Our lack of clean sheets

Just the one clean sheet for Spurs this season which is quite different to the second half of last year; we kept 7 in the league from February on.

A number of possible reasons for this, I feel, but I’d like to highlight three.

1. Defensive changes.

So far this season we have fielded the following back fives:

Vs Liverpool: Gomes Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto
Vs Hull: Gomes Hutton Corluka Bassong Assou-Ekotto (1 change)
Vs West Ham: Cudicini Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (2 changes)
Vs Doncaster: Cudicini Naughton Corluka Bassong Hutton (2 changes)
Vs Birmingham: Cudicini Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (2 changes)
Vs Man United: Cudicini Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (0 changes)
Vs Chelsea: Cudicini Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (0 changes)
Vs Preston NE: Gomes Hutton Dawson Huddlestone Bale (5 changes)
Vs Burnley: Cudicini Corluka Huddlestone Bassong Assou-Ekotto (4 changes)
Vs Bolton: Cudicini Corluka Huddlestone Bassong Assou-Ekotto (0 changes)
Vs Portsmouth: Gomes Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (2 changes).

One clean sheet so far vs Burnley, as highlighted.

Whilst King clearly has to be carefully managed and, as a result, he can’t play every game, there have been changes for cup games (understandably). This has meant that there have been only three games in which there were no changes to the defensive line-up. This can’t be good for confidence and consistency, and may well have something to do with our poor defensive record. A settled (as much as possible) defence will help us no end – hopefully now that Gomes is fit, he can stay fit. Once we get Woodgate and Dawson back to full fitness, Redknapp will need to make a decision on who is first choice. I presume it will be Woodgate, but I personally felt that Dawson out-performed him last year. But that’s by the by.

2. Jermaine Jenas

The Jenas and Palacios midfield partnership was an integral part of our clean sheet record last year. They formed a strong base which allowed our attacking players to go and express themselves. Indeed, at times we played a 4-2-3-1, similar to Liverpool:

Corluka Woodgate King Assou-Ekotto
Jenas Palacios
Lennon Keane Modric

This seemed to work well for us, with three attacking players who were creative, but also knew their defensive responsibilities.

This season, whether it’s because we’ve been without Jenas or not, we’ve tended towards a flat 4-4-2, with Huddlestone and Palacios playing in central midfield in the majority of games. Whilst Huddlestone is a lovely passer of the ball, his defensive awareness is still quite poor at this stage of his career, and even when he is switched on, he doesn’t have the mobility to get up and down the pitch quickly enough.

Jenas, whilst not exactly the most popular player amongst the fans, is one of our more “responsible” players; by this I mean that he doesn’t shirk his defensive duties. He will track runners, and he will drop deeper where necessary. It could be coincidence, but our one clean sheet came on his second start of the season.

3. Wilson Palacios

Palacios is on easily his worst run of form in a Spurs shirt, and needs to lift his game. Whilst even an off-form Palacios is more effective than Zokora, he is also capable of making some of the same mistakes that Didier was often criticsed for: namely unnecessary fouls (giving free-kicks in dangerous areas), and sloppy/over-ambitious passing.

Palacios was a vital, vital cog for us last year, and we badly need him back to his best if we’re going to continue our good run, and particularly if we want to keep more clean sheets.

Analysis of the goal conceded vs Portsmouth


Another poor goal to concede this weekend – we’re still stuck on one clean sheet, and this kind of defending shows why.

A ball is played down the channel which Kaboul chases. I think AssouEkotto is trying to shield Bassong from Kaboul so that he can get distance on his clearance. Either way, between them, they get in a real mess

Kaboul shows good desire, and gets a toe on the ball.

This has taken two defenders out of the game – pretty pathetic! The first rule of defending is “don’t talk about defending”. Or perhaps that’s only at Spurs? Of course, it should be “if in doubt, put it out”.

Kaboul sensibly passes the ball back to Finnan, who seemingly overhits his cross.

