BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 3RD DECEMBER, 2011
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1) BOLTON WANDERERS 0 (0)
Referee:- Mr. S. Attwell
Assistants:- Mr. C. Breakspear & Mr. S. Long
Fourth official:- Mr. D. Whitestone
Spurs (4-4-2):- Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Ekotto; Lennon (sub Van der Vaart, 73), Parker (Capt) (sub Livermore, 850, Modric, Bale; Defoe, Adebayor
(Armband to Modric)
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Corluka, Bassong; Pienaar; Pavlyuchenko
Bolton (4-4-1-1):- Jaaskelainen; Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; M. Davies, Muamba (sub Steinsson, 27), Reo-Coker, Eagles; Klasnic (sub Ngog, 72), K. Davies (Capt) (sub Pratley, 62)
Subs not used:- Bogdan; Kakuta, Petrov, Tuncay
Booked:- Robinson, Boyata
Sent off:- Cahill (Professional foul, 17)
Spurs strolling against The Trotters
Spurs’ magnificent run of 11 Premier League games unbeaten (Won 10, Drawn 1) continued with another record broken. This was the first time the team has won six consecutive Premier League games, and the first such run since the end of the 1989-90 season. Long may you run Spurs!
All reports on this game will tell you that Spurs were helped by the harsh red card shown to potential target Gary Cahill, when he fouled Scott Parker only just inside the Bolton half. There was another defender in line and a long, long way for Parker to go if this was preventing a goal-scoring opportunity. By then though, Spurs were already one goal up, and they were already dominating Bolton, followed by a hardy but mainly silenced following of some 400 fans. Spurs could/should have won by a hatful of goals, such were the number of chances they had, and the number of saves made by Jussi Jaaskelainen, who might not be having his greatest season, but certainly displayed his best form here. By the end of the game, it was a stroll in the park for Spurs, and some fans were critical of the decrease in desire in the latter stages of the game. Those chances kept coming though!
There was a great tribute to Gary Speed before the game, with Spurs fans chanting “Speedo” during the one minute’s applause, and an even greater one to come, in front of the Bolton fans by Gareth Bale.
Spurs had to make one or two adjustments, due to the absence of Ledley King, who received a knock in training on Friday. Kaboul moved over to the right of centre to accommodate Gallas who played on his left. Bassong is obviously less flexible, because Gallas had played right of centre in Wednesday night’s Europa League game. Rafa van der Vaart made it as far as the bench, but Jermain Defoe was given the nod to start only his sixth Premier League game of the season.
Bolton started with skipper Kevin Davies up front ahead of Ivan Klasnic, whose job was to support his midfield, when required. That was a lot!
Spurs’ first chance fell to Aaron Lennon after typical work by Bale down the left, and a low cross, flicked on by Adebayor. The shot was blocked for a corner, taken with his right foot from the right flag by Luka Modric. Gareth Bale came to the near post and beat Jaaskelainen with a glancing shot that went into the bottom of the net. Bale stood in front of the away support (although they were only in the top tier), took off his boot, and proudly showed it to the fans. Bale had “R.I.P Gary Speed” imprinted upon his boots for the occasion.
After 9 minutes, after another Bale cross, Defoe tried a shot from a wide position, but it ran across the goal. Bolton had actually been getting forward a little, but had never bothered Friedel and his defence, but had that severe set-back when Cahill was shown red after only 17 minutes. The move did demonstrate the dynamism, desire and energy of Scott Parker, as he had first run into the Bolton half on a left to right diagonal, and then when the ball switched to Bolton’s right flank, Parker was sprinting to catch up with Adebayor in the race to challenge for the ball. Parker’s presence and chance to carry the ball deep into the Bolton half led to Cahill’s instant reaction and a foul. I have seen plenty of such fouls committed by Spurs players over the years, which have never been so harshly punished. To Bolton’s credit, and that of the player, no great fuss was made, and the decision was accepted. Mind you, they’ve already seen several red cards this season, but they’ll miss Cahill as well as Wheater next week, when they host Aston Villa.
