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Spurs v Wolves, 14.01.12

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 14TH JANUARY, 2012
(3 P.M.)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1 (1)

Spurs scorer:-
Modric, 51

Wolves scorer:-
Fletcher, 22

Attendance:- 36,194

Referee:- Mr. M. Jones
Assistants:- Mr J. Flynn & Mr. S. Long
Fourth Official:- Mr. D. Deadman

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Friedel; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto (sub Rose, 80); Lennon (sub Defoe, 74), Parker, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Adebayor

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Bassong; Kranjcar, Livermore; Pavlyuchenko

Booked:- Assou-Ekotto (foul on Kightly)

Wolves (4-5-1):- Hennessy; Foley, Johnson (Capt.), Berra, Ward; Kightly, Frimpong (sub Hunt, 67), Edwards (sub Milijas, 81), Henry, Jarvis (sub Elokobi, 85); Fletcher

Subs not used:- De Vries; Stearman; Ebanks-Blake, Doyle

Booked:- Frimpong (foul on Bale), Henry (foul on Modric), Johnson (Dissent)

Wolves frustrate; Spurs not great

Spurs have been talked up big time by the press this week, and after this result, they will love the opportunity to pull them down again. The “failed to take joint top spot” headlines have been fully deployed already. There were potential holes to be picked in the Spurs performance though, such as “failed to defend corner properly”, “Dawson not at his best” (perhaps it was one too much, too soon for Michael), “Parker not firing on all cylinders” (perhaps he came back too early), “Bale’s shooting awful” (no excuse there) etc. I could go on, but there is also an argument that Adebayor’s disallowed goal for offside in the first half, was in fact legal, and it remains a fact that we are secure in third place, with Chelsea still 6 points behind. That’s still something for the cockerel to crow about!

Spurs dominated possession; had more attempts on goal; and more shots on target, but in proportion to their attempts, their accuracy and lack of power was the big failure. Wolves will be very pleased with their point, and they certainly defended in packs!

The only change to the Spurs line-up was the return of Scott Parker for Jake Livermore, who was unfortunate not to even get a look-in after his super performance against Everton, when he was narrowly edged out by Benoit Assou-Ekotto for the man of the match vote. Wolves were able to field their Captain Roger Johnson at the back, and they also had Arsenal loanee Emmanuel Frimpong in midfield, who was suitably welcomed by the Spurs fans.

Frimpong showed his intentions very early, committing a hard foul on Rafa van der Vaart. Scott Parker gave Kyle Walker a run after 3 minutes, and the full back chased and controlled the ball, passing inside to Lennon, who teed up Modric for a shot, which passed wide of Hennessy’s right post. Modric was tireless all day, and of course had a cracking goal to show for his efforts in the end. Wolves’ challenges were heavy and Assou-Ekotto required treatment after 8 minutes. Before Benoit had properly recovered he was foiled by Kightly. Assou-Ekotto got a touch on the shot, and Friedel prevented a corner by diving to save in front of the bye-line.

Younes Kaboul made a number of charges up the field, but too often his final pass was poor. One move after 17 minutes gave Spurs a great chance though, when Kaboul found Adebayor down the left of centre. The cross for Modric just got under the Croatian’s feet, and no shot came from the chance. That move got replayed about 8 times on the concourse at half-time! Lennon and Bale were switching again, and a Lennon ball gave Modric another chance. Luka hit a good shot just over the left corner of the goal.

Regarding Gareth Bale his freedom of movement sometimes gives him opportunities to disappear not just off the radar of the defence, but also that of the observing fan! Sometimes it comes as a blessed relief to see him on the left wing!

Wolves took a lead against the run of play, and in somewhat dubious circumstances. Kyle Walker was convinced that he only had to shepherd a ball out of play for a goal-kick but referee Mike Jones gave a corner. Spurs failed to defend the corner properly, and Johnson had a header on target, which Friedel saved low down, but could only parry the ball out as far as top scorer Fletcher who gratefully mopped up from close range. Thus the Wolves player goes down in statistical history as the man who scored the 1,000th Premier League goal against Tottenham. (Who remembers the first by John Williams of Coventry in August 1992?)