But at this point, Corluka has been forced to come across to cover Bassong, who had gone over to help AssouEkotto.

This leaves Boateng in plenty of space, and he has time to watch the ball on to his foot. Note Gomes‘ position at this point. He has already come across to this side of the goal, and his near post is seemingly well protected.

Also well worth noting Lennon’s position (at least I think it’s Lennon – apologies Aaron if it’s not you!). Perhaps harsh to blame a right midfielder for a goal like this, but he has not come round to cover for Corluka.

Boateng’s technique is decent enough – he strikes the ball well here but, again, worth noting Gomes‘ position. He simply shouldn’t be beaten from here.

But he lets it creep in – although he made some good saves this week, he has to take his share of the blame for this goal.

Personally I’d like to see Dawson or Woodgate back in the team next week. I think Bassong has had a promising start to his Spurs career, but he is still raw and his mistakes have already cost us goals this year.

Academy round-up 11/10/09

First of all, huge congratulations to Ryan Mason, Steven Caulker, Dean Parrett and Adam Smith – all in the England U19 squad for the European U19 Championship First Qualifying Round in Slovenia between October 9-14. The games are against Finland, Slovenia and Slovakia. They won the first game against Finland 3-1 yesterday – Ryan (1st cap) and Dean (3rd cap) started, Steven (1st cap) came on as a sub, and Adam (0 caps as yet) wasn’t used. Dean captained the side, and scored the 3rd goal in the 92nd minute.

In addition, Danny Rose (currently on loan at Peterborough) played for England U21 last night, and Jon Obika has just returned from an England U20 trip. Meanwhile, Paul McBride will join up with the Republic of Ireland U18s next week.

A couple of articles from the official site:
Proud moment for Academy
Parrett on target

This week, the U18s lost 4-2 away at Leicester, with Oyenuga and M’Poku getting our goals.

Here’s how things have gone since my last update:

FA Premier Academy League
Sat 12 Sep (at Southampton) Southampton U18s 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur U18s

Scorers – M’Poku, Oyenuga, McBride

Butler (17)
Smith (18) Butcher (18) Byrne (17) Francis-Angol (16)
Fredericks (16) Nicholson (17) M’Poku (17) McBride (16)
Kane © (16)
Oyenuga (16)


Durojaiye (16) for Butcher, 76
Waller-Lassen (16) for Fredericks, 80.
Blackwood (18) for M’Poku, 89.

Not used:

Ranieri (17)
O’Neill (17)

Spurs Official Site report.
Confidence the key
Spurs Odyssey report.
Southampton Official Site report.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 19 Sep (at Spurs Lodge) Tottenham Hotspur U18s vs Fulham

Scorers: Kane, Smith, Oyenuga, Fredericks, Waller-Lassen 2

Butler (17)
Smith (18) Butcher (18) Byrne (17) Francis-Angol (16)
Nicholson (17)
Fredericks (16) Kane © (16) M’Poku (17) McBride (16)
Oyenuga (16)


Durojaiye (16) for Butcher (18), 46.
Waller-Lassen (16) for McBride
Blackwood (18) for Francis-Angol

Not used:
Ranieri (17)
Lancaster (16)

My report.
Spurs Odyssey report.
Official Site report.
Official Site interview with Inglethorpe.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 26 Sep (at Bristol) Bristol City U18s 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur U18s

Scorers: Oyenuga, Kane, McBride, Waller-Lassen

Butler (17)
Smith (18) Byrne (17) Durojaiye (16) Francis-Angol (16)
Nicholson (17)
Fredericks (16) M’Poku (17) Kane © (16) McBride (17)
Oyenuga (16)

Waller-Lassen for Fredericks, 70
Blackwood for Durojaiye, 80
Lancaster for McBride, 80

Not used:
Ranieri (17)
O’Neill (17)

Official Site report.
Spurs Odyssey report to appear here.
Bristol City Official Site report.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 03 Oct (at Spurs Lodge) Tottenham Hotspur U18s vs Watford



