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Man City v Spurs, 09.11.08

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 9TH NOVEMBER, 2008
MANCHESTER CITY 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)

Man City scorer:-
Robinho, 16

Spurs scorer:-
Bent, 29, 64

Referee: - Mike Dean

Attendance: - 41,893

Teams:-
Man City (4-4-2):- Hart; Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne (Capt.), Garrido; Wright-Phillips, Fernandes, Ireland, Vassell (sub Hamann, 30); Benjani, Robinho

Subs not used: - Schmeichel; Ben Haim, Onuoha; Evans, Elano; Jo

Booked: - Fernandes (foul on Modric)

Sent off: - Fernandes (second bookable offence – on Bentley), 25, Dunne (Professional foul on Bent), 83

Spurs (4-5-1):- Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Bentley, Jenas, Huddlestone, Zokora, Modric (sub Lennon, 70); Bent

Subs not used: - Cesar; Hutton, Dawson; O’Hara; Pavlyuchenko, Campbell

Booked: - Zokora (foul on Robinho), Ekotto (Dissent), King (foul on Benjani)

Sent off: - Ekotto (second bookable offence - foul on Zabaleta, 89)

Redknapp Renaissance Rolls on!

The Harry Redknapp inspired renaissance at Tottenham just keeps rolling along. Unbeaten in his reign of five games, Harry’s Spurs have won three out of four league games, drawn at Arsenal, and convincingly won their one UEFA Cup game in his command. Darren Bent made it 7 goals in those four games, with a fine brace today that puts him in the top echelon of Premier League goal-scorers for the season so far. City will rue the early dismissal of midfielder Gelson Fernandes, but skipper Richard Dunne continued his nightmare season, with the error that let in Bent for his first goal, and also a professional foul that got him a red card with 7 minutes of normal time remaining. Yet, with only 9 opponents left on the pitch, Spurs made heavy weather of securing the three points, when they should have had the game by the throat.

Harry Redknapp had been quoted before the game about his selection nightmare, and with Jenas fit, it looked as if he had bottled it somewhat by including both Jenas and Zokora in the starting line up beside Huddlestone. Bentley was on the right, and Modric started not in the hole, but towards the left of midfield – just where he had looked below par under Juande Ramos. It wasn’t long before Luka reverted to his now familiar role, behind Bent, where he had the sort of impact we have seen since Redknapp’s arrival.

Hutton was left on the bench, and Bale was out of the 18 altogether. Former City man Vedran Corluka had a competent game at right back, booed by those he had left in August. Ledley King made his fifth Premier League appearance of the season, beside the ever-reliable Jonathan Woodgate.

City were missing Vincent Kompany in the middle, and started with Benjani playing up front with Robinho, and Darius Vassell causing Ekotto havoc down the Spurs left flank, after an early switch with Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Spurs were the first to come close, when Bentley threaded a ball from a central position in the direction of Bent after 6 minutes. Joe Hart was alert to the threat and beat Bent to the ball. Modric was next to try a shot after a Jenas pass, but the ball passed just outside the post. Vassell made a dangerous run and hit a shot that Gomes held cleanly. However, City took a 16th minute lead from a move started and finished by Robinho, who passed from the left to Vassell via Wright-Phillips. Vassell was given acres of space by Ekotto, and hit a shot that was parried by Gomes. Robinho finished off for his seventh league goal of the season.

Fernandes soon got his first yellow for a foul on Modric. Jenas and Bentley were getting the ball in good positions, but failing to make good use of the situation. After 23 minutes, Spurs wasted a free kick in the middle and City broke clear with Ireland chased by Ekotto. Ireland hit a shot that was saved by Gomes. Then we were waving bye-bye to Fernandes as he brought down Bentley to be shown yellow and red by Mr. Dean. Joe Hart made a great save from a Modric shot, after Bentley’s pass, and then in the 29th minute, Richard Dunne mis-cued a clearance and put the ball into Bent’s path. Darren came down the left side of the box and finished nicely across Hart, to celebrate in front of the away support.

Vassell was then sacrificed for Hamann, and Benjani helped out the midfield, to give Robinho the free role up front. Ekotto made a good run forward, and hit a good ball towards Bent, where Dunne nearly made a mess of another clearance. Bentley had a good effort after breaking powerfully through two close-marking defenders, but he hit his shot over the bar.

Zokora took an early card in the second half for a foul on Robinho, and Ekotto was booked at this stage for kicking the ball away. I thought that Zokora might be the one to go off in favour of Lennon, who might have been the impact player to take advantage of City’s deficit. Zokora stayed though. Modric was becoming more and more potent though, and after a good run, sent the ball in Bent’s direction, where Hart collected. Wright-Phillips demonstrated great skill in chipping the ball over Ledley King, before hitting a powerful shot that Gomes saved well. Ledley then got what was only his seventh ever Premier League booking for a foul on Benjani. It was his second booking in a week in a distinguished career! From the free kick, Dunne had a close range header well saved by Gomes, and as he tried to follow up against Woodgate, Dunne was penalised.

Spurs went 2-1 up through Bent’s second goal, after Jenas collected Huddlestone’s long ball from the left, and pushed it in the path of Bent who finished with aplomb from the right side of the box. Ekotto and Zokora worked the ball well down the left flank, and it was Zokora’s ball that reached Huddlestone, who hit a good low shot just wide. At this stage I was thinking that Spurs should have gone for the throat, and got Lennon on for Zokora, but it was Modric who made way. Lennon never got the ball in an attacking situation, and just seemed to become a part of a five man defensive midfield, surrendering the initiative to the home side.

Referee Dean allowed City to take a quick free kick while he seemed to be having words with Jenas, and with Spurs in a little disarray, Robinho’s shot was tipped round the corner by Gomes. Gomes then made a similar save from Stephen Ireland after Dunne had failed with a free header from a corner. Another resulting corner was cleared, before Corluka got forward and had a pot shot that passed outside Hart’s left post. Dunne then got his red card after that foul on Bent, who would have been in the clear. Bentley’s free kick was held by Hart.

Spurs had to hold on for the three points against nine men, and for the last few minutes had to do without Ekotto, who got a red card for his foul on the City right back, which was his second bookable offence. With Ekotto suspended, it will be time next week for Gareth Bale to lose that league hoodoo, of not starting a league game that Spurs have won since his arrival. Fulham next week would be a good place to start.

Spurs have climbed off the bottom and out of the bottom three for the first time since Day One of the season. It seems incredible, but a team staring a relegation fight in the eye a little over two weeks ago has every chance of competing in the top half with another win or two. Bring on Liverpool in Wednesday’s Carling Cup tie first though!

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

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