Spurs tried to get back on terms immediately, when Modric fed Bale, but his shot was effectively a pass to Hennessy. Another fine build up ended with Modric and Bale involved at the end before Van der Vaart hit a poor shot. Adebayor, Van der Vaart and Bale then failed to conjure up a shot in the area after more good approach play, but they were being very tightly marked. Frimpong got the first booking of the day, and arguably should have got a second yellow before he was eventually substituted in the second half. I’ve heard that he visually abused Spurs fans as he left the field too.

Another Kaboul charge led to a cross by Assou-Ekotto, which was only half-cleared to Modric, whose shot was held by Hennessy. Edwards had a chance at the other end, where Wolves were not so tightly marked by the Spurs defence. Luckily he skewed his attempt badly. After another foray forward, and exchange with Assou-Ekotto, Kaboul did get a shot on goal, which the keeper held. These shots were not enough of a test for the goal-keeper.

Then Spurs had a the ball in the net after another cross by Assou-Ekotto who got almost to the bye-line. Bale took a shot that might just have been on target anyway, but Adebayor stepped in to fire home, only to be flagged offside. The defender who was with Assou-Ekotto probably played Adebayor onside, but that was missed by the assistant referee. During three minutes of added time, Van der Vaart hit a free kick, held by that man Hennessy.

Spurs came out with a bit more determination and put the pressure on the visitors again. Lennon passed inside to Van der Vaart who hit the ball to Assou-Ekotto on the left side. He cut the ball back to Bale, who had a golden opportunity, but skied his attempt badly. This was not a world class piece of football by Bale. Friedel had to make a great save to stop Frimpong’s shot. This chance had followed a failed pass by Walker for Lennon that led to a Wolves counter, during which I reckon Walker was “done” three times with some poor defensive play. That’s where Kyle has to develop!

Spurs finally got back on terms in the 51st minute, following good play by Adebayor, Van der Vaart and Bale, all in tight situations in the area, before Bale’s final ball to Modric was eagerly finished with a powerful right footed shot. Two minutes later Hennessy made a double save. Bale crossed for Lennon, who turned the ball back to Modric. Adebayor tried to dummy Modric’s shot, but Hennessy saved, then he made a better save from Lennon’s follow-up effort.

In his own half, Bale sent Walker away with a great ball down the line. Walker crossed accurately to Adebayor, who again dummied the ball, but there was no Spurs player with him. Perhaps he got a dodgy call from a Wolves player. Probably that gooner! The chances were coming thick and fast for Spurs. Assou-Ekotto crossed and Bale headed over. Assou-Ekotto played some clever football to get into position to pass inside to Van der Vaart. Rafa crossed and Bale tried an overhead kick, with which he failed. Then Adebayor went down in the box, but it was no penalty.

Frimpong fouled Lennon, and Rafa van der Vaart hit the free kick just outside Hennessy’s left post. Mick McCarthy then took off Frimpong, probably sensing that he was close to a second booking. Assou-Ekotto took a yellow card for a foul that was less cynical than one by Henry that had just gone un-punished the referee when Spurs were on the attack.

Walker was pushing forward more and more and won what might have been a dubious corner for Spurs after 70 minutes. Luka took the kick, and Michael Dawson hit a shot over the bar. More good work by Assou-Ekotto led to a ball inside to Bale. Bale fed to Walker on his right, and Kyle also fired over the target. Lennon was replaced by Jermain Defoe, who joined Adebayor. Bale now moved to the left flank, and Rafa was nominally on the right. After an Adebayor-Van der Vaart combination, Defoe hit a powerful shot that Hennessy managed to save with his feet.

Walker made a run from his own half, finally hitting a shot that got a deflection for a corner. Henry did take a booking for a foul on Modric, but this should have been a second yellow card for the Wolves man, in my view. Modric and Van der Vaart exchanged passed before Luka hit a shot over the bar from some distance. Another fine Walker run led to a shot by Parker, but Van der Vaart managed to get in the way of this one.

It just wasn’t going to happen for Spurs today. There was some controversy in the late stages after Hennessy and a defender collided in the box and needed treatment. The defender did not leave the field after his treatment, and the referee upset Wolves by awarding a dropped ball inside the area. Johnson got a booking for his dissent. Nothing came of the dropped ball, challenged by Adebayor, and nothing came of Bale’s free kick after a foul on Parker.

We’ve got a full week off now, before the showdown at The Etihad, where Manchester City will come at us whole-heartedly. That should be an open, entertaining and exciting game, which might just suit Spurs!

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