BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 9TH DECEMBER, 2007
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) MANCHESTER CITY 1 (0)
Attendance: - 35,646
Referee: - Mark Halsey
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson (Capt.); Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Lee; Lennon (sub Boateng, 67), Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque; Bent (sub Defoe, 77), Berbatov (sub Tainio, 90)
Subs not used: - Cerny; O’Hara
Booked: - Defoe (celebrating with his own fans), Jenas (foul)
Man City (4-5-1):- Isaksson; Corluka, Dunne (Capt.), Richards, Garrido; Etuhu (sub Bianchi, 57), Johnson, Gelson Fernandes, Ireland, Petrov; Vassell (sub Geovanni, 83)
Subs not used: - Hart; Anuoha; Sun Jihai
Booked: - Garrido (foul on Lennon), Dunne, Gelson
Sent off: - Ireland (foul on Lee)
Jermain Defoe scored a dramatic 83rd minute winner only 5 minutes after replacing Darren Bent to give Spurs a much-needed win, taking them up to 13th place, their highest placing since September 1st. Defeat would have left them in the bottom three and a draw would have left them barely above the relegation zone on a day when other struggling teams (Middlesbrough and Bolton) also gained valuable wins. The fact that Middlesbrough beat Arsenal gave us mixed feelings at the start of the game, as we knew a win was so much more important.
Pascal Chimbonda had put Spurs in the lead just before half-time with a controversial goal, which Man City claimed was offside and was handled into the net. Significantly, the Jumbotron showed only one brief replay, whereas the norm is for three or four, plus another run during half-time. Mind you, much of the break was taken by Martin Chivers and Cliff Jones desperately having to plug the “Spurs Opus”, available at the cheapest price of just £4,000!
Putting aside any debate about Jermain Defoe, Juande Ramos fielded his best available eleven, with so many injured defenders and the suspended Robbie Keane. Kaboul was given another chance to prove his worth, and defensively did quite well. Where Kaboul did disappoint was with a number of over-hit or mis-directed attempted long balls forward. Left back Young Pyo Lee had a much more torrid time defensively, often failing to deal adequately with 19 year old Nigerian winger Kelvin Etuhu, who made his first City start. Lee often failed to close him down properly, allowing some difficult crosses into the danger zone, and also was guilty of bottling out of face on challenges on a few occasions too. The sooner Bale is fit, the better for us all. Unfortunately, Bale was present, but on crutches.
It was easy to see why City have often failed on their away trips this season. Sven chose a 4-5-1 formation with Darius Vassell the lone striker. Whilst the visitors did swamp the midfield, and often did have the upper hand on Jenas and Zokora, I can hardly remember any chances on goal before substitute Bianchi’s 61st minute equaliser. Both Bianchi and Defoe scored soon after their arrival on the pitch.
Whilst Stephen Ireland was rightly severely punished for his reckless lunge on Lee after 81 minutes, I felt that too often, City were allowed to get away with subtle cynical touches that would halt a Spurs player in their stride. As an example, Bent was running clear in the first half and tumbled on the edge of the area, but Mr Halsey obviously felt that Bent did not wish to chase an open ball. As early as the first minute one of Mr Halsey’s assistants gave a corner against Lee, when clearly he had put the ball out off the City attacker.
Berbatov was having a lot of creative influence in the first half especially, and set up Bent after 8 minutes with a great ball inside a defender. Bent hit a weak shot which was easily saved. Three minutes later, after an attacking Spurs throw down the right, Berbatov fed the ball inside to Malbranque who hit a great shot headed out by Dunne for a corner.
City’s left back Garrido got booked after just 15 minutes for a foul on Lennon, and was lucky not see red for two bookable offences committed in the second half. I wondered if Mr Halsey was now training with City rather than Bolton. Berbatov did well after 6 minutes, with 2 defenders in close proximity. The ball ran to Bent on the right side of the box, and with the goal beckoning he struck his shot wide across the keeper. Berbatov led a Spurs break after 22 minutes, and Jenas made a run ahead of him, receiving the pass, but having his shot blocked. City responded with a break of their own and Etuhu got the batter of Lee, hitting a cross that was cleared.
The Spurs goal was deserved on the run of play in the first half, and came after Berbatov was fouled just outside the edge of the area on the left side. Jenas took the free kick, hitting it hard and low. Berbatov and Dawson might have got touches on the way, but it was Chimbonda who claimed the controversial goal in front of the South Stand.
It was ten minutes into the second half before Spurs forged a meaningful chance. This came after Zokora was involved in the build up with Chimbonda – not once but twice making creative contributions. The ball reached Berbatov, whose shot was pushed around the corner by Isaksson. Etuhu was replaced by Bianchi (“He comes from Italy, He plays for Man City”), who met Petrov’s 61st minute corner with an unstoppable header at the near post.
Lennon was replaced by Boateng mid-way through the second half. Ironically, Lennon had just managed to pass his two markers to get a good cross in, but I think that Ramos wanted to shore up the midfield, where City looked in danger of over-running Spurs. Malbranque was my man of the match, working tirelessly up and down the pitch, chasing back, tackling, winning the ball, and passing well throughout the 90 minutes. After 73 minutes, Malbranque received from Lee and took the ball deep on the left before crossing. Both Berbatov and Boateng left the ball to Jenas, whose shot from 20 yards should have burst the net instead of worrying the fans behind Isaksson’s goal.
The winner for Spurs came within minutes of Defoe’s arrival, and Ireland’s dismissal. Malbranque received Boateng’s ball and hit a cross that might have had an assisting flick, rebounding off Isaksson’s left post. The rebound reached Defoe, who rifled in a typical goal, and raced towards the East Lower to celebrate – getting a yellow for his trouble.
Sven took off Vassell for Geovanni who did score at Wigan last week. City did put Spurs under some pressure, but Defoe had another shot parried after more good work from Malbranque and Berbatov. Berbatov made way for Tainio, as Spurs sought to see out time, and the allotted added time of 4 minutes seemed to go far beyond that, as the home crowd urged Mr Halsey to blow that whistle.
This was Spurs fourth consecutive 2-1 home league win over City, and also the fourth consecutive 2-1 win in the last four games played home and away. We have now won our last seven games in all against City. Statistically, that ought to give us confidence for our forthcoming Carling Cup tie at Eastlands, where we have yet to be beaten. City may have Elano available again by then, and will feel very confident themselves, due to their 100% League record at home this season.
Spurs now have to travel to Portsmouth and then Arsenal in the quest for precious Premier League points.
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.
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