unless the team doing most of the defending can stay switched on, as per Liverpool in the second half on Sunday after they had moved to a 4-3-3. In my opinion the difference would have been the strikers – Crouch, potentially isolated and, as we know, largely immobile left struggling for scraps, whilst van Persie is an expert ‘false 9’ nowadays, who shows great versatility in fulfilling all striking roles. I would argue that, on the balance of play across the match, Redknapp was proven right to play to our strengths (and Arsenal’s weaknesses), but Walcott’s goal almost certainly came about due to the extra man in midfield.
How to defend against Arsenal – i.e. aim to defend deep, and don’t risk the high line. Blackpool discovered this to their peril a couple of weeks ago, playing a ridiculous high line, and giving up chance after chance as a result. In the move for the first goal, we attempt to play offside – in playing offside, it is absolutely essential that there is pressure on the ball, otherwise you may as well not be there. Let’s see how this unfolds, bearing all of these points in mind…
Huddlestone has possession in the middle of the pitch, but his touch is heavy, and the ball gets away from him.
He lunges into a tackle, but Diaby is strong, and holds on to the ball.
Able to shield it, Diaby plays to Song; he cleverly plays first time to Fabregas, who is stood beyond our entire midfield.
As the pass is made, Walcott is immediately aware of the advantage that Arsenal could develop.
Gallas make a split-second decision, but it’s a poor one in my opinion. He rushes out from centre back, to close Fabregas. The only benefit of committing himself this high up the pitch is if he can get close enough to 1. make a tackle, or 2. stop Fabregas from making a pass. He doesn’t do either – Fabregas can still find either van Persie or Walcott. Dawson knows that he has a problem with Walcott, as he is clearly much slower. This all happens quickly (Arsenal are the masters of the quick counter), but Assou-Ekotto has not read the situation, and has not come round to cover.
Fabregas weights the pass to Walcott perfectly. Gallas is out of the game, Assou-Ekotto is not close enough round on the cover, and Dawson, not backing himself in a race with Walcott, seems to have made a decision to attempt to play him offside (that, or he thinks he can intercept the pass).
This image shows that Assou-Ekotto is clearly playing Walcott onside.
Walcott gets the ball out of his feet, and nobody is going to catch him.
Gomes comes off his line to narrow the angle, but it’s an excellent finish into the corner.
As I say, the move unfolded quickly, but there are several things to note. Firstly, Fabregas is in “the hole” with no Spurs player close to him, and the Arsenal players know to get the ball to him as quickly as possible. This illustrates the flaw in not matching up to Arsenal (although we saw the benefits with two of our goals). After Gallas makes a reckless decision to close him down, we have little option but to play offside. Unfortunately, our remaining defenders were not on the same page. This either tells me that they have switched off, or have not been drilled enough.
It is worth noting, of course, that one of the big decisions of the game was the incorrect van Persie offside call – this was not the only example of a poor defensive line.
Arsenal have possession in a wide area, but van der Vaart takes up a decent defensive position, and we are well set-up to defend. Notice that Huddlestone has one eye on Diaby.
Nasri finds Fabregas and makes a run inside. Van der Vaart does the right thing and trots after him.
When Nasri receives the ball back, van der Vaart is quick to close him.
He puts a challenge in, and doesn’t quite get the ball…
…but the referee indicates that he is playing the advantage. Nasri retains possession and looks to use Diaby in order to draw Huddlestone out of the centre.
As Nasri comes further inside van der Vaart just totally stops tracking him and, with Huddlestone having moved towards Diaby, when Nasri gets the ball back, he has a free run at our back four.
Dawson comes out quickly to close down, and Assou-Ekotto covers round.
Nasri gets the shot away, and it takes a nick off Dawson as it goes through his legs. I personally still think that Gomes should be saving this. It’s not far from the middle of the goal, and it is his positioning that is wrong – he has moved too far over to cover the near post, leaving himself short.
A frustrating goal, as van der Vaart really should have tracked his man all the way inside.
Sagna takes a throw-in and gets the ball back from Fabregas.
Bale comes across to Sagna but doesn’t stop the ball coming in. Notice Assou-Ekotto with Walcott at this point.
