BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 30TH OCTOBER, 2011
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2) QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1 (0)
Bale, 20, 72
Van der Vaart, 33
Referee:- Howard Webb
Assistants:- Mr. D. Cann & Mr. J. Collin
Fourth Official:- Mr. S. Attwell
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Lennon, Parker (sub Sandro, 86), Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Adebayor
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Gallas, Bassong; Livermore; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko
QPR (4-4-1-1):- Kenny; Young, Hall (sub Gabbidon, 9), Ferdinand, Traore; Barton (Capt.), Derry (sub Mackie, 46), Faurlin, Wright-Phillips; Taarabt (sub Bothroyd, 46); Helguson
Subs not used:- Murphy; Hill, Buzsaky; Smith
‘Ow’s about that then? Three more points to Spurs!
Dear Jim, can you fix it for Spurs’ club captain and inspiration Ledley King to be fit to play against QPR today. Spurs have won the last eight Premier League games in which Ledley has completed 90 minutes. A ninth would be nice. Oo-Oo-Oo, there you go, Ledley has made another miraculous comeback, and will be in command at the back for you today.
Dear Jim, can you fix it for Rafa van der Vaart to score in his fifth consecutive Premier League game? Only Robbie Keane and Teddy Sheringham have done this for Spurs before. Now then, now then, Rafa will score for you today, and even keep Jermain Defoe on the bench.
Dear Jim, can you fix it for Spurs to win by 4 clear goals to go fourth, or even 7 clear goals to go third? Now then, now then, keep your feet on the ground and be grateful for a win, fifth place, and to be level on points with Chelsea and Newcastle, with the advantage of a home game in hand to come!
Spurs maintained their winning Premier League form (6 wins and a draw in 7 games), and at times, particularly in the first half, played some scintillating football, where training ground artistry paid off, and led to flowing attacking football. Players such as Walker, Ekotto, Modric and chiefly Scott Parker led the way so often by making that extra half a yard of effort and “getting there”, winning a vital challenge, making a telling pass to keep a move going.
Morale was greatly enhanced by the pre-match news that Ledley King would play, and that William Gallas was on the bench. Apart from Ledley replacing Bassong, the team was otherwise unchanged from that which won last week at Ewood Park. Neil Warnock’s Rangers were pretty much observers in the first half, with former Spur and last year’s Championship star Adel Taarabt making no impression and suffering the ignominy of being replaced at half-time. Mind you, Warnock also replaced “The Enforcer” Shaun Derry, and having had to use Gabbidon after only 9 minutes to replace the injured Fitz Hall, the use of all substitutes by this stage was clearly a gamble. It was one which paid off though, as Rangers reduced their deficit to one goal, after a Bothroyd header, and until Gareth Bale scored a cracking second goal, Spurs fans were on edge more than they should have been, considering the quality of their play and chances created.
Paddy Kenny was a busy boy in the Rangers’ goal, and had to make a save from Van der Vaart after only two minutes. Ekotto and Adebayor had been involved in the build up; Modric had an attempt and the ball landed at the feet of Van der Vaart for the shot. After the corner, Spurs had a glancing header cleared and a shot saved again by Kenny. Spurs then had a free kick just outside the area, and it was Benoit Assou-Ekotto who stepped up to take the kick. He had been seen in training practising such kicks this week, but “Benny” put the kick over the bar.
After 12 minutes, Van der Vaart hit a long free kick from the left, and it was met by Adebayor at the back post, who should have scored, but headed wide. There was some quality play by the Spurs defence, and in particular both Modric and Van der Vaart in their own half to win and secure the ball before sending the ball to Adebayor who fed Bale, making a run down the left. Bale crossed hard and low, but just too far in front of Adebayor.
Both Bale and Lennon would often be found playing the inside channels, and switching sides, leaving a lot of the attacking responsibility to the full-backs, who were only too happy and able to oblige. Spurs took the lead in the 20th minute, as a result of the wingers combining in those central positions. After a long ball down the right, Lennon was in the inside right position, setting up Bale for a fine finish to the left of Kenny at the Park Lane End. Spurs were on their way!
Three minutes later, more flowing football ended in a shot by Van der Vaart, which was held by Kenny. Adebayor sent in a cross from the right and Bale had a shot go over the target. In the 33rd minute, Spurs increased the lead. Ledley was found on the ball in the QPR half, and attempted a shot which was skewed in the direction of Van der Vaart. Rafa made no mistake with his clinical finish to the corner of the goal, for his sixth Premier League goal, and seventh in all competitions. Don’t forget, he also equalled the record of scoring in 5 consecutive premier League games.
Three minutes later, Luka Modric had a good chance, following a corner, hitting a left footed shot across the goal, and only about one foot wide of the post. More lovely passing play from Bale, Adebayor, Modric and Ekotto gave Modric another chance but he pulled his shot wide. After another good piece of play from their own half, with Walker and Modric to the fore, Adebayor had a failed attempt on goal. Spurs’ lead should have been greater.
Despite their double substitutions, Spurs had the first chance of the second half, when Van der Vaart’s shot was saved by Kenny, and an Adebayor header was also saved. Kenny was keeping busy! Adebayor had a shot blocked for a corner soon after that, after collecting a long ball from the left. Bale crossed from the left, and Van der Vaart played a cheeky flick, which was cleared.
Now QPR had a little pressure, winning two or three successive corners. From one of these, the ball was headed back across goal by Helguson and finished off by former gooner Jay Bothroyd. Rangers’ vociferous fans sniffed the chance of another London Derby shock. Spurs went in search of another goal though. Van der Vaart had a free kick parried by Kenny, before Adebayor’s effort was blocked and Bale’s follow-up was saved. Friedel had to make a decent save at the other end from Faurlin, before Ekotto had an attempt on goal parried after a Van der Vaart corner. The ball was returned safely to the hands of Kenny in goal.
Spurs restored the two goal difference though after a cross from the right and a neat exchange of passes between Lennon and Bale, before Bale hit a powerfully driven shot past Kenny, who was well beaten. Adebayor should done better with Lennon’s pass from the left, but the big striker hit the ball wide. Howard Webb awarded QPR a free kick on the edge of the Spurs area after 79 minutes, but Faurlin hit the ball over the bar. Wright-Phillips, who spent the game on the left flank for Rangers, might have at least tested Friedel with a shot when he was in space, but he hit the chance well wide.
Scott Parker took some well-deserved applause for his tigerish ball-winning display, when replaced by Sandro, and Spurs saw the game out to return to fifth place, and realistically threaten Newcastle and Chelsea immediately above them. Should Newcastle lose by two goals at Stoke tomorrow, then Spurs would take fourth place.
With wins in both their London Derby matches played so far against Arsenal and QPR, Spurs have taken an early lead in the “London League”, with Fulham to come next Sunday. How’s about that then?
Editor's note - the news of Jimmy Savile's death came on this day, and the article originally featured a respectful comment. One year later, his name was disgraced by numerous allegations of child abuse, and perversion. The comment has therefore been removed, but the style of the report remains
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