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Spurs v Man Utd, 12.12.98

FA PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 12TH DECEMBER, 1998
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 - MANCHESTER UNITED 2

Spurs scorer:-
Campbell 70, 90

ManU scorer:-
Solskjaer 10,17

Attendance:- 36,079

Referee:- Uriah Rennie

Teams ( both played 4-4-2 ):-
Spurs:- Walker; Carr, Campbell, Young, Sinton; Fox ( sub Allen 82 ), Anderton, Nielsen, Ginola; Ferdinand, Armstrong

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Calderwood; Clemence; Dominguez

Booked:- Sinton 68, Ferdinand 88

Man Utd:- Schmeichel; G. Neville, Johnsen, Stam, P. Neville; Beckham, Keane, Butt, Giggs ( sub Blomqvist, 86 ); Sheringham ( sub Cole, 74 ), Solskjaer sub Berg, 46 )

Subs not used:- Van Der Gouw (GK); Cruyff

Booked:- Butt 9, Sheringham 27, Gary Neville 29, Philip Neville 33, GARY NEVILLE SENT OFF 39 ( 2nd booking ), Beckham 65, Johnsen 69

Let me get the hatred out of the way first, then we'll discuss the football. I hate Man Utd, and their fans more than Arsenal, and more than almost anything. Today, we saw the best and worst of Manu, and their followers. The thing that wound me up more than anything was that when Beckham was getting some stick "You let your country down", the Manu fans responded with "You can stick your England up your arse", and then started chanting for Argentina. What's wrong with these people? Add to that the number of bookings above, and others that could have been; the usual anger and petulance displayed by Keane, Ferguson and co; add to that the fact that Ferguson led his team to the bus after the game, without a word to the press ( they are apparently upset at Rennie's decision to send Gary Neville off ), and in my view, you have the perfect recipe for undiluted hatred.

Sol Campbell was once again the hero of the hour today, scoring two perfect headers, both from Anderton free kicks, to win a wonderful point for Tottenham in the last minute. As the game progressed, the atmosphere got hotter, and the home fans urged the lilywhites to push forward and rescue this game. Like the Leeds game earlier in the season, this draw was as satisfying as a win.

It was surprising perhaps that Graham started again with an attacking line-up, and left the consolidating ability of Calderwood on the bench. I think we paid the penalty for this adventure, as the opposition overawed us for much of the first half. Sinton acting as left back was an obvious weak link that was exploited to the full by Beckham, who was given far too much space on the right wing, enabling him to set up both Solskjaer's goals. I'm afraid I found Nielsen awol for much of the first half. Our midfield simply let the reds take control and spray balls around at will. Spurs had some good chances, and need not have been two down at the interval.

Armstrong was presented with the first opportunity for either side after 4 minutes, when a poor defensive pass found him within the penalty area. Taken by surprise, he rushed his shot, which went wide. Walker had to dive low to save well from Solskjaer as he was allowed to enter the penalty area menacingly, and shoot from 15 yards.

Sadly, it wasn't long before the Norwegian, who declined Tottenham earlier in the season, made the most of a second chance. He met Beckham's cross, and Walker did well to save at short range, but he was unable to hold the ball, and Solskjaer easily put in the rebound. The debate about who should be our first choice goalie continues.

After only 17 minutes, United were two up, and the signs were ominous for Spurs. Beckham repeated his earlier manoeuvre, and this time Ole Gunnar shot home first time.

Anderton hit the top of the bar with a super free kick from 22 yards, as Spurs realised they had a fight on their hands. The tackles were flying in from the reds, and it could be argued that Rennie should have got his cards out earlier. Ferdinand, and Ginola in particular came in for a lot of punishment. Sheringham got his name in the book for arguing over a decision , and seems to have learnt the whinging style. (Yes, of course he was roundly booed, especially when he was subbed in the second half ).

Armstrong had another chance to score after 28 minutes. A cross from the right found him unmarked at the far post. An early and effective first touch was required, but Chris hasn't quite got it. It was of course, his left foot, which sent the ball wide.

It will have been a surprise to some readers that Luke Young held his place against such mighty opposition, but fans are now talking about him in terms of being "a real find". Bear in mind he has now played against some of the top strikers in the land, and I think he has staked a place in the team. He got a super tackle in on Beckham in the second half ( rescuing a mistake by a team mate ), and in the first half, he carried the ball out of defence, going on a run which led to an accurate shot on goal. His run was angular from right to left across the edge of the area, and his shot went to Schmeichel's left. The Dane parried, and Armstrong ( again ) failed to take full advantage.

Gary Neville has never been sent off in his life ( apparently ), but he suffered the ignominy today after bringing Ginola down. Ferguson will moan on TV tonight, no doubt, but Graham made the point after the game, that if you are going to tackle a player like Ginola, you've got to get it right.

In the second half, Ferguson adjusted his team, sacrificing Solskjaer for Berg, and the aim was to hold onto their lead, and try and score on the break. They nearly succeeded with the second aim several times, and they did hold on till the last minute. Sol got a early shot on goal from a corner despite about half a dozen red shirts around him. Stam took a run and hit a powerful shot from the right that Walker had to tip round for a corner.

Spurs started to take advantage of the 10 man opposition as far as possession and pressure was concerned, but there was nothing in the way of end results. Beckham was carded in the 65th minute for a foul on Sinton, and I think it was at this stage that the taunting really took hold in the crowd. There was also clearly "an agenda " between the two players thereafter, and Sinton returned the compliment only minutes later, bringing Beckham down with a crunch. A melee followed, led by ( who else ) Roy Keane, and Sinton got his card.

Johnsen got booked very shortly after that incident, for a foul on Ginola. It was Anderton who took the resulting free kick. Apparently, this is something he has been working on in training,and he fired a powerful kick to the centre of the area, where Sol rose magnificently above all others to head home powerfully. The crowd erupted, and the fight was well and truly on!

Spurs nearly equalised soon after, after some great work on the right from Stevie Carr ( who kept Giggs reasonably quiet throughout ). The little full back got a good cross in, which was met perfectly by Nielsen, but which unfortunately was put straight into the hands of the goalkeeper.

Ginola brought the crowd to their feet with a magical run out of his own half, beating several players to take the ball to the edge of the box. His shot was on target, but understandably, lacked power, through a degree of exhaustion!

It was a bit of a mystery why Rory Allen replaced Fox late in the game. Whilst Fox frustrated at times; his work rate was superb, and he was a positive influence overall.

So, to the piece de resistance! Injury time had commenced, when Carr was brought down by Blomqvist on the right flank. Sol repeated his marvellous feat, with the assistance again of the perceptive Darren Anderton, and after scoring went on a celebration run towards the bench. What a player! What a hero! What a colossus! Look these words up in your thesaurus, and discuss!

Brian Judson's match preview

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