FA Premier Academy League
Sat 10 Oct (at Leicester) Leicester City U18s 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur U18s

Scorers: Oyenuga, M’Poku

Butler (17)
Blackwood (18) Durojaiye (16) Byrne (17) Francis-Angol (16)
Nicholson (17)
Waller-Lassen (16) M’Poku (17) Kane © (16) McBride (17)
Oyenuga (16)

Ranieri (17) for Butler, 32
Fredericks (16) for Nicholson, 78
Lancaster (16) for McBride, 68

Not used:

Foxes bite back
Leicester City U18s 4 Spurs U18s 2


Analysis of the goals conceded yesterday

The first goal.

On the surface, this situation looks relatively harmless. We have Cudicini plus eight defenders against four Bolton players in the box. It’s the two outside that we need to be worried about – we ONLY have Jenas set up to mark both of these.

As Gardner starts to make his break into the box (notice Keane pointing him out), Jenas has to make a decision – does he stay with the man nearest the edge of the box, or does he track Gardner.

Jenas makes the only decision that he can, and moves towards Gardners run. He anticipates that Bassong is going to win the header, and takes up a position to be able to clear away should it come to him.

When Bassong’s header skims off the top of his head, we now have a problem. Gardner’s still moving at pace, and nobody has gone with him. At this point, it’s appropriate to highlight Kranjcar’s position – Gardner is now his man, but he is ball-watching.

Fortunately, Gardner can only help the ball on, and Assou-Ekotto reacts to get to the flight. Kranjcar is still ball watching.

When the ball comes out to Lee, it could be argued that Assou-Ekotto doesn’t do enough to stop the shot. Also, notice Cudicini’s positioning – for me, he’s too far over to his near post. Jenas has, by this point, also come across to help out his goalkeeper. Kranjcar has totally switched off now and is in a pointless position.

When the shot comes back across goal, Cudicini has left himself with too much to do, and he ends up palming the ball out into absolutely the worst position. Important to notice Kranjcar again – dawdling as Gardner is now totally unmarked.

Kranjcar reacts too late, a simple finish.

The 2nd goal.

Defoe closes Ricketts well, but his long-ball is very precise.

It’s brought down terrifically well by Gardner, although Corluka was caught slightly upfield and as a result is not tight enough.

Great football this by Bolton. Gardner pops it inside, but we still look fairly safe – Lennon has tracked back, and Wilson Palacios is round on the cover.

Great first touch from Cohen, guided into Lee’s feet. Two good technical players here, no doubt about that. However, Huddlestone is nowhere near tight enough to Lee, and watch Palacios as Cohen passes and carries on moving – does he presume that Lennon is going to track the runner? Remember that Lennon is wrong-side, so this is an incorrect assumption from Palacios.

In fact, it’s almost Zokora-esque. He is sucked towards the ball, and totally ignores Cohen’s run.

Great stuff from Bolton, though – a cheeky back-heel from Lee, although it does put Cohen fairly wide, and Spurs have plenty back to defend the cross. At this point, notice Assou-Ekotto’s position with Davies. In the commentary, Trevor Francis says that “Assou-Ekotto doesn’t notice Davies lurking” – now, how can this be?

Cohen stands the ball up, and Cudicini is left scrambling across his line. He needs help from his defender here.

Assou-Ekotto is still well-positioned to deal with this.

But for some reason, he doesn’t anticipate the danger. I don’t personally think that he bottles it – it’s a simple header to make, and he doesn’t even need to make contact with Davies – just go and put it out for a corner. He waits for Cudicini, though, and Davies steals in.

Bolton’s first goal was a classic Bolton goal – a ball into the box, win the second balls and get it back into the danger area. Bassong’s header was poor, but Kranjcar and Cudicini are also at fault for me.
The second, though, was a really well-worked goal. But also an avoidable one – had Palacios done his job properly, and had Ass0u-Ekotto headed the ball out, it wouldn’t have been a problem.