Gallas should be hooking this ball into the stands – a corner, a throw-in, it doesn’t matter. Walcott has now got in ahead of Assou-Ekotto.
Gallas tries to chest the ball down, presumably so that he can clear the ball straight up field.
The chest trap bounces nicely for Walcott, now well ahead of Assou-Ekotto and, under pressure from Gallas, he lifts an excellent cross for over Gomes for van Persie.
Gomes makes a wonderful save from the initial header.
You have to feel for Gomes here – he could not do much more, as he stretches to claw the ball out.
Unfortunately the ball lands nicely for van Persie, who smashes the ball into the top of the net.
Gallas did well in the second half and was clearly suffering from some sort of strain or pull, but his decision-making for two of the three goals was not what it should be.
Interestingly, it looks from the Chalkboards for tackles (below) like we chose to defend much deeper in the second half (perhaps we finally learnt a lesson) and this could explain why we did not concede more goals after the break.
Our team did really well to come back from two goals down, and Redknapp’s use of substitutes was generally good. Although Corluka had an excellent first half (including an exquisite pass for van der Vaart’s first goal), Kaboul added extra attacking thrust in the second half.
A note on our strikers to end
Whilst we found Crouch with some decent diagonals, we did not get close players close enough to him to profit. This, along with his poorly directed headers, meant that he ended up making only one successful pass in and around the box.
On the other hand, Pavlyuchenko ended the game with an 86% pass completion. He played the link role well in the first half but, when we started to go more direct in the second, he saw much less of the ball and made just 6 of his 22 passes during the second half (he was substituted on 78 minutes).
Cameron Lancaster made another cameo appearance for Dagenham and Redbridge yesterday, and has now made four substitute appearances since joining. A fortnight ago, Cameron was interviewed about his move:
New Daggers striker Cameron Lancaster is backing the squad to prove successful in their battle to avoid relegation.
The 18-year-old made his debut in Saturday’s draw with Sheffield Wednesday, before coming off the bench again in Tuesday’ night’s defeat to Brighton.
The hectic fixture schedule has limited the club’s time to train together, but Lancaster has been impressed with what he’s seen so far.
“The squad’s got more than enough quality in it to stay up, definitely,” he said.
“They can push for a higher place in the league next season. They’ll stay up.”
The Tottenham Hotspur loanee has initially moved to Victoria Road for one month, but would be content to stay at the club for the duration of the season.
His time with the Spurs Academy has been blighted by injuries, but Lancaster seems to have overcome those problems and feels settled at Dagenham already.
“It feels like a good place to start off. It’s really homely and hopefully I’ll get lots of chances to prove myself to this club and to Spurs,” said Lancaster.
“The manager and the coaches have been really encouraging to me and told me what I should be doing and shouldn’t be doing, so it’s been good.
“I think I’ve done alright so far. I’ve put in as much effort as I could; I’ve just got to wait until that effort pays off with goals.
“I want to start week-in, week-out, that’s my target. I’m here for a month; if the opportunity comes up to stay longer I’d be happy to stay, definitely.”
Manager John Still also added midfielder Oliver Lee to the squad before last Thursday’s deadline.
The 19-year-old has joined from West Ham, also for a month, and Still feels both players will be important to Daggers during the run-in.
“Cameron will do fine for us. He’ll give us a bit of extra pace and liven us up I think,” said Still.
“Ollie’s come in and between now and the end of the season I’m sure he’s going to get a chance to show what he can do.
“Both of them will be important players for us, absolutely.”
Nathan Byrne has been in and out of the Brentford team since my last update, which is slightly strange as he played a key role in their 3-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the end of March. In that game he got an assist for the first goal, and went on a brilliant run before being brought down for the free-kick which put them 3-1 up. Their results since then have been very patchy (three defeats but a win yesterday), with Nathan coming on as a late sub in just one of them. Sadly this means that he didn’t get to step out at Wembley for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final. Once again, he was an unused sub this weekend, although I would expect him to be back in the line-up over the coming weeks.
Jake Nicholson and Kudus Oyenuga are both currently at Finnish side Myllykosken Pallo –47 (known as MyPa), whose league starts on 2nd May. Nicholson arrived there on 14th March, and was joined by Oyenuga on 11th April. They have been taking part in pre-season games, and the early signs seem to be that they have impressed.
Since my last update, Paul-Jose M’Poku, Harry Kane and Tom Carroll have had mixed fortunes for Leyton Orient. Carroll has started five matches, being substituted in each of them. He has also been an unused substitute in five, but missed this weekend’s game due to an ankle injury. Kane has been in and out of the side too, starting five of the last eleven, and coming off the bench in four others – in this time he has scored once. M’Poku scored a glorious winner off the bench in the Oldham match and was handed a start in the next game, although has found himself on the bench since then.
David Button has regained the goalkeeping berth at Plymouth Argyle, ending a run of six games on the bench. He has started their last three, keeping one clean sheet in that time. The Plymouth fans seem to think that he is “at his level” at the moment, with the following comment from a forum seeming to sum up the general consensus:
“I don’t think Button will be getting near the Spurs first team any time soon. This is the highest level he has ever played at, and although he had done ok, he has hardly stood apart from the other keepers in this league.”
At 22, he is still very young for a goalkeeper and, if he retains the number one jersey, this will be the most games that he has played in a season – all good experience.
Adam Smith continues to start week in, week out for Bournemouth, and scored a late equaliser in the 3-3 draw with Peterborough, his first goal for the club.Smith’s contract at Spurs expires at the end of the season, and this article suggests that a number of Championship clubs are monitoring his progress.
Kyle Walker has suffered a slight dip in form at Aston Villa, which has lead to some controversial Twitter comments (“One bad performance and one just below average and people start questioning u typical!!! I’m 20!!!”) from the full-back.
KYLE Walker has been given a positive pep talk by Gerard Houllier following his slight dip in form.
Walker fell below his usual high standards during Villa’s draw at Everton and victory over Newcastle.
The on-loan Tottenham defender used his Twitter page this week to respond to his critics.
And Houllier agrees that the 20-year-old right-back should not be judged on the strength of two games.
Walker was coming to terms with personal issues during the run up to the draw at Goodison Park.
“Because of the mistake he made at Everton, people seem to forget that he saved a goal in the first minute,” he said.
“You can see the bad and good side, but since he’s been here he’s been spot on.
“You need to help people when their heads are down.”
Villa have still not given up hope of extending Walker’s stay beyond the end of this season despite Harry Redknapp’s insistence that he will return to Spurs.
Walker, as we know, has had a good season, and has made the last two England squads.
Kyle Naughton has recently had an injury but continues to start every game for Leicester City when available, and many of these fans will not only be voting him their Young Player of the Year, but their full Player of the Year too. It will be absolutely fascinating to see what happens to Naughton in the summer – potentially his performances in pre-season could dictate his future.
David Bentley has missed some football due to injury, but seems to be down the pecking order at Birmingham City now, with Larsson performing well on the right. He was an unused substitute in this weekend’s game against Sunderland, and a substitute in his previous two outings.
Ryan Mason has not started a game for Doncaster Rovers since early February, with O’Driscoll usually opting to bring him on around the 60-minute mark. Whilst these appearances are better than nothing, I can’t help but feel that we should have done what we have done with Parrett and Obika – sent him to a League One club and ensured regular football, rather than 30 minutes here and there in the Championship.
Jamie O’Hara continues to be central to the Wolverhampton Wanderers team, but they have lost heavily in consecutive games – 4-1 at Newcastle and 0-3 to Everton. He is expected to sign for them in the summer if they stay up.
Robbie Keanescored for West Ham in their 2-1 defeat to Villa yesterday, and was particularly influential in the first half. Their fans seem to think that he was one of few who worked hard during the game:
“At least Keane showed some spirit. But was it just me or did he end up playing just in front of the back 4? He’s a striker FFS.”
“No fight, no passion – except perhaps Keane who ran his legs off I thought.”
Keane will stay with West Ham if they are not relegated.
Giovani dos Santos has started the last three matches for Racing Santander, scoring in two of them (against Real Sociedad and Espanyol). Both were poachers’ goals from inside the six-yard box, and both were winning goals too. I can’t see him coming back to Spurs now, so it’s good to see him do enough to hopefully secure a permanent transfer.
Millwall’s brand of attacking football has won them many plaudits, not least 19-year-old Townsend, who recently joined the Lions on loan from parent club Tottenham until the end of the season.
Having taken the corner that led to Liam Trotter scoring the home side’s second goal and playing a key role in Millwall’s ability to stretch the play, the promising young winger declared his satisfaction at the performance: ‘‘Since I’ve been here, we’ve got 13 points out of 15 so things are going well and we’ve got to continue it for the remaining six games and see where it takes us.
‘‘Next season — in August, I’ll sit down with the manager [Harry Redknapp] to evaluate the options and see what’s best for me. Obviously, things are going well. Hopefully, next season, if this is still an option, then I’d like to stay here.
I don’t know if there are any openings for me [at Tottenham]. I’m just looking forward to playing the rest of the season with Millwall. They’re my fourth club of the season, so hopefully I’m now settled here and can help them get into the Premiership. I’ve been able to relax here and be confident from the off.’’
Before Townsend had assisted Millwall’s second goal of the afternoon, James Henry had put the Londoners ahead with a free kick to give them a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Dean Parrett was an unused substitute for Charlton Athletic this weekend on his return from injury. Prior to that, he had started the six games that he was available for, and had been impressing their fans, particularly in the Leyton Orient game. Here are some comments and ratings from a forum:
“Parrett – 7 – good performance, we should defo try and retain him for next year”
“Parrett – 7.5 Look like he’s going to be a good player – Great corners”
“Parrett- 8 excellent, good all round midfielder. Will play at a higher level for sure.”
“Parrett – 8 Hope we get him next season , although I fear CCC clubs may take note of his performances”
“Parrett 8 Has a great future and hope Harry lets us have him next year”
Jonathan Obika started his seventh consecutive game for Yeovil Town this weekend in a 1-1 draw with Oldham. He didn’t score this week, but he got scored a fantastic goal in the Hartlepool game last weekend – well worth a watch. Obika seems to have a bit of his confidence back after some difficult loan spells this season, and it’s nice to see him getting plenty of games.
Jake Livermore has made three appearances for Leeds United – two starts, and a sub appearance – but was an unused substitute this weekend.
Bongani Khumalo has made five starts for relegation threatened Preston North End, and their fans were particularly impressed with his performance in the weekend’s 3-1 home win against Sheffield United. Fan comments from a forum:
“Bongani Khumalo – This man is solid. if treacy didnt score two i think it was him a defo for MOM. to round it off i seen him in train station and got a picture with him. Him and his agent are so nice, if only all footballer are like this eyy!”
“Looked like a class player today.”
Simon Dawkins has made a great start to his loan at San Jose Earthquakes, scoring two in five games (four starts).You can see Dawkins’ latest goal if you go here and follow the link to the goal (‘GOAL: Dawkins evens the score’).
Earthquake’s coach, Frank Yallop, on Dawkins and short interview with Dawkins himself:
SAN JOSE, Calif. — For the first time in nearly a full year, there’s a second name alongside that of Chris Wondolowski at the top of the San Jose Earthquakes’ goal-scoring leaderboard.
With two goals in his last two matches, Simon Dawkins has matched Wondolowski’s brace from San Jose’s 2-0 win in Dallas on March 26.
The last time Wondolowski had any competition for the Quakes’ scoring crown, it was April 24, 2010, when both he and Ike Opara had a pair of goals. Wondolowski scored in four of San Jose’s next six matches to firmly establish himself as the Quakes’ leading scorer and eventual league Golden Boot winner.
And while coach Frank Yallop wouldn’t mind having Wondolowski repeat his 18-goal haul from last season, there’s something to be said for having a second option that might be just as dangerous.
“A lot of stuff goes through him,” Yallop said. “[It’s] not just his goals, but a lot of the stuff goes through him when we’re playing well. I thought he tired a little bit in the second half [last Saturday against Toronto FC], so he’s not 100 percent game-fit in the way we want to play, but Simon’s very good.”
Dawkins gives the Quakes two such specimens, alongside the self-effacing Wondolowski, and the sum of that pairing might be worth more than its parts – as seen in the former’s 38th-minute goal against the Reds.
