SATURDAY 10th AUGUST, 2013
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) RCD ESPANYOL 1 (1)
Soldado (pen), 29
David Lopez, 44
Referee:- Mr. A. Marriner
Assistants:- Mr. D. Cann & Mr. M. Perry
Fourth official:- Mr. N. Davies
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (sub Friedel, 60); Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Fryers (sub Kaboul, 46), Rose (sub Naughton, 76); Dembele (sub Huddlestone, 71), Paulinho (sub Sandro, 60); Lennon (sub Townsend, 71), Chadli (sub Stewart, 88), Sigurdsson; Soldado (sub Defoe, 60)
No unused subs.
Booked:- Townsend (foul on Clerc)
Espanyol (4-1-4-1):- Casilla; Javi Lopez, Colotto, Moreno, Fuentes; David Lopez; Stuani (sub Lanzarote, 88), Sanchez, Simao (sub Clerc, 60); Garcia (Capt.) ( sub Bifouma, 66); Pizzi (sub Abraham, 81)
Subs not used:- Parreno; Mattioni, Rodriguez, Gomez, Capdevila, Gonzalez, Sidnei
(Details not confirmed)
Encouraging signs, but Bale conspicuously absent.
There were plenty of reasons for encouragement and positivity today at White Hart Lane, with debuts for new signings Soldado and Paulinho, with Nacer Chadli also making his home debut, but Gareth Bale, to the best of my knowledge was conspicuously absent physically, but also not included in any pre-match video; the programme, or even a mention at the stadium. My gut feeling is that Daniel Levy (also absent as far as I could see from my seat behind the Directors' box) is busily negotiating the best possible deal he can get. I hope I'm wrong.
Spurs started very sharply, and I honestly thought they might score a hatful of goals. Such was the sharpness of Soldado, and the energy of players such as Paulinho, Dembele, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Kyle Walker, and Aaron Lennon, surely having his best game of the pre-season.
You'll notice, I did not mention Nacer Chadli in the above comments, and should Bale stay, my feeling is that Chadli is the player who will make way, and start games from the bench. He was involved in several good moves through the middle, but he was not as prominent as the other new signings.
Soldado looked very sharp, and will surely score plenty of goals for us. Paulinho looked very good going forward, but there were a couple of less sure moments when facing his goal.
In the second half, we saw Younes Kaboul in a first team game for the first time in a year, and he looked fine to me. Sandro also got half an hour, but I do not see him starting next week.
Also conspicuously absent, even from the bench, were Scott Parker (being linked with QPR), and Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Surely both these players are on their way out of the club. Mind you, we also haven't seen anything of Lewis Holtby for a few games.
Espanyol also start their season proper next week-end, and after an early Spurs onslaught, they settled down and contained Spurs effectively, even threatening on enough occasions to make us worry for our defensive abilities in the coming season.
After only 2 minutes, Kyle Walker, often using the right channel, sent Lennon away, also on the inside right position. Lennon got to the line and crossed, winning a corner, taken by Sigurdsson, and cleared.
Sigurdsson was the chief dead ball taker, and after Dembele was fouled on the left side, Paulinho headed into the back of the net, but the offside flag was already being waved.
There was a good move after Soldado headed down for Sigurdsson, who fed the ball to Chadli, who got into the box, but could only win a throw. Paulinho's attempt at a threaded ball through the middle nearly reached Soldado's feet, but not quite.
Espanyol had a chance with a free kick by Simao, after Kyle Walker fouled in a dangerous position, but the kick was over Lloris's goal.
Walker was fouled at the other end, and Soldado headed Siggy's free kick over the bar. Another threaded Walker ball reached Lennon, who won a corner, Sigurdsson took the kick which ended up at Dembele's feet outside the area. He had a left footed shot which was saved.
Lloris had to save the ball from the feet of David Lopez after an Espanyol corner. At the other end, there was a good move involving Chadli, Walker, Dembele and finally Rose, who was again getting forward to good effect all day.
Rose was awarded a penalty after 27 minutes, as he raced into the left side of the area. Soldado stepped up with confidence, hesitated a little in his run-up, before planting the ball firmly to the right of goalkeeper Casilla.
Lennon attacked through the middle and tried to feed Paulinho, but the ball did not quite reach the target. Sigurdsson led another good move, passing to Paulinho, who fed Soldado. Soldado seemed to try to do the polite thing in seeking to give the ball back to Paulinho, but with this gesture, the move failed.
Espanyol skipper Sergio Garcia had an effort go wide from outside the box. Garcia then got another chance after Rose tried to clear with an unwise ball inside, but Lloris was again out to collect the ball off his opponent's feet.
Fryers had looked more comfortable today, and made a good interception of a Sanchez ball. However, just before the break, Espanyol levelled with a powerful head from a corner. The header came at the near post from David Lopez. The corner followed a free kick on the right side, which had been conceded by Rose, who was attracting the attention of referee Andre Marriner. After the goal, Garcia also had an effort go wide.
The second half lacked the momentum of the first, with a full series of substitutions being made by Tottenham. Kaboul replaced Fryers at half-time, and of course got a great reception. He looked in good form too, and needed to be on more than one occasion.
A Sigurdsson corner got all the way to the back post, and seemed to take Soldado by surprise, as he could not get enough strength on his attempt on goal. Kyle Walker made a powerful run through the middle and fed Sigurdsson, but Casilla was wise to this plan. Kaboul had a good reaction effort on goal from a corner, but this was also saved by the keeper.
After some good work on the left by Defoe, Chadli and Sigurdsson, Dembele had a right foot shot, which passed over the goal. Colotto had a good chance at the other end, but headed over in front of goal.
After Danny Rose fouled Stuani, Michael Dawson had to head over for a corner, also in front of the goal.
By now Friedel was on for Lloris and he had to be alert to David Lopez in the 73rd minute, collecting at the player's feet.
Danny Rose hobbled off after 76 minutes, and was replaced by Kyle Naughton. Tom Huddlestone managed to win the ball in the middle, sending it whilst under pressure to Andros Townsend on the right. Townsend cut in, made room for himself, and hit a good low shot just wide across the goalmouth.
That was it as far as meaningful action is concerned. The second half as a whole had fizzled out after such a bright start, but important players got game time. If Spurs can consistently replicate the style and pace of football they showed in the early stages, then we are in for a good season, with or without that man Gareth Bale. Of course, I sincerely hope he stays.
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