So all in all, poor defending for both goals, and there were other moments in the game where we looked shaky too. I don’t think Huddlestone’s selection at centre back was a good one, and I thought Palacios had his fourth under-par game in a row.

Spurs loanee update

Currently we have the following players out on loan:

Sam Cox – Cheltenham Town (until 1st October 2009)
Lee Butcher – Grays Athletic (until 1st October 2009)
Oscar JanssonExeter City (until 1st October 2009)
Dean ParrettAldershot Town (until 17th October 2009)
Jon ObikaYeovil Town (until 11th November 2009)
Ryan Mason – Yeovil Town (until 14th November 2009)
Steven Caulker – Yeovil Town (until 14th August 2009)
Troy Archibald-HenvilleExeter City (until December 2009)
Andros Townsend – Leyton Orient (until 31st December 2009)
David Button – Crewe Alexandra (until January 2010)
Jake Livermore – Derby County (until January 2010)
Jamie O’Hara – Portsmouth (until January 2010)
Tomas PekhartSlavia Prague (until 2nd Feb 2010)
Adel TaarabtQPR (until May 2010)
Kyle Walker – Sheffield United (until May 2010)

Now returned from loan:
Adam Smith – Wycombe Wanderers
Ben Alnwick – Norwich City

Plenty of our players got some game time this weekend. It’s worth starting with Dean Parrett, who took the Man of the Match award for Aldershot Town yesterday, playing 80 minutes on his home debut for The Shots. Fantastic achievement for Dean, who doesn’t turn 18 until mid-November. Sam Cox was again an unused sub for Cheltenham Town in the same match and, with his loan expiring next week, I imagine he’ll be back with us soon. Perhaps he’ll need to go a division lower to get some valuable league experience.

Some comments on Dean’s performance from the Aldershot Town match report:

Within a minute Chalmers had put through Parrett and with the outside of his right boot he struck just wide of the near post from 10 yards.

Parrett was certainly in creative mode in the early stages with Chalmers effective, settling in front of the back four.

Aldershot took the lead on 34 minutes as the visitors were down to 10 men with Andy Gallinagh being treated on the side of the pitch. Winning a corner on the right Parrett delivered a well-weighted cross to the edge of the six yard box. Chalmers rose but the ball bypassed him into the path of Dave Winfield who headed home via the underside of the crossbar for his first goal of the season.

Aldershot responded well. Hudson rifled a shot over the bar after another good exchange of passes between Parrett and Hudson.

Parrett was replaced, seconds after a caution for a late challenge, and received a standing ovation, rightly so for an impressive home debut where he was also awarded the Man of the Match by match sponsors Rye Golf and Leisure.

Lee Butcher conceded two for Grays Athletic, and has now started four games there – playing in the same eleven as ex-Spur Jamie Slabber.

Oscar Jansson conceded two for Exeter City and Troy Archibald-Henville also played the full 90, picking up a yellow card. A few comments on our lads from the Exeter City Official Site report – looks as though Jansson made quite a bad error for the goal.

Stewart fouled Youga and from a couple of yards out of the area to the right of the goal Shevley sent a stinging free kick into Jansson’s arms.

The second half started with the same team, but Archibald-Henville was moved into midfield with Edwards moving back.

Troy was magnificent in the second half, he was winning loads of ball in midfield and showed a pleasing level of distribution. He rose highest at a corner early after the restart and his header went over the bar when you would have backed him to score.

A soft cross came in from the right and Jansson spilled the ball to McLeod who had an easy task to poke the ball home.

Matt Taylor was excellent at the heart of the defence, Archibald-Henville was magnificent in midfield.

I never had Troy down as a central midfielder!

Yeovil Town finally got a win, with Ryan Mason and Steven Caulker both playing 90 minutes. Jon Obika was absent, playing for England U20. Yeovil Town Official Site report:

With just four minutes gone Ryan Mason, making one of many surging forward runs, was brought down by Bristol City loanee James Wilson. Nathan Jones’ free kick was met by Steven Caulker but keeper Nikki Bull caught comfortably.