Owen Coyle’s initial adjustment was to move Reo-Coker to right back and Man City loanee Boyata inside, but subsequently he replaced Muamba with Steinsson. Reo-Coker returned to the midfield, and Kevin Davies was given the responsibility to cover the right side of midfield, whilst also trying to get forward in support of Klasnic.
Spurs could just focus on their football, which at times was poetry. These are great times to be a Spurs fan, that’s for sure. Parker received a ball from the right and clipped the top of the net at the goalkeeper’s right stanchion. Defoe latched onto a Lennon cross, turned and fired, but Jaaskelainen saved. There was one threat to Friedel, when Walker was beaten by Chris Eagles, whose shot took a deflection then looped towards the top right of Friedel’s goal. Friedel had to tip the ball over for a corner.
Ekotto and Parker fed the ball forward for Adebayor, who worked space for a finish, but was thwarted by the man in the orange goalkeeper’s jersey. Bale hit a shot well over the target from outside the area. Jaaskelainen was busy again in quick succession, as Spurs broke through in force. Adebayor passed to Bale, whose sot was saved, then Lennon returned the ball in from the right and I thought Defoe must score, but the keeper was there again. I think by this time I was cursing his excellent display. After a corner from the left, the ball fell to Ekotto, whose first shot was blocked, and whose second hit row Z – literally! Bale sent over a lovely ball from deep, but Adebayor’s shot was wide.
An Ekotto ball didn’t quite work out but the industrious and skilful Modric was able to pick up and feed the ball to Adebayor. In a subsequent move, Adebayor had a great chance and would surely score, but Jaaskelainen saved yet again, diving to his left. There was still time for a Defoe ball over the bar, and a Bale cross that passed agonisingly in front of both Spurs’ strikers.
After the break, Friedel sent Walker away with a throw, and the right back charged down his line. The final pass came from Lennon to Modric, whose shot was actually charged down by Defoe, who got an offside flag for good measure anyway! Spurs increased their lead following some lovely fast flowing football, with Walker again to the fore in attacking mode. The ball was fed across the Bolton area, and Defoe gave the final pass to Lennon, who cut inside, within the area to fire home with his right foot.
Five minutes later Ekotto seemed to have been shoved in the back by Kevin Davies as he entered the area, but referee Mr. Attwell saw no offence, either by Davies, or Ekotto, and waved play-on. Boyata saw yellow for his unfair challenge upon Modric.
Spurs went three up on the hour, precisely, after Walker won a corner in front of the Paxton End. Modric took the kick, and Bale flicked it on at the near post, leaving Defoe an easy finish inside the 6 yard area. Spurs fans wanted more, and the chances kept coming, although some of the urgency in Spurs play dissipated. Modric had a shot tipped over the bar, and Bolton managed to clear a couple of corners. Modric threaded a superb ball for Parker, whose shot was saved, with Adebayor hitting the follow-up over. Walker went on the rampage again, feeding Bale, who was now playing on the right. Bale hit a shot which Jaaskelainen parried far enough to prevent a Spurs player knocking the ball into the net.
There was more lovely flowing passing football by Spurs, and Ekotto teed up Modric, whose shot was pushed wide. Van der Vaart replaced Lennon, taking up a position on the right, with Bale returning to the left side. Rafa was involved in another good move, receiving from Modric then sending Defoe away with a great pass. Defoe’s shot rebounded off the post, with the follow-up attempt going for a corner. However, a mis-placed pass by Van der Vaart did give Bolton a rare break, but their attempt was off target. There was one more clear-cut chance for Spurs as we entered added time, with Defoe receiving from Adebayor, but having his shot cleared.
All the top four sides won today. So did Arsenal, now in fifth place, but still 5 points behind Spurs, who have that game in hand. We remain in third place. Next week’s visit to the Britannia Stadium will be a sterner test, and could be a benchmark in our further progress.
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