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Spurs v Leeds, 24.11.02

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 24TH NOVEMBER, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) LEEDS UNITED 0 (0)

Scorers:-
Sheringham, 12
Keane, 41

Attendance:- 35, 718

Referee:- Steve Bennett

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Keller; King, Richards, Bunjevcevic; Carr, Freund, Anderton (sub Redknapp, 77), Poyet (sub Iversen, 90), Ziege (sub Davies, 68); Sheringham (Capt), Keane

Subs not used:- Hirschfeld; Perry

Booked:- Poyet, Ziege, Bunjevcevic

Leeds (3-5-2):- Robinson; Woodgate, Bakke, Lucic; Kelly (Capt), Bowyer, McPhail, Burns, (sub Viduka, 37), (sub Milner, 81), Wilcox; Kewell, Smith

Subs not used:- Martyn; Duberry; Richardson

Booked:- Bakke, Wilcox, Burns, Kewell, McPhail, Smith, Bowyer

Robbie Keane rubbed Leeds' noses in the dirt, with a man of the match display, including the build up to Teddy Sheringham's goal, a cracking 41st minute goal, and a wizard of a display throughout the game. Indeed the Spurs fans responded with a cheeky "Thank you very much for the Robbie Keane" chant to the tune of Scaffold's sixties hit. If Leeds' fans had their way, both Terry Venables and Peter Risdale would be led up a scaffold to face retribution for what they see as the potential destruction of their club.

This was a mid-table "six-pointer", and Leeds could have leap-frogged over Spurs, had they won. Spurs are now a healthy six points clear of Leeds, who are in touch with the relegation candidates, whilst Spurs, with their first win in five league games, are once again in contention for the lower European qualification places. When you look at the number of players booked by referee Steve Bennett, especially the seven from Leeds, you would think that this was a game played with the fiery passion of many recent encounters between these two teams, and that perhaps the Leeds side matched that of the Don Revie era for fire and grit.

There was no such evidence of this today. The game was by no means dirty, as neither physio entered the field of play till Gus Poyet had to replaced in the dying seconds with a head injury. It was just that Bennett seemed to book players for everything. Terry Venables had a needless addition to his woes, when Nicky Barmby suffered an Achilles injury in the warm-up, yet he still left Viduka on the bench in favour of Australian Jacob Burns. Venables does have a long injury list, but apart from Burns, all the other players representing the Elland Road outfit are established players.

Anyway, enough of Leeds, for this is a Spurs website report! Glenn Hoddle has the unusual luxury of having virtually a full squad to pick from. It didn't do much good last week at Highbury, but today, as anticipated, Glenn reverted to his favoured 3-5-2 (which was matched by Venables until Viduka's entrance). Christian Ziege was welcomed back to the left wing-back role, whilst both Simon Davies and Jamie Redknapp were left on the bench, accommodating Anderton at the hub of the midfield. Whilst I have been critical of Gus Poyet recently, I have to say that he was most influential in the first half of this game, winning 50-50 balls in the middle, and having involvement in both goals. Ledley King was outstanding in defence, looking very comfortable on the ball, strong in the tackle, and distributing well, whilst Goran Bunjevcevic had one of his best games for the team on the left side of the back three. Only in the second half, did Dean Richards display some weakness, when he misjudged a couple of long balls, and gave the ball away too cheaply, when he should have been clearing. Stephen Carr showed more vigour than of late, and this was a good team performance.

Spurs had enjoyed the greater share of possession in the early stages, without forcing Robinson into action, but they went ahead in the 12th minute, when skipper Teddy Sheringham scored his first league goal in open play since 11th September. Spurs had won a throw just into the Leeds half on the right, and I believe that Poyet was the challenging white shirt leading to the ball falling to Robbie Keane in a central position. Keane went on a run towards the left, and when tackled by Swedish loan player Teddy Lucic, the ball fell to Sheringham in space on the right of the box. Teddy hit a low left foot drive beating Robinson diving to his right. Sheringham enjoyed the celebration as he ran to the south-east corner flag, and continued to run down the touchline.

Then the bookings started for Leeds. First into the book was Bakke for a foul on Sheringham, then Wilcox joined him for up-ending Carr on a typical run down the right wing. After 22 minutes, Keane shared a 1-2 with Teddy, before hitting a rocket of a drive that went straight to Robinson, just inside his left post. Two minutes later, Keane asked for and received a lovely ball from Bunjevcevic, before taking the ball to the line and sending a cross that was cleared for a corner. Five minutes later, after loads of good possession, Ziege passed back to Bunjevcevic, who sent another deep cross to the back post, where Carr's low shot went across and in front of the goal.

Gus Poyet was at the start and finish of a move featuring Anderton and that man Keane again. Gus did well to find the space for the shot, but it was on the stretch and easily cleared by the defence. Keane had yet another run into the box, finishing with a cross shot that went wide. His ex-Leeds colleagues must have been cursing the management for letting this star go!

The Leeds fans had just ironically cheered their first shot on goal, when Viduka came on, and had a part in a useful build-up for the visitors. He sent the ball to Kelly on the right, Richards only half-cleared the cross, and Bowyer had Keller worried with a chipped shot that landed on the net. Then came Keane's cracker, just four minutes before half-time. Kewell had been booked for a foul on Freund near the Spurs corner flag, Keller took the kick, Poyet headed down for Keane, who hit a glorious right foot drive past the keeper. Robbie was so excited that he only managed his cartwheel, and not the usual forward roll to follow!

Venables had already switched to four at the back before the break, with Bakke moving up the middle. They came at us more in the second half. Carr was penalised 3 minutes after the re-start, and Viduka hit a free kick just over that gave Kasey Keller something to think about. Spurs took a while to adjust to the new Leeds formation, but Bunjee took up the left back role, and Ziege was left in midfield. I don't know whether it was down to his fitness levels, but as the game wore on, Ziege seemed to move less and less off the ball, and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Simon Davies after 68 minutes. Davies will miss next week's game at St. Andrews, due to suspension, and Glenn Hoddle justified his absence from the starting line-up, quoting his long trip to Azerbaijan in mid-week with Wales.

Keane went down in the penalty area, but got no joy for his penalty appeal. He showed great skill again, mid-way through the second half, but pulled his shot across the goal and wide. Spurs were now exciting only in spasms, but with fifteen minutes left, Carr sent Davies away down the line. Simon cut inside for Teddy who almost had time to shoot but decided to feed Poyet who could not quite get on a shot. The ball was cleared as far as Anderton, whose 20 yard shot was wide.

Viduka seemed to have suffered a knock, and had to be replaced by young James Milner, who immediately had an impact, finding Bowyer in space on the right. Bowyer threatened the goal, but Keller was bravely out to gather the ball off his feet. Bowyer then drew further ironic cheers with a late dipping shot, collected easily by Keller.

I fancy that Spurs will face a tougher task at Birmingham next week, and in their next home game against West Brom, but they are well on their way to the target I have for them of 7 points from three games. The first win and the first league goals of the month have put a welcome smile on our faces!

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