Jean-Paul Kalala and Shaun MacDonald paired up successfully in the middle while Mason pushed further forward.

Mason again surged forward and chipped his cross in but again the ball was cleared.

The home fans were hoping for an equally bright start after half time and they got what they wanted with Mason’s shot deflected for a corner.

Bean was booked for scuffling with Kalala on the halfway line before sub Danny Foster cynically scythed Mason down outside the box, the set piece coming to nothing.

And some great comments from a Yeovil Town forum on Mason/Caulker.

Early days with Caulker but for 17 yr old very assured on ball,has pace,can use both feet,good passer and strong in air.I think he has the potential to go all the way and expect he will be in premiership in 3/4 yrs.

“Amazing for a 17 year old,like many it will all depend how he progresses and doesn’t fall away to the lower leagues.

Today he was fantastic by the way and was my MOM.”

“Caulker didnt put a foot wrong today and always looked comfortable on the ball. I agree he was my MOM; but can understand why others got mentioned for it.”

“Finally we win a game .Finally mason is played in a forward position.”

“Ryan Mason, who was absolute class today. At the heart of everything.”

“Agreed. Excellent performance. The shape looked much better today. It allowed Mason to shine in the free roll and Williams linked others in superbly. Unsung heroes of the day for me were Macdonald and Kalala – they won so many tackles and loose balls in the middle and distributed the ball briliiantly. Top stuff. Solid at the back too. My MOM, fwiw, was Mason, but any one could have won it today.”

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Ryan Mason play for our U18s that he had arguably his best game in a Yeovil shirt so far in his favourite role, just off the forward. Let’s hope he stays there!

Andros Townsend came on in the 56th minute for Leyton Orient…and scored in the 57th!! His match-winning goal will hopefully mean he gets his place back in their side – he had previously lost it with a couple of poor games in a row. Plenty of positives from the Leyton Orient Official Site report:

ANDROS TOWNSEND came off the bench to sink Millwall and give Orient their first win in nine attempts.

The on-loan Spurs winger swung a tight London derby in the home side’s favour with a super display as a second half sub.

He had been on the pitch for less than two minutes before firing in the winning goal, and it was a strike of quality to beat Millwall keeper David Forde in the bottom right corner.

The O’s were forced into an early change in the second half when Demetriou suffered a head injury and his replacement, Townsend, had an instant impact.

He had been on the pitch for barely 90 seconds before arrowing a low shot across Forde and into the bottom corner to give Orient the lead in fine style.

Townsend went close to adding a second on 69 when he unleashed a stinging shot from range that Forde had to acrobatically tip over the crossbar.

The goal should be up on the BBC web-site within the next day or two.

Jake Livermore played another 78 minutes for Derby County, deputising for first choice midfielder Paul Green, who is currently out injured.

Jamie O’Hara played 90 minutes for Portsmouth as they lost 0-1 to Everton. Great for Jamie to be getting some 90 minute stints under his belt. Reading the Portsmouth forums, the fans seem relatively happy with his performance, and he whipped in some dangerous set pieces (as seen on Match of the Day).

Adel Taarabt was a 69th minute substitute for QPR, as they beat Barnsley 5-2 – he also made a cameo against Chelsea in the cup. Well worth a watch if you’ve not yet seen it – he actually passed the ball a couple of times. Taarabt’s cameo vs Chelsea.

Kyle Walker played 90 minutes for Sheffield United in a 2-1 defeat away at Swansea. He’s been a regular for them so far at full-back and has been generally solid without really shining. Important to remember at this stage that he is the same age as Danny Rose/Jon Obika.

David Button thankfully missed out for Crewe through injury – they conceded 5 on Friday night!

Tomas Pekhart was absent again for Slavia Prague last night – he must be injured as they only named 6 subs again.

To see a round up of appearances so far, click on the pitcture below: