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Spurs v West Bromwich Albion, 08.12.02

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 8TH DECEMBER, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2) WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 (0)

Spurs scorers:-
Ziege, 3
Keane, 30
Poyet, 80

West Brom Scorer:-
Dobie, 73

Referee:- Mr A. Wiley

Attendance:-
35,958

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Keller; King (sub Iversen, 64), Perry, Richards; Carr, Davies, Anderton, Redknapp, Ziege; Sheringham (sub Poyet, 73), Keane (Captain's band handed to Redknapp)

Subs not used:- Hirschfeld; Doherty; Ferdinand

Booked:- Ziege (dissent), Keller (foul outside area)

West Brom (3-5-2):- Hoult; Sigurdsson, Gregan, Wallwork; Balis, Koumas, McInnes (Capt), Johnson (sub A. Chambers, 84), Clement; Hughes (sub Dobie, 55), Roberts (sub Dichio, 81)

Subs not used:- Murphy; J. Chambers

Booked:- Clement (foul)

After half an hour of this game, Spurs were two goals up, and yet virtually all the decent football had been played by West Bromwich Albion, visiting the Lane for the first time since 1986. With 23 year old Jason Koumas racing through the middle and pulling all the strings for the Baggies, and Dean Richards struggling to control Jason Roberts and Lee Hughes whenever they tackled him down the left side of the Spurs back three, this was the least convincing two goal lead I can recall Spurs having. I got some critical e-mails this week, after writing an article entitled "Where's the progress, Glenn", and yet Hoddle himself admitted after the game that we had not played well. I say to home fans - "This is what we have been used to overall the whole season!". The number of good performances this season can be counted on one hand, in my view. I say here and now that we will not get anything out of next week's game against Arsenal without much more in the way of endeavour, grit and ability.

As far as I know, Glenn's only enforced change to the side was for the suspension of Goran Bunjevcevic - suspended after 5 bookings. Chris Perry was drafted into the defence and started in the middle with Ledley King on the right, and Richards on the left. Until Hoddle switched King to the left and shuffled the other two one place to the right, West Brom had a hey day attacking our left flank, with Ziege (as is often the case) too far forward, and Richards out-paced and turned with too much ease. I can only hope that Steffen Freund has simply been rested for next week's Derby game. You felt that he would have been chasing Koumas all over the place, and - how can I put this? - letting him know he was about! Although he prefers this formation, Simon Davies had an unimpressive game today, Anderton gave the ball away too cheaply, and just did not cut the mustard when it came to getting stuck in, whilst Jamie Redknapp is struggling to find a consistent vein of form.

Glenn's theory was that perhaps the team had relaxed too much after taking an early lead. This came on just three minutes, when Teddy Sheringham was fouled just outside the box, and with Redknapp standing over the ball, Ziege curved a low drive round the wall into the net at Hoult's right side. West Brom immediately showed that they had come to play football, and not to sit back trying to scrape a point. Perhaps that has been their problem this season, and they have exposed their defence too much for this level. Nonetheless, both Koumas and Hughes sent really dangerous crosses winging from the right past Keller, with no-one there to convert the chances.

Balis sent Roberts away, and with Richards beaten, Keller had to race out, but Roberts was ahead of the game, and got round Kasey, sending his cross/shot over the bar. After 14 minutes, Roberts again beat Richards, giving the ball to Balis doing a Carr impersonation down the Baggies' right wing. Balis's cross was mis-kicked by King into the path of Clement, who fired wide with an open goal available. Then it was Koumas who was away on a terrific run from his own half, leaving a wake of white shirts behind him, setting up Hughes, who could only send a tame shot straight to Keller. Keller had to save again, this time from a decent low shot from Koumas, after an Anderton clearance went straight to the ex-Tranmere star.

Then came a second goal out of the blue for Tottenham. It did follow a lovely example of one touch play from Anderton, Sheringham and then Ziege who sent Robbie Keane away with a defender on his shoulders. Robbie coolly hit the ball past Hoult with the outside of his right foot, and decided to give the away fans the benefit of his celebration, as they had been giving him a bit of stick (Presumably because of his ex-Wolves antecedents). Well done Robbie! Just before half-time, he could have done it again, as he beat the offside just inside Albion's half, but was thwarted by Hoult in the one on one opportunity.

After the break, Spurs showed a bit more interest in the opposition goal. Keane could not quite get onto a shooting chance inside the box, fed Teddy, who found Carr on the right. Carr's shot was deflected for a corner, and soon after that Stephen provided for Keane, whose shooting chance was blocked. Hughes had to be replaced by Dobie with 55 minutes on the clock. Teddy sent Keane away down the right, but Robbie's cross for Simon Davies, was deflected to the keeper.

Kasey Keller earnt boos from the visiting support when he was only booked for a foul outside the box, but then he saved from the ensuing free kick. At the other end, Hoult gave away a free kick when he handled a ball outside his area, pushing the ball out for a corner. There was no booking, presumably because the referee thought Hoult had just lost his orientation. Substitute Dobie scored a terrific low right foot drive from 20 yards, when collecting another loose defensive clearance, and it looked as if Spurs might yet surrender another lead.

King had been replaced before the goal by Iversen, and when Teddy Sheringham got the call to the bench in favour of Gus Poyet, the skipper looked none too pleased. The change was to prove fruitful, as Gus popped up to finish a scramble in the goalmouth, when Iversen managed to send the ball towards goal, Hoult saved, but pushed the ball to Poyet who shot home. The two goal lead was restored, and we could relax again.

Spurs have moved back up to seventh again, and results-wise their position and statistics reflect last year's situation after 17 games. It is a mystery to me why we cannot play more good football, now that the manager has virtually all his resources to chose from. Like all Spurs fans, I really hope for a revenge victory at home to the Gooners next Sunday, but my head tells me it ain't gonna happen, although the majority of the crowd will be baying for a home win.

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