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Spurs v Wigan, 11.11.07


Jenas, 13, 26
Lennon, 34
Bent, 72

Attendance: - 35,504

Referee: - Mr Howard Webb (Not as per programme)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Lee; Lennon (sub Defoe, 79), Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque (sub Tainio, 52); Berbatov, Keane (Capt.) (sub Bent, 67)
(Armband to Robinson)
Subs not used: - Cerny; Archibald-Henville (squad number 38)

No bookings

Wigan (4-5-1/4-4-2):- Kirkland; Melchiot (Capt.), Granqvist, Bramble, Kilbane; Cotterill (sub Sibierski, 390, Landzaat, Scharner, Skoko (sub Brown, 63), Taylor; M. Bent

Subs not used: - Pollitt; Hall; Olembe

Booked: - Skoko, Scharner

Doom Clouds Lifting at Tottenham

Spurs got a much-needed second Premier League win of the season, lifting themselves three places up the table, and consigning Wigan to their seventh consecutive defeat and a warranted bottom three placing. Juande Ramos has had a fairly gentle introduction to the coach’s job at White Hart Lane, but with three wins out of four, and three clean sheets too, it can truly be said that Mr Ramos is helping to lift the doom clouds away from The Lane.

With so many injuries, particularly in the defensive department, the Spurs team almost picked itself, with Chimbonda back at right back against his old team, Kaboul returning to play next to Dawson, and Lee at left back. I would particularly like to mention the inclusion on the bench of Troy Archibald-Henville, who has been making great progress in the Reserve team this season, and as a reward gained his first placing in the first 16. Everyone around me was asking about him, which makes me wonder how many people do actually read the programme; the official site; and of course Spurs Odyssey! It’s as if so many fans need to be force-fed information about their team. For the record, Troy is primarily used as a centre-back, although he has played at right back, and even in the midfield for the Academy last season. Troy is a powerfully-built lad, and an excellent stopper, if not the greatest passer as yet.

There were hardly any Wigan fans present to give Chimbonda any stick. They were allocated a section in the south-west Upper Stand, but I would be surprised if more than 100 travelled from the North-West today. Their team started off in a 4-5-1 formation, with Marcus Bent the lone front runner, and 19 year old David Cotterill given a berth on the right wing. Once they went three down, Cotterill was replaced by Antoine Sibierski, and Wigan reverted to a 4-4-2, to at least try and restore some pride, and perhaps salvage their goal-difference. Ultimately, that change had no effect, although Paul Robinson did at least have to make a save from Sibierski late in the game.

Spurs started a little tentatively, with Berbatov getting an early touch outside the area, and after three minutes, Kaboul hitting a wild free kick way over the goal. It wasn’t long though before Berbatov, Keane and Lennon in particular found their attacking feet, with both Zokora and Jenas showing more energy and effect in the middle than of late, winning challenges, stealing poor passes, thus firing the attacks. A low driven ball by Dawson was dummied by Keane after 7 minutes, allowing Berbatov a pass to Lennon, whose low shot was held by Kirkland at the second attempt. Lennon then involved Chimbonda in an attack down the right. Chimbonda put the ball into the right area, but unfortunately it did not fall to white stockinged feet!

The first goal came after a wonderful piece of skill by Robbie Keane inside the area on the left, beating Granqvist along the bye-line, before crossing low. Kirkland got a touch, but Jenas only had to stand in the way of the ball to notch up his second goal of the season. The last time JJ scored was in Spurs’ other win – also 4-0 – over Derby. Jenas is clearly celebrating a new arrival in the family, as there was a Romario-type gathering in front of the Park Lane stand to celebrate.

Whilst Dimitar Berbatov did not get on the score-sheet, he was only edged for man of the match today by Jenas, in my opinion. Berbatov’s attitude looked good. He looked hungry for the ball, and his work rate was good throughout. After 17 minutes, Berbatov headed down for Robbie Keane, whose right footed effort was over the bar. Mid-way through the first half, Jenas and Malbranque led the move that enabled Berbatov to try and shot from just outside the box, hitting his shot just one yard over the bar.

It was Berbatov’s final pass that led to the second goal, but the move started in Spurs’ half, as Malbranque passed from the touchline to Dimitar, who sent a long pass down the left channel. Keane stood still, as he knew he was in an offside position, and the ever-athletic Jenas made up the ground to chase and collect the ball, carrying it into the area, rounding Kirkland then beating Kilbane to score on the tight side of the goal. More baby-rocking followed!

Berbatov was the creator for the third goal, chasing down Robinson’s long ball on the right side this time. Berbatov retrieved, and fed the ball back to Lennon, who cut inside and hit a great shot across the keeper who was beaten by the bounce just in front of his body, to watch the ball go into the net in the far corner.

Stand-in manager Frank Barlow made that early substitution, reverted to 4-4-2, and Landzaat took up station on the right of midfield. Jenas had a wonderful hat-trick chance two minutes before the break, again fed by Berbatov, carrying the ball into the area from the right side, but pushing his shot just wide.

Spurs took a long time to get going after the break, and Malbranque was replaced by Tainio, who started on the left, but also played on the right side at times during the half. Tainio had one of his better games, and as the half progressed, Spurs passing again became quicker, and more direct leading to more attacking football. Wigan got a couple of bookings, at least one of which was for stopping the flowing run of Aaron Lennon. Skoko – on a yellow card – was replaced by Michael Brown, who got a great reception from the home fans, always willing to acknowledge a worker when they see one.

Jenas got on the end of a good move that he had started, receiving a chipped ball from Lennon, but the flag was already up for offside as he put the ball in the net. Robbie Keane was replaced by Darren Bent mid-way through the second half. Bent was soon to add to his goal tally, but first Berbatov was on hand again, threading a ball to Lennon, who cut inside before forcing a good save by Kirkland to concede a corner. Three minutes later and Bent got another excellent goal – his fourth of the season – following another excellent move by Spurs from a defensive position. Chimbonda had played the ball out and Tainio and Berbatov made effective quick passes in the build-up. Jenas provided the final ball though, as Darren ran into the box on the right side, shooting across Kirkland, and scoring by way of the far post. Bent nearly added to the tally a minute later, putting a Berbatov pass wide. Tainio and Chimbonda had again been involved in the move down the right side.

Even Zokora nearly got in on the scoring act, snatching a failed pass, and making typical run, before his shot was saved. Lennon was replaced by Defoe, and within a minute, Berbatov hit the bar with his shot from the edge of the box, and Kaboul’s follow-up also rebounded off the bar. Paul Robinson finally had to make a save of note as Sibierski hit a decent shot on the turn from the right. After Berbatov headed over a Jenas free kick, Wigan might have gained a consolation through Michael Brown, who got his head to a free kick, but put it outside the target.

So, it was a good day for Spurs, who now have a two-week break (like everyone else!) whilst we hope for Israel to get a result against Russia and for England to beat Croatia. Our next game will be at Upton Park. Spurs still have a long haul ahead of them to get into the top half of the table. Even two wins will not be enough to lift us out of the wrong end of the league, but at least they have made a good start on their recovery under Juande Ramos.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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