Dawkins began the play on the left sideline with an incisive cut between three Toronto defenders, then played the ball square along the top of the box to Wondolowski, who one-timed a return dish that set up the 23-year-old loanee from Tottenham Hotspur to jab an eight-yard shot past Stefan Frei to the far post.
If the 1-1 tie had been scored on the merits of each goal’s aesthetics, the Quakes would have won on all cards.
“You try to do it in training, so once you practice good habits like that, you’ll take them into games,” Dawkins said. “Thankfully, it came off.”
Though Dawkins had precious little experience with MLS before coming over from England just before the Quakes’ season opener, he’s needed an equally small adjustment period.
“He was able to fit right in,” Wondolowski said. “Sometimes good players take a little bit of time to adjust and fit in, but we knew that he had quality from the start, so it’s hard to say [we’re] surprised. We’re definitely just very pleased with it.”
Dawkins, who grew up in the Spurs youth system, credits his new professional family for the smooth transition.
“It’s my teammates; they’ve made me feel really welcome here,” Dawkins said. “I feel like I haven’t left anywhere. I feel like I’ve been playing with the team for a while. Hopefully this can continue.”
Ronaldo is a long way out, and you would almost be encouraging him to hit it from here (after last night he has had 27 attempts off target in the CL this year – 22 on target).
He does and he strikes it well enough.
It’s not far off the middle of the goal, but Gomes doesn’t move his feet to get behind it.
As a result, instead of catching it, it just deflects off one of his hands, and loops up.
He loses it in the air, and that split-second is costly…
…as it means that he can’t quite get back to scoop it out. A horrible blunder from Gomes.
Some general thoughts on the game
Redknapp did not go with the three at the back that many suggested before the game, and stuck pretty rigidly to a 4-2-3-1, which almost became a 4-2-4-0.
As pointed out by Zonal Marking, van der Vaart struggled to find space in the classic number 10 position, often dropping deep to receive the ball. However, he was not the only one. Isolated for long periods, Pavlyuchenko also frequently came deep. The image below from the Telegraph Football website illustrates our players’ “average positions” during the match (van der Vaart’s blob is behind Pavlyuchenko’s!).
If were to get anything from this game, it was vital that we played on the shoulder, and really got at the back four. Whilst we played this way for periods of the first half, and Lennon and Bale both caused problems when running in behind, we did not do this enough and, thus, did not get enough shots away – 10 in total (7 off target) was nowhere near enough for a team that needed a minimum of 4 goals.
Bale – 4 minutes.
Bale has lost control of the ball and is already going down, hanging a leg to ensure contact. Not a penalty.
Modric – 6 minutes.
Modric runs on to the ball and, whilst his touch isn’t great, he is in a position to be able to strike the ball, when Alonso takes his foot from the side. This should be a penalty.
Pavlyuchenko – 28 minutes.
Pavlyuchenko clips the ball around Albiol, and has his back leg taken – he goes to ground with a real dramatic fall, which probably doesn’t help, but this should also be a penalty.
Having said that we did not get enough shots on targets, just one of these decisions going our way could have changed the picture of this match. and we may have got a creditable home win. We played well in the first half, pressing Madrid and not showing fear, but too many heads dropped in the second half, particularly after the Madrid goal.
The Champions League campaign has brought so much excitement to the season, and we would all dearly love us to qualify again – it is vital that we try to win all of our remaining home games, starting with Arsenal on Wednesday. Come on you Spurs!
This game was so typical Spurs – we dominated the first half, playing some of our best football of the season. We created good chances and got into good areas on a number of occasions. Modric was at his sublime best, starting and finishing moves, and Pavlyuchenko’s link play was first class; he found space easily with his clever movement and got the ball into his team mates, picking up two assists. Crouch took his two goals really well, getting on the end of excellent crosses from Pavlyuchenko and Huddlestone.
However, for all of our good play, we nearly gave up two points with some sloppy defending. Firstly, Dawson committed himself on half way, and Huddlestone didn’t make a challenge on Etherington, allowing him to get well into the box to finish across Gomes. And then Bale dallied on the ball, allowing Jones in to score a wonderful second. If Walters had finished from three yards out in the second half, we could have been left frustrated yet again.